Cover for No Agenda Show 664: Boss Ass Look
October 26th, 2014 • 3h 6m

664: Boss Ass Look


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

Clocks go back: Remember to change yours '' for possibly the last time ever - UK - News - The Independent
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 06:33
The time was officially pushed back at 2am, which gives all of us an extra 60 minutes to enjoy over the weekend before most people resume their working week on Monday.
It could be the last time that the UK lags behind mainland Europe as MPs and academics are backing a switch to Central European Time, which is currently one hour ahead, to ensure lighter evenings throughout the year.
Scotland could run an hour behind the rest of the UK if they oppose the proposal to tick in time with Europe and petitions have been launched to stop changing the clocks completely.
From today, early-risers and commuters will be met with lighter mornings due to Daylight Saving Time and afternoons will also be drawn to a close earlier throughout the autumn and winter months ahead of Halloween on Friday.
The clocks last changed on 30 March when the time was pushed forward one hour to create longer and lighter summer nights.
What you need to do:
It's easy to forget when the clocks change. Mobile phones, tablets and computers connected to the internet should change automatically, while most cookers or clocks will need to be changed manually.
Why do we change the clocks?
The idea of moving the clocks forward during the summer and then back again was first proposed in parliament in 1907. Later, in the Second World War clocks were put forward an hour to boost production in factories and so that workers could get back home before the blackout.
The Government put the clocks forward again for the entire time between 1968 and 1971 as an experiment'' but it was deemed that it made Scotland too dark in the mornings.
There have been many attempts to change British time to bring it line with Central European Time (an hour ahead).
In 2010 Conservative MP Rebecca Harris started a Private Member's Bill arguing for British Summer Time to be continued through winter.
Campaigners argue that extra light in the winter evenings could mean fewer road accidents. But arguments against it are concerned with the safety of children getting to school in the early morning.
Coordinated Universal Time - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 06:35
Coordinated Universal Time (French: temps universel coordonn(C), UTC) is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is one of several closely related successors to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). For most purposes, UTC is used interchangeably with GMT, but GMT is no longer precisely defined by the scientific community; also, some assert GMT can refer to British Summer Time (BST), which is one hour ahead of UTC.
UTC was officially formalized in 1960 by the International Radio Consultative Committee in Recommendation 374, having been initiated by several national time laboratories. The system was adjusted several times until leap seconds were adopted in 1972 to simplify future adjustments. A number of proposals have been made to replace UTC with a new system that would eliminate leap seconds but no consensus has yet been reached.
The current version of UTC is defined by International Telecommunications Union Recommendation (ITU-R TF.460-6), Standard-frequency and time-signal emissions and is based on International Atomic Time (TAI) with leap seconds added at irregular intervals to compensate for the slowing of Earth's rotation. Leap seconds keep UTC within 0.9 second of universal time, UT1.[5] See the "Current number of leap seconds" section for the number of leap seconds inserted to date.
If high precision is not required, the general term Universal Time (UT) may be used. The term Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) does not have a precise definition at the sub-second level, but it is often considered equivalent to UTC or UT1. Saying "GMT" often implies either UTC or UT1 when used within informal or casual contexts. In technical contexts, usage of "GMT" is avoided; the unambiguous terminology "UTC" or "UT1" is preferred.
EtymologyEditCompromise abbreviationSourceInitialsWordsEnglishCUTCoordinated Universal TimeFrenchTUCtemps universel coordonn(C)compromiseUTCunofficial English: "Universal Time Coordinated"; unofficial French: "Universel Temps Coordonn(C)"[8]The official abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time is UTC. This abbreviation arose from a desire by the International Telecommunication Union and the International Astronomical Union to use the same abbreviation in all languages. English speakers originally proposed CUT (for "coordinated universal time"), while French speakers proposed TUC (for "temps universel coordonn(C)"). The compromise that emerged was UTC,[9] which conforms to the pattern for the abbreviations of the variants of Universal Time (UT0, UT1, UT2, UT1R, etc.).
Time zones around the world are expressed as positive or negative offsets from UTC, as in the list of time zones by UTC offset.
UTC is used in many Internet and World Wide Web standards. The Network Time Protocol, designed to synchronise the clocks of computers over the Internet, encodes times using the UTC system.
Computer servers, online services and other entities that rely on having a universally accepted time use UTC as it is more specific than GMT. If only limited precision is needed, clients can obtain the current UTC from a number of official Internet UTC servers. For sub-microsecond precision, clients can obtain the time from satellite signals.
UTC is also the time standard used in aviation, e.g., for flight plans and air traffic control clearances. Weather forecasts and maps all use UTC to avoid confusion about time zones and daylight saving time.
Amateur radio operators often schedule their radio contacts in UTC, because transmissions on some frequencies can be picked up by many timezones.
UTC is also used in digital tachographs used on large goods vehicles (LGV) under EU and AETR rules.
MechanismEditUTC divides time into days, hours, minutes and seconds. Days are conventionally identified using the Gregorian calendar, but Julian day numbers can also be used. Each day contains 24 hours and each hour contains 60 minutes. The number of seconds in a minute is usually 60, but with an occasional leap second, it may be 61 or 59 instead. Thus, in the UTC time scale, the second and all smaller time units (millisecond, microsecond, etc.) are of constant duration, but the minute and all larger time units (hour, day, week, etc.) are of variable duration. Decisions to introduce a leap second are announced at least 8 weeks in advance in "Bulletin C" produced by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service.[15] The leap seconds cannot be predicted far in advance due to the unpredictable rate of rotation of the Earth.
Nearly all UTC days contain exactly 86,400 SIseconds, with exactly 60 seconds in each minute. However, because the mean solar day is slightly longer than 86,400 SI seconds, occasionally the last minute of a UTC day is adjusted to have 61 seconds. The extra second is called a leap second. It accounts for the grand total of the extra length (about 2 milliseconds each) of all the mean solar days since the previous leap second. The last minute of a UTC day is permitted to contain 59 seconds to cover the remote possibility of the Earth rotating faster, but that has not yet been necessary. The irregular day lengths mean that fractional Julian days do not work properly with UTC.
Since 1972, UTC is calculated by subtracting the accumulated leap seconds from International Atomic Time (TAI), which is a coordinate time scale tracking notional proper time on the rotating surface of the Earth (the geoid). In order to maintain a close approximation to UT1 (equivalent to GMT before 1960), UTC occasionally has discontinuities where it changes from one linear function of TAI to another. These discontinuities take the form of leap seconds implemented by a UTC day of irregular length. Discontinuities in UTC have occurred only at the end of a Gregorian month. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) tracks and publishes the difference between UTC and Universal Time, DUT1 = UT1 '' UTC, and introduces discontinuities into UTC to keep DUT1 in the interval (''0.9 s, +0.9 s). Since 1972, the discontinuities have consisted only of a leap of one second at the end of 30 June or 31 December.
As with TAI, UTC is only known with the highest precision in retrospect. Users who require an approximation in real time must obtain it from a time laboratory, which disseminates an approximation using techniques such as GPS or radio time signals. Such approximations are designated UTC(k), where k is an abbreviation for the time laboratory. The time of events may be provisionally recorded against one of these approximations; later corrections may be applied using the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) monthly publication of tables of differences between canonical TAI/UTC and TAI(k)/UTC(k) as estimated in real time by participating laboratories. (See the article on International Atomic Time for details.)
Because of time dilation, a standard clock not on the geoid, or in rapid motion, will not maintain synchronicity with UTC. Therefore, telemetry from clocks with a known relation to the geoid is used to provide UTC when required, on locations such as those of spacecraft.
It is not possible to compute the exact time interval elapsed between two UTC timestamps without consulting a table that describes how many leap seconds occurred during that interval. Therefore, many scientific applications that require precise measurement of long (multi-year) intervals use TAI instead. TAI is also commonly used by systems that cannot handle leap seconds. GPS time always remains exactly 19 seconds behind TAI (neither system is affected by the leap seconds introduced in UTC).
For most common and legal-trade purposes, the fractional second difference between UTC and UT (GMT) is inconsequentially small, so UTC is often called GMT (for instance, by the BBC).
Time zonesEditTime zones are usually defined to differ from UTC by an integer number of hours, although the laws of each jurisdiction would have to be consulted if sub-second accuracy was required. Several jurisdictions have established time zones that differ by an integer number of half-hours or quarter-hours from UT1 or UTC.
Current civil time in a particular time zone can be determined by adding or subtracting the number of hours and minutes specified by the UTC time offset, which ranges from UTC-12:00 in the west to UTC+14:00 in the east (see List of UTC time offsets).
The UTC time zone is sometimes denoted by the letter Z '-- a reference to the equivalent nautical time zone (GMT), which has been denoted by a Z since about 1950. The letter also refers to the "zone description" of zero hours, which has been used since 1920 (see time zone history). Since the NATO phonetic alphabet word for Z is "Zulu", UTC is sometimes known as Zulu time. This is especially true in aviation, where Zulu is the universal standard. This ensures all pilots regardless of location are using the same 24-hour clock, thus avoiding confusion when flying between time zones. See list of military time zones for letters used in addition to Z in qualifying time zones other than Greenwich.
On electronic devices that only allow the current time zone to be configured using maps or city names, UTC can be selected indirectly by selecting Reykjav­k, Iceland, which is always on UTC and does not use daylight saving.[26]
Daylight saving timeEditUTC does not change with a change of seasons, but local time or civil time may change if a time zone jurisdiction observes daylight saving time (summer time). For example, local time on the east coast of the United States is five hours behind UTC during winter, but four hours behind while daylight saving is observed there.[27]
At the 1884 International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., the local mean solar time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in England was chosen to define the Universal day, counted from 0 hours at mean midnight. This agreed with civil Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), used on the island of Great Britain since 1847. In contrast, astronomical GMT began at mean noon, 12 hours after mean midnight of the same date until 1 January 1925, whereas nautical GMT began at mean noon, 12 hours before mean midnight of the same date, at least until 1805 in the Royal Navy, but persisted much later elsewhere because it was mentioned at the 1884 conference. In 1884, the Greenwich Meridian was used for two-thirds of all charts and maps as their Prime Meridian. In 1928, the term Universal Time (UT) was introduced by the International Astronomical Union to refer to GMT, with the day starting at midnight. Until the 1950s, broadcast time signals were based on UT, and hence on the rotation of the Earth.
In 1955, the caesiumatomic clock was invented. This provided a form of timekeeping that was both more stable and more convenient than astronomical observations. In 1956, the U.S. National Bureau of Standards and U.S. Naval Observatory started to develop atomic frequency time scales; by 1959, these time scales were used in generating the WWV time signals, named for the shortwave radio station that broadcasts them. In 1960, the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and the UK National Physical Laboratory coordinated their radio broadcasts so time steps and frequency changes were coordinated, and the resulting time scale was informally referred to as "Coordinated Universal Time".
In a controversial decision, the frequency of the signals was initially set to match the rate of UT, but then kept at the same frequency by the use of atomic clocks and deliberately allowed to drift away from UT. When the divergence grew significantly, the signal was phase shifted (stepped) by 20 ms to bring it back into agreement with UT. Twenty-nine such steps were used before 1960.
In 1958, data was published linking the frequency for the caesium transition, newly established, with the ephemeris second.[32] The ephemeris second is the duration of time that, when used as the independent variable in the laws of motion that govern the movement of the planets and moons in the solar system, cause the laws of motion to accurately predict the observed positions of solar system bodies. Within the limits of observing accuracy, ephemeris seconds are of constant length, as are atomic seconds. This publication allowed a value to be chosen for the length of the atomic second that would work properly with the celestial laws of motion.
UTC was officially initiated at the start of 1961 (but the name Coordinated Universal Time was not adopted by the International Astronomical Union until 1967). The TAI instant 1 January 1961 00:00:01.422818 exactly was identified as UTC instant 1 January 1961 00:00:00.000000 exactly, and UTC ticked exactly one second for every 1.000000015 s of TAI.[citation needed] Time steps occurred every few months thereafter, and frequency changes at the end of each year. The jumps increased in size to 100 ms, with only one 50 ms jump having ever occurred. This UTC was intended to permit a very close approximation of UT2, within around 0.1 s.[citation needed]
In 1967, the SI second was redefined in terms of the frequency supplied by a caesium atomic clock. The length of second so defined was practically equal to the second of ephemeris time. This was the frequency that had been provisionally used in TAI since 1958. It was soon recognised that having two types of second with different lengths, namely the UTC second and the SI second used in TAI, was a bad idea. It was thought that it would be better for time signals to maintain a consistent frequency, and that that frequency should match the SI second. Thus it would be necessary to rely on time steps alone to maintain the approximation of UT. This was tried experimentally in a service known as "Stepped Atomic Time" (SAT), which ticked at the same rate as TAI and used jumps of 200 ms to stay synchronised with UT2.
There was also dissatisfaction with the frequent jumps in UTC (and SAT). In 1968, Louis Essen, the inventor of the caesium atomic clock, and G. M. R. Winkler both independently proposed that steps should be of 1 s only. This system was eventually approved, along with the idea of maintaining the UTC second equal to the TAI second. At the end of 1971, there was a final irregular jump of exactly 0.107758 TAI seconds, so that 1 January 1972 00:00:00 UTC was 1 January 1972 00:00:10 TAI exactly, making the difference between UTC and TAI an integer number of seconds. At the same time, the tick rate of UTC was changed to exactly match TAI. UTC also started to track UT1 rather than UT2. Some time signals started to broadcast the DUT1 correction (UT1 '' UTC) for applications requiring a closer approximation of UT1 than UTC now provided.
Current number of leap secondsEditThe first leap second occurred on 30 June 1972. Since then, leap seconds have occurred on average about once every 19 months, always on 30 June or 31 December. As of June 2014, there have been 25 leap seconds in total, all positive, putting UTC 35 seconds behind TAI.
RationaleEditEarth's rotational speed is very slowly decreasing because of tidal deceleration; this increases the length of the mean solar day. The length of the SI second was calibrated on the basis of the second of ephemeris time and can now be seen to have a relationship with the mean solar day observed between 1750 and 1892, analysed by Simon Newcomb. As a result, the SI second is close to 1/86400 of a mean solar day in the mid'‘19th century. In earlier centuries, the mean solar day was shorter than 86,400 SI seconds, and in more recent centuries it is longer than 86,400 seconds. Near the end of the 20th century, the length of the mean solar day (also known simply as "length of day" or "LOD") was approximately 86,400.0013 s. For this reason, UT is now "slower" than TAI by the difference (or "excess" LOD) of 1.3 ms/day.
The excess of the LOD over the nominal 86,400 s accumulates over time, causing the UTC day, initially synchronised with the mean sun, to become desynchronised and run ahead of it. Near the end of the 20th century, with the LOD at 1.3 ms above the nominal value, UTC ran faster than UT by 1.3 ms per day, getting a second ahead roughly every 800 days. Thus, leap seconds were inserted at approximately this interval, retarding UTC to keep it synchronised in the long term.[43] Note that the actual rotational period varies on unpredictable factors such as tectonic motion and has to be observed, rather than computed.
Just as adding a leap day every four years does not mean the year is getting longer by one day every four years, the insertion of a leap second every 800 days does not indicate that the mean solar day is getting longer by a second every 800 days. It will take approximately 50,000 years for a mean solar day to lengthen by one second (at a rate of 2 ms/cy, where cy means century). This rate fluctuates within the range of 1.7''2.3 ms/cy. While the rate due to tidal friction alone is about 2.3 ms/cy, the uplift of Canada and Scandinavia by several metres since the last Ice Age has temporarily reduced this to 1.7 ms/cy over the last 2,700 years. The correct reason for leap seconds, then, is not the current difference between actual and nominal LOD, but rather the accumulation of this difference over a period of time: Near the end of the 20th century, this difference was about 1/800 of a second per day; therefore, after about 800 days, it accumulated to 1 second (and a leap second was then added).
For example, assume one starts counting the seconds from the Unix epoch of 1970-01-01T00:00:00 UTC with an atomic clock. At midnight on that day (as measured on UTC), one's counter registers 0 s. After Earth has made one full rotation with respect to the mean Sun, the counter registers approximately 86,400.002 s (the precise value varies depending on plate tectonic conditions). Based on the counter, one can calculate that the date is 1970-01-02T00:00:00 UT1. After 500 rotations, the counter registers 43,200,001 s. Because 86,400 s — 500 is 43,200,000 s, one calculates that the date is 1971-05-16T00:00:01 UTC, while it is only 1971-05-16T00:00:00 UT1. If one had added a leap second on 31 December 1970, reducing the counter by 1 s, then the counter would have a value of 43,200,000 s at 1971-05-16T00:00:00 UT1 and the correct date could be calculated.
In the graph of DUT1 above, the excess of LOD above the nominal 86,400 s corresponds to the downward slope of the graph between vertical segments. (Note that the slope became shallower in the 2000s, because of a slight acceleration of Earth's crust temporarily shortening the day.) Vertical position on the graph corresponds to the accumulation of this difference over time, and the vertical segments correspond to leap seconds introduced to match this accumulated difference. Leap seconds are timed to keep DUT1 within the vertical range depicted by this graph. The frequency of leap seconds therefore corresponds to the slope of the diagonal graph segments, and thus to the excess LOD.
As the Earth's rotation continues to slow, positive leap seconds are required more frequently. The long-term rate of change of LOD is approximately +1.7 ms per century. At the end of the 21st century, LOD will be roughly 86,400.004 s, requiring leap seconds every 250 days. Over several centuries, the frequency of leap seconds will become problematic.
Some time in the 22nd century, two leap seconds will be required every year. The current use of only the leap second opportunities in June and December will be insufficient, and the March and September options will have to be used. In the 25th century, four leap seconds will be required every year, so the current quarterly options will be insufficient. Thereafter there will need to be the possibility of leap seconds at the end of any month. In about two thousand years, even that will be insufficient, and there will have to be leap seconds that are not at the end of a month.
In a few tens of thousands of years (the timing is uncertain), LOD will exceed 86,401 s, causing the current form of UTC to break down due to requiring more than one leap second per day. It would be possible to then continue with double leaps, but this becomes increasingly untenable.
Both the one-leap-second-per-month and one-leap-second-per-day milestones are considered (by different theorists[who?]) to mark the theoretical limit of the applicability of UTC. The actual number of leap seconds to keep track of time would become unwieldy by current standards well before these, but presumably if UTC were to continue then horological systems would be redesigned to cope with regular leap seconds much better than current systems do.
There is a proposal to redefine UTC and abolish leap seconds, such that sundials would slowly get further out of sync with civil time. The resulting gradual shift of the sun's movements relative to civil time is analogous to the shift of seasons relative to the yearly calendar that results from the calendar year not precisely matching the tropical year length. This would be a major practical change in civil timekeeping, but would take effect slowly over several centuries. UTC (and TAI) would be more and more ahead of UT; it would coincide with local mean time along a meridian drifting slowly eastward (reaching Paris and beyond). Thus, the time system would lose its fixed connection to the geographic coordinates based on the IERS meridian. The difference between UTC and UT could reach 0.5 hour after the year 2600 and 6.5 hours around 4600.
ITU'‘R Study Group 7 and Working Party 7A were unable to reach consensus on whether to advance the proposal to the 2012 Radiocommunications Assembly; the chairman of Study Group 7 elected to advance the question to the 2012 Radiocommunications Assembly (20 January 2012), but consideration of the proposal was postponed by the ITU until the World Radio Conference in 2015.
There is also a proposal to allow greater freedom in scheduling leap seconds so that the present form of UTC could be improved to track UT1 more closely.
ReferencesEditNotesEditBibliographyEditAllan, David W.; Ashby, Neil; Hodge, Clifford C. (1997). The Science of Timekeeping. Hewlett-Packard. Application Note.Allen, Steve (2011a). "UTC is doomed". Retrieved 18 July 2011. Allen, Steve (2011b). "UTC might be redefined without Leap Seconds". Retrieved 18 July 2011. Arias, E. F.; Guinot, B.; Quinn, T. J. (29 May 2003). "Rotation of the Earth and Time scales". ITU-R Special Rapporteur Group Colloquium on the UTC Time Scale. "Aviation Time". AOPA's Path to Aviation. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2011. "Bulletin C". International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service. 16 January 2014. Essen, L. (1968). "Time Scales" (PDF). Metrologica4 (4): 161''5. Bibcode:1968Metro...4..161E. doi:10.1088/0026-1394/4/4/003. Retrieved 18 October 2008. Finkleman, David; Allen, Steve; Seago, John; Seaman, Rob; Seidelmann, P. Kenneth (2011). "The Future of Time: UTC and the Leap Second". American Scientist99 (July''August 2011): 312. arXiv:1106.3141v1. doi:10.1511/2011.91.1. Guinot, Bernard (August 2011). "Solar time, legal time, time in use". Metrologica48 (4): S181''185. Bibcode:2011Metro..48S.181G. doi:10.1088/0026-1394/48/4/S08. "History of TAI-UTC". Time Service Dept., U.S. Naval Observatory. c. 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2009. Horzepa, Stan (17 September 2010). "Surfin': Time for Ham Radio". American Radio Relay League. Retrieved 24 October 2011. Howse, Derek (1997). Greenwich Time and the Longitude. London: Philip Wilson. ISBN 0-85667-468-0. "How NTP Works". NTP: The Network Time Protocol. 28 July 2011. See heading "NTP Timescale and Data Formats"."IAU resolutions adopted at the XVIth General Assembly, Grenoble, France, 1976". 1976. Resolution no. 3 by Commissions 4 (Ephemerides/Eph(C)m(C)rides) and 31 (Time/L'Heure) (near the end of the document) "recommend that the following notations be used in all languages", UT0(i), UT1(i), UT2(i), UTC, UTC(i), UT, where (i) is institution "i"."Iceland". 2011. International Bureau of Weights and Measures (10 October 2011). "Circular T" (285). International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (19 July 2011). "IERS Bulletins". Irvine, Chris (18 December 2008). "Scientists propose 'leap hour' to fix time system". The Telegraph. ITU Radiocommunication Assembly (2002). "Standard-frequency and time-signal emissions". International Telecommunications Union. Retrieved 2 August 2011. Langley, Richard B. (20 January 1999). "A Few Facts Concerning GMT, UT, and the RGO". Retrieved 17 July 2011. "Leap second decision is postponed". BBC News. 19 January 2012. McCarthy, Dennis D. (July 1991). "Astronomical Time" (PDF). Proc. IEEE79 (7): 915''920. doi:10.1109/5.84967. McCarthy, Dennis D.; Seidelmann, P. Kenneth (2009). TIME From Earth Rotation to Atomic Physics. Weinheim: Wiley VCH. ISBN 978-3-527-40780-4. Markowitz, W.; Hall, R.; Essen, L.; Parry, J. (August 1958). "Frequency of caesium in terms of Ephemeris Time" (PDF). Physical Review Letters1 (3): 105''7. Bibcode:1958PhRvL...1..105M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.1.105. Retrieved 18 October 2008. Markowitz, Wm. (1988). "Comparisons of ET(Solar), ET(Lunar), UT and TDT". In Babcock, A. K.; Wilkins, G. A. The Earth's Rotation and Reference Frames for Geodesy and Geophysicss: Proceedings of the 128th Symposium of the International Astronomical Union, held in Coolfont, West Virginia, U.S.A., 20''24 October 1986. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 413''418. Bibcode:1988IAUS..128..413M. "Military & Civilian Time Designations". wwp. National Institute of Standards and Technology (18 January 2011). "Frequently asked questions (FAQ)". Retrieved 17 July 2011. National Institute of Standards and Technology (19 March 2012). "Frequently asked questions (FAQ)". Nelson, G.K.; Lombardi, M.A.; Okayama, D.T. (2005). "NIST Time and Frequency Radio Stations: WWV, WWVH, and WWVB" (PDF). National Institute of Standards and Technology. (Special Publication 250-67). [dead link]Nelson, Robert A.; McCarthy, Dennis D. (13 September 2005). "Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the Future of the Leap Second". Civil GPS Interface Committee. United States Coast Guard. [dead link]Nelson, Robert A.; McCarthy, Dennis D.; Malys, S.; Levine, J.; Guinot, B.; Fliegel, H. F.; Beard, R. L.; Bartholomew, T. R. (2001). "The leap second: its history and possible future" (PDF). Metrologia38 (6): 509''529. Bibcode:2001Metro..38..509N. doi:10.1088/0026-1394/38/6/6. Seidelmann, P. Kenneth; Seago, John H. (August 2011). "Time scales, their users, and leap seconds". Metrologia48 (4): S186''S194. Bibcode:2011Metro..48S.186S. doi:10.1088/0026-1394/48/4/S09. Seaman, Rob (2003). "A Proposal to Upgrade UTC". Retrieved 18 July 2011. Seidelmann, P.K. (1992). Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac. Sausalito, CA: University Science Books. Stephenson, F. R.; Morrison, L. V. (1995). "Long-term fluctuations in the Earth's rotation: 700 BC to AD 1990". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A351 (1695): 165''202. Bibcode:1995RSPTA.351..165S. doi:10.1098/rsta.1995.0028. "Standard time". U.S. Code. Legal Information Institute. 2010. Title 15, Chapter 6, Subchapter IX."TF.460-4: Standard-frequency and time-signal emissions". International Telecommunication Union. 1986. Annex I. "Time". International Bureau of Weights and Measures. n.d. Retrieved 22 May 2013. Time Service Dept. (c. 2009). "Leap Seconds". United States Naval Observatory. Retrieved 17 July 2011. United States Naval Observatory. "Universal Time". Retrieved 10 October 2013. "Universal Time". Oxford Dictionaries: British and World English. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 August 2014. Williams, Jack (17 May 2005). "Understanding and using Zulu time". USA Today. Retrieved 25 February 2007. External linksEdit
Sunday, Nov 2, 2014: DST ends in USA, Canada
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 06:46
Published 22-Sep-2014
Sunday, November 2, 2014, at 2am (02:00) clocks will be set back one hour as Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends in most of the United States, Canada and Mexico's northern border cities.
DST will end on Sun, Nov 2, 2014DST will end on Sun, Nov 2, 2014 in the striped areas.Europe & southern Mexico end DSTSunday, October 26, 2014 at 1am (01:00) UTC.
Clocks fall back one hourClocks are set back from DST to Standard Time at 2am (02:00) to 1am (01:00) local time on the first Sunday in November, which in 2014 is November 2.
DST worldwide - second half of 2014
DST starts Sun, March 8, 2015 in the US & Canada
Most of USA uses DSTThe clock changes will affect many cities in USA's 9 time zones and Canada's 6 time zones. Some parts of the USA, including Hawaii and Arizona, and some regions of Canada do not observe DST and clocks there will not change.
Most parts of the USA and Canada will start DST again on Sunday, March 8, 2015.
Mexico DST dividedMost of Mexico ends DST on Sunday, October 26, when clocks are set back 1 hour from 2am (02:00) to 1am (01:00) local time. However, the northern Mexican border towns, like Tijuana and Juarez City (Ciudad Jurez), follow the USA's DST schedule, and set their clocks back one week later, on Sunday, November 2, 2014, at 2am (02:00) local time. A few Mexican cities, like Hermosillo do not observe DST at all.
No DST '' USAThe following areas in the United States don't observe DST and clocks will not change:
No DST '' CanadaThe following areas in Canada don't observe DST and clocks will not change:
In this ArticleTime zones worldwideDaylight Saving Time worldwideYou might also likeSet the clock 1 hour back or forward?Spring forward fall back is just one of the expressions used to remember whether to set the clock one hour forward or one hour back for the start and end of Daylight Saving Time (DST). more
Daylight Saving Time DSTDaylight Saving Time aka Daylight Savings Time, DST or Summer Time. Clocks go forward 1 hour in the spring and back in the fall to make better use of daylight. more
UK on BST in the SummerContrary to ideas that the United Kingdom is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) all year, it actually observes British Summer Time (BST), which is one hour ahead of GMT, during the summer months. more
The History of DSTDaylight Savings TimeThe concept of Daylight Saving Time (DST) has not been without controversy. It was first introduced by US inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin in 1784, and is now in use in countries all over the world. more
Who is going to be writing the official version of the history of our time
Former Cream bassist Jack Bruce dies aged 71
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 13:45
The British singer and bass player Jack Bruce has died at the age of 71 from liver disease.
Bruce formed the influential rock band Cream in the 60s with guitarist Eric Clapton and was the voice and songwriter behind classic tracks like ''Sunshine of Your Love,'' and ''I feel free.''He was born in Glasgow, and began playing bass as a teenager. He dropped out of music school when he was not allowed to play jazz.
Cream split in November 1968 having sold 35 million albums in just over two years.
After Cream, Bruce played with top jazz musicians including drummer Tony Williams and guitarist John McLaughlin as well as with rock stars like Lou Reed and Frank Zappa.
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''690, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1708^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". January 16, 2003.
Seattle School Shooting
Email from alum about the Frybergs
No need to read on the show, but... This was my high school, I'm 35 now, but I remember what it was like there. It is near the Tulalip reservation. There are a lot of Indians that went to the school and the other schools where I grew up in Marysville. The Fryberg's were exceptional a-holes. I was a white kid and the Indian families stuck together, so you didn't mess with them, lest ye' get a beatdown! They messed with everyone. When I heard it was a Fryberg that did it, all suspicion about a possible BS story disappeared. Just a little inside info for ya. Cheers.
Jaylen Fryberg: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know |
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 13:16
Jaylen Fryberg is the 14-year-old freshman who opened fire today in the cafeteria at Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. The gunman wounded multiple victims, including at least one friend of his, before fatally shooting himself. Police have said that two people involved in the shooting are dead, including Fryberg. The other deceased person was a female student at Pilchuck.
This was his final tweet, sent yesterday:
It won't last'.... It'll never last'....
'-- Jaylen Fryberg (@frybergj) October 23, 2014
Here's what we know about him so far.
1. He Just Broke Up With His GirlfriendA student who identified himself as a friend of the gunman told Fox News in a televised interview today that Jaylen Fryberg recently ''went through a breakup.'' He had been dating the same girl since seventh grade, and his social media profiles include many pictures of them together and loving messages to her.
The girl featured in many of his pictures posted a video recently to Facebook showing Fryberg asking her to Homecoming.
Students told CNN that he was named freshman homecoming king at that dance on October 17.
Two weeks later, she said referenced the break-up, saying that everything happened and that people came and went in her life ''for a reason.''
Reports also say that Fryberg recently got into a fight at football practice and was suspended from the team, but students described him as ''a quiet kid''. It is reported that a racial statement of some kind may have been made during this altercation with NBC News reporting a student, Bryce Vitcovitch, saying that Fryberg had ''an incident the other day when a kid was being somewhat racist, and he punched him.''
KIRO reports that Fryberg had been bullied and was ''sick of it.''
A little over a month ago, Fryberg tweeted about disputes over his girlfriend. On September 19 he said on social media, ''Dude. She tells me everything. And now I f*cking HATE you! Your no longer my ''Brother''!'' That was preceded by this tweet:
Did you forget she was my girlfriend?ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ¤
'-- Jaylen Fryberg (@frybergj) September 19, 2014
He previously tweeted angry and despondent statements, sometimes directed at those he had disagreements with:
Your gonna piss me off'... And then some shits gonna go down and I don't think you'll like it'...ðŸ¤ðŸ¤ðŸ¤
'-- Jaylen Fryberg (@frybergj) August 20, 2014
Your not gonna like what happens next'¼¸ðŸ¤
'-- Jaylen Fryberg (@frybergj) August 20, 2014
Fuck It'¼¸ðŸ–ðŸ¤ðŸ–ðŸ–🖠Might As well Die NowðŸ–ðŸ¤ðŸ¤ðŸ¤ðŸ–ðŸ–ðŸ'--ðŸ'--
'-- Jaylen Fryberg (@frybergj) June 20, 2014
PHOTOS: Jaylen Ray Fryberg, Pilchuck High School ShooterJaylen Ray Fryberg is the freshman gunman in the Pilchuck High School shooting in Marysville, Washington.
Click here to read more2. His Parents Bought Him a Gun for His Birthday
According to his Instagram, Fryberg's parents gave him a gun for his birthday three months ago. It was not the gun used in the attack '-- that was a handgun and not a rifle.
Many posts on his social media profiles reference his love of hunting, including many images of hunting such as the one above. Friends confirm in interviews that he was a hunter and had firearms experience.
Jaylen Ray Fryberg: His Ominous Social Media PostsJaylen Fryberg's Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts left ominous clues about the Pilchuck High School shooter.
Click here to read more3. He Shot His Cousin in the Head During the Attack(Screengrab via KING5)
According to student witnesses, he walked up to a specific table in the cafeteria before opening fire. Jordan Luton told CNN, ''They were his friends, so it wasn't just random.'' The horrific shooting began just after 10 a.m. After attacking the students, Fryberg turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
KING 5 reporter Mark Wright tweeted that Fryberg ''shot two females at close range.'' A student, Jarron Webb, told the Seattle Times, that he was ''angry at a girl who would not date him.'' Webb also said that one of the victims was a friend of Fryberg's since kindergarten.
Another student told KOMO reporter Lindsay Cohen that Fryberg was ''like normal'' a day before the attack.
Most of the wounded were airlifted to Providence Regional Hospital, according to that facility they are treating three patients who are all in critical condition. Dr. Joanna Roberts of Providence said all of their patients ''have very, very serious wounds.''
Those patients are two females and one boy, 15. The boy has been named as Andrew Fryberg, Jaylen's cousin. Another student is at Harborview Medical Center in serious condition.
Jaylen Fryberg's School Just Chosen for Grant to Address ''Violence Prevention''Marysville-Pilchuck High School, where Jaylen Fryberg shot several students before taking his own life, had just been awarded a grant for "violence prevention" and mental health awareness.
Click here to read more4. He Was a Football Player & Wrestler
Fryberg played on the school's freshman football and wrestling teams. The video below shows him in action as a youth wrestler.
Friends described him as being very involved in athletics, and he posted regularly on social media about sports, including posting many videos of his friends playing basketball on Vine. One of his coaches told KIRO's Amy Clancy that Fryberg was ''hard-working and smart'' and that he was a ''good kid from a good family.''
5. He Was a Member of the Tulalip Tribes
Fryberg was a member of the Native American Tulalip Tribes and lived in Tulalip Bay, Washington, about six miles from Marysville.
A prominent elder named Ray Fryberg is the tribes' director of fish and wildlife. He was the subject of this 2012 feature:
Fryberg posted an Instagram last January comparing the number of Americans killed on 9/11 with the ''12 million Native Americans killed by Christians.''
PHOTOS: Jaylen Ray Fryberg, Pilchuck High School ShooterJaylen Ray Fryberg is the freshman gunman in the Pilchuck High School shooting in Marysville, Washington.
Click here to read more
Initiative 594 email
Adam and John,
If it passes, Initiative-594 in Washington State would require background checks for ANY transfer of a gun. For example, if it passes, and I want to let my brother hold a new shotgun of mine while we are duck hunting together, I would have to pay to get a background check for him. I have to background check my brother, the person that I used to take baths with. I know him better than any background check would. Anyways, the support for the initiative is dropping as the NRA has started aggressively advertising against it and then this happens today:
@NWCN: #BREAKING: Reported school shooting in Marysville, WA - Pilchuck High School. Marysville PD confirms active shooter.
Coincidence? I think not!
Matt from Washington State
The Myths of Initiative 594 - Washington Arms Collectors
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 03:46
By Phil Shave, Editor '' GunNews, Washington Arms CollectorsNewspaper editorial boards and media coverage of I-594 continue to distort the purpose and effect of this anti-civil rights measure. The media regularly portrays I-594 as a background check on firearm sales which it is not; it is much more.
There is an effective media blackout on press releases and position statements opposed to I-594. The public, even the shooting public, does not yet realize what this initiative will do if passed.
Use the facts presented here (the quotes included below are directly from the text of I594) to inform your friends and family, even your local newspapers and local political leaders, of the true impact of this measure.
Myth #1 '' I-594 requires background checks only for gun sales.Reality: I-594 ''would extend criminal'...background checks to all guns sales or transfers.'' Every single time that a transfer occurs a background check through an FFL is required. ''Transfer means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.''
Myth #2 '' Failing to do the I-594 paperwork on, for example, the loan of a firearm to another must be a minor violation like a traffic violation, right?Reality: I-594 re-writes Washington law to make transfer violations the equivalent of RCW ''serious offenses'' such as rape, drive by shootings and vehicular homicide. The I-594 class C felony conviction for failing to do the transfer paperwork will result in the loss of your civil rights, including the loss of the right to vote and possess firearms.
I-594 is written to make a class C felony conviction equivalent to other legally defined ''serious'' class B felonies.
If you remain in possession of any firearms after conviction of a I-594 felony, then you may be charged with a separate possession felony for each firearm owned; the sentences for felony possession are consecutive. I-594 is specifically intended to imprison those who transfer firearms without an FFL and to confiscate their firearms.
Violations are not civil infractions as you might imagine, they are serious crimes. The first violation is a gross misdemeanor and, if convicted, then subsequent violations are class C felonies.
Myth #3 '' Gifts of a firearm are exempted.Reality: Not true '' gifts are specifically included in the definition of transfers requiring a dealer and registration of the firearm. Only gifts to immediate family members are exempted.
Myth #4 '' A person can loan a firearm, without going through a dealer, to another as long as it is returned to him,.Reality: Transfers are defined by I-594 to include any loan of a firearm. Any temporary loan of a firearm, no matter how short the time, without FFL dealer paperwork would be a crime.
Myth #5 '' I-594 is primarily a gun show law requiring background checks at shows.Reality: I-594 regulates all transfers ''between unlicensed persons.'' All citizens are unlicensed persons and must transfer firearms through an FFL whether the transfer occurs in their homes, at the firing range, or at any other location.
The Washington Arms Collectors already background checks members before allowing them to engage in firearm transactions. (under I-594, a new and separate background check conducted by an FFL would need to take place before each firearms transfer '' even at a WAC show. '' Webmaster)
Myth #6 '' I can hand my firearm off to my friend for some minor repair without doing all the transfer paperwork, after all I will get my own firearm back.Reality: You and your friend will both have committed crimes if you make this transfer without an FFL dealer for the transfers in both directions; this is two separate transfers as defined by I-594.
Myth #7 '' My gun club can continue to offer firearm safety training with our member instructors providing the firearms for use by the trainees.Reality: Probably not '' there is an exception but it states that the, ''firearm is kept at all times, at an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located.'' Since the I-594 language very clearly states that the firearm must be kept at all times at the range it is unlikely that this exception allows temporary transfers without an FFL.
Myth #8 '' Coaching of shooters which includes the handing back and forth of a firearm is exempt from I-594.Reality: I-594 contains an exception which may allow transfer to a person under age 18 for ''educational purposes'...while under the direct supervision and control of a responsible adult'....''
This exception would not permit transfer during adult classes such as women's handgun classes, adult hunter education, other types of training , or range orientation training.
While classes for children may continue, the majority of adult training is effectively banned because the transfer requirements cannot be met in a training environment. Private firearms trainers and law enforcement instructors who train the public can probably not avoid I-594 violations.
Myth #9 '' I can loan a hunting rifle to a friend during hunting season.Reality: No, you absolutely cannot. There is an exception that would allow you to hand your rifle to another licensed hunter ''while hunting'' but this only applies during the actual hunt if both hunters are present and licensed; so you may hand your rifle across the fence to a partner, but if your hunting partner drops his rifle and damages it, you cannot loan your extra rifle '' it would be a crime.
Myth #10 '' I keep a rifle in my truck and occasionally allow my daughter to drive this vehicle on ourproperty '' this can't be a crime?Reality: Unless you are in the truck with your minor child, this is a transfer requiring an FFL dealer at two points. There is a transfer when she departs with the truck and when she returns it to you '' possession equals transfer under I-594.
Myth #11 '' My son and I go to the range to shoot trap '' we take only my shotgun because he can't afford one; surely we can share the shotgun.Reality: If your son is a minor and you supervise him then you can share, but, oddly, if your son is over age 18 then these transfers would be illegal. I-594 appears intended to entrap entire families with these nonsense violations.
Myth #12 '' My children have both hunted since they were young and have the required hunter education training and licenses. They have always used my firearms and they are free to choose the one that best fits the game. Can I continue to allow them to use my rifles and shotguns during hunting season?Reality: No, both you and your children will be committing a I-594 crime if they use your firearms during hunting season without your ''direct supervision.'' This means that you must be present, able to see and contact the child you are supervising.
Myth #13 '' Our local high school has a trapshooting team in which my daughter competes with my rather expensive shotgun. This must be okay.Reality: Yet another trap for you and your daughter. You will both commit criminal violations each and every time that she takes the shotgun to practice. There is an exception that would allow you to bring the shotgun to a competition and transfer it to your daughter, but this does not apply to practice, only to ''organized competition.'' And if a firearm is transferred to her at a competition, it must be transferred back at that same location.
Myth #14 '' I have a concealed pistol license; this must exempt me from the requirements since I have already received a thorough background check.Reality: Your CPL has no value in firearms transfers under I-594 and all of the transfer requirements still apply to you.
Myth #15 '' The waiting period of five days for non-CPL transfers remains unchanged.Reality: The waiting period is now 10 days.
Myth #16 '' My brother and I are both shooters and collectors. We often sell firearms to each other. I understand that these family transfers are exempt from I-594 provisions.Reality: Absolutely not! While there is an exception for ''bona fide gifts'' within and among family members, it does not apply to sales. You and your brother will be multiple violators.
Myth #17 '' I-594 advertises that private transfers are exempt from sales tax, at least this is a good thing.Reality: Private property transactions are subject to use tax, not retail sales tax. Again, it appears that I-594 proponents are creating a smokescreen in an attempt to make I-594 appear reasonable. I-594 amends only RCW 82.08 which regulates retail sales and businesses.
There is no exemption in I-594 that would prevent the Department of Revenue from collecting use tax and they will have access to the records that will allow them to do so.
Myth #18 '' My brother-in-law is a police officer and he says that he is exempt from I-594.Reality: The I-594 law enforcement exception is only valid while on-duty. It does not apply to private purchases even if the firearm will be used on-duty (backup guns and patrol rifles are often personally purchased and these transfers must follow all I-594 laws).
Law enforcement officers are more likely than citizens to violate I-594 because they own, trade and maintain many firearms. Every officer should read ''In Harms Way'' published in the August GunNews.
Myth #19 '' I have heard I-594 people stating that this is not a firearm registration law.Reality: I-594 requires that every transfer be reported to the Department of Licensing, and while the requirements imposed on DOL are not clear, it seems that all firearm transfers are reported to DOL thus creating a registry of all firearms owners.
Myth #20 '' This is a minor expansion of existing background check law and will not cost much.Reality: I-594 does not just apply to sales, rather it applies to all transfers. We know that there are thousands of non-exempt transfers that take place each week during hunting, recreational shooting, coaching, practice and firearm maintenance.
We must assume that every one of these transfers will be reported to the Department of Licensing and that they will maintain records as required. Assuming full public compliance with the broad reaching language of I-594 there will be millions of new records created annually.
The burden on DOL will be staggering and it is unfunded. New buildings, computers, and personnel will be required. We know from DOL's own testimony before legislative committee that they are approximately six months behind on new handgun registrations.
It is most likely that DOL will never be able to meet the requirements of I-594.
Myth #21 '' The transfer of a firearm through a dealer won't cost me much.Reality: We don't know what the cost will be as it is not capped within I-594.
Currently most dealers charge between $30 and $50 per transaction.
Myth #22 '' I-594 is worth voting for if it catches criminals attempting to purchase firearms.Reality: I-594 does not impact criminal access to firearms. This is already illegal and criminals will not use legal transfers to obtain firearms; rather they steal them and buy on the street. I-594 only affects the law-abiding firearm owner and will make criminals of many innocent people.
Myth #23 '' We have to do something to stop the mentally ill from purchasing firearms!Reality: We all agree, but I-594 contains not a single provision that will allow closer scrutiny of those who are mentally ill, or drug-impaired. Instead I-594 is targeted at responsible citizens.
Myth #24 '' I'm an FFL dealer and I-594 will be good for me and my business.Reality: It may be impossible for a Federal Firearms Licensee to follow both Federal and State law and rules. I-594 requires that the seller, ''shall deliver the firearms to a licensed dealer to process'...the transfer as if it is'...transferring the firearm from its inventory.''
I-594 instructs the FFL dealer to handle the transfer ''as if it isselling or transferring the firearm from its inventory'...'', but then also allows the seller, who still owns the firearm, to leave with the firearm.
The reality is that an FFL dealer may lose his license if he allows an item in his inventory to leave the premises.
Furthermore, I-594 states that if the intended buyer, ''' ineligible to possess a firearm, then the licensed dealer shall return the firearm to the seller'....''
Again, the Federal rules prohibit the release of an item in inventory unless a background check and all paperwork are completed and approved.
In other words, the seller must be subjected to and pay for a background check just to receive the return of his own firearm in the case of a failed sale. FFL dealers will be faced with the choice to follow State law or Federal law.
Because I-594 is intended to create a huge new market for FFL services, it is likely that new ''dealers'' will enter the market with the intent to process firearm transfers. This proliferation of FFL dealers is most likely to negatively affect storefront firearm retailers.
Predictably the new non-stocking ''transferring dealers'' will undercut FFL transfer fees and reduce profitability.
Myth #25 '' The answer to I-594 is for every club, school and range to have an FFL dealer ''on duty.''Reality: even this extreme accommodation will likely not work. FFL dealers can conduct transfers only at their place of business or a bona fide gun show. There is no such thing as a roving FFL dealer who can perform the background checks required for all transfers under I-594.
It is conceivable that a gun club could obtain an FFL for their premises, but the paperwork required to legitimize all the transfers that would take place is daunting and expensive.
It appears there is no legal way to conduct FFL transfers on private property, while hunting, while shooting on public land or in any of the other situations in which the transfer is temporary, or a loan.
Myth #26 '' The changes in I-594 are the only way to background check gun buyers.Reality: There are efficient and (to some of us) acceptable ways to background check gun buyers. The Concealed Pistol License can be upgraded to a background check document that would serve as a transfer document; then all those with a CPL, who have already been backgrounded and fingerprinted, could use this license to effect lawful transfers.
Alternatively, a firearm purchase card could be created as it has been in some states; again, this would pre-background firearm transferors and allow law enforcement to conduct background checks and fingerprints in a timely manner before this is needed for a transfer.
The insertion of FFL requirements into private transactions which include all transfers, not just sales, is actually the least efficient, clumsiest, most expensive and burdensome method of performing background checks on firearm purchasers.
594 is not designed to keep guns from criminals or reduce crime; it is intended to create overwhelming obstacles to the private possession and use of firearms. I-594 targets recreational shooters, competitors, hobbyists and collectors.The passage of 591 is the only answer to the evils of I-594.(Note: Article modified from original Gun News edition to better suit web format)
NYTimes: Ebola Vaccine, Ready for Test, Sat on the Shelf
The 14 year death list
2000: Y2k
2001: Anthrax
2002: West Nile
2003: WMD
2004: SARS
2005: Bird flu
2006: E. Coli
2007: Vaccines
2008: Banksters
2009: Swine flu
2010: BP Oil leaks
2011: Obamacare
2012: End of the world
2013: North Korea
2014: Ebola
Why is the Pentagon making Ebola 'therapeutic' and CDC Patenting Ebola strains? | New Eastern Outlook
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 13:38
The growing Ebola panic, being deliberately fanned by the criminally-irresponsible Dr Margaret Chan, the notorious ''Swine Flu Pandemic'' Director General of WHO in Geneva, and by the criminally irresponsible officials of the US Government Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is getting more and more absurd and more destructive by the day.
Not only do the official WHO ''Ebola symptoms'' list symptoms of common influenza or even severe colds. Not only is the only recognized ''accurate laboratory test'' for Ebola, the Kary Mullis PCR test identified by its inventor (for an entirely other purpose) Nobel Prize winning Dr Kary Mullis as utterly worthless to detect Ebola in a body. In an interview Mullis stated, ''Quantitative PCR is an oxymoron.'' PCR is intended to identify substances qualitatively, but by its very nature is unsuited for estimating numbers. The tests can detect genetic sequences of viruses, but not viruses themselves.
Now we discover that a new company has gone into partnership with the Pentagon' produce ''an anti-Ebola virus RNAi therapeutic'' (sic). On August 4, the US TV channel, Fox News carried this intriguing lead: ''The experimental drug used to treat two American aid workers who have been infected with the Ebola virus has never been tested on humans before and was only identified earlier this year as part of an ongoing research program backed by the U.S. government and military'...The Defense Department has long had a hand in researching infectious diseases, including Ebola.''
DOD and Tekmira
Further research has since uncovered the following highly fascinating and highly suspicious fact about that ongoing US Department of Defense Ebola research program.
It seems the US Defense Department has joined with a biotech company named Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Its stock is listed on NASDAQ under TKMR. Tekmira labels itself as a leading developer of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics. Since the Ebola scare, the stock price has shot through the roof, much like Don Rumsfeld's shares in Gilead Sciences, inventor of the Tamiflu soared after Defense Secretary Rumsfeld ordered $1 billion worth of the worthless Tamiflu for his soldiers against an earlier fake flu scare, Bird Flu.
Tekmira's own website notes, ''TKM-Ebola, an anti-Ebola virus RNAi therapeutic, is being developed under a $140 million contract with the US Department of Defense's Medical Countermeasure Systems BioDefense Therapeutics (MCS-BDTX) Joint Product Management Office.'' As far back as 2010, they state further, ''Tekmira signed a $140-million contract with the DoD to advance an RNAi therapeutic, which utilized our LNP technology, to treat Ebola virus infection. In 2013, the collaboration was expanded to include significant advances in LNP formulation technology, including a new LNP formulation that was more potent, the ability to be able to lyophilize (freeze-dry) LNP formulations and an LNP formulation that can be administered intravenously.''
The same Tekmira website goes on to note that ''In 2014, Tekmira signed an Option Agreement with Monsanto, permitting Monsanto to obtain a license to use Tekmira's proprietary delivery technology'...'' And now Tekmira is authorized (by whom?) they state, to test their TKM-Ebola on human guinea pigs. Where?
Tekmira tells us:
Tekmira has joined an International Consortium led by the WHO, to provide an RNAi based investigational therapeutic for expedited clinical studies in West Africa. The Consortium includes representatives from the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC), at the University of Oxford, UK, the US Centers for Disease Control, M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res '' Doctors without Borders (MSF), and Fondation M(C)rieux, among others.
With the world already in induced hysteria over Ebola, who would miss a few hundred West Africans who died of complications not from Ebola, but from the Pentagon's TKM-Ebola human experiments. All the key players in the crime are there in the consortium running the Tekmira human tests in West Africa'--WHO, US CDC, and the Doctors Without Borders.
Is Ebola and the entire Ebola scare campaign of WHO and CDC designed by its ultimate sponsors to panic the world into receiving untested or inadequately tested ''anti-Ebola'' medications or injections such as TKM-Ebola that are designed to eliminate a significant portion of West African populations and beyond?
Ebola and Eugenics?
Interesting to note is the fact that until his recent death in a curious airplane accident, the chairman until 2010 of the US Doctors Without Borders was Richard Rockefeller, son of David Rockefeller. And, until only some months ago, another Rockefeller sat on the board of Monsanto when he died. The Rockefeller family, for more than a century since creation of their Rockefeller Foundation, have been among the most generous patrons of eugenics, including the Nazi eugenics research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes in Berlin and Munich during the late 1930's.
There are some very rich and very powerful families who deem themselves as Gods over us mere mortals. Indeed the Rockefeller history in this light is telling. In her 1993 book The Molecular Vision of Life, Dr. Lily E. Kay, described as ''one of the outstanding historians of biology of her generation,'' argued that the ''new biology'' was largely created by the Rockefeller Foundation and its subsidiary program at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) through a consensus between a scientific elite and a business elite whose broader aims centered on eugenics and the need to create a mechanism of social control and human engineering.
The term ''molecular biology,'' in fact, was coined in 1938 by Warren Weaver, director of the Rockefeller Foundation's Natural Sciences Division. The scarce research money to develop the reductionist discipline of molecular biology came from the well-endowed Rockefellers. Many of the scientists involved were not even eugenics supporters, but scientists in need of research money. Kay notes many of them, even at the elite level, were interested in the pursuit of ''pure science,'' even though they were aware of the goals of the Rockefeller Foundation. As Kay notes, ''the end result was that the 'new biology' would not be an open-ended investigation of 'the riddle of life' but would rather be a directed investigation to answer specific questions in ways amenable to the goals of eugenics and social control.''
CDC Patented a strain of Ebola?
All available evidence suggests that the ongoing Ebola hysteria from the WHO and CDC is part of just such a eugenics agenda that drove the Rockefeller Foundation to create Monsanto's GMO varieties to contaminate the human and animal food chain.
As if the Tekmira US Pentagon link on Ebola were not alarming enough, it is worth noting that in 2010 the US Centers for Disease Control won a patent on a particular strain of Ebola known as ''EboBun.'' It's patent No. CA2741523A1. They are also allowed to charge royalties for its use. Ugggg. What is the premier US Government health agency doing patenting Ebola virus strains in the first place? Patenting a virus? How is such a monstrosity possible? According to Canadian patent lawyer David Schwartz, ''You can't patent a disease condition per se, such as cancer or influenza. But if you're talking about patenting a life form like a bacteria or virus, if altered by man, the answer there is yes.''
Welcome to the WHO and CDC and Department of Defense and what more and more is becoming clear as their ''Twilight Zone,'' to paraphrase the brilliant 1960's TV science fiction series created by Rod Sterling.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''
How is it that our EU subscriptions are supposedly in arrears?
Well you may recall that the Office for National Statistics
recently recalculated the size of our national income to take account of
unreported or under-reported parts of the economy, such as research and
development, illicit drugs and prostitution.
EU 'expects' extra UK share in budget
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:07
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a German member of the European Parliament and one of the assembly's six vice presidents
A vice president of the European Parliament (EP) says Europe expects the UK to contribute an extra £1.7 billion to the EU budget, warning that the bloc would be ''exasperated'' if London tried to avoid paying.
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a German member of the EP and one of the parliament's six vice presidents, made the remarks on Saturday, saying the UK must make the two-billion euro (USD 2.5-billion) budget contribution to the EU.
Brussels has been demanding that the UK pay the extra amount by December after a recalculation of the country's national income since 1995 found that Britain's economy has enjoyed better-than-expected performance in comparison with other European countries.
Lambsdorff said ''everybody has to pay their dues,'' arguing that ''if you have higher GDP growth than forecast, that also means logically that you have a higher contribution to the community's budget.''
''That is a logical consequence. That is something that everybody has signed up for,'' Lambsdorff added.
The EP vice president's comments come a day after British Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK will refuse to pay the amount, describing the union's behavior as ''appalling.''
Cameron also warned that such behavior would certainly affect Britain's decision whether to remain in the EU.
The British prime minister is calling for a renegotiation of Britain's EU membership terms, saying that the reforms are crucial to persuade Britain to stay in the bloc. Cameron has also vowed to hold an in-out vote on the country's EU membership by 2017.
The EU budget 2014 in figures - Financial Programming and Budget
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:22
View as Graphic chart Table
EUR millionHeadingMillion '‚¬CAPATotal142 640,5135 504,6Appropriations as % of GNI1,06%1,00%1. SMART AND INCLUSIVE GROWTH63 986,362 392,81a. Competitiveness for growth and jobs16 484,011 441,31b. Economic, social and territorial cohesion47 502,350 951,52. SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: NATURAL RESOURCES59 267,256 458,93. SECURITY AND CITIZENSHIP2 172,01 677,04. GLOBAL EUROPE8 325,06 191,25. ADMINISTRATION8 405,18 406,06. COMPENSATIONS28,628,6SPECIAL INSTRUMENTS456,2350,0
The budget explained - Myths and facts - Financial Programming and Budget
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:21
The EU budget is enormous!No, actually it isn't.
The EU budget was about '‚¬144 bn in 2013 - very small compared to the sum of the 28 EU countries' national budgets (over '‚¬ 6,400 bn). Total government expenditure by the 28 EU countries is almost 50 times the EU budget!
To put this into perspective, in 2013 the average EU citizen paid only 89 cents a day towards the EU budget. That's less than half the price of a cup of coffee - hardly very expensive given the benefits that the EU brings its citizens.
In fact, the EU budget is smaller than the Austrian or Belgian budgets.
The EU budget stands at about 1% of the 28 EU countries' gross domestic product (GDP) '' the total value of all goods and services produced in the EU. By contrast, the budgets of EU countries represent 49% of GDP on average.
The EU budget is always balanced, so there is no deficit or debt. And 94% of what is paid into the EU budget is spent in the EU countries on policies and programmes that benefit citizens directly.
The EU budget is constantly on the rise, whereas national governments are cutting their spending!Wrong.
As a rule, the EU budget is not more than about 1% of the wealth of the entire EU. National budgets are NOT cutting their spending, they are increasing it.
In 2012, 20 national budgets out of 28 increased.In 2013, 21 national budgets out of 28 have increased.The bulk of EU expenditure goes on administration!This is absolutely wrong. Over 94% of the EU budget goes to citizens, regions, cities, farmers and businesses. The EU's administrative expenses account for under 6% of the total EU budget, with salaries accounting for around half of that 6%.
Salaries are paid to staff managing useful EU policies that benefit citizens directly, e.g. air traffic liberalisation, passenger rights or cheaper roaming charges. Commission staff negotiate trade agreements that help bring down the price of consumer goods and offer a wider choice of affordable products. They are also helping the EU to draw the right lessons from the financial and economic crisis, by ensuring that financial markets are regulated and supervised better.
Administrative costs have been stable for a long time. Over the past 5 years every effort has been made to keep them low. The Commission has conducted a zero growth policy as regards staff numbers. It has coped with new responsibilities and priorities by redeploying existing staff and has asked for no extra staff beyond those needed in connection with the countries that have recently joined the EU. In 2012 it also decided to freeze its administrative expenditure.
In 2004 and 2011 the Commission undertook major reforms of its administration, including:
lower entry-level salariesestablishing a contract agent category with lower salariesraising the retirement agereducing pension rightsincreasing pension contributions.The 2004 reform has already saved the EU taxpayer '‚¬3 bn, and is expected to save another '‚¬5 bn by 2020. Most recently, the standard working hours of EU staff went up to 40 a week, and various items of administrative expenditure were cut further. Together, these reforms will save an extra '‚¬1 bn by 2020 - and a further '‚¬1 bn a year in the long term.
The EU budget is riddled with fraud!The Commission has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud, which affects just 0.2% of annual spending. The estimated financial impact of fraudulent irregularities fell from '‚¬315 mn in 2012 to '‚¬248 mn in 2013.
For many years now, the European Court of Auditors has been giving our accounts a clean bill of health, saying that they correctly reflect EU budget spending.
The Court of Auditors has not yet given its seal of approval to our payments in certain policy areas. However, errors in EU spending are essentially administrative mistakes. They are not the same as fraud. In cohesion policy, for example, the error rate is still slightly above 5%, which represents a considerable reduction from past levels. The Court estimates the Commission's error rate as regards payments at 2% to 5%, depending on the policy area, whereas the Court's threshold is a 2% error rate.
However, a 2% to 5% error rate means that over 95% of all EU spending is in line with the rules. Moreover, when financial corrections are taken into account, the average error rate for 2009-2012 falls below 2%, the threshold required for the Court's green light. Although the Court does not take full account of corrections in its calculation, they do indicate sound financial management.
Under the Treaty, the Commission is responsible for implementing the EU budget, in cooperation with national governments. However, the national governments have primary responsibility for managing and controlling some 80% of all EU funds, and they have a key role to play in ensuring that EU money is spent wisely and in line with the rules. The latest review of the Financial Regulation gave the Commission more preventive and corrective powers and made the EU countries more accountable (by introducing management declarations of assurance on EU funds).
The EU budget is decided by Eurocrats without any democratic procedures!Wrong.
The annual EU budget is determined by a budgetary authority comprising the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission only proposes the budget, and has to abide by the limits which the 2 institutions set for a given period - the multiannual financial framework. The current multiannual financial framework covers 2014-2020.
The Commission proposes the multiannual financial framework. It is then negotiated and adopted using transparent and democratic procedures that take full account of national sovereignty and democratic rights.
For expenditure, the decision on the regulation defining the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework was taken by the European Council acting unanimously. To do this, it required the European Parliament's consent, given by a majority of its members.
For the own resources that finance the budget, the Council must make an unanimous decision after consulting the European Parliament. This decision enters into force only when all EU countries have approved it in line with their constitutional requirements.
The annual EU budgetFor the annual EU budget, EU decision-making also follows strict democratic procedures similar to those of most national governments. The initial proposal for the annual budget comes from the Commission. The budget is examined and agreed by the Council and the European Parliament. The final agreement is usually reached in December each year.
Every citizen can follow the process of budgetary negotiation. The documents are on our website and detailed discussions in the committees of the European Parliament can be watched online.
The EU costs too much!A Tax Freedom Day comparison is telling. This is the amount of time during the year that people have to work to pay their total tax burden. In most EU countries, citizens have to work well into the spring and summer until they have paid their contribution. In contrast, the average EU citizen has to work only 4 days to cover his or her contribution to the EU budget.
The EU funds silly projects like dog training centres or Elton John concerts!This is another fallacy conveyed by some. The Commission is serious about ensuring that the EU budget is well-targeted and well-spent.
National and regional authorities in the EU countries generally select projects which they think meet their needs best in line with the strategies and priorities agreed with the Commission. Checks at project, national and EU level protect taxpayers' money to the best possible extent.
However, the occasional error is unavoidable when large sums are distributed to millions of recipients in 28 countries and beyond. The Commission insists that when an error is found, the money must be recovered or the amounts corrected (i.e. rechanneled into a healthy project).
The authorities responsible are required to pay back every cent wrongfully claimed. It is never the taxpayer who foots the bill.
The Commission wants to introduce a direct EU tax and increase the tax burden on citizens!This is wrong.
The Commission has never floated the idea of a direct EU tax. National governments and local authorities will remain in control of raising taxes. Ideas for new own resources as presented in the budget review are not about extra money for Brussels. It is not about adding to the tax burden of citizens, but about changing the mix of resources that finance the EU budget. Every euro that is collected under a reformed system reduces EU countries' national contributions, making the new budget fairer and more transparent.
Did you know that any decision on EU financing requires the EU countries' unanimous agreement and subsequent ratification, in line with their constitutional requirements? In addition, implementing rules require the European Parliament to give its consent. This means that EU own resources are subject to strong parliamentary control and that EU countries' sovereignty and democratic rights are fully protected.
Most of the EU budget goes to farmers !Wrong.
In 1985, around 70% of the EU budget went on agriculture. In 2013, direct aid to farmers and market-related expenditure amounted to just 30% of the budget, and rural development spending to 9%. Over the past decade, 13 countries - most of them with large farming sectors '' have joined the EU. Yet the common agricultural policy budget has not risen to cover these extra costs. In fact, spending continues to fall.
Agriculture's relatively large share of the EU budget is entirely justified; it is the only policy funded almost entirely from the budget. This means that EU spending replaces national expenditure to a large extent.
The common agriculture policy is constantly developing. Successive reforms have replaced support for production by direct income support for farmers, provided they comply with certain health and environmental standards, and support to projects designed to encourage economic activity in rural areas.
The 2014 reform:
makes direct payments fairer and greenerstrengthens the position of farmers within the food production chainmakes the common agriculture policy more efficient and more transparent.Because food and commodity prices are high, we can scrap our farm subsidies!On the contrary.
Rising and fluctuating food and commodity prices highlight the importance of investing in agriculture in order to better match supply to demand. High prices mean that demand is stronger than supply. Global food demand is predicted to rise by 50% by 2030, as population growth is accompanied by changes in dietary patterns in many emerging economies. The issue is therefore a global one, which underlines the fundamental challenge of food security. The EU should maintain its agricultural production potential in all areas to avoid becoming over-dependent on food imports. Thus, the common agricultural policy guarantees the European public a dependable and plentiful supply of high-quality food, as well as a healthy environment and exceptional landscapes.
Furthermore, since in the EU there is little room for expanding the production area, productivity growth has to come through innovation and research. The rural development policy can help farmers embrace new production options and speed up technology transfer.
The common agriculture policy creates food surpluses and hurts farmers in the world's poorest countries!Did you know that the average EU farmer receives less than half of what the average US farmer receives in public support? The days of 'wine lakes' and 'butter mountains' are long gone.
More than a decade of reforms have made agricultural policy more development-friendly. Today, over 2/3 of its imports of farm products come from developing countries. Bilateral agreements with many countries allow for low tariffs on farm imports, and the 50 poorest countries in the world can export unlimited quantities to the EU duty free.
Furthermore, export subsidies have been slashed. 20 years ago, the EU spent '‚¬10 bn a year on export subsidies; by 2011, the figure was only about '‚¬160 mn. Export subsidies target countries in the Mediterranean basin and the rest of Europe. Only a very small proportion of subsidised goods find their way to Africa. As of 2014, the export-subsidy mechanism will be triggered only in exceptional circumstances.
The EU has preferential tariff agreements with many developing countries. It provides more trade-related aid to developing countries than the rest of the world put together '' almost '‚¬1 bn a year in the last 3 years.
Did you know that the EU is not only the biggest donor of development aid in the world but also Africa's largest trade partner? EU imports from Africa alone amount to over '‚¬12 bn (or 15% of all EU imports).
Cohesion policy is an expensive charity!The cohesion policy is:
a redistribution mechanism designed to help less developed regions and countries catch up with the Single Market and form links with ita future-oriented investment policy that clearly benefits the whole of the EU by creating growth and jobs across the board.There is a clear link between cohesion policy and growth in the EU. By 2020, the return for investments made under Cohesion Policy over the 2000-2006 period is estimated at '‚¬4.2 per euro invested. Studies have shown that gross domestic product (GDP) in the EU-25 as a whole has been 0.7% higher in 2009 thanks to cohesion policy investments over the 2000-2006 period. This is estimated to rise to 4% by 2020. In the EU-15 alone, the estimate is a cumulative net effect on GDP of 3.3% by 2020.
The economic and financial crisis has demonstrated the need for a policy that invests in the competitiveness of all regions as well as continuing to support development in those lagging behind. According to the most recent figures, for the 2007-2013 period, the cohesion policy created almost 600,000 jobs and supported close to 80,000 start-ups. It invested in 25,800 km of roads and 2,700 km railway lines. It helped 5.7 million people find employment and 8.6 million to obtain qualifications.
In other words, regional investment is European development.
Looking ahead to 2014-2020, the cohesion policy focuses on its allocative role in targeting investment in key sectors essential to Europe's economic success:
low-carbon economycompetitiveness among small and medium-sized businessesinnovation and employmentsocial inclusion. And most importantly, it will provide support to change in any region, whether under-developed or advanced, as is appropriate.The Multiannual Financial Framework is another example of the EU's path towards a centralised planning economy!This is not true.
The multiannual financial framework (MFF) defines the EU's long-term spending priorities in line with the agreed political priorities and sets annual maximum amounts to be spent on each priority. The financial framework stretches over several years to ensure sound and responsible financial planning and management. The current MFF covers 2014-2020, while the previous one covered 2007-2013.
The EU budget never runs a deficit, never builds up debt and only spends what it receives. It is always balanced.
Budget of the European Union - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:19
The European Union has a budget to pay for policies carried out at European level (such as agriculture, assistance to poorer regions, trans-European networks, research, some overseas development aid) and for its administration, including a parliament, executive branch, and judiciary that are distinct from those of the member states. These arms administer the application of treaties, laws and agreements between the member states and their expenditure on common policies throughout the Union. According to the European Commission, 6% of expenditure is on administration, compared with 94% on policies.[1]
To pay for this, the EU had an agreed budget of '‚¬120.7 billion for the year 2007 and '‚¬864.3 billion for the period 2007''2013,[2] representing 1.10% and 1.05% of the EU-27's GNI forecast for the respective periods.
Setting a budget[edit]The three core European Union institutions that are officially designated with responsibility for setting a budget are: the Council of the European Union, with ministers from each Member State; the European Commission, as the EU's day-to-day executive and administration; and the European Parliament directly elected by citizens. In practice, negotiations tend to be dominated by national interests, which is evident in the Council, where unanimous agreement of all member states is required.
The annual budget is adopted by a procedure involving a proposal from the European Commission, which must be adopted (usually after amendment) by the European Parliament and the Council. It must remain within ceilings determined in advance by the Multiannual Financial Framework, laid down for a seven-year period by the Council (requiring the unanimous approval of every Member State) with the assent of the Parliament.
The budget for a year is determined in advance, but final calculations of payments required from each member state are not completed until after the budget year is over and information about revenue and expenditure is available. The UK rebate is one of the last elements of the budget to be calculated (though it is estimated in advance) as it depends upon the balance of all EU revenue to and from the UK.
Court of Auditors[edit]The European Court of Auditors is the fifth institution of the European Union (EU). It was established in 1975 in Luxembourg to audit the accounts of EU institutions.
Despite its name, the court has no judicial functions. It is rather a professional external investigatory audit agency. The primary role of the court is to externally check if the budget of the European Union has been implemented correctly, in that EU funds have been spent legally and with sound management. In doing so, the court checks the paperwork of all persons handling any income or expenditure of the union and carries out spot checks. The court is bound to report any problems in the court's reports for the attention of other states and institutions, these reports include its general annual report as well as specific and special reports on certain bodies and issues.[3] The court's decision is the basis for the European Commission decisions, for example: when the court found problems in the management of EU funds in the regions of England, the commission suspended funds to those regions and prepared to fine those who did not come back up to acceptable standards.[4]
In this role the court has to remain independent yet remain in touch with the other institutions, for example a key role is the presentation of the court's annual report to the European Parliament. It is based on this report that the parliament makes its decision on whether or not to sign off the European Commission's handling of the budget for that year. The court, if satisfied, also sends assurances to the council and parliament that the taxpayers money is being properly used and the court must be consulted before the adoption of any legislation with financial implications but the opinion is never binding.[3]
A report from the European Parliament showed for the 19th time in succession, that the Court of Auditors was unable to grant a positive statement of assurance regarding the legality and regularity of the payments underlying the accounts.[5]
Following a report by the European Court of Auditors which found that 4.8% of the EU budget was affected by error, senior German MEP Inge Gr¤Ÿle (CDU), a member of the European Parliament's budgetary control committee, claimed that ''numerous questions arise concerning the willingness of the court, to significantly correct downward, the level of error rate after discussions with the audited authority, the EU Commission'... half of the errors in the structural funds sector were excluded from the estimate of the damage of the court, otherwise the numbers would be even worse''.[6]
Revenues and expenditure[edit]Revenue[edit]The EU obtains most of its revenue indirectly by payments from treasuries of member states. Revenue is divided into four categories.
Pie chart showing the sources for the EU25 total revenue in millions of euros for 2011
GNI based: 94.5 Billion euros VAT based: 13.8 Billion euros Traditional/Other: 18.2 Billion eurosFinancing of the general budget by class of own resource and by Member State (2011)[7]Member stateVAT own resource a(in million euros)GNI own resource( in million euros)UK correction(in million euros)Reduction in GNI for NL and SE(in million euros)Total 'national contributions(in million euros)BE447.12,726.5145.423.93,342.9BG50.0262.414.02.3328.7CZ198.41,054.356.29.31,318.1DK288.01,844.998.416.22,247.6DE1,617.919,221.1182.2168.721,189.9EE20.2103.75.50.9130.4IE199.41,002.353.58.81,264.0EL320.61,753.593.515.42,183.1ES1,194.17,938.4423.569.79,625.7FR2,687.315,429.7823.1135.419,075.6IT1,865.211,912.3635.5104.614,517.6CY26.1131.17.01.2165.3LV20.3129.06.91.1157.2LT40.9205.411.01.8259.0LU43.8220.211.71.9277.6HU130.7745.839.86.5922.9MT8.743.52.30.454.9NL297.24,548.644.1-625.14,263.7AT292.62,173.020.619.12,505.3PL552.52,776.5148.124.43,501.5PT245.01,231.365.710.81,552.8RO145.3965.151.58.51,170.3SL53.4268.414.32.4338.5SK79.8518.727.74.6640.7FI241.21,380.273.612.11,707.2SE153.82,642.625.0-141.72,679.8UK2,567.413,313.3-3,079.2116.912,918.3EU-2713,786.894,541.9--108,328.7Traditional own resources[edit]Traditional own resources[8] are taxes raised on behalf of the EU as a whole, principally import duties on goods brought into the EU. These are collected by the state where import occurs and passed on to the EU. States are allowed to keep a proportion of the revenue to cover administration (25%). The European Commission operates a system of inspectors to investigate the collection of these taxes in member states and ensure compliance with the rules. The effect of a state failing to collect these taxes is that other states will have to contribute more to the budget, so there is a potential conflict of interest on the part of the collecting authorities. Countries are liable to make good any loss of revenue due to their own administrative failure.[8]
VAT based own resources[edit]VAT based own resources[8] are taxes on EU citizens derived as a proportion of VAT levied in each member country. VAT rates and exemptions vary in different countries, so a formula is used to create the 'harmonised tax base', upon which the EU charge is levied. The starting point for calculations is the total VAT raised in a country. This is then adjusted using a weighted average of VAT rates applying in that country, producing the intermediate tax base. Further adjustments are made where there is a derogation from the VAT directive allowing certain goods to be zero-rated. The tax base is capped, such that it may not be greater than 50% of a country's Gross national income (GNI).
The EU applies a call-up rate to the tax base, generally of 0.33%, but this is varied for some countries. For 2007''2013 the rate proposed for Austria is 0.225%, and Germany 0.15%, the Netherlands and Sweden 0.1%. Countries are required to make an account of VAT revenues to the EU before July after the end of the budget year. The EU examines the submission for accuracy, including control visits by officials from the Directorate-General for Budget and Directorate-General for Taxation, and reports back to the country concerned.
The country may then respond to any issues raised in the report, and negotiations continue until both sides are satisfied, or the matter may be referred to the European Court of Justice for a final ruling. The Advisory committee on own resources, which has representatives from each member state, also receives and discusses the reports. In 2006, nine countries were inspected by controllers, including 5 new member states who were participating in the procedure for the first time. It is anticipated that 11 countries will be visited in 2007. The EU may be working on figures for three years at any one time.
GNI based own resources[edit]GNI based own resources[8] currently forms the largest contribution to EU funding. A simple multiplier is applied to the calculated GNI for the country concerned. This is the last recourse for raising funding for a budget year, so the actual figure is adjusted within predetermined limits to obtain the budget total required. Revenue is currently capped at 1.23% of Gross national income in the European Union as a whole.[9]
GNI for own resource purposes is calculated by national accountants according to European law governing the sources and methods to compile GNI and the transmission of GNI data and related methodological information to the Commission (Eurostat). Basic information must be provided by the countries concerned to Eurostat before 22 September following the budget year concerned.
Eurostat carries out information visits to the National Statistical Institutes forming part of the European Statistical System. Based on assessment reports by Eurostat, the Directorate-General for Budget (DG BUDG) of the Commission may notify to the Permanent Representative of the Member State concerned required corrections and improvements in the form of reservations on the country's GNI data. Payments are made monthly by member states to the commission. Own resources payments are made monthly as they are collected, but monthly instalments of VAT and GNI based returns are based upon the budget estimates made for that year, subject to later correction.
Other revenue[edit]Other revenue[8] accounted for 6.2% of EU revenue in 2012.[10] This includes tax and deductions from EU staff remuneration, interest on deposits or late payments, payments from non-EU countries for certain programmes, underspent funding from community programs and any other surplus from the previous budget.
Pie chart showing EU's total expenditure for 2006 in millions of euros.[11]Percentages are approximate. CAP: 49,798.8 (46.7%) Internal policies: 9,013.7 (8.5%)
Administration: 6,699.7 (6.3%)
External actions: 5,186.2 (4.9%)
Pre-accession strategy: 2,276.7 (2.1%)
Compensations:1,073.5 (1.0%)
Reserves: 127.6 (0.1%)
Total expenditure = 106,575.5 millionExpenditure[edit]Most of the EU budget is used for agricultural and regional support, while the administration accounts for 6''7%.
In the 2006 budget, the largest single expenditure item was due to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with its direct aid, export refunds, storage and rural development and support and subsidies, which accounted for around 46.7% of the total budget. By 2013, the share of traditional CAP spending is projected to decrease significantly to 32%.
Next in 2006 came the EU's structural funds, which are used to support specific regions in the EU, as part of EU's regional policy, which aims to reduce regional disparities in terms of income, wealth and opportunities. Europe's poorer regions receive most of the support, but all European regions are eligible for funding under the policy's various funds and programmes. In 2006 approximately 30.4% of the EU budget was used for such support. While the CAP spending is going down, the regional support is increasing, and is expected to reach almost 36% in 2013.[12]
Internal policies (training, youth, culture, audiovisual, media, information, energy, Euratom nuclear safeguards and environment, consumer protection, internal market, industry and Trans-European networks, research and technological development, other internal policies) took up around 8.5% in the 2006 budget.
Administration, i.e. the actual running of the EU institutions, including salaries and property costs, accounted for around 6.3% in 2006.
External actions, i.e. EU's international activities outside the EU (development aid, peace keeping and security work, election observers etc.) accounted for 4.9% in 2006.
Finally, the pre-accession strategy, compensations and reserves brought up the rear of the budget, with approximately 2.1%, 1% and 0.1% respectively in 2006.
Net receipts from the EU budget, based on 2009 budget data(negative amounts show net contributions)[13]Member statePer capita(in euros)Percentage(of national GDP)Total amount(in million euros)Austria''59.7''0.18''499Belgium90.00.29968Bulgaria77.41.76589Cyprus''34.0''0.18''27Czech Republic150.41.111,575Germany''107.3''0.37''8,797Denmark''211.0''0.53''1,163Estonia416.24.02558Finland''113.8''0.36''606France''100.4''0.34''6,461Greece267.21.303,009Hungary265.12.682,660Ireland''35.0''0.09''156Italy''100.7''0.41''6,046Lithuania438.25.331,468Luxembourg2364.53.051,167Latvia218.82.62495Malta17.40.137Netherlands''90.2''0.26''1,488Poland160.51.666,119Portugal196.41.252,087Romania74.81.241,609Spain9.70.04444Sweden''43.6''0.13''404Slovenia92.80.55189Slovakia88.80.78481United Kingdom''62.7''0.24''3,865Net contributors and recipients[edit]Net receipts or contributions vary over time, and there are various ways of calculating net contributions to the EU budget, depending, for instance, on whether countries' administrative expenditure is included. Also, one can use either absolute figures (which indicate that Germany is the largest contributor), the proportion of GDP (which show that Denmark is the largest contributor), or per capita amounts (which show that Denmark is the largest contributor). Different countries may tend to favour different methods, to present their country in a more favourable light.
The table shows the traditional calculation (with own resources), based on research by Deutsche Bank Research (net contributors are shown in blue).[13]
As a proportion of GDP, net contributors pay from 0.09 percent (Ireland) to 0.53 percent (Denmark), and net recipients receive from 0.04 percent (Spain) to 5.33 percent (Lithuania).
The four largest net recipients in absolute terms are Poland, Greece, Hungary, Portugal.The four largest net recipients in per capita terms are Luxembourg, Lithuania, Estonia, GreeceThe four largest net recipients as a proportion of GDP are Lithuania, Estonia, Luxembourg, Hungary.The four largest net contributors in absolute terms are Germany, France, Italy, UKThe four largest net contributors in per capita terms are Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy.The four largest net contributors as a proportion of GDP are Denmark, Italy, Germany, Finland.The EU budget for 2014''2020[edit]On 29 June 2011, the European Commission presented the Communication 'A budget for Europe 2020' to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.[14]
Due to the tough economic times, seven member states (Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) argued during the 26 March 2012 General Affairs Council meeting that the EC's proposed overall amount for the seven-year EU budget plan should be reduced by '‚¬100 billion, or in the case of Sweden, by more than '‚¬100 billion.[15]
On 8 February 2013, European Union leaders agreed to cut the budget by 3.3%; the agreement on the proposed budget by the European Council has yet to be approved by the European Parliament, adopted unanimously by the Council of the European Union and ratified by the national parliaments of all member states; if adopted, it will be the first cut in its 56-year history.[16][17][18] The Budget was finally approved by the European Parliament Tuesday 19th November 2013 by overwhelming majority. MEPs voted 537 in favour, 126 against and with 19 abstentions. [19]
See also[edit]External links[edit]References[edit]
Dalia Grybauskaitė - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:05
Dalia Grybauskaitė (Lithuanian pronunciation: '‹[d̪ɐËlʲɛ ÉʲrʲiːbɐʊsËkɐ̂ˑɪt̪ʲeː], born 1 March 1956) is the President of Lithuania, inaugurated on 12 July 2009 and re-elected in May 2014. She is the country's first female President and the first to be elected for a second term.[1][2]
She was Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance, also European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget from 2004 to 2009. She is often referred to as the "Iron Lady" or the "Steel Magnolia".
Early years[edit]Grybauskaitė was born on 1 March 1956 in a working-class family in Vilnius. Her mother, Vitalija Korsakaitė (1922''1989), was born in the Biržai region and worked as a saleswoman; her father, Polikarpas Grybauskas (1928''2008), worked as an electrician and driver. Grybauskaitė attended Salomėja Nėris High School. She has described herself as not among the best of students, receiving mostly fours in a system where five was the highest grade. Her favourite subjects were history, geography and physics.[3]
Grybauskaitė began participating in sport at the age of eleven, and became a passionate basketball player.[3] At the age of nineteen, she worked for a year at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society as a staff inspector. She then enrolled in Saint Petersburg State University, then known as Zhdanov University, as a student of political economy.[4] At the same time, she began working in a local factory. In 1983, Grybauskaitė graduated with a citation and returned to Vilnius, taking a secretarial position at the Academy of Sciences. Work in the Academy was scarce, however, and she moved to the Vilnius Party High School, where she lectured in political economy and global finance.[4] From 1983 to December 1989, she was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and after the Communist Party of Lithuania broke away from the CPSU in December 1989, she was member of the CPL until June 1990. In 1988, she defended her PhD thesis at Moscow (Academy of Social Sciences).
In 1990, soon after Lithuania re-established its independence from the Soviet Union, Grybauskaitė continued her studies at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington DC, in the Special Programme for senior executives.[5]
Early career[edit]Between 1991 and 1993, Grybauskaitė worked as Director of the European Department at the Ministry of International Economic Relations of the Republic of Lithuania. During 1993, she was employed in the Foreign Ministry as director of the Economic Relations Department, and represented Lithuania when it entered the European Union free trade agreements. She also chaired the Aid Coordination Committee (Phare and the G24). Soon afterwards, she was named Extraordinary Envoy and Plenipotentiary Minister at the Lithuanian Mission to the EU.[5] There, she worked as the deputy chief negotiator for the EU Europe Agreement and as a representative of the National Aid Co-ordination in Brussels.
In 1996, Grybauskaitė was appointed Plenipotentiary Minister in the United States's Lithuanian embassy. She held this position until 1999, when she was appointed deputy Minister of Finance. As part of this role, she led Lithuanian negotiations with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. In 2000, Grybauskaitė became Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, going on in 2001 to become Minister of Finance in the Algirdas Brazauskas government. Lithuania joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, and Grybauskaitė was named a European Commissioner on the same day.[4]
European Commission[edit]Grybauskaitė initially served as European Commissioner for Education and Culture. She held this position until 11 November 2004, when she was named European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget within the Jos(C) Manuel Barroso-led Commission.
In November 2005, Grybauskaitė was named "Commissioner of the Year" in the European VoiceEuropeans of the Year poll. She was nominated "for her unrelenting efforts to shift EU spending towards areas that would enhance competitiveness such as research and development." She commented:[6]
I don't usually participate in contests, so this is a very pleasant surprise for me. I consider it a distinction not for me personally, but for all the new EU Member States, both small and large, as an acknowledgment of their bringing a new and fresh perspective to the EU. I think that it's also a prize for having the courage to speak the often difficult truth and to point out the real price of political rhetoric in Europe. As for results, we still have to wait for them. An agreement on the budget for 2007''2013, which Europe really needs, is most important.
As Financial and Budget Commissioner, she strongly criticized the EU budget, stating it was "...not a budget for the 21st century."[7] The majority of the EU budget was spent on agricultural programmes. Grybauskaitė presented a 2008 EU budget in which, for the first time in its history, spending on growth and employment constituted the highest share of the budget, exceeding that of agriculture and natural resources.[8] She frequently criticised the Lithuanian Government, headed by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, for its lack of response to the approaching financial crisis.[9]
2009 presidential election[edit]On 26 February 2009, Grybauskaitė officially announced her candidacy for the 2009 presidential election. In her declaration speech, she said:
I decided to return to Lithuania if the Lithuanian people decide I am needed there now. I think that we all long for the truth, transparency and responsibility for our country. We all want to live without fear, with confidence in ourselves, in each other, and in tomorrow. I can and I want to contribute with my experience, knowledge and skills to expel shadows from morality, politics, and economics to create a citizen-ruled Lithuania '' a state of citizens. Therefore, I will run for the Lithuanian presidency.[10]
There were three women and four men as presidential candidates. Opinion polls taken in February 2009 showed that Grybauskaitė was the undisputed leader in the race.[11] She ran as an independent, although she was supported by the dominant Conservative Party as well as by NGOs, including SąjÅdis.[12][13]
Her campaign was primarily focused on domestic issues. After years of strong economic growth, Lithuania faced a deep recession, with double-digit declines in economic indicators. The unemployment rate rose to 15.5% in March 2009, and a January street protest against the government's response to the recession turned violent.[14] During the campaign, Grybauskaitė stressed the need to combat the financial troubles by protecting those with the lowest incomes, simplifying the Lithuanian bureaucratic apparatus, and reviewing the government's investment programme.[15] She also promised a more balanced approach in conducting foreign policy, the primary constitutional role of the Lithuanian presidency.
The election was held on 17 May 2009. Dalia Grybauskaitė won in a landslide, receiving 69,1% of the valid vote.[16] The 51.6% turnout was just above the threshold needed to avoid a runoff election.[17] In winning the election, Grybauskaitė became not only the first female president of Lithuania, but won by the largest margin recorded in presidential elections.[18]
Political analysts attributed the easy victory to Grybauskaitė's financial competence and her ability to avoid domestic scandals.[17] The international press was quick to dub her the "Lithuanian Iron Lady" for her outspoken speech and her black belt in karate.[19][20] Grybauskaitė, who speaks Lithuanian, English, Russian, French and Polish,[19] has mentioned Margaret Thatcher and Mahatma Gandhi as her political role models.[21]
Presidency (2009''present)[edit]Grybauskaitė assumed presidential duties on 12 July 2009, and accepted half of her presidential salary (312,000 litas).[14] Her first presidential visits abroad were made to Sweden and Latvia;[22] in April 2011, she made a state visit to Norway.[23] On 19 December 2013, Grybauskaitė decided to boycott Sochi Winter Olympics together with German president Joachim Gauck, French president Fran§ois Hollande, and American president Barack Obama due to Russia's human rights violations, attitudes and behaviour with Eastern partners and Lithuania.[24]
In 2014, Grybauskaitė was re-elected President. She received 46% of the vote in the first round, and defeated Zigmantas Balčytis of the Social Democratic Party in the run-off with 58% of the vote.
Foreign policy[edit]Relations with Russia[edit]Following her reelection in May 2014, she said "Dignity, self-respect and mutual benefit, these are the principles that should set the basis for relations between countries and no doubt, knowing that this is our neighbor, we wish this country to democratize and cope with the arising economic challenges".[25]
In June 2014, Grybauskaitė told German news magazine Focus: "[Putin] uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means. That's exactly what Stalin and Hitler did." She also said Russia and Putin were "characterised by aggressiveness, violence, and a willingness to overstep boundaries."[26]
Personal life[edit]Grybauskaitė is unmarried and has no children. Other than her native Lithuanian, she is fluent in English, Russian and Polish, and also speaks French.[27] Grybauskaitė possesses a black belt in karate.
Dalia Grybauskaitė has received the following national and international awards:
References[edit]^"Lithuania's first female president sworn in for second term". EuroNews. 12 July 2014. ^Skard, Torild (2014) "Kazimiera Prunskiene and Dalia Grybauskaite" in Women of power - half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press, ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0, pp. 335-40^ abJablonskaitė, Dovilė (7 March 2009). "MąsliÅ" akiÅ" mergaitė" (in Lithuanian). Klaipėda diena. Retrieved 18 May 2009. ^ abcGrybauskaitė, Dalia. "Apie Mane" (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^ ab"Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Dalia Grybauskaitė". European Commission. Retrieved 18 May 2009. ^"Dalia Grybauskaitė News 2005". European Commission. 29 November 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^"Grybauskaite: "Today's budget is not a budget for the 21st century"". 1 August 2005. Retrieved 18 May 2009. ^"The 2008 EC Budget". European Union Committee. Retrieved 19 May 2009. ^"D.Grybauskaitė: kritika Lietuvai '' oficiali EK nuomonė". 25 June 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2009. ^"D. Grybauskaitė sieks prezidento posto" (in Lithuanian). Lithuanian National Radio and Television. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. "AÅ apsisprendžiau, kad sutinku grįžti į ietuvą, jei Lietuvos žmonės nusprÄs, kad esu reikalinga dabar Lietuvoje. Manau, kad visi esame pasiilgÄ tiesos, skaidrumo ir atsakomybės už savo Åalį. Norime visi gyventi be baimės, pasitikėdami savimi, vienas kitu ir rytojumi. Galiu ir noriu skirti savo patirtį, žinias bei gebėjimus tam, kad iÅguitume ÅeÅėlius iÅ moralės, politikos, ekonomikos ir sukurtume tokią piliečiÅ" Lietuvą, piliečiÅ" valstybÄ. Todėl dalyvausiu Lietuvos prezidento rinkimuose." ^"Po D.Grybauskaitės apsisprendimo politologai nemato jai konkurencijos" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos rytas. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^"Lithuanians vote in female president". Deutsche Welle. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^"Lietuvos SąjÅdis nusprendė paremti D.GrybauskaitÄ" (in Lithuanian). Klaipėda diena. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^ ab"Lithuania president-elect vows to fight recession". Associated Press , reprinted by CBC News. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^"Grybauskaitė: reikia taupyti biurokratÅ", o ne paprastÅ" žmoniÅ" sąskaita" (in Lithuanian). 29 January 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^ Central Electoral Committee of the Republic of Lithuania, European Election Database^ ab"Lithuania gets first woman leader". BBC News. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009. ^"Å ampanas iÅÅautas: D.Grybauskaitė be didesnės konkurencijos iÅrinkta Lietuvos prezidente" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos rytas. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^ ab"Dalia Grybauskaite: Lithuania's 'Iron Lady'". Khaleej Times Online. Retrieved 19 May 2009. ^"D. GrybauskaitÄ vadina Lietuvos "geležine ledi"". Lithuanian National Radio and Television. Retrieved 19 May 2009. ^"Lithuania elects first female president". ABC News (Australia). 18 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. ^Premjeras prezidentės pirmojo vizito į Å vediją nelaiko posÅkiu užsienio politikoje. Retrieved on 7 October 2009^^Prezidentė Dalia Grybauskaitė į Sočio žiemos olimpines žaidynes nevyks(Lithuanian)^Re-Elected Lithuanian President Hopes for Friendly Relations With Russia, 26 May, 2014^"Lithuanian president compares Putin to Hitler and Stalin-magazine". Reuters. June 22.^. European Commission Retrieved 5 September 2014. ^Lithuanian Presidency, Lithuanian Orders searching form^List of recipients of the Order of the Three Stars since 2004 (.doc file)^Lithuanian Prsidency, State visit in Norway, Gala dinner, Photo^"Noblesse et Royaut(C)s" (French), State visit photos^Icelandic Presidency Website (Icelandic), Order of the Falcon, Grybauskaite, Dalia, 25 August 2011^Sovereign Ordonnance n° 3987 of 15 October 2012 (French)^Video of the state visit of Monaco in Lithuania 15 October 2012^"Grybauskaite: responsible leadership strengthens Europe". The Baltic Course. External links[edit]PersondataNameGrybauskaitė, DaliaAlternative namesShort descriptionLithuanian politicianDate of birth1956-03-01Place of birthVilnius, Soviet Union (now Lithuania)Date of deathPlace of death
BBC News - UK told to pay £1.7bn extra to European Union budget
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 03:52
24 October 2014Last updated at 06:06 ET The UK has been told it must pay an extra £1.7bn (2.1bn euros) towards the European Union's budget because the economy has performed better than expected in recent years.
The payment follows new calculations by the EU that determine how much each member state should contribute.
It would add about a fifth to the UK's annual net contribution of £8.6bn.
A government source said the demand was "not acceptable" while one Tory MP said the UK should simply refuse to pay it.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the UK had been "hammered again" while Labour said it was imperative that the European Commission must reconsider the "backdated bill".
LosersAdditional sum to pay United Kingdom
WinnersReduction Source: Leaked EU Commission document
It comes at a time of increased pressure on David Cameron over Europe, with the Rochester and Strood by-election next month likely to be dominated by the issues of immigration and the UK's relationship with the European Union.
The recent electoral success of the anti-EU UK Independence Party - which is hoping to win the Rochester seat from the Conservatives - has prompted renewed calls for the prime minister to renegotiate the terms of the UK's relationship with Europe.
'Natural justice'The BBC's political correspondent Ben Wright in Brussels says the demand for more cash - which the UK government only found out about last week - has infuriated the UK and will rile many backbench Conservative MPs.
Mr Cameron made no comment as he arrived for the second day of an EU summit in Brussels.
But the government source said: "It's not acceptable to just change the fees for previous years and demand them back at a moment's notice.
Analysis by Europe correspondent Chris Morris
For the prime minister, the timing could hardly be worse.
The European Commission has reviewed the economic performance of all member states since 1995, and revised its economic statistics to take greater account of things like income from the black economy.
The result is that the UK faces by far the largest extra payment. The Netherlands and Italy also have big bills to pay, and even a struggling country like Greece will see its contribution go up.
In contrast, both Germany and France will get rebates - '‚¬1bn for the French.
EU officials say it is a technical not a political decision, and it has been worked out under rules agreed by all member states.
But it will certainly add to political tensions about Europe in the UK, at a time when opinion polls say UKIP is on course to win its second parliamentary seat in Rochester and Strood next month.
"The European Commission was not expecting this money and does not need this money and we will work with other countries similarly affected to do all we can to challenge this."
Conservative backbencher John Redwood said the surcharge "offended all our principles of natural justice and fair taxation".
"It is a very large increase in tax on the British people charged retrospectively without their agreement," he told Radio 4's Today programme.
He suggested the UK should simply refuse to pay the extra amount and that Parliament should be asked to pass a law declaring the payment illegal.
"The British people will not want to send another £1.7bn to the European Union by a very big majority and so the British government just says it won't pay,"
And his colleague Mark Pritchard said Mr Cameron should consider bringing forward a referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, which David Cameron has promised in 2017.
The additional payment was requested after the European Commission's statistics agency, Eurostat, reviewed the economic performances of member states since 1995, and readjusted the contributions made by each state over the past four years based on their pace of growth.
Analysis by economics editor Robert Peston
How is it that our EU subscriptions are supposedly in arrears?
Well you may recall that the Office for National Statistics recently recalculated the size of our national income to take account of unreported or under-reported parts of the economy, such as research and development, illicit drugs and prostitution.
So thanks in part to the inclusion in the official economy of our productive sex workers, our EU membership fee has been augmented.
Now to be absolutely clear, none of this is a surprise to the Treasury or chancellor. British officials have known for some time that the inflammatory demand from Brussels was coming.
What did catch them by surprise was what it sees as a deliberate leak by EU officials of the news last night - which they see as an attempt to embarrass David Cameron, as he meets other EU leaders to discuss, among other things, his controversial hopes of being able to restrict migration of EU nationals to Britain.
Read more from Robert
Under the new calculations, the UK and the Netherlands are both being asked to pay more on 1 December, while France and Germany are both set to receive rebates.
The UK receives an annual rebate on its EU contribution under an agreement secured by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
In 2013, the rebate was worth £3.32bn, while £5.2bn was also deducted from the UK's overall £17.1bn contribution to reflect payments to UK businesses for agriculture, rural development and regional infrastructure.
Mr Cameron is meeting his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte to discuss how they might challenge the surcharges, amid suggestions the Netherlands may consider taking legal action.
The president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite has defended the process. "Each year we have a final revision of the budget, because the payments are based on a prognosis," she said.
"So at the end of the year the [European] Commission revises, and some countries have to pay back."
'Senseless'The leader of the Conservative MEPs, Syed Kamall, said the UK was being penalised for its austerity measures.
"The European Commission is penalising Britain for taking tough decisions, putting in place a long-term economic plan and for having the most successful economy in the EU, while actually rewarding France for being an economic basket case," he said.
And UKIP's Nigel Farage said the cash demand would add to the UK's already substantial budget deficit and he would "not pay a penny" to the European Union.
"The EU is like a thirsty vampire feasting on UK taxpayers' blood," he said. "We need to protect the innocent victims, who are us."
Labour said David Cameron should work with allies in Europe to put pressure on the European Commission to reconsider.
"It is imperative that David Cameron now urgently discuss this with other member states, and urges the incoming EU Commission to look again at the proposed change," said its shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden.
And Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said the timing of the EU's request was "senseless".
"Just as pro-EU sentiment in UK reaches a 23-year high, Commission clumsily gives eurosceptics an open goal with budget request," she tweeted.
A request by Tory MP Andrew Turner for a government minister to answer an urgent question in the Commons about the EU demand has been declined by Speaker John Bercow.
Dijsselbloem zeer verrast over naheffing | Binnenland |
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 03:51
Exclusieve artikelen van de Telegraaf redactie
vr 24 okt 2014, 12:44| 1060 reacties|
lees voorBRUSSEL - Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is 'žzeer onaangenaam verrast'' over de forse naheffing die Nederland krijgt op de afdracht aan Brussel. Nederland heeft een naheffing gekregen van de Europese Commissie van 642 miljoen euro. De minister benadrukte dat het kabinet zich er niet zo maar bij neerlegt en uitzoekt waar het precies over gaat.
Dijsselbloem zei dit vrijdag in Brussel, voorafgaand aan overleg. Hij gaf aan dat hij met een dergelijk bedrag geen rekening heeft gehouden in de begroting.
Volgens Dijsselbloem gaat het om een reguliere naheffing op basis van een revisie van statistische bronnen. Dat gebeurt regelmatig, zei de minister.'žDat heeft tot nu toe alleen geleid tot kleine correcties, maar nu komt er ineens een groot bedrag uit. In die zin is dat zeer verrassend.''
De minister sprak tegen dat de naheffing komt doordat er een nieuwe rekenmethode wordt gebruikt om de economie van een land in te schalen. De afdracht van een land aan de EU is een percentage van het bruto binnenlands product en omdat de Nederlandse economie groter is door de nieuwe rekenmethode stijgt ook de afdracht.
Daar heeft Nederland al wel rekening mee gehouden voor volgende jaren. Dijsselbloem herhaalde dat er niet met terugwerkende kracht op basis van die nieuwe methode nog een toeslag komt. 'žDat is ons steeds verzekerd.''
Lees ook:Dijsselbloem: Geen angst voor nieuwe crisis
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Dijsselbloem: Geen naheffing EU-afdracht door Brussel -
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 03:51
Door: redactie23-4-14 - 17:24 bron: ANPMinister Dijsselbloem: We hoeven niet bang te zijn dat Brussel nog met een naheffing komt over de Nederlandse afdracht aan de Europese Unie in de afgelopen jaren. (C) ap.We hoeven niet bang te zijn dat Brussel nog met een naheffing komt over de Nederlandse afdracht aan de Europese Unie in de afgelopen jaren. Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem van Financin garandeerde dat vandaag in een Kamerdebat in antwoord op vragen van de PVV.
De EU gaat een nieuwe rekenmethode hanteren voor de omvang van de economie van de Europese landen. Voor Nederland betekent dat dat de economie in 2010 in omvang bijna 8 procent (45 miljard euro) hoger uitvalt. Omdat de EU-afdracht een percentage van het bruto binnenlands product is, zal Nederland volgend jaar meer moeten afdragen aan Brussel.
Dat geldt ook voor de uitgaven aan Ontwikkelingssamenwerking. De twee posten samen tellen waarschijnlijk op tot een tegenvaller op de begroting voor volgend jaar van enkele honderden miljoenen euro's. Hoe groot de tegenvaller precies wordt, kon Dijsselbloem woensdag nog niet zeggen.
Dijsselbloem zal de komende maanden nog kijken naar de wensen van de vijf partijen waarmee hij onderhandelt over de begroting van volgend jaar. Hij wil wel vasthouden aan een maximaal overheidstekort van 2,1 procent, zoals het Centraal Planbureau recent voor 2015 raamde. Het kabinet zit dan weer bijna op het pad dat het zich aan het begin van deze regeerperiode had voorgenomen. Dat 'saldopad' was ietsje ambitieuzer. Misschien kunnen we dat nog halen, zei Dijsselbloem.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVERENRapporteer een fout in het artikel aan onze redactie
Treating Putin Like a Lunatic | Consortiumnews
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 06:09
Exclusive: Official Washington treats whatever comes out of Russian President Putin's mouth as the ravings of a lunatic, even when what he says is obviously true or otherwise makes sense, as the New York Times has demonstrated again, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
When reading the New York Times on many foreign policy issues, it doesn't take a savant to figure out what the newspaper's bias is. Anything, for instance, relating to Russian President Vladimir Putin drips of contempt and hostility.
Rather than offer the Times' readers an objective or even slightly fair-minded account of Putin's remarks, we are fed a steady diet of highly prejudicial language, such as we find in Saturday's article about Putin's comments at a conference in which he noted U.S. contributions to chaos in countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of Sevastopol from the Nazis. (Russian government photo)
That Putin is correct appears almost irrelevant to the Times, which simply writes that Putin ''unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet'' with his goal ''to sell Moscow's view that American meddling has sparked most of the world's recent crises.''
Rather than address the merits of Putin's critique, the Times' article by Neil MacFarquhar uncritically cites the ''group think'' of Official Washington: ''Russia is often accused of provoking the crisis in Ukraine by annexing Crimea, and of prolonging the agony in Syria by helping to crush a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's last major Arab ally. Some analysts have suggested that Mr. Putin seeks to restore the lost power and influence of the Soviet Union, or even the Russian Empire, in a bid to prolong his own rule.''
Yes, ''some analysts'' can be cited to support nearly any claim no matter how wrongheaded, or you can use the passive tense '' ''is often accused'' '' to present any charge no matter how unfair. But a more realistic summary of the various crises afflicting the world would note that Putin is correct when he describes past U.S. backing for various extremists, from Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East and Central Asia to neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
For example, during the 1980s, the Reagan administration consciously encouraged Islamic fundamentalism as a strategy to cause trouble for ''atheistic communism'' in Afghanistan and in the Muslim provinces of the Soviet Union.
To overthrow a Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan, the CIA and its Saudi collaborators financed the mujahedeen ''holy warriors'' who counted among their supporters Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden. Some of those Islamists later blended into the Taliban and al-Qaeda with dire consequences for the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
By invading Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush toppled a secular dictator, Saddam Hussein, but saw him replaced by what amounted to a Shiite theocracy which pushed Iraq's Sunni minority into the arms of ''Al-Qaeda in Iraq,'' which has since rebranded itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or simply the Islamic State. Those extremists now control large swaths of Iraq and Syria and have massacred religious minorities and Western hostages, prompting another U.S. military intervention.
Obama's Interventions
In Libya in 2011, President Barack Obama acquiesced to demands from ''liberal interventionists'' in his administration and authorized an air war to overthrow another secular autocrat, Muammar Gaddafi, whose ouster and murder have sent Libya spiraling into political chaos amid warring Islamist militias. It turns out Gaddafi was not wrong when he warned of Islamist terrorists operating around Benghazi.
Similarly, Official Washington's embrace of protests and violence aimed at removing another secular Arab leader, Syria's Bashar al-Assad, contributed to the bloody civil war that has devastated that country and created fertile ground for the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, the official al-Qaeda affiliate.
Though Obama balked at demands from neocons and ''liberal interventionists'' that he launch an air war against the Syrian military in 2013, he did authorize secret shipments of weapons and training for the supposedly ''moderate'' Syrian rebels who have generally sided with Islamist fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Many of these same neocons and ''liberal interventionists'' have been eager to ratchet up the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program, including neocon dreams to ''bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,'' also a desire of hardliners in Israel.
In some of these crises, one of the few international leaders who has cooperated with Obama to tamp down tensions has been Putin, who helped negotiate conflict-avoiding agreements with Syria and Iran. But those peaceful interventions made Putin an inviting target for the neocons who began in fall 2013 arranging a coup d'etat in Ukraine on Russia's border.
As Obama and Putin each paid too little attention to these maneuvers, neocons such as National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland went to work on the Ukrainian coup.
However to actually overthrow Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the coup makers had to collaborate with neo-Nazi militias which were organized in western Ukraine and dispatched to Kiev where they provided the muscle for the Maidan uprising. Neo-Nazi leaders were given several ministries in the new government, and neo-Nazi militants were incorporated into the National Guard and ''volunteer'' militias dispatched to crush the ethnic Russian resistance in the east.
Putin for the Status Quo
The underlying reality of the Ukraine crisis was that Putin actually supported the country's status quo, i.e. maintaining the elected president and the constitutional process. It was the United States along with the European Union that sought to topple the existing system and pull Ukraine from Russia's orbit into the West's.
Whatever one thinks about the merits of that change, it is factually wrong to accuse Putin of initiating the Ukraine crisis or to extrapolate from Official Washington's false conventional wisdom and conclude that Putin is a new Hitler, an aggressor seeking to reestablish the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire.
But the Times and other major U.S. news outlets have wedded themselves to that propaganda theme and now cannot deviate from it. So, when Putin states the obvious '' that the U.S. has meddled in the affairs of other nations and that Russia did not pick the fight over Ukraine '' his comments must be treated like the ravings of a lunatic unleashing some ''diatribe.''
Among Putin's ranting was his observation, according to the Times article, that ''the United States supports 'dubious' groups ranging from 'open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.'
'''Why do they support such people,' he asked the annual gathering known as the Valdai Club, which met this year in the southern resort town of Sochi. 'They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals, but then burn their fingers and recoil.'
''The goal of the United States, he said, was to try to create a unipolar world in which American interests went unchallenged. '...
''Mr. Putin '... specifically denied trying to restore the Russian Empire. He argued Russia was compelled to intervene in Ukraine because that country was in the midst of a 'civilized dialogue' over its political future when the West staged a coup to oust the president last February, pushing the country into chaos and civil war.
'''We did not start this,' he said. 'Statements that Russia is trying to reinstate some sort of empire, that it is encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbors, are groundless.'''
Of course, all the ''smart people'' of Official Washington know how to react to such statements from Putin, with a snicker and a roll of the eyes. After all, they've been reading the narratives of these crises as fictionalized by the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.
Rationality and realism seem to have lost any place in the workings of the mainstream U.S. news media.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
Ukraine Rebels Love Russia, Hate Gays, Threaten Executions - The Daily Beast
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:47
There's a lot the rebel parliament of Luhansk can't decide, like their form of government. But jailing gays? That passes with a show of hands.
KIEV, Ukraine '-- In the breakaway region that calls itself the Luhansk People's Republic, in what used to be a Ukrainian government administration building, the place where rebels get together to exchange their most radical ideas is the smoking room. In the dense atmosphere of tobacco and conspiracy, one hot topic has been the death penalty. The council reinstated capital punishment earlier this year. But even such basic questions as what sort of political power should be established have not been resolved. Should Luhansk aim to be a Western democracy? A Communist republic? A monarchy?
Failing to decide such key questions, the council opted for a law everyone in the smoking room seemed to agree on: punishment of homosexuals. They voted to imprison people convicted of being gay for two years and six months. And they voted the death penalty, no question about that, for the rape of a minor whether of the same or opposite sex. The law did not stipulate execution for homosexuals, as some media reported. But the question of how it will be interpreted, like so much else in Luhansk, remains an open question.
One would think they had more vital issues to deal with. Part of the territory of Luhansk is still occupied by Ukrainian nationalist forces, and fighting continues despite an agree ceasefire. The violence has taken the lives of more than 3,000 civilians. The war has devastated several parts of the city. For weeks, the residents lived in basements under shelling, bringing water to their homes on bicycles during the breaks between explosions. Banks stopped working. To shop for food at newly opened so-called people's stores or other grocery shops still selling food products, people often had to cross the town. Morgues were filled with hundreds of dead.
But the debate went on about gays, with opinion diverging only on the question of what kind of punishment should be given. Alexander Klodchenko, responsible for international relations, told me over the phone he did not agree with the execution part: ''The perverts should be treated at psychiatric hospitals,'' Klodchenko said.
''The perverts should be treated at psychiatric hospitals,'' Klodchenko said.
In fact, the perverse logic of the Luhansk lawmakers is a reflection of their close ties to Moscow and their hunger for old-time religion, old-time politics, old-time strongmen. Klodchenko says he figures that, after the war ends, Luhansk will be a liberal and democratic republic but, personally, he favors a monarchy. "Luhansk needs a strong Tsar,'' he said, suggesting that the separatist region's elections on November 2 may help point the way. (The rest of Ukraine is voting for a new parliament in Kiev on Sunday)
Without reservation, Klodchenko said it is important that Moscow control the separatist parliament: ''See, most of my colleagues at the Parliament don't have any education, so without the Russian Duma's help, without their instruction and financial aid, we would be nothing,'' Klodchenko said. This week, the deputy took a ''consulting course'' with the Russian state parliament's parties.
We all know how much the Russian parliament under Russian President Vladimir Putin has done to make LGBT people feel uncomfortable, unwanted and unsafe. But the so-called parliament of the self-declared Luhansk republic decided to go one better. Their anti-gay law was passed with a show of hands on September 26, and anyone who failed to take it seriously would do so at his or her own risk. When the law actually will go into effect is unclear, but the rebels are not shy about demonstrating their strict rules and meting out public punishment. Commanders of the Luhansk Cossacks recently flogged militia soldiers for cursing and drinking, then posted a video of the beatings. The Luhansk anti-gay law discussed by the Luhansk parliament was intended to ''defend moral, cultural and religious values,'' local reports said. Back in the smoking room, deputies discussed what to name their new legislation, Klodchenko told me on the phone. ''The law defends the Christian traditions of Luhansk's people from harmful influence by enemy states, such as the European Union, Canada and the USA,'' he suggested. What about the death penalty? ''When the war is over, we'll most likely cancel the death penalty, '' Klodchenko said.
But when the war really will be over is anyone's guess.
Valdai International Discussion Club - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 21:14
The Valdai International Discussion Club is an international framework for the leading experts from around the world to debate on Russia and its role in the world. The non-profit Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club was established in 2011 with a view to expanding its activities to new areas, including research and outreach work, regional and thematic programs.
In 2014 the Foundation assumed all responsibility for the club's projects. The Foundation was established by the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, the Russian International Affairs Council, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) and the National Research University '' Higher School of Economics.
The club's mission is to create an international framework, where representatives for the Russian elite could debate on the development of the country and its role in the world with leading foreign experts.
The club's main goals are:
to create an international venue where foreign experts could receive information about Russia and Russian society from reliable sources;to demonstrate the diversity of social and political views on key issues in domestic and foreign policies;to give international experts an opportunity to meet with top Russian leaders.The club unites leading foreign experts and journalists who analyze Russia's politics, economy and culture. Permanent international members form the club's backbone. Different foreign experts are invited every year. Russian members include political scientists, economists, journalists, public figures and policymakers with different views on events in Russia and abroad, and also representatives of executive and legislative power.
The Valdai Discussion Club was established in 2004. It was named after Lake Valdai, which is located close to Veliky Novgorod, where the club's first meeting took place. The club's goal is to promote dialogue betweenRussian and international intellectual elite, and to make an independent,unbiased scientific analysis of political, economic and social events in Russia and the rest of the world.
Over 800 representatives of the international scholarly community from almost 50 countries have taken part in the club's work. They include professors of major world universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Stanford, Carleton University, the University of London, Cairo University, the University of Teheran, East China University, the University of Tokyo, Tel Aviv University, the University of Messina, Johns Hopkins University, the London School of Economics, King's College London, Sciences Po and the Sorbonne.
The intellectual potential of the Valdai Club is highly regarded both in Russia and abroad. The President and the Prime Minister of Russia meet with the club's members, and politicians and public figures from Russia and other states take part in its work.
The club's regional programs have drawn attention from the expert community, including the Eurasian dialogue, Asian dialogue, Euro-Atlantic dialogue, Mid-Eastern dialogue, the Russia Development Index and the Research Grant Program.
The club's 10th annual meeting in September 2013 was a success, and opened new vistas for its activities. After observing its 10th anniversary, the club is continuing to develop. It is shifting from a format of telling the world about Russia to practical efforts to shape the global agenda. The Valdai Club has proved its worth as a discussion platform on Russian issues, and is aimed at consolidating the world intellectual elite to find ways of overcoming current global crises.
ReferencesEditExternal linksEdit
President of Russia Valdai Speech
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 23:29
24 October 2014, 19:00, Sochi
24 October 2014, 19:00At meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.(C) Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office
Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club's XI session. The meeting's theme is The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.
This year, 108 experts, historians and political analysts from 25 countries, including 62 foreign participants, took part in the club's work.
The plenary meeting summed up the club's work over the previous three days, which concentrated on analysing the factors eroding the current system of institutions and norms of international law.
Excerpts from transcript of the final plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club's XI session
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.
It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.
I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club's influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the 'Valdai spirit' will remain - this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.
Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.
We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.
Today's discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.
Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion's participants have already said. It's practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants' views on some points and differ on others.
As we analyse today's situation, let us not forget history's lessons. First of all, changes in the world order '' and what we are seeing today are events on this scale '' have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.
The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.
Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system's 'founding fathers' had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.
The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world's current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.
It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.
What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.
But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.
The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called 'victors' in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.
Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.
We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.
In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group's ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.
The very notion of 'national sovereignty' became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world's sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime's legitimacy.
We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.
The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of 'supra-legal' legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient regimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that 'big brother' is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.
Let's ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States' exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?
Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.
A unilateral diktat and imposing one's own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.
Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.
They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists' invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region's countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.
During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.
Only the current Egyptian leadership's determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?
As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.
Where do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state's institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don't forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?
What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels' ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states' affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.
We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.
Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.
Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the centre of evil in American propaganda, the USSR's old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world's biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.
Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: ''We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course.'' In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US'] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.
But these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world's diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one's own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.
Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as ''the homeland is in danger'', ''the free world is under threat'', and ''democracy is in jeopardy''? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.
Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States' prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.
The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries' or their regional groups' desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure. We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.
We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone's door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.
Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.
Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe - such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions - and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.
Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.
Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today's demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.
Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.
There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this 'soft power' resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.
At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.
So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules '' even if they may be strict and inconvenient '' but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.
Today, we already see a sharp increase in the likelihood of a whole set of violent conflicts with either direct or indirect participation by the world's major powers. And the risk factors include not just traditional multinational conflicts, but also the internal instability in separate states, especially when we talk about nations located at the intersections of major states' geopolitical interests, or on the border of cultural, historical, and economic civilizational continents.
Ukraine, which I'm sure was discussed at length and which we will discuss some more, is one of the example of such sorts of conflicts that affect international power balance, and I think it will certainly not be the last. From here emanates the next real threat of destroying the current system of arms control agreements. And this dangerous process was launched by the United States of America when it unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and then set about and continues today to actively pursue the creation of its global missile defence system.
Colleagues, friends,
I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.
Many states do not see any other ways of ensuring their sovereignty but to obtain their own bombs. This is extremely dangerous. We insist on continuing talks; we are not only in favour of talks, but insist on continuing talks to reduce nuclear arsenals. The less nuclear weapons we have in the world, the better. And we are ready for the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament '' but only serious discussions without any double standards.
What do I mean? Today, many types of high-precision weaponry are already close to mass-destruction weapons in terms of their capabilities, and in the event of full renunciation of nuclear weapons or radical reduction of nuclear potential, nations that are leaders in creating and producing high-precision systems will have a clear military advantage. Strategic parity will be disrupted, and this is likely to bring destabilization. The use of a so-called first global pre-emptive strike may become tempting. In short, the risks do not decrease, but intensify.
The next obvious threat is the further escalation of ethnic, religious, and social conflicts. Such conflicts are dangerous not only as such, but also because they create zones of anarchy, lawlessness, and chaos around them, places that are comfortable for terrorists and criminals, where piracy, human trafficking, and drug trafficking flourish.
Incidentally, at the time, our colleagues tried to somehow manage these processes, use regional conflicts and design 'colour revolutions' to suit their interests, but the genie escaped the bottle. It looks like the controlled chaos theory fathers themselves do not know what to do with it; there is disarray in their ranks.
We closely follow the discussions by both the ruling elite and the expert community. It is enough to look at the headlines of the Western press over the last year. The same people are called fighters for democracy, and then Islamists; first they write about revolutions and then call them riots and upheavals. The result is obvious: the further expansion of global chaos.
Colleagues, given the global situation, it is time to start agreeing on fundamental things. This is incredibly important and necessary; this is much better than going back to our own corners. The more we all face common problems, the more we find ourselves in the same boat, so to speak. And the logical way out is in cooperation between nations, societies, in finding collective answers to increasing challenges, and in joint risk management. Granted, some of our partners, for some reason, remember this only when it suits their interests.
Practical experience shows that joint answers to challenges are not always a panacea; and we need to understand this. Moreover, in most cases, they are hard to reach; it is not easy to overcome the differences in national interests, the subjectivity of different approaches, particularly when it comes to nations with different cultural and historical traditions. But nevertheless, we have examples when, having common goals and acting based on the same criteria, together we achieved real success.
Let me remind you about solving the problem of chemical weapons in Syria, and the substantive dialogue on the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as our work on North Korean issues, which also has some positive results. Why can't we use this experience in the future to solve local and global challenges?
What could be the legal, political, and economic basis for a new world order that would allow for stability and security, while encouraging healthy competition, not allowing the formation of new monopolies that hinder development? It is unlikely that someone could provide absolutely exhaustive, ready-made solutions right now. We will need extensive work with participation by a wide range of governments, global businesses, civil society, and such expert platforms as ours.
However, it is obvious that success and real results are only possible if key participants in international affairs can agree on harmonising basic interests, on reasonable self-restraint, and set the example of positive and responsible leadership. We must clearly identify where unilateral actions end and we need to apply multilateral mechanisms, and as part of improving the effectiveness of international law, we must resolve the dilemma between the actions by international community to ensure security and human rights and the principle of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state.
Those very collisions increasingly lead to arbitrary external interference in complex internal processes, and time and again, they provoke dangerous conflicts between leading global players. The issue of maintaining sovereignty becomes almost paramount in maintaining and strengthening global stability.
Clearly, discussing the criteria for the use of external force is extremely difficult; it is practically impossible to separate it from the interests of particular nations. However, it is far more dangerous when there are no agreements that are clear to everyone, when no clear conditions are set for necessary and legal interference.
I will add that international relations must be based on international law, which itself should rest on moral principles such as justice, equality and truth. Perhaps most important is respect for one's partners and their interests. This is an obvious formula, but simply following it could radically change the global situation.
I am certain that if there is a will, we can restore the effectiveness of the international and regional institutions system. We do not even need to build anything anew, from the scratch; this is not a ''greenfield,'' especially since the institutions created after World War II are quite universal and can be given modern substance, adequate to manage the current situation.
This is true of improving the work of the UN, whose central role is irreplaceable, as well as the OSCE, which, over the course of 40 years, has proven to be a necessary mechanism for ensuring security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. I must say that even now, in trying to resolve the crisis in southeast Ukraine, the OSCE is playing a very positive role.
In light of the fundamental changes in the international environment, the increase in uncontrollability and various threats, we need a new global consensus of responsible forces. It's not about some local deals or a division of spheres of influence in the spirit of classic diplomacy, or somebody's complete global domination. I think that we need a new version of interdependence. We should not be afraid of it. On the contrary, this is a good instrument for harmonising positions.
This is particularly relevant given the strengthening and growth of certain regions on the planet, which process objectively requires institutionalisation of such new poles, creating powerful regional organisations and developing rules for their interaction. Cooperation between these centres would seriously add to the stability of global security, policy and economy. But in order to establish such a dialogue, we need to proceed from the assumption that all regional centres and integration projects forming around them need to have equal rights to development, so that they can complement each other and nobody can force them into conflict or opposition artificially. Such destructive actions would break down ties between states, and the states themselves would be subjected to extreme hardship, or perhaps even total destruction.
I would like to remind you of the last year's events. We have told our American and European partners that hasty backstage decisions, for example, on Ukraine's association with the EU, are fraught with serious risks to the economy. We didn't even say anything about politics; we spoke only about the economy, saying that such steps, made without any prior arrangements, touch on the interests of many other nations, including Russia as Ukraine's main trade partner, and that a wide discussion of the issues is necessary. Incidentally, in this regard, I will remind you that, for example, the talks on Russia's accession to the WTO lasted 19 years. This was very difficult work, and a certain consensus was reached.
Why am I bringing this up? Because in implementing Ukraine's association project, our partners would come to us with their goods and services through the back gate, so to speak, and we did not agree to this, nobody asked us about this. We had discussions on all topics related to Ukraine's association with the EU, persistent discussions, but I want to stress that this was done in an entirely civilised manner, indicating possible problems, showing the obvious reasoning and arguments. Nobody wanted to listen to us and nobody wanted to talk. They simply told us: this is none of your business, point, end of discussion. Instead of a comprehensive but '' I stress '' civilised dialogue, it all came down to a government overthrow; they plunged the country into chaos, into economic and social collapse, into a civil war with enormous casualties.
Why? When I ask my colleagues why, they no longer have an answer; nobody says anything. That's it. Everyone's at a loss, saying it just turned out that way. Those actions should not have been encouraged '' it wouldn't have worked. After all (I already spoke about this), former Ukrainian President Yanukovych signed everything, agreed with everything. Why do it? What was the point? What is this, a civilised way of solving problems? Apparently, those who constantly throw together new 'colour revolutions' consider themselves 'brilliant artists' and simply cannot stop.
I am certain that the work of integrated associations, the cooperation of regional structures, should be built on a transparent, clear basis; the Eurasian Economic Union's formation process is a good example of such transparency. The states that are parties to this project informed their partners of their plans in advance, specifying the parameters of our association, the principles of its work, which fully correspond with the World Trade Organisation rules.
I will add that we would also have welcomed the start of a concrete dialogue between the Eurasian and European Union. Incidentally, they have almost completely refused us this as well, and it is also unclear why '' what is so scary about it?
And, of course, with such joint work, we would think that we need to engage in dialogue (I spoke about this many times and heard agreement from many of our western partners, at least in Europe) on the need to create a common space for economic and humanitarian cooperation stretching all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Colleagues, Russia made its choice. Our priorities are further improving our democratic and open economy institutions, accelerated internal development, taking into account all the positive modern trends in the world, and consolidating society based on traditional values and patriotism.
We have an integration-oriented, positive, peaceful agenda; we are working actively with our colleagues in the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS and other partners. This agenda is aimed at developing ties between governments, not dissociating. We are not planning to cobble together any blocs or get involved in an exchange of blows.
The allegations and statements that Russia is trying to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in the world '' I want to emphasise this. While respecting the interests of others, we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our position to be respected.
We are well aware that the world has entered an era of changes and global transformations, when we all need a particular degree of caution, the ability to avoid thoughtless steps. In the years after the Cold War, participants in global politics lost these qualities somewhat. Now, we need to remember them. Otherwise, hopes for a peaceful, stable development will be a dangerous illusion, while today's turmoil will simply serve as a prelude to the collapse of world order.
Yes, of course, I have already said that building a more stable world order is a difficult task. We are talking about long and hard work. We were able to develop rules for interaction after World War II, and we were able to reach an agreement in Helsinki in the 1970s. Our common duty is to resolve this fundamental challenge at this new stage of development.
Thank you very much for your attention.
VLADIMIR PUTIN (commenting on statements by former Prime Minister of France Dominique de Villepin and former Federal Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schuessel): I would like to begin by saying that overall I agree with what both Wolfgang and Dominique have said. I fully support everything they said. However, there are a few things I would like to clarify.
I believe Dominique referred to the Ukrainian crisis as the reason for the deterioration in international relations. Naturally, this crisis is a cause, but this is not the principal cause. The crisis in Ukraine is itself a result of a misbalance in international relations.
I have already said in my address why this is happening, and my colleagues have already mentioned it. I can add to this, if necessary. However, primarily this is the outcome of the misbalance in international relations.
As for the issues mentioned by Wolfgang, we will get back to them: we will talk about the elections, if necessary, and about the supply of energy resources to Ukraine and Europe.
However, I would like to respond to the phrase ''Wolfgang is an optimist, while life is harder for pessimists.'' I already mentioned the old joke we have about a pessimist and an optimist, but I cannot help telling it again. We have this very old joke about a pessimist and an optimist: a pessimist drinks his cognac and says, ''It smells of bedbugs,'' while an optimist catches a bedbug, crushes it, then sniffs it and says, ''A slight whiff of cognac.''
I would rather be the pessimist who drinks cognac than the optimist who sniffs bedbugs. (Laughter)
Though it does seem that optimists have a better time, our common goal is to live a decent life (without overindulging in alcohol). For this purpose, we need to avoid crises, together handle all challenges and threats and build such relations on the global arena that would help us reach these goals.
Later I will be ready to respond to some of the other things mentioned here. Thank you.
BRITISH JOURNALIST SEUMAS MILNE(retranslated from Russian): I would like to ask a two-in-one question.
First, Mr President, do you believe that the actions of Russia in Ukraine and Crimea over the past months were a reaction to rules being broken and are an example of state management without rules? And the other question is: does Russia see these global violations of rules as a signal for changing its position? It has been said here lately that Russia cannot lead in the existing global situation; however, it is demonstrating the qualities of a leader. How would you respond to this?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would like to ask you to reword the second part of your question, please. What exactly is your second question?
SEUMAS MILNE(retranslated from Russian): It has been said here that Russia cannot strive for leading positions in the world considering the outcomes of the Soviet Union's collapse, however it can influence who the leader will be. Is it possible that Russia would alter its position, change its focus, as you mentioned, regarding the Middle East and the issues connected with Iran's nuclear programme?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russia has never altered its position. We are a country with a traditional focus on cooperation and search for joint solutions. This is first.
Second. We do not have any claims to world leadership. The idea that Russia is seeking some sort of exclusivity is false; I said so in my address. We are not demanding a place under the sun; we are simply proceeding from the premise that all participants in international relations should respect each other's interests. We are ready to respect the interests of our partners, but we expect the same respect for our interests.
We did not change our attitude to the situation in the Middle East, to the Iranian nuclear programme, to the North Korean conflict, to fighting terrorism and crime in general, as well as drug trafficking. We never changed any of our priorities even under the pressure of unfriendly actions on the part of our western partners, who are lead, very obviously in this case, by the United States. We did not even change the terms of the sanctions.
However, here too everything has its limits. I proceed from the idea that it might be possible that external circumstances can force us to alter some of our positions, but so far there have not been any extreme situations of this kind and we have no intention of changing anything. That is the first point.
The second point has to do with our actions in Crimea. I have spoken about this on numerous occasions, but if necessary, I can repeat it. This is Part 2 of Article 1 of the United Nations' Charter '' the right of nations to self-determination. It has all been written down, and not simply as the right to self-determination, but as the goal of the united nations. Read the article carefully.
I do not understand why people living in Crimea do not have this right, just like the people living in, say, Kosovo. This was also mentioned here. Why is it that in one case white is white, while in another the same is called black? We will never agree with this nonsense. That is one thing.
The other very important thing is something nobody mentions, so I would like to draw attention to it. What happened in Crimea? First, there was this anti-state overthrow in Kiev. Whatever anyone may say, I find this obvious '' there was an armed seizure of power.
In many parts of the world, people welcomed this, not realising what this could lead to, while in some regions people were frightened that power was seized by extremists, by nationalists and right-wingers including neo-Nazis. People feared for their future and for their families and reacted accordingly. In Crimea, people held a referendum.
I would like to draw your attention to this. It was not by chance that we in Russia stated that there was a referendum. The decision to hold the referendum was made by the legitimate authority of Crimea '' its Parliament, elected a few years ago under Ukrainian law prior to all these grave events. This legitimate body of authority declared a referendum, and then based on its results, they adopted a declaration of independence, just as Kosovo did, and turned to the Russian Federation with a request to accept Crimea into the Russian state.
You know, whatever anyone may say and no matter how hard they try to dig something up, this would be very difficult, considering the language of the United Nations court ruling, which clearly states (as applied to the Kosovo precedent) that the decision on self-determination does not require the approval of the supreme authority of a country.
In this connection I always recall what the sages of the past said. You may remember the wonderful saying: Whatever Jupiter is allowed, the Ox is not.
We cannot agree with such an approach. The ox may not be allowed something, but the bear will not even bother to ask permission. Here we consider it the master of the taiga, and I know for sure that it does not intend to move to any other climatic zones '' it will not be comfortable there. However, it will not let anyone have its taiga either. I believe this is clear.
What are the problems of the present-day world order? Let us be frank about it, we are all experts here. We talk and talk, we are like diplomats. What happened in the world? There used to be a bipolar system. The Soviet Union collapsed, the power called the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
All the rules governing international relations after World War II were designed for a bipolar world. True, the Soviet Union was referred to as 'the Upper Volta with missiles'. Maybe so, and there were loads of missiles. Besides, we had such brilliant politicians like Nikita Khrushchev, who hammered the desk with his shoe at the UN. And the whole world, primarily the United States, and NATO thought: this Nikita is best left alone, he might just go and fire a missile, they have lots of them, we should better show some respect for them.
Now that the Soviet Union is gone, what is the situation and what are the temptations? There is no need to take into account Russia's views, it is very dependent, it has gone through transformation during the collapse of the Soviet Union, and we can do whatever we like, disregarding all rules and regulations.
This is exactly what is happening. Dominique here mentioned Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia before that. Was this really all handled within the framework of international law? Do not tell us those fairy-tales.
This means that some can ignore everything, while we cannot protect the interests of the Russian-speaking and Russian population of Crimea. This will not happen.
I would like everyone to understand this. We need to get rid of this temptation and attempts to arrange the world to one's liking, and to create a balanced system of interests and relations that has long been prescribed in the world, we only have to show some respect.
As I have already said, we understand that the world has changed, and we are ready to take heed of it and adjust this system accordingly, but we will never allow anyone to completely ignore our interests.
Does Russia aim for any leading role? We don't need to be a superpower; this would only be an extra load for us. I have already mentioned the taiga: it is immense, illimitable, and just to develop our territories we need plenty of time, energy and resources.
We have no need of getting involved in things, of ordering others around, but we want others to stay out of our affairs as well and to stop pretending they rule the world. That is all. If there is an area where Russia could be a leader '' it is in asserting the norms of international law.
QUESTION: The peaceful process between the Palestinians and Israelis has completely collapsed. The United States never let the quartet work properly. At the same time, the growth of illegal Israeli settlements on the occupied territories renders impossible the creation of a Palestinian state. We have recently witnessed a very severe attack on the Gaza Strip. What is Russia's attitude to this tense situation in the Middle East? And what do you think of the developments in Syria?
One remark for Mr Villepin as well. You spoke of humiliation. What can be more humiliating than the occupation that Palestine has been experiencing all these years?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding Palestine and the Israeli conflict. It is easy for me to speak about this because, first, I have to say and I believe everyone can see that our relations with Israel have transformed seriously in the past decade. I am referring to the fact that a large number of people from the former Soviet Union live in Israel and we cannot remain indifferent to their fate. At the same time, we have traditional relations with the Arab world, specifically with Palestine. Moreover, the Soviet Union, and Russia is its legal successor, has recognised Palestinian statehood. We are not changing anything here.
Finally, regarding the settlements. We share the views of the main participants in international relations. We consider this a mistake. I have already said this to our Israeli partners. I believe this is an obstacle to normal relations and I strongly expect that the practice itself will be stopped and the entire process of a peaceful settlement will return to its legal course based on agreement.
We proceed from the fact that that Middle East conflict is one of the primary causes of destabilisation not only in the region, but also in the world at large. Humiliation of any people living in the area, or anywhere else in the world is clearly a source of destabilisation and should be done away with. Naturally, this should be done using such means and measures that would be acceptable for all the participants in the process and for all those living in the area.
This is a very complicated process, but Russia is ready to use every means it has for this settlement, including its good relations with the parties to this conflict.
DIRECTOR, KIEV CENTER FOR POLITICAL AND CONFLICT STUDIES MIKHAIL POGREBINSKY: Mr President, I have come from Ukraine. For the first time in 70 years, it is going through very hard times. My question has to do with the possibility of a settlement. In this connection, I would like to go back in history. You mentioned that there was a moment when a trilateral format was under consideration: Russia-Ukraine-Europe. Back then, Europe did not agree to it, after which a series of tragic events took place, including the loss of Crimea, the death of thousands of people and so forth.
Recently, Europe together with Ukraine and Russia agreed that this format is possible after all; moreover, a corresponding resolution was passed. At that moment, there was hope that Russia together with Europe and Ukraine would manage to reach agreement and could become the restorer of peace in Ukraine. What happened next? What happened between Moscow and Brussels, Moscow and Berlin '' because now the situation seems completely insane? It is unclear what this might lead to. What do you think happened to Europe?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, what happened can be described as nothing happened. Agreements were reached, but neither side complied with them in full. However, full compliance by both sides might be impossible.
For instance, Ukrainian army units were supposed to leave certain locations where they were stationed prior to the Minsk agreements, while the militia army was supposed to leave certain settlements they were holding prior to these agreements. However, neither is the Ukrainian army withdrawing from the locations they should leave, nor is the militia army withdrawing from the settlements they have to move out of, referring, and I will be frank now '' to the fact that their families remain there (I mean the militia) and they fear for their safety. Their families, their wives and children live there. This is a serious humanitarian factor.
We are ready to make every effort to ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements. I would like to take advantage of your question to stress Russia's position: we are in favour of complete compliance with the Minsk agreements by both sides.
What is the problem? In my view, the key problem is that we do not see the desire on the part of our partners in Kiev, primarily the authorities, to resolve the issue of relations with the country's southeast peacefully, through negotiations. We keep seeing the same thing in various forms: suppression by force. It all began with Maidan, when they decided to suppress Yanukovych by force. They succeeded and raised this wave of nationalism and then it all transformed into some nationalistic battalions.
When people in southeast Ukraine did not like it, they tried to elect their own bodies of government and management and they were arrested and taken to prison in Kiev at night. Then, when people saw this happening and took to arms, instead of stopping and finally resorting to peaceful dialogue, they sent troops there, with tanks and aircraft.
Incidentally, the global community keeps silent, as if it does not see any of this, as if there is no such thing as 'disproportionate use of force'. They suddenly forgot all about it. I remember all the frenzy around when we had a complicated situation in the Caucasus. I would hear one and the same thing every day. No more such words today, no more 'disproportionate use of force'. And that's while cluster bombs and even tactical weapons are being used.
You see, under the circumstances, it is very difficult for us in Russia to arrange work with people in southeast Ukraine in a way that would induce them to fully comply with all the agreements. They keep saying that the authorities in Kiev do not fully comply with the agreements either.
However, there is no other way. I would like to stress that we are for the full implementation of the agreements by both parties, and the most important thing I want to say '' and I want everyone to hear that '' if, God forbid, anyone is again tempted to use force for the final settlement of the situation in southeast Ukraine, this will bring the situation to a complete deadlock.
In my view, there is still a chance to reach agreement. Yes, Wolfgang spoke about this, I understood him. He spoke of the upcoming elections in Ukraine and in the southeast of the country. We know it and we are constantly discussing it. Just this morning I had another discussion with the Chancellor of Germany about it. The Minsk agreements do stipulate that elections in the southeast should be held in coordination with Ukrainian legislation, not under Ukrainian law, but in coordination with it.
This was done on purpose, because nobody in the southeast wants to hold elections in line with Ukrainian law. Why? How can this be done, when there is shooting every day, people get killed on both sides and they have to hold elections under Ukrainian law? The war should finally stop and the troops should be withdrawn. You see? Once this is achieved, we can start considering any kind of rapprochement or cooperation. Until this happens, it is hard to talk about anything else.
They spoke of the date of the elections in the southeast, but few know that there has been an agreement that elections in southeast Ukraine should be held by November 3. Later, the date was amended in the corresponding law, without consulting anyone, without consulting with the southeast. The elections were set for December 7, but nobody talked to them. Therefore, the people in the southeast say, ''See, they cheated us again, and it will always be this way.''
You can argue over this any way you like. The most important thing is to immediately stop the war and move the troops away. If Ukraine wants to keep its territorial integrity, and this is something we want as well, they need to understand that there is no sense in holding on to some village or other - this is pointless. The idea is to stop the bloodshed and to start normal dialogue, to build relations based on this dialogue and restore at least some communication, primarily in the economy, and gradually other things will follow. I believe this is what should be achieved first and then we can move on.
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR GOVERNANCE AND PUBLIC POLICY AT CARLETON UNIVERSITY (OTTAWA) PIOTR DUTKIEWICZ: Mr President, if I may I would like to go back to the issue of Crimea, because it is of key importance for both the East and the West. I would like to ask you to give us your picture of the events that lead to it, specifically why you made this decision. Was it possible to do things differently? How did you do it? There are important details '' how Russia did it inside Crimea. Finally, how do you see the consequences of this decision for Russia, for Ukraine, for Europe and for the normative world order? I am asking this because I believe millions of people would like to hear your personal reconstruction of those events and of the way you made the decision.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not know how many times I spoke about this, but I will do it again.
On February 21, Viktor Yanukovych signed the well-known documents with the opposition. Foreign ministers of three European countries signed their names under this agreement as guarantors of its implementation.
In the evening of February 21, President Obama called me and we discussed these issues and how we would assist in the implementation of these agreements. Russia undertook certain obligations. I heard that my American colleague was also ready to undertake some obligations. This was the evening of the 21st. On the same day, President Yanukovych called me to say he signed the agreement, the situation had stabilized and he was going to a conference in Kharkov. I will not conceal the fact that I expressed my concern: how was it possible to leave the capital in this situation. He replied that he found it possible because there was the document signed with the opposition and guaranteed by foreign ministers of European countries.
I will tell you more, I told him I was not sure everything would be fine, but it was for him to decide. He was the president, he knew the situation, and he knew better what to do. ''In any case, I do not think you should withdraw the law enforcement forces from Kiev,'' I told him. He said he understood. Then he left and gave orders to withdraw all the law enforcement troops from Kiev. Nice move, of course.
We all know what happened in Kiev. On the following day, despite all our telephone conversations, despite the signatures of the foreign ministers, as soon as Yanukovych left Kiev his administration was taken over by force along with the government building. On the same day, they shot at the cortege of Ukraine's Prosecutor General, wounding one of his security guards.
Yanukovych called me and said he would like us to meet to talk it over. I agreed. Eventually we agreed to meet in Rostov because it was closer and he did not want to go too far. I was ready to fly to Rostov. However, it turned out he could not go even there. They were beginning to use force against him already, holding him at gunpoint. They were not quite sure where to go.
I will not conceal it; we helped him move to Crimea, where he stayed for a few days. That was when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. However, the situation in Kiev was developing very rapidly and violently, we know what happened, though the broad public may not know '' people were killed, they were burned alive there. They came into the office of the Party of Regions, seized the technical workers and killed them, burned them alive in the basement. Under those circumstances, there was no way he could return to Kiev. Everybody forgot about the agreements with the opposition signed by foreign ministers and about our telephone conversations. Yes, I will tell you frankly that he asked us to help him get Russia, which we did. That was all.
Seeing these developments, people in Crimea almost immediately took to arms and asked us for help in arranging the events they intended to hold. I will be frank; we used our Armed Forces to block Ukrainian units stationed in Crimea, but not to force anyone to take part in the elections. This is impossible, you are all grown people, and you understand it. How could we do it? Lead people to polling stations at gunpoint?
People went to vote as if it were a celebration, everybody knows this, and they all voted, even the Crimean Tatars. There were fewer Crimean Tatars, but the overall vote was high. While the turnout in Crimea in general was about 96 or 94 percent, a smaller number of Crimean Tatars showed up. However 97 percent of them voted 'yes'. Why? Because those who did not want it did not come to the polling stations, and those who did voted 'yes'.
I already spoke of the legal side of the matter. The Crimean Parliament met and voted in favour of the referendum. Here again, how could anyone say that several dozen people were dragged to parliament to vote? This never happened and it was impossible: if anyone did not want to vote they would get on a train or plane, or their car and be gone.
They all came and voted for the referendum, and then the people came and voted in favour of joining Russia, that is all. How will this influence international relations? We can see what is happening; however if we refrain from using so-called double standards and accept that all people have equal rights, it would have no influence at all. We have to admit the right of those people to self-determination.
To be continued.
Toby T. Gati - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 00:42
Toby Trister Gati (born 1946) was the United StatesAssistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research from 1993 to 1997.
Biography[edit]Toby T. Gati was educated at Pennsylvania State University, receiving a B.A. in Russian Literatureand Language in 1967. She then attended Columbia University, receiving an M.A. in 1970, Master of International Affairs in 1972, and a certificate from the Harriman Institute.
A Russian expert, Gati published several articles on the politics and foreign policy of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation and on U.S. - Russian relations. She was Senior Vice President of the United Nations Association of the United States of America and in this capacity oversaw the organization's research on international political, economic and security issues.
In January 1993, Gati became a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine, and the Eurasian States at the United States National Security Council. She left this position in June 1993.
President of the United StatesBill Clinton then nominated Gati as Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research and Gati held this office from November 5, 1993 until May 31, 1997.
Since leaving government service, Gati has worked as a consultant with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, an international law firm.
References[edit]PersondataNameGati, Toby T.Alternative namesShort descriptionAmerican governemnt officialDate of birth1946Place of birthDate of deathPlace of death
Toby T. Gati
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 00:42
Toby Trister Gati focuses on political, economic and trade developments in Russia, the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe. She also provides assessments of various politically sensitive regions of the world, as well as analyses of the workings of international political and economic institutions.
Practice & BackgroundAs Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and the Eurasian States at the National Security Council (NSC) in the White House in 1993, Mrs. Gati helped develop and implement U.S. policy towards Russia during the first Clinton administration. She was responsible for preparations for the April 1993 Vancouver Summit, passage of the first Clinton administration assistance package and the establishment of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation. She also worked closely with political leaders in the NIS.
Mrs. Gati served the president and the vice president as co-chair of the Policy Steering Group, the Clinton administration's chief policymaking body on all aspects of U.S.-Russia and U.S.-NIS relations. During her tenure, the NSC began to focus greater attention on the political and economic transformations underway in the regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
As Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) from November 1993 to May 1997, Mrs. Gati provided the secretary of state with essential information on all key foreign policy questions. She was closely involved in decisions at the highest level, including the National Foreign Intelligence Board (NFIB), which reviews all national intelligence estimates before presentation to the president.
Mrs. Gati was awarded the United States Department of State's Distinguished Honor Award and other high state awards. She is also the recipient of the 1997 Theodore Roosevelt Freedom Award from the Prairie Institute for Economic Growth and Freedom.
Before joining the government, Mrs. Gati served as Senior Vice President for Policy Studies at the United Nations Association of the United States of America in New York City, where she directed the association's research and policy analysis on international political, economic and security issues, as well as on United Nations and multilateral affairs, for almost 20 years.
Mrs. Gati has lectured and published on U.S.-Russia relations, American foreign policy and the work of the United Nations and other international organizations. She has consulted with foundations and private businesses about Russian foreign and economic policies and has appeared on major network news programs in the United States , such as CNN International's Insight and Headline News, and National Public Radio and PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer., as well as on major Russian media outlets. Her views are often quoted on websites and blogs, such as Politico, CNN, and The Huffington Post. She also has testified before the various national security committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Mrs. Gati is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the board of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, as well as on the Board of Directors and International Advisory Council of the Moscow School of Civic Education, and on the International Advisory Board of the Valdai International Discussion Club.
Ukraine elections highlight nation's split between east and west - The Washington Post
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:45
KIEV, Ukraine '-- Marina Demko wants to build a stronger Ukraine if she wins a seat in her nation's landmark parliamentary elections Sunday.
But she has one big problem: She is campaigning to represent a part of her country that is under the control of Russian-supported rebels who are trying to build a parallel state. Many residents there who believed in a united Ukraine have fled. And there is little chance that anyone remaining in the enclave that calls itself New Russia will have the chance to vote for representation in Kiev's rowdy parliament, making her race entirely symbolic.
The rest of Ukraine will cast ballots Sunday for the last major national institution untouched since President Viktor Yanukovych was swept out in February on a tidal wave of pro-European protests. But Demko and dozens of other candidates are running campaigns-in-exile this year, forced from their hometowns in Ukraine's breakaway eastern industrial heartland into provisional existences in dreary dormitories and chilly refugee camps.
''It's impossible to do any campaigning. There's a lot of fighting there,'' said Demko, who fled her home near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk after her husband was abducted by separatists in May. He was freed a month later, and they now live in a cramped hostel on the outskirts of Kiev. ''Of course I'd like to return home, but at the moment clearly it's not possible. And it won't be possible for a long time,'' she said.
Ukraine's leaders had intended Sunday's parliamentary vote as the triumphant end to the last remnants of Yanukovych's government, completing a transformation that started in February and was supposed to have opened the door to the country's European future. But the reality of Ukraine's grim situation has dampened the celebrations, and the wave of candidates vying to represent territory that is too dangerous for them to visit is just the latest symptom of the nation's travails.
More than 400,000 Ukrainians are displaced inside their own country, according to U.N. figures. Physically, Ukraine is more divided than ever, with its Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia and rebels in the east having won concessions that effectively allow them to set up a permanent separatist enclave.
But the elections will still probably bring a cadre of new faces to power, further upending Ukraine's chaotic political system with soldiers, activists and others who have no experience as elected politicians . The parliament will have the strongest pro-European orientation in Ukraine's post-Soviet history, a new step for a country that has long been pulled between east and west.
The candidates include activists who participated in the winter protests to combat corruption, make Ukraine less dependent on Russia and turn the economy toward Europe. Demko, who is running as a member of the hard-line nationalist Freedom Party and who says she wants to rebuild a united nation, is one of them.
''I never thought I'd be involved in politics,'' Demko said. ''But politics found me.''
Not long ago, Demko was an ordinary worker at the municipal water utility in Makeevka, an industrial city of 350,000 adjacent to Donetsk. She and her husband supported the pro-European protests that swept Ukraine over the winter, and they worked on behalf of Petro Poroshenko's presidential campaign in Donetsk in April and early May '-- a bold move, since separatists had already seized government buildings and were slowly working to firm their control of the area.
Then, on a Saturday in early May, Demko's office asked her to come in to do some extra weekend work. She was lucky: Soon after, her husband called her to say that the rebels had come to take him away and that she should under no circumstances go home.
She fled straight to the train station, took the first train out of Donetsk and has not been home since. She met her husband in Kiev when he was freed a month later '-- granted liberty, she believes, because she raised such a ruckus inside Ukraine that they let him go just to make her shut up.
The parliamentary race ''is just a formality,'' she said, since no one will vote and the seat will remain unfilled. ''But if we could have real elections now, I could get some votes. Parliament needs women, especially women like me, and I think I can do some good there,'' she said.
Like many people in the east, Demko has family ties to Russia: Both of her parents are Russian, she grew up in Siberia and her brother still lives there. Until recently, he vacationed with them every summer in western Ukraine '-- but now, since he consumes a steady stream of Russian state television that says that the protesters in Ukraine are neo-Nazis and are committing genocide against Russians, the two are barely on speaking terms.
''He says I've been zombified,'' Demko said.
Demko said that what Ukraine needs is a stronger sense of national identity, including in the east.
''For 20 years there was no patriotic education in the country,'' she said. In the east, ''people themselves are not Russian, but they're not Ukrainian. They are without nationality. They don't affiliate themselves anywhere.''
The elections were declared in August, when Ukraine appeared to have the upper hand against the rebels. Now, the hopes have been tempered by the growing air of permanence surrounding the Russian-supported rebels, who have vowed to block the national balloting inside their territories. Violence has continued there despite a Sept. 5 cease-fire deal, and Ukraine this past week deployed border guards along the new internal frontier.
Rebels are determined to hold elections of their own Nov. 2 '-- a step they say is critical to their own nation-building process, and one that Russian officials have praised. Ukraine's leaders have said any such elections would be illegal.
Even in areas far from the fighting, several parliamentary candidates have been attacked in recent weeks, under unclear circumstances. And Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned this past week that Russia may try to disrupt elections around the country.
Reminders of Ukraine's old style of rough-and-tumble politics are also on display, further worrying activists who had hoped for a more fundamental break with the corrupt political past. Many here worry that Ukraine's powerful oligarchs are still banking many of the political parties. And some of the new-era cabinet members appointed after Yanukovych's ouster have already resigned in frustration, saying that their attempts to enact reforms were thwarted by powerful interests that made change impossible.
Opinion polls suggest that the coalition led by Poroshenko and Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko will be the biggest force in parliament, but that they may need to build a ruling coalition with one of the smaller political parties led by Yatsenyuk, Yulia Timoshenko or firebrand nationalist Oleh Lyashko.
Any electoral outcome will probably leave Poroshenko's basic Western-oriented policies in place. But he may feel pressure to show a harder line against Russia and the rebels, since anti-Russian voices will gain in number and former Yanukovych allies, who were friendlier to Russia, will fade.
''This is a break between Ukraine's future and Ukraine's past as a Soviet state,'' said Yuriy Yakymenko, a political analyst at the Razumkov Center, a Kiev-based political analysis group. ''We will have a completely different approach to Russia. It's not a brother state, it's not even a friend. It's an enemy.''
But as many as 50 of the parliament's 450 seats may be left unfilled, said Central Election Commission Deputy Head Andriy Magera, a result of the vote being impossible to conduct in those parliamentary districts. Voters elect half of the legislature's lawmakers directly; the other half are selected via political party lists.
Even the most unified parliament will struggle with Ukraine's crippling issues, which range from a collapsed economy to a looming wintertime natural-gas crisis that could soon leave Ukrainians shivering for lack of heat.
And for the parliamentary candidates running to represent areas that will not be able to elect them, there is little hope in sight.
''People are tired of war right now,'' Demko said. But whether people are ready to return to the streets if Ukraine stalls in its progress toward a more European life is less clear, she said. ''No one knows whether they are tired of protesting.''
Michael Birnbaum is The Post's Moscow bureau chief. He previously served as the Berlin correspondent and an education reporter.
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Russia's Gazprom buys Europe's biggest gas storage facility '-- RT Business
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:28
Published time: October 08, 2014 15:29Edited time: October 13, 2014 21:06A technician walks between pipes at the gas dehydration of the WINGAS gas storage facility near the northern German town of Rehden January 7, 2009. (Reuters/Christian Charisius)
Russia will acquire Europe's largest underground gas storage facility this autumn from Germany's BASF, continuing the development of its Nord Stream operations. In return, the Germans will get access to large gas reserves in Western Siberia.
Gazprom and the Wintershall subsidiary of German chemical company BASF are putting the final touches to the asset swap, which will see Gazprom getting the facility in the small German town of Rehden, Deutsche Welle reported Wednesday.
The framework for the deal was signed in December 2013 and was approved by the European Commission. Both the EU and Russia say the deal will not be sidetracked by sanctions.
The storage facility in Rehden covers eight square kilometers, storing some gas at depths of 2,000 meters. It can hold 4.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas, or about 7 percent of Germany's 60 billion cubic meters of annual consumption.
In terms of sheer size the storage center is a crucial element in energy security both for Germany and the nearby Netherlands. In 2012, it represented about one fifth of the Germany's entire storage capacity.
The deal will help Gazprom get a footing in the gas market in Northern and Western Europe after opening its Nord Stream double pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany. The twin pipes were launched separately, the first in 2011 and the second in 2012.
"As a result, the exchange will significantly strengthen Gazprom's position in the entire production chain, from raw materials, to realization, to final products for customers,'' Gazprom said, as quoted by Vesti.
BASF also owns a 15 percent stake in Gazpron's South Stream pipeline, which will deliver Russian gas to central Europe via the Black Sea and the Balkans.
In 2013, Russian natural gas exports to Germany increased to 40.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) up from 33.3 bcm the previous year.
It is common practice for Gazprom to use European gas storage facilities. It currently stores gas in Austria, the UK, Germany, Serbia, Latvia, Belarus, and Armenia.
George Soros Slams Putin, Warns Of "Existential Threat" From Russia, Demands $20 Billion From IMF In "Russia War Effort"
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:53
If even George Soros is getting concerned and writing Op-Eds, then Putin must be truly winning.
Here are the highlights from what the Open Society founder has to say about the "existential" Russian threat in a just released Op-Ed:
Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.
Getting warmer:
[Europe] fails to recognize that the Russian attack on Ukraine is indirectly an attack on the European Union and its principles of governance. It ought to be evident that it is inappropriate for a country, or association of countries, at war to pursue a policy of fiscal austerity as the European Union continues to do.
Even warmer:
All available resources ought to be put to work in the war effort even if that involves running up budget deficits
And hot, hot, hot:
[IMF] should provide an immediate cash injection of at least $20 billion, with a promise of more when needed. Ukraine's partners should provide additional financing conditional on implementation of the IMF-supported program, at their own risk, in line with standard practice.
And there it is: the Russian "existential" war threat is, to Soros, nothing but an excuse to end the whole (f)austerity experiment (just don't show Soros Europe's latest record high debt load), and to return to its drunken sailor spending ways.
Ironically, this is precisely what we said would happen, only the globalist neo-cons were hoping the Ukraine civil war would become an all out war between Russia and Ukraine, thus unleashing the "spend your way to prosperity" Soroses of the world. For now, this plan has failed which is why ISIS was brought into the picture.
But it never hurts to try, eh George. And the one thing that is not mentioned is that the people who would gain the most from this latest IMF spending spree would be, you guessed it, billionaires like George Soros of course
* * *
From George Soros, first posted in the New York Reviews Of Books
Wake Up, Europe
Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.
The fiscal rules that currently prevail in Europe have aroused a lot of popular resentment. Anti-Europe parties captured nearly 30 percent of the seats in the latest elections for the European Parliament but they had no realistic alternative to the EU to point to until recently. Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law. What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin's Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union'--more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term.
Europe and the United States'--each for its own reasons'--are determined to avoid any direct military confrontation with Russia. Russia is taking advantage of their reluctance. Violating its treaty obligations, Russia has annexed Crimea and established separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. In August, when the recently installed government in Kiev threatened to win the low-level war in eastern Ukraine against separatist forces backed by Russia, President Putin invaded Ukraine with regular armed forces in violation of the Russian law that exempts conscripts from foreign service without their consent.
In seventy-two hours these forces destroyed several hundred of Ukraine's armored vehicles, a substantial portion of its fighting force. According to General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, the Russians used multiple launch rocket systems armed with cluster munitions and thermobaric warheads (an even more inhumane weapon that ought to be outlawed) with devastating effect.* The local militia from the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk suffered the brunt of the losses because they were communicating by cell phones and could thus easily be located and targeted by the Russians. President Putin has, so far, abided by a cease-fire agreement he concluded with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on September 5, but Putin retains the choice to continue the cease-fire as long as he finds it advantageous or to resume a full-scale assault.
In September, President Poroshenko visited Washington where he received an enthusiastic welcome from a joint session of Congress. He asked for ''both lethal and nonlethal'' defensive weapons in his speech. However, President Obama refused his request for Javelin hand-held missiles that could be used against advancing tanks. Poroshenko was given radar, but what use is it without missiles? European countries are equally reluctant to provide military assistance to Ukraine, fearing Russian retaliation. The Washington visit gave President Poroshenko a fa§ade of support with little substance behind it.
Equally disturbing has been the determination of official international leaders to withhold new financial commitments to Ukraine until after the October 26 election there (which will take place just after this issue goes to press). This has led to an avoidable pressure on Ukrainian currency reserves and raised the specter of a full-blown financial crisis in the country.
There is now pressure from donors, whether in Europe or the US, to ''bail in'' the bondholders of Ukrainian sovereign debt, i.e., for bondholders to take losses on their investments as a precondition for further official assistance to Ukraine that would put more taxpayers' money at risk. That would be an egregious error. The Ukrainian government strenuously opposes the proposal because it would put Ukraine into a technical default that would make it practically impossible for the private sector to refinance its debt. Bailing in private creditors would save very little money and it would make Ukraine entirely dependent on the official donors.
To complicate matters, Russia is simultaneously dangling carrots and wielding sticks. It is offering'--but failing to sign'--a deal for gas supplies that would take care of Ukraine's needs for the winter. At the same time Russia is trying to prevent the delivery of gas that Ukraine secured from the European market through Slovakia. Similarly, Russia is negotiating for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the borders while continuing to attack the Donetsk airport and the port city of Mariupol.
It is easy to foresee what lies ahead. Putin will await the results of the elections on October 26 and then offer Poroshenko the gas and other benefits he has been dangling on condition that he appoint a prime minister acceptable to Putin. That would exclude anybody associated with the victory of the forces that brought down the Viktor Yanukovych government by resisting it for months on the Maidan'--Independence Square. I consider it highly unlikely that Poroshenko would accept such an offer. If he did, he would be disowned by the defenders of the Maidan; the resistance forces would then be revived.
Putin may then revert to the smaller victory that would still be within his reach: he could open by force a land route from Russia to Crimea and Transnistria before winter. Alternatively, he could simply sit back and await the economic and financial collapse of Ukraine. I suspect that he may be holding out the prospect of a grand bargain in which Russia would help the United States against ISIS'--for instance by not supplying to Syria the S300 missiles it has promised, thus in effect preserving US air domination'--and Russia would be allowed to have its way in the ''near abroad,'' as many of the nations adjoining Russia are called. What is worse, President Obama may accept such a deal.
That would be a tragic mistake, with far-reaching geopolitical consequences. Without underestimating the threat from ISIS, I would argue that preserving the independence of Ukraine should take precedence; without it, even the alliance against ISIS would fall apart. The collapse of Ukraine would be a tremendous loss for NATO, the European Union, and the United States. A victorious Russia would become much more influential within the EU and pose a potent threat to the Baltic states with their large ethnic Russian populations. Instead of supporting Ukraine, NATO would have to defend itself on its own soil. This would expose both the EU and the US to the danger they have been so eager to avoid: a direct military confrontation with Russia. The European Union would become even more divided and ungovernable. Why should the US and other NATO nations allow this to happen?
The argument that has prevailed in both Europe and the United States is that Putin is no Hitler; by giving him everything he can reasonably ask for, he can be prevented from resorting to further use of force. In the meantime, the sanctions against Russia'--which include, for example, restrictions on business transactions, finance, and trade'--will have their effect and in the long run Russia will have to retreat in order to earn some relief from them.
These are false hopes derived from a false argument with no factual evidence to support it. Putin has repeatedly resorted to force and he is liable to do so again unless he faces strong resistance. Even if it is possible that the hypothesis could turn out to be valid, it is extremely irresponsible not to prepare a Plan B.
There are two counterarguments that are less obvious but even more important. First, Western authorities have ignored the importance of what I call the ''new Ukraine'' that was born in the successful resistance on the Maidan. Many officials with a history of dealing with Ukraine have difficulty adjusting to the revolutionary change that has taken place there. The recently signed Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine was originally negotiated with the Yanukovych government. This detailed road map now needs adjustment to a totally different situation. For instance, the road map calls for the gradual replacement and retraining of the judiciary over five years whereas the public is clamoring for immediate and radical renewal. As the new mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, put it, ''If you put fresh cucumbers into a barrel of pickles, they will soon turn into pickles.''
Contrary to some widely circulated accounts, the resistance on the Maidan was led by the cream of civil society: young people, many of whom had studied abroad and refused to join either government or business on their return because they found both of them repugnant. (Nationalists and anti-Semitic extremists made up only a minority of the anti-Yanukovych protesters.) They are the leaders of the new Ukraine and they are adamantly opposed to a return of the ''old Ukraine,'' with its endemic corruption and ineffective government.
The new Ukraine has to contend with Russian aggression, bureaucratic resistance both at home and abroad, and confusion in the general population. Surprisingly, it has the support of many oligarchs, President Poroshenko foremost among them, and the population at large. There are of course profound differences in history, language, and outlook between the eastern and western parts of the country, but Ukraine is more united and more European-minded than ever before. That unity, however, is extremely fragile.
The new Ukraine has remained largely unrecognized because it took time before it could make its influence felt. It had practically no security forces at its disposal when it was born. The security forces of the old Ukraine were actively engaged in suppressing the Maidan rebellion and they were disoriented this summer when they had to take orders from a government formed by the supporters of the rebellion. No wonder that the new government was at first unable to put up an effective resistance to the establishment of the separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. It is all the more remarkable that President Poroshenko was able, within a few months of his election, to mount an attack that threatened to reclaim those enclaves.
To appreciate the merits of the new Ukraine you need to have had some personal experience with it. I can speak from personal experience although I must also confess to a bias in its favor. I established a foundation in Ukraine in 1990 even before the country became independent. Its board and staff are composed entirely of Ukrainians and it has deep roots in civil society. I visited the country often, especially in the early years, but not between 2004 and early 2014, when I returned to witness the birth of the new Ukraine.
I was immediately impressed by the tremendous improvement in maturity and expertise during that time both in my foundation and in civil society at large. Currently, civic and political engagement is probably higher than anywhere else in Europe. People have proven their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their country. These are the hidden strengths of the new Ukraine that have been overlooked by the West.
The other deficiency of the current European attitude toward Ukraine is that it fails to recognize that the Russian attack on Ukraine is indirectly an attack on the European Union and its principles of governance. It ought to be evident that it is inappropriate for a country, or association of countries, at war to pursue a policy of fiscal austerity as the European Union continues to do. All available resources ought to be put to work in the war effort even if that involves running up budget deficits. The fragility of the new Ukraine makes the ambivalence of the West all the more perilous. Not only the survival of the new Ukraine but the future of NATO and the European Union itself is at risk. In the absence of unified resistance it is unrealistic to expect that Putin will stop pushing beyond Ukraine when the division of Europe and its domination by Russia is in sight.
Having identified some of the shortcomings of the current approach, I will try to spell out the course that Europe ought to follow. Sanctions against Russia are necessary but they are a necessary evil. They have a depressive effect not only on Russia but also on the European economies, including Germany. This aggravates the recessionary and deflationary forces that are already at work. By contrast, assisting Ukraine in defending itself against Russian aggression would have a stimulative effect not only on Ukraine but also on Europe. That is the principle that ought to guide European assistance to Ukraine.
Germany, as the main advocate of fiscal austerity, needs to understand the internal contradiction involved. Chancellor Angela Merkel has behaved as a true European with regard to the threat posed by Russia. She has been the foremost advocate of sanctions on Russia, and she has been more willing to defy German public opinion and business interests on this than on any other issue. Only after the Malaysian civilian airliner was shot down in July did German public opinion catch up with her. Yet on fiscal austerity she has recently reaffirmed her allegiance to the orthodoxy of the Bundesbank'--probably in response to the electoral inroads made by the Alternative for Germany, the anti-euro party. She does not seem to realize how inconsistent that is. She ought to be even more committed to helping Ukraine than to imposing sanctions on Russia.
The new Ukraine has the political will both to defend Europe against Russian aggression and to engage in radical structural reforms. To preserve and reinforce that will, Ukraine needs to receive adequate assistance from its supporters. Without it, the results will be disappointing and hope will turn into despair. Disenchantment already started to set in after Ukraine suffered a military defeat and did not receive the weapons it needs to defend itself.
It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. They are better off helping Ukraine to defend itself than having to fight for themselves. One way or another, the internal contradiction between being at war and remaining committed to fiscal austerity has to be eliminated. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Let me be specific. In its last progress report, issued in early September, the IMF estimated that in a worst-case scenario Ukraine would need additional support of $19 billion. Conditions have deteriorated further since then. After the Ukrainian elections the IMF will need to reassess its baseline forecast in consultation with the Ukrainian government. It should provide an immediate cash injection of at least $20 billion, with a promise of more when needed. Ukraine's partners should provide additional financing conditional on implementation of the IMF-supported program, at their own risk, in line with standard practice.
The spending of borrowed funds is controlled by the agreement between the IMF and the Ukrainian government. Four billion dollars would go to make up the shortfall in Ukrainian payments to date; $2 billion would be assigned to repairing the coal mines in eastern Ukraine that remain under the control of the central government; and $2 billion would be earmarked for the purchase of additional gas for the winter. The rest would replenish the currency reserves of the central bank.
The new assistance package would include a debt exchange that would transform Ukraine's hard currency Eurobond debt (which totals almost $18 billion) into long-term, less risky bonds. This would lighten Ukraine's debt burden and bring down its risk premium. By participating in the exchange, bondholders would agree to accept a lower interest rate and wait longer to get their money back. The exchange would be voluntary and market-based so that it could not be mischaracterized as a default. Bondholders would participate willingly because the new long-term bonds would be guaranteed'--but only partially'--by the US or Europe, much as the US helped Latin America emerge from its debt crisis in the 1980s with so-called Brady bonds (named for US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady).
Such an exchange would have a few important benefits. One is that, over the next two or three critical years, the government could use considerably less of its scarce hard currency reserves to pay off bondholders. The money could be used for other urgent needs.
By trimming Ukraine debt payments in the next few years, the exchange would also reduce the chance of a sovereign default, discouraging capital flight and arresting the incipient run on the banks. This would make it easier to persuade owners of Ukraine's banks (many of them foreign) to inject urgently needed new capital into them. The banks desperately need bigger capital cushions if Ukraine is to avoid a full-blown banking crisis, but shareholders know that a debt crisis could cause a banking crisis that wipes out their equity.
Finally, Ukraine would keep bondholders engaged rather than watch them cash out at 100 cents on the dollar as existing debt comes due in the next few years. This would make it easier for Ukraine to reenter the international bond markets once the crisis has passed. Under the current conditions it would be more practical and cost-efficient for the US and Europe not to use their own credit directly to guarantee part of Ukraine's debt, but to employ intermediaries such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the World Bank and its subsidiaries.
The Ukrainian state-owned company Naftogaz is a black hole in the budget and a major source of corruption. Naftogaz currently sells gas to households for $47 per trillion cubic meters (TCM), for which it pays $380 per TCM. At present people cannot control the temperature in their apartments. A radical restructuring of Naftogaz's entire system could reduce household consumption at least by half and totally eliminate Ukraine's dependence on Russia for gas. That would involve charging households the market price for gas. The first step would be to install meters in apartments and the second to distribute a cash subsidy to needy households.
The will to make these reforms is strong both in the new management and in the incoming government but the task is extremely complicated (how do you define who is needy?) and the expertise is inadequate. The World Bank and its subsidiaries could sponsor a project development team that would bring together international and domestic experts to convert the existing political will into bankable projects. The initial cost would exceed $10 billion but it could be financed by project bonds issued by the European Investment Bank and it would produce very high returns.
It is also high time for the European Union to take a critical look at itself. There must be something wrong with the EU if Putin's Russia can be so successful even in the short term. The bureaucracy of the EU no longer has a monopoly of power and it has little to be proud of. It should learn to be more united, flexible, and efficient. And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine. That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine.
'--October 23, 2014
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Holocaust Museum shows images of Syrian killings - The Washington Post
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:17
US Holocaust Memorial Museum visitor Marianne Kast, from Fresno, Calif., watches a slide show presentation of images of emaciated and mangled bodies from recent history in Syria in an exhibit entitled ''Genocide: The Threat Continues,'' Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, at the museum in Washington. The small exhibit features a dozen images from an archive of 55,000 pictures smuggled out of Syria. The photographer, codenamed ''Caesar,'' testified in July that he witnessed a ''genocidal massacre'' and photographed more than 10,000 bodies as part of his job. He warned a similar fate could befall 150,000 more people who remain incarcerated by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)By Associated PressOctober 15
WASHINGTON '-- Images of mangled and emaciated bodies that a Syrian military photographer who defected says he took during the Middle Eastern nation's bloody civil war went on display Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
A small exhibit, entitled ''Genocide: The Threat Continues,'' features a dozen images from an archive of 55,000 pictures smuggled out of Syria. The photographer, codenamed ''Caesar,'' testified in July before the U.S. Congress that he witnessed a ''genocidal massacre'' and photographed more than 10,000 bodies as part of his job.
He warned a similar fate could befall 150,000 more people who remain incarcerated by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
Some images at the museum show dozens of bodies lined up or piled atop one another with their faces obscured. Others show the effects of depravation and torture, including electrocution, gouged out eyes and removed genitals, said Cameron Hudson, the director of the museum's Center for the Prevention of Genocide. They're powerful images, and viewers are immediately reminded of the Holocaust, he said.
''They show a side of the Syrian regime that hasn't really been really seen. You might have heard about it, read about it, but when you're confronted with these images, they're impossible to ignore,'' Hudson said.
The museum relied on forensic examinations of the photographs conducted by the FBI and by former prosecutors and forensic experts of the International Criminal Court to verify the authenticity of the images. The U.S. State Department has cited the FBI's examination as well, though the results have not been publicly released.
Syrian opposition groups hope to use the images to prosecute Assad's regime for war crimes.
The photos were first released in January on the eve of a peace conference for Syria in Geneva as part of a forensic investigation funded by the government of Qatar '-- a major backer of the opposition and one of the nations most deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, prompting some outside skepticism. The veracity of the photos could not be independently confirmed.
The photos were shown to the U.N. Security Council in April. At the time, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the images ''indicate that the Assad regime has carried out systematic, widespread and industrial killing.''
Syria's Justice Ministry dismissed the images as ''lacking objectiveness and professionalism.''
At the museum, the images of Syrian corpses from detention centers share striking similarities with those of concentration camps during the Holocaust, Hudson said, showing evidence of starvation and emaciated bodies. They are the result of long-term detention, not battlefield deaths, he said.
''You don't wither away and die like that on a battlefield'' Hudson said. ''You don't get that in a matter of days or weeks. It's months and months of depravation that causes the human body to wither away like that.''
Daniel Sturm, 23, of Portland, Oregon, visited the museum for the first time Wednesday with his mother. He follows news out of Syria but said he and most people don't know what's happening on the ground. So he was impressed to see the images, he said.
''When you look at that, that is absolutely systematic killing,'' Sturm said. ''No emotion to it. Just 'let's get rid of that situation.'''
It's important to remember genocide didn't end with the Holocaust and is a real threat in Syria, Hudson said.
The museum decided to exhibit the images for the foreseeable future because its scholars have long studied how witnesses who escaped Nazi Germany and reported atrocities to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other officials in Washington, only to be ignored.
''We realized that this person, Caesar, the Syrian who escaped, he was a witness,'' Hudson said. ''We felt an obligation to tell his story as someone who showed real courage in coming forward and escaping and trying to tell the story of what he saw.''
Online Exhibit:
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Using the Holocaust to Justify War | Consortiumnews
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:36
Since bursting onto the U.S. foreign policy stage in the 1980s, the neocons have been masters of ''perception management,'' devising emotional (and often false) messaging to justify aggressive war, as Maidhc ' Cathail sees in recent Holocaust-themed propaganda against Syria's government.
By Maidhc ' Cathail
''The irony is that the Nazi holocaust has now become the main ideological weapon for launching wars of aggression,'' Norman Finkelstein tells Yoav Shamir in ''Defamation,'' the Israeli filmmaker's award-winning 2009 documentary on how perceptions of anti-Semitism affect Israeli and U.S. politics. ''Every time you want to launch a war of aggression, drag in the Nazi holocaust.''
If you're looking for evidence in support of Finkelstein's thesis today, you need look no further than the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's exhibit of images of emaciated and mangled bodies from contemporary Syria.
The permanent exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: U.S. Holocaust Museum)
The small exhibit, entitled ''Genocide: The Threat Continues,'' features a dozen images said to be from an archive of 55,000 pictures allegedly smuggled out of the country by ''Caesar,'' a mysterious source who claims to have defected from his job as a Syrian military photographer after having been ordered to take photos of more than 10,000 corpses.
Emphasizing the threat of an impending genocide, the reportedly conscience-stricken defector warns that a similar fate awaits the 150,000 people he says remain incarcerated by President Bashar Assad's government.
''They're powerful images, and viewers are immediately reminded of the Holocaust,'' Cameron Hudson, the director of the museum's Center for the Prevention of Genocide, was cited as saying in an Oct. 15 Associated Press report. Hudson, whose intriguing career in genocide prevention includes a stint as intelligence analyst in the CIA's Africa Directorate, added, ''They show a side of the Syrian regime that hasn't really been really seen. You might have heard about it, read about it, but when you're confronted with these images, they're impossible to ignore.''
The museum's promotion of these impossible-to-ignore, Holocaust-recalling images dates from a few months earlier, however. In his July visit to Washington that included a series of meetings with U.S. government and congressional officials, Caesar's first stop was at the Holocaust Museum.
On July 28, Michael Chertoff, a member of the museum's governing board of trustees, presented the purported defector to a small group of reporters and researchers. According to the Washington Post's Greg Miller, this event was the first time that Caesar had appeared publicly to answer questions about the photos deemed by some human rights organizations as evidence of war crimes committed by Assad.
Chertoff, a co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act, hasn't hesitated to invoke the Nazis either in support of the neoconservative-conceived ''global war on terror.'' In an April 22, 2007 Washington Post op-ed entitled ''Make No Mistake: This Is War,'' the then-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security wrote, ''Al-Qaeda and its ilk have a world vision that is comparable to that of historical totalitarian ideologues but adapted to the 21st-century global network.''
Commenting on the former DHS secretary's close ties to Israel, Jonathan Cook notes in his book Israel and the Clash of Civilizations that Chertoff's mother was an air hostess for El Al in the 1950s. ''There are reports that she was involved in Operation Magic Carpet, which brought Jews to Israel from Yemen,'' writes the Nazareth-based British journalist. ''It therefore seems possible that Livia Eisen was an Israeli national, and one with possible links to the Mossad.''
Among the other members of the Holocaust Memorial Council noted for their staunch support of Israel and American interventionism are the pardoned Iran-Contra neocon intriguer Elliott Abrams and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
Writing in Foreign Policy's The Cable on April 23, 2012, Josh Rogin drew attention to Wiesel's pointed introduction of President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the Holocaust Museum. Comparing the Syrian president and then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the perpetrators of the Nazi holocaust, Wiesel implicitly criticized Obama's supposedly obtuse inaction, ''So in this place we may ask: Have we learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?''
As Rogin, a regular media conduit for anti-Assad interventionism, pointedly observed, the speech was reminiscent of another one Wiesel gave at the opening of the museum in 1993, when he urged then President Bill Clinton to take military action in Bosnia: ''Similarly, that speech came at a time when the Clinton administration was resisting getting entangled in a foreign civil war but was under growing pressure to intervene.''
In a revealing interview published on Aug. 11, 2013, by the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman, Caesar's interpreter, who presided over a question-and-answer session at the museum, echoed Wiesel's criticism of President Obama's resistance to doing the bidding of the neocons and ''liberal interventionists'' seeking greater American intervention in Syria.
Asked by the G¼len movement-aligned daily if America had forgotten the Syrian war, Mouaz Moustafa replied, ''It is the President who is against action in Syria not the whole of the U.S. government. President Barack Obama has been very insular and cautious about Syria. The President does not seem to understand how important Syria is to U.S. national security [....] The President does not feel the need to explain to the American people or the world that the risks with any of the bad options that we have are far outweighed by the risks of inaction.''
It is hardly a coincidence that Moustafa's rhetoric bears a striking resemblance to that of Israel's friends like Wiesel. Although one of best known media-promoted faces of the Syrian opposition in Washington has understandably sought to obscure his ties to Tel Aviv, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force has undeniable links to one of its American lobby's leading think tanks.
After it emerged that Moustafa's nonprofit had coordinated Sen. John McCain's May 2013 trip to meet with the so-called ''moderate'' Syrian rebels, an examination of the SETF executive director's background revealed that he was one of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's ''experts''; a contributor to WINEP's Fikra Forum, ''an online community that aims to generate ideas to support Arab democrats in their struggle with authoritarians and extremists''; and had addressed the AIPAC-created think tank's annual Soref symposium entitled ''Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad's Regime.''
Even more damningly, it was discovered that one of SETF's web addresses was '''' The '''' url belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose key values notably include promoting ''a love for and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.''
When confronted with these embarrassing revelations, Moustafa responded via Twitter, ''call me terrorist/Qaeda/nazi as others have but not Zionist Im [sic] denied ever entering palestine but it lives in me.'' Dismissing the intriguing connection to a pro-Israel yeshiva in Florida, he claimed that the ''url registration was due to dumb error by web designer.''
The Israel lobby-backed Moustafa also interpreted for Caesar, who was wearing dark glasses and a blue rain jacket with the hood pulled over his head, when he testified before a closed-door session of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this July. At least some of its members would no doubt have recognized the interpreter, however.
As Foreign Policy's The Cable reported on June 6, 2013, two leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Reps. Ed Royce, R-California, and Eliot Engel, D-New York, dispatched aides to Turkey to meet leading members of the Syrian Free Army between May 27 and June 3. As The Cable had learned, the meeting had been coordinated by Moustafa's Syrian Emergency Task Force.
(This September, staff from the Syrian Emergency Task Force and the House Foreign Affairs Committee reportedly facilitated a meeting in Turkey that led to more than 20 Syrian rebel commanders signing ''a historic agreement'' to unite in the quixotic fight against both ISIS and Assad.)
Interestingly, the FP article noted that ''[t]he two lawmakers don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the question of whether the United States should intervene more aggressively in the protracted civil war,'' with Engel having ''carved out one of the most hawkish positions in Congress on Syria, being the first to introduce legislation authorizing lethal assistance for the rebels.''
Moreover, as Rep. Engel pointed out in his opening remarks at the Syria briefing, he has ''been personally focused on Syria for a long time.'' In 2003, he passed the Syria Accountability Act, which imposed sanctions on the government of Hafez Assad.
In a reference to his introduction of the Free Syria Act in March 2013, which authorized the President to provide lethal assistance to those Engel described as ''carefully vetted members of the moderate Syrian opposition,'' the reflexively pro-Israel Democratic congressman from New York said, ''If we had taken that approach a year and a half ago, we may have been able to stem the growth of ISIS and weaken the regime of Bashar Assad. But we didn't, unfortunately, so we'll never really know what would have happened if we had acted then.''
While Caesar and his American-based Palestinian-Syrian interpreter clearly have the enthusiastic support of Israel's friends in Washington, the photos presented as evidence of an alleged Syrian ''holocaust'' by Assad's forces received their initial boost from one of Tel Aviv's closest, albeit covert, Arab allies in their mutual war against the Syrian government.
As part of a review of the photos commissioned by the government of Qatar, David Crane, a former war-crimes prosecutor for Sierra Leone, reportedly spent hours interviewing Caesar. An Oct. 13 Yahoo News report by Michael Isikoff quotes Crane as saying that they document ''an industrial killing machine not seen since the Holocaust.''
Like the director of the Holocaust Museum's Center for the Prevention of Genocide, Crane has worked for the U.S. government, including in the field of military intelligence. His former posts include Director of the Office of Intelligence Review, assistant general counsel of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the United States Army Judge Advocate Generals School.
Having ostensibly left the intelligence world behind him, Crane founded and directs the Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) at Syracuse University's College of Law, which describes itself as ''a cooperative effort between activists, non-governmental organizations, students, and other interested parties to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of the Syrian Crisis.'' According to its website, SAP has ''worked closely with the Syrian National Coalition'' which is listed as one of its clients.
Founded in Doha, Qatar in November 2012, the Syrian National Coalition represents the Free Syrian Army, which has reportedly collaborated with the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham in massacres of Syrian civilians such as the one that occurred this March in the village of Kassab, an ancestral home of Syria's minority ethnic Armenians, on the Turkish border.
Professor Crane is also vice-president of I Am Syria, whose mission statement describes it as ''a non-profit media based campaign that seeks to educate the world of the Syrian Conflict.'' I Am Syria's president, Ammar Abdulhamid, has been a fellow at two of the most prominent Washington-based pro-Israel think tanks, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the neocon Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; while one of its education directors, Andrew Beitar, is a regional education coordinator for the Holocaust Museum.
As the case of the mysterious Caesar and his trove of photos clearly shows, those who want to launch a war of aggression on Syria '' as they have succeeded in doing in Iraq and Libya '' have at every opportunity sought, as Finkelstein put it, to drag in the Nazi holocaust.
As more and more people become wise to this ruse, they should keep in mind the two words espoused by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: ''Never Again.''
Maidhc' Cathail is a widely publishedwriterand political analyst.
United States Holocaust Memorial Council (Board of Trustees) '-- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:20
The United States Holocaust Memorial Council was established by Congress in 1980 to lead the nation in commemorating the Holocaust and to raise private funds for and build the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Once the Museum opened in 1993, the Council became the governing board of trustees of the Museum, an independent establishment of the United States government operating as a public-private partnership that receives some federal funding to support operations of the Museum building.
The Council, which meets twice a year, consists of 55 members appointed by the president, as well as five members each from the Senate and House of Representatives and three ex-officio members from the Departments of Education, Interior, and State. Presidential appointments serve for a five-year term; 11 members' terms expire each year.
Because of the large size of the Council, its work is done primarily through the committee structure. The Executive Committee, which acts on behalf of the Council in between Council meetings, meets four times a year.
As of August 20, 2014
Tom A. Bernstein, Chairman, New York, NYJoshua B. Bolten, Vice Chairman, Washington, DCSara J. Bloomfield, Director, Washington, DC
Elliott Abrams, Great Falls, VAMatthew L. Adler, Miami Beach, FLElisa Spungen Bildner, Montclair, NJLee T. Bycel, Kensington, CAMichael Chertoff, Potomac, MDDiana Shaw Clark, London, EnglandWilliam J. Danhof, Lansing, MIShefali Razdan Duggal, San Francisco, CAKitty Dukakis, Brookline, MAJohn Farahi, Reno, NVTodd A. Fisher, New York, NYJonathan Safran Foer, Brooklyn, NYAmy R. Friedkin, San Francisco, CAK. Chaya Friedman, Baltimore, MDNancy B. Gilbert, Palm Beach, FLMark D. Goodman, Cambridge, MASamuel N. Gordon, Wilmette, ILSanford L. Gottesman, Austin, TXJoseph D. Gutman, Chicago, ILCheryl F. Halpern, Livingston, NJS. Fitzgerald Haney, New York, NYBeth Heifetz, Chevy Chase, MDJ. David Heller, Cleveland, OHAllan M. Holt, Washington, DCJane H. Jelenko, Los Angeles, CAAmy Kaslow, Potomac, MDRoman R. Kent, New York, NYHoward Konar, West Henrietta, NYM. Ronald Krongold, Miami Beach, FLAlan B. Lazowski, Hartford, CTDeborah E. Lipstadt, Atlanta, GASusan E. Lowenberg, San Francisco, CALeslie Meyers, New York, NYMichael B. Mukasey, New York, NYDeborah A. Oppenheimer, Los Angeles, CACheryl Peisach, Golden Beach, FLDana Perlman, Beverly Hills, CARichard S. Price, Chicago, ILRonald Ratner, Cleveland, OHGreg A. Rosenbaum, Bethesda, MDMenachem Z. Rosensaft, New York, NYMichael P. Ross, Boston, MAKirk A. Rudy, Austin, TXElliot J. Schrage, Menlo Park, CAMaureen Schulman, Chicago, ILDaniel J. Silva, Boca Raton, FLAndrea Lavin Solow, Chicago, ILMarc R. Stanley, Dallas, TXMichael Ashley Stein, Cambridge, MAMich¨le Taylor, Atlanta, GAHoward D. Unger, Briarcliff Manor, NYClemantine Wamariya, Kenilworth, ILElie Wiesel, Boston, MA
US House of RepresentativesMichael Grimm, New YorkSteve Israel, New YorkPatrick Meehan, PennsylvaniaHenry A. Waxman, California
US SenateAl Franken, MinnesotaOrrin G. Hatch, UtahBernard Sanders, Vermont
Ex Officio MembersUS Department of Education, Philip H. RosenfeltUS Department of the Interior, Sarah GreenbergerUS Department of State, VacantGeneral Counsel, Gerard LevalSecretary of the Council, Jane M. Miller
Former ChairsFred S. Zeidman 2002''2010Irving Greenberg 2000''2002Miles Lerman* 1993''2000Harvey M. Meyerhoff 1987''1993Elie Wiesel 1980''1986
Former Vice ChairsJoel M. Geiderman 2005''2010Ruth B. Mandel 1993''2005William J. Lowenberg* 1986''1993Mark E. Talisman 1980''1986
* Deceased
Michael Chertoff - Make No Mistake: This Is War
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:21
As the rubble of the Twin Towers smoldered in 2001, no one could have imagined a day when America's leaders would be criticized for being tough in protecting Americans from further acts of war.
Now, less than six years later, that day has arrived.
Since Sept. 11, a conspiracy-minded fringe has claimed that American officials plotted the destruction. But when scholars such as Zbigniew Brzezinski accuse our leaders of falsely depicting or hyping a "war on terror" to promote a "culture of fear," it's clear that historical revisionism has gone mainstream.
Brzezinski stated the obvious in describing terrorism as a tactic, not an enemy ["Terrorized by 'War on Terror,' Outlook, March 25]. But this misses the point. We are at war with a global movement and ideology whose members seek to advance totalitarian aims through terrorism. Brzezinski is deeply mistaken to mock the notion that we are at war and to suggest that we should adopt "more muted reactions" to acts of terrorism.
The impulse to minimize the threat we face is eerily reminiscent of the way America's leaders played down the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary fanaticism in the late 1970s. That naive approach ultimately foundered on the kidnapping of our diplomats in Tehran.
A sensible strategy against al-Qaeda and others in its ideological terror network begins with recognizing the scope of the threat they pose. Al-Qaeda and its ilk have a world vision that is comparable to that of historical totalitarian ideologues but adapted to the 21st-century global network.
Is this actually a war? Well, the short answer comes from our enemies. Osama bin Laden's fatwa of Feb. 23, 1998, was a declaration of war, a self-serving accusation that America had somehow declared war on Islam, followed by a "ruling" to "kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military . . . in any country where it is possible to do it."
Since then, bin Laden and his allies have sought to carry out acts designed to strike at our global system of security, safety and economy. I am reminded of that every day when I see threat assessments and other evidence of a militarized and networked foe.
Measured by intent, capability and consequence, fanatical Islamist ideologues have declared -- and are prosecuting -- what is, by any objective rendering, a real war.
Intent: Today's extreme Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda do not merely seek political revolution in their own countries. They aspire to dominate all countries. Their goal is a totalitarian, theocratic empire to be achieved by waging perpetual war on soldiers and civilians alike. That includes the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Capability: The fanatics' intent, while grandiose, is not entirely fanciful. Islamist extremists such as those in al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated groups from North Africa to Iraq and South Asia are fighting for and sometimes achieving control of territory in which they can train; assemble advanced, inhumane weaponry; impose their own vision of repressive law; and dominate local life. To be sure, as Brzezinski observes, the geographic reach of this network does not put them in the same group as the Nazis or Stalinists when they achieved first-class military power. But without relentless vigilance and effort from the civilized world, Islamist extremists could gain control of a state or establish a network of radical "statelets" in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Consequence: The events of Sept. 11 highlight the dramatic difference between the consequences of Islamist extremist war-making and those of the political terrorist attacks unleashed against the West in the 1970s. The Sept. 11 attacks were the most devastating single blow ever visited upon our homeland by foreign enemies. The Islamist extremists' plot last summer to blow up multiple transatlantic airlines in Britain threatened a similarly devastating -- but thankfully unrealized -- consequence. Both episodes demonstrate that the terrorist ideologues aim to achieve not only a massive loss of life but also substantial disruption of our international system of travel and trade.
Simply put, our foes have declared their intent to make war, have demonstrated a capability to prosecute war and have laid on us the horrific consequences commensurate with war.
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, our allies correctly perceived al-Qaeda's strikes as acts of international aggression. By Sept. 12, the U.N. Security Council had passed a resolution vowing to respond, and NATO began its unprecedented move of declaring the attacks to be aggression against all of its members.
That radical Islamist fanatics have not yet achieved all the elements of state power should not blind us to the global threat they pose. This globalized war has theaters from traditional battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq to the streets and alleys of cities where al-Qaeda-trained killers lurk. Moreover, this war cannot be won by arms alone; "soft" power matters. In these ways, our current struggle resembles the Cold War. As with the Cold War, we must respond globally. As with the Cold War, ideas matter as much as armaments. And as with the Cold War, this war requires our patience and resolve.
Perhaps the rhetoric of war makes Brzezinski and others uncomfortable. But history teaches that the false comfort of complacency is a dangerous indulgence in the face of a determined enemy.
The writer is secretary of homeland security.
Elie Wiesel: Why is Assad still in power?
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:22
The White House is unhappy with the options it's been given on Syria and is searching for a new strategy for removing President Bashar al-Assad, The Cable has learned.
"There was a fundamental decision made at the highest level that we need a real Syria policy with more options for the president," one administration official with knowledge of the internal deliberations said. "Our allies were coming back to us and saying 'What's your next move?,' and we were forced to admit we didn't have one."
The new push includes adjustments in personnel handling the portfolio. Before March, National Security Council Director Steve Simonheaded up the internal interagency process. Now, multiple officials confirm that NSC Senior Director for Strategy Derek Chollet has been added to the leadership of the Syria policy team and has been coordinating the interagency process for several weeks. Simon, Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman, State Dept. Special Advisor Fred Hof, and Ambassador Robert Ford are still very active on the Syria portfolio.
Simon, Feltman, and Hof have been traveling all week and will be with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Paris Thursday. There she will attend an ad-hoc meeting of foreign ministers where "core" members of the Friends of Syria group will confer on next steps.
Chollet, the former deputy to Anne-Marie Slaughter at the State Department's Policy Planning shop, has also been nominated to be the next assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, replacing Sandy Vershbow, who is now deputy secretary general of NATO. Chollet has taken on the day-to-day management of the interagency process while he awaits confirmation.
New options are now being considered internally, including another discussion of setting up buffer zones inside Syria, one administration official confirmed. The administration has also authorized direct contact with the internal Syrian opposition, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and at least one State Department official has met with the FSA's nominal leaders in Turkey.
The rethink comes eight months after Obama explicitly demanded the Syrian leader's removal, saying, "The time has come for President Assad to step aside."
His administration is still struggling to come up with a way to make that call a reality.
There's a growing consensus inside the administration that the violence in Syria is not abating and that multinational diplomatic initiatives such as the plan put forth by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annanare not convincing Assad to enter into a political process to transition to democracy, much less yield power and step down.
Clinton hinted Wednesday that fresh options are under discussion.
"We are at a crucial turning point," Clinton said, speaking from Brussels. "Either we succeed in pushing forward with Kofi Annan's plan in accordance with the Security Council direction, with the help of monitors steadily broadening and deepening a zone of non-conflict and peace, or we see Assad squandering his last chance before additional measures have to be considered."
The potential shift in U.S. policy predates the Annan plan, however.
Following a failed effort to convince Russia and China to endorse a resolution condemning Assad in February and the subsequent attempts to convince Russia to play a more constructive role following Vladimir Putin's election to the presidency in March, top levels of the Obama administration began exploring other options, according to multiple U.S. officials, congressional officials, and experts briefed on the discussions.
One administration official said that the hope that Russia could be convinced to reign in Assad has now faded, as has the notion that Turkey and the Arab Gulf states would be willing to bankroll the Syrian opposition and even arm the FSA while the United States largely confined itself to a diplomatic role.
The administration's position had been to look the other way while Arab states armed the Syrian opposition, but pledges of aid by Gulf states have not materialized and the Turkish government, which has committed to an anti-Assad position and is hosting the FSA, is waiting for the United States to chart a clear way forward.
"They are not thinking two steps ahead. That's why there is a demand for a plan B," the administration official said, referring to the White House. "The position they took at the last Friends of Syria meeting is not sustainable."
The United States has pledged $25 million in humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and communications equipment to the internal opposition. But lawmakers who met with internal opposition leaders last week said that they hadn't gotten that assistance.
"The most stunning, unsettling conclusion I drew from the leaders of the Free Syrian Army was that they have essentially got no help from anyone. They are literally running out of ammunition while Assad's forces are being resupplied by Iran and Russia," Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told The Cable in an interview.
Lieberman and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spent their Senate recess on the Turkish side of the Turkey-Syria border, meeting with Turkish officials, FSA leaders, and refugees.
"What they want us to do is to lead. They want us to lead the Friends of Syria, who have given them increasingly sympathetic rhetoric but not the wherewithal to defend themselves," he said.
The Syrian internal opposition is buying weapons and ammunition on the black market at exorbitant prices and claims that large parts of the Syrian military are demoralized but are unwilling to break with the government until they see the opposition has real international support.
"They are all waiting for the U.S. to say 'We're in this,'" Lieberman said.
There was at least one State Department official inside the McCain-Lieberman meeting with leaders of the FSA, Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh and Col. Riad al-Asaad, two U.S. officials confirmed. The FSA leaders asked the United States to provide RPGs, anti-aircraft guns, and ammunition. The FSA leaders also said they have proof that the Assad regime is using helicopter gunships to attack civilians in the city of Idlib, as apparently shown in this YouTube video.
Turkish officials told McCain and Lieberman that they were willing to let weapons flow over their borders and consider other more aggressive steps to help the internal Syrian opposition, but that they won't do so unless Washington leads the way.
The Turks told the senators there are currently 25,000 registered Syrian refugees in southern Turkey, although the registrations have not kept pace with the flow of refugees across the border so the actual number could be much higher. The Turks also said that if the refugee total tops 50,000, they will require help.
"They Turks want American leadership and they know American leadership is totally absent. The Turks say they may -- if this flood of refugees continues -- they may need international assistance," McCain said. "Every place we talked to, they want American leadership. It's just disgraceful that they haven't acted so far."
The administration official explained that the White House does not want to become so heavily involved in the Syria conflict, for example by directly arming opposition fighters, because it puts the United States on the hook for their success and would probably require increased levels of commitment as the conflict drags on.
"They've got this half-pregnant position that is offensive to the sensibilities of the people on the ground and confusing to the Turks," the official said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
FBI warns media: Journalists 'desirable targets' for ISIL -
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:52
The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a bulletin to reporters on Thursday warning that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had identified reporters and media personalities as "desirable targets" for retribution attacks against the United States.
"The FBI assesses, based on open source statements and postings, that [ISIL] members and supporters view members of the US media establishment as legitimate targets for retribution attacks as the US-led air campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria continues," the FBI bulletin states. "Online supporters of ISIL have called'--via various social media sites'--for retaliation against the United States and US interests abroad, especially since US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria began."
In the bulletin, the FBI claims to have "recently obtained credible information indicating members of an ISIL-affiliated group are tasked with kidnapping journalists in the region and returning them to Syria. Members of this group might try to mask their affiliation with ISIL to gain access to journalists," the bulletin reads.
(Also on POLITICO: Bachmann given security detail over ISIL threat)
The bulletin also noted the recent executions of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and cited an online post by an ISIL supporter titled "A Message to 2.6 Million Muslims in the United States: This Is How To Respond to Obama's War on Islam." The post's author identified media personnel such as anchormen, field reporters and talk show hosts as people ''proved to be biased'' and, as such, prioritized targets for execution.
The bulletin, which the FBI supplied to news organizations so that they "may take appropriate steps to notify their journalists in the field," was dated Oct. 22 but sent out Thursday by the Public Affairs department for the FBI's Washington Field Office.
ISIL published a YouTube video in mid-August showing the beheading of Foley, a photojournalist. It released another video showing the beheading of Sotloff, a freelance journalist, in early September.
Read more about: Terrorism, FBI, Media, Journalism, Press, Journalists, ISIL
Zale Thompson's Hatchet Attack on Police in Queens - TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:17
Zale Thompson of Queens, New York attacked four recent police academy graduates with a hatchet on the street in Queens yesterday as they were posing for a picture. The incident was caught on tape. One officer was struck in the head and is in critical condition. Another officer was struck in the arm and was treated and released from the hospital. The other two officers shot at Thompson, who died at the scene.
Authorities are pouring over his social media contacts to determine the motive for the attack and whether he has links to terrorists like ISIS. As far as I can tell, he's a militant whose cause is the oppression of African Americans in America, not religious oppression. He's interested in Africa and America, not the Middle East. I see nothing to indicate he cares about Sharia law. [More...
His online friend interviewed by the news, Frank Sha, is a community activist who organizes marches and speeches against police brutality. He is very into his cause. Here's what he wrote on his FB page about Zale after he talked to the media.
Scrolling through Frank's FB page, to say he and his friends don't like cops or trust politicians is an understatement. (They bash Obama a lot as well.)
This is Frank:
In one post, Frank wrote on FB criticizing Halloween as a racist holiday intended to oppress Blacks and Zale gave it a "like". Here's what Frank wrote in response, saying that Zale was the biggest militant he knew.
Zale had this to say in one comment about Crips and Bloods and white and black Christians.
Zale Thompson is a big fan of Malcolm X. He believes the time has come for violent aggression against the oppressors of African Americans in the U.S. In another comment he says that Malcolm X would approve.
He is 32 years old, has a dishonorable discharge from the Navy, and attended the Teacher's College at Colombia University, but did not graduate.
His FB comments on his friend Frank's page do not sound deranged, just militant. In one discussion, he discounts the notion of aliens, saying you only find them in science fiction. They aren't real. He has an interest in history.
Here's an example of how the mainstream media overreacts and presents false information that five minutes worth of research could have avoided. The Daily News, in an article written by four reporters writes:
Zale Thompson on Facebook is pictured wearing a keffiyeh and had a recent terrorism-related conversation with one of his Facebook friends, according to a police source.
This is his FB cover photo:
It took me under five minutes to source his cover photo, which he added to FB in November, 2013, on TinyEye. It's not a photo of Thompson. The graphic is of a Moor from the 14th Century. It's on the cover of a well received historical book, The Golden Age of the Moors.
The book is a historical examination of the Moors in the 14th century. It is based on museum exhibits and historical documents from that era. Those reviewing the book who appreciate it the most express their belief that the Moors were Blacks from Africa, who despite their great contribution to European civilization, never received the credit. According to these reviewers, the ethnicity of the Moors has never been definitively determined by historians, yet most historians have assumed the Moors were White (with a little darker pigment but still white ) or Berber. These reviewers like the book because the photos show the Moors with a clearly darker pigmentation, indicating they really did come from Africa. One reviewer says the book:
"establishes beyond the need for further debate that the Moors were black africans that conquered and civilized Spain, and then lost it again to a white European reconquista...The Moors were among the most civilized peoples of the world in their time. ....The most interesting thesis in my mind was that the Moors were a source of the knowledge that flooded Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and thus were coauthors of the renaissance, along with the Arabs and Turks on the other side of the Mediterranean....there is so much detail about the contributions of the Moors to civilization, that this is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in where we all came from.
The book was not about Jihad. Back to Zale Thompson's views on race: Here's a comment from his Google Plus page on a video:
The Arabic graphic on his FB page is one that appears on many non-jihadist Arabic forums. I don't think his attack was motivated by ISIS. The manner of attack (a hatchet rather than a gun) may have been, but he is not a religious zealot. His cause is racial oppression.
He reminds me more of the Oklahoma beheader, whose facebook page was filled with complaints about economic oppression and the limited jobs available to him (as a felon coming out of jail with years of probation left to serve. He had action alerts to raise the minimum wage on his page.)
The Canadian who shot the soldier the other day, was broke and homeless and living at the Salvation Army the last few weeks before the attack. Here's an article explaining how he told a judge he wanted to go to jail because he had nowhere else to go and jail would give him free room and board and might end his crack habit. He knew using crack was bad, and it was against the rules of his religion. He thought he could be a better person in jail. The prosecutor asked he not be put in jail. Would he have snapped if Canada had offered him drug treatment, a place to live and a skills program to get a job?
These three do not remind me of ISIS, but of people at the end of their rope, people who feel oppressed and that they have gotten the short end of the stick. As the Zapatistas wrote about their Subcomandante Marcos:
So Marcos is a human being, any human being in this world. Marcos is all the exploited, marginalized, oppressed minorities, rising and saying "Enough."
Judging from the other FB comments on Frank Sha's page, it's clear there are a lot of people feeling exploited, marginalized and oppressed in this country. Which is why I also say, why not listen to their grievances and address the ones that are legitimate, rather than abandoning or ignoring them, which results in their descent to some awful state of despair where they remain until they finally snap and do something crazy, like attack random policemen on the street, behead a coworker or kill a soldier in broad daylight.
Yes, it was Shiek Adnan al Adnani, who as I wrote here, stirred the lone wolf pot when he said in his last speech:
[Do] not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawāghÄt. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves.
If you can kill a disbelieving American or European '' especially the spiteful and filthy French '' or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone's advice and do not seek anyone's verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war [the civilian by belonging to a state waging war against the Muslims]. Both of their blood and wealth is legal for you to destroy...
...The best thing you can do is to strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American, or from any of their allies ....If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.
...If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops. If you are unable to do so, then spit in his face.
It may well have been ISIS or Adnani that gave Zale Thompson the idea to use a hatchet in his attack. But it doesn't sound like he did this for ISIS or religion. Same method, different cause.
I think the U.S. will see a few more of these attacks. They are predictable. ISIS warned the U.S. not to do airstrikes, but it didn't listen. It had to meddle. The U.S. put a target on our back. You can't expect to sting ISIS and have ISIS not try to crush the bee in response. It's also delighted with these attacks. ISIS not only has its supporters committing attacks, it has people committing attacks who have no interest in ISIS's goals, but happen to have the same enemy for reasons of their own. It's a win-win for ISIS.
Attacking ISIS was the wrong choice. Getting more involved in a war with ISIS will be even worse. Even so, you can't brand all violent malcontents in the West with the ISIS label. The malcontents may be domestic terrorists, but all they got from ISIS was the idea to go big and bold, do it at home, don't share your plans, and a knife is good, but so is a gun, a rock, or running an enemy over with your car.
The only one who can stop ISIS is ISIS, when it gets too big for its britches in the eyes of its rivals in the Middle East. Let the terrorists battle it out. We have no business there. But since it appears we are going to keep meddling and stinging ISIS and al Qaida, we can expect more of these lone wolf attacks at home, and not just by jihadist supporters.
One last note on the media hyperventilation: A Fox News anchor said yesterday afternoon or evening about New York, "We are under siege." Please. You have a greater chance of being hit by a bolt of lightening than being attacked by a terrorist or coming down with Ebola. If you want to know what "under siege"is like, take a trip to Kobane or Anbar.
Harper vows to fast-track boost to spy, policing powers after shooting - The Globe and Mail
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 13:20
Stephen Harper is vowing a speedy passage of legislation that would boost the powers of Canada's spy agency and police forces after a gunman's attack in Ottawa.
''Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest,'' the Prime Minister told the House of Commons. ''They need to be much strengthened. I assure members that work which is already under way will be expedited.''
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Mr. Harper and other party leaders took to the floor of the Commons on Thursday in a display of unity in which all said Canadians will not be intimidated by the violence that had visited the seat of government. The Prime Minister publicly embraced both Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and then Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, a signal of common purpose just metres from where an assailant was shot dead by Parliamentary Hill security one day earlier.
But while the Conservative Prime Minister and his rivals talked of standing together, Mr. Harper's characterization of and response to what happened in Ottawa differed noticeably from those of opposition rivals, who pleaded for MPs not to let the attack change Canada and the liberties citizens enjoy.
Mr. Harper used ''terrorism'' or ''terrorist'' five times in his address, calling the assault on the War Memorial and Parliament a ''terrorist attack,'' and saying there are increasing numbers of places ''where the planet is descending into savagery'' as he emphasized the need to give security and police forces new powers.
''Make no mistake, even as the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are taking this fight to the terrorists on their own territory, we are equally resolved to fight it here,'' the Prime Minister said, referring to the Canadian fighter jets and surveillance planes recently deployed to a combat mission in Iraq.
Mr. Trudeau, however, described the Ottawa gunman as a criminal whose actions should not be allowed to redefine the rule of law in Canada. ''Criminals do not dictate how we act as a nation, how we govern or the way we treat each other,'' he told the Commons. ''They do not dictate our values. They will not make the rules about this land we share.''
Mr. Mulcair urged MPs not to ''allow hatred and violence to change our identity.'' The NDP chief said that on Wednesday, ''We woke up in a country of love, diversity, peace, and this has not changed,'' he said. ''We cannot allow that openness and freedom to be rolled back,'' he said of Parliament.
The contrasts foreshadow a debate that will soon take place in the Commons about how Canada should rewrite laws to deal with the threat of jihadi extremists. The country has proven adept at stopping radicalized citizens from going abroad by cancelling their passports, but not so proficient at preventing them from turning on their own citizens.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters the government is trying to find the right balance between civil liberties and protecting national security.
''We're examining all of those sections of the Criminal Code and all measures under the law that will allow us to, in some instances, take pre-emptive measures,'' he said.
Police themselves are asking for more powers.
Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau said on Thursday that authorities need additional tools to catch extremists.
''I think we're seeing a gap evolve in law enforcement's ability to maintain control over these individuals that are being radicalized.''
The NDP said it is willing to co-operate with the government to move legislation through, but that does not mean it will support anything the Tories want.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said MPs need full reports on the two killings of soldiers this week to determine whether changes the Conservatives are planning would have helped.
Follow Steven Chase on Twitter: @stevenchase
US considers air strikes against Isil oil pipelines - Telegraph
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 13:24
America is considering whether to bomb Isil's oil pipelines in Syria and choke one of the movement's biggest sources of revenue, a senior US official said on Thursday.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) is believed to raise about $1m (£600,000) a day from oilfields under its control in the deserts of eastern Syria. Oil wells in the Jafra field have already been destroyed by air strikes, but the US is now weighing whether to expand its target list to include pipelines.
Julieta Valls Noyes, the US deputy assistant secretary for European affairs, said that cutting off Isil's funding was ''one of the paramount concerns'', adding: ''The financing of this barbaric organisation allows it to continue its operations. What we have to do is degrade its abilities and ultimately to destroy it.''
During a visit to London, Ms Noyes said a variety of ''approaches'' were being considered to achieve this goal, including ''kinetic strikes against some of the pipelines''.
Other methods would include imposing sanctions on any companies suspected of buying oil from Isil, and designating individuals involved in this trade. But these measures depend on accurate intelligence. Destroying the pipelines used by Isil to move oil may be a simpler and surer method.
Ms Noyes made clear that one option would be ''actual physical action to prevent the flows''.
Western officials say that Syria's own regime has been an important buyer of Isil's oil. While President Bashar al-Assad poses as a sworn enemy of Isil, officials from Western and Middle Eastern countries believe that he has deliberately created some of the conditions for the terrorist movement's rise in order to present himself as a bulwark against extremism.
If America were to destroy a pipeline taking oil from Isil to the regime, this could be a way of weakening both Mr Assad and the terrorists. However, Isil is also believed to smuggle oil to buyers in Turkey and Iraq. Most of those supplies are thought to go by tanker, not via pipelines.
Isil's possession of oilfields has helped it to become one of the richest terrorist organisations in history. Control of these assets makes the movement financially self-sufficient, reducing its dependence on donors from elsewhere in the Middle East. In all, Isil is believed to have amassed a war-chest running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Chip & Pin
Red Book Cyber Breach Walmart
Hi Adam (and John, I guess)
I've written to you previously about the Target data leak. I have a red book entry that should prove myself to also be a time traveler.
As I stated in the past, I work with an on-site tech service. Our newest push is to replace all pin pads for Walmart. (At least 2500 of them nationally.) After completing target, they had a leak within 6 months. After home depot, it was 4 months. I think the next one will be bigger and sooner. I give it 3 months after completion. My prediction is that we will see a major data breach within the next 4-6 months from Walmart.
Behind the Hot Pockets Slump, Nestl(C) Battles Every Food Trend - Businessweek
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:49
Just about every major food trend is working against Hot Pockets, and Nestl(C) (NSN:VX) clearly knows it has a problem brand on its hands.
The company tried to revive its line of microwavable meat pouches last year with a foodie makeover, boasting of ''premium cuts of meat'' and ''real cheese'' in the new and improved version. But even these quasi-gourmet touches can't mask the fact that Hot Pockets are processed food sold at a time when consumers are seeking freshness at the expense of frozen options. A beef recall earlier this year also hit Hot Pockets, putting the product at odds with increasing consumer focus on food safety.
Even a new marketing campaign developed with Funny or Die, the popular comedy video website, has failed to turn things around. Hot Pocket sales have continued to fall this year, according to data from IRI, a Chicago market research firm.
Now executives at Nestl(C) are pointing to another factor in the long-running Hot Pocket cold streak. A temporary boost in federal food-stamp assistance that was introduced in 2009 was allowed to expire in late 2013. Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are ''a big part of the consumption of this particular product,'' said Chris Johnson, executive vice president of Nestl(C) Business Excellence, during a sales call last week.
''For our Hot Pockets brand, it was not surprising to understand the value our products offered to the SNAP consumer,'' said Molly Fogarty, Nestl(C) vice president for government relations, wrote in an e-mail. A two-pack of Hot Pockets costs about $2.50, she said, and the 12-count package, for around $11, is even more economical.
Reductions in the food-stamp program haven't just affected Hot Pockets. Such large grocers as Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), which gets roughly 4 percent of its revenue from food stamps, have also said the SNAP reductions have hurt their U.S. business.
At Nestl(C), meanwhile, other products have also been hit by lower levels of federal aid. ''We've seen some softening of sales in the entire sandwich/snack category which are related to the SNAP reductions,'' Fogarty said.
Something happening here? | Power Line
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:08
A faithful reader who asks us to withhold his name informs us that he has reason to believe the computer network within the Executive Office of the President has been down for close to a week, and staff throughout the various components still lack basic access to their files (though many are now able to access e-mail and the Internet). He advises that EOP staff have been told not to say anything about the situation to anyone. He adds that a major security breach is suspected, but no information has been forthcoming, either to those inside the EOP or to the public.
I called the White House press office this morning for a comment. I was instructed to submit the inquiry by email and specify the deadline for response. I submitted a written inquiry to the press office by email with a request for response by 3:30 (EDT) this afternoon. No response has been forthcoming.
I called the press office again this afternoon at 4:15 (EDT) to confirm receipt of the email. The lady taking my call confirmed receipt and added that the message had been forwarded to the correct ''spokespeople'' for response. I believe the lack of a timely response reflects nothing other than our place in the media pecking order, but at this point we are left to our own devices. I will update this post if/when a response is received, or post it separately.
In the meantime, if you have information of any kind bearing on our reader's report, please write us at
Technology changed product placement (and you didn't even notice)
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:01
As the music video starts, Avicii nonchalantly wanders into Stockholm's Tele2 Arena. He strolls past the venue's reception; a Grand Marnier poster gets some vital screen time. The bass drops. The crowd goes wild. For some reason, I feel like drinking.
Over the past few weeks, Avicii fans in the US have been unknowingly drawing an association between their favorite Swedish DJ's proghouse hit "Lay me Down" and orange-flavored cognac. Everywhere else in the world, the brand is never seen -- a plain wall lies in its place. It's one of the first examples of a new kind of temporary product placement called "digital insertion." Typically, product placement currently takes the form of a lingering product shot -- like a Beats Pill speaker at the start of a Miley Cyrus video. With recent advances, companies can now use algorithms to digitally serve you unique product placements based on where you live, your age or your salary. It's a creepy concept, but it could change advertising forever.
The Grand Marnier spot is the work of Mirriad, an agency that sells what it calls "advertising for the skip generation." Mirriad uses highly complex analysis tools to map video clips, automatically discerning the best places to insert products, billboards and other adverts. The software it created tracks objects and backgrounds in each frame, creating an optical flow of how objects move from second to second and essentially mapping the video in 3D. This enables both planar tracking (for modifying flat surfaces like walls, computer screens or newspapers) and 3D tracking (for placing complex 3D objects into a moving scene).
Mark Popkiewicz, Mirriad CEO, explains the potential for the company's technology. "We can embed brand assets, digital forms of whatever the brand is. It could be signage, like posters or billboards; it could be actual products. Anything from a can of Coke, a packet of Frosties, a mobile phone. You name it. It can even be a car; we've done many of those."
Mirriad has signed some big deals with Vevo and Universal Music Group (UMG) over the past six months. It also recently announced a partnership with advertising firm Havas to match the right companies to the right videos. Havas is an industry giant with huge brands on its books, and the first wave of Mirriad-UMG placements will include Coca-Cola, LG and Dish Network.
Product placement is obviously nothing new. It dates back almost a century in radio and film, and has its beginnings in literature: Companies reportedly clamored to get a mention in Jules Verne's 19th century novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Music videos, too, have long been firmly in the grasp of brands, with many clips acting as thinly veiled advertisements for Beats, Coca-Cola and countless other brands. However, these placements come with their problems.
Advertising is ephemeral. Why should product placement be any different?
Ever seen the first minute of Hilary Duff's "All About You" video? It's essentially an Amazon Fire Phone commercial. How valuable will that ad be to Amazon in five years' time? You need only look at the countless '00s musicians flashing two-way pagers for your answer. Regular advertising, be it in print, web or TV, is ephemeral. The ads running alongside this article, for example, are for current products and companies. Why should product placement be any different? Once Grand Marnier's contract expires, Avicii may be walking past a Ford poster, or a can of Sprite.
But let's not forget location. At the time of writing, the Fire Phone is available in exactly three countries, yet anyone in the world can watch "All About You." With digital product placement, the same artist can plug different brands depending on where the video is viewed. When it comes to buying these ads, Mirriad's software automatically generates metadata about videos it processes, cataloging not only the advertising opportunities in each, but also the ideal target market and the value of placements -- in fact, it's really quite similar to web advertising. Rather than Microsoft placing branding on Taylor Swift's wall, the company need only come to Mirriad and explain what kind of people it wants to advertise to. A campaign could target a million views from 16- to 24-year-olds in the US over a four-week period. Mirriad then embeds the relevant ads into as many videos as necessary to meet that target, using existing analytics from YouTube and others to prove their worth.
"There's no algorithm in the world that can tell you, 'This is a good place for Smirnoff.'"
"Our algorithms monitor down to a pixel level the actual exposure on screen, time, size, location and orientation of the brand so that we're always meeting and exceeding a minimum level of exposure," says Popkiewicz. "Our technology is monitoring that, so that when you buy a campaign from us, you're going to get a guaranteed level of exposure ... For the brands, it takes the uncertainty out of advertising." Of course, there are limits to what can be automated. "There's no algorithm in the world that can tell you, 'This is a good place for Smirnoff because it's a party atmosphere,' as opposed to, 'This is a good place for Starbucks because it's an office environment.' Those sort of things we have to leave to human judgment."
Mirriad has already brought its ads to TV, and it's not the first company to do so, either. If you're in the UK and you watch Hannibal or Bones, chances are you've seen some digital product placement, while in the US, rival firm SeamBI offered a similar service that was used to, among other things, insert up-to-date ads into reruns of How I Met Your Mother. SeamBI was founded almost a decade ago, but it's unclear what's happened to the company. It hasn't issued a press release in over two years; its founders are all working elsewhere; and a request for comment on this article was left unanswered. For now, it seems, Mirriad has this potentially lucrative market largely to itself.
Popkiewicz is coy when quizzed on where the company's placements might end up next, but is clear the company has big ambitions. TV could potentially be a far bigger market for Mirriad and other firms than music videos. There's an obvious trend away from traditional television and toward digital content, whether through on-demand services from existing TV companies (think Hulu or HBO Go), or from all-digital services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video. As we move away from watching live broadcasts or buying Blu-ray boxsets, Mirriad's techniques become more and more feasible, and with a growing audience the potential for more complex placements increases.
Although none of the big streaming players are keen on discussing the viability of product placement, TV studios are happy to explain its potential benefits and drawbacks behind closed doors. "As you offer your shows around the world through syndication, you encounter different laws about product placement," one executive, who prefers to remain anonymous, explains. "Adding ads after the fact increases the amount of money you can make from syndication because each country that airs your show can potentially generate revenue." Another executive felt similarly upbeat about the financial possibilities, but did note that placements would have to be "tasteful" in order to prevent upsetting its shows' "biggest fans."
"If you're not careful to be tasteful, you'll just end up upsetting your biggest fans."
Services like Netflix could be key to kicking product placement up a gear. There's nothing preventing distributors from supplying streaming sites with special versions of your favorite show for various territories, each with different product placements from the version that aired on TV. Similarly, a service could, at any given moment, have hundreds of versions of a particular video for targeted advertising, serving Coca-Cola ads to teens or Grand Marnier to 20-somethings. Of course, this would require a lot of work on Netflix's end -- the company told us it has "nothing to share" on the matter -- but should it make financial sense for both parties, it's hard to see it not happening in some form.
The same could be true for on-demand movies. Of course there would be some backlash if, for example, Quentin Tarantino's Big Kahuna Burger joints suddenly turned into McDonald's, but with a subtle hand, there's a chance you may not even notice a new bottle of Coke in the background of your favorite Pulp Fiction scene.
USPTO Backs Away From Patent Transparency Rules - Law360
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:17
Share us on:By Ryan Davis
Law360, New York (October 24, 2014, 4:48 PM ET) -- The head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said Thursday that the agency is giving up plans to establish rules requiring greater transparency about patent ownership, and instead leaving the issue to Congress when it next takes up legislation aimed at so-called patent trolls.USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee, who was recently nominated to lead the agency, said during a question-and-answer session following a speech at the American Intellectual Property Law Association's annual meeting that the office is not planning to act on transparency rules...
New Evidence of the NSA Deliberately Weakening Encryption | The n-Category Caf(C)
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:37
New Evidence of the NSA Deliberately Weakening EncryptionPosted by Tom LeinsterOne of the most high-profile ways in which mathematicians are implicated in mass surveillance is in the intelligence agencies' deliberate weakening of commercially available encryption systems '-- the same systems that we rely on to protect ourselves from fraud, and, if we wish, to ensure our basic human privacy.
We already knew quite a lot about what they've been doing. The NSA's 2013 budget request asked for funding to ''insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems''. Many people now know the story of the Dual Elliptic Curve pseudorandom number generator, used for online encryption, which the NSA aggressively and successfully pushed to become the industry standard, and which has weaknesses that are widely agreedby experts to be a back door. Reuters reported last year that the NSA arranged a secret $10 million contract with the influential American security company RSA (yes, that RSA), who became the most important distributor of that compromised algorithm.
In the August Notices of the AMS, longtime NSA employee Richard George tried to suggest that this was baseless innuendo. But new evidence published in The Intercept makes that even harder to believe than it already was. For instance, we now know about the top secret programme Sentry Raven, which
works with specific US commercial entities '... to modify US manufactured encryption systems to make them exploitable for SIGINT [signals intelligence].
(page 9 of this 2004 NSA document).
The Intercept article begins with a dramatic NSA-drawn diagram of the hierarchy of secrecy levels. Each level is colour-coded. Top secret is red, and above top secret (these guys really give it 110%) are the ''core secrets'' '-- which, as you'd probably guess, are in black. From the article:
the NSA's ''core secrets'' include the fact that the agency works with US and foreign companies to weaken their encryption systems.
(The source documents themselves are linked at the bottom of the article.)
It's noted that there is ''a long history of overt NSA involvement with American companies, especially telecommunications and technology firms''. Few of us, I imagine, would regard that as a bad thing in itself. It's the nature of the involvement that's worrying. The aim is not just to crack the encrypted messages of particular criminal suspects, but the wholesale compromise of all widely used encryption methods:
The description of Sentry Raven, which focuses on encryption, provides additional confirmation that American companies have helped the NSA by secretly weakening encryption products to make them vulnerable to the agency.
The documents also appear to suggest that NSA staff are planted inside American security, technology or telecomms companies without the employer's knowledge. Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the ACLU, notes that ''As more and more communications become encrypted, the attraction for intelligence agencies of stealing an encryption key becomes irresistible '... It's such a juicy target.''
Unsurprisingly, the newly-revealed documents don't say anything specific about the role played by mathematicians in weakening digital encryption. But they do make it that bit harder for defenders of the intelligence agencies to maintain that their cryptographic efforts are solely directed against the ''bad guys'' (a facile distinction, but one that gets made).
In other words, there is now extremely strong documentary evidence that the NSA and its partners make strenuous efforts to compromise, undermine, degrade and weaken all commonly-used encryption software. As the Reuters article puts it:
The RSA deal shows one way the NSA carried out what Snowden's documents describe as a key strategy for enhancing surveillance: the systematic erosion of security tools.
The more or less explicit aim is that no human being is able to send a message to any other human being that the NSA cannot read.
Let that sink in for a while. There is less hyperbole than there might seem when people say that the NSA's goal is the wholesaleelimination ofprivacy.
This evening, I'm going to see Laura Poitras's film Citizenfour (trailer), a documentary about Edward Snowden by one of the two journalists to whom he gave the full set of documents. But before that, I'm going to a mathematical colloquium by Trevor Wooley, Strategic Director of the Heilbronn Institute '-- which is the University of Bristol's joint venture with GCHQ. I wonder how mathematicians like him, or young mathematicians now considering working for the NSA or GCHQ, feel about the prospect of a world where it is impossible for human beings to communicate in private.
Posted at October 17, 2014 3:18 PM UTCTrackBack URL for this Entry:
Thierry Leyne, partner of DSK, commits suicide in Tel Aviv (translation)
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:53
Banker Suicides Return: DSK's Hedge Fund Partner Jumps From 23rd Floor Apartment
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:14
The summer, thankfully, has been largely bereft of the dismal trend of bankers committing suicide, but as Bloomberg reports, Thierry Leyne, a French-Israeli banker and partner of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced former chief of the IMF, was found dead Thursday after apparently taking his own life by jumping off the 23rd floor of one of the Yoo towers, a prestigious residential complex in Tel Aviv. This is the 16th financial services executive death this year.
Bloomberg reports that Thierry Leyne, the French-Israeli entrepreneur who last year started an investment firm with former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has died. He was 48.
Leyne died yesterday in Tel Aviv, according to his assistant at the firm, who asked not to be identified. Le Figaro newspaper reported that he committed suicide.
Last year, Leyne joined Strauss-Kahn in establishing the Paris-traded firm Leyne, Strauss-Kahn & Partners after the former IMF head bought a 20 percent stake to help develop the investment-banking franchise of Leyne's company, Luxembourg-based Anatevka SA. Leyne had taken Anatevka public in March 2013 before joining forces with Strauss-Kahn, commonly referred to in France as DSK.
The new partnership -- usually called LSK & Partners by using both men's initials -- was part of Strauss-Kahn's efforts to rebuild his post-IMF life after he was charged in 2011 of criminal sex, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and the forcible touching of a chambermaid at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan. Strauss-Kahn denied the charges, which were later dropped. He settled the maid's lawsuit in 2012.
And NYTimes adds,
Mr. Leyne, 48, jumped off the 23rd floor of one of the Yoo towers, a prestigious residential complex, according to Israeli officials.
Leyne's Background:
Leyne, who resided in Tel Aviv, built his career as a financier in France, Israel and Luxembourg. He founded the investment firm Assya Capital in 1994 and listed it on Euronext in Paris in 2001. Leyne merged the business with Global Equities Capital Markets in 2010 to provide financial advice and private banking to clients in eastern Europe, Le Figaro reported.
Anatevka, which had a market value of 50 million euros ($63 million) when Strauss-Kahn purchased his stake, controlled the merged entity, known as Assya Compagnie Financiere, offering asset management, brokerage, corporate finance and capital investment. Anatevka had a staff of about 100 people in six countries -- Luxembourg, Belgium, Monaco, Israel, Switzerland and Romania -- in September 2013.
In 1996, Leyne founded the company Axfin, one of the first independent investment firms in France, according to the website of Assya Capital. Axfin listed on the Paris stock exchange in 1999 before it was bought by Nuremberg, Germany-based Consors Discount Broker AG. Leyne was the supervisory board chairman of Consors France until the end of 2002.
Leyne was born in September 1965, according to French public records. He held French and Israeli citizenship, Figaro said. He had an engineering degree from the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, his LinkedIn profile shows.
* * *
This is the 16th financial services executive death this year...
1 - William Broeksmit, 58-year-old former senior executive at Deutsche Bank AG, was found dead in his home after an apparent suicide in South Kensington in central London, on January 26th.
2 - Karl Slym, 51 year old Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym, was found dead on the fourth floor of the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok on January 27th.
3 - Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old JP Morgan employee, died after falling from the roof of the JP Morgan European headquarters in London on January 27th.
4 - Mike Dueker, 50-year-old chief economist of a US investment bank was found dead close to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State.
5 - Richard Talley, the 57 year old founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was found dead earlier this month after apparently shooting himself with a nail gun.
6 - Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, however the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.
7 - Ryan Henry Crane, a 37 year old executive at JP Morgan died in an alleged suicide just a few weeks ago. No details have been released about his death aside from this small obituary announcement at the Stamford Daily Voice.
8 - Li Junjie, 33-year-old banker in Hong Kong jumped from the JP Morgan HQ in Hong Kong this week.
9 - James Stuart Jr, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO, found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz., the morning of Feb. 19. A family spokesman did not say whatcaused the death
10 - Edmund (Eddie) Reilly, 47, a trader at Midtown's Vertical Group, commited suicide by jumping in front of LIRR train
11 - Kenneth Bellando, 28, a trader at Levy Capital, formerly investment banking analyst at JPMorgan, jumped to his death from his 6th floor East Side apartment.
12 - Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, the former CEO of Dutch bank ABN Amro found dead at home near Amsterdam with wife and daughter.
13 - Li Jianhua, 49, the director of China's Banking Regulatory Commission died of a sudden heart attack
14 - Lydia _____, 52 - jumped to her suicide from the 14th floor of Bred-Banque Populaire in Paris
15 - Julian Knott, 45 - killed wife and self with a shotgun in Jefferson Township, New Jersey
16 - Thierry Leyne, 48 - jumped from 23rd floor apartment in Tel Aviv.
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Strauss-Kahn's business partner dies in apparent suicide in Tel Aviv - Jewish World News Israel News | Haaretz
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:14
A French-Israeli business partner of disgraced International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn died on Thursday, reportedly by jumping off the 23rd floor of one of the prestigious Yoo residential towers in Tel Aviv.
Thierry Leyne, 49, and Strauss-Kahn were partners in Leyne Strauss-Kahn & Partners, a company providing investment banking advice and services, and a well-known figure in international financial circles. His death was widely reported in the French and international media.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a man identifying himself as Leyne's son said his father was buried on Friday but declined to answer further questions.
Leyne and Strauss-Kahn met several years ago and founded their joint company, of which Leyne was CEO, in October 2013.
The firm announced plans to launch a global macro hedge fund earlier this year. Leyne and Strauss-Kahn apparently spent time in China recently, attempting to raise $2 billion for the fund.
Leyne said at the time that the fund's investments would be based on Strauss-Kahn's ''comprehensive economic predictions of global trends in bond markets, equity markets, commodity markets, forex, alternative, cash, and other exchanges.''
After receving an engineering degree from the Technion in Haifa, Leyne made a career in private banking, management and investment. In 1994, he founded Assya Capital, a trading company that was listed on the Euronext Free Market in 2001.
In 2010, he merged Assya with Global Equities Capital Markets, to provide financial advice and private banking to clients in eastern Europe.
Strauss-Kahn had been seen as a presidential hopeful in France. But he stepped down from the IMF in 2011 after he was arrested on sexual assault charges in New York, which later were dropped.
Thierry Leyne, Strauss-Kahn's Hedge-Fund Partner, Dies at 49 - Bloomberg
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:14
Thierry Leyne, the French-Israeli entrepreneur who last year started an investment firm with former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has died. He was 49.
Leyne died yesterday in Tel Aviv, according to his assistant at the firm, who asked not to be identified. Le Figaro newspaper reported that he committed suicide.
Last year, Leyne joined Strauss-Kahn in establishing the Paris-traded firm Leyne, Strauss-Kahn & Partners after the former IMF head bought a 20 percent stake to help develop the investment-banking franchise of Leyne's company, Luxembourg-based Anatevka SA. Leyne had taken Anatevka public in March 2013 before joining forces with Strauss-Kahn, commonly referred to in France as DSK.
The new partnership -- usually called LSK & Partners by using both men's initials -- was part of Strauss-Kahn's efforts to rebuild his post-IMF life after he was charged in 2011 of criminal sex, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and the forcible touching of a chambermaid at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan. Strauss-Kahn denied the charges, which were later dropped. He settled the maid's lawsuit in 2012.
''There is a lot of demand from big groups to benefit from the advice of Mr. Strauss-Kahn,'' Leyne told the New York Times last year. They started working together only a few months before agreeing to join forces, it reported.
Leyne, who resided in Tel Aviv, built his career as a financier in France, Israel and Luxembourg. He founded the investment firm Assya Capital in 1994 and listed it on Euronext in Paris in 2001. Leyne merged the business with Global Equities Capital Markets in 2010 to provide financial advice and private banking to clients in eastern Europe, Le Figaro reported.
Anatevka, which had a market value of 50 million euros ($63 million) when Strauss-Kahn purchased his stake, controlled the merged entity, known as Assya Compagnie Financiere, offering asset management, brokerage, corporate finance and capital investment. Anatevka had a staff of about 100 people in six countries -- Luxembourg, Belgium, Monaco, Israel, Switzerland and Romania -- in September 2013.
In 1996, Leyne founded the company Axfin, one of the first independent investment firms in France, according to the website of Assya Capital. Axfin listed on the Paris stock exchange in 1999 before it was bought by Nuremberg, Germany-based Consors Discount Broker AG. Leyne was the supervisory board chairman of Consors France until the end of 2002.
Leyne was born in September 1965, according to French public records. He held French and Israeli citizenship, Figaro said. He had an engineering degree from the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, his LinkedIn profile shows.
To contact the reporters on this story: David Henry in Frankfurt at; Mathieu Rosemain in Paris at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Charles W. Stevens at Vidya Root, Steve Rhinds
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Deutsche Bank lawyer found dead by suicide in New York | Reuters
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:09
BERLINSat Oct 25, 2014 12:38pm EDT
TweetShare thisEmailPrintA man walks past Deutsche Bank offices in London December 5, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
BERLIN (Reuters) - A senior Deutsche Bank regulatory lawyer has been found dead in New York after committing suicide, New York City officials said on Saturday.
Calogero Gambino, 41, was found on the morning of Oct. 20 at his home in the New York borough of Brooklyn and pronounced dead on the scene, according to New York City police.
Gambino was an associate general counsel and a managing director who worked for the German bank for 11 years, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported his death.
He had been closely involved in negotiating legal issues for Deutsche Bank such as a probe by regulators of banks over allegations they manipulated the Libor benchmark interest rate as well as currency markets.
Gambino was also an associate at a private law firm and a regulatory enforcement lawyer between 1997 and 1999, the Journal said, citing Gambino's LinkedIn profile and conference biographies.
He died by hanging, said Julie Bolcer, spokeswoman for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. The manner of death was suicide.
"Charlie was a beloved and respected colleague who we will miss," said Deutsche Bank in a statement. "Our thoughts and sympathy are with his friends and family."
Deutsche, Germany's biggest lender, has already paid 6 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in fines and settlements in the past two and a half years. It expects to post litigation costs of 894 million euros alone for the third quarter of 2014.
Earlier this year, former Deutsche Bank manager William Broeksmit, who had close ties to co-chief executive Anshu Jain, had been found dead at his London home in what also appeared to have been a suicide.
(Reporting by Thomas Atkins; Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Writing by Andreas Cremer; Editing by William Hardy and Raissa Kasolowsky)
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NRA-ILA | Members of Congress Ask Inspectors General of DOJ FDIC to Investigate Operation Chokepoint
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 03:39
Coalitions of congressional representatives have issued letters over the past two Thursdays requesting internal investigators at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to examine Operation Choke Point (OPC) and any officials and staff involved in the program.
The effort, led by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), characterizes Operation Choke Point as ''a DOJ-initiated effort that aims to force businesses, many of which are licensed and legally-operating, out of the financial service space and therefore, out of business.'' Its targets include firearm and ammunition manufacturers and retailers.
Referencing the findings of a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (which we reported on here), the letters charge DOJ with an ''egregious abuse of power.'' Specifically, they claim that the agency has exceeded its mandate and authority under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), the claimed basis for OPC. ''There is no doubt in our minds,'' the letters state, that FDIC and DOJ officials ''have abused their authority'' to advance personal and political agendas.
The first letter was sent on October 16 to Michael Horowitz, DOJ Inspector General, and Robin Ashton, counsel for DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility. It details evidence that DOJ officials, despite representations to Congress that OPC was focused on combating consumer fraud, knew the program was ''forcing legally-operating businesses out of the financial services space.'' The letter even quotes one DOJ lawyer as referring to this outcome as a ''collateral benefit'' of the program. It also refers to DOJ documents obtained by Congress that indicate senior staff had informed the attorney general himself that OPC was having a detrimental impact on legitimate businesses and causing banks to drop entire lines of business.
The second letter, sent on Thursday to FDIC acting inspector general Fred W. Givens , suggests that FDIC's involvement in the operation conflicts with its ''primary mission'' to ''protect the safety and soundness of our nation's financial institutions.'' This is because the operation forces ''legitimate customers from banks, causing not only damage to those customers but also driving revenue from the banks themselves.''
The letter goes on to detail FDIC's ''troubling'' connection to OPC through a list of ''high risk merchants and activities'' that the chief of FDIC's Division of Risk Management Supervision claimed in a presentation to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council warranted ''heightened scrutiny.'' Such merchant categories included those engaged in firearm and ammunition sales. The letter recounts that FDIC provided no explanation to congressional investigators for the bases on which the businesses were listed or why illegal activities, such as Ponzi Schemes, were listed alongside legitimate businesses such as firearm sales and coin dealing. ''It is beyond worrisome,'' the letter states, ''that DOJ's radical interpretation and application of FIRREA '... has been coordinated through and reinforced by FDIC staff.''
Thursday's letter additionally explains how testimony provided by FDIC general counsel Richard J. Osterman at a July hearing of the House Financial Services Committee conflicted with correspondence from an FDIC regional director. Contrary to Osterman's statements at the hearing insisting that the FDIC was not pressuring banks to sever relationships with disfavored types of merchants, the regional director's correspondence stated that FDIC condemns relationships with specific industries. Additional evidence obtained by congressional investigators, according to Thursday's letter, ''clearly indicates that specific industries are targeted by Operation Choke Point'' with ''the assistance of FDIC examiners and senior officials.'' The letter therefore concludes that ''Congress has received false testimony from a senior FDIC official.''
Both letters ask the officials to whom they are addressed to keep Congress informed of their investigative efforts, to the extent possible. They also state that if the signatories do not hear from the investigators by November 12, 2014, they expect to meet with them in person to ''directly express [their] concerns.''
The October letters are merely the latest attempts by members of Congress to shed light on and curb the abuses of Operation Choke Point. The NRA heartily supports these efforts and thanks the Rep. Luetkemeyer and his fellow signatories for pressing for answers on yet another scandal that continues to taint DOJ, even as attorney general Eric Holder prepares to exit his post.
Why Was the NSA Chief Playing the Market?
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:53
At the same time that he was running the United States' biggest intelligence-gathering organization, former National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander owned and sold shares in commodities linked to China and Russia, two countries that the NSA was spying on heavily.
At the time, Alexander was a three-star general whose financial portfolio otherwise consisted almost entirely of run-of-the-mill mutual funds and a handful of technology stocks. Why he was engaged in commodities trades, including trades in one market that experts describe as being run by an opaque "cartel" that can befuddle even experienced professionals, remains unclear. When contacted, Alexander had no comment about his financial transactions, which are documented in recently released financial disclosure forms that he was required to file while in government. The NSA also had no comment.
Alexander's stock trades were reviewed by a government ethics official who raised no red flags, and there are no indications the former spymaster did anything wrong. There are also no indications that the trades did much for Alexander's personal wealth. Disclosure documents show that he earned "no reportable income" from the sale of commodity company stocks, meaning either that it was less than a few hundred dollars or that possibly he lost money on the deals.
Still, the trades raise questions about whether Alexander's job gave him insights into corporations and markets that may have influenced his personal financial investments. The NSA, which Alexander ran for more than eight years, routinely spies on foreign governments and businesses, including in Russia and China, where the agency has attempted to gain insights into political decision-making, economic strategy, and the countries' plans for acquiring natural resources.
The financial disclosure documents, which were released to investigative journalist Jason Leopold and published this month by Vice News, reveal nothing explicitly about why Alexander sold the shares when he did. On Jan. 7, 2008, Alexander sold previously purchased shares in the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, a Canadian firm that mines potash, a mineral typically used in fertilizer. The potash market is largely controlled by companies in Canada, as well as in Belarus and Russia. And China was, and is, one of the biggest consumers of the substance, using it to expand the country's agricultural sector and produce higher crop yields.
"It's a market that's really odd, involving collusion, where companies essentially coordinate on prices and output," said Craig Pirrong, a finance professor and commodities expert at the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business. "Strange things happen in the potash market. It's a closed market. Whenever you have Russians and Chinese being big players, a lot of stuff goes on in the shadows."
On the same day he sold the potash company shares, Alexander also sold shares in the Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., a state-owned company headquartered in Beijing and currently the world's second-largest producer of aluminum. U.S. government investigators have indicated that the company, known as Chinalco, has received insider information about its American competitors from computer hackers working for the Chinese military. That hacker group has been under NSA surveillance for years, and the Justice Department in May indicted five of its members.
Alexander may have sold his potash company shares too soon. The company's stock surged into the summer of that year, reaching a high in June 2008 of $76.70 per share, more than $30 higher than the price at which Alexander had sold his shares five months earlier.
He may also have dodged a bullet. Shares in the company plunged in the second half of 2008, amid turmoil in the broader potash market. In 2009, "the bottom fell out of the market," Pirrong said. Alexander may not have made a lot of money, but he also didn't lose his shirt.
That didn't keep the intelligence chief out of the trading game. In October 2008, in the midst of the potash downturn, Alexander purchased shares in an American potash supplier, the Mosaic Company, based in Plymouth, Minnesota. It was a good time to buy: On the day of the purchase, the stock closed at $33.16, having plummeted from highs of more than $150 per share during the summer.
But inexplicably, Alexander sold the shares less than three months later, in January 2009. The stock had barely appreciated in value, and Alexander again disclosed "no reportable income."
The timing of both the potash and aluminum sales in January 2008 is also intriguing for political reasons. In the spring of 2008, shortly after Alexander sold his positions, senior U.S. officials began to speak on the record for the first time about the threat of cyber-espionage posed by Russia and especially China. Public attention to the intelligence threat was higher than it had been in recent memory. The optics of the NSA director owning stock in a company that his own agency believed may have been receiving stolen information from the Chinese government would have been embarrassing, to say the least.
In May 2008, four months after Alexander sold the shares, Joel Brenner, who at the time was in charge of all counterintelligence for the U.S. government and had previously served as the NSA's inspector general, gave an interview to me when I was with National Journal and accused China of stealing secrets from American companies "in volumes that are just staggering." Brenner's comments came just three months ahead of the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He eventually went on national U.S. television to warn Americans attending the games that they were at risk of having their cell phones hacked.
U.S. officials at the time said that computer hackers in both China and Russia were routinely breaking into the computers of American businesses to steal proprietary information, such as trade secrets, business strategy documents, and pricing information. Eventually, Alexander himself went on to call state-sponsored cyber-espionage "the greatest transfer of wealth" in American history, blaming it for billions of dollars in losses by U.S. businesses and a loss of competitive advantage.
By 2009, Alexander held no more direct shares in any foreign companies, his records show. His financial transactions while in government apparently garnered no additional scrutiny beyond a standard review by ethics officials, who found no violations. Under official rules governing conflicts of interest, a government employee is prohibited from owning more than $15,000 in holdings of a company "directly involved in a matter to which you have been assigned." For Alexander, spying on foreign governments and protecting the United States from cyber-espionage would seem to meet that criteria. But his records indicate that he never owned in excess of $15,000 in any foreign company.
The financial disclosure forms don't say when Alexander bought his shares. Citing ethics rules, the NSA told Leopold that it was only required to release six years' worth of information, leaving a gap between 2005, when Alexander started at the NSA, and 2008, the first year for which the agency released his financial information. But there's nothing in the documents that states Alexander used a blind trust, suggesting that he either made the trading decisions himself or was aware of them if they were handled by a broker or advisor.
U.S. officials have long insisted that the information that intelligence agencies steal from foreign corporations and governments is only used to make political and strategic decisions and isn't shared with U.S. companies. But whether that spying could benefit individual U.S. officials who are privy to the secrets being collected, and what mechanisms are in place to ensure officials don't personally benefit from insider knowledge, haven't been widely discussed.
Alexander has arguably blurred the lines between his private interests and public obligations before. In July, Foreign Policy reported that he had filed patents for what he described in an interview as a "unique" approach to detecting malicious hackers and intruders on computer networks. But that technology was directly informed by the years Alexander spent at the NSA and as the head of U.S. Cyber Command, when he was responsible for detecting cyber-intrusions on military and intelligence agency computer networks.
"There is no easy black-and-white answer to this," Scott Felder, a partner with the law firm Wiley Rein in Washington, said at the time, adding that it's not uncommon for government employees to be granted patents to their inventions.
But another of Alexander's business deals has also raised questions about whether he continues to benefit from classified information and access to top players at his old agency.
In an employment deal that prompted an internal investigation at the NSA and inquiries from Capitol Hill, Alexander arranged for the agency's chief technology officer, Patrick Dowd, to work part time for a new cybersecurity consulting firm that Alexander started this year after leaving the NSA and retiring from the Army with a fourth star. Experts said the public-private setup was highly unusual and possibly unprecedented.
Reuters revealed the arrangement last week, and on Tuesday, Oct. 21, with pressure building from lawmakers to investigate, Alexander said that he was severing the relationship with Dowd. "While we understand we did everything right, I think there's still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company," Alexander told Reuters when explaining why he scuttled the deal. Alexander's company, IronNet Cybersecurity, is based in Washington, and he has said he might charge clients as much as $1 million per month for his expertise and insights into cybersecurity.
Photo by Michael Kovac / Getty Images Entertainment
25 EU Banks Fail ECB Financial Resilience Exam With $31.68 Bln Capital Shortfall | Business | RIA Novosti
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 13:40
MOSCOW, October 26 (RIA Novosti) - The results of the European Central Bank's year-long resilience examination of the zone's 130 largest banks as of 31 December 2013 have revealed a capital shortfall of 25 billion euros ($31.68 billion) at 25 banks, the ECB said Sunday in its press release.
According to the results of the regulator's financial health exams, only 12 of the 25 banks have already covered their capital shortfall by 2014 and increased their capital by 15 billion euros.
''Banks with shortfalls must prepare capital plans within two weeks of the announcement of the results. The banks will have up to nine months to cover the capital shortfall,'' the EU financial regulator warned.
China daagt gevestigde wereldorde uit met tegenhanger Wereldbank
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:54
Tegen de weerstand van de VS in heeft China vandaag met een twintigtal andere landen, waaronder India, een tegenhanger van de Wereldbank opgericht. De Aziatische Infrastructuur Investeringsbank (AIIB) krijgt een startkapitaal van 50 miljard dollar, grotendeels door China ter beschikking gesteld. Een verdubbeling tot 100 miljard ligt in het verschiet.
Door: Fokke Obbema 24 oktober 2014, 13:22'In China hebben we een volkswijsheid: als je rijk wilt worden, dan moet je eerst wegen aanleggen', zo onderstreepte president Xi Jinping het belang van de bank in de Grote Hal van het Volk in Peking. Met de bank speelt hij in op de grote behoefte in Aziatische landen aan havens, vliegvelden en wegen om hun economische groei beter te funderen: experts schatten dat er zeker 1000 miljard dollar nodig is om in die behoefte te voorzien.
Land Destroyer: Hong Kong's Umbrellas are 'Made in USA'
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:01
October 24, 2014 (William Engdahl - NEO) - The Washington neo-cons and their allies in the US State Department and Obama Administration are clearly furious with China, as they are with Russia's Vladimir Putin. As both Russia and China in recent years have become more assertive about defining their national interests, and as both Eurasian powers draw into a closer cooperation on all strategic levels, Washington has decided to unleash havoc against Beijing, as it has unleashed the Ukraine dis-order against Russia and Russian links to the EU. The flurry of recent deals binding Beijing and Moscow more closely'--the $400 billion gas pipeline, the BRICS infrastructure bank, trade in rubles and renminbi by-passing the US dollar'--has triggered Washington's response. It's called the Hong Kong 'Umbrella Revolution' in the popular media.In this era of industrial globalization and out-sourcing of US industry to cheap-labor countries, especially to China, it's worth taking note of one thing the USA'--or more precisely Washington DC and Langley, Virginia'--are producing and exporting to China's Hong Kong. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China has been targeted for a color revolution, one that has been dubbed in the media the Umbrella Revolution for the umbrellas that protesters use to block police tear gas. The ''umbrellas'' for Hong Kong's ongoing Umbrella Revolution are made in Washington. Proof of that lies not only in the obscenely-rapid White House open support of Occupy Central just hours after it began, following the same model they used in Ukraine. The US State Department and NGOs it finances have been quietly preparing these protests for years. Consider just the tip of the Washington Hong Kong ''democracy'' project. Same dirty old cast of characters'... With almost by-now-boring monotony, Washington has unleashed another of its infamous Color Revolutions. US Government-steered NGOs and US-trained operatives are running the entire Hong Kong ''Occupy Central'' protests, ostensibly in protest of the rules Beijing has announced for Hong Kong's 2017 elections. The Occupy Central Hong Kong protest movement is being nominally led by a 17-year-old student, Joshua Wong, who resembles a Hong Kong version of Harry Potter, a kid who was only just born the year Britain reluctantly ended its 99-year colonial occupation, ceding the city-state back to the Peoples' Republic. Wong is accompanied in Occupy Central by a University of Minnesota-educated hedge fund money man for the protests, Edward Chin; by a Yale University-educated sociologist, Chan Kin-man; by a Baptist minister who is a veteran of the CIAs 1989 Tiananmen Square destabilization, Chu Yiu-ming; and by a Hong Kong University law professor, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, or Benny Tai. Behind these Hong Kong faces, the US State Department and its favorite NGO, the US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED), via its daughter, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), is running the Occupy Central operation. Let's look behind the nice fa§ade of peaceful non-violent protest for democracy and we find a very undemocratic covert Washington agenda. Start with Chu Yiu-ming, the Baptist minister chosen to head Occupy Central. The most reverend Chu Yiu-ming is a founder and sits on the executive committee of a Hong Kong NGO'' Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM). HKHRM as they openly admit on their website, is mainly financed by the US State Department via its neo-conservative Color Revolution NGO called National Endowment for Democracy (NED). They state their purpose: ''HKHRM briefs the press, the United Nations, local and overseas governments and legislative bodies on Hong Kong human rights issues both orally and through written reports.'' In their 2013 Annual Report, the NED reports giving Rev. Chu Yiu-ming's HK Human Rights Monitor a grant of US$ 145,000. You can buy a boatload of umbrellas for that. Chu's HKHRM also works with another NED-financed creation, the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA). When Occupy Central top honchos decided to (undemocratically) name the very reverend Chu as leader of Occupy Central this past January, 2014, Chu said it was because ''I have more connections with different activist groups, and experience in large-scale social campaigns.'' He could have named NED as activist group and the CIA's 1989 Tiananmen Square as a 'large-scale social campaign,' to be more specific. The Baptist preacher admitted that he was named de facto leader of Occupy Central by two other leading organizers of the civil disobedience movement, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man, who wanted him ''to take up'' the role. Benny Tai is also familiar with the US State Department. Tai, law professor at the University of Hong Kong and co-ftoounder of Hong Kong Occupy Central, works with the Hong Kong University Centre for Comparative and Public Law which receives grants from the NED subsidiary, National Democratic Institute for projects like Design Democracy Hong Kong. The Centre Annual Report states, ''With funding assistance from the National Democratic Institute, the Design Democracy Hong Kong website was built to promote a lawful and constructive bottom-up approach to constitutional and political reform in Hong Kong.'' On its own website, NDI describes its years-long Hong Kong law project, the legal backdrop to the Occupy demands which essentially would open the door for a US-picked government in Hong Kong just as Victoria Nuland hand-picked a US-loyal coup regime in Ukraine in February 2014. The NDI boasts,
The Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) at the University of Hong Kong, with support from NDI, is working to amplify citizens' voices in that consultation process by creating Design Democracy Hong Kong (, a unique and neutral website that gives citizens a place to discuss the future of Hong Kong's electoral system.
The Hong Kong wunderkind of the Color Revolution Washington destabilization, 17-year-old student, Joshua Wong, founded a Facebook site called Scholarism when he was 15 with support from Washington's neo-conservative National Endowment for Democracy via its left branch, National Democratic Institute and NDI's NDItech project. And another Occupy Central leading figure, Audrey Eu Yuet recently met with Vice President Joe Biden. Hmmmm. Cardinal Zen and cardinal sin'... Less visible in the mainstream media but identified as one of the key organizers of Occupy Central is Hong Kong's Catholic Church Cardinal Bishop Emeritus, Joseph Zen. Cardinal Zen according to the Hong Kong Morning Post, is playing a key role in the US-financed protests against Beijing's authority. Cardinal Zen also happens to be the primary Vatican adviser on China policy. Is the first Jesuit Pope in history, Pope Francis, making a US-financed retry at the mission of Society of Jesus founder (and, incidentally, the Pope's real namesake) Francis Xavier, to subvert and take over the Peoples' Republic of China, using Hong Kong as the Achilles Heel? Vice President Joe Biden, whose own hands are soaked with the blood of thousands of eastern Ukraine victims of the neo-nazi civil war; Cardinal Zen; Reverend Chu; Joshua Wong; Benny Tai and the neo-conservative NED and its NDI and a bevy of other State Department assets and NGO's too numerous to name here, have ignited a full-blown Color Revolution, the Umbrella Revolution. The timing of the action, a full two years before the Hong Kong 2017 elections, suggests that some people in Washington and elsewhere in the west were getting jumpy. The growing Eurasian economic space of China in conjunction with Putin's Russia and their guiding role in creating a peaceful and very effective counter-pole to Washington's New World (dis-)Order, acting through organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS, is the real target of their dis-order. That is really quite stupid of them, but then, they are fundamentally stupid people who despise intelligence. F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''
Fast n Furious
Obama Asserts Fast and Furious Executive Privilege Claim for Holder's Wife - Judicial Watch
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:03
Judicial Watch announced today that it received from the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) a ''Vaughn index'' detailing records about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. The index was forced out of the Obama administration thanks to JW's June 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent September 2012 FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:12-cv-01510)). A federal court had ordered the production over the objections of the Obama Justice Department.
The document details the Attorney General Holder's personal involvement in managing the Justice Department's strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal. Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone '' as well as his mother '' are being withheld under an extraordinary claim of executive privilege as well as a dubious claim of deliberative process privilege under the Freedom of Information Act. The ''First Lady of the Justice Department'' is a physician and not a government employee.
This is the first time that the Obama administration has provided a detailed listing of all records being withheld from Congress and the American people about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal. The 1307-page ''draft'' Vaughn index was emailed to Judicial Watch at 8:34 p.m. last night, a few hours before a federal court-ordered deadline. In its cover letter, the Department of Justice asserts that all of the responsive records described in the index are ''subject to the assertion of executive privilege.''
The Vaughn index explains 15,662 documents. Typically, a Vaughn index must: (1) identify each record withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption. The Vaughn index arguably fails to provide all of this required information but does provide plenty of interesting information for a public kept in the dark for years about the Fast and Furious scandal.
Based on a preliminary review of the massive document, Judicial Watch can disclose that the Vaughn index reveals:
Numerous emails that detail Attorney General Holder's direct involvement in crafting talking points, the timing of public disclosures, and handling Congressional inquiries in the Fast and Furious matter.President Obama has asserted executive privilege over nearly 20 email communications between Holder and his spouse Sharon Malone. The administration also claims that the records are also subject to withholding under the ''deliberative process'' exemption. This exemption ordinarily exempts from public disclosure records that could chill internal government deliberations.Numerous entries detail DOJ's communications (including those of Eric Holder) concerning the White House about Fast and Furious.The scandal required the attention of virtually every top official of the DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Communications to and from the United States Ambassador to Mexico about the Fast and Furious matter are also described.Many of the records are already publicly available such as letters from Congress, press clips, and typical agency communications. Ordinarily, these records would, in whole or part, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Few of the records seem to even implicate presidential decision-making and advice that might be subject to President Obama's broad and unprecedented executive privilege claim.Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton criticized President Obama and his disgraced Attorney General in a statement today:
This document provides key information about the cover-up of Fast and Furious by Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-level officials of the Obama administration. Obama's executive privilege claims over these records are a fraud and an abuse of his office. There is no precedent for President Obama's Nixonian assertion of executive privilege over these ordinary government agency records. Americans will be astonished that Obama asserted executive privilege over Eric Holder's emails to his wife about Fast and Furious.
Once again, Judicial Watch has proven itself more effective than Congress and the establishment media in providing basic oversight of this out-of-control Administration. This Fast and Furious document provides dozens of leads for further congressional, media, and even criminal investigations.
On June 28, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives over his refusal to turn over records explaining why the Obama administration may have lied to Congress and refused for months to disclose the truth about the gun running operation. It marked the first time in U.S. history that a sitting Attorney General was held in contempt of Congress.
A week before the contempt finding, to protect Holder from criminal prosecution and stave off the contempt vote, President Obama asserted executive privilege over the Fast and Furious records the House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed eight months earlier. Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request two days later. Holder's Justice Department wouldn't budge (or follow the law), so JW filed a FOIA lawsuit on September 12, 2012.
But then the Justice Department convinced U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates to stay our lawsuit, in part to allow ongoing settlement discussions between the Holder's government lawyers and the House Committee to continue. Unsurprisingly, the ''negotiations'' between politicians running the House and the Justice Department went nowhere.
Fed up with the interminable delay caused Holder's gamesmanship and stonewalling, JW renewed its request to the Court to allow our transparency lawsuit to continue. Thankfully, this past July, Judge John D. Bates ended the 16-month delay and ordered the Obama administration to produce a Vaughn index of the alleged ''executive privilege'' records by October 1. Judge Bates noted that no court has ever ''expressly recognized'' President Obama's unprecedented executive privilege claims in the Fast and Furious matter.
Unhappy with having to produce the records prior to the elections, Justice lawyers asked the judge to give them one extra month, until November 3 (the day before Election Day!) to produce the info. Judge Bates rejected this gambit, suggested that the Holder's agency did not take court order seriously. Rather than a month, Judge Bates gave Justice until yesterday to cough up the Vaughn index. Judge Bates issued his smack down on September 23.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation two days later.
Many share our opinion it was ''no coincidence'' that Holder's resignation came ''on the heels of another court ruling that the Justice Department must finally cough up information about how Holder's Justice Department lied to Congress and the American people about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, for which Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives.''
The House had been separately litigating to obtain the records but had gotten nowhere until after Judge Bates ruled that the DOJ finally had to disclose information to Judicial Watch.
On September 9, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, citing Judicial Watch's success, ordered the Justice Department to produce information to Congress by November 3.
Fast and Furious was a DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ''gun running'' operation in which the Obama administration reportedly allowed guns to go to Mexican drug cartels hoping they would end up at crime scenes, advancing gun-control policies. Fast and Furious weapons have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of other innocents in Mexico. Guns from the Fast and Furious scandal are expected to be used in criminal activity on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border for years to come.
Guns from the Fast and Furious scandal continue to be used in crimes. Just last week, Judicial Watch disclosed that a Fast and Furious gun was used in gang -style assault on a Phoenix apartment building that left two people wounded. We figured this out from information we uncovered through another public records lawsuit against the City of Phoenix.
Congress officially confirmed the AK-47 was used in the assault that terrorized residents in Phoenix. In an October 16 letter sent from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) to Deputy Attorney General James Cole discloses that ''we have learned of another crime gun connected to Fast and Furious. The [Justice] Department did not provide any notice to the Congress or the public about this gun'....This lack of transparency about the consequences of Fast and Furious undermines public confidence in law enforcement and gives the impression that the Department is seeking to suppress information and limit its exposure to public scrutiny.''
We have many other active lawsuits over the Fast and Furious scandal:
On October 11, 2011, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain all Fast and Furious records submitted to the House Committee on Oversight.
On June 6, 2012, Judicial Watch sued the ATF seeking access to records detailing communications between ATF officials and Kevin O'Reilly, former Obama White House Director of North American Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.
On September 5, 2013, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ seeking access to all records of communications between DOJ and the Oversight Committee relating to settlement discussions in the Committee's 2012 contempt of Congress lawsuit against Holder. The contempt citation stemmed from Holder's refusal to turn over documents to Congress related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.
On May 28, 2014, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ on behalf of ATF Special Agent John Dodson, who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious and was then subjected to an alleged smear campaign designed to destroy his reputation.
Valerie Jarrett Key Player in Fast and Furious Cover-Up After Holder Lied to Congress - Judicial Watch
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:39
President Obama's trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, was a key player in the effort to cover up that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious scandal, according to public records obtained by Judicial Watch.
The information is part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) ''Vaughn index'' detailing records about the gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious. JW had to sue the agency for the records after the Obama administration failed to provide them under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A federal court ordered the DOJ to provide the records over the agency's objections. Yesterday JW reported on the broad information in the records, including that Obama asserted executive privilege for Holder's wife as part of the administration's efforts to cover up the scandal.
Practically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the once-secret program that allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which have been used in an unknown number of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.
The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sheryl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documents showing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010. The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.
This directly contradicted Holder's May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, ''probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.'' The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of ''senior forensics advisor'' at DOJ.
The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, ''re: personnel issues.'' Another, also from Jarrett, reads, ''outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.'' Unfortunately, the index is vague and that's all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.
Meet The Trailblazing Army Psychiatrist Treating PTSD With Hookers And Cocaine
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:23
FORT BRAGG, N.C. '-- Lt. Col. Stanwick Hardcastle is not just the most popular psychiatrist at Womack Army Hospital because of his strong jaw, jet-black hair and piercing light blue eyes. He also happens to have earned a wide reputation as a strong supporter of prostitutes and hard drugs in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
''A lot of [my peers] and my bosses have trouble processing it,'' said Hardcastle, in an exclusive interview with Duffel Blog. ''But it makes sense if you step back from your initial revulsion and assess it rationally. What do our hurting soldiers, sailors and Marines who have PTSD seek out on their own? Sex and drugs, that's what.''
It was a shocking discovery for the trail-blazing medical professional, who noticed soldiers were instinctively seeking the therapy that helped them most.
''I knew that some of my peers have had success using LSD, cocaine and other drugs in limited capacity,'' he said. ''Then I read an article in a professional journal about sexual surrogacy. After that, I just put two and two together, and decided to prescribe those things as an option for therapy.''
Hardcastle's professional peers and many senior Army officers have trouble accepting his admittedly outside-the-box form of therapy. Behind his back, detractors derisively refer to it as the ''hookers and blow'' therapy, and his own performance review for the last year expressed worry at his ''rush to embrace untested, socially unpalatable therapies.''
But Hardcastle's own patients, though, beg to differ. Not a single patient he treats has committed suicide or gone on a shooting spree since he or she began the new therapy method.
Take Adam Frank, a medically-retired military policeman currently living on full medical disability in Franklin, Tenn. He sees Hardcastle twice a week for his PTSD, and reports high satisfaction with the new therapy regimen.
''It was getting kind of ridiculous,'' Frank said in a phone interview. ''There were all these meetings and group sessions and I had to take these pills. But Doc Hardcastle arranged for the Army to get me an eight-ball a week, plus all the Paktiya Gold I can smoke. And once a week I get a date night with one of the fine ladies from Mama Oshenka's Very Extremely Best Escort Massage Service. All paid for on Uncle Sam's dime, of course. I haven't had such a relaxed, nightmare-free existence since I got blown up.''
Other patients echo Frank's sentiments, noting that it's hard to get up the gumption to commit suicide or a crazed attack on civilians, at a mall or university for example, when you're pleasantly buzzing from a snort of cocaine right off the chest of a loving and attentive prostitute.
For now, Hardcastle will continue his controversial treatments. Only time will tell if the Army will allow him to keep treating his patients the best way he knows how, or shut him down.
Agenda 21
FALLING APART-UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:14
25 October 2014 | 15:18 | FOCUS News Agency
Bonn. Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact, AFP reported.The six-day meeting of senior officials in the former West German capital was meant to lay the groundwork for the annual round of ministerial-level UN talks in Lima in December.In turn, the Lima forum must pave the way to a historic pact which nations have agreed must be signed in Paris next year, to curb planet-altering climate change.But some negotiators and observers expressed concern that the Bonn talks focused too much on restating well-known country positions on how responsibility for climate action must be shared."We will clearly have our work cut out for us in Lima," said Ronald Jumeau, spokesman for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) -- the very countries at high risk from climate change-induced sea level rise.And he warned "there won't be an adequate deal unless" developed countries give details of financial and expert support for the climate mitigation and adaptation plans of poorer nations. (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Citing Focus Information Agency is mandatory!
Solar Storm 14 Times Larger Than Earth Could Unleash A Society-Crippling Electromagnetic Pulse
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:51
The American Dreamby Michael Snyder
Did you know that a storm 14 times larger than the Earth is happening on the sun right now? Earlier this week, it unleashed a flare which was a million times more powerful than all of the nuclear weapons in existence combined. Fortunately, that flare was not directed at us. But now the area of the sun where this solar storm is located is rotating toward Earth. An eruption on the sun at just the right time and at just the right angle could result in a society-crippling electromagnetic pulse blasting this planet. So if your computers, cell phones and electronic equipment get fried at some point over the next few weeks, you will know what is probably to blame. Such an electromagnetic pulse has hit our planet before, and as you will read about below, some very prominent voices are warning that it will happen again. It is just a matter of time.
Scientists tell us that the absolutely massive sunspot group that has recently formed on the sun is highly unusual. NASA has described it as ''crackling'' with magnetic energy. The mainstream media has not been paying too much attention to it, but this sunspot group is potentially extremely dangerous.
The following is an excerpt from an article on that gives some of the technical details about what has been going on'...
The sunspot, a dark patch in the sun's photosphere, represents intense solar magnetism bursting from the sun's interior known as an active region. This particular active region, designated AR2192, has been rumbling with intense flare activity, recently exploding with 2 X-class flares, causing some short-lived high-frequency (HF) radio black outs around the globe.
Such blackouts are triggered by the intense extreme ultraviolet and X-ray radiation that solar flares can generate, causing ionization effects in the Earth's upper atmosphere '-- a region known as the ionosphere. HF radio can be strongly hindered by this activity, triggering blackouts that can effect air traffic and amateur radio operators.
The other day a flare erupted which did cause radio blackouts all over the world for a time. But we were fortunate that the flare was not directed at us. If it had been, the results could have potentially been catastrophic.
We have not seen anything like this sunspot group for a very long time, and according to a report posted by the Daily Mail, experts are saying that we might not see another one like this for 25 years'...
Space Weather Prediction Center forecaster Christopher Balch, meanwhile, said the flare affected radio that uses part of the upper atmosphere. That includes some but not all radar and plane systems as well as amateur radio.
Mr Balch said the storm briefly was rated as strong for affecting Earth radio systems but then dropped to minor levels.
The event followed months of near-silent activity on the sun before the huge flare erupted from a sunspot 14 times bigger than Earth.
A spokesperson for the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre told MailOnline it may be the biggest sunspot for 25 years.
Unfortunately, there are no signs that this sunspot group is fading.
In fact, an official at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said that ''it continues to grow in size and complexity''.
Below, I have posted a video which shows some of the recent activity on the sun. As you can see, these explosions can be quite violent'...
As advanced as we like to think that we are, the truth is that we are still very much at the mercy of this giant ball of fire that our planet revolves around.
And even with everything else that is going on in the world today, a massive electromagnetic burst from the sun remains one of the greatest potential dangers to our way of life.
Just check out what billionaire Paul Singer recently had to say about the matter. He believes that an EMP event is ''the most significant danger'' the world is facing right now'...
''While these pages are typically chock full of scary or depressing scenarios, there is one risk that is head-and-shoulders above all the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence,'' Singer wrote to clients of his $24.8 billion Elliott Management on Monday in a standard investment update letter. ''Even horrendous nuclear war, except in its most extreme form, can [be] a relatively localized issue, and the threat from asteroids can (possibly) be mitigated.''
''(A natural EMP event) today would cause a massive disruption to the electric grid, possibly shutting it down entirely for months or longer, with unimaginable consequences,'' Singer wrote. ''Only two years ago, the sun let loose with a Carrington-magnitude burst, but the position of the earth at the time prevented the burst from hitting it. The chances of additional events of such magnitude may be far greater than most people think.''
For those not familiar with ''the Carrington Event'', it was a massive solar storm in 1859 that fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America. You can read about it on Wikipedia right here.
Others share Singer's concerns.
For example, check out what U.S. Representative Scott Perry said earlier this year'...
''The consequences of such an attack could be catastrophic; all electronics, power systems, and information systems could be shut down,'' Rep. Scott Perry said in prepared remarks during an EMP hearing inMay held by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. ''This could then cascade into interdependent infrastructures such as water, gas, and telecommunications. While we understand this is an extreme case, we must always be prepared in case a rogue state decides to utilize this technology.''
What we are talking about is a potentially society-crippling event.
For much more on this, I encourage you to check out my previous article entitled ''What Are You Going To Do When A Massive EMP Blast Fries The U.S. Electrical Grid?''
In a worst case scenario, we could be facing a situation where the power grid is down for months or even years.
How would you and your family survive during such a crisis?
Even though this has never happened in modern times, it is a very real possibility. In fact, just a couple of years ago the Earth experienced a very near miss.
As the Inquisitr detailed last month, such an event could throw us back into the pre-industrial age in a single instant'...
According to Peter Vincent Pry, who advises Congress on homeland security issues, a large enough geomagnetic solar storm could produce effects similar to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by a nuclear weapon that ''could collapse power grids everywhere on the planet and destroy EHV (extra high voltage) transformers and other electronic systems that would require years to repair or replace.'' While the danger posed by a G5 solar storm gets mentioned occasionally at Congressional hearings, there really hasn't been any major action.
Earlier this year, a Homeland Security adviser said America is not ready for an EMP attack, never mind a G5 solar storm, and it's claimed that the U.S. power grid fails more often than any other in the world. If a large enough solar storm does impact the United States, the damaged electronic systems can cause a cascade of failures throughout the broader infrastructure, including banking systems, energy systems, transportation systems, food production and delivery systems, water systems, emergency services, and even the internet, so people may not even realize at first what has happened. Effectively, the U.S. would be thrown back to the pre-industrial age following a solar superstorm, and yet we are not prepared for the worst.
Usually people talk about how this could potentially happen ''someday'' in the future.
But with an extremely large solar storm currently rotating toward Earth, there is a very real possibility that an absolutely massive electromagnetic pulse could be headed our way at any time.
However, whether it happens next week, next month or next year, scientists assure us that it is inevitable that another Carrington Event will happen one day.
And when it finally happens and all the lights suddenly go out, what will our society look like afterwards?
The American Dream
Sun dumps 500 times as many Hiroshima bombs of energy as ''climate change'' JoNova
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:16
Announcing the all new Solar-Insolation Hiroshima Bomb App, thanks to Dale Kent.
Since 1998, Global Warming has been occurring at 4 Hiroshima Bombs per second, not that we can measure that rate to a statistically significant value*, or that it means anything at all. Every second the sun pours 2700 Hiroshima bombs of energy on the Earth at the top of the atmosphere.
As well as missing the big-picture, Cook and Nuccitelli show us they don't have a good grip on cause and effect. The world may have been warming, but that does not mean that CO2 caused it. Though they would very much like you to think that.
But if you want to scare people out of their money and impress fools, the Skeptical Science widget is just the thing. As SkS say on their page: '' Put a widget on your blog to let people know that climate change is important to you. '' To which JoNova adds, ''The Sks widget performs a valuable service, advertising the bloggers who don't understand big numbers or trends, and who struggle with statistical significance. If someone wants to show they think-with-the-herd, and not with their brain, the SkepticalScience widget is perfect. I thank the team at SkS for helping us to identify the gullible fashion-victims of science.
Thanks to Dale Kent for the numbers and the widget for rational folk who are not easily fooled by Big-Scary-Meaningless-Numbers.
Just to help people get a grip on just how different those numbers are, I've graphed it below, so everyone can see how significant the four extra ''bombs are''.
Warning, the thin black line representing the extra heat accumulated since 1998 is so small, subject to error bars, it may disappear, just like your money.
Are you a journalist thinking of using the John Cook Widget and PR? Here is a comment from Jo Nova you can use:
''Cook's Hiroshima bomb units are a parody of science, not to mention gratuitously inconsiderate towards the bomb victims. An atomic-bomb delivers all the energy in one spot, while the sun spreads it out. Science becomes mindless if you mash up things like volume and area. A million square miles is not like two square feet. McDonalds sells a Hiroshima Bomb worth of Big-Macs every 8.6 days. It's like a bomb in the same sense that black is like white, 1 is like 2, being alive is like being dead. Things can be equated-to-inanity. Cook has achieved that.
Plus there has been no significant warming in the last sixteen years, so technically the rate is almost as likely to be zero bombs a second, not four. And in any case, the models predicted a lot more than four-bombs-a-second ''- a more useful App would show how many bombs-a-second the climate models missed reality by. Have you asked Cook if he can do one of those?'' '-- Jo Nova
That quote is adapted from a previous post: Climate scientists move to atom-bomb number system, give up on exponentials. There, the figure was 1950 H-e (Hiroshima equivalents) of solar energy arriving, but that applies to the surface of the Earth, so includes losses due to albedo (where light is reflected of the planet and clouds), and 2700H-e applies at the top of the atmosphere before the losses. The pie chart above compares 4 bombs to 1950. The black line would be even skinnier with 4 compared to 2700 figure. I'm being as generous as I can'...
How accurate is ''4 bombs'' a second?1. Ask yourself if we can measure the temperature of the global oceans with all their churning currents to 0.01 degrees C. (Ask yourself if we can measure a lake to one hundredth of a degree.) Exactly.
2. Ponder that CO2 levels were rising relentlessly from 2003-2011**, yet there is no sign of warming in the oceans or the atmosphere during this 8 year period. Some will scoff that 8 years is too short to be meaningful. These are the same people that make Apps measured in seconds. There are a lot of seconds in 8 years, and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, so where did all those extra bombs go? If the energy was hidden in the noise, that tells you all you need to know about how accurate the measurements are. Perhaps it's 4±4 bombs? Perhaps it's 4±10? If the measurements are accurate, and some other factor was causing the energy to head out to space, why did none of the climate models predict this flatness? Could it be they don't understand the climate and the forces more powerful than CO2 remain a mystery to them? It could.
3. Remember that the 4-bombs-a-second crowd are 95% certain, based on these numbers, that you must obey them and pay them (or their ''cause'') a lot of your money. If you ask questions about the numbers, you're called a denier. If you don't pay, they'll put you in jail.
UPDATE: I added the caveats below, but made the font too small, and evidently people didn't read them. So I've boosted them back up, added some bold, because they matter. Please read them all. :- )
*Significance. See here for more info on Statistical Significance of Ocean Heat. See also IPCC excuses.
** Why pick 2003-2011? Measurements before 2003 are highly inaccurate (see ''ARGO'' and links directly above). Over the next 8 years 9 x 1011 seconds worth of Hiroshima-bombs is missing from the global energy measurements. It will be called cherry picking by those who don't understand cause and effect, but it matters, in terms of global energy budgets. Repeat after me: energy shalt not be created nor destroyed. The missing joules will not be found in graphs back to 1880, they can't vanish from 2005 and appear in 1950. Nor can they appear in 2014 either.
***Just to make it blindingly obvious - I'm not suggesting a real imbalance (if it exists) would not be important. It would matter if there was a persistent long term artificial energy imbalance like the black line in the big pie. But 1. Our measurements are not accurate enough to detect it. 2. There is no evidence that it is unnatural, or caused by CO2. The models are proven failures.
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Rating: 9.0/10 (17 votes cast)
Sun dumps 500 times as many Hiroshima bombs of energy as "climate change", 9.0 out of 10 based on 17 ratings
War on tweeters
WAR ON TWITTER-One is not amused: Trolls attack the Queen after she posts her first tweet - Mirror Online
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 03:43
Trolls attacked the Queen almost immediately after she posted her first tweet.
She made the historic post, signing off as Elizabeth R, from London's Science Museum as she opened an Information Age exhibition celebrating advancing technologies.
But Her Majesty's account was immediately target by vicious trolls, who posted such vindictive comments as ''F*** off and die''.
The Queen had pressed a button on a tablet to send the pre-typed message from the official @BritishMonarchy Twitter account.
It read: ''It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.''
Within minutes, the Queen had thousands of re-tweets.
Tweeting Queen: Elizabeth R has sent her first tweet This number had grown to 10,000 within two hours and almost 20,000 by the end of the working day.
But the trolls also moved in with abuse '' and a fake royal Twitter account, which has 1.2 million followers, likewise took a pop at the real Queen.
The handle @Queen_UK posted: ''Can't believe someone's started a s****** parody account.''
An image of the real Queen's tweet was included by the fake account, which was set up in 2010 and quickly became an internet sensation.
It has in the past put up messages such as: ''Sod it, that's enough for one week. Have an early finish people. If anyone asks, tell them the Queen said it was ok. #GinOClock.''
The vicious trolling of the Queen's real account follows revelations this year that her official Facebook page had been made the target of online bullies.
The British Monarchy Twitter account was set up in 2009 and had 722,000 followers before she sent her first tweet '' but it rapidly picked up thousands more after the Queen's Twitter debut.
All the tweeting before that had been handled by her staff.
The Royal Family have embraced technology, opening Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and Facebook accounts as well as having a website since 1997.
During her reign, the Queen has encountered many technological breakthroughs '' from the advent of the colour television to the mobile phone and the internet.
TV cameras were allowed inside Westminster Abbey for the first time in 1953 to film her Coronation and in 1976 the Queen became the first monarch to send an email.
The £15.6million Science Museum Information Age gallery features 800 objects and explores communication advances over the past 200 years.
VIDEO-Maher Goes Off on 'Morons in That F*cking Hospital in Dallas' over Ebola Panic - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:34
VIDEO-Cameron: I Won't Pay £1.7bn EU Bill On Time
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:01
The European Commission president has defended the £1.7bn surcharge imposed on Britain after David Cameron insisted the money will not be paid by December 1.
The increase would add almost a fifth to the UK's annual contribution of £8.6bn.
The Prime Minster, who has called an emergency meeting with EU finance chiefs, told a news conference in Brussels: "This is completely unacceptable.
"It is an unacceptable way for this organisation to work to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money, with so little time to pay it and it's an unacceptable way to treat one of the biggest contributors to the European Union.
"Of course in an organisation like this, if your economy grows a little faster or ... slower, there are adjustments. Sometimes you pay a little bit more, sometimes you play a little bit less.
Video:EC Chief: £1.7bn UK Surcharge Fair"I'm not paying that bill on the 1st of December and if people think I am, they've got another thing coming. It is not going to happen.
"As an important contributor to this organisation, we are not suddenly going to get out our chequebook and write a cheque for 2bn euros. It is not happening."
Outgoing Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso insisted Brussels was only following the procedures created by member states to balance the EU's books each year.
Mr Barroso told reporters the figure of £1.7bn had been calculated by the independent Eurostat organisation using statistics provided the 28 member states.
Video:Farage: EU Surcharge 'Outrageous'"Of course, I understand the concerns it has raised in London, but any person that wants to look with objectivity and honesty at the rules that were approved by the member states has to accept that sometimes these decisions happen," he said.
Asked how the Commission would respond if Mr Cameron made good on his threat to withhold payment, Mr Barroso replied: "I can't now speculate on non-payment."
Earlier, Commission spokesperson Patrizio Fiorilli said the surcharge was fair because it was like personal taxation - the more a person earns, the more they have to pay.
Mr Fiorilli said: "Britain's contribution reflects an increase in wealth, just as in Britain you pay more to the Inland Revenue if your earnings go up."
Video:George Osborne - The Full InterviewThe demand is the result of improvements to Britain's economy since 1995.
Preliminary figures seen by the Financial Times suggest Britain is facing the largest adjustment in the amount it must pay compared to other member states.
The Netherlands is being asked for an extra £509m, but by contrast France is due to receive a rebate of £0.8bn, Germany £618m, and Poland £250m.
Britain's surcharge is due for payment on 1 December - just days after the Rochester and Strood by-election, which hangs on a knife edge with anti-EU UKIP threatening to wrest the seat from the Tories.
Video:What Does Surcharge Mean For PM?Several Conservative MEPs have spoken out against the surcharge, saying Britain is being punished for its success.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage told Sky News: "It just leaves Mr Cameron in a hopeless condition, because don't forget, one of his big claims was he'd cut the EU budget."
VIDEO- Clinton Shifts Left: ''Don't Let Anybody Tell You'' That ''Businesses Create Jobs'' - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 03:21
VIDEO- American police scammed Canadian visitors out of $2.5 billion - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:49
VIDEO-Watch The Emotional Ceremonies Preceding Tonight's NHL Games In Canada
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:37
This week's dual tragedies in Ottawa and Montreal have understandably driven both remembrance and national pride in Canada. On the heels of Pittsburgh's display earlier this week, a pre-game ceremony in Ottawa was simulcast to Toronto and Montreal, providing fans in those arenas the opportunity to participate in their own ways.
That means simultaneous "O Canada"s in French and English, along with numerous other touching moments that, sadly, tend only to be prompted by tragedy.
VIDEO- FALSE FLAG! 10/24/14 Washington school shooting! CNN caught saying there was SWAT training?!! - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:33
VIDEO-BBC News - EU budget: Britain must pay 'and that's that' says MEP
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:07
25 October 2014Last updated at 12:05 ET Europe expects the UK to pay an extra £1.7bn towards the EU budget "and that's that", a vice president of the European Parliament has said.
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a German MEP, said the EU would be "exasperated" if the UK tried to avoid payment.
On Friday David Cameron said the EU had "another think coming" if it thought Britain would pay the bill by the 1 December deadline.
The EU demanded the extra amount because of growth in the UK economy.
Mr Lambsdorff told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that "everybody has to pay their dues".
'Logical consequence'He added: "If you have higher GDP growth than forecast, that also means logically that you have a higher contribution to the community's budget.
"That is a logical consequence. That is something that everybody has signed up for."
But Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash, speaking on the same programme, said it was "quite common" for member states to ignore EU demands.
"There may be consequences, but then they have to be weighed up," he said.
Sir Bill - who chairs the European Scrutiny Committee in the Commons - also said he would call in treasury ministers to his committee to see "how they intend to handle it from now on".
Negotiation and compromiseUKIP's deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, said Mr Lambsdorff was "absolutely right" and that Britain would have "no choice" but to pay.
"It would be illegal not to pay up," said Mr Nuttall.
"But this is what we have signed up to. Frankly I think we would be better off outside this organisation, where the British taxpayer wouldn't be forced to hand over £1.7bn by 1 December.
"Mr Cameron can turn around and say he won't pay by the deadline. But he hasn't ruled out paying at all - because he will have to."
Former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said it was "ridiculous" to expect Britain to pay by 1 December.
But he said he expected a "political negotiation and a sensible compromise".
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
David Cameron said the bill was "completely unacceptable"
Meanwhile, Labour has asked why the Treasury was notified of the bill days before Mr Cameron. They also questioned why the government failed to realise there was a potential issue earlier in the process.
In a letter to George Osborne, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie said the chancellor has "serious questions to answer about how long the UK Government has known about the possibility of a higher surcharge for the UK."
He added: "The Office for National Statistics published a report over four months ago detailing the changes made to UK growth figures which it stated were for use in the calculation of a Member State's contribution to the EU Budget."
'Downright angry'On Friday the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the demand was made under a system agreed by all the member states.
EU finance ministers have agreed to the UK's request for emergency talks about the top-up payment, which would add about a fifth to the UK's net EU contribution of £8.6bn for this year.
The prime minister said on Friday he was "downright angry" and that the British public would find the "vast" sum "totally unacceptable".
He said: "It is an unacceptable way for this organisation to work - to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money with so little time to pay it.
"It is an unacceptable way to treat a country which is one of the biggest contributors to the EU."
VIDEO- Farage: Thank you for confirming that Cameron is the real fantasist, Mr Barroso - @Nigel_Farage - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:03
AUDIO- BBC Radio 4 - Today in Parliament, 23/10/2014
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:50
Sean Curran watches as Labour keeps up its attack on the Government's record on Health Service funding.
Also on the programme.* Fixed-Term Parliaments. Are they a good innovation? Or have they made politics dull and predictable?* More discussion on the critical balance between individual freedom and the rights of the nation to be protected.* Does NATO have a role to play in combating the deadly Ebola outbreak?* And Of Mice and Men. MPs discuss whether a cat should be introduced into Parliament, in the light of the increasing numbers of mice seen scurrying around the Palace of Westminster.
VIDEO- MH-17: The Untold Story - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:45
VIDEO- Trafficking Bill: MLAs vote to make paying for sex a crime
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:42
21 October 2014Last updated at 03:29 ET By Gareth GordonBBC News NI Political Correspondent Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Lord Morrow rejected criticism of his bill, saying it would be law by the middle of 2015
The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted by 81 to 10 in favour of making it a crime to pay for sex.
MLAs spent several hours on Monday debating the measures, which formed part of a private member's bill on human trafficking and exploitation.
Clause six of the bill makes it illegal for someone to obtain sexual services in exchange for payment.
Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to vote in favour of the measure.
There is still some way to go before the bill becomes law, but the prospect of a ban on paying for sex in Northern Ireland has taken a significant step forward.
Supporters said the clause in Lord Morrow's private member's bill tackled a main driver for human trafficking.
Opponents included Justice Minister David Ford who claimed it would be difficult to enforce.
Significant stepThe Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said it would accept some Sinn F(C)in amendments, a rare example of agreement between the parties.
Sinn F(C)in had reserved judgment, but Caitriona Ruane finally signalled the party was prepared to support the move
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton of the DUP also proposed an amendment that would make it an offence for anyone to force someone else into marriage.
The amendment was drawn up by Mr Hamilton, whose department has responsibility for registering births, marriages and deaths.
The amendment reflects the introduction of a similar offence in England, Wales and Scotland earlier this year.
There were more than 60 amendments to the Human Trafficking Bill.
Outside the assembly on Monday, a group of sex workers wearing face masks made their opposition clear.
'Laughing stock'Sex worker Laura Lee said Northern Ireland would regret the move.
"I think it will be absolutely disgraceful and I think that we'll be able to show it as the failed model for what it is and we'll be the laughing stock of Europe," she said.
A trafficking victim, known only as Anna, watched the debate and rejected the argument that a ban would push sex workers further underground.
"The people who are saying that these laws, if they are put in place, would force it underground, I would say they are just trying to create panic when there is not any reason to panic because this is already underground," she said.
"The only thing which would go underground would be the sex industry which would have to lose major income."
The debate lasted until late on Monday night.
Earlier, Mr Ford said he supported the spirit of the bill, but believed that a clause that proposed prosecuting those caught paying for sex made it impractical.
Research published last week suggested that about 17,500 men pay for sex each year in Northern Ireland.
The study by Queen's University, Belfast, was commissioned by the Department of Justice in response to Lord Morrow's proposed bill.
Meanwhile, another poll has indicated that almost 80% of people in Northern Ireland support the criminalisation of paying for sex.
The Ipsos Mori survey found support for the Human Trafficking Bill was strongest among people aged between 16 to 34.
VIDEO- Putin at Valdai - World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules (FULL VIDEO) - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 00:53
VIDEO- Putin at Valdai Discussion Club 2014 (FULL SPEECH) - YouTube
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 23:31
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VIDEO-Woedende Cameron: 'Ik ga die heffing niet op 1 december betalen' | Buitenland | de Volkskrant
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:56
Hij zei dat hij de top had onderbroken om de 'onrechtvaardige' en 'onacceptabele' naheffing aan te kaarten. Behalve de Britten moeten onder meer ook Nederland en Itali extra betalen.
Cameron zei dat zijn Italiaanse collega Matteo Renzi zelfs zou hebben gesteld dat het bij de naheffing niet om een getal gaat, maar om een dodelijk wapen. 'En ik ben het daar volledig mee eens', aldus de Britse premier.
Een zichtbaar boze Cameron zei dat zijn land duidelijk benadeeld wordt. 'Als je dit voor je kiezen krijgt met een nog maar een maand te gaan, helpt dat dan met het Britse lidmaatschap van de EU? Zeker niet.'
Cameron zei verder dat hij een spoedvergadering van de Europese ministers van Financin heeft aangevraagd.
Gratis anti-Brussel-reclameVolgens eurosceptisch Engeland is de heffing niets meer dan een 'welvaartbelasting'. En gratis reclame voor de anti-Brusselse UKIP in haar jacht op een tweede zetel in het Lagerhuis. UKIP-leider Nigel Farage kon zijn geluk niet op. 'Cameron heeft nu de keuze: nog voor de verkiezingen van komende voorjaar een EU-referendum houden of de verkiezingen verliezen,' verklaarde hij tegenover The Daily Telegraph, 'zijn Europa-strategie ligt nu helemaal in duigen.'
VIDEO-'Massive' switch to new credit cards ahead
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:37
"There's going to be a learning curve," Cole said in a phone interview. "And the vast majority of merchants still don't have it."
So far, executives across the banking industry point to Wal-Mart as the only major retailer that has invested in chip terminals on a large scale. In remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Oct. 17, President Barack Obama acknowledged Wal-Mart, along with Home Depot, Target and Walgreen, for pledging to adopt chip-and-pin technology by the beginning of 2015.
"I want to encourage every retailer, every bank, and every credit card company to join them in this effort," Obama said, noting that government-issued payment cards would carry a chip at the beginning of 2015, too.
Without new terminals that read the actual chips, the new cards are no safer than the old ones, making it imperative that both transitions happen at the same time, First Data's Kleinschnitz said.
Cost and consumer adoption are the two biggest hurdles to the transition.
The chip terminals can cost up to $1,000 apiece, according to Javelin Research, depending on how many terminals a retailer is purchasing. To help defray the costs for smaller businesses, American Express has pledged $10 million toward the effort. Silicon Valley start-up Square is also working on a chip reader that a spokesman said will be "affordable" when it launches next year.
Read MoreYet another retailer suffers a data breach
Merchant's Warehouse, which processes payments for some 80,000 retail merchants, expects only 60 percent of its customers will have EMV technology by this time in 2015, according to CEO Henry Helgeson.
The elephant in the room is Apple Pay, which is already requiring some 220,000 retail stores to add new terminals with near-field communications capability. Many merchants have adopted Apple Pay before buying an EMV terminal, which Chase's Roberts said is counterintuitive.
"There's demand for one terminal that does it all," Roberts said.
Read MoreThe downside to Apple Pay
Chip cards, for that matter, are also more expensive to produce than plain plastic. Many consumers already got new credit and debit cards reissued following the handful of security breaches in the last year and aren't thrilled about getting another one'--and banks aren't racing to force them to reissue.
They might soon, though. An industry task force led by MasterCard and Visa has set an October 2015 deadline for the majority of American cardholders to have switched over to chip; the Payments Security Task Force estimates some 575 million cards will feature chips by that time.
Banks like PNC, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo will roll out chip debit cards in early 2015.
In the meantime, Santiago Conde'--a Wells Fargo customer in Kansas City, Kansas'--plans to alter his holiday shopping habits. Conde, 22, said he'll use just one card for all his purchases and replace it when he's done.
"That way, if there is indeed a breach," Conde told CNBC, "I will already have a new card number and won't have anything to worry about."
VIDEO-Joe Biden: ''I Like Guys Because Of Their Moms'' - YouTube
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:01
VIDEO-Watch A Bunch Of Little Girls Curse Like Sailors To Promote Feminism
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:03
Watch A Bunch Of Little Girls Curse Like Sailors To Promote FeminismYour Post Has Been Launched!
Fabulous! Don't forget to share with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.1. The people at FCKH8 have enlisted a few young ladies between the ages of 6 to 13 to get the word out about feminism and inequality between the sexes.3. The girls are dressed as princesses, but once they open their mouths it's pretty clear they're anything but:''What the fuck? I'm not some pretty fucking helpless princess in distress,'' they shout.
5. The girls continue, ''What is more offensive? A little girl saying 'fuck' or the fucking unequal and sexist way society treats girls and women?''
7. Words like ''pay inequality'' and ''rape and violence'' are more offensive than little girls with potty mouths, they say.
''Women are paid 25% less than men, for the exact same fucking work,'' one points out. Another girl adds, ''I shouldn't need a penis to get paid!''
9. The girls also mention that sure, it's great that women can vote, but equality's next step is ''walking to the car without fear.''''Here's a hot tip! Stop telling girls how to dress, and start teaching boys not to fucking rape.''
11. In one particularly jarring moment, the girls say that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted or raped. ''Which one of us will it be?'' one asks.
13. Another set of dirty words? ''Be pretty.''''Society teaching girls that our bodies, boobs, and butts are more important than our brains leads us to thinking our worth comes from our waistlines,'' they explain.''My aspirations in life should not be worrying about the shape of my ass.''
15. Producer Mike Kon defended the use of the bad language in the clip's description:Some adults may be uncomfortable with how these little girls are using a bad word for a good cause. It is shocking what they are saying, but the real shock is that women are still paid less than men for the same work in 2014, not the use of the F-word.
17. The video was made partly to benefit's T-shirt fund-raiser, with $5 of each $15 shirt going toward five anti-sexism organizations and projects.19. At the end of the video, two women show up to talk about the project: ''Instead of cleaning these girls' mouths out with soap, maybe society should clean up its act.''
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