Cover for No Agenda Show 665: Jihadi Cool
October 30th, 2014 • 2h 56m

665: Jihadi Cool


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.

Ships at Sea
Hi Adam,
John correctly credited me for 123.58 on show 665, but I think my request for a show-note mention was overlooked.
Please add a show note link (665 or 665, whatever's easier) to my Internet of Things computational art thing named "Ships at Sea":
Chris Daly
" Hi Adam and John, when you credited me on show 665, I think you overlooked my request for a show note mention. For the last couple years I have been fooling around with Internet of Things hobby projects - often while listening to The Best Podcast In the Universe. Earlier this year I had an idea to try mounting some of my IoT gear on top of an oil painting, to produce a sort of computational artwork Internet Thing. This evolved into the piece I named "Ships at Sea", in honor of your great show and because it seemed like the most fitting title.
I should add, for full disclosure, there is an element of value-for-value arbitrage to my request. I am trying to sell the Ships at Sea piece on Etsy (link to that on the github page). If I can sell it, I will send some of that back to you as I work towards my knighthood. "
Twin Engine Coffe
Can't get anyone to protest the murderous psychopaths running the world, but burn shit whenyour sports team wins
Plug BTSync
Need page that includes player and chat
JCD Costco wine suggestions
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape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.
Putin spokesman tells press to 'shut trap' on cancer rumours - Yahoo News
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:02
Moscow (AFP) - President Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Wednesday ridiculed US media reports that the Russian strongman may be suffering from cancer, saying he was fine and that journalists should "shut their trap".
Dmitry Peskov blasted those behind speculation that the 62-year-old Putin -- who has long cultivated an action-man image -- was in ill health.
"They shouldn't bank on it. They should shut their trap. Everything's okay," he told journalists at Putin's country residence outside Moscow.
The New York Post on Friday cited "sources" as saying Putin was suffering from pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
It suggested the information came from an unnamed elderly German doctor who had been treating Putin until recently.
It also reported that "news outlets from Belarus to Poland" had been saying for months that Putin -- who has dominated Russia's political scene for almost 15 years -- had cancer of the spine.
Rumours of Putin's ill health have persisted over the past few years, with some observers saying he appeared to be in pain at times during public appearances.
His face also sometimes looks swollen, prompting rumours he could be on steroid medication, or trying anti-ageing treatments.
In 2012, Putin cut down on foreign travel for a while and postponed a high-profile visit to Japan, with sources in Tokyo blaming health problems.
Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said at the time that a "minor sports injury" was to blame.
For Putin, his image as a healthy, active man ready to ride bare-chested or track tigers is crucial in a country where he is already old enough to claim a state pension.
As he faces political isolation from the West and economic woes as the ruble plunges, Putin's sky-high approval rating has dipped for the first time since April.
The Levada independent polling agency found that 83 percent of those questioned in September would vote for Putin as president, down from 87 percent in August.
HealthDisease & Medical ConditionsPresident Vladimir Putin
Hungarians march again in protest against internet tax plan | World news | The Guardian
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:30
Tens of thousand of Hungarians march in Budapest during an anti-government rally against plans for an internet tax. Photograph: Xinhua News Agency/Rex Features
Tens of thousands of protesters have marched against a plan by the Hungarian government to tax internet use from 2015.
The rally, the second in three days over the scheme, is also seen as a sign of growing discontent among mostly younger Hungarians over the prime minister, Viktor Orbn's policies that critics say are centralising power and increasing the role of the state, to the detriment of private enterprise.
In April, Orbn's governing party, Fidesz, won its second consecutive two-thirds majority and he began his third four-year term as prime minister. Since 2010 the EU has expressed concerns over what it sees as Hungary's failure to respect European democratic standards, while Washington and others have criticised new laws regulating everything from the media to churches. The Orbn government has also been reproached for intimidating independent civic groups, including corruption watchdogs and minority advocates, and for its efforts to deepen ties with Russia.
On Tuesday night, protesters outside the economy ministry in Budapest called on Orbn to withdraw the plan to force internet service providers to pay 700 forints (£1.80) per individual subscriber a month and 5,000 forints per business subscriber. There are concerns that the tax will not be absorbed by the internet providers, as the government claims.
''The ideal amount of the internet tax is not 700 or 5,000 forints but exactly zero,'' web entrepreneur Zsolt Varady told the rally, which was estimated by local media to have been attended by between 35,000 and 40,000 people.
Initially, the tax was set to be 150 forints per gigabyte of internet traffic, but Fidesz said it would set a cap on the levy.
The EU and others have accused the government of Viktor Orbn of failing to respect European democratic standards.Photograph: Laszlo Baloch/ReutersThe government, which announced the proposal last week before any consultations with industry groups or even Fidesz MPs, gave several explanations for the measure: it was meant to complement a tax on phone calls, as people were increasingly using the internet to make calls; it would take a slice from telecoms firms' allegedly large profits; and the new revenues would help to improve internet access in rural areas.
Ryan Heath, a spokesman for the EU's digital commissioner, Neelie Kroes, said the internet tax was ''bad in principle'' and could hinder economic growth.
''Hungary is below the EU average in virtually every single digital indicator and the digital part of the economy is probably the main thing keeping Europe out of recession right now. So taxing that ... is a particularly bad idea,'' he told reporters in Brussels.
The European commission also fears the plan would be copied by others.
''If Hungary becomes a precedent in this instance, it can become a problem in a lot of other member states and can be a problem for Europe's wider economic growth,'' Heath said.
Protesters vowed to continue the rallies '' which have also been held in several other cities in Hungary and at some Hungarian embassies in EU countries '' until the government withdraws the tax plan.
All you need to know about Hungary's internet tax | euronews, world news
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:26
Tens of thousands have been out on the streets of Budapest to protest about the world's first so-called internet tax.
Here we take a closer look at the tax and how it fits into the wider picture in Hungary.
Why an internet tax?
The government in Hungary says the idea behind the tax is to catch those who use the Internet for telephone calls.
It claims the proposal is simply an extension of an existing telecommunications tax.
The economy ministry told that telecommunications firms pay taxes on fixed lines and mobiles, but not on internet-based calls.
So why the protests?
Protesters say the bill will curb fundamental democratic rights and freedoms.
They add, as well as increasing the tax burden, it would impede equal access to the internet and deepen the digital divide between Hungary's social classes.
Others have asked whether it will make it difficult for citizens to read unbiased news that is not under the control of Hungary's ruling elite.
How would the tax work in practice?
The tax, on the face of it, is not imposed on individuals, according to the government, but rather on telecommunications firms.
But critics fear internet service providers will pass the tax onto their customers.
Initially the government had planned to tax internet data transfers, at a rate of 150 forints per gigabyte ('‚¬0.48).
But analysts calculated this would amount to more than the sector's annual revenue.
An amended bill was then submitted, which would cap the tax paid by telecommunications firms at 700 forints ('‚¬2.26) per month for individuals and 5,000 forints ('‚¬16.18) for corporate subscribers.
What has the Hungarian government said?
It denies it has any anti-democratic agenda, saying it aimed only to get all economic sectors to share the tax burden and was tapping into a trend of telecommunications shifting away from already-taxed telephony and text messages.
It also says telecommunications firms can deduct the tax from corporate tax.
What is opinion like outside Hungary?
Ryan Heath, spokesman for Neelie Kroes, the EU's digital commissioner, said: ''Hungary is below the EU average in virtually every single digital indicator and the digital part of the economy is probably the main thing keeping Europe out of recession right now. So taxing that '... is a particularly bad idea.
''If Hungary becomes a precedent in this instance, it can become a problem in a lot of other member states and can be a problem for Europe's wider economic growth.''
But Leonid Bershidsky, writing for Bloomberg, argues: ''If governments choose to tax consumption in general '-- and most of them do, through value-added or sales taxes '-- it's logical to tax data consumption, too.
''There is no reason why a society that accepts taxation of traditional telephony should reject levies on Internet traffic.
''The infrastructure that carries it is physical and not limitless, and taxing heavy consumption could be a way to preserve net neutrality.''
What other taxes are there in Hungary?
Hungarians pay a flat rate 16 percent income tax, but value-added tax (or a goods and sales tax) is 27 percent.
Corporation tax is paid at 19 percent, but less for smaller businesses.
How widespread is the internet in Hungary?
The percentage of people using the internet in Hungary was 72.64 in 2013, according to latest figures from the International Telecommunication Union, up from just 7 percent in 2000.
There were 2.4m people with fixed-line broadband subscriptions last year, figures from the ITU show, in a country with a population of 9.8 million.
What's the bigger picture? Is it just the so-called internet tax that has got protesters onto the streets?
Organisers of the internet tax protests argue the proposal follows ''a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe''.
Prime minister Victor Orbn '' who has been in power since 2010 '' is broadly popular and his Fidesz party won a two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections earlier in 2014.
But his opponents are upset at his increasingly authoritarian style and his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Keynote at the 2014 U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:36
(As prepared)
Thank you, Wess, for that introduction. It's good to be here with you today with Minister Lajcak. Like me, Miro is still recovering from UNGA, the ''World Cup'' of diplomacy; or as we like to say at State: the diplomatic equivalent of speed dating. Our thanks to CEPA for your great work to strengthen our transatlantic bond with Central Europe. In just 9 years, CEPA has become the ''go-to'' think tank in Washington for those who care about a democratic, prosperous, secure Central Europe.
This fall, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we are also reminded that two and a half decades ago, the countries of Central Europe inspired the world by seizing a moment of hope and transforming it into freedom and opportunity for tens of millions of people.
Across Central Europe, citizens stood up for the right to hold free elections; they built strong, independent institutions; and fostered civil society and a vibrant media.
They did the hard work of reforming their economies, stabilizing currencies, privatizing inefficient industries, opening up labor markets, and welcoming foreign investment. In short, they restored liberal democracy to the heart of the continent.
And they proved the skeptics wrong. In successive waves of NATO and EU enlargement 5, 10 and 15 years ago, they extended the boundaries of our Euro-Atlantic family and the values it represents.
We live in a better world because the countries of Central Europe chose the path of a Europe whole, free and at peace 25 years ago. But today that choice is under threat, and Central Europe is once again on the frontline in the fight to protect our security and values. And today, that fight is once again both external and internal.
Let's look at these in turn.
First, the external threats: President Obama said in New York last week Russia's aggression in Ukraine threatens to take us back to the days when large countries could trample small ones at will. Because the countries of Central Europe understand the danger better than most, almost all of them have been among the strongest and most generous in support of Ukraine's right to choose its own future, and live in a more democratic, clean, free and prosperous country.
They have offered assistance and advice to Ukraine, security support, and even, as Slovakia has done, reversed the flow of gas to help fill Ukraine's winter storage tanks. And most have been strong advocates inside the EU for the sanctions the Transatlantic community has put on Russia for its actions.
Today we must maintain that solidarity with Ukraine and unity within the Transatlantic community. Implementing sanctions isn't easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher. The history of Central Europe itself teaches us that. So when leaders are tempted to make statements that tear at the fabric of our resolve, I would ask them to remember their own national history, and how they wished their neighbors had stood with them.
Ukraine is working hard to promote peace and change to meet its people's expectations. It is fulfilling its commitments under the September 5 Minsk agreement'--it passed amnesty legislation, a special status law for the east, and is working with Russia to demarcate the special status zone.
Now Russia and its proxies must do their part '' withdraw their forces and all the heavy weapons that have flooded the east, restore Ukrainian sovereignty on the international border, withdraw heavy weapons there too, and return all the hostages'--notably, including Nadiya Savchenko and Oleg Sentsov. When the Minsk agreement is fully implemented, we can and will begin to roll back some sanctions. It is in Russia's hands when that day comes.
Every country in the CEPA space has made tough sacrifices. And as you stand with Ukraine, we stand with you. The United States' commitment to NATO's Article 5 is unwavering. As President Obama said at Tallinn, ''we will defend our NATO Allies, and that means every Ally.'' Our allies, in turn, are working to fulfill the pledge they made at Wales to reverse the decline in defense spending.
Even as we stand against Russia's threat to Ukraine's European choice, we must recognize that ISIL's threat to our security, prosperity and values is also real, also immediate. Even in the Euro-Atlantic space, nobody's immune. That's why today the nations of Central Europe are joining the global coalition to degrade and destroy ISIL's terrorism, contributing ammunition, training, humanitarian assistance and countering ISIL's hateful ideology. All of us must do more to harden the Transatlantic space and make it a ''no-go'' zone for ISIL recruitment and finance.
When we pass anti-terror laws to keep our citizens from joining the fight, whether that fight is in Rakka or Luhansk, it is our values and way of life we are protecting: rule of law, state sovereignty, peace and security, individual human rights and dignity.
And just as we work together to defend our values externally, we must fortify them internally. In Central Europe today, I would argue, the internal threats to democracy and freedom are just as worrying. Across the region, the twin cancers of democratic backsliding and corruption are threatening the dream so many have worked for since 1989. And even as they reap the benefits of NATO and EU membership, we find leaders in the region who seem to have forgotten the values on which these institutions are based.
So today I ask their leaders: How can you sleep under your NATO Article 5 blanket at night while pushing ''illiberal democracy'' by day; whipping up nationalism; restricting free press; or demonizing civil society! I ask the same of those who shield crooked officials from prosecution; bypass parliament when convenient; or cut dirty deals that increase their countries' dependence on one source of energy despite their stated policy of diversification.
As President Obama noted, oppressive governments are sharing ''worst practices to weaken civil society.'' They are creating wormholes that undermine their nations' security, freedom and prosperity. The countries of Central Europe'--through the EU and nationally'--must remain vigilant. We can only be strong when we protect political pluralism, civil society and the right to dissent within our own borders; when our governments are clean, transparent and accountable to the people they serve.
For more than 20 years, Central Europe has been the canary in the coal mine for the promise of a Europe whole, free and at peace. The example set by the countries of this region has also inspired others around the world that they, too, can fight for democracy, free markets, rule of law and human dignity. As the President said in Warsaw in June, ''The blessings of liberty must be earned and renewed by every generation '' including our own.'' We must renew our commitment today '' to our citizens and to each other; at home and around the world. We are stronger together, and many around the world who crave the same freedom we enjoy are depending on us.
Assistant Undersecretary Victoria Nuland's keynote address at the 2014 U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum | Hungarian Spectrum
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:31
Yesterday Victoria Nuland, assistant undersecretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, delivered the keynote address at a conference organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis's U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum. Just as the conference was winding down, I published a short summary of the relevant passages of her speech that were addressed in part to Viktor Orbn and his government. She mentioned neither Orbn nor Hungary by name, but everybody in the audience knew whom she was talking about.
I consider her speech to be so important that I decided to republish it. After all, few people will bother to search the U.S. State Department's website for the text of Nuland's speech. The couple of sentences devoted to the Hungarian government's harassment of NGOs by President Bill Clinton or the remark by President Obama on the same topic were limited in scope. On the other hand, Victoria Nuland's short speech outlines U.S. positions on vital issues concerning the East-Central European region and contains criticism of an unnamed politician whose domestic and foreign policies fail to meet with the approval of the United States. This politician is described as one who, among other things, pushes illiberal democracy and cuts dirty energy deals. Only one politician fits the bill: Viktor Orbn.
* * *
Keynote at the 2014 U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum
Victoria NulandAssistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Thank you, Wess, for that introduction. It's good to be here with you today with Minister Lajcak. Like me, Miro is still recovering from UNGA, the ''World Cup'' of diplomacy; or as we like to say at State: the diplomatic equivalent of speed dating. Our thanks to CEPA for your great work to strengthen our transatlantic bond with Central Europe. In just 9 years, CEPA has become the ''go-to'' think tank in Washington for those who care about a democratic, prosperous, secure Central Europe.
This fall, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we are also reminded that two and a half decades ago, the countries of Central Europe inspired the world by seizing a moment of hope and transforming it into freedom and opportunity for tens of millions of people.
Across Central Europe, citizens stood up for the right to hold free elections; they built strong, independent institutions; and fostered civil society and a vibrant media.
They did the hard work of reforming their economies, stabilizing currencies, privatizing inefficient industries, opening up labor markets, and welcoming foreign investment. In short, they restored liberal democracy to the heart of the continent.
And they proved the skeptics wrong. In successive waves of NATO and EU enlargement 5, 10 and 15 years ago, they extended the boundaries of our Euro-Atlantic family and the values it represents.
We live in a better world because the countries of Central Europe chose the path of a Europe whole, free and at peace 25 years ago. But today that choice is under threat, and Central Europe is once again on the frontline in the fight to protect our security and values. And today, that fight is once again both external and internal.
Let's look at these in turn.
First, the external threats: President Obama said in New York last week Russia's aggression in Ukraine threatens to take us back to the days when large countries could trample small ones at will. Because the countries of Central Europe understand the danger better than most, almost all of them have been among the strongest and most generous in support of Ukraine's right to choose its own future, and live in a more democratic, clean, free and prosperous country.
They have offered assistance and advice to Ukraine, security support, and even, as Slovakia has done, reversed the flow of gas to help fill Ukraine's winter storage tanks. And most have been strong advocates inside the EU for the sanctions the Transatlantic community has put on Russia for its actions.
Today we must maintain that solidarity with Ukraine and unity within the Transatlantic community. Implementing sanctions isn't easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher. The history of Central Europe itself teaches us that. So when leaders are tempted to make statements that tear at the fabric of our resolve, I would ask them to remember their own national history, and how they wished their neighbors had stood with them.
Ukraine is working hard to promote peace and change to meet its people's expectations. It is fulfilling its commitments under the September 5 Minsk agreement'--it passed amnesty legislation, a special status law for the east, and is working with Russia to demarcate the special status zone.
Now Russia and its proxies must do their part '' withdraw their forces and all the heavy weapons that have flooded the east, restore Ukrainian sovereignty on the international border, withdraw heavy weapons there too, and return all the hostages'--notably, including Nadiya Savchenko and Oleg Sentsov. When the Minsk agreement is fully implemented, we can and will begin to roll back some sanctions. It is in Russia's hands when that day comes.
Every country in the CEPA space has made tough sacrifices. And as you stand with Ukraine, we stand with you. The United States' commitment to NATO's Article 5 is unwavering. As President Obama said at Tallinn, ''we will defend our NATO Allies, and that means every Ally.'' Our allies, in turn, are working to fulfill the pledge they made at Wales to reverse the decline in defense spending.
Even as we stand against Russia's threat to Ukraine's European choice, we must recognize that ISIL's threat to our security, prosperity and values is also real, also immediate. Even in the Euro-Atlantic space, nobody's immune. That's why today the nations of Central Europe are joining the global coalition to degrade and destroy ISIL's terrorism, contributing ammunition, training, humanitarian assistance and countering ISIL's hateful ideology. All of us must do more to harden the Transatlantic space and make it a ''no-go'' zone for ISIL recruitment and finance.
When we pass anti-terror laws to keep our citizens from joining the fight, whether that fight is in Rakka or Luhansk, it is our values and way of life we are protecting: rule of law, state sovereignty, peace and security, individual human rights and dignity.
And just as we work together to defend our values externally, we must fortify them internally. In Central Europe today, I would argue, the internal threats to democracy and freedom are just as worrying. Across the region, the twin cancers of democratic backsliding and corruption are threatening the dream so many have worked for since 1989. And even as they reap the benefits of NATO and EU membership, we find leaders in the region who seem to have forgotten the values on which these institutions are based.
So today I ask their leaders: How can you sleep under your NATO Article 5 blanket at night while pushing ''illiberal democracy'' by day; whipping up nationalism; restricting free press; or demonizing civil society! I ask the same of those who shield crooked officials from prosecution; bypass parliament when convenient; or cut dirty deals that increase their countries' dependence on one source of energy despite their stated policy of diversification.
As President Obama noted, oppressive governments are sharing ''worst practices to weaken civil society.'' They are creating wormholes that undermine their nations' security, freedom and prosperity. The countries of Central Europe'--through the EU and nationally'--must remain vigilant. We can only be strong when we protect political pluralism, civil society and the right to dissent within our own borders; when our governments are clean, transparent and accountable to the people they serve.
For more than 20 years, Central Europe has been the canary in the coal mine for the promise of a Europe whole, free and at peace. The example set by the countries of this region has also inspired others around the world that they, too, can fight for democracy, free markets, rule of law and human dignity. As the President said in Warsaw in June, ''The blessings of liberty must be earned and renewed by every generation '' including our own.'' We must renew our commitment today '' to our citizens and to each other; at home and around the world. We are stronger together, and many around the world who crave the same freedom we enjoy are depending on us.
* * *
What was the reaction in Budapest to this very harsh criticism of Viktor Orbn and his regime? The spokeswoman of the Hungarian Ministry of Trade and Foreign Affairs told journalists that, according to P(C)ter Szijjrt", ''the people of Central Europe have suffered under communist dictatorship and fought for their freedom and for the reunification of Europe.'' The region is inhabited by freedom-loving people who surely wouldn't allow their freedom to be curtailed. Hungary looks upon the United States as a friend and ''our alliance is rock solid.''
Interestingly enough, the speech was also the topic of political debate in Romania. According to the Romanian Social Democratic Party, Victoria Nuland's remarks were addressed only to the Hungarian prime minister. Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that it was surely not Romania that harassed the NGOs. It was the Hungarian government that limited freedom of the media. It was Hungary that stopped sending gas to Ukraine, and it is Viktor Orbn who has a unique relationship with Vladimir Putin. Romania supports Moldova and Ukraine and helps its neighbors with their energy needs. President Traian Băsescu, a political opponent of Victor Ponta, thinks otherwise. He is certain that Nuland was also talking about Romania, especially when she referred to corruption as a threat to national security.
In my opinion the bulk of the criticism was directed at Hungary, but corruption unfortunately is everywhere in this part of the world.
Apparently P(C)ter Szijjrt" will meet Victoria Nuland during his forthcoming visit to Washington. I would not like to be in his shoes. Victoria Nuland is one tough lady.
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Hungary to Start South Stream Construction in 6 Months - - Sofia News Agency
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:28
Hungary is currently planning to begin the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline in the spring of 2016, media sources say.
Budapest hopes to complete its South Stream section if it manages to meet that deadline, Csaba Baji, the head of power company MVM which controls 50% of the joint venture managing the Hungarian stretch, told the daily Napi Gazdasag cited by Russia's ITAR-TASS.
South Stream is to deliver 63 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Europe when constructed.
It is unclear when the pipeline can become operational, since construction is frozen in Bulgaria at the behest of the previous Bulgarian government, which was warned by the EU Commission it should halt all activities.
The EU and Gazprom are at odds over South Stream's compatibility with Europe's Third Energy Package and other issues.
Hungary says will not suspend South Stream pipeline - Yahoo News
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:27
Belgrade (AFP) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday his country would not give up on Russia's controversial South Stream gas pipeline project as it was key to securing the country's energy supplies.
The crisis in Ukraine has made the planned pipeline bringing Siberian gas to the European Union -- bypassing Ukraine -- a new focus of tensions between Moscow, Brussels and Washington.
"We will not allow ourselves to get into a situation that our gas supplies depend on Ukraine," Orban told reporters after talks with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic.
"Hungary will build up South Stream as it will secure our energy supplies," he said.
Orban said that while his country supported Ukraine, Hungary was "responsible for our citizens and energy supplies".
The premier added: "Those who say we should not build South Stream must offer an alternative as we can not live without energy."
The South Stream pipeline is a major project to reduce Moscow's reliance on Ukraine as a transit country following disputes with Kiev in 2006 and 2009 that led to interruptions of gas shipments to Europe.
The European Union has called on all 28 member states to stand united in resisting pressure from the Kremlin over the project, saying the pipeline breaches the bloc's competition rules.
But the EU appears deeply divided on the project with several member states, who depend on Russian gas transported via Ukraine, supporting it.
EU member Bulgaria earlier this month suspended work on building its section of the multi-billion-euro project following pressure from the EU and the United States.
Serbia, an EU candidate with strong relations with Russia, has remained committed to the South Stream pipeline and began working on the project in November.
With a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres per year, the main pipeline will stretch nearly 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) from Russia under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia and ending in Italy.
Politics & GovernmentViktor OrbanSouth StreamHungaryEuropean Union
Air Traffic Controller Faces Charges Over Vnukovo Crash | Russia | RIA Novosti
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:17
MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti) - Svetlana Krivsun, the air traffic controller on duty on the night of the crash involving Total CEO Christophe de Margerie, has had formal charges level against her for violating safety rules, Russia's Investigative Committee's website has said.
Krivsun, currently under house arrest, has been charged with Article 263 of the Russian Criminal Code for violating aircraft safety rules, which specifically address events resulting in the accidental deaths of two or more persons.
Krivsun is suspected of having given the order for Margerie's private jet to take off before the snowplow had cleared a safe distance, and will now ''be questioned as an accused person,'' Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a press conference.
Margerie's Falcon aircraft crashed into the snowplow on takeoff and exploded, killing Margerie and the plane's three crew members. De Margerie was heading back to Paris after reportedly holding talks with Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.
The Investigative Committee had earlier detained flight operations officer Roman Dunayev, chief airfield service engineer Vladimir Ledenev, air traffic controller Alexander Kruglov, and snowplow driver Vladimir Martynenko.
Dunayev and Krivsun have been placed under house arrest until December 21, while Kruglov, Ledenev and Martynenko will be held in custody until that date as the criminal investigation continues.
Each of the five are suspected of "failing to ensure the observance of flight and ground work safety requirements, which led to the tragedy," in Markin's words.
Krivsun faces up to seven years in prison if found guilty.
Vnukovo's General Director Andrei Dyakov and his deputy Sergei Solntsev have each resigned over the tragedy. They have not been suspected of any wrongdoing.
De Margerie was buried at a funeral service held in Paris on Monday, with the Russian President earlier paying tribute to the businessman, calling him a ''true friend of the country,'' whose ''legacy will remain with us.''
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:37
Who we are
The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research institute dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Founded in 2005, CEPA is the only U.S. think-tank that works exclusively on the countries and societies of this dynamic global region. The Center's mission is to promote an economically vibrant, strategically secure and politically free Central and Eastern Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States.
What we do
CEPA exists to strengthen the bonds of shared democratic values, commercial ties and strategic interests that link America and the countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Through published research, public events, fellowships and consultation, we help U.S. and CEE leaders shape their strategic priorities; help U.S. and regional businesses navigate transatlantic policy environments; and help future leaders, students and scholars develop more effective professional networks. Our main issue areas include political economy, security and defense, and energy security.
Our expertise
CEPA's accomplished analysts and senior fellows represent the largest concentration of expertise on the CEE region on either side of the Atlantic. Headquartered in Washington, DC, CEPA is the leading voice on Central and Eastern Europe in the United States. In addition, the institute maintains on-the-ground fellows and correspondents as well as long-standing strategic partnerships with policy institutes and universities across the region. CEPA's experts are routinely consulted by government officials and agencies, major corporations and the international media. '¨ '¨
Filling a void
CEPA believes that Central and Eastern Europe is important to the United States. From the time of Woodrow Wilson and TomÅ Garrigue Masaryk to Ronald Reagan, Vclav Havel and Lech WałÄsa, Americans and Central Europeans share a rich legacy of fighting for freedom that is unique in the Western world. With each passing generation, the memory of this legacy fades. CEPA exists to strengthen the bonds of Atlanticism, nurture the human relationships that sustain them, and extend their relevance to the global challenges of the 21st Century.
Ideas with impact
In a U.S. foreign policy environment with a short attention span and shifting global focus, CEPA seeks to achieve lasting value through deep relationships and sustained strategic focus. In recent years, CEPA policy initiatives have helped bring about positive change'-- from strengthening U.S. strategic engagement with critical allies Poland and the Baltic States and forging industry-government dialogues on unconventional energy sources to bolstering democratic opposition to Europe's last dictatorship in Belarus.'¨ '¨
What others say about us
''CEPA's innovative work on the Central and Eastern European region contributes significantly to the transatlantic debate. I am proud to be associated with this unique institute.''
'-- Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser and CEPA Advisory Council member
''CEPA provides some of the finest analyses in Washington and is frequently discussed in the Polish government.''
'-- Radosław Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
Who supports us
CEPA is a public charity that operates as a 501(c) 3 under the U.S. tax code. Funding for the institute is provided by private foundations, U.S. and foreign governments, corporations and individuals who share our mission of promoting a vibrant, stable and free Central European community of nations allied to the United States.
Yatsenyuk to Discuss Financial Coverage of Gas Supplies With Merkel, Biden
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:50
Updated 4:36 p.m. Moscow Time
KIEV, October 30 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Thursday that he would discuss ways of financing Ukraine's energy expenditure with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Vice President Joe Biden.
"Today I will hold a number of telephone talks with US Vice President Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and one of the main issues that we will discuss will be the gas agreement and additional financial measures that will allow Ukraine to stabilize its budget and to pay the energy bills," Yatsenyuk said at a ministerial meeting.
Ukraine currently receives gas only through reverse flows as Russian energy giant Gazprom switched the country to a prepayment system over its gas debt of more than $5 billion. In September, Russia and the European Commission proposed the so-called winter package, according to which Ukraine should pay $3.1 billion of its debt to Russia by the end of the year in exchange for gas deliveries during the winter period.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian authorities confirmed their readiness to pay the requested $3.1 billion, with the first tranche of $1.45 billion being transferred in the near future and the second payment of $1.65 billion to take place by the end of the year. Russia, Ukraine and the European Union resumed negotiations on a temporary gas delivery agreement on Wednesday.
Lithuania Hopes for Energy Independence, Security With New LNG Terminal
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:30
MOSCOW, October 27 (RIA Novosti) - Lithuania's liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal "Independence" is a geopolitical project that will lead to energy independence and security of the whole Baltic region, Lithuania's president said at the official ceremony of welcoming the off-shore liquefied natural gas vessel Independence in the port of Klaipeda.
"Klaipeda's LNG terminal will cover almost 90 percent of gas needs of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia," Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania's president, said at the ceremony.
"Lithuania has managed to build the terminal alone. It took just three and a half years to implement the project. We have become a secure state in what concerns energy. It [the terminal] will become a guarantor of energy security for the whole Baltic region. We will always be able to help our neighbors in case they need it," the president said, adding that Lithuania will no longer be dependent on the "imposed gas prices".
Independence storage-vessel for the LNG terminal has the capacity of 170,000 cubic meters (approximately 6 billion cubic feet), and is leased by the state-owned energy terminal operator Klaipedos Nafta AB from Norway's Hoegh LNG Holdings liquefied natural gas services provider for the period of 10 years. Lithuania also has a contract with Norway's oil and gas company Statoil ASA to supply the terminal with LNG for five years at the prices comparable to Russian energy giant Gazprom's export to the country after this year's price reduction, according to Lithuania's Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis.
The first delivery of LNG is scheduled for Tuesday.
Nord Stream Denies Reports of Worsening Relations Reason to Scrap Pipeline to UK | World | RIA Novosti
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 02:58
Updated 04:10 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, October 27 (RIA Novosti) '' The lack of progress in continuing the Nord Stream gas pipeline to the United Kingdom is not because of worsening relations between Russia and the West, the gas consortium's press service told RIA Novosti on Monday.
''The basis of the project remains and the technical and economic review that Nord Stream completed has given a strong base for the development of the project in the future whenever the decision is made. The Times' intent to tie the lack of progress [of the project] of expanding the pipeline with the events in Ukraine and existing sanctions have nothing to do with it in regard to terms, reasons, and consequences,'' the consortium said.
Earlier in the day, The Times reported that because of worsening relations between London and Moscow, Nord Stream's plans to extend its pipelines to the UK were scrapped. In February, the Russian energy giant Gazprom and its consortium partners ran a feasibility study on the project, but EU nations shot it down saying the project would increase Europe's dependence on Russian gas.
Gazprom has been unable to run Nord Stream at full capacity of some 55 billion cubic meters due to European restrictions. Under the terms of the EU's Third Energy Package, the energy company can only use 50 percent of the pipeline, and reserve the other half for transportation by independent gas suppliers.
The Nord Stream is a 1,220 kilometers (760 miles) long offshore pipeline that pumps Russian natural gas from Siberia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, bypassing East European transit countries. It includes two parallel lines, each with a capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters a year, stretching across the Baltic Sea floor from Russia's Vyborg near the Finnish border to Greifswald on Germany's coast.
In 2013, Russia delivered a total of 161.1 billion cubic meters to European countries, or almost 30 percent of Europe's gas supply. Fifteen percent was transported via Ukraine and the rest through the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea (23.57 billion), as well as the Yamal pipeline through the territories of Belarus and Poland. Thirty-five percent of the European Union's oil supplies were also of Russian origin.
BP profits hit by Russia problems
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:25
28 October 2014Last updated at 08:01 The falling value of the rouble and lower oil prices have hit profits at oil giant BP.
The company made $3bn (£1.86bn) in the July-to-September period, down from $3.7bn for the period last year.
BP, a big investor in Russia through its 20% stake in Rosneft, said the depreciation of the rouble against the dollar dragged down profits.
Net income from Rosneft fell to $110m, from $808m in the same quarter last year.
Lower Urals oil prices also hurt profits, BP said in a statement.
Also on Tuesday, Rosneft unexpectedly delayed publication of its own third-quarter profit figures. The company, which is feeling the impact of Western sanctions over Ukraine, did not give a reason.
'On track'During the quarter, BP paid out another $314m related to the fatal Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent massive oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico.
The payment brings to $20bn the cumulative charges for the disaster.
Despite the fall in profits, chief executive Bob Dudley was upbeat about the performance.
"Growing underlying production of oil and gas and a good downstream [refining oil] performance generated strong cash flow in the third quarter, despite lower oil prices. This keeps us well on track to hit our targets for 2014," he said.
German government plans massive rearmament
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:47
By Philipp Frisch28 October 2014The German coalition government has put forward its proposals for the federal budget in 2015, demanding a massive increase in heavy weaponry for the German army (Bundeswehr).
As a pretext for the rearmament program, government spokesmen are citing the civil war in Ukraine, which was set in motion by the support of the US and Germany for the fascist-led coup that overthrew the elected pro-Russian government and installed a Western puppet regime last February.
According to Reuters, German defense experts headed by Henning Otte (Christian Democratic Union'--CDU) and Rainer Arnold (Social Democratic Party'--SPD) have complained that, in light of the ''current security situation,'' the Bundeswehr has an insufficient number of tanks. They call for a significant increase and modernization of the army's current stock of 190 ''Boxer'' armoured vehicles and 225 Leopard combat tanks.
Their plans also include the development of a new, third generation of Leopard tanks. They argue that equipping troops with the latest technology as part of the government's ''Soldier of the Future'' program should no longer be limited to foreign deployments, but should be introduced across the board.
They insist on the development of a new generation of MEADS air defense systems to replace the army's existing stock of US Patriot missiles. The Defense Department had postponed a decision for next year. According to Reuters, citing an unnamed government official, the green light for the program is to be given next year after a few technical and legal issues have been resolved.
The ostensible rationale for the new MEADS system is the need to replace antiquated equipment. However, comments by Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union'--CSU) indicate that other strategic considerations are involved in the development and financing of new air defense technology.
According to Bundeswehr Journal, during a visit to the German armaments company MBDA two weeks ago, Seehofer said the army needed German-made weaponry with ''systems capabilities.'' With its high-tech development programs such as MEADS, Seehofer continued, MBDA demonstrated what was possible and what was necessary for the ''sustainable equipping of our army.''
Last April, Rainer Arnold published a document stressing the need ''to secure air defense as a special German focus and make it sustainable, drawing on the results of the MEADS development program.'' Initially, France and the US were involved in MEADS together with Germany and Italy. France, however, withdrew from the project to develop the SAMP/T air defense system. In 2011, the United States announced it would provide no further funding and would continue to rely on the Patriot system.
In a much-publicized speech in early October on the guidelines for Germany's arms exports, Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged that armaments policy be subordinated to German foreign policy and the construction of a powerful army. ''Foreign and security policy must be the starting and end point of a strategy to rearm Germany'--and, wherever possible, Europe,'' he said.
The proposals put forward by Defense Department officials show that the demand for a change in arms policy is not to remain in the sphere of theory. The officials are insisting on a massive increase in defense spending. ''The global security environment requires a rethink about the importance of the Bundeswehr'--also in terms of finance,'' Reuters wrote in its article on the plans advanced by the government.
According to media reports, the Defence Committee of the Bundestag (parliament), which meets in closed session, dealt with the issues of ''defense budget/Section 14, military procurement, defense technology development'' when it convened on October 15 in Berlin. In November, the Budget Committee of the Bundestag will decide on the requests from the Defense Committee.
Recent weeks have seen a torrent of articles in the German press regarding the alleged ''breakdown'' and ''ailing'' condition of the army. This campaign is continuing unabated.
In a recent issue of Handelsblatt, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) and Tom Enders, chief of the Airbus aerospace and defense corporation, blamed one another for the supposed ''armaments disaster.'' In the article, Enders complained that ''in no other major European country'' was the ''antagonism between the defense industry and politics'' so pronounced as in Germany.
Using a host of statistics and quotes, the authors of the article argued for higher military spending. As a prime example, they cited the production and financing history of the Airbus A400M military transporter. The avarice of the defense contractors and the unwillingness of taxpayers to pick up the tab, they claimed, were responsible for the ''equipment deficits.'' The Airbus CEO commented, ''We have accepted conditions we should not have to accept.'' The miserly funding of the project, he charged, had cost Airbus more than '‚¬4 billion.
The conclusion drawn by the Handelsblatt authors was: ''Despite all the blame, both sides know: the Bundeswehr needs money for new equipment as quickly as possible because the old stuff is just rusting away.''
Following the announcement by the German government at the start of the year that the era of military restraint after the Second World War was at an end, the ruling class is agitating aggressively for the Bundeswehr to be transformed into a powerful offensive force capable of realizing Germany's great power ambitions.
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Pamela Brown CNN (journalist) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:48
For other persons named Pamela Brown, see Pamela Brown (disambiguation).
Pamela Ashley Brown (born November 29, 1983), is an American television reporter and newscaster. Brown works as Justice Correspondent for CNN. She formerly worked for ABCWashington, D.C., affiliate WJLA-TV.[1][2][3] Brown occasionally provided the lead-in to "Politico's Video Playback"'--a daily recap of the previous night's U.S. late-night talk shows.
Brown was born in Lexington, Kentucky and is the daughter of businessman and former Governor of KentuckyJohn Y. Brown Jr. and former Miss America and businesswoman Phyllis George. George took maternity leave from her duties on CBS' iconic NFL pregame show, The NFL Today, to give birth to Pamela. She is also the granddaughter of politician John Y. Brown, Sr. and the half-sister of former Kentucky Secretary of StateJohn Y. Brown, III.
Brown graduated from Henry Clay High School in Lexington and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in broadcast journalism. While at the University of North Carolina, Brown was a reporter on the University's Carolina Week.
Brown was named after her aunt, Pamela Brown,[1] who died in 1970 at the age of 28, along with her husband Rod Anderson and balloonist Malcolm Brighton, in an ill-fated attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a Rozi¨re balloon dubbed "The Free Life."[4]
Brown interned for former SenatorHillary Clinton[citation needed] and was one of the initial stockholders of Roadhouse Grill, a Florida-based casual dining restaurant chain co-founded by her father.
References[edit]^ ab"Pamela Ashley Brown". Retrieved 15 October 2013. ^"Pamela Ashley Brown Bio". Retrieved 15 October 2013. ^"Pamela Brown - WJLA Weekend Sunshine". Retrieved 15 October 2013. ^"The Day a Dream From Springs Crashed". The New York Times. January 22, 1995. Retrieved June 11, 2014. External links[edit]PersondataNameBrown, Pamela AshleyAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican Tv reporter/newscasterDate of birthNovember 29, 1983Place of birthDate of deathPlace of death
NYTimes: In Liberia, a Good or Very Bad Sign: Empty Hospital Beds
SUAKOKO, Liberia — For days this month, the ambulances from the Ebola
treatment unit here went out in search of patients, only to return with
just one or two suspected cases. And many times, those people ended up
testing negative for the disease.
are the patients?” an aid worker wondered aloud as colleagues puzzled
over the empty beds at the International Medical Corps treatment unit
here in Bong County, Liberia, which opened in mid-September.
Around the country, treatment centers, laboratory workers who test for Ebola,
and international and national health officials trying to track the
epidemic have noticed an unexpected pattern: There are far fewer people
being treated for Ebola than anticipated.
of Sunday, fewer than half of the 649 treatment beds across the country
were occupied, a surprising change in a nation where patients had long been turned away from Ebola units for lack of space.
Unease Lingers in the Bronx Despite a Boy’s Negative Ebola Test OCT. 28, 2014
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New York’s Ebola Rules to Let Travelers Pick Site for IsolationOCT. 28, 2014
Amber Joy Vinson, Dallas Nurse Treated for Ebola, Is Released From HospitalOCT. 28, 2014
new admissions to treatment centers are dropping or flatlining, the
number of samples being submitted to Ebola laboratories has fallen
significantly, and the percentage of people testing positive for the
disease has dropped as well.
WHO: Ebola decline in Liberia could be real trend | News , World | THE DAILY STAR
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:25
DAKAR, Senegal: The rate of new Ebola infections in Liberia appears to be declining and could represent a genuine trend, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, but the epidemic is far from over.
The disease is still raging in parts of Sierra Leone and there is still a risk that the decline in Liberia won't be sustained, Dr. Bruce Aylward, an assistant director-general for WHO, warned reporters.
Several times in outbreak officials have thought the disease's spread was slowing, only to surge again later. Officials have often blamed those false lulls on cases hidden because people were too afraid to seek treatment, wanted to bury their relatives themselves or simply weren't in contact with authorities.
But now there are some positive signs: There are empty beds in treatment centers in Liberia and the number of burials has declined. There may be as much as a 25 percent week-on-week reduction in cases in Liberia, Aylward said.
Throughout the Ebola outbreak, WHO has warned that its figures have been incomplete and the number of cases are likely vastly underreported. That is still a concern, Aylward said, but the trend nonetheless appears to be real.
"The epidemic (in Liberia) may be slowing down," he said during a telephone press conference from Geneva. The slowdown could be attributable to a rapid increase in safe burials of Ebola victims, an uptick in the number of sick people being isolated and major public awareness campaigns on how to stop transmission.
So far, more than 13,700 people have been sickened in the outbreak, which has hit Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone hardest. More than 6,300 of those are in Liberia alone.
Aylward cautioned against reading too much into the decline, saying that any let-up in the response could allow the disease to surge again.
"Am I hopeful? I'm terrified the information will be misinterpreted and people would start to think, oh great, this is under control," he said. "That's like saying your pet tiger is under control."
Liberia's Red Cross said Tuesday that teams collected 117 bodies last week from the county that includes Monrovia, down from the high of 315 in one week in September, and the government reported last week that only about half of the available beds in treatment centers were occupied.
Others were more reluctant to call the decline a trend.
Ebola outbreaks come in waves, warned Benoit Carpentier, a spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross. Red Cross figures show deaths are still increasing outside Monrovia, he noted.
It's possible that at least some of the decline is because cases are being hidden - a phenomenon that has plagued the response to the outbreak since the beginning, said Ella Watson-Stryker, a health promotion manager for Doctors Without Borders in Liberia.
She said her team has heard of people doing their own burials in order to avoid a government order that Ebola victims in Monrovia be cremated; the government has also cited fear of cremation, a practice deeply at odds with Liberian tradition, as a reason beds are empty in treatment centers. Watson-Stryker added that people may be staying away from such centers because they are still confused about what kind of care is given at them.
However the decline is characterized, Aylward said the response must not relax.
"This hasn't dropped off a cliff. ... There's a huge risk it wouldn't be sustained," said Aylward. "It would be a huge mistake ... to think we can scale down the response."
Instead, experts should redouble their efforts to track all of the people with whom the sick have come into contact - a task that has been nearly impossible in many parts of the outbreak because of the sheer number of infections.
There's also tremendous work still to be done outside Liberia.
The western areas of Sierra Leone, near the capital, have seen a particularly steady increase in cases lately.
On Tuesday night, the government numbers showed 26 new confirmed cases were reported in the country's western districts, which include Freetown, during the previous 24 hours. Similar or higher numbers have been reported every day for those districts in recent days. In Bombali district, in the north, 32 new confirmed cases were reported.
"We are in a crisis situation, which is going to get worse," said Palo Conteh, the newly appointed head of Sierra Leone's national Ebola Response Center. "Ebola is right ahead of us and it is running fast."
He urged areas of the country experiencing increases in cases to follow the example of areas where the disease's spread is declining: avoid contact with the sick, bury the dead properly and seek quick treatment for fevers.
The top U.N. official on Ebola, Anthony Banbury said Wednesday that the tremendous international response was beginning to pay off.
But Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the U.N., called on countries - especially those that had promised aid but not yet delivered - to do more.
"The U.S. is not running away from Ebola but walking toward the burning building," she said, as she urged others to do the same. Power spoke alongside Banbury in Ghana, where the U.N. mission on Ebola has its headquarters.
Associated Press
Patent filing in EU PO
SEX-3 MONTHS-Q&As on Transmission | Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever | CDC
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:38
What are body fluids?Ebola has been detected in blood and many body fluids. Body fluids include saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen.
Can Ebola spread by coughing? By sneezing?Unlike respiratory illnesses like measles or chickenpox, which can be transmitted by virus particles that remain suspended in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola disease. Although coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola, if a symptomatic patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person's eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.
What does ''direct contact'' mean?Direct contact means that body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) have touched someone's eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion.
How long does Ebola live outside the body?Ebola is killed with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach). Ebola on dry surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops, can survive for several hours; however, virus in body fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature.
Are patients who recover from Ebola immune for life? Can they get it again - the same or a different strain?Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and a patient's immune response. Available evidence shows that people who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, possibly longer.
We don't know if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola.
If someone survives Ebola, can he or she still spread the virus?Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. Abstinence from sex (including oral sex) is recommended for at least 3 months. If abstinence is not possible, condoms may help prevent the spread of disease.
Can Ebola be spread through mosquitos?There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to spread and become infected with Ebola virus.
BARDA Leadership Biographies - PHE
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:55
Immediate OfficeRobin Robinson, Ph.D.Director Carol D. Linden, Ph.D.Principal Deputy Director Richard J. Hatchett, M.D.Chief Medical Officer & Deputy Director for Strategic SciencesInfluenza Division'‹ '‹ '‹'‹Division of CBRN Countermeasures '‹Rick BrightActing Director Gary L. Disbrow, Ph.D.Acting DirectorDivision of Diagnostics and Medical Devices Regulatory and Quality Affairs Division Rodney Wallace, B.S.Acting Director Debra Yeskey, Pharm.D.Director'‹Division of Clinical Studies'‹Strategic Science and Technology Division'‹'‹Jo Ellen Schweinle, MD Director'‹'‹'‹'‹Jonathan Seals, Ph.D.Acting DirectorDivision of Analytic Decision Support'‹'‹'‹'‹Timothy Lant, Ph.D.Director'‹'‹'‹'‹ - BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:54
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The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies.
The mission of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is to develop and procure medical countermeasures that address the public health and medical consequences of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) accidents, incidents and attacks, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases. Specifically, BARDA supports the advanced development and procurement of drugs, vaccines and other products that are considered priorities for national health security through its programmatic initiatives.
[+]CORE SERVICESBARDA supports a number of core services to assist the production of required products, in a manner that is timely, reliable and cost effective.
[+]CBRN PROGRAMSThe Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) established BARDA as the focal point within HHS for the advanced development and acquisition of medical countermeasures to protect the American civilian population against CBRN and naturally occurring threats to public health.
[+]PANDEMIC INFLUENZABARDA uses a comprehensive portfolio approach to develop and acquire a broad array of medical countermeasures for pandemic flu, including vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and non-pharmaceutical countermeasures and to build and sustain their domestic manufacturing infrastructure.
[+]INNOVATIONBARDA's Strategic Science and Technology Division helps bring innovation to our programs. The innovation programs identify and support the advancement of platform technologies that enhance capabilities for the development and manufacturing of medical countermeasures that focus on biodefense, pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases.
[+]STOCKPILE BUILDINGCongress seeks to improve our Nation's emergency preparedness with Project BioShield, which provides the government with the ability to develop, acquire, stockpile, and make available the medical countermeasures needed to protect the U.S. population against a public health threat.
BARDA funding and acquisitions bridge the "valley of death" characterizing the late stages of product development. BARDA's support ensures continuity of funding for medical countermeasures developed by industry or emerging from the basic research and preclinical development activities sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In procuring medical countermeasures for the Strategic National Stockpile, BARDA enhances the capabilities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to organize an effective response.
BARDA manages Project BioShield, which includes the procurement and advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, as well as the advanced development and procurement of medical countermeasures for pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases that fall outside the auspices of Project BioShield. In addition, BARDA manages the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) and is a key partner in implementing the PHEMCE strategies.
To learn more about requirements setting for medical countermeasure research and development click here.
PublicationsProject BioShield Annual Report 2013The Project BioShield Act of 2004 [Project BioShield (PBS); Public Law [P.L.] 108-276] amended the Public Health Service (PHS) Act and the Federal Food...PHEMCE Implementation Plan 2012The 2012 Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) Implementation Plan describes the priorities that HHS, in collaboration with its interagency partners...PHEMCE Strategy 2012The U.S. Government has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of its citizens. The American people continue to face a host of national health security threats from chemical, biological...view all publicationsBARDA Project ListingView maps and project details for BARDA projects with work performed inside and outside of the United States.
Industry partners are encouraged to visit the BARDA BAA and sign up for a TechWatch meeting.
BARDA-Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:54
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies.
BARDA manages the procurement and advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, as well as the advanced development and procurement of medical countermeasures for pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases.
Public Concerns with Lack of Transparency[edit]Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has introduced the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005, S1873, that would create a new agency in the Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) to research and develop strategies to combat bio-terrorism and natural diseases. While Congress has created several agencies recently in response to homeland security concerns, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, Burr proposes for the first time ever to completely exempt this new agency from all open government laws.
Neither the CIA nor the Defense Department has such an exemption.
The Freedom of Information Act, however, already includes an exemption for national security information, as well as eight other exemptions ranging from privacy issues to confidential business information and law enforcement investigations. If the public disclosure of information would threaten national security, then the government may withhold the requested information.
"The well-established and time-tested FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) provisions already address Burr's concerns," explains Sean Moulton, OMB Watch senior policy analyst, "thereby making the blanket exemption for BARDA unnecessary and unwise."
Congress established and strengthened FOIA over the years to create a reasonable, consistent level of accountability among government agencies. Under FOIA, when the public requests agency records, the agency is compelled to collect and review the requested information. The only decision for the agency is whether specific records can or can not be released under the law based on the exemptions from disclosure written into the law. However, the Burr legislation reverses the process: it does not require BARDA to collect or review the requests for disclosure.
Instead, the agency can automatically reject requests. Still more troubling, the law prohibits any challenges of determinations by the Director of BARDA or Secretary of HHS, stating that the determination of the Director or Secretary with regards to the decision to withhold information "shall not be subject to judicial review."
Mark Tapscott at the Heritage Foundation writes that "BARDA will essentially be accountable to nobody and can operate without having to worry about troublesome interference from courts or private citizens like you and me."
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the right to authorize mandatory vaccinations and drugging once a state of emergency is implemented.
This new act will exempt pharmaceutical companies from any liability for death or injury as long as their drug or vaccine has been designated as a ''countermeasure.'' - by Michael Kane
(From Wikipedia page on "Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005")
The Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005 (S. 1873), nicknamed "Bioshield Two" and sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), aims shorten the pharmaceutical development process for new vaccines and drugs in case of a pandemic, and to protect vaccine makers and the pharmaceutical industry from legal liability for vaccine injuries.
Much of the support for the bill comes from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and its members. In the 2002 election cycle, PhRMA contributed $3,505,052 to politicians, with 95% going to Republicans. The top recipient in the Senate was the bill's sponsor, Senator Richard Burr, who received $288,684, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Senator Burr said the legislation "creates a true partnership" between the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry and academia to "walk the drug companies through the Valley of Death" in bringing a new vaccine or drug to market.
Exemptions from open records and meetings laws would streamline the development process, safeguard national security and protect the proprietary interests of drug companies, say Republican backers of the bill.[2] Opposition
Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) said "Their plan will protect companies that make ineffective or harmful medicines, and because it does not include compensation for those injured by a vaccine or drug, it will discourage first responders and patients from taking medicines to counter a biological attack or disease outbreak."[3]
Requirements Setting[edit]Medical countermeasure requirements in BARDA provide a solid foundation for establishing advanced development and acquisition programs that support the overarching ASPR mission of reducing the adverse health effects of public health emergencies, including those caused by pandemic influenza, CBRN threat agents and emerging diseases. These requirements are critical to establishing programs to meet our preparedness goals. They also create incentives for industry participation and shape the market for countermeasure products.
Requirements for medical countermeasures for CBRN threats are defined with input from stakeholders across the federal government within the structure of the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE). Once established, these requirements drive BARDA advanced development and acquisition programs, as well as research, development, and acquisition efforts in HHS. CBRN medical countermeasure requirements are consistent with the planning and prioritization expressed in the HHS PHEMCE Implementation Plan for CBRN Threats.[1]
Pandemic Influenza requirements are defined by strategic objectives established in the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza[2] and the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan.[3]
Advanced Research and Development[edit]From its inception, BARDA has been committed to creating a robust and dynamic pipeline of medical countermeasures through advanced development of new and improved medical countermeasures. The goal of medical countermeasure development is to provide multiple product candidates in each program to both account for attrition in medical countermeasure development and to establish multi-product/multi-manufacturer portfolios for sustainability and redundancy.
BARDA medical countermeasures include vaccines, antimicrobial drugs, therapeutic products, diagnostics and non-pharmaceutical medical supplies and devices for public health medical emergencies including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases. BARDA currently has three programs dedicated to overseeing the advanced development of these medical countermeasures: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN); pandemic influenza; and emerging infectious diseases. BARDA's Influenza and Emerging Diseases Division is in the planning phase for its Emerging Infectious disease program. This program will, when stood up, support the advanced development of vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic medical countermeasures that address emerging disease threats.
Integrated National Biodefense Medical Countermeasures Portfolio[edit]Integrated National Biodefense Medical Countermeasure Portfolio ''One-Portfolio Approach.'' The Department of Defense (DoD) and HHS each identify medical countermeasure requirements to address their different missions and focus. DoD's focus is on protecting the armed forces prior to exposure, whereas HHS's focus is on response to threats to the civilian population after exposure in a CBRN event. However, there are areas of common requirements or interest where medical countermeasure candidates, resources and information can be appropriately shared to maximize opportunities for success in the development of medical countermeasures for the highest priority threats. BARDA, in partnership with other HHS and DoD partners, is leading an Integrated National Biodefense Medical Countermeasure Portfolio to leverage resources and programs across the agencies that develop and acquire CBRN medical countermeasures to more effectively address the broad range of common threats and requirements. Members of this Integrated Portfolio include BARDA, biodefense programs in NIAID and other Institutes of NIH, and multiple elements of the DoD Chemical and Biological Defense Program
Stockpiling Programs[edit]The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) established BARDA as the focal point within HHS for the advanced development and acquisition of medical countermeasures to protect the American civilian population against Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) and naturally occurring threats to public health.
BARDA's stockpiling efforts are focused on building reserves of critical countermeasures as they emerge from Advanced Development. Stockpiling contributes to preparedness in two ways:
Stockpiled medical countermeasures directly support readiness, as the stockpiled products can help to mitigate the effects of an event or outbreak.Establishment of the stockpile helps to ready suppliers to meet the increased demands that an event will bring about, becoming practiced in the production and delivery of products.BARDA's acquisitions for the stockpile are not one-time events, complete upon the approval/licensure of a product. Rather, programs are structured to include incremental milestone acquisitions during late stage development, to make available products still in development that may increase preparedness in an event, pending Emergency Use Authorization. Furthermore, we aim to establish stockpiling milestones to address long term commitments post-licensure.
CBRN Stockpiling Programs[edit]In FY 2004, Congress appropriated $5.6 billion to the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund (SRF) to support the Project BioShield goal of acquiring CBRN medical countermeasures over a 10-year period. BARDA has used these funds to support major acquisition programs leading to procurement of medical countermeasures against top priority threats.
Pandemic Influenza Stockpiling Programs[edit]Using funds from the Pandemic Influenza Emergency Supplemental Fund, BARDA is leading the nation toward the vaccine and antiviral stockpile goals for preparedness for pandemic influenza.
Manufacturing and Infrastructure Building[edit]Ensuring the availability of medical countermeasures for public health emergencies is central to BARDA's mission. This includes ensuring that manufacturing infrastructure is sufficient to support the production of required products, in a manner that is timely, reliable and cost effective.
BARDA is taking several approaches to bringing online the necessary infrastructure for medical countermeasure manufacturing. We[who?] are supporting the construction of new facilities as well as retrofitting existing facilities for maximal capacity and flexibility. We are also exploring the use of multiproduct manufacturing facilities to provide flexibility and surge capacity. So that we are able to rapidly provide countermeasures in the dosage forms required for use in the field, we are establishing a network of formulation/fill-finish manufacturers for emergency production and distribution. BARDA is also exploring the creation of centers of excellence for the development and production of non-commercial products, with assistance from industry partners.[citation needed]
Advancing Innovation[edit]The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) charges BARDA to support innovation to reduce the time and cost of medical countermeasures and product advanced research and development. This is to be accomplished through development of technologies that assist the advanced development of countermeasures, investment in research tools and technologies, and research to promote strategic initiatives including rapid diagnostics, broad spectrum antimicrobials, and vaccine manufacturing technologies.
We[who?] see this innovation mandate as an opportunity to work with our partners (including NIH, DoD, CDC, industry, and academia) to create new ways to ''make medical countermeasure better.'' Examples of this approach to innovation could include the development of animal models to support efficacy testing, immune modulation and other broad-spectrum approaches, immunity assessment, and analytical (potency) assays.
An example of innovation from the Pandemic Influenza program is BARDA's Mix and Match study, assessing various combinations of antigens and adjuvants to obtain a more robust immune response. BARDA plans to support similar initiatives, leveraging technology platforms and products from multiple companies. PAHPA provided an important ''antitrust'' authority that is used to facilitate cooperation among companies for whom such cooperation would otherwise be difficult to accomplish.
BARDA's Strategic Science Team helps bring innovation to our programs.[citation needed] This team is the focal point for discussions with the creators of new technologies, ideas, and products.[citation needed] Together with the program managers, they seek ways to integrate innovative science into the development and production of medical countermeasures.[citation needed]
See also[edit]References[edit]^HHS PHEMCE Strategy and Implementation Plan^National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza^HHS Pandemic Influenza PlanExternal links[edit]
BBC News - Ebola: US nurse 'to take legal action' over confinement
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 03:32
26 October 2014Last updated at 22:59 ET A US nurse held in quarantine in New Jersey after treating Ebola patients in West Africa says she will challenge her confinement in a federal court.
Kaci Hickox said she was made to feel like a criminal after returning from Sierra Leone last Friday.
Her lawyer says the case has raised "serious constitutional and civil liberties issues".
The White House and mayor of New York have expressed concerns over new strict quarantine orders in several US states.
The new rules in New York, New Jersey and Illinois require a mandatory 21-day quarantine period for all health workers who have had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa and just returned to the US.
On Sunday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an easing of the quarantine restrictions in his state.
Under the latest guidelines, returning health workers who have displayed no symptoms can return to their homes for the quarantine period, where they will be monitored twice daily. Compensation will be offered for loss of earnings.
Governor Cuomo was later quoted by Reuters as saying that the state wanted to encourage health workers to go to the Ebola outbreak zone.
'Too broad'The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said that all returning US health workers should be "treated like conquering heroes and not stigmatized for the tremendous work that they have done".
She was speaking on the first leg of her tour of the three countries worst hit by the Ebola outbreak: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
More than 10,000 people have contracted the Ebola virus, with 4,922 deaths, according to the World Health Organization's latest figures.
All but 27 of the cases have occurred inside Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
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BBC's Anne Soy: "The world is dealing with two epidemics - the bigger one is that of fear"
Ms Hickox, of medical charity Doctors Without Borders, described the experience of being put into quarantine at Newark airport in New Jersey as "frightening" and a "frenzy of disorganisation".
Her lawyer, Norman Siegel, said her isolation raised civil liberty issues given that she has displayed no Ebola symptoms and did not test positive for the virus.
"We're not going to dispute that the government has, under certain circumstances, the right to issue a quarantine," he said, adding that "the policy is overly broad when applied to her".
But New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended the quarantine measures on Sunday, saying it would "become a national policy sooner rather than later".
Revised regulationsNew York Mayor Bill de Blasio has described Ms Hickox as a "returning hero", but said that she had been "treated with disrespect" when put into quarantine.
"We owe her better than that and all the people better than that," he told reporters outside New York's Bellevue Hospital, where an American doctor, Craig Spencer, is being treated for the virus.
The stricter measures were put in place after Dr Spencer tested positive for Ebola on his return from Guinea last week and unwittingly moved around the city before the symptoms developed.
The White House has warned that such restrictions could put off aid workers and others travelling to West Africa to help mitigate the crisis at its source.
Meanwhile, the US ambassador to the UN criticised the level of international support for nations hit by Ebola.
Some nations who had offered backing "haven't taken responsibility yet" in supplying aid and doctors, Samantha Power said shortly before arriving in Guinea.
Ms Power last week said the international community "isn't just losing the race to Ebola. We are getting lapped", and even praised Cuba - under a US embargo for decades - for its supply of doctors to Sierra Leone.
The US has pledged 4,000 troops to build hospitals and to train health workers in West Africa, some 600 of whom have already arrived.
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How Ebola survivors' blood is saving lives
Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva Fatality rate can reach 90% - but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70% No proven vaccine or cure Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus's natural host Ebola special report
Anne Hathaway Refuses To Shake Argentinian Journalist's Hand Because She Was 'Afraid Of Ebola'
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:28
Anne Hathaway just gave more fuel to the Hatha-haters.
An Argentinian journalist flew to Los Angeles to attend a screening of the star's new movie, Interstellar, and was snubbed because the actress was afraid she would catch Ebola.
Each one of the film's stars shook Alexis Puig's hand after he interviewed them '' everyone except Hathaway, that is. The offended journalist took to Twitter to air his grievances against the Oscar winner.
Puig tweeted, ''Anne Hathaway no me dio la mano 'por miedo al ebola' #soyunperiodistadeltercermundo,'' which translates to ''Anne Hathaway didn't shake my hand because she was she was afraid of ebola #I'mAThirdWorldJournalist.''
See TWEET on
Soon after, Puig followed up with a tweet describing how Interstellar's other A-list cast members were more than gracious. Instead of rebuffing the journalist, they embraced him. He tweeted, ''Christopher Nolan, Matthew McConaughey y Jessica Chastain estuvieron geniales en las entrevistas (y ninguno me nego la mano) Toma Anne!''
Translation: ''Christopher Nolan, Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain were genial in the interviews (and none of them denied me their hands). Take that, Anne!''
So far, no cases of Ebola have been reported in Argentina. When Puig returned to Argentina, he turned to Twitter once more to give the Les Miserables actress another jab. He posted, ''Gracias a todos por sus comentarios. Por suerte ya estoy en Buenos Aires, Argentina (ciudad y pa­s libre de Ebola) '...y por casa Anne?,'' which translates to, ''Thank you to everyone for your comments. Luckily I'm already in Buenos Aires, Argentina (city and country free of Ebola)'...and at home Anne?''
What do you think of Anne Hathaway's snub? Sound off in the comments below!
Australia: No immigration from Ebola nations - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:36
Australia has suspended migration from Ebola-hit West African nations to try to prevent the virus from crossing its borders, as a teenager who arrived from Guinea tested negative for the disease.
Immigration minister, Scott Morrison, told parliament on Monday that the government had stopped issuing visas to people from those countries hit by the disease, which has killed close to 5,000 lives in its worst outbreak, with over 10,000 cases .
"These measures include temporarily suspending our immigration programme, including our humanitarian programme, from EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) affected countries," he said.
"This means we are not processing any application from these affected countries."
People who had already been granted visas on humanitarian grounds would be able to travel to Australia, but would be subject to three separate health checks before departure as well as screening on arrival.
But officials would cancel and refuse non-permanent or temporary visas for people who had not yet departed for Australia, Morrison said, according to a report from the AFP news agency.
All tests negative
The restrictions came as an 18-year-old girl who arrived in Australia from Guinea 12 days ago with eight relatives remained in isolation in a Queensland hospital after testing negative for Ebola, authorities said.
The teenager - who was moving to Australia permanently on a humanitarian visa - had been under home quarantine in Brisbane before she developed a raised temperature and was placed in isolation at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital on Sunday.
Queensland's chief health officer, Jeannette Young, announced the negative results on Monday and told reporters "she now has no fever, which is a really good sign".
The girl, whose name and nationality were not released, was the 12th person tested for Ebola in Australia, health minister, Peter Dutton, said. All have tested negative.
Three other families who arrived recently in Queensland from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the vast majority of Ebola cases have occurred, are in home quarantine and being monitored by health officials, Young added.
Morrison called on Australians and other travellers to inform immigration officials about their travel history when they enter the country, "if you have been in West Africa up to 21 days prior to your arrival".
BREAKING: Ebola Nurse's Ties to CDC Scrubbed From Website '' Is Far Left Progressive & Obama Supporter | The Gateway Pundit
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:00
Well, what a surprise!Quarantined Ebola Nurse, Kaci Hickox is a card carrying Progressive and CDC EIS Officer.
The Ebola nurse who attacked Governor Christie for putting her in quarantine after returning from Africa is a Progressive with ties to the CDC.
Her LinkedIn profile was scrubbed this weekend.Natural News reported:
Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey over her high risk status as a possible Ebola carrier, has ties to the CDC which have been deliberately hidden by the mainstream media.
Right now, a war is waging between states like New Jersey, New York and Illinois '-- which have all decided to quarantine travelers at high risk of Ebola infections '-- and the federal government which is adamantly opposed to border security, medical quarantines and travel bans.
Kaci Hickox emerged in the center of this debate just yesterday when she complained of being ''interrogated'' and held in violation of her civil rights. Kaci's profile, which described her links to the CDC, was scrubbed from the web earlier today, and even Google cache has strangely been cleared of her profile which previously detailed her ties to the CDC.
The now-famous article [1] which published Hickox's complaints failed to mention the nurse's ties to the CDC.
It turns out that Kaci Hickox is a registered democrat and Obama supporter who works for the CDC. ''The nurse currently quarantined in New Jersey is an employee for the Centers for Disease Control and a registered Democrat with a history of left-wing advocacy,'' reports
Here's a look at Kaci Hickox's LinkedIn account before it was scrubbed clean.Kaci's LinkedIn account has suddenly been expunged but not before Fire Andrea Mitchell was able to procure a screenshot.
GotNews has more on the outspoken Christie critic.
Kaci Hickox's ties to the CDC were not disclosed in a controversial anti-quarantine column she wrote for the Dallas Morning News. The CDC opposes quarantines or travel bans from Ebola infected countries.
Initially turned down for Doctors Without Borders, Hickox applied for a position with the Centers for Disease Control's infectious disease unit. She received that position and began a two-year fellowship in Las Vegas, NV where she currently still works.
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Johnson & Johnson Announces Major Commitment to Speed Ebola Vaccine Development and Significantly Expand Production | Johnson & Johnson
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:58
New Brunswick, N.J., (Oct. 22, 2014) '' Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) today announced that it has made a commitment of up to $200 million to accelerate and significantly expand the production of an Ebola vaccine program in development at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. The company is closely collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as well as other key stakeholders, governments, and public health authorities on the clinical testing, development, production and distribution of the vaccine regimen.
The vaccine regimen, which was discovered in a collaborative research program with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), combines a Janssen preventative vaccine with a vaccine from Bavarian Nordic, a biotechnology company based in Denmark. This combination vaccine regimen has shown promising results in preclinical studies, and is now planned to be tested for safety and immunogenicity in healthy volunteers in Europe, the United States of America and Africa starting in early January. Janssen is targeting production of more than one million doses of the vaccine regimen in 2015, 250,000 of which are expected to be released for broad application in clinical trials by May 2015.
The regimen consists of two vaccine components that are based on AdVac® technology from Crucell Holland B.V., which is part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, and the MVA-BN® technology from Bavarian Nordic. The research collaboration for a monovalent vaccine targeting the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus is part of an ongoing development program for a multivalent vaccine against other virus strains that cause disease in humans, including Ebola and Marburg viruses.
As part of an overall commitment to advance innovations that address unmet medical needs worldwide, a team of dedicated experts has been assigned to focus on bringing this preventative vaccine to people in need. The commitment by Johnson & Johnson includes an equity investment in Bavarian Nordic to provide capital for the development, testing and production of Bavarian Nordic's vaccine. Janssen will take the lead in funding and developing both components of the combination vaccine regimen.
''We are urgently working to provide our vaccine expertise, production capabilities, our people and resources to address the Ebola crisis,'' said Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson. ''Our innovation model enables us to quickly mobilize our extensive resources to collaborate with health authorities and governments and other experts to help contain this disease, save lives, and protect the health and lives of those at risk. We have an important responsibility as a leading global healthcare company to do all we can to address this urgent unmet medical need."
''Our goal to produce more than a million vaccines in the next few months is within reach,'' says Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson and Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals. ''Ebola is a significant and growing threat to the people of West Africa and it has the potential to impact people around the world. We are committed to bringing our science, technology, innovation and resources to help prevent and treat this deadly disease.''
''In preclinical testing conducted in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, the combination vaccine regimen has shown complete protection against Ebola,'' said Johan Van Hoof, M.D., Global Head, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Janssen. ''Using our PER.C6® high density cell production technology, we have been able to produce large quantities of the Janssen component of the vaccine regimen in testing batches, and we have already started production toward our goal to have these vaccines available for clinical testing in the next several months.''
In September, Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic first announced they would fast-track the development and clinical testing of the vaccine program, which features a prime-boost regimen in which one vector is used to prime and the other to boost the immune response.
The program has received direct funding from, and is also using, preclinical services from the NIAID, part of NIH under Contract Numbers HHSN272200800056C, HHSN272201000006I and HHSN272201200003I. Preclinical experiments conducted at the NIH of the combination vaccine regimen demonstrated that when both vaccines were administered two months apart, complete protection was achieved against the Kikwit Zaire strain of Ebola, which is highly similar to the virus that is the cause of the current outbreak in Western Africa.
The emergence of Ebola in West Africa has strained the health care systems of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The company's long tradition of disaster response has prompted support of Direct Relief International's efforts in this area as well as the efforts of other relief organizations. Johnson & Johnson is also participating in the ongoing efforts by public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO, to mount a coordinated world response to address the immediate needs raised by the Ebola outbreak. The company is also seeking to secure additional partners and resources to assist in its efforts to increase vaccine production and further speed up the clinical trial program.
About EbolaThe Ebola virus belongs to a virus family called Filoviridae and can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates. Ebola has a mortality rate ranging from 50% to 90% according to the World Health Organization. The virus is highly prioritized by the U.S. Government, who has defined the virus as a ''Category A'' agent, due to its high mortality rate. Currently, no licensed vaccine, treatment or cure exists for this disease.
About Johnson & JohnsonCaring for the world one person at a time inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science - bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our approximately 126,000 employees at more than 270 Johnson & Johnson operating companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world.
About CrucellCrucell is part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and is focused on research, development and production of vaccines, proteins and antibodies that prevent and/or treat infectious diseases. Crucell is a major supplier of vaccines to UNICEF and the developing world. Crucell was the first manufacturer to launch a fully-liquid pentavalent vaccine named QUINVAXEM®. With this innovation, Crucell has become a major partner in protecting children in developing countries against major infectious diseases. Crucell has a broad development pipeline, with several product candidates based on its unique AdVac® and/or PER.C6® production technology.
About the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & JohnsonAt Janssen, we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in infectious diseases and vaccines, oncology, immunology, neuroscience, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people throughout the world.
Note on Forward Looking Statements
(This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including regarding product development and production. The reader is cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations of future events. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or known or unknown risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results could vary materially from the expectations and projections of Crucell Holland B.V., any of the other Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies and/or Johnson & Johnson. Risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, challenges and uncertainties inherent in product development, including the uncertainties of clinical success and the timeline for the availability of a potential vaccine against Ebola, and the risks and uncertainties involved in large-scale production of a vaccine. A further list and description of these risks, uncertainties and other factors can be found in Johnson & Johnson's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2013, including in Exhibit 99 thereto, and the company's subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Copies of these filings are available online, on request from Johnson & Johnson. None of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies nor Johnson & Johnson undertake to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events or developments.)
Press Contacts:Ernie Knewitz+1 (732) 524-6623+1 (917) 697-2318
Seema Kumar+1(908) 405-1144
Investor Contacts:Louise Mehrotra+1(732) 524-6491
Stan Panasewicz+1(732) 524-2524
Hyperboria - CJDNS
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 21:19
A global decentralized alternative to the internet.
Hyperboria is a global decentralized network of "nodes" running cjdns software. The goal of Hyperboria is to provide an alternative to the internet with the principles of security, scalability and decentralization at the core. Anyone can participate in the network by locating a peer that is already connected.
Install cjdns
Get Ready for a Netflix Price Hike | TIME
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 02:06
TIMEBusinesstechnologyGet Ready for a Netflix Price HikeStreaming service Netflix announced plans to increase its price after a quarterly earnings report showed that profits edged out analyst estimates. The news of a price hike comes as Netflix continues to add new subscribers at a rapid paceNetflix is planning to raise its prices, the company revealed in a quarterly earnings report today. The price hike, which the company says will amount to $1 or $2 per month, will take place sometime from April to June. The increase will only affect new members for now. Netflix says current members will be able to keep their current plans for one to two years.
The company is being rightly cautious in increasing subscription rates. Its 2011 attempt to generate more revenue by separating its DVD-by-mail and streaming services into separate businesses was disastrous for Netflix's brand and its stock price. Since then the company has earned back credibility with customers by bankrolling a growing stable of original shows and inking licensing deals with big entertainment companies like Disney. But this content comes at a great cost '-- Netflix will spend almost $3 billion licensing shows and movies this year. The company needs both more subscribers and more revenue per subscriber to keep its business profitable as acquisition costs soar.
''If we want to continue to expand to do more great original content, more series, more movies, we have to eventually increase prices a little bit,'' CEO Reed Hastings said in a video conference with analysts. ''You're talking about a dollar or two difference per month, so I don't think that it's a huge difference.''
The news of a price hike comes as Netflix continues to add new subscribers at a rapid pace. The company added 4 million new members in the first quarter of 2014, bringing its total subscriber base to more than 48 million globally. The additions were above Netflix's guidance of 3.85 million new members for the quarter thanks to a surge in international subscriptions. Netflix generated $1.27 billion in revenue for the quarter, in line with analyst estimates. Net income was $53 million, topping $3 million in the first quarter of 2013. Earnings were 86 per share, beating analyst targets by 3.
Netflix also used its earnings report to formally oppose the planned merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast that is currently under scrutiny from federal regulators. The online video service recently reached a deal to pay Comcast for a direct connection to its broadband network in order to ensure faster streaming speeds for its users. But the company has publicly complained that this type of paid-peering agreement is unfair and violates the principles of net neutrality (broadband providers feel different). Netflix fears a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which would serve about 60% of U.S. broadband households, would be able to charge even more for such fees. ''Comcast is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix,'' the company wrote in a letter to shareholders. ''The combined company would possess even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers.''
The company continues to be coy in revealing precise viewership numbers for its expensive original shows, allowing only that Season 2 of House of Cards attracted ''a huge audience that would make any cable or broadcast network happy,'' according to Netflix's shareholder letter. Chief content officer Ted Sarandos also confirmed that Orange Is the New Black remains the most popular original show on the streaming service.
Netflix stock jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading. It's still down significantly from its all-time high of $458 in early March as part of an overall decline in the tech sector over the past month.
Twitter's shares tumble on widening loss, disappointing forecast
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:20
Twitter's third-quarter revenue more than doubled to $361 million, thanks to a big jump in ad sales. Here are the key points of Twitter's third-quarter earnings report.
What you need to know: Twitter's TWTR shares fell more than 8% in after-hours trading on Monday after the company reported financial results more or less in line with Wall Street predictions. While Twitter more than doubled its revenue, the company's losses widened to $175.5 million from nearly $65 million during the same quarter last year. Twitter lost 29 cents per share, however, compared with losses of 48 cents a share last year.
Twitter's monthly active users grew by about 23% year-over-year to hit 284 million after the company reached 271 million in the second quarter. Mobile users accounted for about 80% of Twitter's total monthly active users during the quarter, or about 227 million, up from roughly 211 million in the second quarter. Timeline views also improved by 14%, to 181 billion, over the same quarter last year.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo called the third quarter ''another very strong financial quarter'' in the company's earnings release. ''I'm confident in our ability to build the largest daily audience in the world, over time, by strengthening the core, reducing barriers to consumption and building new apps and services,'' he said.
The big number: Twitter's increased monthly active user numbers helped the company post a 109% bump in advertising revenue to $320 million. Mobile ad sales made up the bulk, accounting for 85% of Twitter's overall ad sales. The company was also able to improve on its second-quarter ad sales figures, when Twitter reported $277 million in total advertising revenue.
What you might have missed: Twitter revised its full-year earnings forecast, with the company now expecting 2014 revenues between $1.365 million and $1.375 million after previously predicting sales as high as $1.33 million. Twitter expects sales of at least $440 million in the fourth quarter.
CurrentC Hacked - Business Insider
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:25
Here's a bad sign for CurrentC, the fledgling mobile payment system in development by a consortium of retailers.
CurrentC is sending emails to people who signed up for the beta version of the app warning them "that unauthorized third parties obtained the e-mail addresses of some of you."
It doesn't sound as if it's the worst breach in the world, but it's definitely not good for CurrentC, which is just getting started.
CurrentC is in the news this week because of Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payment system for the iPhone 6.
CurrentC is backed by MCX, the Merchants Consumer Exchange, which is a group of retailers trying to create a mobile payment system. It is being spearheaded by Wal-Mart.
The idea behind CurrentC is for retailers to have lots of data on what their customers are doing. They also want to cut down on the fees of 2% to 3% that retailers are paying to credit-card companies. CurrentC connects directly to your bank account, bypassing the need to use credit cards.
The retailers in MCX are not accepting any other mobile payments, including Apple Pay.
A PR rep for CurrentC confirmed the email saying:
Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the e-mail addresses of some of our CurrentC pilot program participants and individuals who had expressed interest in the app. Many of these email addresses are dummy accounts used for testing purposes only. The CurrentC app itself was not affected.
We have notified our merchant partners about this incident and directly communicated with each of the individuals whose email addresses were involved. We take the security of our users' information extremely seriously. MCX is continuing to investigate this situation and will provide updates as necessary.
It's good for CurrentC that its app wasn't compromised, and in reality, identifying one's email address is not that big of a deal.
However, it's embarrassing because Wal-Mart previously told us it wasn't supporting Apple Pay because, "Ultimately, what matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted, secure, and developed with their best interests in mind."
Before CurrentC sent out its warning, MCX's CEO Dekkers Davidson responded to the controversy surrounding Apple Pay. He highlighted the privacy of CurrentC:
Consumers' privacy and data security are our top priorities. CurrentC will empower consumers and merchants to make informed decisions regarding how information can be shared through our privacy dashboard. Because we have a number of merchants that have pharmacies, MCX may end up interacting with limited information in the course of processing payments such as location and transaction amount. As a result, MCX is bound by law to adhere to strict rules regarding the privacy of consumers' information. Our compliance with this law is required by HIPAA. CurrentC does not collect any information from any other apps, or health information stored in the mobile device. The CurrentC privacy policy provides extensive details about the application's information collection, use, sharing and retention practices and we will continue to be transparent about it.
But in this case, hackers were able get private email addresses of CurrentC users.
AP News : Russian rocket engines suspected in launch blast
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:01
By BROCK VERGAKIS and MARCIA DUNNPublished: 21 minutes agoCHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (AP) - Crews searched for scorched wreckage along the Virginia coast Wednesday in hopes of figuring out why an unmanned commercial rocket exploded in a blow to NASA's strategy of using private companies to fly supplies and, eventually, astronauts to the International Space Station.
The 140-foot Antares rocket, operated by Orbital Sciences Corp., blew up 15 seconds after lifting off for the space station Tuesday, lighting up the night sky and raining flaming debris on the launch site. No one was injured, but the $200 million-plus mission was a total loss.
The blast not only incinerated the cargo - 2½ tons of space station food, clothes, equipment and science experiments dreamed up by schoolchildren - but dealt a setback to the commercial spaceflight effort championed by NASA and the White House even before the shuttle was retired.
It was the first failure after an unbroken string of successful commercial cargo flights to the space station since 2012 - three by Orbital and five by SpaceX, the other U.S. company hired by NASA to deliver supplies.
Although the cause of the blast is still unknown, several outside experts cast suspicion on the 1960s-era Russian-built engines used in the rocket's first stage. Orbital Sciences chairman David Thompson himself said the Russian engines had presented "some serious technical and supply challenges in the past."
He said he expects the investigation to zero in on the cause within a week or so. The launch pad on Wallops Island appeared to have been spared major damage.
As for launching again, Thompson said he expects a delay of at least three months in the company's next flight to the space station, which had been set for April.
"We are certainly disappointed by this failure, but in no way are we discouraged or dissuaded from our objectives," he told investors in a phone conference.
Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, who helped spearhead the commercial cargo effort, noted that the Antares rocket was still in development. He and others associated with the space agency went into the program knowing that failures were likely.
"It's obviously tragic and upsetting, but we'll move on," Griffin told The Associated Press.
In another few years, NASA hopes to launch astronauts again from U.S. soil - aboard commercially supplied spacecraft.
Orbital Sciences has never intended to fly anything more for NASA than cargo. The political fallout from the blast is more likely to affect SpaceX and Boeing, both of which are under NASA contract to fly Americans to the space station by 2017.
"We can't allow the one incident of the Antares vehicle loss to smear space commercialization in Washington and on the Hill," Boston-based space analyst Charles Lurio said in an email.
The mood was somber 260 miles up, according to space station astronaut Butch Wilmore. He and his five crewmates were watching a live video feed of the launch and saw the whole thing.
"It's a great loss," Wilmore said, quickly adding that the station pantry contains four to six months' worth of food and that there is plenty of research to go around.
Debris - potentially hazardous because of fuel - plummeted into the Atlantic and onto the launch site, igniting fires. Helicopters took to the air at first light Wednesday to track down remnants. Authorities warned people to avoid touching any debris that might wash ashore.
Ash and other debris covered Chrissy Mullen's house, patio and yard on Chincoteague Island a few miles away. She spent the morning cleaning up.
"We thought it was raining, but then we're getting particles out of our hair," she said. "The ash, the debris that was hitting our head was a little freaky."
Carolyn Dalton watched the launch from the mainland while chaperoning four middle-school students from Colleton County, South Carolina, who had a milk-spoiling experiment aboard the rocket.
"People were screaming, people were crying, people were in shock," Dalton said.
Just hours after the accident, Russia launched a supply ship from Kazakhstan on a previously scheduled flight to the space station, and it docked smoothly. Another load of supplies should be on the way in December, delivered by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA is paying $1.9 billion to Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences for eight cargo hauls and $1.6 billion to California's SpaceX for 12 shipments. Tuesday's flight was insured.
Even before Tuesday's failure, Orbital Sciences had been reviewing alternatives to the Russian-made engines, Thompson said. The company recently had selected a different main propulsion system for use in a couple of years, and the switch may be accelerated if the Russian engines prove to be the culprit, he said.
The AJ26 engines - modified and tested in the U.S. - originally were designed for the massive Soviet rockets meant to take cosmonauts to the moon during the late 1960s.
Three years ago, an AJ26 leaked kerosene fuel and ignited on the test stand at a NASA center in Mississippi. Just this past May, another of the engines exploded during a test firing there.
In 2012, SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk, called the Antares rocket "a punchline to a joke" because of the Russian engines. SpaceX, by contrast, makes its own rocket parts.
"I mean they start with engines that were literally made in the '60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere," Musk said in an interview with Wired magazine.
Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this story. Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Orbital Sciences:
Google's Page, Virgin's Branson backed satellite on failed launch | Reuters
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:55
By Alwyn Scott and Bill Rigby
NEW YORK/SEATTLEWed Oct 29, 2014 5:21pm EDT
An unmanned Antares rocket is seen exploding seconds after lift off from a commercial launch pad in this still image from NASA video at Wallops Island, Virginia October 28, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/NASA TV/Handout via Reuters
NEW YORK/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Billionaire investors in a small, Seattle-area company that aims to one day mine resources on asteroids have not been deterred by an unmanned rocket explosion that destroyed their test satellite, the company said on Wednesday.
Privately held Planetary Resources counts Google Inc Chief Executive and co-founder Larry Page and Chairman Eric Schmidt among its backers, along with Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Ross Perot Jr., former Microsoft Corp executive Charles Simonyi and John Whitehead, the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
"Everyone knows what we are doing is audacious; if we didn't have some failures now and then it would be stunning," said Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer at Planetary Resources.
"Fortunately we have got some very supportive and visionary investors," he said. "They know we're in this for the long run and we've already moved on to the next thing."
The Redmond, Washington-based company makes a profit from technology contracts with NASA and other private customers, involving propulsion and instruments, Lewicki said.
It plans to eventually extract water, fuel and minerals from asteroids near Earth. But as an interim step, it is developing small satellites with miniature sensors that can communicate with Earth to test its technology.
Rather than using dedicated launch vehicles that can cost millions per launch, Planetary Resources satellites are small enough "to hitch a ride into space with larger, primary payloads," the company said.
That's how the Arkyd 3, a 12-inch by 4-inch unit weighing 10 pounds, came to be aboard the Antares rocket that exploded on Tuesday.
The rocket was built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp and was mainly intended to carry a Cygnus cargo ship with supplies for the International Space Station.
Lewicki said Arkyd 3 was insured, but he declined to give details.
In any case, the setback will not affect the development of its next satellite, known as the Arkyd 6, which has been in development for several months and will be about twice as large as Arkyd 3, he said.
The company achieved "most of our objectives" with Arkyd 3, the company said.
Arkyd 6 is scheduled for launch in the third quarter of next year, and Planetary Resources will use Spaceflight Services Inc of Tukwila, Washington, to configure the ride on a commercial launch vehicle in the United States.
A6 is an "engineering demonstrator" that will orbit earth and is designed to test software, computing systems and the satellite's ability to know where it is pointed and to maneuver, Lewicki said.
Eventually, he added, the company plans to create the Arkyd 300 Series Rendezvous Prospector, which will actually orbit target asteroids.
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott and Bill Rigby; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Bernard Orr)
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Tim Cook: "I'm Proud to be Gay" - Businessweek
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:30
Throughout my professional life, I've tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don't seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.
At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: ''Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?''‰'' I often challenge myself with that question, and I've come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That's what has led me to today.
For years, I've been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I'm gay, and it doesn't seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I've had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people's differences. Not everyone is so lucky.
While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It's made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It's been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple.
The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.
I don't consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I've benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy.
I'll admit that this wasn't an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I'd like to hold on to a small amount of it. I've made Apple my life's work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be. That's what our employees deserve'--and our customers, developers, shareholders, and supplier partners deserve it, too. Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one's sexuality, race, or gender. I'm an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I'm best suited for and the work that brings me joy.
The company I am so fortunate to lead has long advocated for human rights and equality for all. We've taken a strong stand in support of a workplace equality bill before Congress, just as we stood for marriage equality in our home state of California. And we spoke up in Arizona when that state's legislature passed a discriminatory bill targeting the gay community. We'll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up.
When I arrive in my office each morning, I'm greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don't pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I'm doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.
IBM News room - 2014-10-29 Twitter and IBM Form Global Partnership to Transform Enterprise Decisions - United States
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:49
SAN FRANCISCO and ARMONK, NY - 29 Oct 2014: Twitter and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a landmark partnership that will help transform how businesses and institutions understand their customers, markets and trends '' and inform every business decision. The alliance brings together Twitter data that distinctively represents the public pulse of the planet with IBM's industry-leading cloud-based analytics, customer engagement platforms, and consulting services.
The collaboration will focus on three areas: Integration of Twitter data with IBM analytics services on the cloud: IBM plans to offer Twitter data as part of select cloud-based services, including IBM Watson Analytics, a new cognitive service in the palm of your hand that brings intuitive visualization and predictive capabilities to business users; and a cloud-based data refinery service that enables application developers to embed data services in applications. Entrepreneurs and software developers will also be able to integrate Twitter data into new cloud services they are building with IBM's Watson Developer Cloud or IBM Bluemix platform-as-a-service.
New data-intensive capabilities for the enterprise: IBM and Twitter will deliver a set of enterprise applications to help improve business decisions across industries and professions. The first joint solution will integrate Twitter data with IBM ExperienceOne customer engagement solutions, allowing sales, marketing, and customer service professionals to map sentiment and behavior to better engage and support their customers.
Specialized enterprise consulting: IBM Global Business Services professionals will have access to Twitter data to enrich consulting services for clients across business. Additionally, IBM and Twitter will collaborate to develop unique solutions for specific industries such as banking, consumer products, retail, and travel and transportation. The partnership will draw upon the skills of tens of thousands of IBM Global Business Services consultants and application professionals including consultants from the industry's only integrated Strategy and Analytics practice, and IBM Interactive Experience, the world's largest digital agency.
''Twitter provides a powerful new lens through which to look at the world '' as both a platform for hundreds of millions of consumers and business professionals, and as a synthesizer of trends,'' said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO. ''This partnership, drawing on IBM's leading cloud-based analytics platform, will help clients enrich business decisions with an entirely new class of data. This is the latest example of how IBM is reimagining work.''
''When it comes to enterprise transformation, IBM is an undisputed global leader in enabling companies to take advantage of emerging technologies and platforms,'' said Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO. ''This important partnership with IBM will change the way business decisions are made '' from identifying emerging market opportunities to better engaging clients, partners and employees.''
With the development of new solutions to improve business decisions across industries and professions, IBM and Twitter will be able to enrich existing enterprise data streams to improve business decisions. For example, the integration of social data with enterprise data can help accelerate product development by predicting long-term trends or drive real-time demand forecasting based on real-time situations like weather patterns.
"IBM brings a unique combination of cloud-based analytics solutions and a global services team that can help companies utilize this truly unique data," said Chris Moody, Vice President of Twitter Data Strategy. "Companies have had successes with Twitter data '' from manufacturers more effectively managing inventory to consumer electronic companies doing rapid product development. This partnership with IBM will allow faster innovation across a broader range of use cases at scale.''
IBM has established the world's deepest portfolio in big data and analytics consulting and technology expertise based on experiences drawn from more than 40,000 data and analytics client engagements. This analytics portfolio spans research and development, solutions, software and hardware, and includes more than 15,000 analytics consultants, 4,000 analytics patents, 6,000 industry solution business partners, and 400 IBM mathematicians who are helping clients use big data to transform their organizations.
For more information regarding the new Twitter and IBM collaboration, please visit or, and follow the conversation at #IBMandTwitter.
Packet Equality
Yep, Internet Providers Were Throttling Traffic During Netflix Negotiations | Crooks and Liars
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:50
Plenty of Comcast and Verizon customers know just how bad Internet service was on major ISPs during the months-long battle over who should pay to deliver Netflix traffic.
But now we have more numbers on the performance declines, thanks to a new report from the Measurement Lab Consortium (M-Lab). M-Lab hosts measuring equipment at Internet exchange points to analyze connections between network operators and has more than five years' worth of measurements. A report released today examines connections between consumer Internet service providers ("Access ISPs" in M-Lab parlance) and backbone operators ("Transit ISPs"), including the ones that sent traffic from Netflix to ISPs while the money fights were still going on.Netflix eventually agreed to pay Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T for direct connections to their networks, but until that happened there was severe degradation in links carrying traffic from Netflix and many other Web services to consumers.
Connections were particularly bad between ISPs and Cogent, one of the backbone operators that Netflix paid to carry its traffic.
"Using Measurement Lab (M-Lab) data, and constraining our research to the United States, we observed sustained performance degradation experienced by customers of Access ISPs AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon when their traffic passed over interconnections with Transit ISPs Cogent Communications (Cogent), Level 3 Communications (Level 3), and XO Communications (XO)," researchers wrote.
"In a large number of cases we observed similar patterns of performance degradation whenever and wherever specific pairs of Access/Transit ISPs interconnected. From this we conclude that ISP interconnection has a substantial impact on consumer internet performance'--sometimes a severely negative impact'--and that business relationships between ISPs, and not major technical problems, are at the root of the problems we observed.
"M-Lab was founded by the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, Google, and academic researchers. M-Lab made its full dataset available online and encouraged further research.
New Yorkers suffered mostWhile M-Lab observed degraded performance across the country, the worst it found was in the New York City connections between Cogent and ISPs. Cogent exchanges traffic with ISPs without payment, but the ISPs demanded money when Cogent was sending more traffic than it received. The dispute continued until Netflix started delivering traffic to ISPs directly, taking the stress off Cogent's connections with ISPs.
Keep Hollywood Streaming OFF THE NET
Tech Transitions, Video, and the Future |
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:00
Consumers have long complained about how their cable service forces them to buy channels they never watch. The move of video onto the Internet can do something about that frustration '' but first Internet video services need access to the programs. Today the FCC takes the first step to open access to cable programs as well as local television. The result should be to give consumers more alternatives from which to choose so they can buy the programs they want.
In 1992 Congress realized that the then-nascent satellite industry would have a hard time competing because much cable programming was owned by cable companies who frequently kept it from competitors. Congress mandated access to cable channels for satellite services, and competition flourished. Today I am proposing to extend the same concept to the providers of linear, Internet-based services; to encourage new video alternatives by opening up access to content previously locked on cable channels. What could these over-the-top video providers (OTTs) supply to consumers? Many different kinds of multichannel video packages designed for different tastes and preferences. A better ability for a consumer to order the channels he or she wants to watch.
So-called linear channels, which offer the viewer a prescheduled lineup of programs, have been the largely exclusive purview of over-the-air broadcasting, cable, and satellite TV. But these kinds of packages of programming are coming to the Web as well. DISH has said that it intends to launch an online service that may include smaller programming bundles. And it has already begun offering foreign language channels online. Sony, DIRECTV, and Verizon are also in the hunt. Recently, CBS announced a streaming service that includes linear channels, separate from cable subscriptions; and the new HBO service may as well.
The mantra ''Competition, Competition, Competition'' fits perfectly with consumers' desires for video choices. That's why I'm asking my fellow Commissioners to update video competition rules so our rules won't act as a barrier to this kind of innovation. Specifically, I am asking the Commission to start a rulemaking proceeding in which we would modernize our interpretation of the term ''multichannel video programming distributor'' (MVPD) so that it is technology-neutral. The result of this technical adjustment will be to give MVPDs that use the Internet (or any other method of transmission) the same access to programming owned by cable operators and the same ability to negotiate to carry broadcast TV stations that Congress gave to satellite systems in order to ensure competitive video markets.
A key component of rules that spur competition is assuring the FCC's rules are technology-neutral. That's why the definition of an MVPD should turn on the services that a provider offers, not on how those services reach viewers. Twenty-first century consumers shouldn't be shackled to rules that only recognize 20th century technology.
Much of the focus of discussion about technology transitions has been on telecommunications, but video is transitioning too. Over-the-air TV has already moved from analog to digital transmission. And cable systems '' already the dominant providers of high speed broadband '' are moving their traditional services to IP-based delivery. This proposal recognizes that a cable system would continue to be regulated as a cable system, even if it migrates to IP delivery.
The Commission established in our January Tech Transitions Order that the best way to speed the adoption of new technologies is to assure consumers that enduring values will be protected, including competition. That applies to video as well as telecommunications. By making our rules technology neutral, we can encourage both new video providers and incumbent cable operators to take advantage of the benefits of IP transmission, boosting competition.
In our Open Internet proceeding, we seek to assure open access to broadband delivery. In this proceeding, we will address access to programming for those taking advantage of that open access. These new business models can bring new choices and advantages to consumers.
In Title VI of the Communications Act, Congress created rules to ensure that cable companies that own video content can't raise artificial barriers to competition by refusing to let their video competitors have access to the programming they own. That worked for satellite providers, and also helped telephone companies entering the video business. I believe it makes just as much sense '' and will have just as positive a consumer benefit '' for an OTT.
Such benefits follow from innovation. Taking advantage of this rule, new OTTs may offer smaller or specialized packages of video programming, so consumers will be able to mix-and-match to suit their tastes. Aereo recently visited the Commission to make exactly this point '' that updating the definition of an MVPD will provide consumers with new choices. And perhaps consumers will not be forced to pay for channels they never watch.
Opening up program access will also stimulate the high-speed broadband buildout. In September, I detailed how limited today's competition for high-speed fixed broadband in the United States is '' about 75 percent of American homes have either zero or only one broadband network delivering speeds of 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream or better. Those seeking to deploy new competitive broadband networks tell us that it's hard to provide new high-speed Internet access without also being able to offer a competitive video package as well. An updated definition of MVPD would permit a new broadband competitor to offer customers the ability to reach a variety of OTT video packages without necessarily having to enter the video business itself.
We have passed from an era where it was necessary to build a purpose-specific pathway to deliver video. The innovation of Internet Protocol (IP) has freed video from these closed pathways and single-purpose devices. The proposal put forth today will update FCC rules to recognize this new reality and, as a result, expand competition and consumer choice.
DHT is the Future
Cjdns - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:51
CjdnsPreview releasegit HEADDevelopment statusActive, at about 311 live nodes in experimental network[1]Written inCOperating systemLinux, Illumos, OS X, FreeBSD, WindowsPlatformx86, amd64, MIPS, ARM, PowerPC[2]SizeApproximately 1''2 MB executable which uses around 2 MB of memory.TypeVPN, Peer-to-peer, Router (computing)LicenseGPLv3Cjdns is a networking protocol, a system of digital rules for message exchange between computers. The philosophy behind cjdns is that networks should be easy to set up, protocols should scale up smoothly and security should be ubiquitous.
Cjdns implements an encryptedIPv6 network using public key cryptography for network address allocation and a distributed hash table for routing. The New Scientist reports that "Instead of letting other computers connect to you through a shared IP address which anyone can use, cjdns only lets computers talk to one [another] after they have verified each other cryptographically. That means there is no way anyone can be intercepting your traffic."[3]
Cjdns is currently being used in the Seattle Meshnet nodes with an experimental network called Hyperboria
Interface[edit]The cjdns program talks to other programs on the computer through a TUN device which the computer sees as a regular network connection. Any program that uses IPv6 can communicate in a cjdns-based network without any modification.
Address Generation[edit]Cjdns addresses are the first 16 bytes (128 bits) of the double SHA-512 of the public key. All addresses must begin with the byte 0xFC, which in IPv6 resolution, is a private address (so there is no collision with any external Internet addresses).
The address is generated initially when a node is set up, through a brute-forced key generation process (keys are repeatedly generated until the result of double SHA-512 begins with 0xFC). This process is unique, as it guarantees cryptographically bound addresses (the double SHA-512 of the public key), sourced from random data (private key is random data, public key is the scalar multiplication of this data).
Internals[edit]The routing engine stores its routing table in a distributed hash table similar to Kademlia.[4] When forwarding a packet, rather than looking up an entry using the traditional Kademlia approach of asking a node whose id is similar to that of the target, cjdns forwards the packet to that node for further processing.[4] In order to allow a node to be in touch with many nodes despite being directly connected only to as few as one, there is a switch layer which underlies the routing layer. The switch is inspired by MPLS protocol but without the universal uniqueness nor longevity of MPLS labels but instead with added ability to determine the source of an incoming packet from its label and ability to determine whether a given node is part of the path represented by a label, and ability to switch a label without any memory lookups. In the most simple terms: a switch label is like driving directions to a destination.
It is designed so that every node is equal; there is no hierarchy or edge routing. Rather than assigning addresses based on topology, all cjdns IPv6 addresses are within the FC00::/8Unique local address space (keys which do not hash to addresses starting with 'FC' are discarded).[5] Although nodes are identified with IPv6 addresses, cjdns does not depend upon having IPv6. Currently, each node may be connected to a few other nodes by manually configuring links over an IPv4 network (the Internet). The ultimate goal is to have every node connected directly by physical means; be it wire, optical cable or radio waves.
A CryptoAuth session between two given nodes is set up with a two-packet handshake. Each of the two packets contains the permanent and temporary keys of the sending node which are piggybacked on top of normal data packets. The data in those packets is encrypted using the permanent keys. Once the temporary keys have been exchanged, the permanent keys are no longer used in that session and the temporary keys are discarded when the session ends so that the data sent during that session cannot be decrypted later.[6] Since the handshake is piggybacked on top of the first two packets, the maximum allowable packet size differs from packet to packet but the encryption is set up without introducing lag to the application.
Routing[edit]Routing is designed such that each packet requires very little handling by an individual router, or node. Each node will respond to 'search queries' asking it for other nodes nearby to it. This allows the sending node to determine and add routes to its own routing table.[4] Once the sending node has determined a route, it sends its packet to the first node on said route. For each hop, the receiving node reads the packet's header to determine where to next send the packet. Before the packet is forwarded to the next hop, the node performs a bit shift on the packet's headers, making it ready for use by the next node.[7]
Security[edit]The belief that security should be ubiquitous and unintrusive like air is part of the core philosophy behind cjdns. The routing engine runs in user space and is compiled by default with stack-smashing protection, position-independent code, non-executable stack, and remapping of the global offset table as read-only (relro). The code also relies on an ad-hoc sandboxing feature based on setting the resource limit for open files to zero, on many systems this serves block access to any new file descriptors, severely limiting the code's ability to interact with the system around it.[8]
On the other hand, some expressed concerns regarding security and performance of cjdns' routing.[9] Because cjdns routing is based loosely on Kademlia, it retains its well known security issues, like a Sybil attack. This means a denial-of-service attack could be launched against the network which could as a consequence lead to service interruption and censorship. The cjdns protocol attempts to address these concerns[10] with an approach similar to Virtual Ring Routing.[11]
Development[edit]Development discussion goes on in the #cjdns IRC channel on the EFnet IRC network, that network having been chosen because of its decentralized control structure (a mirror of the cjdns security model).[12] Caleb James DeLisle maintains Benevolent Dictator for Life status over the project. The cjdns GitHub repository is used for source code hosting and as a bug tracker.
Distribution[edit]Cjdns employs a rolling release style model because the protocols and algorithms are new inventions and the way they behave in the real world is still not well understood.[13] Users can clone the git repository containing the source code and run a shell script which compiles the source code and runs unit tests.
Cjdns is available on most UNIX-like systems like Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, etc.), Mac OS X, Illumos and FreeBSD. A wide variety of architectures are supported, most notably x86, x86-64, PowerPC and MIPS. This allows users the flexibility of using old or new hardware, making it easy to get started with cjdns. There are nodes running on high-end gaming machines, PlayStation 3 and even old OpenWRT-compatible routers.
References[edit]External links[edit]
Google, Facebook and Twitter to be told to cooperate in taking down Isil websites - Telegraph
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:28
Some of the sites like Facebook already have a zero-tolerance policy over comments or messages supporting extremism.
One source said David Cameron, the Prime Minister, wanted the companies to do more to tackle the ''scale and reach'' of Isil - which is leading an insurgency across Iraq - on the internet which was unlike anything the Government had seen before.
The meeting is being structured around a similar summit last year held to combat the spread of child abuse images online.
Extremist disruption orders or ''online Asbos'', which were unveiled by Theresa May, the Home secretary at the Conservative party conference, which will ban certain extremists from the internet could be discussed.
Microsoft and Yahoo as well as internet service providers like BT, Talk Talk, Sky and Virgin are also attending the meeting at lunchtime.
One source at the meeting expressed concern that Number 10 wanted to interfere with a successful flagging system. One Government source said the meeting has been called to see what further the internet companies could do to tackle extremism on the internet.
One internet expert said the meeting was likely to look at the balance between freedom of speech and taking down extremist content.
YouTube, for example, already has a ''flagging'' system which allow the Home Office to ask it to take down extremist content.
In August Mr Cameron said that Government had helped to take down "28,000 pieces of terrorist-related material from the web, including 46 Isil-related videos".
Some of the sites like Facebook already have a zero-tolerance policy over comments or messages supporting extremism.
Female Kurdish fighter Rehana 'captured and beheaded by ISIS' | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:00
Female Kurdish fighter whose picture became a web hit 'killed by Isis'Image of 'Rehana' making a peace sign was retweeted thousands of timesNow there are claims that she has been captured and beheaded by IsisShe reportedly fought for the Kurdish Women's Defence Unit or YPJIt's thought she was involved in the defence of Syrian border town Kobane By Ted Thornhill for MailOnline
Published: 04:29 EST, 27 October 2014 | Updated: 07:21 EST, 27 October 2014
A female Kurdish fighter who became a poster girl for the Kobane resistance movement after a picture of her making a peace sign was retweeted thousands of times on Twitter has reportedly been beheaded by Isis.
The woman, known by the pseudonym Rehana, was celebrated as a symbol of hope for the embattled Syrian border town after a journalist tweeted a picture of her making a 'V-sign', claiming that she'd personally killed 100 Isis militants.
The message was retweeted over 5,000 times, but there are now claims Rehana, who fought for the Kurdish YPJ, or Women's Defense Unit, may have been killed after gruesome pictures began circulating on Twitter of an Isis fighter purportedly holding aloft her head.
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A female Kurdish fighter who became a poster girl for the Kobane resistance movement after a picture of her making a peace sign was retweeted thousands of times on Twitter has reportedly been beheaded by Isis
Her death - reported on several sites including - however, is unconfirmed and at the time of writing the YPG (People's Defense Unit) and YPJ have yet to respond to MailOnline's request for a comment.
Perched on the other side of the Turkish border, the Syrian town of Kobane has been under an intense assault by Isis, or the so-called Islamic State, for more than a month. The town - surrounded on the east, south and west by Isis - is being defended by Kurdish forces in Syria.
Among those fighters are thousands of women, an unusual phenomenon in the Muslim world in which warfare is often associated with manhood.
In April, Kurdish fighters created all-female combat units that have grown to include more than 10,000 women.
Isis launched a ferocious assault on Kobane in mid-September. Picture is an explosion from an allied air-strike on Sunday
Brave: Thousands of Kurdish women are fighting Isis in Syria
Explosions in Kobane as US airstrikes continue
These female fighters have played a major role in battles against IS, said Nasser Haj Mansour, a defense official in Syria's Kurdish region.
The Kurdish women now find themselves battling militants preaching an extreme form of Islam dictating that women only leave the house if absolutely necessary.
One Kurdish female fighter, who uses the nom de guerre of Afshin Kobani, used to be a teacher.
Now, the Kurdish Syrian woman has traded the classroom for the front lines in the battle for the town.
A Kurdish Peshmerga female fighter takes up a position during combat skills training before being deployed to fight Isis militants
The 28-year-old Kurdish fighter said she decided to join the fight in her hometown when she saw Isis advances in Syria.
'I lost many friends to this, and I decided there was a need to join up,' said Kobani, who declined to reveal her birth name. 'This is our land - our own - and if we don't do it, who else will?'
After more than a year of fighting, Kobani has risen through the ranks to become a commander of a mixed-gender unit. 'We are just the same as men; there's no difference,' she said. 'We can do any type of job, including armed mobilization.'
There is nothing new about Kurdish women fighters. They have fought alongside men for years in a guerrilla war against Turkey, seeking an independent Kurdistan which would encompass parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Earlier this month the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors events in Syria, reported Isis militants beheaded nine Kurdish fighters, including three women
The campaign for Kurdish independence has been pursued mainly by leftist militant groups that championed gender equality, such as the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey.
Suicide bombings have long been part of the Kurdish women fighters' battleground repertory.
Early this month, Deilar Kanj Khamis, better known by her military name Arin Mirkan, blew herself up outside Kobani, killing 10 IS fighters, according to Kurdish forces.
Haj Mansour, the Kurdish defense official, recounted that Kurdish fighters were forced to withdraw from a strategic hill south of the besieged town. Khamis stayed behind, attacking IS fighters with gunfire and grenades as they moved in.
Surrounded, she detonated explosives strapped to her body. The Kurds then recaptured the position - but lost it again on Wednesday.
Earlier this month the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors events in Syria, reported Isis militants beheaded nine Kurdish fighters, including three women, captured in clashes near Turkish border.
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Iconic female warrior 'beheaded' on front line with ISIL -
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:27
The image of Rehana went viral after being posted with a caption saying she'd killed more than 100 ISIS fighters (Twitter)
A prominent female Kurdish "freedom fighter" may have been executed by beheading, according to unconfirmed reports on social media.
The young woman, who went by the nom du guerre "Rehana" became a symbol of the Kurdish resistance movement when pro-Kurdish journalist Pawan Durani tweeted a picture of her giving a peace sign.
"Rehana has killed more than 100 ISIS terrorists in Kobane," his tweet read.
There has been no independent verification of the claim, but the photo went viral, receiving more than 5000 retweets.
Female Kurdish fighters of the Yekineyen Parastina Jin (YPJ), or Women Protection Units are involved in the struggle for the key Syrian border town of Kobane.
The town of Kobane has become a crucial battleground in the war against ISIL, representing the gateway to northern Syria and the Turkish border.
This brave and unique force of women are highly trained, committed and fearless, in a fight that represents the survival of an entire people.
They believe that in their fight there is no difference between a man and a woman, but are aware they fight an enemy that routinely rapes the women it captures before butchering them or selling them into slavery.
Now there is speculation that Rehana has been captured or killed, with gruesome photos purporting to show her decapitated body circulating on social media. But the death is unconfirmed.
Rehana, purportedly a member of the YPJ, has became a symbol of a Kurdish militia movement that includes many women, with some estimating that one in three people engaging in the armed defence of Kobane are female.
More than 800 people have been killed in ground fighting for Kobane since Islamic State group militants attacked the Syrian Kurdish enclave on September 16.
The jihadists have lost 481 dead, while 313 Kurds have been killed fighting to defend the area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The figures do not include ISIL losses to US-led air strikes, which the Pentagon has said run to "several hundred."
Civilians accounted for 21 of the dead. The jihadist assault prompted nearly all of the enclave's population to flee, with some 200,000 refugees streaming over the border into neighbouring Turkey.
Kurdish fighters have kept up a dogged resistance inside the border town, buoyed by coalition air support and US arms drops earlier this month.
Earlier this month it was reported that a female Kurdish fighter had carried out a suicide bomb attack against ISIL forces in her defence of Kobane, killing several jihadists who had surrounded the town.
ISIL forces are believed to be just one kilometre from the town.
(C) ninemsn 2014
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ISIS beheads gal
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:28
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Turkey's pivotal role in ISIS battle - The Orange County Register
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:27
Turkey has announced a major shift in policy, in a direction strongly desired '' and strongly pressed '' by the United States and our allies in the war against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
The government in Ankara is allowing Kurdish forces from Iraq to cross Turkey's borders to battle ISIS terrorists in Syria.
This is of immediate importance in helping to defend the besieged town of Kobani, close to Turkey, but has wider strategic implications and consequences. Historically, the Turkish Kurd population has been characterized by strong separatist elements. Concern about regional instability related to the Kurds is one reason Turkey opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
For more than a decade, the Islamist Justice and Development Party, known by the acronym AKP, an Islam-based religious party, has governed Turkey. This has complicated relations with the U.S. and other nations. However, despite strains, our alliance with Turkey has essentially survived.
Many outside observers, especially in Europe and the U.S., focus on signs of Islamic extremism in Turkey. Terrorist efforts in Europe since Sept. 11 have achieved decidedly mixed results but strongly reinforce such anxiety.
Turkey's relative isolation within Europe adds to concern. The European Union has turned the nation's application for membership into an ordeal. No doubt concern about Islamic extremism contributes to caution.
In fact, Turkish developments in important respects have been reassuring. The people remain committed to representative government.
To date, terrorist acts in the country have boomeranged, with considerable hostility toward perpetrators of the criminal acts.
There is anxiety about domestic military intervention, but the AKP has operated carefully to avoid takeover by the generals. To be sure, tensions and some serious controversies have arisen between leaders of the military and the government, but so far coexistence has continued.
There has been no repeat of the military takeovers of earlier periods.
Since the successful revolution in the 1920s led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey has been constitutionally strictly secular. The army serves as watchdog to keep religion at bay.
Four times in the past half century, the generals have acted. At times, military intervention has been bloody.
Turkey's geostrategic importance should be overriding for policymakers in the U.S. and other nations. Turkey commands sea and land routes, including the Strait of Bosporus, for shipping oil, gas and other important commodities.
Governments in Ankara have, in the past, worked effectively with Israel, and current strains combine with some hopeful developments.
Ankara-Washington cooperation is strongly rooted. Turkey has been actively engaged in Afghanistan, including major military command responsibilities. During the first Persian Gulf War, U.S. B-52 bombers were deployed on Turkish soil, a potentially risky move by Ankara. Turkey played a vital Allied role during the Korean War; the U.N. military cemetery at Pusan contains a large number of Turkish graves.
Germany and Turkey traditionally are military allies.
Encouraging that partnership in today's more stable world makes sense. Germany's influence steadily grows in not only Europe but also Russia and Central Asia.
Turkey has actively participated in multinational diplomatic initiatives to end the Syrian civil war. Syrian refugees streaming into Turkey have provided a major challenge, overall handled humanely by Ankara. Simultaneously, the current government's ties with Iran cause concern.
The Obama administration has tried to rebuild frayed relations with Turkey.
Bilateral efforts should continue, with wider strategic considerations reaching beyond the war with ISIS in mind.
Arthur I. Cyr is Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College and author of ''After the Cold War'' (NYU Press and Palgrave/Macmillan). He can be reached at
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Kurdish Fight against Islamic State Could Fundamentally Change Region - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:49
The headquarters of one the world's mightiest terrorist organization is located in the mountains northeast of Erbil, Iraq. Or is it the nerve center of one of the Western world's most crucial allies? It all depends on how one chooses to look at the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
All visits to the site in northern Iraq's Qandil Mountains must first be authorized by PKK leaders, and the process is not immediate. But after days of waiting, our phone finally rings. "Get ready, we're sending our driver," the voice at the other end of the line says. He picks us up in the morning and silently drives us up the winding roads into the mountains. At one point, we pass the burned out remains of a car destroyed by Turkish bombs three years ago, killing the family inside. The wreckage has been left as a kind of memorial. The driver points to it and breaks his silence. "Erdogan has gone nuts," he says.
Just behind the Kurdish autonomous government's final checkpoint, the car rounds a bend in the road and suddenly Abdullah –calan's iconic moustache appears, part of a giant mural made of colored stones on the opposite hillside. The machine-gun toting guards wear the same mustache. "Do you have a permit, colleagues?" they ask.
Officially, we're in the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. Really, though, it is a PKK state. A region of 50 square kilometers (19 square miles) of rugged, mountainous territory, it provides a home for PKK leadership in addition to training camps for fighters. It also has its own police force and courts. The surrounding hillsides are idyllic with their pomegranate trees, flocks of sheep and small stone huts. But they are also dotted with Humvees, captured by the PKK from the Islamic State terrorist militia, which had stolen them from the Iraqi army.
It is here in the Qandil Mountains that PKK leaders coordinate their fight against Islamic State jihadists in the Syrian town of Kobani and in the Iraqi metropolis of Kirkuk in addition to the ongoing battle in the Sinjar Mountains. Turkey, some fear, could soon be added to the list.
A Preposterous Collaboration?
Just a few years ago, the idea of the West working together with the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan would have been preposterous. Over the past three decades, PKK has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Turkish civilians, providing the US and the European Union ample reason to keep the group on its lists of terrorist organizations. For many in the West, however, these former outlaws have become solitary heroes in the fight to save the Middle East from IS. With an estimated size of 15,000 fighters, PKK is the strongest fighting force in the region and the only one that seems willing and able to put up a fight against Islamic State. They are disciplined and efficient in addition to being pro-Western and secular.
The West would have preferred to rely on the PKK's Kurdish rivals, the 100,000-strong Peshmerga force of the northern Iraq autonomous region. But Peshmerga was overpowered by Islamic State. Furthermore, they have little combat experience, a dearth of modern weaponry, insufficient training and no central command. It isn't really even a true army, merely a hodgepodge of extracurricular clubs, partisan troops and special units. In August, they ceded the Sinjar Mountains to IS virtually without a fight, forcing thousands of Kurdish Yazidis to flee. The Peshmerga retreated elsewhere too in the face of IS advances.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani, the president of northern Iraq, is essentially a family-run business with an associated small state, as corrupt as it is conservative. The PKK, and its Syrian counterpart YPG, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. The tightly run cadre isn't democratic, but neither is it corrupt -- and in Kobani, they are giving their all in the fight against Islamic State. Indeed, it was the PKK that succeeded in establishing a protective corridor in Sinjar that enabled tens of thousands of Yazidis to flee. It was also PKK that defended the cities of Makhmour and Kirkuk in Iraq against Islamic State militias.
The US Air Force is now air-dropping weapons for YPG fighters in Kobani, while the German military is delivering bazookas to the Peshmerga -- and not to Kobani where they are far more urgently needed. Everyone is assuring that these weapons won't fall into the hands of the PKK. Meanwhile, Turkey has acquiesced to allowing Peshmerga fighters to join the fray in Kobani and politicians in Europe and the United States are timidly considering removing PKK from their lists of terrorist organizations. To many, it seems like a necessary step when establishing a partnership with the PKK, even if it would mean conflict with Turkey.
A Difficult Balancing Act
It's a perplexing alliance in an abstruse conflict and it raises a number of prickly issues. Is the delivery of weapons to the Kurds a defensible strategy for the West? Is it even a moral obligation, to prevent a massacre? And what happens if those weapons are then one day used against Turkey? What happens if the Kurds' growing political and military self-confidence ultimately manifests itself in a demand for independence?
It's a difficult balancing act for the West. It has to ensure that the Kurds win the battle of Kobani -- not just to ward off IS, but also to save a peace process between PKK and the Turkish government that has been jeopardized by the conflict. At the same time, it wants to prevent a broader Kurdish triumph that could destabilize the entire region.
It's possible that the civil war in Syria and the fight against IS has already planted the seeds of a Kurdish spring that could radically shift the balance in the Middle East. Subjugated by foreign powers, some 30 million Kurds, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims, have for years been fighting for recognition and for their own state in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq -- mostly without success. Only once, in the 19th century Ottoman Empire, did a Kurdistan province exist, and it disappeared after just 20 years. After World War I, the Western allies promised the Kurds they would be granted their own state, but Atat¼rk, the founder of modern Turkey, didn't keep the promise.
Turkey even refused to recognize the Kurds as an ethnic minority and it banned their language and traditions. Kurds also faced discrimination and repression in Iran, Syria and Iraq. The tragic nadir of this persecution was the massacre at Halabja. In March 1988, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered his air force to drop chemical weapons on the city, killing up to 5,000 people in the attack.
A few decades later, Kurds today enjoy a broad degree of autonomy in northern Iraq, even possessing their own government and army. Northern Iraq has become both a model for, and the envy of, other Kurds in the Middle East. It's an interdenominational success, too, given that Sunnis, Alevis, Yazidis and Christians peacefully coexist with one another in what is the most stable and prosperous part of Iraq. With upheaval taking place across the Middle East, Kurds in Syria and Turkey are hoping to implement a similar model. Now, though, the Kurds have become a primary target of the Islamic state, even though the two groups share the same Sunni branch of Islam. It is precisely the Kurds' newfound strength that has placed them in the crosshairs of IS.
+++ The Qandil Mountains of Iraq: A Visit to PKK Leaders +++
After the driver passes the stone portrait of –calan, he applies the brakes in front of a farmhouse. A short time later, PKK spokesman Zagros Hiwa arrives. He inspects the cameras, collects our mobile phones and closes the drapes. He then pulls a PKK flag out of a plastic bag and hangs it on the wall. PKK often uses civilian homes, with its leaders constantly changing locations.
Shortly thereafter, Sabri Ok enters the room with his body guard and five fighters. The 58 year old has been a member of PKK since its founding in 1978 and he's part of the group's top echelon. He spent a total of 22 years in prison in Turkey, a stint which included an extended hunger strike. Peace negotiations between PKK and Turkey have been ongoing since 2012, but Ok says they will end if Kobani falls to IS. Should that happen, attacks and violence will return in Turkey.
He warns that many young PKK supporters are itching for a fight. "The new generation is different from us older people," Ok says with concern. "They are more radical. They have seen the war in Kurdistan and their brothers and sisters have died in Syria. It will be difficult to control them."
Ok believes that Turkey is merely using the peace talks to buy time and does not think that a peaceful solution is possible. "We're not a war-loving people, but the Kurdish question has to be resolved," he says. "It is absurd for North Kurdistan to conduct peace negotiations while the same Kurds are being murdered by IS in Kobani with Turkish support." He claims that the Turks are providing IS with artillery and money, that they are treating wounded jihadists and allowing fighters to cross its borders into Syria. There is no proof of his allegations about weapons and money, but the other claims are verifiable.
The YPG, he says, have been defending the city for 37 days. "Without them," he says, "Kobani would have already fallen 37 times by now."
Last week, Turkey reached an agreement on sending 200 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters from Iraq through Turkey and into Syria in order to help in the battle to save Kobani, but Ok has little regard for the plan. "What Peshmerga?" he asks, grinning. "I fought with the Peshmerga -- that was 30 years ago. But it is no longer the same army. They've become weak. When people just sit around, they lose their will to fight." He says that weapons, medicine and ammunition are needed in Kobani, not Peshmerga fighters.
He believes that PKK's ongoing ban in Germany is unjustified. Doesn't the PKK share the same principles as the West, he asks? Things like women's rights, environmental protection and democracy? He discounts the darker side of PKK -- that involving contract killings, involvement in the drug trade, kidnappings and terror attacks.
He then invites us to lunch for a meal of wild honey, chicken and salad.
+++ Kirkuk, Iraq: The Front against IS +++
The old Saddam-era fortifications still encircle Kirkuk, built by the dictator as a bulwark against the Kurds. Today, they are manned by Peshmerga and PKK units, staring out at the black Islamic State flag flying across from them.
The Iraqi army left Kirkuk months ago, leaving the Kurds to defend the oil city on their own. Islamic State jihadists are now just a few kilometers away. The PKK and Peshmerga have fought against in each other in the past, but now they're working together. During the day, 150 Peshmerga guard the front, with 300 PKK fighters taking over at sundown. Most of the serious combat happens at night.
Their commander, Agid Kellary, is based a little further to the south in Daquq. The PKK man has set up a make-shift office in a half-finished apartment. An Iraqi army helicopter roars overhead and shots can be heard. Kellary, a friendly and soft-spoken man who studied literature, explains, "We're in control here. If you don't show any strength, no one will respect you."
Kirkuk is located on the important arterial between Erbil and Baghdad. The area is flat, meaning that whoever has control of the city also has control of the surrounding area. Bulldozers push large ramparts around the camp and workers dig deep trenches behind the front. It looks like they are planning to stay. Kellary says he's looking forward to winter, in the hopes that snow and mud will restrict IS movements to major roadways, making them easier to stop.
But Islamic State is a powerful adversary, one with more than 30,000 fighters at its disposal, seemingly unlimited resources and modern heavy weaponry, much of it captured in recent months. Most has been seized from the Iraqi army, which was armed by the United States, but some has also come from the Syrian regime. Last week, IS even presented three fighter jets along with pilots, but it was likely just propaganda, an area in which the jihadists have proven themselves to be highly adept.
The next sentence that comes out of Commander Kellary's mouth would have been unfathomable only a few months ago. "We thank the Americans for their help," he says. "When they help us, they are also helping themselves. We share the same enemy." He says weapons deliveries from Germany to the Peshmerga are also nice, but that it would be more important for Berlin to finally abandon its support of Turkey.
Kellary says that, even as the battle of Kobani gets worldwide coverage, the ongoing fight in the Sinjar Mountains has been virtually ignored. "Our units are trapped, under constant fire -- it's the heaviest fighting that I can recall," he says. The corridor they had been using just a few weeks ago to deliver food and humanitarian assistance to the Yazidis in the mountains is now under Islamic State control and the threat of another massacre is growing.
Who's Going to Get Rich Fighting the Islamic State?
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:27
Erik Prince has an idea. The founder of Blackwater thinks the Obama administration can beat the Islamic State (IS) using private contractors as its boots on the ground. "If the old Blackwater team were still together, I have high confidence that a multi-brigade-size unit of veteran American contractors or a multi-national force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to the that necessary ground combat team" to beat IS, Prince wrote recently on the website of his new company.
Blackwater is now called Academi and has no ties to Erik Prince. But the company is back in the news: The trial of four Blackwater mercenaries charged with killing 17 Iraqi civilians at Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007 has finally come to an end after a seven-year legal battle. One man was charged with murder; three others with manslaughter. The massacre helped convince Americans -- and the world -- that the private contractors on which the United States military depended for so much during the Iraq occupation were, in fact, reckless and unaccountable.
Still, despite the reminder of America's ill-fated use of private contractors in the Middle East, these elements will likely play a critical role in the Obama administration's unfolding war in Iraq and Syria, now known as Operation Inherent Resolve. President Barack Obama's aversion to using ground troops -- or to seeing U.S. soldiers killed or wounded -- makes using private contractors a politically attractive option. And contractor personnel have a comparative advantage in carrying out certain key functions, like teaching Iraqi forces to use and maintain U.S.-supplied weaponry. With these contracts will come more corruption and waste, unless the American people and the government remain vigilant.
Within four years of the start of the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, private contractors outnumbered troops in the field. In addition to Blackwater, contractors from companies like DynCorp, Triple Canopy, and their cohorts became integral to the conflicts in a wide range of capacities. Thousands of their employees carried guns and guarded U.S. facilities, trained Iraqi police and security forces, and occasionally even engaged in direct combat. But most of the contract employees were doing more mundane tasks like serving meals, building military facilities, or digging latrines. As David Isenberg writes in Shadow Force: Private Military Contractors in Iraq, private contractors are the "American Express card of the American military. The military doesn't leave home without them, because it can't."
For now, Obama's small war is unlikely to provide the kind of bonanza for contractors that the much larger conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan did. In those wars, private contractors had responsibilities like reconstruction and large-scale logistics that the current conflict doesn't require. Still, there is money to be made, both directly and indirectly, from Operation Inherent Resolve. Triple Canopy recently received a no-bid contract to beef up its forces protecting the U.S. consulate in Erbil when it appeared that IS forces might over-run the city over the summer. In August, Kenneth Asbury, the president and chief executive officer of the military and intelligence contractor CACI, told a group of investors that they have begun to see increases in some of their contracts due to turmoil in the Middle East.
The fight against IS could also lead to a rise in logistics contracts as contractors are hired to support U.S. forces at places like the Al-Udeid air base in Qatar, which has served as one of the launching points for the ongoing bombing raids. Contractors will also be deployed to train Baghdad's army on how to maintain and use the new stream of U.S.-supplied weaponry flowing into the country. This is routine practice: A "helicopter sustainment" deal passed by Congress in July will dispatch 25 contractors to live in Iraq for five years. Similarly, as U.S. arms sales to the Gulf states and other allies increase, so will the number of contractors, who will conduct weapons systems training. Another round of contracts may come once the Pentagon decides how it is going to carry out its training of Iraqi and Syrian moderate rebel forces. At the moment, discussions have focused on U.S. Special Forces carrying out the training, but in the past this has often morphed into an involvement for private contractors. Training contracts have been a steady source of revenue for companies like DynCorp over the past decade.
All of these opportunities will grow if the war in Iraq and Syria continues to escalate. Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has estimated that the war could cost between $2.4 and $22 billion next year, depending on how many more troops are involved. Former Clinton administration budget official and Foreign Policy contributor Gordon Adams has said that the price of the air war alone could hit up to $20 billion -- once all associated costs, including that of bolstering allies, are taken into account. That's far less than the $175 billion per year spent at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it's not chump change.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) estimated that private contractors have received nearly $200 billion for work done in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That doesn't even include the tens of billions of additional dollars used to procure weapons. Meanwhile, overall Pentagon contracts -- justified in part by the argument that the United States needed to build up its military across the board as part of the Global War on Terrorism -- more than doubled, to over $400 billion per year in the first decade of the 2000s.
In Afghanistan and the George W. Bush-era Iraq war, these contractors were often untrustworthy partners. As oversight bodies like the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and the congressionally mandated CWC have revealed, one common thread uniting the privatized elements of the Iraq and Afghan wars was the prevalence of waste, fraud, and abuse. The contracting commission estimates that the value of fraud and waste in Iraq and Afghanistan ranged from $31 billion to $60 billion. There are scores of examples, including a subcontractor on a military construction project in Afghanistan who simply walked off with $2 million in U.S. funds; faulty electrical repairs in Iraq that resulted in the electrocution of a soldier while he was taking a shower; the provision of nearly $300 billion in faulty 1960s-era Chinese ammunition procured from the Albanian government to U.S. forces in Afghanistan; and the expenditure of over $3 billion in reconstruction funding in Iraq for work that may never have been performed.
Corruption is likely to be a problem in any new round of contracting in Iraq as well. As reported in mid-September by Jim McElhaton in the WashingtonTimes, the State Department last year dropped an investigation into kickbacks by a subcontractor to DynCorp on a project in Iraq that involved providing linguists for the Iraqi Police Academy. A State Department memo related to the case indicated that it was dropped because it was deemed to be too difficult to get needed cooperation from the Iraqi government. This is the kind of shady dealing that Americans have to look forward to as more of their tax dollars are handed over to private defense companies.
But the biggest prize for contractors from Operation Inherent Resolve may be indirect. The campaign in Syria and Iraq means that the Pentagon can make the case to extend its separate war budget, known in Washington-speak as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, for who-knows-how-long into the future. The OCO concept was established in the late 1990s at the time of the U.S. interventions in the Balkans, but its use and abuse as a handy slush fund for the Pentagon didn't begin in earnest until the Iraq and Afghan wars of the 2000s. The Defense Department has used it to finance tens of billions of dollars of equipment and activities that had nothing to do with Iraq or Afghanistan. The Pentagon will no doubt continue this practice when it requests additional OCO funding next year, justified primarily by the argument that more funding is needed for the war against IS. During the Iraq and Afghan wars, roughly one out of every four OCO dollars went to private contractors.
Finally, there will be the battle over the Pentagon's base budget. It has been constrained due to the Budget Control Act of 2011, and everyone from President Barack Obama to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey to House Armed Services Committee chair Howard P. "Buck" McKeon have called for the current caps on Pentagon spending to be lifted due to increasing demands on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, as well as to deal with the Ebola crisis in Africa.
If the caps are removed it could mean hundreds of billions of dollars in additional Pentagon spending over the next decade. Barring a massive shift in how the defense department operates, a substantial portion of that new spending will go towards contracts for weapons, training, and other defense services. In reality, the Pentagon has more than enough funding in a half-trillion-dollar base budget and a war budget worth tens of billions of dollars more to cover any action now being contemplated by the Pentagon. But that won't stop advocates of higher Pentagon spending from trying to exploit the war to press for even more funding.
The last Iraq war was marked by corruption, criminality, and profiteering by private contractors. This time around, Congress, the public, and the press need to scrutinize every dollar that the Pentagon requests to prevent a repeat. This may call for the creation of new, independent investigative bodies akin to the Special Inspector General on Iraq Reconstruction or the Commission on Wartime Contracting. It definitely demands that the Obama administration be transparent about who it is asking to wage war in Americans' names.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Feinstein: 'Lone-wolf' terrorism a growing problem -
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:02
Individual acts of terrorism in the U.S. are mounting into one big problem, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday.
A hatchet attack on police officers in New York, a shooting on Parliament Hill in Canada, the Boston Marathon bombings, the beheading of a woman by a disgruntled worker in Oklahoma '-- all of it represents a growing threat of "lone-wolf" terrorism, she said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"One of the problems is that the Internet, as well as certain specific Muslim extremists, are really firing up this lone-wolf phenomenon," said the California Democrat, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. "These attacks and the multiplicity of attacks in 2014 show that their propaganda is having some effect."
(WATCH: Sunday shows in 90 seconds)
But the FBI is on top of the problem, she said.
"I've been briefed by Director [James] Comey," Feinstein said. "And I believe the FBI is making every effort to stay on top of this lone-wolf phenomenon. I think the White House is cognizant of it and is working very hard to see that we have the ability to be able to find them and stop them."
Police and soldiers in uniform are at a greater risk of terror attacks, and it's important that they remain on guard, she said. But the federal government must also work in new and existing ways to protect these individuals, she said.
"This is very difficult," Feinstein said. "Halls of government have to be on guard, the way the parliament in Canada was penetrated. In Canada, you had an armed sergeant at arms who took action and killed the perpetrator. And I think we need to think in some new ways."
"I don't particularly want to discuss it on television," she added. "But one thing is for sure, we are going to protect our institutions of government."
Read more about: Dianne Feinstein, Terrorism, FBI, Senate Intelligence Committee, Terrorists, Federal Bureau Of Investigation, James Comey, ISIL
Canada Is About to Authorize Its Own Global Spying Operations | Motherboard
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:12
The Canadian government has proposed new anti-terror legislation that will authorize its spies to look outside its own borders for the first time.
Privacy advocates had feared that two recent terrorist attacks would trigger a push for controversial new powers such as pre-emptively detaining terror suspects and cracking down on pro-ISIS online propaganda.
It appears the government has exercised some restraint while attempting to increase its own powers, but the proposal still includes unprecedented, broad new powers for the nation's spying agencies.
The legislation would set the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency on a path to become a more influential partner within the Five Eyes spy network, a shadowy intelligence collective between Canada, the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Bill C-44, the so-called ''Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act,'' creates formal powers for Canada's spies to operate abroad, regardless of the laws of the domestic country.
Once passed in the House of Commons, the legislation amends the governing legislation ruling over CSIS, now allowing the agency to conduct its operations ''within or outside Canada'' and giving federal judges the power to, in a secret hearing, issue a warrant to ''authorize activities outside Canada to enable the Service to investigate a threat to the security of Canada.''
Related: Why Smart Fridges Are Stressing Out Spies
That means, after a decade of having CSIS' hands tied behind its back when it came to surveilling Canadian targets abroad, it will now be able to globe-trot and snoop on Canadians and foreigners alike.
But with no new oversight powers'--just days after a whitewashed report from CSIS' supposed overseers was released, to near-universal panning'--there is concerns that these new powers may lead to exploitation.
Stemming from three Federal Court decisions, it was previously understood that CSIS was purely a domestic agency, tasked with coordinating investigations with local police and investigating local threats. That is, unless they had express authority from a foreign state that they could spy in their country.
In recent years, however, the agency has taken on a role increasingly concerned with coordinating with their bulk-data-collecting counterparts'--the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).
The debate around whether or not CSIS's jurisdiction should be limited to Canada became public during a 2007 Federal Court case, when Justice Edmond Blanchard refused to issue a warrant to the agency to conduct intelligence-gathering overseas.
after a decade of having CSIS' hands tied behind its back when it came to surveilling Canadian targets abroad, it will now be able to globe-trotIn two subsequent Federal Court decisions, Justice Richard Mosley similarly slapped-down CSIS' efforts to spy on Canadians and foreigners abroad.
After their first go-around in trying to get Mosley to authorize their foreign spy games was denied, CSIS tried a novel approach'--they obtained warrants for individuals, then employed CSEC and other foreign intelligence services, like the National Security Agency (NSA), to do the spying for them.
Problem is, they hadn't let Mosley in on all the details of their plan. In his 2013 summary of the decision, he writes that ''having obtained authorization under warrant to conduct such interceptions [REDACTED] from and under the control of Canada, they engaged the assistance of second party foreign allies [REDACTED] and failed to inform the Court that this was being done on any of the subsequent applications.''
Mosley went on to write that ''the failure to disclose that information was the result of a deliberate decision to keep the Court in the dark about the scope and extent of the foreign collection efforts that would flow from the Court's issuance of a warrant.''
He forbade CSIS from the practise altogether. But now, when C-44 becomes law, these practises will become normalized. CSIS will have the power to dispatch spies abroad, just as it will be able to tap CSEC and the NSA to do data collection on its behalf.
It also has the practical effect of letting CSEC skirt its own restrictions. That agency, of course, is forbidden from intercepting the communications of Canadians, unless they are doing so at the behest of another Canadian agency, who has a warrant to do so.
Functionally, that means that CSIS will be able to get a warrant in a secret proceeding, and use that warrant to employ CSEC to intercept all the communications of a Canadian living abroad. That power is quite new.
Security experts aren't exactly raising the alarm about the new legislation, but there are concerns.
''Nothing surprises me,'' says University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese. ''This is pretty much as advertised. I'm pretty glad that, in the wake of last week's event, they didn't decide to go back and shovel in a bunch of extraneous issues and make this an omnibus bill.''
Forcese, who blogs about national security, is referring to reports that the government was considering wide new powers to allow police to preventively detain suspected terrorists and clamp down on pro-ISIS speech online.
But Forcese says that CSIS has, since the original repudiation from the Federal Court, been working to circumvent the courts and obtain intelligence from around the world anyway. With this legislation, CSIS now has a clear and public mandate to do so.
''I'm actually pleased that, first of all, they're clarifying the scope of the act,'' says Forcese. ''Let's be frank and overt about it.''
And, more importantly, it lays out a clear role for the Federal Courts to asses CSIS' case and issue warrants, only if it's appropriate'--mind you, even if it's a secret hearing.
Functionally, Forcese says the warrants will allow CSIS agents to go abroad and conduct covert operations in foreign states that may not otherwise be friendly to Canada. That means, perhaps for the first time, CSIS will have free reign to tap the phones of individuals in foreign states'--or, more accurately, have CSEC do it.
That means CSIS is now a body unconstrained by territorial boundaries and that it will become an important asset for the Five Eyes partnership. Even Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney made a nod that the spying coalition will get a boost from this bill.
''The reason we're going ahead with this today is to clarify the authorities of our intelligence services, notably with information sharing, for example, without allies: the British, the Australians, the New Zealanders, and the Americans,'' the Minister told reporters after Question Period.
CSEC's new powerful spy fortress in Ottawa. Image: CSEC
Christine Duhaime, a lawyer at Duhaime law who specializes in financial matters such as terrorist financing, says the legislation will have a huge impact on letting CSIS go after suspected terrorists by clarifying their ability to issue warrants to companies like Paypal and Twitter.
''I think we'll see more private sector requests,'' says Duhaime, pointing out that sites like Twitter are usually reticent to hand over information without a warrant.
To that end, CSIS has already been making warrantless requests for information from these companies for some time, though it's not clear how effective that's been.
One former director general of CSIS says the new international investigative powers are a ''game changer.''
Marion Bialek, who retired from CSIS in 2002, says turning the domestic body into an international spy shop could pose problems, but has the obvious benefit of removing the need for Canada to piggyback on allies' efforts.
Bialek says that sort of power was already afforded to CSIS on a limited basis, previously, in operations like Afghanistan. His big concern, however, is that weak oversight powers will make keeping-tabs on CSIS' international forays near impossible.
Technically, the spy agency is overseen by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). That body, however, is seen as a bit of a joke in the intelligence and security communities.
''It's powers are very limited from an oversight point of view,'' says Bialek. ''There is no oversight process. SIRC is not an oversight body.''
SIRC really only conducts yearly public reviews that are so sanitized they sometimes verge on the farcical.
In this year's report, published last week, SIRC found that CSIS didn't have adequate understanding of provincial driving laws, especially given that agents are often on their cell phones while doing physical surveillance. Thus, the report recommends that ''CSIS prioritize the request for legal advice pertaining to its liability under distracted driving legislation across Canada.''
At another point in the study, SIRC found that ''a CSIS Branch'' didn't respond to the Committee's request for information over ''a sensitive CSIS activity'' run by ''a unit'' because of a need to make ''significant improvements to policies governing the activities in question.''
Given that SIRC's report are usually incomprehensible, come only at the end of the year, and offer next to nothing in the way of actual oversight, calls for a Parliamentary committee to take over the job have been steadily building.
Both Bialek and Forcese endorse the idea of having Members of Parliament oversee the activities of CSIS and CSEC, instead of the political appointees on SIRC.
On top of the surveillance changes, bill C-44 also affords CSIS new powers to keep the identity of their informants a secret'--unless doing so would jeopardize someone else's innocence'--and it speeds up when the government's controversial citizenship-stripping powers will come into force.
The latter changes will mean that the Minister of Immigration will have more authority to create regulations over how he strips Canadians of their citizenship, and when the powers come into effect.
So in other words, look out Canada, we might finally have spies worth writing pulp fiction about.
Chairman's Column '' Thoughts on Countering ISIS | Frontier Services Group
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:27
As someone who spent many years operating in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other underdeveloped countries facing existential security threats, I was recently asked about my reaction to President Obama's plan for fighting ISIS.
My immediate response is that the President's current plan seems half-hearted at best. American air power has significant reach and accuracy, but ultimately will be unable to finish the job of digging ISIS out of any urban centers where they may seek shelter amongst the populace. Clearing operations ultimately fall to the foot soldier. The Iraqi army is demonstrably inept after billions spent on training and equipping them. Providing them more gear is a high risk endeavor. When ISIS first attacked, the Iraqi army folded, quickly providing ISIS with five heavy divisions of US weaponry (tanks, howitzers, armored vehicles and even helicopters) and three logistic support units' worth of equipment and munitions. The Kurds, once a lean and strong fighting force that routinely rebuffed Saddam's forces, now find themselves outgunned, under-equipped, and overwhelmed. But they do fight, and they fight bravely. The Kurds' biggest problem is the US State Department blocking them from selling their oil and from buying serious weaponry to protect their stronghold and act as a stabilizing force in the region.
Unfortunately, the DOD has mastered the most expensive ways to wage war, adding only very expensive options to the president's quiver. Flying off of an aircraft carrier in the north end of the Persian Gulf may be a great demonstration of carrier air power suitable for a high tempo war, but the costs will quickly become staggering, far higher than they need be for what will quickly become a counter-insurgency effort.
As I explain in my book, ''Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror,'' the private sector has long provided nations around the world with innovative solutions to national defense problems in a variety of ways, from the kinetic to the background logistical support necessary to keep militaries humming. If the old Blackwater team were still together, I have high confidence that a multi-brigade-size unit of veteran American contractors or a multi-national force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to be that necessary ground combat team. The professionals would be hired for their combat skills in armor, artillery, small unit tactics, special operations, logistics, and whatever else may be needed. A competent professional force of volunteers would serve as the pointy end of the spear and would serve to strengthen friendly but skittish indigenous forces.
The American people are clearly war-fatigued. Defeat was already snatched from the jaws of victory by the rapid pullout of US forces in 2009. Afghanistan will likely go the same way after never truly defeating the Taliban. Now the danger of a half-baked solution in Iraq is that if ISIS isn't rightly annihilated, they will portray their survival as a victory over the forces of civilization; thus, there is no room for half-measures. The longer ISIS festers, the more chances it has for recruitment and the danger of the eventual return of radical jihadists to their western homelands. If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job.
Naked Man Accused Of Raping Pit Bull In Neighbor's Yard, Says ISIS Sent Him CBS Connecticut
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:18
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Sign UpWATERBURY, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) '-- A naked man is accused of raping a pit bull in his neighbor's yard.
Alice Woodruff told WTNH-TV that she confronted her neighbor at gunpoint while he was performing sex acts on her rescue pit bull that is kept on an 800-pound tow chain in her backyard.
''I thought my dog had killed somebody because I saw a man underneath her,'' Woodruff explained to WTNH. ''I started to scream. I had a citronella candle and I threw it at him, screaming 'get off my dog, you have to get out of here.' He said, 'No, today is the day we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.'''
Woodruff said the man appeared mentally ill as he was telling her that the terror group ISIS sent him.
''He pranced through the yard naked, yelling 'this is our day and you have to prosper in it,''' Woodruff told WTNH. '''ISIS sent me,' and I was thinking, 'Did something like this just land in my backyard?' I ran in, got my gun out of the bedroom and realized as usual the ammunition is in my car locked in my glove box. I showed him the clip went in, but I always kept the gun at my side while I was talking to him. He kept saying this is the plan, that we were going to die today in a massacre. He didn't seem to care that I had the gun, and I kept it down. Then I gave him a warning and shot the gun to the right into the dirt.''
She was concerned that her neighbor was going to set off a bomb.
''He put his arms out and started walking toward me, telling me to kill him, but to know that as soon as I kill him that we were going to die,'' Woodruff told WTNH. ''Honestly, the whole time I thought there was a bomb or gun and he was going to take it out and do a massacre.''
The Waterbury Police Department is investigating the incident. Authorities plan to charge him with cruelty to an animal, sexual assault and breach of peace.
The man is currently hospitalized.
Ministry of Truth
RHODES BROTHERS-Ex-CBS reporter's book reveals how liberal media protects Obama | New York Post
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 14:44
Sharyl Attkisson is an unreasonable woman. Important people have told her so.
When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, ''I give up, Sharyl . . . I'll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.''
Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn't like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. ''Goddammit, Sharyl!'' he screamed at her. ''The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You're the only one who's not reasonable!''
Two of her former bosses, CBS Evening News executive producers Jim Murphy and Rick Kaplan, called her a ''pit bull.''
That was when Sharyl was being nice.
Now that she's no longer on the CBS payroll, this pit bull is off the leash and tearing flesh off the behinds of senior media and government officials. In her new memoir/expos(C) ''Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington'' (Harper), Attkisson unloads on her colleagues in big-time TV news for their cowardice and cheerleading for the Obama administration while unmasking the corruption, misdirection and outright lying of today's Washington political machine.
'Not until the stock split'Calling herself ''politically agnostic,'' Attkisson, a five-time Emmy winner, says she simply follows the story, and the money, wherever it leads her.
In nearly 20 years at CBS News, she has done many stories attacking Republicans and corporate America, and she points out that TV news, being reluctant to offend its advertisers, has become more and more skittish about, for instance, stories questioning pharmaceutical companies or car manufacturers.
Working on a piece that raised questions about the American Red Cross disaster response, she says a boss told her, ''We must do nothing to upset our corporate partners . . . until the stock splits.'' (Parent company Viacom and CBS split in 2006).
Often [network executives] dream up stories beforehand and turn the reporters into ''casting agents''
Meanwhile, she notes, ''CBS This Morning'' is airing blatant advertorials such as a three-minute segment pushing TGI Fridays' all-you-can-eat appetizer promotion or four minutes plugging a Doritos taco shell sold at Taco Bell.
Reporters on the ground aren't necessarily ideological, Attkisson says, but the major network news decisions get made by a handful of New York execs who read the same papers and think the same thoughts.
Often they dream up stories beforehand and turn the reporters into ''casting agents,'' told ''we need to find someone who will say . . .'' that a given policy is good or bad. ''We're asked to create a reality that fits their New York image of what they believe,'' she writes.
Reporting on the many green-energy firms such as Solyndra that went belly-up after burning through hundreds of millions in Washington handouts, Attkisson ran into increasing difficulty getting her stories on the air. A colleague told her about the following exchange: ''[The stories] are pretty significant,'' said a news exec. ''Maybe we should be airing some of them on the 'Evening News?''‰'' Replied the program's chief Pat Shevlin, ''What's the matter, don't you support green energy?''
Says Attkisson: That's like saying you're anti-medicine if you point out pharmaceutical company fraud.
A piece she did about how subsidies ended up at a Korean green-energy firm '-- your tax dollars sent to Korea! '-- at first had her bosses excited but then was kept off the air and buried on the CBS News Web site. Producer Laura Strickler told her Shevlin ''hated the whole thing.''
'Let's not pile on'Attkisson mischievously cites what she calls the ''Substitution Game'': She likes to imagine how a story about today's administration would have been handled if it made Republicans look bad.
In green energy, for instance: ''Imagine a parallel scenario in which President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney personally appeared at groundbreakings for, and used billions of tax dollars to support, multiple giant corporate ventures whose investors were sometimes major campaign bundlers, only to have one (or two, or three) go bankrupt . . . when they knew in advance the companies' credit ratings were junk.''
Attkisson continued her dogged reporting through the launch of ObamaCare: She's the reporter who brought the public's attention to the absurdly small number '-- six '-- who managed to sign up for it on day one.
One of her bosses had a rule that conservative analysts must always be labeled conservatives, but liberal analysts were simply ''analysts.''
''Many in the media,'' she writes, ''are wrestling with their own souls: They know that ObamaCare is in serious trouble, but they're conflicted about reporting that. Some worry that the news coverage will hurt a cause that they personally believe in. They're all too eager to dismiss damaging documentary evidence while embracing, sometimes unquestioningly, the Obama administration's ever-evolving and unproven explanations.''
One of her bosses had a rule that conservative analysts must always be labeled conservatives, but liberal analysts were simply ''analysts.'' ''And if a conservative analyst's opinion really rubbed the supervisor the wrong way,'' says Attkisson, ''she might rewrite the script to label him a 'right-wing' analyst.''
In mid-October 2012, with the presidential election coming up, Attkisson says CBS suddenly lost interest in airing her reporting on the Benghazi attacks. ''The light switch turns off,'' she writes. ''Most of my Benghazi stories from that point on would be reported not on television, but on the Web.''
Two expressions that became especially popular with CBS News brass, she says, were ''incremental'' and ''piling on.'' These are code for ''excuses for stories they really don't want, even as we observe that developments on stories they like are aired in the tiniest of increments.''
Hey, kids, we found two more Americans who say they like their ObamaCare! Let's do a lengthy segment.
Friends in high placesDavid RhodesPhoto: WireImage
When the White House didn't like her reporting, it would make clear where the real power lay. A flack would send a blistering e-mail to her boss, David Rhodes, CBS News' president '-- and Rhodes's brother Ben, a top national security advisor to President Obama.
The administration, with the full cooperation of the media, has successfully turned ''Benghazi'' into a word associated with nutters, like ''Roswell'' or ''grassy knoll,'' but Attkisson notes that ''the truth is that most of the damaging information came from Obama administration insiders. From government documents. From sources who were outraged by their own government's behavior and what they viewed as a coverup.''
Similarly, though the major media can't mention the Fast and Furious scandal without a world-weary eyeroll, Attkisson points out that the story led to the resignation of a US attorney and the head of the ATF and led President Obama to invoke for the first time ''executive privilege'' to stanch the flow of damaging information.
Barack Obama works on a speech with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.Photo: Pete Souza/White House
Attkisson, who received an Emmy and the Edward R. Murrow award for her trailblazing work on the story, says she made top CBS brass ''incensed'' when she appeared on Laura Ingraham's radio show and mentioned that Obama administration officials called her up to literally scream at her while she was working the story.
One angry CBS exec called to tell Attkisson that Ingraham is ''extremely, extremely far right'' and that Attkisson shouldn't appear on her show anymore. Attkisson was puzzled, noting that CBS reporters aren't barred from appearing on lefty MSNBC shows.
She was turning up leads tying the Fast and Furious scandal (which involved so many guns that ATF officials initially worried that a firearm used in the Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords might have been one of them) to an ever-expanding network of cases when she got an e-mail from Katie Couric asking if it was OK for Couric to interview Eric Holder, whom Couric knew socially, about the scandal. Sure, replied Attkisson.
No interview with Holder aired but ''after that weekend e-mail exchange, nothing is the same at work,'' Attkisson writes. ''The Evening News'' began killing her stories on Fast and Furious, with one producer telling Attkisson, ''You've reported everything. There's really nothing left to say.''
Readers are left to wonder whether Holder told Couric to stand down on the story.
No investigationsNew ''CBS Evening News'' host Scott PelleyPhoto: AP
Attkisson left CBS News in frustration earlier this year. In the book she cites the complete loss of interest in investigative stories at ''CBS Evening News'' under new host Scott Pelley and new executive producer Shevlin.
She notes that the program, which under previous hosts Dan Rather, Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer largely gave her free rein, became so hostile to real reporting that investigative journalist Armen Keteyian and his producer Keith Summa asked for their unit to be taken off the program's budget (so they could pitch stories to other CBS News programs), then Summa left the network entirely.
When Attkisson had an exclusive, on-camera interview lined up with Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the YouTube filmmaker Hillary Clinton blamed for the Benghazi attacks, CBS News president Rhodes nixed the idea: ''That's kind of old news, isn't it?'' he said.
Attkisson is a born whistleblower, but CBS lost interest in the noise she was making.
Sensing the political waters had become too treacherous, Attkisson did what she thought was an easy sell on a school-lunch fraud story that ''CBS This Morning'' ''enthusiastically accepted,'' she says, and was racing to get on air, when suddenly ''the light switch went off . . . we couldn't figure out what they saw as a political angle to this story.''
The story had nothing to do with Michelle Obama, but Attkisson figures that the first lady's association with school lunches, and/or her friendship with ''CBS This Morning'' host Gayle King, might have had something to do with execs now telling her the story ''wasn't interesting to their audience, after all.''
A story on waste at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, planned for the CBS Weekend News, was watered down and turned into a ''bland non-story'' before airing: An exec she doesn't identify who was Shevlin's ''number two,'' she says, ''reacted as if the story had disparaged his best friend. As if his best friend were Mr. Federal Government. 'Well, this is all the states' fault!' . . . he sputtered.''
Meanwhile, she says, though no one confronted her directly, a ''whisper campaign'' began; ''If I offered a story on pretty much any legitimate controversy involving government, instead of being considered a good journalistic watchdog, I was anti-Obama.''
Yet it was Attkisson who broke the story that the Bush administration had once run a gun-walking program similar to Fast and Furious, called Wide Receiver. She did dozens of tough-minded stories on Bush's FDA, the TARP program and contractors such as Halliburton. She once inspired a seven-minute segment on ''The Rachel Maddow Show'' with her reporting on the suspicious charity of a Republican congressman, Steve Buyer.
Attkisson is a born whistleblower, but CBS lost interest in the noise she was making.
'They'll sacrifice you'Ignoring Attkisson proved damaging to CBS in other ways. When a senior producer she doesn't identify came to her in 2004 bubbling about documents that supposedly showed then-President George W. Bush shirked his duties during the Vietnam War, she took one look at the documents and said, ''They looked like they were typed by my daughter on a computer yesterday.''
Former President George W. BushPhoto: EPA
Asked to do a followup story on the documents, she flatly refused, citing an ethics clause in her contract. ''And if you make me, I'll have to call my lawyer,'' she said. ''Nobody ever said another word'' to her about reporting on the documents, which turned out to be unverifiable and probably fake.
After Pelley and Shevlin aired a report that wrongly tarnished reports by Attkisson (and Jonathan Karl of ABC News) on how the administration scrubbed its talking points of references to terrorism after Benghazi, and did so without mentioning that the author of some of the talking points, Ben Rhodes, was the brother of the president of CBS News, she says a colleague told her, ''[CBS] is selling you down the river. They'll gladly sacrifice your reputation to save their own. If you don't stand up for yourself, nobody will.''
After reading the book, you won't question whether CBS News or Attkisson is more trustworthy.
Agenda 21
BBC News - Met Office to build £97m supercomputer
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:32
28 October 2014Last updated at 03:41 ET By Jonathan WebbScience reporter, BBC NewsFunding has been confirmed for a £97m supercomputer to improve the Met Office's weather forecasting and climate modelling.
The facility will work 13 times faster than the current system, enabling detailed, UK-wide forecast models with a resolution of 1.5km to be run every single hour, rather than every three.
It will be built in Exeter during 2015 and become operational next September.
The Met Office said it would deliver a "step change" in forecast accuracy.
"It will allow us to add more precision, more detail, more accuracy to our forecasts on all time scales for tomorrow, for the next day, next week, next month and even the next century," said Met Office chief executive Rob Varley.
As well as running UK-wide and global forecasting models more frequently, the new technology will allow particularly important areas to receive much more detailed assessment.
For example, forecasts of wind speeds, fog and snow showers could be delivered for major airports, with a spatial resolution of 300m.
The extra capacity will also be useful for climate scientists, who need massive amounts of computing power to run detailed models over much longer time scales.
It will address one of the key challenges of climate projections - to "answer the real questions people need to know", said Mr Varley.
"We can tell you that the global average temperature is going to increase by 3C or 4C if we carry on as we are - but the critical question is what is that going to mean for London?
"What is it going to mean for Scotland? What is it going to mean for my back garden? At the moment the general looks that we can produce really don't answer those kinds of questions," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.
Analysis by David Shukman, BBC Science Editor
For an island nation that sits at a turbulent cross-roads between Atlantic moisture, Arctic cold and continental extremes, our weather is notoriously hard to forecast. Fickle winds, complicated topography and innumerable local influences add to the challenge.
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The BBC's David Shukman says it will be "one of the world's fastest computers"
But because the weather matters so much - to everything from whether to leave home with a brolly to preparing for closed runways at an airport - all eyes are on the Met Office, and the glances are often hostile.
The biggest failures have now entered the national vocabulary: Michael Fish's denial of an approaching hurricane in 1987 and the infamous suggestion of a "barbecue summer" in 2009 when the reality proved relentlessly soggy.
The Met Office asserts that people never notice everyday successes, a gradual increase in reliability that has seen each decade allow the forecasts to reach another day into the future.
The new supercomputer should accelerate that process, crunching bigger numbers at a finer scale and more frequently than ever before.
But it may also raise expectations about accuracy. And, in a country obsessed with the weather, that brings its own risks.
Mr Varley said he was "absolutely delighted" the government had confirmed its investment, which was first promised by the chancellor in the 2013 Autumn Statement.
The new system will be housed partly at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter and partly at a new facility in the Exeter Science Park, and will reach its full capacity in 2017.
At that point, its processing power will be 16 petaflops - meaning it can perform 16 quadrillion calculations every second.
The "Cray XC40" machine will have 480,000 central processing units or CPUs, which is 12 times as many as the current Met Office supercomputer, made by IBM. At 140 tonnes, it will also be three times heavier.
It marks the biggest contract the Cray supercomputing firm has secured outside the US.
"It will be one of the best high-performance computers in the world," Science Minister Greg Clark told journalists at the announcement, adding that it would "transform the analytical capacity of the Met Office".
The improved forecasts, according to the Met Office, could deliver an estimated £2bn in socio-economic benefits, including more advance warning of floods, less air travel disruption, more secure decision-making for renewable energy investments, and efficient planning for the impacts of climate change.
Prof Tim Palmer, a climate physicist at the University of Oxford, also said the announcement was "very exciting news" and emphasised the necessity for more and more powerful computers.
"Unlike other areas of science, you can't really do lab experiments," he told the BBC. "We can only do two things: wait and see what happens, or try and simulate it inside a computer."
This means, Prof Palmer explained, "fantastically complex machines" like the XC40 - and whatever comes next.
"This is the start of an important investment, but it's by no means the endpoint."
The most detailed climate simulations currently being proposed, Prof Palmer said, will need exabytes of storage: another vast increase on the capacity of the Cray XC40, which will have storage capacity of 17 petabytes (a petabyte is one million gigabytes; an exabyte is 1,000 petabytes).
Piers Forster, a professor of climate change at the University of Leeds, said the increased power should "massively improve understanding of extreme weather and climate change", but added: "We also need to support brain power.
"When the Met Office opened some of its computers to work with UK university academics it benefited everyone.
"These problems are too big for one computer or organisation to solve, but as long as our fruitful collaborations continue, we can realise the promised benefits."
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New York Gets Frigid Winter Warning From Siberia Snowfall - Bloomberg
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 03:27
The snow in Siberia is piling up, and if it keeps coming, people in New York may have to bundle up this winter.
There's a theory that the amount of snow covering Eurasia in October is an indication of how much icy air will sweep down from the Arctic in December and January, pouring over parts of North America, Europe and East Asia.
Last year, the snow level across Eurasia was the fourth highest for the month in records going back to 1967. In January, frigid temperatures dubbed ''the polar vortex'' slid out of the Arctic to freeze large portions of the U.S.
It was a pattern that repeated itself during the Northern Hemisphere winter and helped make the first three months of this year the coldest in the 48 contiguous states since 1985, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
With the snow now piling up across Eurasia, will this winter be a grim reminder of last year's?
''It's still early in the game,'' said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts, a division of Verisk Climate.
Month's DataWhile ''the snow has gotten off to an incredible start,'' Cohen said he needs to see how much covers the area through the entire month before he can make an accurate forecast. The National Science Foundation has sponsored his research into the link between Eurasian snowcover and the severity of the Northern Hemisphere's winter.
As of Oct. 13, Cohen calculated, 12.2 million square kilometers of Eurasia were covered by snow, compared with 10.8 million square kilometers on the same day last year.
About 12.9 million square kilometers covered Eurasia in October 2013, according to the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab. The record was 17.2 million in 1976.
It's important to note that snowcover ebbs and flows and isn't a constant all the way through the month. Last year, some of it melted away before Oct. 31 arrived. Cohen said the same may happen this year.
Cohen is trying to understand what makes snow pile up in Eurasia. His hypothesis is that the melting of the Arctic ice cap has put more moisture into the atmosphere, which provides fuel for the higher snowfall. He said he hasn't been able to discover a solid link between the two.
According to Cohen's research, there is a link between the snowcover and how much cold spills out of the Arctic and where it ends up once it escapes.
Cold BlockerA big piece of this depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation, or NAO, which is a pressure differential across the basin. When it's in its negative phase, cold air can be bottled up across the eastern U.S., and that can also mean more snow both there and in Western Europe.
A good indication of what the negative phase of the NAO can do was the winter of 2009-2010, when 56.1 inches (142.5 centimeters) of snow fell in Washington and the ''Snowmageddon'' storm halted travel in the U.S. Northeast.
That was also the year when a satellite photo showed the U.K. covered with snow, Cohen said.
Cohen said we need to wait a few weeks before he'll predict what the NAO will do.
''Our research has shown that you need all 31 days'' of October, Cohen said. ''A lot can go wrong.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.netCharlotte Porter, David Papadopoulos
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Arctic Ice Melt Seen Doubling Risk of Harsh Winter in EU - Bloomberg
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 08:34
The decline in Arctic sea ice has doubled the chance of severe winters in Europe and Asia in the past decade, according to researchers in Japan.
Sea-ice melt in the Arctic, Barents and Kara seas since 2004 has made more than twice as likely atmospheric circulations that suck cold Arctic air to Europe and Asia, a group of Japanese researchers led by the University of Tokyo's Masato Mori said in a study published yesterday in Nature Geoscience.
''This counterintuitive effect of the global warming that led to the sea ice decline in the first place makes some people think that global warming has stopped. It has not,'' Colin Summerhayes, emeritus associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute, said in a statement provided by the journal Nature Geoscience, where the study is published.
The findings back up the view of United Nations climate scientists that a warmer average temperature for the world will make storms more severe in some places and change the character of seasons in many others. It also helps debunk the suggestion that slower pace of global warming in the past decade may suggest the issue is less of a problem.
''Although average surface warming has been slower since 2000, the Arctic has gone on warming rapidly throughout this time,'' he said.
Some 2,000 envoys gathered by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, meet this week in Copenhagen to discuss their most extensive assessment yet of climate science. That report is meant to guide the work of 190 nations meeting in December in Peru to work out a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions after 2020.
A year ago, the IPCC said the rate of global temperature rises since 1998 has been less than half the pace seen since 1951. Scientists say natural variability in the climate can explain some of the slowdown and studies have shown the oceans, too, are absorbing more heat.
The higher frequency of severe winters identified in the Nature Geoscience paper is unlikely to continue because climate warming is expected to outweigh the sea-ice effect toward the end of the 21st century, the researchers said.
To reach their findings, they had performed about 200 computer simulations of the global atmospheric circulation using a model based on two distinct settings for Arctic sea-ice concentrations.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at Tony Barrett
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NPR Reduces Its Environment Team to One Reporter
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 03:12
Home Page Title:
NPR Cuts Environment Team to One Reporter
NPR says move to shift reporters off the environment beat was driven by an interest to cover other fields more in depth.
NPR has cut back on the number of staffers focused solely on the environment and climate change.
Earlier this year, the news outlet had three full-time reporters and one editor dedicated to covering the issue within NPR's science desk. One remains'--and he is covering it only part-time. A few reporters on other desks occasionally cover the topic as well.
The move to shift reporters off the environment beat was driven by an interest to cover other fields more in depth, said Anne Gudenkauf, senior supervising editor of NPR's science desk.
"We'll think of a project we want to do and the kind of staff that we need to do it, and then organize ourselves that way," she said. "One of the things we always do is change in response to the changing world."
Gudenkauf also said she doesn't "feel like [the environment] necessarily requires dedicated reporters" because so many other staffers cover the subject, along with their other beats.
Richard Harris, widely known as NPR's climate science guru (he has reported on international treaty talks since 1992), started covering biomedicine in March. Elizabeth Shogren, who largely focused on the Environmental Protection Agency, is no longer at NPR. Vikki Valentine, the team's editor, is now lead editor for the outlet's global health and development coverage, which includes a new project launched this summer using a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Reporter Chris Joyce, a 21-year veteran of NPR, remains.
The number of content pieces tagged "environment" that NPR publishes (which include things like Q&As and breaking news snippets) has declined since January, according to an analysis by InsideClimate News, dropping from the low 60s to mid-40s every month. A year-to-year comparison shows that the outlet published 68 environment stories in September 2013 and 43 in September 2014. Last month, about 40 percent of that content was climate-related due to NPR's cities project , as well as the media-intensive People's Climate March and the UN climate summit in New York City. The rest was a mix of stories on agriculture and food, land conservation, wildlife, pollution and global health.
Gudenkauf said she hasn't noticed "any real change in the volume of material...Just as the news about climate changes from week to week, month to month, and year to year, so does our coverage."
The news outlet got considerable grief on social media and from readers and listeners about its lack of reporting on the People's Climate March in September. So much so that the group's ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, wrote a post defending NPR's coverage.
NPR's decision to cut back its environment-focused staff comes at a time when other news outlets are ramping up their climate beats.
A year after dismantling its environment desk '--citing several of the reasons echoed by Gudenkauf'--and a resulting decline in its environment coverage , The New York Times announced earlier this month that it added an editor and three reporters to focus on the topic exclusively. This is in addition to the four staffers already covering climate change.
"The idea is that climate change is the biggest story going, and we ought to be on it in a big way," science editor Barbara Strauch was quoted in a blog post announcing the decision . The Times' new executive editor, Dean Baquet, has "made it one of his priorities," she said.
The Washington Post recently hired Chris Mooney, a long-time climate journalist, to start a new blog about the environment.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Vikki Valentine's new position. She is the lead editor of NPR's on-air and digital global health and development coverage, not the editor of the beat's Goats and Soda blog.
Japan nuclear plant gets approval to restart, over three years after Fukushima
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:45
TOKYOTue Oct 28, 2014 4:48am EDT
An employee of Kyushu Electric Power Co walks in front of reactor buildings at the company's Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture April 3, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Mari Saito/Files
TOKYO (Reuters) - A town in southwest Japan became the first to approve the restart of a nuclear power station on Tuesday, a step forward in Japan's fraught process of reviving an industry left idled by the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011.
Satsumasendai, a town of 100,000 that hosts the two-reactor Kyushu Electric Power Co (9508.T) plant, is 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo and has long relied on the Sendai plant for government subsidies and jobs.
Nineteen of the city's 26 assembly members voted in favor of restarting the plant while four members voted against and three abstained, a city assembly member told Reuters.
The restart of Japan's first reactors to receive clearance to restart under new rules imposed since Fukushima is unlikely until next year as Kyushu Electric still needs to pass operational safety checks.
All 48 of the country's nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline following Fukushima, the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
An earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, sparking triple nuclear meltdowns, forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee from nearby towns and contaminating water, food and air.
Japan has been forced to import expensive fossil fuels to replace atomic power, which previously supplied around 30 percent of the country's electricity.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is pushing to restart nuclear reactors, but has said he will defer to local authorities to approve a policy that is still unpopular with large swaths of the public.
The restart divided communities nearest to the plant, pitting the host township that gets direct benefits from siting reactors against other communities that do not reap the benefits but say they will be equally exposed to radioactive releases in the event of a disaster.
In Ichikikushikino, a town less than five km (three miles) from the Sendai plant, more than half the 30,000 residents signed a petition opposing the restart earlier this year.
In the lead-up to the local vote, officials held town halls in neighbouring towns to explain the restart, where some residents complained that the public meetings were restrictive and did not address concerns about evacuation plans.
A fire broke out at Kyushu Electric's other nuclear plant on Tuesday, Kyodo News reported. The fire started in an auxiliary building of the idled nuclear station and was extinguished by plant workers, the agency said. There were no injuries and no release of radioactive materials, it said.
(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Nick Macfie)
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In early 2015, Dutch govt will ask parliament to grant hacking power to law enforcement
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 08:20
In October 2012, the Dutch government announced its initiative to grant law enforcement the power to covertly and remotely access ''automated works'' (computers, phones, etc.), under certain circumstances. In 2013, draft legislation (Memorandum of Explanation) was published. The proposal concerning covert and remote access is part of a larger text '-- unofficial English summary available here '-- that criminalizes the trade in stolen (digital) data and that proposes the following powers:
Remote entry of automated works and the placement of technical means (such as software) for the purpose of investigation of severe forms of cybercrime. (Note 1: this applies to ''serious criminal offenses''. Note 2: some hacking has already been carried out by Dutch police, for instance to take down Bredolab (2010) and to fight child porn on Tor (2011), under authorization of a magistrate.)Remote search of data that is accessible from an automated work, regardless of the location of the automated work on which the data is stored and taking into consideration agreements and rules of international legal assistance;Remotely making data inaccessible that is accessible from an automated work, regardless of the geographical location of the automated work on which the data is stored and taking into consideration agreements and rules of international legal assistance;Compelling suspects of certain ''very serious criminal offenses'' to decrypt their data under penalty three years imprisonment or a fine of up to ~20k euro (at odds with nemo tenetur).All of the proposed powers require authorization from a magistrate. The proposal was covered on Slashdot and criticized by Bits of Freedom. In May 2013, the Dutch government submitted the proposal for public consultation (in Dutch). Bits of Freedom submitted criticism, as many others did, including me (in Dutch). The government also submitted the proposal to the Dutch Data Protection Agency (CBP), who in February 2014 expressed concerns relating to the requirements of necessity and proportionality imposed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). That same month, the government submitted its proposal to the Dutch Council of State for further consultation.
It is publicly known that the Dutch national police (KLPD) had, and still has, active licenses for FinSpy (trojan horse that runs on Windows, OS X and Linux) and FinSpy Mobile (that runs on Android, Blackberry, iOS and Windows Phone): this was observed in WikiLeaks' SpyFiles 4. The use of such methods is confirmed through the answers (in Dutch) given on October 6th 2014 to Parliamentary questions on this topic (h/t @rejozenger).
On October 18th 2014, the Dutch Minister of Security & Justice answered (.pdf, in Dutch) Parliamentary questions by MP's Berndsen-Jansen and Verhoeven (both affiliated with the D66 party) concerning this proposal. The last answer indicates that the govt will submit its proposal to the Dutch Parliament in early 2015. Here is a translation of all six questions and answers:
Question 1:Are the reports correct that a large international investigation is ongoing into Blackshades, software that can be used to create malware, among others? [Footnote 1:]Answer 1:The reports are correct to the extent that the US and Canada have ongoing criminal investigations in various European countries against buyers, sellers, distributors and/or creators of software primarily designed to commit, in short, computer crime as meant in Articles 138ab (first section), 138b and 139c of the Penal Code.
Question 2:Does the Public Prosecution, in the context of investigation into Blackshades, commissioned the hacking of the Blackshades server? If so, can you explain the legal basis for that, and the grounds on which it is permissible?Answer 2:The Public Prosecution did not commission the accessing of the Blackshades server. Dutch law enforcement has, under the responsibility of the Public Prosecution, and after authorization of a magistrate, remotely accessed a server and searched this server to record data on the basis of Article 125i of the Code of Criminal Procedure.Under certain circumstances, Article 125i, after authorization of a magistrate, permits remote access of a computer, for the sole purpose of searching the computer for predetermined data files and if necessary seize those by recording them. This occurred in two criminal cases involving very serious offenses. I refer to the answers to the questions by MP Gesthuizen (Socialist Party) to the Minister of Security & Justice on the use of controversial spying software by Dutch law enforcement (2014Z13948, submitted August 11th 2014).
Question 3:How often did the Public Prosecution so far commissioned the police to hack servers and computers in the context of an investigation and what was the basis for the authority to hack?Answer 3:Police carries out investigations on the basis of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The term ''hacking'' is not present there. The police has, as mentioned in the previous answer, on the basis of Article 125i, only in several (exceptional) cases, with authorization from the magistrate, accessed an automated system and secured data from a server whose location and ownership were unknown. One of those investigations concerns Blackshades.
Question 4:To what extent is the current Penal Code sufficient as a legal ground for the police to access servers and computers of suspects?Question 5:Is it true that your proposal to ''Change the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure in relation to the improvement and strengthening of investigation and prosecution of computer crime (Computer Crime III)'' aims to provide a legal basis for Justice to hack servers and computers for the purpose of an investigation? If so, how does the current practice of commissioning hacking for the purpose an investigation relate to this proposal?Answers 4 and 5:As explained in answer 2, the current legislation must be supplemented, which the Computer Crime III proposal aims to do. The purpose of that legislative proposal is to tailor the legal framework for investigation and prosecution of cybercrime towards the investigation and prosecution of computer crime and new methods used by criminals. Today's society and the fast changes of technology for communicating and sharing or storing information globally require that law enforcement keeps pace (also see my letter to Parliament of October 15th 2012 concerning legislation for fighting cybercrime).
Besides various changes and supplements, the legislative proposal provides a new power that allows an investigating officer, following an order of a prosecutor, to covertly and remotely access an automated work to exercise certain investigatory powers in that automated work. Accessing an automated work is a more infringing power than searching an automated work, and necessary for the investigation of many forms of internet crime.
Question 6:When do you expect to submit the Computer Crime III proposal, that has been in consultation since May 2013, to Parliament?Answer 6:The legislative proposal will be submitted to Parliament in early 2015.
One important aspect will be to what extent the government addressed the concerns expressed by the Dutch Data Protection Authority (CBP). Notably, the CBP advised that logging of police actions through malware for the purpose of accountability requires that the precise way in which the software works must be known '-- including the source code.
FBI demands new powers to hack into computers and carry out surveillance | US news | The Guardian
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:42
A protest against government surveillance in Washington DC. Civil liberties groups denounced the FBI's move as 'brazen and potentially dangerous'. Photograph: Xinhua /Landov/Barcroft Media
The FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement in order to seize significant new powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers throughout the US and around the world.
Civil liberties groups warn that the proposed rule change amounts to a power grab by the agency that would ride roughshod over strict limits to searches and seizures laid out under the fourth amendment of the US constitution, as well as violate first amendment privacy rights. They have protested that the FBI is seeking to transform its cyber capabilities with minimal public debate and with no congressional oversight.
The regulatory body to which the Department of Justice has applied to make the rule change, the advisory committee on criminal rules, will meet for the first time on November 5 to discuss the issue. The panel will be addressed by a slew of technology experts and privacy advocates concerned about the possible ramifications were the proposals allowed to go into effect next year.
''This is a giant step forward for the FBI's operational capabilities, without any consideration of the policy implications. To be seeking these powers at a time of heightened international concern about US surveillance is an especially brazen and potentially dangerous move,'' said Ahmed Ghappour, an expert in computer law at University of California, Hastings college of the law, who will be addressing next week's hearing.
The proposed operating changes related to rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure, the terms under which the FBI is allowed to conduct searches under court-approved warrants. Under existing wording, warrants have to be highly focused on specific locations where suspected criminal activity is occurring and approved by judges located in that same district.
But under the proposed amendment, a judge can issue a warrant that would allow the FBI to hack into any computer, no matter where it is located. The change is designed specifically to help federal investigators carry out surveillance on computers that have been ''anonymized'' '' that is, their location has been hidden using tools such as Tor.
The amendment inserts a clause that would allow a judge to issue warrants to gain ''remote access'' to computers ''located within or outside that district'' (emphasis added) in cases in which the ''district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means''. The expanded powers to stray across district boundaries would apply to any criminal investigation, not just to terrorist cases as at present.
Were the amendment to be granted by the regulatory committee, the FBI would have the green light to unleash its capabilities '' known as ''network investigative techniques'' '' on computers across America and beyond. The techniques involve clandestinely installing malicious software, or malware, onto a computer that in turn allows federal agents effectively to control the machine, downloading all its digital contents, switching its camera or microphone on or off, and even taking over other computers in its network.
''This is an extremely invasive technique,'' said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union, who will also be addressing the hearing. ''We are talking here about giving the FBI the green light to hack into any computer in the country or around the world.''
A glimpse into the kinds of operations that could multiply under the new powers was gained this week when Soghoian discovered from documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that in 2007 the FBI had faked an Associated Press story as a ruse to insert malware into the computer of a US-based bomb plot suspect. The revelation prompted angry responses from the AP and from the Seattle Times, whose name was also invoked in the documents, though the FBI said it had not in the end imitated the newspaper.
Civil liberties and privacy groups are particularly alarmed that the FBI is seeking such a huge step up in its capabilities through such an apparently backdoor route. Soghoian said of next week's meeting: ''This should not be the first public forum for discussion of an issue of this magnitude.''
Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford center for internet and society, said that ''this is an investigative technique that we haven't seen before and we haven't thrashed out the implications. It absolutely should not be done through a rule change '' it has to be fully debated publicly, and Congress must be involved.''
Ghappour has also highlighted the potential fall-out internationally were the amendment to be approved. Under current rules, there are no fourth amendment restrictions to US government surveillance activities in other countries as the US constitution only applies to domestic territory.
However, the US government does accept that it should only carry out clandestine searches abroad where the fourth amendment's ''basic requirement of reasonableness'' applies. In a letter setting out its case for the rule 41 reform, the department of justice states that new warrants issued to authorise FBI hacking into computers whose location was unknown would ''support the reasonableness of the search''.
Ghappour fears that such a statement amounts to ''possibly the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI's inception''. He told the Guardian that ''for the first time the courts will be asked to issue warrants allowing searches outside the country''.
He warned that the diplomatic consequences could be serious, with short-term FBI investigations undermining the long-term international relationship building of the US state department. ''In the age of cyber attacks, this sort of thing can scale up pretty quickly.''
Another insight into the expansive thrust of US government thinking in terms of its cyber ambitions was gleaned recently in the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder of the billion-dollar drug site the Silk Road. Experts suspect that the FBI hacked into the Silk Road server, that was located in Reykjavik, Iceland, though the agency denies that.
In recent legal argument, US prosecutors claimed that even if they had hacked into the server without a warrant, it would have been justified as ''a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary''.
Nigeria's Jonathan brushes off scandals to lead 2015 election race
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:39
By Tim Cocks
ABUJAMon Oct 27, 2014 9:42am EDT
Nigerian president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 24, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
ABUJA (Reuters) - Not many presidents could survive three multi-billion dollar government oil corruption scandals and a wave of cold-blooded killings and kidnappings of civilians by Islamist militants still holding hundreds of schoolgirls after six months.
Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan has not only survived, he will seek reelection in February stronger than ever, after five years in a job no one expected him to get.
Jonathan's support base within the ruling party is now unchallenged, a rare feat for the often fractious People's Democratic Party (PDP), while the main opposition APC coalition is split between two contestants for the presidency.
The government announced a ceasefire with the Islamist Boko Haram rebels 10 days ago, ahead of talks in neighboring Chad to secure the release of more than 200 girls seized from Chibok village in April in an abduction that shocked the world.
If the talks are successful it would help the president's image. But nothing has come of it yet and violence has since surged, with dozens more children kidnapped.
Jonathan has defended his overstretched military's efforts against a Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands. In the case of the failure to free the schoolgirls, he has said any rescue attempt would endanger their lives.
Meanwhile, apart from the security challenges, his government also has been best by corruption allegations.
A parliamentary report detailed a $6.8 billion fuel subsidy fraud. A government investigation revealed corrupt cut price crude sales to oil majors that cost the treasury billions. And a former central banker has reported that between $10 and billion $20 billion had been diverted by the state oil firm over 18 months between 2012 and last year.
The government pledged to investigate the first two cases and denied the third.
Last month, South Africa froze two payments from the Jonathan administration totaling $15 million that it suspected were for illegal arms deals. Nigeria said the deals were legal.
Yet it is a testament to Nigeria's complex mix of ethnic rivalry, patronage and intense competition for centralized oil wealth in Africa's top producer that Jonathan can brush off these various scandals and attract a high level of support.
Jonathan, a Christian southerner, was an accidental president, taking over in 2009 after President Umaru Yar'adua, a Muslim from the north, died from illness.
When Jonathan was elected to his own term in 2011, many in the north resented his decision to run, believing he had torn up an unwritten rule that power should rotate between mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south every two terms.
Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who lost to Jonathan in 2011, and defected PDP ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar are vying for the opposition APC ticket. Both launched bids in the past month, focusing on security and graft.
Roddy Barclay, senior Africa analyst at Control Risks, a political risk consultancy, sees two "principle factors for Jonathan's robust position in spite of the scandals and failings which have rocked his government".
"Firstly, the primacy of money and patronage in determining electoral outcomes in Nigeria," means an incumbent gets a huge advantage, and second, "the opposition lacks steadfast unity".
That marks a big change from less than a year ago. In December it was the PDP that was in crisis. Thirty seven lawmakers defected to the APC that month, demolishing the PDP's lower house majority. Rotimi Amaechi, powerful governor of the oil hub state of Rivers, also defected.
The same month, Jonathan's mentor and PDP Godfather, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, wrote a scathing letter saying it would be "fatally morally flawed" for Jonathan to seek re-election in 2015 because of corruption under his rule. Jonathan called the intervention "unjustifiable and indecorous".
Ten months on and the APC has failed to capitalize. It has not agreed on a presidential candidate and several disillusioned APC figures have flipped to the PDP, underscoring the fluid nature of Nigerian party politics.
They include popular two-term ex-governor of Kano state Ibrahim Shakarau, a Buhari rival, and former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu, denying the APC a strong anti-graft platform, although Buhari still has strong anti-corruption credentials.
In June, the APC then lost a governorship election in southwestern Ekiti state to the ruling party.
"The opposition is cannibalizing itself. Its top elites are vying against one another. That's a glide path for President Jonathan," said Eurasia Group's Philippe de Pontet.
"Had the APC sustained its momentum from 5-6 months ago ... we'd be in a different world."
On Dec 2, the dynamic could shift when the party picks its candidate. Buhari earned a reputation for cracking down on corruption during his time in power in 1983-85, and most Nigerians agree he did not use the post to enrich himself, but it is not clear whether he would win votes from APC supporters in the south.
The emotional conflict felt by Barrister Isaac Matthew illustrates Jonathan's staying power.
Driven by the plight of the schoolgirls to leave a court case he was defending to join protesters demanding more action to rescue them, he says Jonathan bears ultimate responsibility since "leaders are supposed to protect their people".
"I'm still probably going to vote for him," he said, citing Jonathan's concentration of power and some works Matthew said had greatly improved the road network.
"The opposition has no credible candidate to stand against him. Not Atiku (Abubakar) and not Buhari."
The power sector is also under improvement, but that may not draw votes since the supply in one of the world's most electricity-starved countries has fallen in the short term.
Many voters are likely to see the Boko Haram insurgency, which only affects the remote northeast apart from occasional bomb attacks in the capital or other cities, as just one problem in their large, diverse country.
"Expectations in the electorate are fairly modest and they are hugely disenfranchised, despite ... years of civilian rule," said Antony Goldman, head of Nigeria-focused PM Consulting.
"You don't need to be popular or successful in conventional terms to win an election in Nigeria," he said, although he added that no president had managed to stay popular after four years in office, and the APC had yet to present a clear alternative.
One issue that has not yet played an important role is Ebola, rampant in some other West African states. A mixture of luck and impressively decisive action has meant Africa's most populous country was able to avoid a potentially devastating epidemic after a Liberian brought it to the megacity of Lagos, but the virus could still come back to plague Nigeria, with unpredictable political consequences.
Jonathan's assumed decision to run has widened a divide between elites in Nigeria's south and north because of a feeling in the north that it is still their "turn" to rule.
That makes violence likely, especially if the poll is close. In 2011, more than 800 were killed and 65,000 displaced in three days of violence after Jonathan beat Buhari in the poll.
If Buhari, now 71, gets the ticket but loses the election again, his supporters may have less reason to end the mayhem so quickly if they sense he has missed his last chance.
(Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Peter Graff)
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New Afghan president to head to China - Yahoo Finance
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:11
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) '-- The new Afghan president travels to China this week, signaling the pivotal role he hopes Beijing will play in Afghanistan's future, not only in the economic reconstruction of the war-ravaged country after U.S. and allied combat troops leave by the end of the year but also in a strategic foreign policy aimed at building peace across a region long riven by mistrust and violence.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai will leave Kabul on Tuesday for a three-day visit to China, where he will meet President Xi Jinping, as well as potential investors to bankroll Afghanistan's development as it emerges from 30 years of war impoverished, wracked by corruption, and still struggling to contain the Taliban insurgency.
He will lead a delegation of Afghan businessmen at a summit where he hopes to attract Chinese investment to develop a mining industry as the bedrock of the economy, after more than a decade of dependence on international military and aid largesse. He will also attend the multilateral Istanbul Ministerial Process to discuss regional security, economic and political issues.
Since he was sworn into office in late September, the president's first trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia on Saturday on a religious pilgrimage fulfilling an election promise.
The visit to China demonstrates Ghani Ahmadzai's intention of utilizing Afghanistan's natural resources as a trade-off for infrastructure and industry, to reverse the rapid decline in economic growth since the United States and its allies began withdrawing troops two years ago. Economic growth is seen falling to 1.5 percent this year, the World Bank said; 2013 growth was 3.7 percent, down from 9.4 percent the year before.
China is one of the world's biggest supporters of resource-rich developing countries, notably in Africa where it funds development while taking large stakes in minerals assets. Its interest is similar in Afghanistan, where it has already dabbled in mining but learned the hard way that investment in Afghanistan cannot be undertaken without considering security.
The country has an estimated $3 trillion worth of natural resources, including copper, iron ore, silver, gold, coal, gems and minor metals such as chromite. Little has been exploited because there is no infrastructure and war wages on. China is active in oil production in the north of Afghanistan.
After committing to a $3 billion deal to develop a 5-million-ton copper deposit at Mes Aynak, near Kabul in Logar province, Chinese state-run consortium MCC pulled out its workers last year after they came under Taliban fire. The 2007 contract has since been renegotiated and work has yet to resume.
Nevertheless, the Mes Aynak contract provides a template for mining development, as it initially included road and rail links, processing plants, power generation and employment for local people. India is eyeing a $10 billion investment in iron ore in central Bamiyan province.
Before Ghani Ahmadzai can be sure that dollars flow from words, he needs to give assurance that work can proceed unimpeded by insurgency. So he is pursuing a foreign policy "aimed at creating mutual trust and reassurance among all our neighbors so that we can build trade and transit links," undercutting animosity that has seen Afghanistan become a proxy battleground between Pakistan and India, said Hamidullah Farooqi, a professor of economics at Kabul University and presidential adviser.
Afghanistan and China share a border of 76 kilometers (47 miles) between the Wakhan Corridor and China's far western Xinjiang region, home to ethnic Uighur Muslims. Radical Uighurs have been blamed for attacks across China in recent years, and Beijing fears that a security breakdown in Afghanistan could have implications for its own extremist problem.
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FILE - In this file photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, walks pa '...
"China is under a lot of pressure from its own home-grown extremists, so regional security is a great concern," Farooqi said.
In July, Beijing appointed a special envoy to Afghanistan, Sun Yuxi, a former ambassador to both Afghanistan and India. It is hosting this year's Istanbul Ministerial Process for the first time, bringing together Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the UAE and Uzbekistan, with the U.S., Britain and other Western countries and international organizations as observers.
Andrew Small, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, believes the issue of negotiations with the Taliban will be raised in Ghani Ahmadzai's talks with Chinese officials, as Beijing's influence on the insurgent group dates back to the 1990s when the Taliban allowed the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uighur militant group seeking independence for Xinjiang, to set up training camps on Afghan soil.
"With Pakistan's help, Chinese diplomats met with the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Omar, and secured his personal guarantee that ETIM attacks would not be launched from Afghan territory," he wrote in a paper for the European Institute for Security Studies. "These exchanges helped to forge a relationship with the Taliban that continues to this day."
The trip will also enable Washington to judge Ghani Ahmadzai's progress on reform pledges after his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, left a legacy of corruption and antagonism toward Washington.
"Promises are a debased currency after Karzai, so if Ghani wants help from the U.S., he'll have a stronger hand if he can show a bit of performance," said Ronald Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and president of the American Academy of Diplomacy.
Commodity MarketsPolitics & GovernmentAshraf Ghani AhmadzaiChinaAfghanistan
'Koch Congress' Could Make Oligarchy Official | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 03:31
At a time when most Americans agree that the country has too much power in too few hands, the world's two wealthiest men are only six seats away from seizing the Senate and consolidating their current control of the House. The result could be a full ''Koch Congress'' that further rigs the rules in their favor.
Libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch have a combined net worth four times that of well-known Democratic donor George Soros, and one hundred times that of Tom Steyer.
This summer, participants in the Kochs' secret billionaires' summit pledged to raise $500 million to take the Senate in 2014 midterm elections. After four decades of funding front groups and an elaborate ideology they call ''economic freedom,'' the Kochs embody today's emerging American oligarchy. No one else can even compare.
At risk are the rights of all Americans, especially women, workers, voters, veterans, as well as the protection of our rapidly warming Earth, since the Kochs' end game is to defend their carbon based wealth by continuing to pollute politics and the planet for free. In all the noise of this election season, there has been little discussion of the fact that two billionaire brothers are about to have ''power of the purse'' over the world's wealthiest nation.
Koch Capture of the GOP
Not even John D. Rockefeller ever managed to pull together a radical faction as powerful as Kochs have through today's Tea Party. Nor has anyone moved so many moderate conservatives toward the Kochs' personal philosophical approach and hardline policy agenda.
The Kochs' core belief in ''shrinking the state'' drives conservatives' manic brinkmanship in the nonstop budget battles that Tea Party types used to shut down the government and risk default over the debt ceiling. Along with entirely eliminating essential elements of federal government, such as the EPA, a Koch Congress would also squeeze other governments'--from municipal to multilateral'--who rely on federal funds for everything from disaster relief to fighting Ebola.
Around the 2012 election, Politico reported on the intra-Republican rivalry between Karl Rove and David Koch. However, it now appears as if Rove's powerful SuperPAC, American Crossroads, is carrying Koch's message in elections ads about the Keystone XL pipeline. Koch's capture of GOP electoral operations may not be so surprising given that Rove himself is not rich and must raise money from others, whereas the Kochs draw from their own unparalleled personal fortune.
Senator Mitch McConnell could become Koch's top guy in government under a Koch Congress, waging unrestrained war against the President at every turn, if not impeaching him outright. And Obama could be left with no Attorney General if Republicans refuse to approve any replacement for outgoing AG Eric Holder.
Voting rights would likely be rewritten by a Koch Congress, as mandated by a 2013 Supreme Court decision'--brought to trial by the Koch-funded Center for Fair Representation'--that rolled back the crown jewel of America's civil rights struggle. Another Koch-funded group, ALEC, has been advancing similar strategies at the state level, where America's voting laws are forged. Part of a plot? Call it highly organized greed.
Average Americans Can Act Now: Connect at
For the first time, anyone online can now ''follow the money'' from Koch's fossil fuels fortune today's political candidates at Learn about candidates' links to Koch's financial interests and the growing network of grassroots groups working across America to expose the Kochs' efforts to take over Congress.
A full Koch Congress would weaken voting rights, minimum wage, pay equity, carbon regulations, and many other basic protections the American people have fought for, and won.
Obama Nation
About | RebelPundit
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:25
Rebelpundit was founded by Jeremy Segal, an anti-activist and continues as a group effort based in urban centers across the country. The blog is a beacon of truth, showing the unholy alliance of the mainstream media, Republican Party establishment, the liberal Democrat Party, big unions and corrupt ''not for profits.'' Our team takes to the field with cameras to show what isn't aired in the local and beyond. The members of Rebel Pundit believe that exposing the true nature of liberalism and the toll it has taken on regular peoples' lives is our top mission. now features the Hood Report. A new column with an emphasis on the devastating toll and blight that has fallen on urban America, under the rule of the corrupt-political, entertainment and media class.
In addition to his work in journalism, Segal travels around the country training citizen activists to join his army of reporters. All it takes is a phone, a camera, or a pen to keep those in power accountable.
What people are saying about Rebel Pundit:
''It seemed obvious to me that Rebel Pundit has a functioning brain and was asking the question just to see how stupid Obama voters are. Although, it takes a creatively devious mind to even think up such a question. Kudos to Rebel Pundit.'' [On Rebel Pundit's Teleprompter Video]
''A wise man [Andrew Breitbart] once said, (paraphrasing) 'All you have to do to expose the radical Progressive Left in this country, for the vile, racketeering, hypocrites they really are, is get a video camera, turn it on, and point it at them.' Rebel Pundit is one of a handful of people who have turned this idea into an art form.''-Andrew Marcus, Director of the Motion Picture Hating Breitbart
'Fast and Furious 7' retitled 'Furious 7'
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:35
NEW YORK: The latest "Fast and Furious" movie has been retitled "Furious 7."
The new title for the film, previously known as "Fast and Furious 7," was unveiled online Sunday by Universal Pictures. The film, set to open in April, is one of the last films starring Paul Walker, who died in a car crash last November.
Walker died midway through shooting "Furious 7" and the film will still include his performance.
More than perhaps any other franchise, the "Fast and Furious" movies have steered clear of consistent titles. Instead, they have furiously mixed articles and numbers in ever-shifting titles like "2 Fast 2 Furious," ''The Fast and the Furious" and "Fast Five."
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CIA Apparently 'Impersonated' Senate Staffers To Gain Access To Documents On Shared Drives | Techdirt
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:21
The CIA is still fighting for creative control of its most anticipated 21st century work: the Torture Report. Long before it got involved in the ongoing redaction battle, it was spying on those putting the report together, namely Senators and Senate staffers. Hands were wrung, apologies were made and it was medically determined that Sen. Dianne Feinstein doesn't have an ironic bone in her body.
The Torture Report's final cut now seemingly lies in the hands of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough -- a rather strange place for it to be considering the administration has no shortage of officials willing to offer their input on national security issues. But McDonough's ill-fitting position as go-between to the Senate and the CIA isn't the most interesting part of the story, although it appears he's trying to keep the "hanging" of CIA director John Brennan from being a foregone conclusion. Neither he nor the White House have suggested a replacement scapegoat, so Brennan may end up paying the price despite having the administration's full support. You can't just drop something as damaging as the Torture Report on the American public and simply walk away from it. A symbolic sacrifice still needs to be made, even if the underlying problems continue to be ignored.
No, the most interesting part of the latest Torture Report details almost falls off the end of the page over at The Huffington Post. It's more hints of CIA spying, ones that go a bit further than previously covered.
According to sources familiar with the CIA inspector general report that details the alleged abuses by agency officials, CIA agents impersonated Senate staffers in order to gain access to Senate communications and drafts of the Intelligence Committee investigation. These sources requested anonymity because the details of the agency's inspector general report remain classified.
"If people knew the details of what they actually did to hack into the Senate computers to go search for the torture document, jaws would drop. It's straight out of a movie," said one Senate source familiar with the document.
Impersonating staff to gain access to Senate Torture Report work material would be straight-up espionage. Before we get to the response that mitigates the severity of this allegation, let's look at what we do know.The CIA accessed the Senate's private network to (presumably) gain access to works-in-progress. This was denied (badly) by CIA director John Brennan. The CIA also claimed Senate staffers had improperly accessed classified documents and reported them to the DOJ, even though they knew the charges were false. Then, after Brennan told his agency to stop spying on the Senate, agents took it upon themselves to improperly access Senate email accounts. This is all gleaned from a few public statements and a one-page summary of an Inspector General's report -- the same unreleased report EPIC is currently suing the agency over.
Now, there's this: accusations that the CIA impersonated Senate staffers in hopes of accessing Torture Report documents. Certainly a believable accusation, considering the tactics it's deployed in the very recent past. This is being denied -- or, at least, talked around.
A person familiar with the events surrounding the dispute between the CIA and Intelligence Committee said the suggestion that the agency posed as staff to access drafts of the study is untrue.
''CIA simply attempted to determine if its side of the firewall could have been accessed through the Google search tool. CIA did not use administrator access to examine [Intelligence Committee] work product,'' the source said.
So, it was a just an innocuous firewall test. And according to this explanation, it wasn't done to examine the Senate's in-progress Torture Report. But this narrative meshes with previous accusations, including those detailed in the Inspector General's report.Logging on to the shared drives with Senate credentials would allow agents to check the firewall for holes. But it also would allow them to see other Senate documents, presumably only accessible from that "side" of the firewall. While there's been no mention of "impersonation" up to this point, the first violation highlighted by the IG's report seems to be the most likely explanation of what happened here.
Five Agency employees, two attorneys and three information technology (IT) staff members, improperly accessed or caused access to the SSCI Majority staff shared drives on the RDINet
Accessing another part of the shared network/drive by using someone else's credentials is low-level hackery, but not the first thing that springs to mind when someone says "impersonation." A supposed firewall test would be the perfect cover for sniffing around previously off-limits areas. Much of what has come to light about the agency's actions hints at low-level espionage. There's still more buried in the IG report that the agency is actively trying to keep from being made public. Just because these activities didn't specifically "target" Senate work material, it was all there and able to accessed. It doesn't really matter what the CIA says it was looking for. The fact that it was done at all, and done with such carefree audacity, is the problem. There are presumably ways to perform these checks that don't involve Inspector Generals, damning reports and multiple hacking accusations.
Feds set to destroy H-1B records | Computerworld
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 16:10
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has changed its H-1B record retention policy to the concern of people who study the visa's impact on the workforce and economy.
In a notice posted last week, the U.S. Department of Labor said that records used for labor certification, whether in paper or electronic, "are temporary records and subject to destruction" after five years, under a new policy.
There was no explanation for the change, and it is perplexing to researchers. The records under threat are called Labor Condition Applications (LCA), which identify the H-1B employer, worksite, the prevailing wage, and the wage paid to the worker.
"Throwing information away is anathema to the pursuit of knowledge and akin to willful stupidity or, worse, defacing Buddhist statues," said Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. "It undermines our ability to evaluate what the government does and, in today's world, retaining electronic records like the LCA is next to costless," he said.
The cost of storage can't be an issue for the government's $80 billion IT budget: A full year's worth of LCA data is less than 1GB.
The change in retention policy was approved last year by the National Archives and Records Administration, but this action appears to have escaped notice until the Labor Department posted a note (See Oct. 17 note titled "H-1B legacy records no long available.")
LCA records are used by people on all sides of the H-1B issue, and their research usually goes beyond five years. The H-1B visa itself is for six years, with one renewal after three years.
Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California at Davis and an H-1B visa researcher and critic, said he doesn't understand the government's action.
"Paper records, sure, but electronic?" Matloff said.
The fight over the H-1B visa is heated and a move by the Labor Department to limit record availability will suggest, to some, a conspiracy. Matloff, for one, says he would not rule out the idea that industry lobbyists, unhappy with some of the research, are behind the limit on records.
The Labor Department didn't respond to a Computerworld query about the change by deadline.
Neil Ruiz, a researcher on the visa issue at The Brookings Institution, said the move is "unfortunate, given that these are the only publicly available records for researchers to analyze on the demand by employers for H-1B visas with detail information on work locations."
John Miano, who founded the Programmers Guild and who, as a lawyer, challenged U.S. visa policies in court, also faulted the records plan.
"The problem we face when doing analyses of the H-1B program is a lack of data," Miano said. "The reality is we can only study where we have data," and if the range of data is restricted, it "severely restricts what can be studied."
The new record retention policy may add to the criticism the U.S. has already faced over its immigration record keeping. Researchers have faulted government records for being error filled, inconsistently available and difficult to work with.
"Getting good data on the H-1B, and other visa categories, is a serious issue for researchers," said Daniel Costa, director of Immigration Law and Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute.
While the Labor Department's LCA data "has generally been good," getting more accurate data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS ) takes a Freedom of Information Act request, which is a lengthy and uncertain process, Costa said.
USCIS data isn't all that great once you get it, Costa said, "because USCIS is a national embarrassment in terms of its data collection, in part because it's a paper-based agency that's living in the stone ages."
Growing Uprising Across Haiti to Demand Resignation of President Michel Martelly | Global Research
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:57
The uprising across Haiti to demand the resignation of President Michel Martelly grew again this week with massive marches in the capital and several towns on Oct. 26, 2014, the date on which Martelly had promised elections earlier this year.
As they had just nine days earlier on Oct. 17, tens of thousands of Haitians took to the streets again to demand the holding of elections, respect for the Constitution, and the continuation of the democratic process in Haiti. But for this to happen, there is a growing consensus around the demonstrators' principal demand: ''Martelly must go!''
In addition to Port-au-Prince, demonstrators marched in Aux Cayes, Petit Gove, and Cap Ha¯tien.
Parliamentary and municipal elections are more than three years overdue because of Martelly's bureaucratic foot-dragging and intransigence in naming a compromise electoral council. Nonetheless, Martelly has blamed his political opposition and the parliament for the delay and found the time and resources to hold three carnivals a year. The situation seems to confirm the old Haitian dictum: ''Macoutes never hold elections'' (Makout pa konn f¨ eleksyon), a reference to the repressive paramilitary Tonton Macoute force which was the armed expression of the Duvalier dictatorships.
Under pressure from the Haitian people, and his image-conscious backers in Washington, Martelly signed a presidential decree on Jun. 10, 2014 setting elections for Oct. 26, 2014. But in mid-August, Martelly's electoral council announced that the elections would be postponed indefinitely.
In a symbolic move, the people took to Haiti's streets in search of polling stations. Not finding any, they asked for the keys to the National Palace.
In the capital, the demonstration started at 10 am. Thousands gathered in front of the ruins of St. Jean Bosco, the church where Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide used to preach. The crowd then marched through the popular quarters of La Saline, St. Martin, and Bel Air before taking the Delmas Road. Peacefully, but with determination, the sea of demonstrators marched to P(C)tionville.
''We demand the immediate resignation of Martelly,'' chanted demonstrators. ''Martelly is a vagabond. He should not be president of Haiti. He was imposed on us by the international community. No matter what, Martelly must go!''
Militants of the Dessalines Coordination party (KOD) carried signs that read: ''Occupation = Martelly! Martelly = Cholera!'' Other signs said: ''Martelly = a pink flea! Martelly symbolizes misery! Martelly = the colonists' servant (restav¨k kolon).''
Angry demonstrators tore down pink government posters proclaiming that ''Ayiti ap vanse'' (Haiti is moving ahead). Protestors burned and stamped on them.
Regime thugs tried to provoke the crowd into a confrontation at Delmas 18, but the Haitian police stopped the harassment. They had another agenda.
At Delmas 75, the police, accompanied by a justice of the peace with prepared warrants, arrested Thimot(C) Rony and Biron Odig(C), the two leaders of the Patriotic Front for Respect of the Constitution (FOPARC). FOPARC was one of the principal march organizers. The two leadeers were taken to the P(C)tion-ville police station and then transported to the Carrefour police station, in the south of the capital.
As news of the two leaders' arrest spread through the crowd, the protestors' strength and determination increased. It was resolved to head to Carrefour.
Demonstrators arrived at P(C)tion-ville without too much difficulty and were greeted and joined by hundreds of people who swelled the crowd. After passing along various streets of swank town, the demonstrators headed towards the National Palace to demand the keys. But the police denied the marchers access to the Champ de Mars, the square in front of the National Palace. So the protestors headed down Rue Capois en route to Carrefour to bring solidarity to Biron Odig(C) and Thimot(C) Rony. However, at Rue Magloire Ambroise, as they did on Oct. 17, the police broke up the demonstration with tear gas and pepper water.
Haitians throughout the capital had quickly learned that the two arrested leaders were jailed at the Omega Prison in Carrefour. Within minutes, demonstrators were protesting outside, chanting ''Down with Martelly,'' even as thousands were wending their way down from P(C)tion-ville. When Sen. Mo¯se Jean-Charles, the charismatic leader of the anti-Martelly movement, and lawyer Andr(C) Michel arrived at the prison, the demonstration grew in size and volume. Mo¯se called for a ''permanent mobilization'' against the ''emerging dictatorship.''
''The people do not want the tet kale (bald headed) group,'' said Sen. Mo¯se. ''Martelly has lost control of the situation.''
The next day, Oct. 27, Port-au-Prince prosecutor Kerson Darius Charles executed warrants of committal against the two leaders, who were not heard by a judge. They remain incarcerated in Carrefour's Omega prison, where demonstrators will again protest on Oct. 30.
Along with Sen. Mo¯se Jean-Charles and Sen. John Jol Joseph, many political leaders marched in the protest including former parliamentarians Turneb Delp(C) and Serge Jean-Louis of the Patriotic Movement of the Democratic Opposition (MOPOD), Oxyg¨ne David and Thomas Jean Dieufaite of KOD, and Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the coordinator of the Lavalas Family party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Narcisse condemned the arrest and illegal imprisonment and Biron Odig(C) and Thimot(C) Rony, as well as three other demonstrators arrested in Aux Cayes. She called for the release of all Haitian political prisoners.
The list of demonstrators (now political prisoners) arrested during the Oct. 17 and Oct. 26 marches include the following: in Port-au-Prince, 1)Vladimir Pierre, 2) Jean-Henry Delassin, 3) H(C)rard Seradieu, 4) Mo¯se Roody, 5) Jean Jacques Renault, 6) Lovenson Mersier, 7) Paul Joanel, 8) Ralph Desilus, 9) Lormicile Isaac Homme, 10) Saint-Gourdain Dodelyn, 11) Mersier Jean Louin(C), 12) Louiredant Louisvens, 13) Clerg(C) Jeff, 14) Clervin Midin, 15) Sampeur Jonas, 16) Laguerre Angelot, 17) Fritzner Montinat, 18) Charles Alt¨s, 19) Biron Odig(C), and 20) Thimot(C) Rony. In Aux Cayes, 1) Frantzou Dieu, 2) Luxama Frantz, and 3) Mentor P(C)tuel.
Ten other demonstrators were arrested in Petit-Gove, and three of them were released on Oct. 27: Guirand Auguste, St. Jean Harry, and Berthony St. Hilaire.
''Today, Haiti is returning into a totalitarian regime with a dictator without vision,'' said Sen. Fran§ois Annick Joseph of the Artibonite. ''Faced with this regime, there must be popular uprising, an uprising of citizens.''
Scientists Say Smelling Farts Prevents Cancer
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:37
July 11, 2014
This is not a hoax, folks. Scientists out of the University of Exeter believe that smelling farts actually prevents cancer, among other diseases.
Credit: Getty Images
"Although hydrogen sulfide gas"'--produced when bacteria breaks down food'--"is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases," Dr. Mark Wood said in a university release.
Although the stinky gas can be noxious in large doses, scientists believe that a whiff here and there has the power to reduce risks of cancer, strokes, heart attacks, arthritis, and dementia by preserving mitochondria.
Researchers are even coming up with their own compound to emulate the smell's health benefits.
"We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria," Professor Matt Whiteman, of the University of Exeter Medical School said. "Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive."
So instead of getting upset the next time you catch a whiff... be thankful.
Sources:, University of Exeter, Western Daily Press. The study was published in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications.
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Circadian rhythm sleep disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 03:55
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD) are a family of sleep disorders affecting, among other things, the timing of sleep. People with circadian rhythm sleep disorders are unable to sleep and wake at the times required for normal work, school, and social needs. They are generally able to get enough sleep if allowed to sleep and wake at the times dictated by their body clocks. Unless they also have another sleep disorder, the quality of their sleep is usually normal.
Humans, like most animals and plants, have biological rhythms, known as circadian rhythms, which are controlled by a biological clock and work on a daily time scale. These affect body temperature, alertness, appetite, hormone secretion etc. as well as sleep timing. Due to the circadian clock, sleepiness does not continuously increase as time passes. A person's desire and ability to fall asleep is influenced by both the length of time since the person woke from an adequate sleep, and by internal circadian rhythms. Thus, the body is ready for sleep and for wakefulness at different times of the day.
Sleep researcher Yaron Dagan states that "[t]hese disorders can lead to harmful psychological and functional difficulties and are often misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated due to the fact that doctors are unaware of their existence."[1]
Types of circadian rhythm sleep disorders[edit]Extrinsic type[edit]One of these disorders is extrinsic (from Latin extrinsecus, from without, on the outside) or circumstantial:
Intrinsic type[edit]Four of them are intrinsic (from Latin intrinsecus, on the inside, inwardly), "built-in":
Delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD), aka delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), characterized by a much later than normal timing of sleep onset and offset and a period of peak alertness in the middle of the night.Advanced sleep phase disorder (ASPD), aka advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS), characterized by difficulty staying awake in the evening and difficulty staying asleep in the morning.Non-24-hour sleep''wake disorder (non-24), in which the affected individual's sleep occurs later and later each day, with the period of peak alertness also continuously moving around the clock from day to day.Irregular sleep''wake rhythm, which presents as sleeping at very irregular times, and usually more than twice per day (waking frequently during the night and taking naps during the day) but with total time asleep typical for the person's age.Normal circadian rhythms[edit]Among people with healthy circadian clocks, there is a continuum of chronotypes from "larks", "morning people", who prefer to sleep and wake early, to "owls", "evening people" or "night people", who prefer to sleep and wake at late times. Whether they are larks or owls, people with normal circadian systems:
can wake in time for what they need to do in the morning, and fall asleep at night in time to get enough sleep before having to get up.can sleep and wake up at the same time every day, if they want to.will, after starting a new routine that requires their getting up earlier than usual, start to fall asleep at night earlier within a few days. For example, someone used to sleeping at 1 a.m. and waking up at 9 a.m. begins a new job on a Monday, and must get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for work. By the following Friday, the person has begun to fall asleep at around 10 p.m., and can wake up at 6 a.m. feeling well-rested. This adaptation to earlier sleep/wake times is known as "advancing the sleep phase." Healthy people can advance their sleep phase by about one hour each day.Researchers have placed volunteers in caves or special apartments for several weeks without clocks or other time cues. Without time cues, the volunteers tended to go to bed an hour later and to get up about an hour later each day. These experiments appeared to demonstrate that the "free-running" circadian rhythm in humans was about 25 hours long. However, these volunteers were allowed to control artificial lighting and the light in the evening caused a phase delay. More recent research shows that adults of all ages free-run at an average of 24 hours and 11 minutes. To maintain a 24-hour day/night cycle, the biological clock needs regular environmental time cues or Zeitgebers, e.g., sunrise, sunset, and daily routine. Time cues keep the normal human circadian clock aligned with the rest of the world.[2]
Circadian rhythm abnormalities[edit]Non-24-hour sleep''wake disorder and other persistent circadian rhythm sleep disorders are believed to be caused by an inadequate ability to reset the sleep/wake cycle in response to environmental time cues. These individuals' circadian clocks might have an unusually long cycle, and/or might not be sensitive enough to time cues. People with DSPD (Delayed sleep phase disorder), more common than Non-24, do entrain to nature's 24 hours, but are unable to sleep and awaken at socially preferred times, sleeping instead, for example, from 4 a.m. to noon. According to doctors Cataletto and Hertz at WebMD, "Altered or disrupted sensitivity to zeitgebers is probably the most common cause of circadian rhythm disorder."[3]
Circadian rhythm abnormalities are also extremely common in ADHD, especially in the form of delayed sleep (sleep initiation insomnia). It has been genetically linked by findings of polymorphism in genes in common between those apparently involved in ADHD and those involved in the circadian rhythm[4][5] and a high proportion of DSPD among those with ADHD,[6][7] however no specific or further cause-effect relationship has been proven.
As of October 1, 2005, the diagnostic codes for circadian rhythm sleep disorders were changed from the 307-group to the 327-group in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). The DSM updated to agree with the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9). The new codes reflect the moving of these disorders from the Mental Disorders section to the Neurological section in the ICD.[8]
Treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders[edit]Possible treatments for circadian rhythm sleep disorders include:
Behavior therapy or advice about sleep hygiene where the patient is told to avoid naps, caffeine, and other stimulants. They are also told to not be in bed for anything besides sleep and sex.[9]Bright light therapy is used to advance or delay sleep, depending on how the circadian rhythm is shifted. Patients are exposed to high-intensity light from a light box (up to 10,000 lux) or wearable light therapy device (up to 500 lux) for a duration of 30''60 minutes at a time, the time of day depending on whether an advance or a delay is required.[10]Blue blocking glasses therapy is used to block blue wavelength light from reaching the eye during evening hours so that melatonin production is increased.[11]Medications such as melatonin and modafinil (Provigil), or other short term sleep aids or wake-promoting agents can be beneficial; the former is a natural neurohormone responsible partly and in tiny amounts for the human body clock. Tasimelteon has been proven effective in Phase III trials.Sleep phase chronotherapy progressively advances or delays the sleep time by 1''2 hours per day.[12]See also[edit]References[edit]^Dagan, Yaron (February 2002). "Circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD)" (Abstract). Sleep Medicine Reviews (Elsevier) 6 (1): 45''54. doi:10.1053/smrv.2001.0190. PMID 12531141. Retrieved 2010-10-13. ^National Institutes of Health. "Sleep - Information about Sleep". Retrieved 2007-01-28. ^Cataletto, Mary E.; Hertz, Gila (2005-09-07). "Sleeplessness and Circadian Rhythm Disorder" (Free registration required). eMedicine from WebMD. Retrieved 2008-07-20. ^A polymorphism at the 3'²-untranslated region of the CLOCK gene is associated with adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, Volume 147B, Issue 3, pages 333''338, 5 April 2008^''Adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is associated with alterations in circadian rhythms at the behavioural, endocrine and molecular levels'' - Molecular Psychiatry , (22 November 2011) | doi:10.1038/mp.2011.149 (PubMed ID: 22105622 pre pub)^Van der Heijden KB, Smits MG, Van Someren EJ, Gunning WB (2005). "Idiopathic chronic sleep onset insomnia in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a circadian rhythm sleep disorder". Chronobiology International22 (3): 559''70. doi:10.1081/CBI-200062410. PMID 16076654. ^- ''About three-fourths of all adults with ADHD report inability to 'shut off my mind so I can fall asleep at night'.''^First, Michael B. (2005). "New Diagnostic Codes for Sleep Disorders". American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved 2008-08-08. ^"Sleep Hygiene". Sleep Disorders Australia. 2006. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-12-09. ^"Resetting the Body Clock and Other research and insomniac treatment contacts". Flinders University. 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 2014-01-17. ^ "Blue light has a dark side" online article from the May 2012 edition of Harvard Health Letter^The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Sleep Disorders by Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DOExternal links[edit]Circadian Sleep Disorders OrganizationAn American Academy of Sleep Medicine Review: Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders: Part I, Basic Principles, Shift Work and Jet Lag Disorders. PDF, 24 pages. November 2007.An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Review: Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders: Part II, Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder, Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, Free-Running Disorder, and Irregular Sleep''Wake Rhythm. PDF, 18 pages. November 2007.An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Report: Practice Parameters for the Clinical Evaluation and Treatment of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders, November 1, 2007A two-page fact sheet (PDF) "Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders" by the American Academy of Sleep MedicineNASA Sleep''Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure During Spaceflight-Long ExperimentAn active mailing list for peer support and information
VIDEO-Hagel: 'I Think We Are Seeing a New World Order'
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:46
When questioned about the ongoing global chaos by the national correspondent for The Atlantic, James Fallows Hagel said, ''I think we are living through one of these historic, defining times. I think we are seeing a new world order.''
''What we're seeing in the Middle East with ISIL is going to require a steady, long-term effort. It's going to require coalitions of common interests, which we are forming,'' he added.
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO-CBS Spins Pope on Evolution as Science Vs. 'Conservatives' | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:39
[See NewsBusters for more.] The journalists at CBS This Morning on Wednesday weighed in on the Pope's comments about the Big Bang theory and evolution, spinning them as a battle between science and "conservatives." Reporter Allen Pizzey opened the segment by cheering, "Fresh from having taken on conservatives" at a meeting with Bishops, "Pope Francis sided with science over dogma."
VIDEO- State Dept Spox Jen Psaki: We are not going to apologize for "chickenshit" comments - YouTube
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:31
VIDEO-Ebola: WHO announces 'slowing rate of new cases' | euronews, world news
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:39
Liberia may be experiencing a slowdown in the rate of new cases of the deadly Ebola virus according to the World Health Organization.
''We are seeing a slowing rate of new cases, very definitely,'' WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward announced.
The African country has reportedly seen a drop in burials and new hospital admissions, while the number of laboratory-confirmed cases has levelled out.
''With the concerted community engagement, with safe burials, with a big push on getting the right information out through the right channels, you can rapidly get the behaviour changes that are critical to protecting populations and helping them protect themselves'', Aylward said. ''And that can translate into positive trends in terms of the disease.''
Aylward is in charge of the operational response to the virus outbreak. He was keen to highlight that while the rate of new cases is subsiding, Ebola is not yet under control.
But, if the positive trend continues, he says the worst-affected countries should be able to meet a December 1 target for better-containing the disease.
VIDEO-Arming the Warrior Cop: From Guns to Drones, Inside the Booming Business of Police Militarization | Democracy Now!
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:45
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZLEZ: We continue our conversation about policing communities by looking at who is involved in the increasing militarization of police departments across the country. Shane Bauer's cover story for Mother Jones magazine, headlined "The Making of the Warrior Cop," gives us a tour through the corporations and government departments involved in enabling police departments to acquire anything from bayonets to semi-automatic rifles to drones. Reporting from the exposition called Urban Shield, which, according to organizers, is the largest first-responder training in the world, Bauer says that the equipment police departments have received from the military, quote, "pales in comparison to the amount of gear purchased from private companies."
AMYGOODMAN: The Department of Homeland Security provides funding to local police departments to buy equipment from various corporations. Shane Bauer writes, quote, "The Department of Defense has given $5.1 billion worth of equipment to state and local police departments since 1997, with even rural counties acquiring things like grenade launchers and armored personnel carriers. But Homeland Security has handed out grants worth eight times as much'--$41 billion since 2002." Let's go to a clip from the Mother Jones piece. Shane Bauer, who will join us in a minute, starts by asking Urban Shield spokesperson, Sergeant JD Nelson, a question.
SHANEBAUER: Do you think there's any validity to the criticism that the United States is kind of increasingly becoming a police state?
SGT. JD NELSON: I think there is some validity to that.
SHANEBAUER: We're at Urban Shield in Oakland, California. It's a cop convention where this weekend SWAT teams from around the Bay Area and around the world are going to be competing around the Bay.
AMYGOODMAN: That is Mother Jones journalist Shane Bauer, who joins us now from University of California, Berkeley, studios, the award-winning investigative journalist, senior reporter at Mother Jones magazine. His cover story is headlined "The Making of the Warrior Cop." Shane is also the journalist who was imprisoned for two years in Iran.
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Shane. So, take us through this expo, and these astounding figures. I mean, we've heard a lot about the weapons coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon recycling them in towns, cities, hamlets, in their police departments. But the fact that that amount of equipment is dwarfed by direct grants to these communities to buy money'--to buy weapons from weapons manufacturers?
SHANEBAUER: Yeah, thanks for having me on, Amy. So, you know, Ferguson is, I think, a good example of this. In Ferguson, a lot of the kind of gear that we saw on television that the police had, you know, throughout the crisis there was not actually military gear. It was stuff, very similar equipment, bought from private companies. And what we're seeing now is, you know, some towns, some counties are actually giving back the equipment or trying to give back the military equipment, but they also have, you know, very similar stuff that they're buying from private companies. An example is in Arizona. Sheriff Joe Arpaio kind of made a show of giving some of his gear back, and he put on display all of his kind of military stuff he had, and then he showed the much kind of newer, more up-to-date stuff that he's buying from companies. And this industry has really, you know, sprung up post-9/11, when Homeland Security start giving grants to local communities for counterterrorism. A lot of the companies I saw at Urban Shield were actually started after 9/11. So they give this stuff for counterterrorism, but, of course, they can use it for anything they want, and most of what it's used for is drug raids.
JUAN GONZLEZ: And what does this mean in terms of these manufacturers or suppliers, in terms of their actually going around lobbying these local governments to buy their material?
SHANEBAUER: Well, I think one example that I saw at Urban Shield was a company called the Armored Group. They were selling the kind of big APC-style armored vehicles. And if you go on their website, you see that they tell local police departments that "if you want to buy our vehicle, we actually have a grant writer that will write the grant for you for Homeland Security so you can get the funding." They also suggest that they use forfeiture money. This is money that is taken in criminal investigations, money or property that police departments take in criminal investigations, even when the defendants are not actually prosecuted in the cases. That money can also be used to buy similar'--the same equipment from these companies.
AMYGOODMAN: I want to turn to another clip from your report for Mother Jones. In this video, you're speaking to Jeremy Johnson of the Armored Group.
JEREMYJOHNSON: Like you, I've been all over the world. I've seen a lot of the stuff. And I see a lot of the differences. You know, this is not a'--they're not going in to just take care of business. They're there to, hopefully, handle a situation that could get out of hand, right?
SHANEBAUER: Yeah, yeah.
JEREMYJOHNSON: But you never hear about the ones they handle. I think that's where it gets a little disconnect from what they want. But you're right. Some of these trucks do look intimidating'--for a reason, though. They should. You know, you don't want to pull up a Chevy Chevette in front of a house and say, "Here, we're going to get you." You're not going to get the effect you want.
JUAN GONZLEZ: Yeah, I want to turn to another clip from your report, one that features something unbelievable'--a university, the University of California, Berkeley, having a SWAT team. After they staged a hostage rescue simulation, you spoke to Eric Tejada of UC Berkeley's Special Operations.
LT. ERICTEJADA: It was actually around '92, '94, there was an attack on the chancellor of the'--
LT. ERICTEJADA: '--at his residence, which is on campus.
LT. ERICTEJADA: And we realized at the time that we didn't have any resources to deal with that kind of threat when it took place.
LT. ERICTEJADA: So, and I think about 15 years before, they had some kind of semblance of a SWAT team.
LT. ERICTEJADA: So they regenerated the idea of'--
LT. ERICTEJADA: '--activating a SWAT team.
JUAN GONZLEZ: That was Eric Tejada of UC Berkeley's Special Operations. Most people might be surprised to hear the University of California, Berkeley, has a SWAT team. Shane Bauer, could you tell us what kind of operations the team has physically carried out?
SHANEBAUER: Yeah, well, I mean, this is interesting, because this scenario, they were doing a kind of high-stakes hostage rescue. They would later go on a boat in the bay to kind of dismantle a terrorist IED. They would go into a church, where, you know, a kind of pretend militant atheist group is holding church members hostage. But when I asked them what they do day to day, most of what they respond to are muggings of students'--you know, the kind of normal police work that police departments do. They're kind of going in, you know, fully armed, geared up in this kind of military-style gear, busting into houses.
You know, I think another aspect that is interesting about this whole situation with the Homeland Security money is that there's incentive for kind of new equipment. One thing that I saw was a device that attaches to a gun, and it sends out radiation waves that temporarily blind the person it's pointed at for 10 minutes by'--what the vendor told me was, by scrambling their ocular fluid. And that's something that's going to be hitting the market early next year.
AMYGOODMAN: So, this is both an expo that you went to, Urban Shield, but also there was a lot of role playing.
AMYGOODMAN: Now, you had your press credentials revoked, is that right?
AMYGOODMAN: Your press credentials were revoked on the last day of the conference. I want to go to a clip, the third day of the conference, and you filmed a police officer asking you to leave the premises.
SHANEBAUER: They told us that we were OK here. Said, "Take their media badges"?
POLICEOFFICER: Yeah, and said, "Hold onto"'--
SHANEBAUER: Did he explain why?
POLICEOFFICER: He just said because they were in violation of the rules for filming inside of one of the sites; they were advised to film inside the site.
SHANEBAUER: What site?
POLICEOFFICER: I don't know.
SHANEBAUER: They didn't even say what site.
POLICEOFFICER: I assume it's mine. I assume it's this site.
AMYGOODMAN: Before you were removed from the conference, Shane, there were numerous instances in which your work was shut down at Urban Shield. So, explain'--
AMYGOODMAN: Just give us the global picture of what's happening, the expo and these other role plays that you were trying to cover that happened outside, like in San Francisco and the bridge.
SHANEBAUER: Yeah, so there was'--basically, it was a four-day event. The first two days was an expo. There was an expo hall where all kinds of companies were showing their equipment'--guns, trucks, drones, you know, robots that can be printed with 3D printers'--trying to sell them to the local police departments. The next two days was a 48-hour straight exercise, where SWAT teams were actually competing with each other, going through around 35 scenarios. And each one, they're kind of getting points. These were a lot of kind of Bay Area SWAT teams. There were some international SWAT teams from Singapore, South Korea. The U.S. Marines was a team. There was, you know, teams like UC Berkeley, a prison SWAT team. And I had gone to some of these events, and on the morning of the second day, they took our press credentials.
JUAN GONZLEZ: And, Shane, drones obviously have gotten a lot of attention in recent years. Did you get any sense that that was a hot item among these different law enforcement agencies this time around?
SHANEBAUER: Oh, yeah. There were a ton of drones. Actually, when I got kicked out, there was a vendor. Each of these kind of sites where they were doing these scenarios had a particular vendor. And at that site, there was a drone vendor who we had interviewed. And he was hoping to use their drones, his company's drones, in the exercise on the Bay Bridge, but because of FAA regulations, they were not allowed to use them. You know, the county in'--Alameda County hasn't gotten approval yet to use them. But you saw, you know, a big thing right now is the 3D-printable drones. So, police departments can print out a drone, attach the wiring and, you know, set it out.
AMYGOODMAN: There's been a lot of protest in Oakland around urging the Oakland mayor, Jean Quan, to cancel the Urban Shield conference next year. Can you talk about these protests and the significance of this happening in Oakland in this post-Ferguson period?
SHANEBAUER: Yeah, well, Urban Shield has been happening for years. It's been going on since the mid-2000s. And in recent years, there's been regular protest of it. And this year, in particular, Jean Quan said that Urban Shield will not be allowed to come back to Oakland. Now, the county has said, "Yes, they will." So there's kind of a battle between the city and the county right now.
You know, when I was at Urban Shield, the protests, something I noticed was that the protests were referencing Ferguson quite a bit. And that was something that just wasn't really talked about on the inside; inside Urban Shield, there wasn't any discussion of Ferguson. But at the same time, you know, I was seeing T-shirts for sale that'--where, you know, you see kind of an image of a gun sight, and says, "This is my peace sign." You see, you know, kind of this Spartan imagery, very militaristic kind of imagery, that in many ways, you know, is kind of'--
AMYGOODMAN: What is "This is my peace sign"? What is it actually showing?
SHANEBAUER: That's a sight of an AR-15, looking kind of down the scope of an AR-15 sight.
JUAN GONZLEZ: And, Shane, the'--
SHANEBAUER: And, you know, I think this'--
JUAN GONZLEZ: I'm sorry. Go ahead.
SHANEBAUER: Oh, you know, I think something that'--something that really was interesting to me about being there was this kind of overlap with the military. You know, some of these companies that I seen and vendors that I spoke to were from the military. Their companies were actually set up to distribute to the military, and they've since kind of come over to also bringing in police. You know, the Marines were a team competing there. I talked to the Marines after one of their scenarios, and they said that they actually learn from the police. The spokesperson of Urban Shield told me, you know, "We should be talking not about militarization of the police, but policization of the military." There's this kind of interesting dynamic now where the Marines are actually learning from the kind of urban SWAT team tactics, to bring back and kind of train their people.
JUAN GONZLEZ: Shane, I wanted to ask you about the Pentagon's 1033 program. It's transferred more than $5.1 billion in military equipment to local agencies since 1991. That includes some 600 mine-resistant armor-protected vehicles, or MRAPs.
JUAN GONZLEZ: Last month, during a Senate hearing on police militarization, Brian Kamoie of the Department of Homeland Security defended the program. He said equipment helped locate the surviving suspect after the Boston Marathon bombing last year.
BRIANKAMOIE: The response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing demonstrated how preparedness grant investments have improved capabilities. Grant-funded equipment, such as the forward-looking infrared camera on a Massachusetts State Police helicopter, enabled the apprehension of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, while enhancing the personal safety of law enforcement officers and protecting public safety.
JUAN GONZLEZ: That was Brian Kamoie of the Department of Homeland Security. So, isn't'--some people would say that's a justification for all of this hardware.
SHANEBAUER: Right. I mean, you know, there's no doubt that people in a kind of extreme situation are going to want to have some kind of response. The issue is that a lot of this hardware is going to small towns. I mean, everybody is getting this stuff. And most of it is used for drug raids. It's the kind of situations where there has been'--there's not an active shooter, there's not a hostage scenario'--the kind of stuff that police often talk about in why they need this equipment. It's used to raid people's houses, you know, often in no-knock raids to try to find drugs. And these SWAT teams are mostly used'--about 71 percent of the time they're used to target people of color, even though the people that are the most likely to be, you know, the active shooters, the hostage takers, are white. In North Carolina in one town, African Americans were targeted 47 times the amount of white people by SWAT teams.
AMYGOODMAN: Shane, as we wrap up, I wanted to switch gears. As we talk to you and you're talking about the amount of money that's going into the militarization of police at home, we're seeing the U.S. attack Syria and Iraq, dealing with the Islamic State. You were held in Iran with Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd for'--well, you and Josh for two years by the Iranian authorities; you were imprisoned. And I wanted to know your reaction to when you see, for example, the video of James Foley, the horrid video of his beheading, and then his mother coming out and saying she was threatened that if she dared try to raise any kind of ransom, she herself would be prosecuted. Your thoughts on this issue, as journalists like yourself have been held?
SHANEBAUER: I mean, it's terrible, I mean, all the way around. My heart goes out to the Foley family, to the families of all of the people who are held hostage in Syria, including, you know, Syrians. Most of the people that are missing right now are Syrians. And, you know'--
AMYGOODMAN: In fact, before you were arrested, you and Sarah worked in Syria. You were teaching English in Syria.
SHANEBAUER: Right. Yeah, I was actually working as a journalist in Syria. Sarah was teaching. And, you know, it's still hard for me to really get my head around what is happening there. It's just such a different place. And I do, you know, wish that our government did more, that people weren't'--people like Foley's mom didn't face punishment for trying to raise money to get her son out of prison. I mean, it's not a simple situation. You know, giving money to the Islamic State is not the answer, either. But we need to have kind of a more active way of dealing with this, I think.
AMYGOODMAN: Shane, thanks so much for being with us. Shane Bauer, award-winning investigative journalist, senior reporter at Mother Jones magazine, his cover story headlined "The Making of the Warrior Cop." And we'll link to it at
When we come back, we go to Austin, Texas. We'll be speaking with a Texas man on trial'--for filming the police? Well, we'll find out what's happening. Stay with us.
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VIDEO-coburn smack | Video |
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:45
Created by an anonymous useron October 29, 2014
set boston record straight
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VIDEO-HamRadioNow: Off the Shelf SDR, from the DCC
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:01
Apparently it's hard to get Software Defined Radios to work, at least from the computer end of things (at least on Windows). Drivers, GUIs, USB connections and such conspire to drive you mad. Scotty Cowling WA2DFI defies the odds and the gods and brings up three different SDR receivers "from scratch" - live - in one 45 minute talk at the DCC. And it almost all works!Episode 170: Off the Shelf SDR
Gary Pearce
VIDEO-appropriate senior administration official refer Israeli | Video |
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:55
Is it appropriate for a senior administration official to refer to the Israeli Prime Minster of as chickens**t?
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VIDEO-Arnie Gundersen tells tall tales to 1600 chiropractors - Atomic Insights
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:08
I must begin by saying that this is perhaps the most concentrated pack of exaggerations, worst-case overestimations, and outright lies that Gundersen has foisted on the world, to date. It would literally take a collegiate dissertation to address all of the specific points of misinformation and deceit. Below are the few I think are the most egregious of the lies'...
Early-on, A.G. says that there have been five major nuclear accidents: TMI, Chernobyl and three at F. Daiichi. He then says that five accidents in 35 years means we should expect one every seven years. Actually, there have been three such accidents since TMI, which (by A.G.'s skewed arithmetic) would be one every 11.7 years. (Verdict '' Lie)
At 6:30, Gundersen speaks of TMI, and says, ''Lots of radioactive gasses were released and people did die.'' He uses Steven Wing's speculative paper on TMI cancers as evidence. However, A.G. misrepresents what Wing postulated. Wing talked about cancer incidence, not human cancer deaths. Wing mentions that some pets may have died or had symptoms of radiation exposure, but there is no mention of anyone dying. (Verdict '' Lie)
Soon after, A.G. shows the infamous ''elephant's foot'' at Chernobyl, he says it is ''Chernobyl's core'...what's left of it,'' and asserts that it is ''about 100 tons of nuclear material.'' The ''foot'' actually weighs about 2 tons and is a mixture of Uranium along with the other core materials that melted into what is technically called ''corium''. (Verdict '' lie)
He immediately turns to F. Daiichi and says, ''Where is the core at Fukushima Daiichi? No-one knows.'' He then tells us his wildly speculative personal opinion, which he asserts as unmitigated fact, ''We do know they are in direct contact with groundwater.'' Not only does he contradict himself, but there is no evidence whatsoever that any of the three cores have breached any of their containments. Actually, no-one knows if any of the cores actually breached their reactor pressure vessels! (Verdict '' lie)
At 9:40, A.G. shows the slow-motion evolution of the unit #3 hydrogen explosion, calling the first frame of the sequence evidence of a ''detonation shock wave''. He then says it was but one of six explosions at F. Daiichi. He never explains himself. There were surely three hydrogen explosions at F. Daiichi. Also, he never says what a ''detonation shock wave'' means, but clearly implies a small nuclear detonation by letting the frames evolve and show what looks like a mushroom cloud evolve above the damaged structure. (Verdict '' two lies for the price of one)
After two minutes of A.G. promoting his ''hot particle'' myth, he says, ''then there's the ocean.'' (@ (13.28) He begins by reiterating that all the cores at F. Daiichi melted through their base-mats and ''are in direct contact with the groundwater'...(and) it will continue to bleed for centuries to come'' and continually contaminate the Pacific Ocean. IMHO, this may be most severe fabrication of the lot. The base-mats are firmly imbedded in the site's underlying bedrock! Groundwater does not flow through bedrock! It's just too darned dense. A.G. has previously alleged that the bedrock is actually an aquifer, but he doesn't mention this in the video. Regardless'... (Verdict '' lie)
At 14:45, he begins a diatribe on the ''lies'' fomented by the NRC about no-one dying from TMI (citing Wing), the IAEA saying ''28-100'' died due to Chernobyl (citing the internationally-condemned work of Alexey Yablokov claiming a million deaths), and that ''experts'' at Fairewinds Associates (i.e. himself) say there will be a million cancer deaths due to Fukushima. Since when does a fringe opinion (Wing), a completely ridiculous conclusion (Yablokov) and a preposterous prognostication by Gundersen himself, have more value than The NRC, IAEA, UNSCEAR, WHO, and SARI? (Verdict '' lie)
Finally, beginning at 17:50, Gundersen says that luck was the only reason there were not 14 meltdowns along the Tohoku coast line after the quake and tsunami of 3/11/11. The natural calamity struck at ~3:20 pm on March 11. This was during the day shift with maybe a thousand people at each of the four nuke stations; Onagawa (3 units), F. Daiichi (six units), Fukushima Daini (four units) and Tokai (one unit). A. G. says, ''If the earthquake and tsunami had happened in the evening, there would have been only 100 [at each station]'...a 12 hour difference would have resulted in the destruction of Japan.'' Absolute, utter balderdash! Only the three operating units at F. Daiichi had accidents, but there was no possibility of meltdowns with the other three because they had been shut down for months. Onagawa's protective measures, with a several meters greater tsunami than at F. Daiichi, prevented an accident like F. Daiichi'...and there was literally no need of human intervention in the process. F. Daini was hit by a several meters smaller tsunami than F. Daiichi, and the actions taken by the operating staff (less than 100 people, I might add) kept a core-damaging accident from happening. Tokai experienced automatic reactor shutdown due to the earthquake, but the tsunami's impact was thwarted similar to F. Daini by its operating staff of a few dozen individuals. While there may have been thousands on shift at all four stations, less than 10% were actual operators. The rest were support staff and office workers. Regardless, there is no way that having that tsunami hit at 3 am on March 12 would have made the slightest bit of difference. Further, the ''destruction of Japan'' conception is nothing more than a favorite fantasy of A.G. and former P.M. Naoto Kan (who A.G. cites as his evidence). (Verdict '' all lies)
A.G. closes his mendacious presentation with the following quotation made by'...himself (!), ''Sooner or later in any foolproof system, the fools are going to exceed the proofs.'' What? That makes no sense whatsoever! But, A.G. isn't concerned with making sense. His concern is all about lining his pockets with the fees he gets from making public presentations like this. He is a cowardly rhetorical predator who has no qualms about scaring the bejeebers out of the na¯ve and fearful. Cowardly? Would he ever make a presentation for the Health Physics Society or American Nuclear Society? Would he agree to debate the issues with people like Rod Adams, Will Davis, or myself? Of course not! Cowardly!
P. S. I would love to have been there for the Q&A session that always follows presentations of this sort. It is conspicuously missing. I wonder why?
VIDEO- Josh Earnest compares soldiers fighting Ebola to them getting haircuts - YouTube
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:32
VIDEO- Chicago Activists Unchained, Destroy Black Leadership - YouTube
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:23
VIDEO-On MSNBC, Graham Nash Blasts Koch Bros.; 'Execution' of Michael Brown
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:17
On Monday's Morning Joe, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough prompted hippie icon Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash fame to promote his new song about the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Nash wildly contended that "what happened with...almost, the execution of Michael Brown, we had to say something."
Scarborough also asked the singer/songwriter to give his take about other political issues. Nash forwarded a standard left-wing talking point '' that "the powers that be that run this world have us exactly where they want us. They want everyone to just lie down, shut up, while we rob you." He also took a shot at a regular boogeyman for MSNBC: the Koch brothers: [MP3 audio available here; video below]
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And speaking about the environment '' obviously, always a critical issue for you '' the environment; also, nukes-
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about the fight for a cleaner, safer environment. Where do we stand on that?
NASH: Well, you know, there are many, many problems facing us '' especially with the acidification of the ocean and the rising of the temperatures and the melting of the glaciers. But it all really stems from climate change, you know?
NASH: And, you know, it's appalling how many climate change deniers there are in this world that are paid to make sure that the Koch brothers can still sell all the stuff to us. And I often wonder, don't the Koch brothers have children? Don't they have grandchildren? Don't they know what they're doing in this quest for more money? They're already one of the richest families in the world. How much more do you need? I mean, seriously, it's a terrible thing that's going on, but we have to be able to rationally deal with it. And when '' you know, 90 percent of the scientists say that climate change is happening, we have to listen.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski then extended an invitation for Nash to expound more on his left-leaning views on the environment: "So let's actually do a whole segment on that. Graham, you should come back '' because we '' there are many sides to that story."
Oddly, Scarborough ended the segment by accompanying his guest as the singer played his old standard, "Teach Your Children Well."
VIDEO-Crushed Ford Nation members predict doomsday for Toronto after Tory victory - Yahoo News Canada
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:13
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VIDEO-Obama on Early Voting: "You Can Only Vote Once; This Isn't Chicago" | Video | RealClearPolitics
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:44
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At a Tuesday evening campaign event for Mary Burke, Democratic nominee for governor of Wisconsin, President Barack Obama encouraged voters to participate in early voting.
"One week, Wisconsin. One week. One week from today you get to choose a new governor. And because early voting runs through this Friday, you don't have to wait until election day," Obama told the crowd in Milwaukee.
"You can vote all week," Obama added.
"I mean you can only vote once, this isn't Chicago now," Obama told the crowd, laughing.
"I'm teasing Chicago, I'm messing with you. That was a long time ago," Obama added.
VIDEO-Elizabeth Warren Blames Republicans for Ebola
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:04
"Instead of making those investments up front, we wait until people die," Warren said. "Of course I'm worried, but part of this reminds me -- this is why elections matter and why they matter over time. you know, Ebola is not new. We've known about it for a long time. We were putting money into funding Ebola many years ago and the republicans have cut funding overall for medical research, for the National Institute of Health, and Ebola has not been a priority. So now we're in a position where instead of making those investments up front, we wait until people die. Now we're going to spend billions of dollars. and some real risk to our country. We can't just run this country one crisis to another. What congress is supposed to do is help us make the investments early and make sure that it keeps us all safe."
Warren did not point out, however, in 2014 the Republican-controlled House increased CDC spending $300 million more than was requested by President Barack Obama, to $567 million. Since 2000, the CDC budget has increased from $3.5 billion to $6.8 billion.
Warren also attempted to blame the Obama's unpopularity on Republicans to which "CBS This Morning" host Charlie Rose protested.
"Why is the president so unpopular?" Rose asked.
Warren replied, "Let's remember that the Republicans said we're going to do everything we can to make him a failed president. We're going to block every move."
Rose interrupted, "So the president's unpopular because of Republicans?"
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO- Pelosi taken apart by David Gregory on false Obamacare promises - YouTube
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:53
VIDEO-Alex Israel, Katie Foley... Now Jennifer Joseph - YouTube
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:32
VIDEO-The highly sophisticated hacking of Sharyl Attkisson's computers | Fox News
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:58
From the moment that Sharyl Attkisson met a shadowy source I'll call Big Mac, she was plunged into a nightmare involving mysterious surveillance of her computers.
They met at a McDonald's in Northern Virginia at the beginning of 2013, and the source (she dubs him Number One) warned her about the threat of government spying. During their next hamburger rendezvous, Big Mac told Attkisson, then a CBS News reporter constantly at odds with the Obama administration, that he was ''shocked'' and ''flabbergasted'' by his examination of her computer and that this was ''worse than anything Nixon ever did.''
Attkisson's forthcoming book--''Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction and Intimidation in Obama's Washington'''--reads in part like a spy thriller. Just when you think Attkisson's imagination might be running away with her comes wave after wave of evidence that both her CBS computer and personal iMac were repeatedly hacked and its files accessed, including one on Benghazi. A consultant hired by CBS reached the same conclusion. Further scrutiny of her personal desktop proves that ''the interlopers were able to co-opt my iMac and operate it remotely, as if they were sitting in front of it.'' And an inspection revealed that an extra fiber-optics line had been installed in Attkisson's home without her knowledge.
This is chilling stuff.
There is the strong implication that an administration that spied on the Associated Press and Fox News correspondent James Rosen might have been involved. A Justice Department spokesman said in an earlier statement that "to our knowledge" the department "has never 'compromised' Ms. Attkisson's computers" or tried to obtain information from any of her devices. A spokeswoman for CBS News said the network had no comment on the book.
In the fall of 2013, with White House officials accusing Attkisson of being biased in her Benghazi reporting, the files in her MacBook Air suddenly began deleting at hyperspeed right before her eyes. She videotaped the process and showed it to two computer experts. "They're [blanking] with you," one says. "They're trying to send you a message," says the other. The experts also found evidence that the intruders had tried to cover their tracks by erasing 23 hours of log-in information.
The computer melodrama forms the backdrop for the deterioration of Attkisson's relationship with CBS, where she worked for two decades and won Emmys and other awards. Time and again, she writes, network executives in New York and Washington derailed her stories and treated her like a troublemaker:
''They rarely said the story wasn't going to air. They just let it sit around and 'loved it' until it began to stink like old fish.''
And Attkisson names names, saying the blocking of her work became virtually routine under CBS anchor Scott Pelley and his then-executive producer, Pat Shevlin. Stories were repeatedly rewritten, watered down and delayed until they never made air, she says. And Attkisson says these weren't just stories that took on politically charged controversies involving the administration, but also pieces that challenged government waste and corporate conduct, such as the questions surrounding Boeing's Dreamliner.
Perhaps the most eye-opening tale involves CBS's ''60 Minutes,'' Benghazi and the president. During the second presidential debate in 2012, Obama challenged Mitt Romney by insisting he had labeled the assault in Libya a terrorist attack the very next day. This became a huge controversy, especially since CNN's Candy Crowley had sided with the president.
Turns out that Steve Kroft had conducted a ''60 Minutes'' interview with Obama the day after the attack, portions of which had never aired. When Attkisson did a story on the flap, her CBS bosses instructed her to use a particular script and a particular sound bite that seemed to back up the president's version.
She was stunned when a CBS colleague later read her another exchange from the interview:
KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya attack.
OBAMA: Right.
The correspondent then asked point-blank:
KROFT: Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?
OBAMA: Well, it's too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans.
Attkisson writes, ''I couldn't get past the fact that upper-level journalists at CBS had been a party to misleading the public.''
Under pressure from Attkisson and others, the network posted the exchange on its website the Sunday night before the election, but it got lost in the final hours of the campaign. She says CBS News President David Rhodes promised her there would be an internal investigation, but she never heard another word about it.
Attkisson, who will not comment until the book is published, resigned in frustration last spring. She says there was a campaign to paint her as a disgruntled conservative, while in reality she investigated George W. Bush's administration as aggressively as Obama's.
More important, she makes a broader case against agenda-driven journalism: ''We do stories on food stamps, but only to the extent that we prove the cast that they're needed, without also examining well-established fraud and abuse. We look at unemployment but only to the extent that we present sympathetic characters showing that benefits should be extended rather than examining, also, the escalating cost and instances of fraud. We cover minimum wage but only to the extent that we help make the case for raising it, without giving much due to the other side, which argued it will have the opposite effect than intended.''
Attkisson doesn't explicitly accuse CBS and the rest of the mainstream media of a pervasive liberal bias. But that view is clear from sheer accumulation of detail in her book.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.
VIDEO: Turkey PM 'will help coalition forces'
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:45
Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has told the BBC that Turkey will continue to help coalition forces if there is a co-ordinated plan for the creation of a ''democratic'' Syria.
Speaking to Lyse Doucet, Mr Davutoglu called for the equipping and training of the Free Syrian Army.
He also described the challenges of saving the embattled Syrian town of Kobane.
VIDEO: Blackouts 'more likely this winter'
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:43
The National Grid is expected to confirm on Tuesday that the amount of spare capacity has decreased significantly from last year.
The operator of the national power network is publishing its yearly outlook, which predicts how energy supply will match demand.
It is expected to say spare capacity has fallen to a seven-year low, but that measures have been taken to make sure the lights stay on.
Esyllt Carr reports.
VIDEO: Cantlie appears in 'Kobane video'
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:25
British hostage John Cantlie has appeared in a new Islamic State (IS) video in which he says he is speaking from the key Syrian town of Kobane.
In an apparently scripted video, Mr Cantlie comments on the battle for the town on the Turkish border and refers to events of the past two weeks, as Bridget Kendall reports.
VIDEO-Activist Post: Judge Napolitano: IRS Seizing Cash Deposits From Small Businesses
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 04:32
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VIDEO-'At peace' in war: A former U.S. soldier battles ISIS -
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:53
Jordan Matson, a former U.S. Army solider, is fighting against ISISHe was never in combat during two years in the U.S. military"Civilian life just wasn't for me," he saysU.S. law enforcement officials say it's illegal for an American to join a Syrian militiaRojava, Northern Syria (CNN) -- A small town in Wisconsin is a far cry from the civil war-ravaged fields of northern Syria.
But for Jordan Matson, a former U.S. solider, the battlefield feels most like home.
For the last month, Matson, 28, has been a volunteer fighter in the Kurdish militia known here as the People's Protection Units, or YPG. The group has been defending three small Kurdish statelets in northern Syria. The Kurdish militants have also spent much of the last year battling ISIS, the hardline jihadist group that wants to create an Islamic state across parts of Iraq and Syria.
"Due to two years of almost no foreign policy in the region -- while these people threatened American citizens, and bring harm to us -- I think I decided enough was enough, and I decided to come out this way," Matson said.
He saw the fall of Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, as a turning point.
"All of the American brothers that have died over there -- all the American veterans that have died over there -- and paid their lives for that country so they could have a democracy. That just resonated in my mind. And I couldn't live with myself letting that country fall, and all my brothers' lives be for nothing," Matson said.
But instead of ending up in Iraq, Matson joined the YPG in Syria.
It marked a dramatic turn for the former soldier. During more than two years in the U.S. military, Matson says, he never saw combat, nor was he shipped overseas to serve.
In Syria, he saw action almost as soon as he arrived.
Two days after reaching the Kurdish enclave known as Rojava, he says, he was hit by a mortar round during a firefight with ISIS.
Now mostly recovered from shrapnel wounds, but still squinting occasionally from the wounds caused by the dirt that the mortar shell sprayed in his eye, Matson met CNN in the YPG-controlled town of Al-Malikiyah.
"All my life, I've wanted to be a soldier. So it just fits well over here," he said. "I'm at peace being here."
'Taking the fight to the enemy'
Matson is from Sturtevant, Wisconsin, a "mom and pop town" as he described it, with just a few restaurants and three gas stations.
He worked the third shift at a food packaging company but missed military life. Matson said he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2007. Because of problems with his record, he says the military refused to take him back, despite his multiple efforts to re-enlist.
"Civilian life just wasn't for me. The normal 9-to-5, I just wasn't comfortable with it," he said. "Over here, everything makes sense."
Matson got in contact with the YPG on Facebook. He prayed about what to do for a month or two, he said, before making the leap.
He flew to Turkey, where he was picked up and taken to Rojava, a Kurdish-controlled area of northern Syria.
Matson misses a few things about the United States: hamburgers, toilets, rock 'n' roll.
But he wouldn't change where he is for anything. He speaks about the Kurdish movement with the fervor of a recent convert.
"It's for these people that I'm doing this. Yes, it does help Americans back home, because we're taking the fight to the enemy here, so they can't take it to us. So it's that to a degree. But, for me, it's for the Kurdish people," Matson said.
U.S. airdrops give much needed aid in Kobani, but did ISIS get some?
Foreign fighters
U.S. law enforcement officials say it's illegal for an American to join a Syrian militia, just as it is for an American to join ISIS.
According to intelligence estimates, more than 100 of the foreign fighters for ISIS in Syria have come from the United States.
Canadian authorities believe that 130 Canadian citizens are taking part in jihad. Hundreds more have traveled from Europe. Thousands come from the Middle East and Africa.
When asked whether he saw any parallels between those foreign jihadi fighters and himself, Matson said there's nothing he can do to change their minds.
"They've come here to push an agenda, to push one way of life over people who do not want it. And I will not sit and stand by while people like that take those actions," he said.
He says he believes the U.S. government is watching what he does, but will not consider him a terrorist, nor deny him re-entry. If that happens, however, Matson says he could just stay in Kurdistan.
"Once this fight is over, and ISIS has been crippled, then the next stage of my life, then I'll think about that," he said.
After the rescue: A Yazidi family's harrowing flight to escape ISIS
'Someone has to do it'
Since recovering from his wounds, Matson has been working to bring other foreign fighters to Syria. He says he's recruiting for the YPG on social media.
Most of the people interested are former military, he said.
"I've had ex-military ask from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia, you name it. They've been asking. ISIS has threatened all these countries that I've named to push their agenda in those nations, and the veterans of those nations who love their countries don't want to sit by while this is happening," he said.
The YPG are lightly armed guerrilla fighters. Most lack helmets and armor. They rely heavily on Kalashnikov assault rifles. But their ranks have also been reinforced by Kurds from Turkey, many of whom are veterans of a 30-year guerrilla war fought between the Turkish state and a sister organization to the YPG known as the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The U.S., the European Union and Turkey officially list the PKK as a terrorist organization.
The bloodbath in the Middle East has blurred loyalties. This month, the United States began providing air support to YPG fighters defending the Syrian border town of Kobani from an ISIS siege. In addition to bombing ISIS militants in and around Kobani, U.S. military planes parachuted weapons, ammunition and medicine to YPG fighters, infuriating the Turkish government.
Matson said the YPG could use more support on the ground, in addition to ongoing U.S.-led airstrikes.
Although those strikes, he said, have helped to shift the balance of power on the battlefield, he stressed that a lot more needs to be done. As soon as he can, he says, he'll head back to the front line.
"The way I look at it is someone has to do it, and if we don't fight, ISIS will grow -- will become more well-funded -- and they will push their agenda. So we need men on the front to take the fight to the enemy before the enemy can take the fight to us," Matson said.
Ivan Watson reported from Rojava. Dana Ford reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Ben Brumfield also contributed to this report.
VIDEO-At least 20 establishment figures may have been part of paedophile ring | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:13
Former child protection manager claims abusers operated for 65 yearsPeter McKelvie first raised alarm about paedophile politicians in the 1980sSays abusers may also include judges and people linked to Royal FamilyMcKelvie says victims may finally get justice after decades of being ignoredLord Warner says 'children's homes were a supply line' for paedophilesBy John Hall
Published: 02:21 EST, 8 July 2014 | Updated: 07:08 EST, 8 July 2014
A 'powerful elite' of at least 20 prominent establishment figures formed a VIP paedophile ring that abused children for decades, a whistleblower claimed today.
Peter McKelvie - the former child protection officer who first raised the alarm about high profile individuals engaged in child sex abuse - said senior politicians, military figures and even people linked to the Royal Family are among the alleged abusers.
Mr Kelvie said that their campaign of abuse may have been going on for as long as 65 years but 'there has always been the block and the cover-up and the collusion to prevent an investigation.'
Speaking in public for the first time in 20 years, Mr McKelvie, whose claims led to Scotland Yard's 2012 Operation Fernbridge investigation into allegations of a paedophile network linked to Downing Street, said the alleged VIP child abuse ring may at last face justice, although several members may be dead.
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Allegations: Peter McKelvie said abusers could include senior politicians, military figures and even people linked to the Royal Family. 'At the most serious level, we're talking about the brutal rape of young boys', he said
Speaking to BBC's Newsnight programme, Mr McKelvie said: 'For the last 30 years and longer than that, there have been a number of allegations made by survivors that people at the top of very powerful institutions in this country - which include politicians, judges, senior military figures and even people that have links with the Royal Family - have been involved in the abuse of children.'
'At the most serious level, we're talking about the brutal rape of young boys,' he added.
Describing the child abusers as making up a 'small percentage' of the British establishment at the time, Mr McKelvie admitted there was 'a slightly larger percentage' of people who knew about the abuse but did not report it to the police.
He said these people 'felt that in terms of their own self-interest and self-preservation and for political party reasons, it has been safer for them to cover it up than deal with it.'
Mr McKelvie, a former child protection manager for Hereford and Worcester council, has spent the past 20 years compiling evidence of alleged abuse by establishment figures.
His claims prompted Operation Fernbridge - the 2012 Scotland Yard investigation into allegations of a paedophile network with links to Downing Street.
In a separate interview with the BBC website, Mr McKelvie said child abuse by establishment figures may have been going on for as long as 65 years but added that a 'cover-up' has always prevented an investigation'
Following yesterday's announcement by Home Secretary Theresa May that there would be two public inquiries into how historical claims of child abuse were dealt with, Mr McKelvie said it was 'crucial' that victims have the biggest say on who carries out the investigations.
One of the inquiries, led by NSPCC chief Peter Wanless, is to review an investigation conducted last year into the Home Office's handling of past child abuse allegations.
But Mr McKelvie said he was sceptical that the involvement of the NSPCC would encourage victims to come forward because it is widely seen to be the 'charity of the establishment.'
'For many many years [the NSPCC] had people like Rolf Harris and Jimmy Savile associated with the fundraising side of it,' he added.
On BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Lord Warner, who ran social services in Kent and was later an aide to Jack Straw when he was Home Secretary, was asked if he believed claims MPs and peers were among the 20 alleged paedophiles.
'I think they are possibly true. I haven't seen the evidence. What I do know is that the 1980s was a slightly strange period when what started to emerge was much more detail, many more cases, about children being sexually abused. Some of this abuse was actually taking place within families... but many others, as a pivotal point, in children's homes,' he said.
'We certainly know from the inquiry I did in 1992 for Virginia Bottomley children's homes were targeted by people in power, powerful people. It's possible that people who were authoritative, powerful, in particular communities did sometimes have access to children's homes,' he added.
'We know for historical purposes that children's homes were a supply line sometimes'.
A Whitehall inquiry found that £476,250 was granted to organisations connected to the Paedophile Information Exchange. The findings were released as Home Secretary Theresa May (above) announced a major inquiry
May announces Hillsborough-style investigation into abuse claims
Mr McKelvie's allegations come as it emerged the Home Office gave nearly £500,000 to groups linked to campaigners for sex with children.
A Whitehall inquiry found 'clear evidence' that £476,250 was granted over a decade to two organisations connected to the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange.
The findings were released yesterday as Home Secretary Theresa May announced a major inquiry into how public bodies dealt with historical allegations of child sex abuse.
As the paedophile scandal continued to engulf Westminster, it also emerged that:
A separate inquiry, led by NSPCC chief Peter Wanless, is to review an investigation conducted last year into the Home Office's handling of past child abuse allegations;Prosecutors decided in 1998 not to lay child abuse charges against Liberal MP Cyril Smith despite ruling they were likely to succeed;A former head of PIE hid documents inside the Home Office, where he was cleared to work as a contractor;A member of the Heath government suggested he could secure the loyalty of MPs by covering up scandals involving them and 'small boys';An unnamed minister in Tony Blair's government was alleged to have tried to help a convicted paedophile foster two boys;Former home secretary Lord Brittan insisted allegations that he failed to deal properly with allegations of child abuse were completely without foundation;One of the first MPs to call for an overarching inquiry, Lib Dem Tessa Munt, revealed she was a victim of child abuse.A Daily Mail investigation earlier this year revealed shocking links between PIE, which campaigned for the age of consent to be dramatically lowered, and three senior Labour figures who held key roles in the National Council for Civil Liberties.
Former health secretary Patricia Hewitt was forced to apologise for her dealings with PIE, although Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and her husband, home affairs spokesman Jack Dromey, strongly denied giving any support to the pro-paedophile group.
Earlier this year former health secretary Patricia Hewitt (Above) was forced to apologise for her dealings with to the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman (left) and her husband, home affairs spokesman Jack Dromey (right), have previously strongly denied giving any support to the Paedophile Information Exchange group
But Lord Warner stopped short of describing the matter as a cover-up, saying: 'A cover-up to me means something is very organised. I think much more of this is about people being insensitive to some of these concerns and not being as preoccupied with protecting vulnerable people, children and adults.'
Last December a former employee accused the Home Office of giving tens of thousands of pounds to PIE through its Voluntary Services Unit, which provided annual grants for charities.
Civil servants launched a trawl through 35,000 documents to investigate the claims, focusing on the VSU's activities between 1973 and 1985.
Their findings were finally published yesterday, prompting concerns that it had been timed so it would be overshadowed by Mrs May's announcement of an over-arching inquiry.
It found that two groups associated with the child sex-supporting lobbyists did receive hundreds of thousands of pounds from the VSU.
The Albany Trust, which was founded to support 'sexual minorities', received £65,750 between 1974 and 1980.
The trust invited representatives from PIE and a group called Paedophile Action for Liberation to a series of meetings in 1975 to discuss setting up a paedophile support group and publishing an information pamphlet about paedophilia.
In 1977 the Home Office expressed 'some disquiet' about the way in which the trust was carrying out its work, the report noted. In 1970 the Albany Trust funded the translation of the findings of a Dutch government inquiry, known as the Speijer Report, which looked at lowering the age of consent for homosexuals.
A Whitehall inquiry found 'clear evidence' that £476,250 was granted to the organisations while the Home Office was situated in its former location in Petty France, Westminster (above)
It also emerged that prosecutors decided in 1998 not to lay child abuse charges against Liberal MP Cyril Smith (left) despite ruling they were likely to succeed and that former home secretary Lord Brittan (right) insisted allegations that he failed to deal properly with allegations of child abuse were completely without foundation
Keith Vaz says files had been lost 'on an industrial scale'
Campaigner Mary Whitehouse alleged that PIE obtained this English translation several years later and sold it for £1 per copy.
A second charity, Release, which offered advice on issues including drugs, medical and housing problems, was given £410,500 by the VSU between 1974 and 1984 via the Princedale Trust. In 1975 Release moved to 1 Elgin Avenue in London.
The same year Release allowed PIE to begin using the same address for correspondence.
The Home Office report said it was 'impossible to determine' whether VSU money given to the two charities was indirectly used to support PIE's work, although it noted no evidence was found to confirm that it did.
The report said the whistleblower's account of seeing a Home Office document from about 1980 that listed a grant renewal of £30,000 for PIE was 'credible'. But the review concluded that 'on the balance of probabilities' no money was given to PIE.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale who exposed Cyril Smith's abuse and led calls for a full inquiry into the alleged official cover-up of child abuse, said: 'This report raises as many questions as it answers about the Home Office's use of public funds to support groups linked to the Paedophile Information Exchange.
'This does little to end concerns about the Home Office's handling of child sexual abuse allegations over many years.
'Releasing the report on the same day that the Home Secretary announced a major public inquiry into these issues will make some people wonder whether there has been an attempt to bury its findings.'
The chilling claims that a paedophile ring may have been operating within the British establishment first emerged in an investigation by campaigning Conservative politician Geoffrey Dickens.
In November 1983, the MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth in Greater Manchester sent a 40-page document to then Home Secretary Leon Brittan detailing alleged VIP child abusers, apparently including former Liberal party chief whip Cyril Smith and other senior politicians.
In a newspaper interview at the time, Mr Dickens claimed his dossier contained the names of eight 'really important public figures' that he planned to expose, and whose crimes are believed to have stretched back to the 1960s.
November 1983:
Geoffrey Dickens produces a huge dossier detailing allegations of sexual abuse against prominent figures in the British establishment. He tells his family the claims will 'blow apart' the VIP paedophile ring.
March 1984:
Home Secretary Leon Brittan tells Mr Dickens that his dossier has been assessed by prosecutors and passed on to the police, but no further action is taken. The dossier is now either lost or missing.
May 1995
Geoffrey Dickens dies. A short time later his wife destroys his copy of the paedophile dossier. The only other copies - one received by Mr Brittan and another allegedly sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions - are believed to have been lost or destroyed.
September 2010
The 29-stone Rochdale MP Sir Cyril Smith dies aged 82 without ever being charged with sex offences.
Following the death of Sir Jimmy Savile, dozens of claims of historic child abuse emerge - including a number of alleged victims of Smith, who is said to have spanked and sexually abused teenage boys at a hostel he co-founded in the early 1960s.
October 2012
During Prime Minister's Questions, Labour MP Tom Watson claims there is 'clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No10'.
November 2012
Lancashire Police announced they will be investigating claims of sexual abuse by Smith relating to incidents before 1974, while Greater Manchester Police will investigate claims after 1974.
November 2012
The Crown Prosecution Service admits Smith should have been charged with crimes of abuse more than 40 years earlier. The CPS also admitted Smith had been investigated in 1970, 1974, 1998, and 1999 but rejected every opportunity to prosecute him.
November 2012
A former special branch officer, Tony Robinson, says a historic dossier 'packed' with information about Smith's sex crimes was actually in the hands of Mi5 - despite officially having been 'lost' decades earlier.
December 2012
Scotland Yard sets up Operation Fairbank to investigate claims a paedophile ring operated at the Elm Guest House in Barnes, southwest London, in the 1970s and 80s. Among those abusing children are said to have been a number of prominent politicians.
February 2013
Operation Fernbridge is established to investigate the Elm Guest House alleged paedophile ring.
February 2013
It is claimed a 'paedophile ring of VIPs' also operated at the Grafton Close Children's Home in Richmond, Surrey.
February 2013
Two men, a Catholic priest from Norwich, and a man understood to be connected to Grafton Close, arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and questioned by Operation Fernbridge officers.
June 2013
Scotland Yard claims that seven police officers are working full time on Operation Fernbridge and are following more than 300 leads.
June 2013
Charles Napier, the half-brother of senior Conservative politician John Whittingdale, is arrested by Operation Fairbank officers.
December 2013
Some senior Labour party politicians linked to pro-paedophile campaign group the Paedophile Information Exchange, which was affiliated with the National Council for Civil Liberties pressure group, now known as Liberty, in the 1970s and early 1980s.
December 2013
Police search the home of Lord Janner as part of a historical sex abuse investigation. He is not arrested.
February 2014
Current deputy leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman, who was NCCL's in-house lawyer at the time of its affiliation with PIE and even met her husband Jack Dromey while working there, is forced to deny she supported the activities of the pro-paedophile collective.
February 2014
Patricia Hewitt, Labour's former Secretary of State for Health who was NCCL's general secretary for nine years, later apologised and said she had been 'naive and wrong' to consider PIE a legitimate campaign group.
June 2014
Lord Janner's Westminster office is searched by police. Again the peer is not arrested.
July 3, 2014
Labour MP Simon Danczuk called on Leon Brittan to say what he knew about the Dickens dossier. It emerges the dossier has now been either lost or destroyed and the Home Office admits it can find no evidence of any criminal inquiry relating to it.
July 5, 2014
More than 10 current and former politicians are said to be on a list of alleged child abusers held by police investigating claims of an alleged paedophile ring.
July 6, 2014
Home Office permanent secretary Mark Sedwill reveals that 114 files relating to historic allegations of child sex abuse, from between 1979 and 1999, have disappeared from the Home Office.
It is also revealed that former Home Secretary Lord Brittan was accused of raping a student in 1967. The 2012 allegation was not investigated until Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders ordered the Met Police to re-open the case in June this year.
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AUDIO-Transcript: C. Peter McColough Series'--After the Financial Crisis: Is the World Economy Now Safe? - Council on Foreign Relations
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 14:44
HomeFinancial CrisesC. Peter Mccolough Series: After the Financial Crisis: Is the World Economy Now Safe?Connect With Us: Speaker: Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times; Author, The Shocks: What We've Learned'--and Have Still to Learn'--from the Financial CrisisPresider: R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean, Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Graduate School of Business, Columbia UniversityOctober 17, 2014
HUBBARD: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this C. PeterMcColough lecture series discussion with Martin Wolf of the FinancialTimes.
I'll do the short Oprah Winfrey moment here at the beginning and hold up a copy of Martin's new book, "The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned -- and Have Still to Learn -- from the Financial Crisis."
It is an absolutely terrific read, as anybody familiar withMartin's work could guess.
Just a short introduction, though he really doesn't need one.Martin is a recovering World Banker. He is a CBE in 2000 for hisfinancial journalism contributions, an honorary fellow of NuffieldCollege at Oxford and a World Economic Forum stalwart.
He is, of course, to all of us in this room, a regular andfeatured Financial Times columnist, whose pieces are must-reads. Ican say that from positions in academia and business and ingovernment, always having enjoyed talking with Martin and working withhim.
His writing is always extremely economics-oriented, which to aneconomist is a good thing, but also very cogent and well-written,which very few economists manage to pull off.
And "The Shifts and the Shocks" is no -- is no exception. It'snot really a review of what precipitated the crisis as much as it is adiscussion of shifts that are needed in thinking and policymaking.
So Martin, to get started, whenever I think about the financialcrisis, I often start at a place you do in the book, which is actuallythe Queen of England's question at the London School Economics.
The Queen of England actually asked one of the most cogentquestions in the financial crisis, and the question was this: "Whydid nobody notice it"?
The issue then in our profession that often gets discussed isthat it was a forecasting error. We simply blew it. Weestimated one thing, and it was something else.
But the issue that you talk about in the book is -- is actuallymuch deeper than that, and you hearken back to the idea that's -- that'smore terrible, that is, that we didn't even entertain the notion of afinancial crisis. And we all know that that kind of complacencywould've amused Hy Minsky, who famously wrote about financial crises.
How should we rethink our role or our conception of a crisis andthe role of finance in the economy?WOLF: Wonderful question.
First of all, it's a great pleasure to be back here. I've alwaysenjoyed my association with the Council, and it's a great opportunityto discuss the book here, so I'm very pleased to be here.
My starting point obviously is exactly with -- indeed, it was --it is the starting point of the book, because I start with -- I thinkit's in the preface -- with Hy Minsky's remark that economics -- anymacroeconomic theory, as it were -- macroeconomic view has to includethe possibility of great depressions. It's one of the possible statesof the world.
And I suppose it is true that for most economists, increasingly,as the Great Depression faded into the past and economic theoryevolved in the post-war period, as we knew it did -- though we coulddiscuss this further -- this possibility really disappeared from the-- the -- the way we thought.
Now, of course, people were very, very well aware that there'dbeen lots of financial crises in emerging countries. There'd been abig crisis in Asian emerging countries, for example, Latin America's(inaudible) Tequila crisis, the Latin American debt crisis.
Not that people aren't aware that crises have occurred, andthey'd also, of course, occurred in some developed countries.
But these were usually explained away by special features --crony capitalism, something like this -- some way in which thesecountries didn't really understand capitalism the way Americans andBritish people understood capitalism, so they -- they -- it was quiteunderstandable they made such a mess of it.
But of course, we really did. We were -- as I pointed out in thebook, this was seen, rightly, I think, as the -- London and New Yorkwere seen as the centers of world capitalism, financial capitalism andthe most sophisticated institutions and theoretically, the mostsophisticated central banks.
So it was sort of thought, I think, by most economists, that this just couldn'thappen.
Well, once we -- one realized -- and I have to say that I didn'tthink that it couldn't happen in -- that there couldn't be a financialcrisis, but I certainly didn't think, until it happened, that we couldthe financial crisis on the scale we did have in 2008.
That obviously raises profound questions. And in part of thebook, one of the chapters in the book is about the perspectives ofdifferent economic schools going back to the late 19th century. Istart with Wicksell--on the question of what makes financial fragility, how thefinancial sector interacts with the real economy, why one can'treally have any serious of macroeconomics which doesn't treat creditand money and the -- the role of the private sector in creating both acentral -- that -- that's a central part of my book. All seems prettyobvious now, but it wasn't very obvious before.
I don't want to make this invidious, but probably the mostinfluential living macroeconomist, Robert Lucas, has this famousremark, which, of course, I couldn't get away from, in hispresidential address, I think '94 -- I can't remember the exact date-- in which he says, "Well, of course, the problem of depressions hasbeen resolved, to intents and purposes, for all time."
So we have to, I think -- one of the lessons of the -- of theexperience and one of the things I grapple with in the book is what itmeans for economics.
HUBBARD: And of course, Lucas subsequently is awarded the NobelPrize in Economics...
WOLF: Indeed.
HUBBARD: ... on top of that, and draws on a rich tradition,because Arthur Burns, in his presidential address, said that thebusiness cycle was dead. So economists have a long history of thissort of forecasting.
WOLF: We do suffer from hubris rather badly, don't we?
HUBBARD: Yeah, I'm afraid that's true.
Well, your -- your book does talk a great deal about policyaction, and there's a lot there, but I want to focus with you on oneparticular area.
You have a quite -- at least in my view, quite radical proposalto shift to narrow banking a la what you rightly refer back to in thebook as the old Chicago plan from the 20thcentury.
Do we really need to do this, and is it not possible that analternative of more contingent capital and a credible end to "too bigto fail" would do the trick?
And isn't the issue really more one of leverage and not this bankleverage? So is this solution really right?
Tell us about the narrow...
WOLF: Well, I think there's -- there're a whole set of veryinteresting issues about alternative proposals.
So I put forward -- discuss a number of possible ways forward to-- to deleverage the system and to make the financial system lessfragile.
And in fact, most of my focus is on raising capital. That's the-- the longest discussion in the section on financial sector reform.There isn't one chapter on financial sector reform, and since so manyhundreds of thousands of millions of words have been written on --obviously can't cover everything.
So it does seem to me that given where we are now, the naturalway to go is in the direction of raising capital requirements in bankstowards levels which would've been regarded as perfectly reasonable acentury ago.
And of course, that would have implications for neobanks, forentities that -- that essentially pursue bank-like strategies, whichare not called banks. These would emerge, so there're always going tobe some difficulties about that.
And I also talk about resolution regimes, which are relatedreally to your contingent capital or debt. If we pursue that, thatwill certainly be -- certainly be a big improvement, and it might besufficient to -- to help -- to help a great deal.
Now, my interest in the -- the Chicago plan actually has two aspectsto it, one probably much more controversial than the other.
The more obvious one is -- is simply the idea that if you have asystem who -- which creates most of our money, all (ph) our money, asa byproduct of its lending activities, the -- I describe this as essentially a public-privatepartnership in the creation of money, with the central bank backingthese entities.
Then the -- it's very, very likely -- and this is clearly whatthe Chicago plan people concluded -- that at some point, this will runaway with itself. There will be a point at which it will run awaywith itself.
When it does run away with itself, the elasticity of the systemis -- I mean Wicksell's great insight is that there is no stoppingpoint before credit collapse, you know, before mass bankruptcy. Itmust (ph) continue.
You have this insight -- let's think about it as if there's onebank. It's lending, creates money, and as long as people are preparedto -- to hold it and go on without limit -- doesn't need capital untilsuddenly, people are worried about the soundness of the loans, andthat takes a long time.
But if you move to 100 percent reserve banking or evenvery high reserve banking, you will curtail this elasticity very,very significantly, and you can give central banks much more directcontrol than -- than interest rate policy has given them in the pastover what they do.
And these banks would then be sound. There would no -- be noreason to run on them. Of course, it is absolutely true that youwould then have the question of what happens outside this core system.And one -- and we -- I discuss this to some extent. There areobviously a number of possibilities.
One, you would in -- in -- there will be -- you would not allowany other institutions to become very much like banks. And as soon asthey did, they would have come under the same perspective, the sameconstraints.
I won't go into all the details of this, but the -- my --my proposal here is these, I think, very, very interesting ideas, andI would like somebody to try experiment with it. So I'm trying to getthe Icelanders to do this at the moment...
... and -- and see what would happen. I think Iceland isperfectly suited. Now, there is another aspect to what I think, whichis much more radical than that. And it's not something I put forwardvery strongly, but I have become -- and I -- I genuinely think thisis, to me, a puzzle, a real puzzle. But we seem to find it very, verydifficult to create reasonably balanced and stable demand growth inour economies at the moment without credit bubbles. It seems tobecome a pandemic phenomenon.
Now, I have some views of why this has happened. Andmaybe people in the audience have better views than I do. But itdoes seem to me a feature. Well, if that's the case, then I supposeI'm increasingly tempted by the idea that the solution to that problem-- if that's the problem-- is Milton Friedman's helicopter money.
And that -- and that means government-created money is thesimplest way of financing expansions in demand if the only alternativeis crazy credit booms. And, of course, if you go that way, since youwant to contain the consequences, you want to manage that, well, then,you -- you end up with, inevitably, as we can see already with Dewey,huge reserves in the -- in the banking sector.
You can see the reserves, and I think we are going to end upin all arctic countries with much higher reserve requirements in orderto manage those. I think that's how that will probably end up. Because I don't think these balance sheets will be reversed. I may be wrong on that.
And I think it's possible that we will be forced to do more ofthat in the future. I stress possible. I don't say certain. But itis one of the puzzles about where we are that we have become socredit-bubble dependent.
HUBBARD: I want to come back to the credit bubble and theradical Martin in a moment, but I want to keep on this issue ofneobanking for a moment. So if one had neobanking, so no morefractional reserve banking, 100 percent reserves, which is the oldChicago plan...
WOLF: Yeah.
HUBBARD: ... what would you do about your banks? How would theFederal Reserve or any other regulatory entity assure itself thatleverage doesn't just simply move from commercial banks to somewhereelse?
WOLF: Well, the Chicago plan, as I understand it, had twoversions of this. The most important proponent of the Chicago planwas, of course, Irving Fisher, who was not at Chicago, I think.
HUBBARD: He was not.
WOLF: So it's not really a Chicago plan. Anyway, Irving Fisherwas...
HUBBARD: (inaudible)
WOLF: Yeah. Yeah, yes. Irving Fisher was the -- greatestAmerican economist. I think he was. And so...
HUBBARD: Although he, too, said stocks were the...
WOLF: Yeah, yeah...
WOLF: He got bankrupted by -- the failure to foresee stockprices is -- has devastated many individuals, and I don't there'sanyone who suggested that economists are necessarily particularly goodat that.
HUBBARD: That's correct.
WOLF: So...
HUBBARD: My wife would confirm that.
Well, they had essentially two ideas. One idea, which is themost radical, is essentially Kotlikoff's. I mean, Kotlikoff hasresurrected this.
HUBBARD: This is Larry Kotlikoff who is...
WOLF: ... has produced a book, which is really -- I think herefers to the Chicago plan, but as far as I can see, it's identical.I mean, essentially, his idea was all other financial institutionswill be mutual funds or investment -- investment trust. That is tosay everything else -- there's a logic here, which is very brutal,that essentially says intermediation is dangerous if it -- if you takerisks on balance sheets, which are, in fact, not capable of takingthose risks. (inaudible) Ultimately, all equity is owned byhousehold, by definition, everything.
WOLF: So one instance (ph) of financial sector is so fragile ifit has intermediation within it on the basis of very limited equity inthe system, and there's all these contagion of facts. So the simpleanswer to that is everything is mark-to-market on the asset side, and onthe liability side, it's far through to the -- to the investor.
So you get away from this pretense -- and it is a pretense in somedeep and obvious way -- that you can have a whole slew of very risky,uncertain price-varying assets on one side, and make guaranteedpromises in the other that you will meet your obligations at parinstantaneously.
And you could say, and I would say, that's essentially afraudulent promise. That is to say there are many states of theworld, not difficult to imagine, in which that promise cannot be met.And this is Larry's basic point. And if you build your financialsector on -- on a system in which many states of the world, thefundamental promise of the system -- that is to say you can meet yourliabilities at par perfectly liquidly instantaneously while you haveall this other stuff on the other side, you're asking for trouble.
So the answer Larry puts forward, and that goes back I think toIrving Fisher, is you just say you can't make those promises. They'reillegal. By the way, interestingly, this is the position taken by themost interesting contemporary Misesian, a -- or at least I found, aSpanish economist called, I think Jesºs Huerta de Soto orsomething like that. Anyway, he's written a huge book on money andcredit in which he say -- basically says the whole of Anglo-Saxonfinance is a fraud.
And the -- goes back -- and he goes back into the history of howwe got away with creating these entities, which may -- actually, Ithink it was invented by the Italians. But I won't go into the -- theorigins of the banking idea.
So one radical idea is essentially you make -- you makeinstitutions that make those promises illegal. And everything else ispassed through to the investor. And every day, your market moves upand down, and your...and if you want money, then you have to be backed by money.
The less radical alternative -- I really like that -- so if I were -- that's what I want Iceland to do.
I know I'm not going to persuade it to happen in the U.S., but it's logical. It is logical. It is important to understand that if the main characteristic of your financial system is enormous balance sheets in the intermediation sector -- I'm sure this is many people here -- that make these promises, you're going to have trouble from time to time from panics.
Inevitable you're going to have panics. They're built into the system,and the only entity that can back you against the panic is agovernment entity, a central bank. So it's not really a privatesector. That's really important. It's not really a private sector at all.It's a solely public sector. This is why I make this crack in my book-- I think that you really should regard bankers as very, very highly paidcivil servants.
Because they are ultimately dependent on the public sector'sbalance sheet. That's why the Fed was created.
So the other alternative is, indeed, to say you can go and dothese things. But the regulators will go look at you, and wheneveryou start making promises that look bank-like, they will force youback into banks. And if you're not making promises that are bank-like, they will insist on high capital requirements and all the rest of it.
So -- and the regulators then will have to be very active inpursuing that. But the -- as I point out in my book, and that's oneof the central parts of the book, the regulators are being -- evenwithout doing that, the regulators are being insanely (audio gap) active.
One of the most important things in my book, I think, is to tryand spell out the nature of the regulatory response to the crisis.And the -- the fascinating thing, and this is derived from the work ofAndy Haldane, in particular, at the Bank of England, the paper hepresented at Jackson Hole in 2012, in which he points out that in ourresponse to the crisis, we have created, without any doubt, the mostcomplicated, incomprehensible, convoluted regulatory structuresimaginable, which nobody -- he doesn't understand. He's theregulator. He doesn't understand, and he's the cleverest regulator Iknow. Then it seems to me that it's not a very good system. That'snot a very good way to run things.
So I think the more radical ideas I put forward are not at allridiculous. They're just radical. And they're radical, becameradical, because where we've ended up now is that we have these hugeand highly (inaudible) financial sector, absolutely colossal, which makespromises that in states of the world it cannot keep.
We've lost confidence in it, a regulatory system, politicalsystem has lost confidence in it. And the way it expresses that lossof confidence -- just open the paper every day -- is evermoreintrusive rules on everything: what you pay people; how you paypeople; what risks you can take; what -- how much capital you needagainst this risk; and how much capital you need against that risk. Imean, it's micromanagement of the most insane kind.
I don't think anybody left, right, center can think this is verysensible place to be. It's unworkable. So that's a part, a radicalpart of my book. So I think we should be thinking about much moreradical alternatives.
This is one alternative, as I've said, these types (ph), isreally to go (inaudible) with -- with leverage reduced in all systemicinstitutions, and then you go around and decide what they are from thirtyto one to somewhere between three and four to one, to, at the most, tento one. That's the other way to go. I think they're the onlyrational ways to go if we don't want this, to my mind, insanemicromanagement, which can't...
HUBBARD: Yeah...
WOLF: Nobody can believe will really work.
WOLF: Sorry. It's a long answer.
HUBBARD: Yeah, yeah, I -- no...
WOLF: But it's a very good question.
HUBBARD: ... and I agree with you that there's no way thatregulation is going to keep up with this. And the history offinancial regulation is (inaudible) it never -- it never does.
The world you described of higher capital does hearken back tothe 19th century when there were double-name commercial paper...
WOLF: Yes, yep.
HUBBARD: ... bank shareholders were individually liableagain...
WOLF: Yeah.
HUBBARD: ... for the amount of capital in the bank. Yet, therewere financial panics repeatedly in the 19th century. So itdoesn't...
WOLF: But you didn't have a...
WOLF: I agree. No, I -- only going to 100 percent reservebanking you eliminate the panic. But the -- the -- and you didn't --but you didn't have a central bank.
WOLF: I've seen that the argument I've made, which I thinkfollows Mervyn King, which whom you probably have here because I knowhe's been involved, is -- let me go back in slightly different waysand good story. It's a -- it's a British story.
One of the good things -- one of the things about my book, whichI think is quite good, is that it does treat it as a global crisis,not just as a U.S. crisis. So we have Northern Rock. Northern Rockwas the first bank run that the British had had for more than acentury -- public bank run. So it was a big deal for us. We've hadfewer crises because we have a -- by the way, I should mention this.
WOLF: There is another way of running your banking sector. Ithink of it as the Canadian way. You get...
HUBBARD: Oligopoly.
WOLF: You have a nice tight, boring oligopoly, with most of therisk borne by the government. Nearly all banks now do mortgagelending, and more outside the U.S. than here, than the U.S., but youhave government entities to do this because you have a completely(inaudible) housing market, but the other countries -- in othercountries there is a sort of quasi-private sector, but it'sguaranteed.
That's another way of doing it. I think that's really the worstof all possible worlds. I wouldn't want to go into that boringoligopoly route. So that's not the way we go.
So where was I before I interrupted, just myself? What was thequestion you just asked?
HUBBARD: You were -- you were...
WOLF: Northern Rock, Northern Rock, good little story.
HUBBARD: And, by the way, we only socialized the housing losseshere, not gains, yet.
WOLF: That's the best sort of socialism, isn't it?
So, Northern Rock run, the Northern Rock run. Northern Rockcouldn't fund itself, once the crisis happened in 2007 because thewholesale markets froze. And, but Northern Rock had a lot of assetsthat it needed to fund, and also money was being withdrawn.
So the Bank of England was called upon to act as a lender of lastresort. And the Bank of England obviously wanted to pursue, to imposehaircuts on these assets, to devalue these housingmortgages in the U.K., whose values were highly uncertain.
And Northern Rock had next to no equity.
So the Bank of England's problem was really very simple. Itworked out that, as things were, as lender of last resort, it wouldend up funding at least a third of the balance sheet within a fewmonths. And if it applied a normal discount on the value -- this isvery important, why capital is so important for liquidity operations,for a central bank -- then Northern Rock would be insolvent.
That is to say, it will be funding an entity the value of whoseassets was below the level of its liabilities, including theliabilities to the Bank of England.
And the Bank of England's view was, our job is not to take on thecredit risk of this kind, therefore, we couldn't do it. And, in theend, that forced the government to nationalize the firm.
But, Mervyn's point is that if Northern Rock had had a, you know,capitalization of, let's suppose, even 10 percent of the balancesheet, let naught 2 percent of the balance sheet, then the solvency ofthe Northern Rock would have been much more unlikely.
It could have lent on the penalty rate on a much large scale,while being completely or at least much more comfortable about thecredit risk, and, therefore, operating as a genuine lender of lastresort, which as (inaudible) had always explained, was not abouttaking serious credit risk. It's -- it's -- that's why he wanted,among the reasons he wanted people to lend at a penalty rate, isimmensely much easier if banks are properly capitalized.
And if banks aren't properly capitalized, acting as a lender oflast resort involves taking huge credit risk and, in fact, of course,we know very well, though it worked out perfectly well in the end,that the Fed took a lot of credit risk in the 2008-09 crisis.
But in the more -- or that ultimately amounts to a pretty opensubsidy, not just on liquidity, but on capital values. And the -- Idon't want central banks to go there, so it's a -- it seems to mequite an important reason, if you don't go the really, really radicalroute, which we discussed, to have enough capital in the banks to getaround it.
There is another way of doing this, which is the classic way,which is that the banks pledge assets whose value, market value, is easy todetermine. There is a -- and you can impose a penalty simply on theassets, and so you don't need to worry about the balance sheet of theinstitutions.
But, given the sort of balance sheets that banking institutionshave nowadays, they don't have a lot of this -- they have much less ofthis very transparent, tradeable paper that used to be the case inbanks back in the 1960s, particularly British banks, so thatdoesn't seem a very realistic way to go.
WOLF: I mean, what haircut would you need to have imposed on so-called toxic assets to decide a value? I mean, central bank couldn'tdecide that in a sensible way.
WOLF: So, that's my answer.
HUBBARD: Let me go back to Helicopter Martin for a moment.
WOLF: Helicopter Martin.
HUBBARD: So, is it your position that major industrial economiesare in what Alvin Hansen would have called secular stagnation,and that the solution to that, because Hansen's original argumentwas on the demand side, the solution to that is this permanent moneyfinancing of higher government spending? Is that a good way ofcharacterizing your position?
WOLF: My position is that this possibility seems more plausibleto me now than it has seemed in my professional lifetime. I havebecome increasingly concerned that -- and this is part of my analysisbefore the crisis, with the point that Larry his since sort ofcrystallized in his way, brutal way...
HUBBARD: This is Larry Summers, building on the Hansenargument.
WOLF: Yeah, that -- and I think a number of other economistshave made the same observation, that periods of what appears to berapid -- reasonably rapid and balanced growth in our economies havecoincided with -- not coincided with -- have been driven by whatlooked, certainly ex post, and looked, to some of us, ex ante, at thetime, to be obviously unsustainable credit booms.
So, that's what happened in the early 2000s here. It's whathappened in Spain, which I argue had a lot to do with what happened in --which helped Germany. The -- it also, interestingly, is what -- it'swhat happened in Japan in the late '80s, it's what happened in Chinaafter -- interestingly, after your credit boom blew up -- or theWestern credit boom blew up.
Now there's an interesting question of why that is the case. AndI discuss in the book a number of possible hypotheses. The thingsthat I focus on here are changes in global imbalances, which I thinkis very important, mainly the perverse, but I think comprehensiblesituation, in which you're measuring economies that have become hugenet exporters of capital to the developed world, which we find verydifficult to use, changes in the behavior of the nonfinancialcorporate sector, both on the investment side and the profit side,shifts to profits, which are not matched in any way by increasinginvestments, very important macro economic phenomena, changes inincome distribution.
So in the Western world, not only have we become dependent oncredit booms, we've become dependent on very specific private sectorcredit booms, that is household-led borrowing.
It's quite interesting, because it seems quite new. When Ireread Minsky, his concerns were all about corporate sector leverage,not household leverage. That's a new invention. And it turned out tobe particularly destructive.
So I think the possibility that that's where we are is not to beignored.
It's -- now, there are a number of possible ways, one thinks-- one response might be, well, that's it. So that means that growthis just going to be slower. End of story. Just live with it.
Lots of friends of mine think you forget about it.
Another possibility is just to think about policies that affectinvestment, corporate savings, retained earnings, how they're used,distribution of income.
Of course, people on the left would start talking -- like JoeStiglitz would talk about redistribution of income as a core part ofthe solution to this strategy. That takes you all the way back, bythe way, to Marx's theory of the credit cycle. That's was what hebelieved was at the roots of this.
I don't actually have Marx in my book. No way. There we are.
But if we can't think -- and I'm agnostic about this at themoment, in the sense that I'm not saying that as a permanentstructural policy this is what we should do. But my friend, AdairTurner, Lord Turner, who was chairman of the FSA, he's putforward this idea, and I think that we may be driven to thispossibility.
It'll be very interesting to see how this upswing, which is avery feeble upswing, exceptionally feeble by U.S. standards, andnonexistent in Europe, will proceed. And I sort of hope that it willend up with balanced growth in the financial -- in the private sectorwithout another credit boom, but I'm increasingly concerned that inthe U.S. and U.K., the way we are, the way the banks, central banks,are operating, the way we are trying to drive ourselves out of this isto create another credit boom, and from the -- from the top -- fromthe position in which that we deleverage a little.
Take the U.S. simply. The U.S. has deleveraged. The financialsector's deleveraged. The household sector's deleveraged. But it'sonly back to 2002-2003 levels roughly, which is just four years beforeit blew up, so you've got four years of fun, and then it blows upagain.
If that happens, and I think it's quite plausible that it willhappen that way, that's what we're going to end up with, if it works atall, then we're -- then after the next crisis, we're going to have tothink of something new. And this is one possible thing we'll have tothink about.
And, as I said, it has very respectable Chicago Schoolantecedents.
But we are in a very strange place, in which I think theeconomy's had -- you know, we -- it doesn't look as though we get anequilibrium in our economies, growth, demand and supply matching in a-- what without ending up with zero rates, insane Q.E., and all therest of it, all this huge Q.E. phenomenon, without havingpotentially unsustainable asset price buckle and credit going with it.
And that's a pretty worrying situation.
HUBBARD: Before we open it up to the audience, I want to takeyou globally a bit, to talk about austerity, build on your comments.
It's clear, I think, to many of us, that there was too much near-term austerity in the United States and in Europe, but arguablythere's still a need for -- well, not arguably, I would say factually,a need for a great deal of long-term austerity.
How do we do this, given the discussion that you just had? Howdo we get long-term government budgets back in balance, or, since youborrowed from another radical in your book, Lenin, what is to be done?
WOLF: What is to be done?
Well, my first best proposal, which I regard as a medium- tolong-run proposal, is, well, it would go like this: Let's go back tothe late 19th and early 20th century's globalization, which had a muchmore natural structure of savings and capital flows.
So, which -- in other words, at that stage, you know, the richestold countries were Britain and France, to some degree. Britain was anenormous capital exporter. Actually, it exported abroad abouthalf its savings. That money was invested in the most dynamicemerging economies of the time, of which, of course, the U.S. was themost important, so the U.S. accumulated very large -- U.K. accumulatedvery large claims on these countries like the U.S., obviously thedominions, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina.
And, actually, the U.K. went into the First World War with assetsroughly three times GDP, which had contributed very greatly to thedevelopments of these various countries.
WOLF: That would seem to be the natural process. Obviously,unfortunately, this wonderful treasure trove of wealth was completelyand utterly consumed in two world wars, but that's just one of thosethings that happens in life.
And the -- and our then subsequent principal predator of the Benn has described so well in his recent book, drove somepretty hard bargains in the process. Now that's not important. So itseems to me if we are where we are, the aging economies, aging richeconomies, which seem to have in the private sector ex ante excesssavings. One of the symptoms of that is our interest ratestoday, should be exporting capital, not importing it. So Germany is,in fact, the future.
But Germany, for all of us, but that only works if the rest ofthe world is happy about importing capital. And you would think, ifyou look around the world, and most of the world is emergingeconomies, they have tremendous investment opportunities, why shouldthey save even more than they invest?
I mean, it's sort of really ridiculous because they'reforegoing consumption of opportunities now, in order to supporttheir investment. It would make much more sense if we invested inthem. So I do discuss both the rationale for this and theinternational institutions that might possibly support that then itwill happen.
It's clearly a perverse situation that we have now. Why shouldChina be a huge exporter of capital, when it's already got this --it's much lesser now, but still the emerging world continue to be asubstantial exporter of capital. A lot of that has to do with ofcourse the failures of policymaking, emerging developing countries,failures of institutions, legal institutions and all the rest of it.
But that's the natural solution. And I give some arithmetic andsome ideas in which we would solve our problem quite easily, if webecame net exporters of capital. So the U.S. wouldn't be runninga current account deficit anymore, it would be running a surplus of,say, three, four percent of GDP. This is not an unreasonable view ofthe world.
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be available. We seem to bedriven and it's a central part of my argument how that happened. Weseem to have been driven to a situation in which we are forced, Ithink, by choices elsewhere, in large measure, particularly inemerging country choices and particularly East Asian choices toactually run our economies in a way that our total expenditure exceedsour output.
And in the -- in that run-up to the crisis, that excess wasenormous. And that creates tremendous problems for policymakers,because if you don't want the government -- coming back to your point-- to run the fiscal deficits, that means that the private sector mustrun large financial deficits and for the private sector to runfinancial deficits, as far as we can see, that -- particularly whenthe corporate sector is so cautious, that means that we end upwith this household problem.
In that context, doing the things you want on fiscal policy isvery difficult. If we want to -- and I discussed that actually in mycolumn today about the UK, if we want a balanced budget and to drivedown our debt over time, so -- in our case, it would probably take twentyyears -- twenty-five years of normal growth to get our public net-debt ratioback to 30 percent of GDP, which is where we started. Now it's 80percent. So we have to run a balanced budget.
For that to happen, given that we seem to have, again, a largestructural current account deficit, which doesn't change very quicklyor easily, but I assume that's the case, then we have to have a hugefinancial deficit in the private sector. And I think that's going tobe impossible to do without destabilizing the economy again.
So what we would want to do is to move into surplus on theexternal account -- re: not have these excesses. But thatmeans the rest of the world has to adapt. It's a huge globaladjustment problem. And if the whole developed world does this, notjust Germany, it's a very big -- to my mind -- a very big global macroadjustment problem.
So getting your fiscal position where you want it to be, whenyou're talking about the West as a whole -- so not just individualcountries -- really does mean thinking about how the rest of the worldeconomy will adjust to that situation.
And I think the only way therest of the world economy adjusts to that situation, plausibly, givenwhere we are, is if the developed world becomes really large netcapital exporter. And that's a complete transformation of a situationwe've been in for the last twenty years. And it's not a situation, Ithink, that will emerge naturally, because I think most emergingeconomies just don't want to be there.
HUBBARD: Great. So we've gone from Simons and Friedman to Lenin all in one morning. But now the floor is yours for any questions. Yes. Please wait for the microphone and identifyyourself.
QUESTION: I'm Sam (inaudible). Good morning. Actually before myvery brief question, the notion of our bankers becoming publicservants, does that also imply they be paid as public servants?
WOLF: Well...
QUESTION: I know you don't have to answer the question.
WOLF: ... the implication is that they should be, but I don'texpect them to be.
QUESTION: No. But my question, is if we had some majorterrorist event in one of our major Western countries, here, WesternEurope, how would that affect the extraordinary thoughts given to usthis morning about how we fix our problem?
WOLF: I suppose, it must depend, in part, on what you meanby a major terrorist event. The -- so let me give you my idea of what a major ...
(UNKNOWN): (Inaudible).
WOLF: Well, yeah -- what I think of as a major terroristevent, as opposed to a minor one, would consist of two things -- oneor both of two things. And somebody here may have more imaginationthan I have. One, somebody lets off a nuclear device in a downtownof a major city, like New York or London. And a device sufficient tokill hundreds of thousands of people and destroy a substantial part --this is a Graham Allison's nightmare, right. And you've allfollowed, I am sure, what Graham Allison's work in this area. Sothat's one major event.
And the second major event that people talkabout is the ability to infiltrate very porous cyber-security systemson vital utility grids, most obviously, the electricity system, andcloses it down. Well, I can't just the plausibility of the latter. Ijust can't. I'm told it's possible. I don't know for how long this isgoing to go on.
Well, either of those events would be -- how does one puts it,in the most delicate way, game-changers. And we would -- if they -- Ihave no sense of a plausibility in such scenarios. But if either ofthose events, and particular the former were to work out, well, firstof all, far from the immediate impacts of a devastating nuclearexplosion in the town, in the center of New York or London, apartfrom those -- the simply immediate effects, it would change everythingabout our world. Globalization, it seems to me, will be over. Themovement of people would become controlled beyond belief. Therewould almost certainly be massive military consequences of, I think,an imperial kind. This is -- how did the Roman Empire expand. TheRoman Empire expanded every time you bounded across the border. Butthere were some uncontrolled place with some nuisance trying toattack them. So expanded.
So in this world, I wrote this in -- twelveyears ago --at the time immediately after 9/11, one of the things we learnedat 9/11 is that our borders in the modern world are with everybody.So the only solution in this world is control everybody. This is areally scary possibility. The -- or to close up completely. Thatbecomes one of the two possibilities. So my assumption is if we'retalking about an event of that type, that's what you mean by amajor terrorism event, we are in a different world.
So let's not hope -- let's hope it doesn't happen.
QUESTION: OK, so we're choosing between Caesar and Hadrian'sWall, but yes.
WOLF: Yes, exactly.
WOLF: Perfectly defined. Caesar -- neither strategy workedin the long run, by the way, but that's normal in life.
QUESTION: Mr. Wolf, there's an interesting trial going on in NewYork, as I'm sure you know.
WOLF: I am aware of it.
QUESTION: Yes, I bet.
WOLF: You know much about it, I'm sure, than I do.
QUESTION: Oh, yes, I used to work for AIG, so I have a self-interest.
QUESTION: And Greenberg is suing, on behalf of Starr, for $25billion. And any shareholder who wanted to participate can, and I did.What have I got to lose? I think he'll lose, but that's beside thepoint. It could go all the way to the Supreme Court. As a littleclause there that that nobody knows about that he made, or that AIGmade with the Fed, that if he were to win that it's AIG's problem. So thatmeans, of course, AIG would go out of business. Having said all that,you criticized our regulatory mechanisms. How do you think theregulators back in 2008 handled it?
WOLF: By the way, when you said -- I -- I must be precise. Ididn't criticize specifically your regulatory procedures. Icriticized our regulatory procedures, so that includes everybody else.I'm not, in any way, trying to suggest that there's anything specialabout U.S. regulatory procedures. The rule book we're creating inEurope is even worse that yours. So (inaudible) very aware of that.
So on the AIG case, I find it very, very difficult and I've read a lotof literature, but I wasn't there. I wasn't a participant To second-guess the decisions taken by the authorities in the autumn-fall of2008 and early 2009, as it were, in real time, it's very, very easy.I think you call it Monday night quarterbacking here?
QUESTION: Monday morning.
WOLF: Monday morning, I apologize. Yes, we've got -- so Sunday.
QUESTION: You've got...
WOLF: Monday -- whatever, whatever. It's very easy after theevent to argue that they made a great many mistakes in the way theyhandled specific cases. And there's still an ongoing debate aboutLehman, about whether they were right to let it fail or let it fail inthat way and whatever. AIG is obviously a very big case -- about thedeal, how they fully paid off all the AIG obligations.
So there are lots and lots of -- there's lots and lots ofsecond-guessing here. And the -- but it seems to me that if you're inthe middle of a world-class panic, which we were, with the economydeclining very, very rapidly and no real idea of how -- when thiswould stop, they had to go in with overwhelming force.
That is something I agree with Tim Geithner oncompletely. You have to stop this. And you -- AIG had been asurprise for them. They didn't understand before it happened howcentral AIG's activities, London activities had been in providingwhat I'd call a pseudo-credit -- or pseudo-capital, sorry, as that'scapital to the system, because, essentially, everybody was riding onAIG's AAA, which couldn't be actually used for this purpose by -- theregulators wouldn't allow it to be used for this purpose -- in orderto allow all the other institutions not to have as much capital asthey really needed, and, because they could get credit default swapsfrom AIG.
So, this was a really, to put it mildly, dubious activity thatAIG had been involved in.
So I have to say, I find the case complete chutzpah. I mean, Ithink it's sort of amazing that this case could be even brought, giventhe activities of AIG that played such an extraordinary role indevastating -- a devastating role.
But I think the authorities didn't understand how important ithad been. They were surprised by how devastating it might be. They were concerned what would happen if all AIG's credit default swaps weren't met in full. They thought that -- even thoughit's very controversial, a lot of the benefits, of course, went toEuropean banks. We all know that.
But I sort of feel, well, maybe there was some better path, butsince I wasn't there, I wasn't exhausted, I wasn't having to make thisdecision over weekends in extreme pace, and they had to prevent thecredit -- the panic from spreading.
I find it very difficult, and certainly didn't try in my book, toargue, well, if only they'd done this or that or whatever else, andthen it would all have been much better.
I think the big -- to me, the bigger question was the Lehmanfailure. Though I still feel, tend to feel, that if they hadn'tlet that happen, if some such event hadn't happened, they would neverhave come to grips with the crisis at all.
But, so I would take the view -- the British view would certainlybe, if this was a British case, you know, there are extreme situationsin which the sovereign has to act -- has to make discretionarydecisions to save a country from a severe threat of panic. That'swhat we have sovereigns for, that's what governments are for inextremis. They're insurance agencies, as far as I'm concerned, at thecore.
And in extreme crisis, the sovereign has to have discretion. Andit's not for the judicial authorities later on to go along and say,well, actually, they should have exercised this discretion in someways.
There's absolutely no way this case will get within anywhere inthe U.K., anywhere, it would be just inconceivable.
But the U.S. legal system is a wonder of -- all of its own.
WOLF: And I may -- and I want to say, (inaudible), but I thinkin the end I'm not going to second-guess these people. They dealt withthe panic in a messy way, but it was a very messy panic.
HUBBARD: You've channeled Abraham Lincoln very well.
WOLF: Oh, yes. He would have taken that view, wouldn't he?
HUBBARD: Exactly.
QUESTION: Maurice Templesman. May I shift from policy desirability to policy achievability, andthat leads us to the intersection between economics and politics. Ina system such as we have it, unfortunately, where it's governmentby consent and persuasion, how do you create political will amongpoliticians? How do they get re-elected while proposing remedieswhich in effect negatively affect their constituency in order to bepreventive, really, than actually reactive, to the motivation that thecrisis provides?
WOLF: Well, I think the short answer is in your question, youdon't. And that's why we are where we are.
The -- in my book, I describe what we've done in this essence, iswe've re-created, resurrected, that's not the right word, but, mainlythe old system. You know, we haven't had the strength to be veryradical about the financial system or economic policy-making.
But we've done -- we've combined that. So, that's theconservative side, because there are very, very powerful forcespreventing any profound changes, and that's what happened even in the'30s, though it's more radical, because it's a bigger change.
So, we've done that. So that's one side of the politicaloutcome, the conservative one. Essentially, it's the same system asbefore, more concentrated than before, obviously.
And, but, the other side, as I've said is we've also a wholeother slew of political pressures say we've lost confidence in thefinancial sector. And so, channeling that side of the public'sattitude, we get all the regulatory stuff.
So the political equilibrium, which is not surprising, is, on theone hand, the system is strong enough to survive as it was, and toprevent any profound change in the way the system worked. And on theother side, we are incredibly angry and we're not going to allow thesystem to get away with anything.
And so, that's the equilibrium, political equilibrium I thinkwe've reached, which is fantastically over-regulated, but stillhypertrophied and essentially still highly leveraged and unstablefinancial system. This is a very undesirable place in my view to haveended up.
But, as you imply in your question, it's exactly what you wouldpredict from a political point of view. I can't do much about that,except describe it.
QUESTION: Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations.
Martin, one of the consequences of the crisis for our professionis that the various schools of macro thought have been to a test in away they hadn't been previously.
Broadly, to caricature -- somewhat, at least. The Austrianliquidation school, looks very very weak. The Keynesian, it's allfiscal school, looked extremely strong, I would argue until 2013, whenthey were saying that the fiscal multiplier in the United States was avery high number, at least 1.5, probably over 2, yet we had a largefiscal crunch and no recession.
That led to a victory lap being taken by the third school, whichis really sort of a post-crisis phenomenon, the market monetaristschool, that argues essentially that fiscal policy is just socialism.It's the job of the central bank to stabilize the economy bystabilizing nominal GDP, and then it -- that, in fact, the centralbank has all the tools to do this.
Where do you come down on this?
WOLF: I think that's really very interesting. The -- OK --the -- I divide economics, perhaps a bit like you. There are two bigschools and then there's sub schools. The two big schools are, one,to be very, very (inaudible), supply creates its own demand, forgetabout demand. Just doesn't matter. And there's the sort of rationalexpectations version of that and the Austrians are sometimes there.
Austrian macro I've always found very difficult to get my mindaround, and I've tried quite hard. I mean, I do understand what Hayek is trying to say, I just don't think -- see how it all fits together.
I think when von Mises is really interesting to me, he's justlike Minsky, so -- on his view on credit and money.
So there's the supply creates its own demand school. And thenthere's the demand matters state.
And I think the supply creates its own demand theory gets prettywell destroyed in crises. So put that to one side.
So then you've got the demand side. Now, in the -- onemight describe is as the Hicksian synthesis -- of course, he wasthe great synthesizer -- the conclusion was reached that monetarypolicy, and I think it's been the dominant subsequent view, thatmonetary -- though it's changed from time -- that monetary policy is,in normal times, the best way of manipulating demand, adjustingdemand, so it's market monetarism.
But in severe crises, when you get to the zero bound, monetarypolicy becomes less effective, and therefore, you have to use fiscalpolicy.
And the -- and I feel at the moment, in response to what you say,that what has happened so far gives enough support to both sides.That is to say, we haven't had a knockout conclusion between the two.
In a severe panic such as 2008, '9, I think -- I really do thinkthe evidence suggests that relying purely on monetary policy ispushing-on-the-strings type of stuff, the famous Keynesian idea, youneeded direct demand and the decision effectively to allow governmentsto go massively into deficit and even have a modest stimulus but above all to gomassively into deficit in 2009, '8, '9, which they all did as revenuescollapsed and -- and public programs, welfare programs increasedspending it was just automatic, was incredibly important, and that had beenpart of Minsky's view.
Now, in the subsequent developments, my view is slightlydifferent from Benn's, but I don't disagree with this.
The -- the evidence, to my mind, looking at what has happened inthe way monetary policy's interacted with fiscal policy, is thatfiscal tightening, which has been substantial everywhere, hascurtailed demand growth. It has had negative effects. It's one ofthe reasons demand growth has been so modest.
But monetary policy has turned out to be more effective at thezero bound than many Keynesians thought. And -- and the -- so in thatsense, the -- the market monetary school's (inaudible) and so forthhave some support.
And that was very much Friedman's view, though I'm not persuadedthe right way of thinking about that is in strict quantity terms. Imean, that's not -- not that helpful.
The -- the - the question then arises -- and this is where I getmy usual sort of in-the-middle sort of way -- is what is the mosteffective way of using monetary policy when you've got a situation ofchronically deficient demand, because of deleveraging and all the restof it? What is the best way to use it?
And it seems to me that what we've actually done after the worstof the crisis was over -- so forget that crucial period wheneverything was working together and I think quite effectively -- webasically used -- beyond having very low interest rates, we basicallyrelied on Q.E. as a mechanism for purchasing predominantly governmentbonds.
And I don't think that has been a very effective policyinstrument. It hasn't been hopeless, but I don't think it's been avery effective policy instrument.
What would've been the most effective policy instrument? Well,we come back to helicopter money, the use of money to finance fiscaldeficits, larger ones, if necessary.
So I tend to see the zero bound, in this situation, that it's thecombination of the two instruments that is probably the mosteffective.
But since nobody really tried that ruthlessly -- nobody triedthat ruthlessly -- and nobody really managed a reasonable recovery, Ithink it's fair to say that the test hasn't been -- yet been made.The full test has not yet been made.
But so -- but my basic conclusion in this is that you use whatyou have, which is both of these things, which is effectively whatwe've done. But I do agree with Benn that after the panic stage,monetary policy turned out to be more effective than I thought itwould be.
By the way, I do expect that the next time around -- and therewill be a next time -- the liquidationists are going to have their go,and then we will see what that does to us.
HUBBARD: Well, I'm going to have to come down on the side ofmonetary policy and take the punch bowl away while the party is stillgoing, because we need to wrap up.
But please join me in thanking Martin Wolf.
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VIDEO-CIA twitter account: an inside look @CIA - CBS News
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 06:10
For over 60 years the Central Intelligence Agency has cultivated a hardened image, quietly ruling the shadowy world of intelligence.
But in June the CIA joined a very different world, blazing in with 61 characters:
Within minutes it was the tweet heard round the world, reports CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman.
"We had 1,000 new followers joining us a minute around the world, and we were just watching this on the computers, just stunned," said CIA director of public affairs Dean Boyd.
SaturdayCIA opens Twitter accountIn its first tweet, the spy agency showed a covert sense of humor, tweeting ''we can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.'' Withi...
He said the agency took to Twitter to control their message."There's a serious appetite for information about our agency out there and I think some of the things we've put out there about our history -- there's some incredible stories here that have been declassified," Boyd said.
The posts from the @CIA account include mentions of anniversaries of CIA missions and facts from the "CIA World Fact Book."
They also highlight real-life James Bond-esque tools of the spy trade.
An aerial extraction method called the skyhook featured in Sean Connery's "Thunderball," was created by the CIA in the 1950s, but even 60 years later wowed audiences in the Batman thriller, "The Dark Knight."
As for the force behind the CIA's Twitter handle; it's a young married woman. The rest, of course, remains classified.
"She is very dynamic, witty, smart, entertaining," Boyd said.
And it shines through with a snarky humor.
On their one month "twitterversary" @CIA tweeted:
With another tweet, they hit the headlines:
Despite critical attacks on the agency, its former director Michael Hayden said an attempt at humor of any sort can humanizes the CIA.
"I actually like that the agency can make jokes about itself," Hayden said. "Now whether the jokes are good or bad, that's a separate matter, but at least they are turning some things back on themselves."
Experts say there is a fine line between engagement and actively trying to win hearts and minds.
"The CIA cannot engage in propaganda," CBS News homeland security analyst Juan Zarate cautioned.
He said the spy agency will need to find a balance.
"Though we are moving into the 21st century in a much more open environment, the CIA has to contend with the fact that it has to remain a secret agency and has to maintain it's capabilities, even though there is a demand for more transparency and accountability," Zarate said.
(C) 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO- Farage's eurosceptic group saved by Polish MEP - YouTube
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 15:19
VIDEO-City of Phoenix under attack by hacker activists - FOX 10 News |
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:48
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Hackers have attacked the City of Phoenix internet system and over the weekend caused a disruption to the police department's computers.The city says the hackers are persistent and not giving up.
It's the first time that the hackers were able to overwhelm the city's system.
Leaders say over the past week they've seen an increase in activity from unknown people trying to access the website and internet based services.
They say they were able to stop the hackers before they accessed information.
"The city's internet access was down for 45 minutes," said Randall Smith, the city's Chief Security Officer.
The City of Phoenix is investigating an attack by hackers who blocked the city's internet systems Saturday.
"At this point we're unclear about any kind of motive or who's attacking us, we don't know," said Smith.
Smith confirmed the attack after fOX 10 obtained internal e-mails, one of which showed the system was under attack for days.
A deputy city manager wrote; "this appears to be a coordinated, denial of service attack."
Then over the weekend a city police memo said because of the hacking officers couldn't access computers in their cars allowing them to access driver's license, license plates, and criminal history information.
"There's always concerns if something happens to our public safety systems the primary communication is the radio with fire and police so they always had communication we are looking closely at that and proactively looking at solutions to minimize future outages such as this," he said.
Smith emphasized the hackers aren't targeting Phoenix Police but are just trying to find any way into the system.
"The purpose of the attack is to try to overwhelm our perimeter defenses and firewalls, the goal of the attacker is to try to gain access into our network generally to obtain personal identified information for financial gain," said Smith.
Smith said the hackers did not get any information or data, but he's trying to stay one step ahead.
"We're starting to see more probes as we'll call them from these internet hackers activists, we are actively working with our technology partners and law enforcement to proactively address the situation in looking at our solutions and procedures in place," he said.
So the police computers that were down, the MDC's for police were back up and running after that 45-minute period.
City leaders say they've contacted the FBI. Smith says many private companies and governments are facing these kinds of cyber attacks.

Clips & Documents

Feinstein- 'Lone-wolf' terrorism a growing problem.mp3
Frmr National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter-need muslim agents.mp3
Sen. Chambliss on ISIL- ‘Killing Them is the Only Option’.mp3
Toronto Ford voter-horrible-ISIS.mp3
City of Phoenix under attack by hacker activists.mp3
Elizabeth Warren Blames Republicans for Ebola.mp3
EURONEWS-Ebola- WHO announces ‘slowing rate of new cases’.mp3
Fauci - Testing ebola vaccine on west africans.mp3
Josh Earnest compares soldiers fighting Ebola to them getting haircuts.mp3
Farage EFDD collapses- does deal with Polish racist.mp3
CNN-Heavy anti-putin-flights and hacks.mp3
CNN-WH network hacked-PUTIN.mp3
PSaki answers Putins speech statements.mp3
JCD Clips
ISIS on frontline.mp3
mahr at cal.mp3
racist explanation for everyting girl.mp3
today show on halloween part One.mp3
TV show consundrum reeboot scenario.mp3
worse scorpion ever.mp3
wtf keith and cavuto.mp3
Hagel sees NWO.mp3
Police State
Coburn smackdown of Boston bomber lie.mp3
Dem Now on police state ware stuff - BOSTON.mp3
Sharyl Attkisson selling book with hacking allegations.mp3
Obama-"You Can Only Vote Once; This Isn't Chicago".mp3
Rebel Pundit Black Chcicago Activists.mp3
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