670: Terrorist Narrative

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 44m
November 16th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir David Foley, Grand Duke of the United States

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Snrkl, Rob Van Dijk, Martin Andersen

Cover Artist: MartinJJ

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Presidential Proclamation -- American Education Week, 2014
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 10:50
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 14, 2014
AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK, 2014
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
In the United States, every young person deserves access to a world-class education. In classrooms, lecture halls, and laboratories across America, high-quality education helps unlock the limitless potential of our Nation's students and creates pathways for their success. It prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow and the responsibilities of citizenship. A strong school system bolsters our economy and strengthens our democracy, and it is at the core of the American belief that with hard work, anyone can get ahead. During American Education Week, we celebrate the devoted educators who instruct and inspire students of all ages, and we continue our work to provide every person with the best education possible. My Administration is committed to widening the circle of opportunity for more Americans and restoring middle-class security, and that starts by supporting education for all. We know early education is one of the best investments we can make in a child's life, and that is why we are striving to expand access to preschool to every girl and boy in America. To spur reform in our public schools and ensure students graduate from high school prepared for achievement, we have directed billions of dollars to States and school districts through the Race to the Top initiative. My Administration is also dedicated to reestablishing America's place as the world leader in college completion. We have expanded grants, tax credits, and loans to help more families afford a college degree and invested in programs that help students manage and reduce the burdens of debt after they graduate. With grit and passion, America's teachers give life to education's promise. Our education-support professionals help ensure the health, well-being, and success of our children. And in small towns and large cities, principals and district administrators cultivate communities that value learning and share a common vision of academic excellence. Together, these leaders encourage our students to reach higher and inspire them to achieve their dreams. Great educators and administrators deserve all the tools and resources they need to do their job, including chances for professional development and pay that reflects the contributions they make to our country. They are the most critical ingredients in any school, and my Administration is working hard to support them as they empower our Nation's youth.
In a complex world, we must meet new and profound challenges. As a Nation, we must prepare the next generation to face these issues and the problems of their own time. An education equips the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and vision they need to discover the solutions of the future and build a better society for their children and grandchildren. This week, we honor the teachers, mentors, and professionals who guide our kids as they explore the world. Let us recommit to supporting a first-class education for all students, from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career. 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 16 through November 22, 2014, as American Education Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week by supporting their local schools through appropriate activities, events, and programs designed to help create opportunities for every school and student in America. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth 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 -- America Recycles Day, 2014
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 10:51
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 14, 2014
AMERICA RECYCLES DAY, 2014 - - - - - - - BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
As a Nation, we must do all we can to leave the next generation a cleaner, safer, and more stable world. America's young people are tomorrow's environmental stewards, and it is our responsibility to instill in them a conservation ethic. Recycling reduces our country's energy consumption, decreases our greenhouse gas emissions, and conserves our natural resources, and it is one of the first steps we can teach our children and grandchildren to take as part of their everyday lives. It also creates green jobs in America and provides essential resources to our growing manufacturing sector. Today, we recognize the environmental and economic benefits that recycling produces, and we celebrate all those who do their part to build a more prosperous and sustainable future. Americans generate approximately 250 million tons of municipal solid waste every year. But more of this trash -- from our homes, workplaces, and classrooms -- could be recycled or reused. Individuals can compost their food waste and donate items that are no longer needed. The choices we make as we shop can also help reduce waste. Families and individuals can buy products that use less packaging, purchase goods made with recycled resources, and avoid disposable materials whenever possible. To discover additional ways to shrink your environmental footprint and to learn how and where to properly recycle common and uncommon household goods, visit www.EPA.gov/recycle. Every American, every business, and every community can play a role in increasing the rate of recycling. In small towns and big cities, recycling programs are making a difference, and State and local governments can continue to do their part by promoting these programs, making them convenient, and continuing to invest in their recycling infrastructure. The Federal Government is leading by example, working to reduce our environmental impact. And as American businesses continue to innovate, they too can find new ways to reflect their commitment to recycling in their bottom line. The actions we take today will determine what kind of world we will pass on to our Nation's young people. On America Recycles Day, we embrace our role not only as custodians of the present, but also as caretakers of tomorrow. Let us resolve to act boldly in the face of great challenge and encourage our friends, neighbors, and colleagues to join in the work of protecting our planet. 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 15, 2014, as America Recycles Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities, and I encourage all Americans to continue their reducing, reusing, and recycling efforts throughout the year. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth 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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UN Racism
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Elsevier.nl - Radicalen verstieren kinderfeest: 'Sinterklaas bestaat niet'
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 10:24
Radicalen verstoorden zaterdag de intocht van Sinterklaas in Gouda - Foto: ANP
door Servaas van der Laan 15 nov 2014
De 'discussie' rond Zwarte Piet heeft zaterdag bij de intocht van Sinterklaas een nieuw dieptepunt bereikt. Radicalen zouden 'Sinterklaas bestaat niet' en 'Zwarte Piet is racisme' naar kinderen hebben geroepen. De politie moest zestig arrestaties verrichten.
Duizenden kinderen waren zaterdag in het centrum van Gouda bijeengekomen om de Sint en zijn Zwarte Pieten te begroeten.
RadicalenHoewel de intocht op feestelijke wijze verliep, deed de radicale groepering Kick Out Zwarte Piet er alles aan om het kinderfeest te vergallen.
De gemeente had van tevoren protestvakken buiten het centrum aangeduid waar de extremisten hun protestgeluid konden laten horen. Maar de activisten hielden zich niet aan de afspraken en gingen toch naar het stadhuis waar de Sint op dat moment door de burgemeester welkom werd geheten.
GrimmigToen de radicalen aankwamen, zou de vrolijke sfeer zijn omgeslagen. Toen zij 'Sinterklaas bestaat niet' en 'Zwarte Piet is racisme' naar kinderen riepen zou de situatie uit de hand zijn gelopen. Omstanders vielen de provocateurs aan waarna er over en weer werd gevochten. 'Het is geen feest hier,' zei een verslaggever van het AD die ter plaatse was.
De politie moest ingrijpen en verrichtte zestig arrestaties. Huilende kinderen moesten door hun ouders gerustgesteld worden.
De weinige sympathie voor de activisten, die volgens een getuige met een bus uit Amsterdam waren gekomen, lijkt volledig te zijn verstomd. Op sociale media wordt woedend gereageerd op het gedrag van de extremisten.
BedroefdBurgemeester van Gouda Milo Schoenmaker (VVD) zei 'teleurgesteld' te zijn over incidenten en noemde de sfeer die daardoor ontstond 'grimmig'.
Een vader en kinderen kwamen door opstootjes in het centrum in het gedrang, zei Schoenmaker. 'Een vervelend moment'. Ook riepen demonstranten beledigingen naar de politie en naar andere betogers. De burgemeester zei bedroefd te zijn dat het zo is gelopen en te hopen 'dat we snel van de discussie af zijn'.
ZwartePietNiet
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 10:35
Over OnsDe organisatie 'Zwarte Piet Niet' (ZPN) is een voorstander van een Sinterklaasfeest zonder zwarte piet. Het is tijd een gezicht (C)n geluid te geven aan allen die staan voor een beschaafd Nederland waarin de zwarte piet figuur niet thuis hoort.
Zwarte Piet is een racistische stereotype van de zwarte mens. Nadat een groep Amsterdammers bezwaar maakten tegen dit beledigende element van het kinderfeest volgde een heftige nationale discussie. Tegenstanders van Zwarte Piet werden met racistische en hatelijke uitingen bedreigd en bejegend.
Op 3 juli 2014 oordeelde de rechter dat de figuur Zwarte Piet een negatieve stereotypering van de zwarte mens is en de intocht (in Amsterdam) een inbreuk op het priv(C)leven maakt van zwarte mensen. Behalve de rechter hebben de VN en het College voor de rechten van de mens zich ook uitgesproken over zwarte piet. Wij vragen u als burger om samen met ons hetzelfde te doen.
De Raad van Europa en de Ombudsman stelden dat ook het Nederlandse politieke tij racistisch, discriminerend en migrantenvijandig geworden is. De discussie rondom Zwarte Piet symboliseert deze zorgwekkende ontwikkelingen.
Na de massale, bagatelliserende, beledigende en zelfs racistische uitingen en acties jegens de tegenstanders van zwarte piet, is het tijd voor verandering. Koloniale denkbeelden horen niet thuis in een moderne en beschaafde samenleving. Het is tijd dat de samenleving waarin bevolkingsgroepen structureel worden gestigmatiseerd en genegeerd wordt veranderd in een samenleving waarin een ieder '' ongeacht kleur, geloof, etniciteit of seksuele geaardheid - vrij is om zijn mening te kunnen geven zodat het bijdraagt aan een gelijke, empathische en rechtvaardige samenleving. Dat is ook een samenleving waarin Sinterklaas een kinderfeest is waar alle kinderen en volwassenen zich prettig bij voelen en niet een feest dat leidt tot polarisatie en wederzijds onbegrip.
Nu de ogen van de wereld op Nederland gericht zijn, is het tijd om massaal te tonen dat er ook een ander geluid is! ZPN roept iedereen, die voor een Nederland is waarin gelijkheid, vrijheid en empathie centraal staan, om zijn of haar stem te laten horen.
Solidariteit andere organisatiesVerklaring: Samen voor een racisme-vrij NederlandEen zwarte vrouw wordt onder de ogen van politieagenten en een tv-ploeg geslagen zonder dat de dader wordt gearresteerd. Mensen die zich uitspreken voor een andere Piet worden met de dood bedreigd. Het is 2014. Wij zijn in Nederland.
De VN, de bestuursrechter, de Nationale Ombudsman en het College voor de Rechten van de Mens hebben zich allen uitgesproken tegen het sluimerende racisme in Nederland en de karikaturale figuur Zwarte Piet. Volkenkundig wetenschapper John Helsloot, de absolute kenner op gebied van Nederlandse tradities, twijfelt er niet aan dat Zwarte Piet racisme is:
''Voor wie ogen in zijn hoofd heeft kan er geen twijfel over bestaan dat de figuur van Zwarte Piet een symbool is van een raciale en racistische stereotypering van zwarten, met name in de beeldcultuur. Misschien niet direct toen hij in 1850 bedacht werd, maar zeker al snel daarna. Het zou vanzelfsprekend moeten zijn dat het onbehoorlijk is dat witten plezier maken door middel van de uitbeelding van een zwarte. Zwarte Piet is in zijn huidige vorm niet uit te leggen.''
De Zwarte Piet-discussie gaat over meer dan Zwarte Piet alleen. Het gaat over de verstandhouding tussen wit en niet-wit in ons land. Het gaat over fatsoen, en over hoe Nederland met minderheden omgaat. Zijn wij allemaal gelijk? Is zwarte pijn evenveel waard als de pijn van een wit persoon? En als dat het geval is, waarom is het dan zo moeilijk om de pijn van zwarte kinderen serieus te nemen? En waarom moet Zwarte Piet koste wat kost zwart blijven? Zwarte Piet doet ons nationale feest geweld aan en de oplossing is niet dat zwarte mensen minder gevoelig moeten zijn. Het antwoord is dat Nederland met haar tijd mee moet gaan door koloniaal gedachtegoed en koloniale afbeeldingen van zich af te schudden.
Fatsoenlijke veranderingenIn een samenleving leef je niet alleen. In een beschaafde samenleving heeft de meerderheid niet meer rechten dan de minderheid. Wij eisen dan ook dat er met respect en fatsoen met zwarte Nederlanders en het leed van hun voorouders wordt omgegaan. Wij eisen van ons land een moreel verbod op Zwarte Piet in de publieke ruimte, op scholen en op de werkvloer. Wij willen een feest dat niet pijnlijk is voor enige medeburger. Wij willen dat onze kinderen leren dat alle kleuren gelijk en even mooi zijn. De overheid moet van racisme- en discriminatiebestrijding een prioriteit maken, en niet weglopen van haar verantwoordelijkheid. Verder moet de overheid Nederlandse burgers die racisme bestrijden beschermen en hen niet overlaten aan de tirannie van de meerderheid.
Zo lang wij op deze veranderingen wachten, zullen wij luidkeels van ons laten horen - linksom of rechtsom. Wij zullen gebruik maken van onze democratische rechten zoals die in de grondwet zijn vastgelegd. Wij laten ons niet monddood maken, wij laten ons niet langer vernederen en wij laten ons niet langer door de meerderheid als tweederangs burgers wegzetten. Wij zijn Nederlanders en wij eisen respect van andere burgers en van de overheid. Rekening houden met minderheden, is een teken van beschaving. Het is een teken van fatsoen om te erkennen dat er geen racistisch element nodig is om onze kinderen een leuk feest te geven.
SolidariteitDe strijd tegen racisme, discriminatie en uitsluiting in Nederland is niet alleen iets van de zwarte gemeenschap. Nederland heeft te maken met institutioneel racisme, zoals is vastgesteld door de Nationale ombudsman. Institutioneel racisme is er ook in de vorm van islamofobie. De tijd is gekomen dat wij, alle Nederlanders met een migranten-achtergrond, de krachten bundelen. Het is tijd dat wij samen ten strijde trekken tegen institutioneel racisme, met al haar systematische en symbolische aspecten, die ons ervan weerhoudt om volwaardige burgers te zijn in Nederland.
Wat ons vandaag overkomt, kan jou morgen overkomen. Dus onderteken deze verklaring van solidariteit met jouw naam of organisatie, en verspreid die in je netwerk. Laat het hier niet bij. Op zondag 16 november 2014 wordt er van 11.00 tot 12.00 uur op het Beursplein te Amsterdam een vreedzame manifestatie gehouden. Wij willen hiermee een stem geven aan de duizenden Nederlanders van diverse achtergronden die een kinderfeest zonder racisme willen. Tevens beoogt de demonstratie de diverse belangengroepen voor minderheden te versterken en te verbinden in hun strijd tegen racisme en uitsluiting. Wij hopen dat we - als we om ons heen kijken - jou ook zien, tussen de massa, voor een racisme-vrij Nederland.
Initiatiefnemers:Zwarte Piet is Racisme campagneZwarte Piet Niet
(solidariteit) Partner: New Urban Collective, Stichting Nederland Wordt Beter, Landelijk Beraad van Marokkanen, Back to Palestine, Euro Mediterraan Centrum Migratie & Ontwikkeling (EMCEMO), Platform stop racisme en uitsluiting, Soul Rebel Movement, Stichting Overlegorgaan Caribische Nederlanders, Stichting Komitas Vardapet, Think-Kabir, Transnational Migrant Platform, Commission For Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW), Mad Mothers, Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations, Foundation University, Kromantse Foundation (Ghana), Social Development Cooperative (Ghana), Africa Roots Movement, RESPECT Network, TRUSTED Migrants, KOOP Natin.
AgendaActiegroep 'Kick Out Zwarte Piet' (KOZP), voorstander van een Sinterklaasfeest zonder zwarte piet, roept iedereen op die voor een racismevrij Sinterklaasfeest is, om op zaterdag 15 november 2014 vanaf 11.00 uur naar de Markt in Gouda te komen. Hier zullen we met een Stil Protest kenbaar maken dat de racistische karikatuur Zwarte Piet niet thuishoort in een beschaafd land.Het Sinterklaasfeest is geen feest voor alle Nederlanders zo lang het een grote groep Nederlanders discrimineert, marginaliseert en als ondergeschikt wegzet.
De oplossingen die tot nu toe geboden worden, zijn minimaal en laten zien dat men het probleem van racisme in Nederland nog steeds niet serieus neemt. Ieder jaar wordt de pijn van zwarte Nederlanders gebagatelliseerd en laat men de kans liggen om een duurzame oplossing te vinden.
We roepen jou hierbij op om je familie, vrienden en kennissen te mobiliseren voor het Stil Protest tijdens de nationale Sinterklaasintocht in Gouda. Het is tijd om onszelf te laten horen. Koloniale denkbeelden horen niet thuis in een moderne en beschaafde samenleving. Raciale en stereotyperende afbeeldingen horen niet in onze winkels of op onze scholen.
Veiligheid:Het Stil Protest is gebaseerd op de principes van geweldloos verzet. Wij zullen in overleg met de politie de nodige veiligheidsmaatregelen treffen om het Stil Protest veilig te laten verlopen.
Wij hebben het recht om onze gegronde ongenoegens kenbaar te maken tijdens de Sinterklaasintocht. De Nationale Ombudsman oordeelde dat er ruimte dient te zijn voor protest tijdens Sinterklaasintochten. Elke aanhouding voor het dragen van een anti-Zwarte Piet T-shirt is onrechtmatig en in strijd met de mensenrechten. Alle gemeenten zijn verplicht zich hieraan te houden.
Hou er rekening mee dat het dragen van een anti-Zwarte Piet T-shirt felle reacties kan uitlokken. Ga niet in op provocaties. Het is belangrijk dat we op een verstandige en vreedzame manier blijven protesteren.
Vervoer:In de ochtend van 15 november zullen er bussen vertrekken naar Gouda. Wij hebben veel aanmeldingen ontvangen en zullen deze week contact opnemen met de mensen die zich hebben aangemeld. Mensen die zelfstandig naar Gouda reizen, kunnen zich om 11.00 aansluiten bij de groep op het Marktplein in Gouda. De Markt ligt op 7 minuten lopen vanaf station Gouda.
Je kan je nog aanmelden voor de bus via kozwartepiet@gmail.com.
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Uitspraak rechter:''De figuur van Zwarte Piet vormt naar het oordeel van de rechtbank een negatieve stereotypering van de zwarte mens en de intocht maakt een inbreuk op het priv(C)leven van zwarte mensen. De bescherming van dat priv(C)leven is een belang dat de burgemeester had moeten meewegen toen hij de vergunning voor de intocht gaf, aldus de rechtbank.''
Verenigde Naties''De figuur van Zwarte Piet is een uiting van racisme die bestreden moet worden via het onderwijs. De traditie is achterhaald. ''
College voor de rechten van de mens''Zwarte Piet is een racistisch onderdeel van het Sinterklaasfeest. Ook al is het niet racistisch bedoeld, het wordt wel als kwetsend ervaren. Het bevestigen van stereotiepe beelden als dom, knecht en donker werkt door en mensen hebben er last van.''
Op zondag 16 november 2014 wordt van 11.00 tot 12.00 een vreedzame manifestatie gehouden op het Beursplein in Amsterdam. Zwarte Piet is Racisme, Zwarte Piet Niet en partners willen een stem geven aan de duizenden Nederlanders van diverse achtergronden die graag een kinderfeest willen zonder racistische elementen.Op zondag 16 november vindt ook de Sinterklaasintocht in Amsterdam plaats. De afgelopen jaren heeft een groeiend aantal Nederlanders een stem voor verandering laten horen. Helaas komt ook dit jaar de goedheiligman wederom naar de hoofdstad met racistische karikaturen in zijn gevolg. Zwarte Piet is een racistisch stereotype van de zwarte mens en een groeiend aantal Nederlanders, van jong tot oud, en van alle kleuren en gezindten wil daar niet langer mee worden geconfronteerd in de publieke ruimte, op de school van onze kinderen en op de werkvloer.
Verene Shepherd - Wikipedia
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 10:45
Shepherd schreef haar proefschrift aan de Universiteit van Cambridge. Haar onderzoeksgebied richt zich op de Jamaicaanse economische geschiedenis in de periode van de slavernij, alsook op vrouwengeschiedenis in het Caribisch gebied. Zij presenteert een Jamaicaans radioprogramma, Talking History. Shepherd is hoogleraar sociale geschiedenis aan de University of the West Indies in Kingston.
Namens de Jamaicaanse regering is zij betrokken bij de claims die veertien Caribische landen tegen Groot-Brittanni, Nederland en Frankrijk hebben ingediend, waarbij enkele honderden miljarden euro's als herstelbetaling worden geist vanwege de slavenhandel waarbij deze landen twee eeuwen geleden betrokken waren.[1]
Shepherd is een van de 72 externe deskundigen met een mandaat van het Hoog Commissariaat voor de Mensenrechten van de Verenigde Naties (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR) en voorzitter van de Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.[2] Deze deskundigen spreken niet rechtstreeks namens de VN, maar mogen binnen hun specialisatie wel onderzoek doen namens de VN.[3][4] In het kader van deze functie drong zij in september 2013 aan op nader onderzoek naar vermeend racisme binnen de wetten van de Verenigde Staten, nadat buurtwacht George Zimmerman was vrijgesproken, die de zwarte tiener Trayvon Martin had doodgeschoten.[5]
In oktober 2013 kwam zij in Belgi en Nederland in de publiciteit doordat zij de figuur van Zwarte Piet als racistisch bestempelde en vroeg om een einde aan de Sinterklaas-traditie te maken 'omdat (C)(C)n kerstman genoeg is'.[6] Ze noemde het feest een terugkeer naar de slavernij in de 21e eeuw.[7][8][9] Dit wekte beroering in de traditionele en de sociale media.[10][11] In juni 2014 bezocht zij als lid van de VN Commissie 'Mensen van Afrikaanse afkomst' Nederland. Deze commissie deed onderzoek naar rassendiscriminatie in dit land[12].
Livestock, Sugar and Slavery: Contested Terrain in Colonial Jamaica. 2009I Want to Disturb My Neighbour. 2007.Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean. 2002.Engendering History: Caribbean Women in Historical Perspectives. 1998.Transients to Settlers: East Indians in Jamaica in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century. 1991.Dubois-Mandela-Rodney Fellow, Universiteit van Michigan[13]Jamaica National Heritage Trust AwardDistinguished African Award, Florida International University[14](en)Verene Shepherd op de website van de University of the West Indies(en)Verene Shepherd op de website van het hoge commissariaat van de Verenigde Naties voor de vluchtelingen
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Michael Brown family headlines delegation to UN panel in Geneva | MSNBC
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 11:08
The parents of Michael Brown, the unarmed teen who was fatally shot this summer by a veteran police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, are bringing the story of how their son was killed to the international stage.
RELATED: Jay Nixon: 'Violence will not be tolerated' in wake of Michael Brown jury decision
Appearing as part of a delegation of human rights advocates and organizations, Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., are meeting at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, this week to testify on police violence in the United States.
In a session Tuesday with the United Nations Committee Against Torture, Brown's parents, along with activists from Ferguson to Chicago, arguedthat cases of police brutality throughout the U.S. amount to human rights violations.
''If you look at the amount of people who are victimized by police, they tend to be disproportionately people of color,'' Ejim Dike, executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, told msnbc. ''The treatment of black and brown people is happening all over. We just happened to see it flare up in Ferguson.''
Dike's group organized the delegation of more than 70 representatives to travel to Geneva to raise an array of U.S. issues beyond police violence, including national security, deportation policies, military sexual assault and the U.S. detention center at Guantnamo Bay. The groups are convening as the UN committee reviews the U.S. federal government's compliance with the Convention Against Torture, an international treaty outlined to prevent torture or cruel punishment throughout the world.
''Their testimony humanized the issue,'' Dike aid. ''It really helped reach the hearts and minds of the committee members. We saw a strong recommendation on police violence, and we also saw the international community condemn it.''
RELATED: St. Louis on edge with looming verdict
A coalition of organizations and attorneys representing the Brown family submitted a 13-page brief to the UN committee, raising concerns about how local officials handled the investigation into the Brown's death and how protesters were impacted by the aggressive police response in the aftermath. ''The killing of Mike Brown and the abandonment of his body in the middle of a neighborhood street is but an example of the utter lack of regard for, and indeed dehumanization of, black lives by law enforcement personnel,'' the groups wrote in the brief.
Brown's parents are set to present the brief to the UN committee Wednesday and Thursday, alongside activists who became leaders in the protests following the teen's death, human rights attorneys from St. Louis and a delegation of young activists from Chicago. Dike said organizers hope that seeing Brown's parents in person will have a strong impact on the UN committee. In the past, the U.S. Human Rights Network invited the parents of two high-profile slain teens, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, to speak before UN on racial profiling.
The timing of their trip comes during a critical juncture in the investigation into Brown's death. A St. Louis grand jury panel is expected to decide very soon whether to indict veteran Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed teen on Aug. 9.
Police and witnesses have said Brown and Wilson engaged in a physical struggle through the window of the officer's SUV shortly before the teen's death. Law enforcement officials say Brown attempted to take Wilson's gun when the police officer fired the first shot. A half-dozen eye-witnesseshave said publicly that they saw Brown flee from the vehicle as Wilson open firewith the fatal shots landing as the teen stopped, turned to the officer and raised his arms in surrender. But a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told NBC News' Pete Williams that Wilson said he feared for his safety when the teen turned and charged back toward him after running from the vehicle.
RELATED: Feds step in to train Ferguson police
In an interview Tuesday in Geneva, McSpadden told CNN that she hoped Wilson will be charged in her son's death. ''Well my faith is in God and I'm pretty sure there will be an indictment. I'm pretty sure,'' she said. ''Why wouldn't there be an indictment?''
Officials tasked with ensuring public safety in the St. Louis region, and local advocates who see the teen's death as unjust, are bracing for more protests in the streets after the grand jury announces its decision, which is expected sometime in November.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon held a press conference Tuesday afternoon alongside local and state law enforcement officials to inform the public on police planning efforts ahead of the looming grand jury decision. He said the state National Guard would be available if it is needed to enforce security in the area. He also said ''violence will not be tolerated'' after the grand jury hands down its decision.
Committee against Torture
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 11:10
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) is the body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties.
More about the Committee against Torture'...
Ratification of the Convention against Tortureand Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,August 2014
Click on the image to access the interactive mapSee the maps on ratifications (PDF) of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment or its Optional Protocol
Anonymous Takes The Hoods Off The KKK After Threats Of 'Lethal Force' On Ferguson Protesters | Liberaland
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:21
With tension already on the rise while waiting for the Grand Jury decision to be handed down in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the KKK has promised to use ''lethal force'' against protesters.
That didn't go down well with Anonymous, so the loosely-knit Internet collective has responded in the best way possible, taking the hoods off of Klan members. The irony here is palpable. Anonymous members are masked while ripping the hoods off of Klan members who promise violence against protesters who are exercising their right to free speech.KKK sites are being DDOSed, faces are exposed and the Klan's 1-800 number is being trolled.
Watch:
Hands up, hoods off. Faces of the Klan.
The KKK should have expected them.
Update:
Frank Ancona is officially doxxed, holla!
Send me any new tweets of Klan members being de-hooded and I'll add them here. Give the Anons some love using the #OpKKK hashtag.
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Ebola
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Presidential Memorandum -- Authorizing the Exercise of Authority Under Public Law 85-804
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 04:22
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 13, 2014
MEMORANDUM FOR THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE UNITED STATES AGENCY
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
SUBJECT: Authorizing the Exercise of Authority Under Public Law 85-804
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is authorized to exercise authority under Public Law 85-804, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), to the same extent and subject to the same conditions and limitations as the head of an executive department or agency listed in section 21 of Executive Order 10789 of November 14, 1958, as amended, with respect to contracts performed in Africa in support of USAID's response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa where the contractor, its employees, or subcontractors will have significant exposure to Ebola. This authority may be exercised solely for the purpose of holding harmless and indemnifying contractors with respect to claims, losses, or damage arising out of or resulting from exposure, in the course of performance of the contracts, to Ebola.
The USAID is exercising functions in connection with the national defense in the course of complying with its humanitarian mandate, and there is a relevant state of national emergency that authorizes use of Public Law 85-804. I deem that the authorization provided in this memorandum and actions taken pursuant to that authorization would facilitate the national defense.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
BARACK OBAMA
G20 Leaders' Brisbane Statement on Ebola
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:12
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 15, 2014
The statement below was released tonight by Australia in its capacity as host of the G20.
G20 Leaders' Brisbane Statement on Ebola
We are deeply concerned about the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and saddened by the suffering and loss of life it is inflicting. We are mindful of the serious humanitarian, social and economic impacts on those countries, and of the potential for these impacts to spread.
The governments and people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are making tremendous efforts to fight the outbreak, with the support of the African Union and other African countries. We commend the brave service of health care and relief workers. We also applaud the contributions of countries worldwide, the United Nations (UN) and its bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), international and regional organisations and financial institutions, non-governmental and religious organisations, and the private sector. We fully support the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response's ongoing work to harness capacity to stop the outbreak, treat the infected, ensure essential services, preserve stability and prevent further outbreaks and urge that it act swiftly to achieve these objectives.
G20 members are committed to do what is necessary to ensure the international effort can extinguish the outbreak and address its medium-term economic and humanitarian costs. We will work through bilateral, regional and multilateral channels, and in partnership with non-governmental stakeholders. We will share our experiences of successfully fighting Ebola with our partners, including to promote safe conditions and training for health care and relief workers. We will work to expedite the effective and targeted disbursement of funds and other assistance, balancing between emergency and longer-term needs.
We invite those governments that have yet to do so to join in providing financial contributions, appropriately qualified and trained medical teams and personnel, medical and protective equipment, and medicines and treatments. While commending ongoing work, we urge greater efforts by researchers, regulators and pharmaceutical companies to develop safe, effective and affordable diagnostic tools, vaccines and treatments. We call upon international and regional institutions, civil society and the private sector to work with governments to mitigate the impacts of the crisis and ensure the longer-term economic recovery.
In this regard, we urge the World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to continue their strong support for the affected countries and welcome the IMF's initiative to make available a further $300 million to stem the Ebola outbreak and ease pressures on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, through a combination of concessional loans, debt relief, and grants. We ask the IMF and WBG to explore new, flexible mechanisms to address the economic effects of future comparable crises.
This outbreak illustrates the urgency of addressing longer-term systemic issues and gaps in capability, preparedness and response capacity that expose the global economy to the impacts of infectious disease. G20 members recommit to full implementation of the WHO's International Health Regulations (IHR). To this end, and in the context of our broader efforts to strengthen health systems globally, we commit to support others to implement the IHR and to build capacity to prevent, detect, report early and rapidly respond to infectious diseases like Ebola. We also commit to fight anti-microbial resistance. Interested G20 members are supporting this goal through initiatives to accelerate action across the Economic Community of West African States and other vulnerable regions and will report progress and announce a time frame by May 2015 at the World Health Assembly.
We invite all countries to join us in mobilizing resources to strengthen national, regional and global preparedness against the threat posed by infectious diseases to global health and strong, sustainable and balanced growth for all. We will remain vigilant and responsive.
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Bob Geldof and Midge Ure Discuss Band Aid's Unexpected Return | Rolling Stone
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:32
By Lori Majewski | November 14, 2014In late September, Bob Geldof was in no mood to reminisce about "Do They Know It's Christmas?," the November 1984 charity single raising money for the victims of Ethiopian famine. "I do the Africa stuff every day of the week," the 63-year-old singer explained while discussing his main band, the Boomtown Rats. "The only thing that actually stimulates me is music."
RelatedThe Greatest Tracks in Holiday History
When the topic inevitably turned to "Do They Know It's Christmas?," Geldof turned cranky: "I associate it with the meat counter at my local supermarket. Every time I arrive to buy the fucking turkey, I hear [mockingly hums the song's intro]. The butcher looks at me with a little smile and I go, 'Yeah, yeah. Give me the fucking turkey, dude.'"
Six weeks later, it was announced that there would be a Band Aid 30 '' a "Do They Know It's Christmas?" update to be recorded on November 15 with One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Adele and Ellie Goulding singing alongside returning artists like Bono and Chris Martin, who were a part of Darfur benefit Band Aid 20. If Geldof can barely stomach hearing the song, why would he want to spearhead a fourth recording of it?
"It was the hideous synchronicity of the ebola crisis and the way it's escalated, and the fact that we had this 30th anniversary coming up that everybody was asking us about," says Midge Ure, Geldof's longtime Band Aid partner and "Do They Know It's Christmas?" co-writer, speaking early Friday morning. "A month ago, this wasn't in the cards. Then Bob got a call from the U.N. saying, 'Can you do it again?'"
After receiving the call, Geldof phoned Ure and opened with an apology. "We talked about who we would have on board and how we could change it, because the song is very geared toward hunger and there are references to the burning sun and no water '' 'no rain or rivers flow' '' which isn't true," says the Ultravox singer. "Africa's changed a lot over the last 30 years."
The music business has changed as well, and Ure has found this Band Aid to be the most hectic ever, especially because once again every musician is recording in the same room: "The first time around, we didn't really speak to managers; this time, we're dealing with managers and labels. The artists are great, but there's a whole lot of middle men trying to cross the t's and dot the i's."
Once the tune is recorded, however, fans will have to do something very 1984 and buy a copy of the new song, either as a 99-cent download (which will be available starting Monday) or on CD (which is set to go on sale in three weeks). Streaming services like Spotify will not have access to it until after the new year.
According to Ure, the money raised will keep Band Aid functioning as a "draw-down facility" '' essentially a bank used to fund other aid agencies. Ure points to their relationship with the Mary's Meals organization of an example of how this can work: "We just got an email the other day from Mary's Meals when [Band Aid 30] was announced, saying 'Absolutely fantastic, because we are feeding 80,000 children right now in Liberia.'"
Geldof and Ure are also hoping to spur world leaders to do more to help ebola victims and curb the spread of the disease. "I presume governments are incredibly aware of what's going on," Ure says. "But maybe they're just slow, lumbering machines. Whereas, you get people in the entertainment industry to start rattling cages and it's media-worthy. It embarrasses politicians to think that masses of people can be moved into action because of a bunch of pop stars.
"All we can do is hope that Ed Sheeran and One Direction and everyone else plead with the fans not to stream this, not to download this for free," he continues, admitting this is "probably" going to be the final Band Aid fundraiser. "These kids know this song because they've heard it blasting out of radios every Christmas since they were born. What they now have to learn is why the song was done in the first place and why it's being done this time '' for slightly different but equally valid reasons."
How 30 years have taken their toll on the Band Aid original line-up | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:13
By Daily Mail Reporter
Published: 19:04 EST, 13 November 2014 | Updated: 02:52 EST, 14 November 2014
4.7kshares
911
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When they stepped into the studio three decades ago, they were at the cutting-edge of pop music '-- the world's biggest stars enjoying the brightest moment of their careers.
The now iconic photograph of the cast of Band Aid '-- taken in November 1984 at the recording that made history '-- shows a group of eager young men and women, clad in unmistakably flamboyant Eighties garb, with years of music ahead of them.
The likes of Phil Collins, Sting and George Michael, led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, look so fresh-faced it is almost impossible to recognise them.
Pop parade: The most famous musical stars of the Eighties banded together to help starving Africans with their charity Christmas single in 1984
Thirty years on, the announcement this week that a new version of Do They Know It's Christmas? is being released '-- for the fourth time '-- with yet another new generation of pop stars, emphasised just how much time has passed.
For those bright young things '-- whose original hit single earned £8 million for famine victims in Ethiopia '-- are today's grizzled old guard, having enjoyed varied fortunes since their moment of festive glory.
Here's what happened to the most famous of them...
Phil Collins: Former Genesis frontman, 63, retired in 2011 with £115 million fortune and 100 million album sales. Three-times divorced, he lives in Switzerland. Loves model railways. Daughter Lily is an actress
Bob Geldof: Band Aid's co-founder, he's worth £32 million. He's faced double tragedy - his wife, Paula Yates, and daughter Peaches, died of overdoses. Sir Bob, 63, is engaged to French actress Jeanne Marine
Bob Geldolf: Why we re remaking the Band Aid single
Paul Young: He's made eight studio albums and went on TV's MasterChef and Splash after struggling financially. Young, 58, split and later reconciled with wife Stacey Smith, mother of his three children
Tony Hadley: Singer, 54, had a patchy solo career after Spandau Ballet '-- known for hits Gold and True '-- split in 1990. The band has just reformed to record a new album, with a world tour planned in 2015.
Simon Le Bon: The Duran Duran singer, 56, has three daughters with supermodel Yasmin. He is said to be worth £38 million and has sold 100 million records, including hits Hungry Like The Wolf and Girls On Film
Keren Woodward: The Bananarama singer, 53, still performs on and off with the group, formed 35 years ago. In 1994, she went to live with Wham vocalist Andrew Ridgeley and her son in Cornwall
Martin Kemp: The Spandau Ballet bassist, 53, went into acting after the band's split, starring in EastEnders and The Krays with brother Gary. Kemp suffered two brain tumours in 1995. He and wife Shirlie have two children
Exclusive clip: Martin Kemp on The Blitz Club
Bono: Star philanthropist and businessman, the U2 frontman, 54, is worth £514 million after investing in Facebook. Just released U2's latest album. Married with four children to businesswoman Alison Hewson
Bono apologizes for iTunes album release
Paul Weller: After The Jam and The Style Council, Weller, now 56, went solo and is worth around £6 million. Has seven children with four women and lives with wife Hannah Andrews in Los Angeles
George Michael: Ex-Wham! singer, 51, has had a huge solo career, selling 100 million records, and is worth £105 million. Has been arrested for having sex in a public place, and was jailed in 2010 for drugs offences
Midge Ure: The Ultravox singer, 61, was co-founder of Band Aid. An ambassador for Save the Children, he has four daughters from two marriages. Has battled alcoholism. Released a solo album in July
Gary Kemp: Spandau Ballet guitarist, 55, starred in film The Bodyguard and is still acting. Has a son with ex-wife Sadie Frost, who left him for Jude Law, and three sons with second wife, designer Lauren Barber
Marilyn: Hit singer Peter Robinson, 52, better known as Marilyn, lives on benefits, after becoming addicted to heroin in 1986. He has also struggled with agoraphobia, and is writing his autobiography
Sara Dallin: Still a member of Bananarama and still performing with co-singer Keren Woodward, her childhood friend from Bristol. Now 52, Sara has a daughter, Alice, by ex-fiance and dancer Bassey Walker
Siobhan Fahey: Ex-Bananarama singer, 56, had hits with Shakespears Sister before the duo split in 1993. Has two sons by Eurythmics star Dave Stewart. They divorced in 1996. Lives in LA and writes music
Francis Rossi: Status Quo singer, 65, is married to second wife Eileen and has eight children in total. He once claimed to have spent £1.7million on cocaine. Now teetotal, he's said to be worth £10 million
Jon Moss: Culture Club drummer and Boy George's one-time secret boyfriend, Moss, 57, later had three children with his now ex-wife. Is teaming up with Culture Club in December for a 12-date UK tour
Sting: Career with The Police and later as a solo artist earned him £180 million. Married to Trudie Styler for 22 years. With homes around the world, the 63-year-old's latest venture is Broadway musical The Last Ship
Sting performs songs from his new musical on board the Queen Mary...
Rick Parfitt: Status Quo guitarist, 66, recently had two heart attacks, undergoing surgery in August. When not touring, he lives in Spain with wife Lyndsay and their six-year-old twins. Worth £6 million
Nick Rhodes: Duran Duran keyboard player, bouffant blond Nick Rhodes, 52, still tours. Worth £44 million, he enjoyed a reputation as a man-about-town before settling down with Italian stylist Nefer Suvio
Boy George: Culture Club's singer, 53, became a top DJ in the Nineties. Openly gay, he battled drug addiction and was jailed for imprisoning a male escort. Last month, he and the reunited Culture Club played on Strictly Come Dancing
Holly Johnson: Flamboyant vocalist for Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Diagnosed with HIV in 1991. Withdrew from public life to paint. Just released first album for 15 years. Lives in London with partner Wolfgang Kuhle
David Bowie: London-born elder statesman of music has sold 140 million albums. A father of two, the former Ziggy Stardust had a heart attack in 2004 and collects fine art. Married to second wife, model Iman
FIRST LOOK: David Bowie in glamorous Louis Vuitton film
Paul McCartney: Sold 100 million albums, amassing a £700 million fortune. First wife Linda died in 1998. After controversial marriage to Heather Mills, Sir Paul, 72, wed Nancy Shevell, 53, in 2011. Still a prolific songwriter
Paul McCartney raps! He wants us to sign up for Meat Free Mondays
Boy George, Holly Johnson, David Bowie and Paul McCartney did not appear in the group photo
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Mali: France to ScreenArrivals for Ebola
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 08:49
France has extended its Ebola airport screening procedures to cover passengers flying into Paris from Mali after the west African country confirmed its second case of the deadly virus.
"As part of the fight against Ebola and because of the evolution of the epidemiological situation, the control and monitoring will be extended to cover passenger flights from Bamako [Mali] from Saturday 15 November 2014," a health ministry statement said.
Passengers flying into Paris's Charles de Gaulle and Orly international airports will have their temperatures taken and will be given information on what to do in the case of a fever running higher than 38°C within 21 days.
They will also be asked to provide information that will be kept by French health authorities for 21 days - the maximum incubation period of the virus.
The decision comes after Mali on Friday reported three Ebola-related deaths out of four cases that had tested positive for the disease.
These cases are in addition to Mali's first Ebola case, a two-year-old girl who travelled by road from Guinea into Mali.
She died on 24 October.
Last month France began screening Air France passengers flying directly from Ebola-hit Guinea to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, along with some ships that had travelled from west Africa's Ebola hot spots.
The Ebola virus has killed more than 5,000 people so far, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
As concern grows over the new wave of cases, the French government on Friday updated its website to advise against all but essential travel to Bamako and Kayes, the western region where the girl died.
Mali: Aid Needed to Avert Crisis
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:25
Mali is at a critical humanitarian crossroads and failure to act immediately in response to the country's urgent needs may ultimately jeopardize its path towards peace and stability, three senior United Nations relief officials warned today following a three-day visit to the country.
"The situation in Mali remains highly fragile," said John Ging, Operations Director for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a press release issued after a briefing for reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.
"Although humanitarian assistance cannot provide the solution to this crisis, which goes back more than 50 years, it can provide a critical contribution by ensuring that human suffering is alleviated and people's resilience is rebuilt, while the political process continues," he added.
Mr. Ging, who made the trip along with UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Emergency Director, Afshan Khan, and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Emergency Director, Mabingue Ngom, travelled to the regions of Gao and Kidal where they met with representatives of armed groups, government officials, humanitarian partners and women's groups. In Bamako, the country's capital, they also met with the Prime Minister and Minister of Solidarity.
Despite initial security improvements in 2013, the situation in Northern Mali has deteriorated since the beginning of this year. An increase in incidents involving improvised explosive devices, mostly targeting Malian and international security forces, has impeded the return to normalcy and resumption of economic and development activities.
The first phase of the inter-Malian negotiation process, which was held from 16 to 24 July in Algiers, aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace agreement which would end the crisis. It concluded with the adoption of a roadmap by all parties.
Announcement of the resumption of the talks comes in the wake of a series of deadly attacks against the UN Mission in the country, including a bomb attack and an ambush that killed nine Nigerien MINUSMA peacekeepers in Mali's Gao region, bringing the total number of fatalities suffered by the mission to 31 peacekeepers killed and 91 wounded since it first deployed on 1 July 2013.
In the press release, Mr. Ging pointed out that the 2014 humanitarian appeal for Mali was less than 50 per cent funded, directly impacting the UN's presence on the ground and its ability to provide aid to those in need.
"The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has had to halve its fleet, reducing access to remote locations at a critical moment in the response; roaming surgical teams have had to halt their activities; and we can't deliver basic school supplies, like backpacks and books," he continued.
Meanwhile, UNICEF's Afshan Khan underscored the need for restoring basic services across the country, noting that an estimated 500,000 children across Mali will suffer from Global Acute Malnutrition by the end of the year.
"Despite the challenges, we must strengthen health systems especially in response to the nutrition crisis in Mali," he said, adding that it was "also imperative to get schools back up and running."
"Some children in northern Mali have gone three years without education. This is unacceptable."
For his part, UNFPA Emergency Director, Mabingue Ngom, stated that the impact of the Malian crisis on women and importance of women's involvement in the recovery remained a constant theme during the course of the visit.
"Women in Gao had a simple message for us," Mr. Ngom said. "They asked to have legal remedies for the horrendous violence and suffering they have endured, to be given the skills and means to earn their own livelihoods, and to be actively involved in peace talks and national reconciliation."
At the same time, as Mali addresses the confirmation of its first death from Ebola, the three officials urged all actors to take "immediate action" drawing on best practices from the region, including Nigeria, to rapidly contain the virus.
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CYBER!
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Feinstein, Chambliss: We can pass a cyber bill during lame duck -- FCW
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 23:06
Congress
Feinstein, Chambliss: We can pass a cyber bill during lame duckBy Sean LyngaasOct 29, 2014Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) claim their cyber legislation has a solid chance of passing during the lame duck session.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat and Republican made an eleventh-hour pitch for Congress to pass their cybersecurity information-sharing bill during next month's lame-duck session.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told an Oct. 28 conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that their cybersecurity bill has a good chance of passing in the lame duck because compliance with the bill would be voluntary and not mandatory. Differing opinions on the proper approach to public-private information-sharing have killed several previous cyber bills in 2012 and 2013.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said he is ready to convene a conference committee with the Senate during the lame-duck session to work out a final version. The House passed its cybersecurity bill, which the White House threatened to veto, in April 2013.
Chambliss has said the quartet of Intelligence Committee leaders (which includes Maryland Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger) have collaborated more closely than previous groups. And Chambliss and Rogers are retiring at the end of this term, lending urgency to the effort. But given the crowded legislative calendar, partisan gridlock and the fact that the Obama administration may, as Feinstein noted Oct. 28, prioritize surveillance reform over a cyber bill, there are plenty of ways that a cybersecurity information-sharing bill could still stall in the lame duck.
The Feinstein-Chambliss bill would authorize a centralized process at the Department of Homeland Security by which private firms could share threat information with the government without legal liability. That information would then be shared simultaneously with relevant federal agencies. The DHS secretary would have to confirm to Congress that that process is functional before it is implemented.
Supporters of the bill say the possibility of legal repercussions for firms that share confidential information with the government has undercut cybersecurity. That the bill addresses this liability issue is one reason the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports it.
The bill also would allow firms with written consent from a federal agency to help an agency repel malware attacks and other cyber threats via "countermeasures," which are defined as techniques and technologies that help protect an information system. Mark Seward, senior director of public sector solutions marketing at Splunk, a big-data analytics firm, has said that data collected through countermeasures would provide fodder for information-sharing across the private sector, and between the private sector and government.
The Senate Intelligence Committee approved the measure by a 12-3 vote in July, but it has yet to see the Senate floor. "I think if we can get this up on the floor, I believe we can pass it," Feinstein said.
A coalition of privacy and online groups oppose the bill, arguing that it would do less to protect civil liberties than a 2012 Senate bill that failed, in part, because of opposition from the Chamber of Commerce.
Starting in mid-November, Congress will reconvene for several weeks with a crowded docket of bills and issues to consider. "I have implored [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] that if there is one piece of legislation that needs to be completed between now and the end of the year, this is it," Chambliss said.
Chambliss and Feinstein have sparred over previous cybersecurity legislation, and pointed to their cooperation this time around as evidence the bill is both pragmatic and passable. "We [did] not want to produce something that cannot get a vote," Feinstein said.
Yet even as Chambliss stressed the urgency of passing the bill, he said establishing a public-private mechanism for sharing cyber threats is a long-term endeavor.
"It's important that we put language in this bill that allows flexibility," he said. "This is not a short-term project from our standpoint."
Given how quickly cybersecurity technology changes, he added, "we want to make sure that 10 years from now that there's flexibility in the legislative language that allows the public sector and the private sector ... to adjust to what technology comes forward in the intervening timeframe."
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is a staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.
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Chinese hack U.S. Weather systems, satellite network - The Washington Post
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:13
Hackers from China breached the federal weather network recently, forcing cybersecurity teams to seal off data vital to disaster planning, aviation, shipping and scores of other crucial uses, officials said.
The intrusion occurred in late September but officials gave no indication that they had a problem until Oct. 20, according to three people familiar with the hack and the subsequent reaction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, which includes the National Weather Service. Even then, NOAA did not say its systems were compromised.
Officials also said that the agency did not notify the proper authorities when it learned of the attack.
NOAA officials declined to discuss the suspected source of the attack, whether it affected classified data and the delay in notification. NOAA said publicly in October that it was doing ''unscheduled maintenance'' on its network, without saying a computer hack made that necessary.
In a statement released Wednesday, NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen acknowledged the hacks and said ''incident response began immediately.'' He said all systems were working again and that forecasts were accurately delivered to the public. Smullen declined to answer questions beyond his statement, citing an investigation into the attack.
NOAA's satellites provide the bulk of the information for generating weather models, advisories and warnings to the nation and world. Maintaining the operations and data acquisition from these satellites is a 24/7 process. This video was filmed at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., where command, control and data distribution systems are located. (NOAA/YouTube)
But the agency confirmed to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) that China was behind the attack, the congressman said. Wolf has a long-standing interest in cybersecurity and asked NOAA about the incident after an inquiry from The Washington Post.
''NOAA told me it was a hack and it was China,'' said Wolf, who also scolded the agency for not disclosing the attack ''and deliberately misleading the American public in its replies.''
''They had an obligation to tell the truth,'' Wolf said. ''They covered it up.''
Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser said his office was not notified of the breach until Nov. 4, well after he believes the hack occurred. He said that is a violation of agency policy requiring any security incident to be reported to his office within two days of discovering the problem.
''We're in the process of looking into the matter, including why NOAA did not comply with the requirements to notify law enforcement about the incident,'' Zinser said.
Wolf said he did not know if the breach involved classified material or what information was accessed.
Confirmation of the NOAA hack followed an admission Monday by the United States Postal Service that a suspected Chinese attack-- also in September-- compromised data of 800,000 employees, including letter carriers on up through the postmaster general.
NOAA officials also would not say whether the attack removed material or inserted malicious software in its system, which is used by civilian and military forecasters in the U.S. and also feeds weather models at the main centers for Europe and Canada.
NOAA's National Ice Center Web Site also was down for a week in late October. The center is a partnership with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard to monitor conditions for navigation.
The two-day outage skewed the accuracy of National Weather Service long-range forecasts slightly, according to NOAA.
The attack in September hit a web server that connects to many NOAA computers, according to one person familiar with the incursion. The server had security protections, but the person compared the security to leaving a house protected by ''just a screen door.''
Smullen's statement said that four sites were hit by the breach.
Weather satellites orbit hundreds to thousands of miles above the Earth and offer continuous views of weather systems such as hurricanes, thunderstorms and cold fronts while also measuring temperature and moisture at different altitudes --all crucial bits that get fed into prediction models. To get that information to the public, NOAA makes satellite data and imagery available through the Web as well as file transfer networks for downloads.
NOAA has characterized its decision to cut off satellite images as causing a minimal . However, it has previously touted those same systems as intrinsic to the nation's ''environmental intelligence.''
NOAA satellites ''provide critical data for forecasts and warnings that are vital to every citizen and to our economy as a whole,'' NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said a year ago.
The hack may have been aimed less at manipulating weather data, then finding an opening in a U.S. system to exploit, said Jacob Olcott, a cybersecurity consultant now with Good Harbor Security Risk Management and former Senate staffer on cybersecurity legislation. ''The bad guys are increasingly having a hard time getting in the front of these agencies,'' he said. ''So they figure if I can't get in the front door, I'd ride along in with someone who has trusted access and maybe ride that connection to bigger agencies.''
Wolf said a hack could steal technical insights or cull isolated information '' that may not look significant until they're put with something else and then they become valuable. The Chinese are stealing us blind,'' Wolf said.
The attack on NOAA joins a spate of cyber espionage on federal systems revealed recently including an attack suspected from Russia that breached unclassified White House computer networks.
The October satellite data outage meant the National Weather Service and centers around the world did not receive large amounts of information.
''All the operational data sent via NOAA, which is normally an excellent service, was lost,'' said Stephen English, head of the satellite section at the European Center for Medium-range Forecasting located in Reading, Great Britain. The center is renowned for running a highly advanced global weather prediction model that during Superstorm Sandy, for example, aided evacuations and preparations in the U.S. when it signaled the storm would hit, not hook out to sea.
Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, which provides daily snow cover updates for researchers and forecasters using a data feed from the Ice Center, posted a notice on its Web site that its reports were incomplete throughout the outage.
Commercial interests also were affected by the breach.
Delta Airlines overcame the loss of data it normally incorporates into pilot briefings about aviation hazards. But its flying customers were spared trouble by the added work of the airline's meteorologists and information technology specialists who used alternative sources of information, spokesperson Morgan Durrant said.
In Melbourne, Fla., the satellite images bolster the ocean fishing forecasting service run by Mitchell Roffer.
His company downloads images ''constantly'' and immediately realized around Oct. 20 that the information was out of date. ''We went up the chain asking when we could expect it back and no one was talking for several days.''
A July report on NOAA by the Inspector General for the Commerce Department--where NOAA sits--criticized an array of ''high-risk vulnerabilities'' in the security of NOAA's satellite information and weather service systems.
The report echoed the views of a 2009 audit from the IG that said the primary system that processes satellite data from two environmental and meteorological systems had ''significant'' security weaknesses, and that ''a security breach could have severe or catastrophic adverse effects...''
The watchdog's previously unreleased report, obtained by The Post under a Freedom of Information Act request, called for ''immediate management attention'' and said NOAA's security planning was so poor the agency had little idea how vulnerable its system was.
Mary Pat Flaherty works on investigative and long-range stories. Her work has won numerous national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.
Jason is currently the Washington Post's weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.
Planes subject to hack attack
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:15
.
Computer scientists at the University of California and John Hopkins University claim equipment used by private pilots when they're flying is vulnerable to hacking.
And that, said the scientists, could not surprisingly lead to catastrophic results.
The researchers looked at three sets of devices and apps that private pilots commonly use '' the Appareo Stratus 2 receiver using the ForeFlight app; the Garmin GDL 39 receiver with the Garmin Pilot app; and the SageTech Clarity CL01 with the WingX Pro7 app.
These devices let hobby pilots use the same info that pilots of a private jet receive but the systems cost $1,000, compared to $20,000 for instruments in high end cockpits.
The devices display location, weather, airspace restrictions and nearby aircraft on a tablet computer via the apps and that's where the vulnerabilities start. Kirill Levchenkto, a computer scientist at UC San Diego said: ''When you attack these devices, you don't have control over the aircraft, but you have control over the information the pilot sees.''
Apparently the FAA has the authority to regulate devices but chooses not to as they're not part of the fabric of a plane.
All three devices let attackers tamper with communication between receiver and tablet.
There are ways to fix the vulnerabilities including cryptography, signed firmware updates and explicit user interaction before downloading device firmware.
MH370 Evidence Points to Sophisticated Hijackers | Jeff Wise
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:05
The 777 E/E bay access hatch. Click for video.
Newly emerged details concerning Malaysia Airlines flight 370's electrical system indicate that whoever took over the plane was technically sophisticated, possessing greater knowledge of Boeing 777 avionics than most commercial line pilots. They also suggest that the plane's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was not responsible for taking the plane.
The new information comes via Michael Exner, a satellite industry veteran who has been one of the most prominent independent experts investigating the airliner's disappearance. Several days ago Exner gained access to a major US airline's professional-grade flight simulator facility, where he was able to run flight profiles accompanied by two veteran 777 pilots. ''This is a state-of-the-art 777 simulator, level D, part of one of the most modern training facilities on earth,'' Exner says.
A little background. As is well known, approximately forty minutes after its departure from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, someone turned off all communications between MH370 and the outside world. Around the same time the plane turned sharply to the left and headed back over the Malayan Peninsula. Among the systems that were shut off were satellite communications; the transponder; and two automatic reporting systems, ACARS and ADS-B. The plane went dark just as it entered the space between two air-traffic control zones and was temporarily unmonitored, a sign that whoever planned the diversion wished to avoid detection and was well versed in international air traffic control procedures.
For approximately the next hour, MH370's progress was visible only to military radar. The plane flew straight and fast between established navigational points, indicating that the aircraft had not suffered mechanical accident. At 18.22 UTC the plane was heading west out into the Indian Ocean when it passed out of range of military radar. At that point, the plane became effectively invisible. Shrouded in night, with approximately six hours' fuel aboard, the plane could have reached any point within a 3000-mile radius and no one on the ground would have been any wiser. But it did not stay dark. Less than a minute later, MH370's satellite communications system was switched back on.
Over the span of several minutes, between 18.25 and 18.28, the Satellite Data Unit (SDU) transmitted a flurry of brief electronic messages with Inmarsat satellite 3F-1, which occupies a geosynchronous orbit above the Indian Ocean. In a report issued this June, the Australian Transport Safety Board stated that the signals were ''generated as part of a Log-on sequence after the terminal has likely been power cycled.''
Until now, it has not been publicly known how such a power-cycling could have taken place.
At the simulator facility, Exner reports, he was able to confirm ''that there is no way to turn off the primary power to the satcom from the cockpit. It is not even described in the flight manuals. The only way to do is to find an obscure circuit breaker in the equipment bay [i.e. the Electronic and Equipment bay, or E/E bay, is the airplane's main electronic nerve center].'' Both of the pilots accompanying him told Exner that ''pilots are not trained to know that detail.''
Why the satellite communications system was turned back on is unknown. The system was never used; no outgoing telephone calls were placed, no text messages were sent, and two inbound calls from Malaysia Airlines to the plane went unanswered. Aproximately every hour for the next six hours, however, a geostationary communications satellite sent electronic handshake signals, and the SDU aboard the plane responded, confirming that the system was still active and logged on. Though the signals contained no messages per se, the frequency at which they were sent, and the time it took to send and receive them, have been used to determine the plane's probable direction of travel.
The fact that the SDU was turned back on provides a window into the circumstances of the hijack. For one thing, since the SDU integrates information from other parts of the plane's computer system, we know that the plane's electronics were substantially functional, and perhaps entirely so. Second, the fact that the perpetrator (or perpetrators) knew how to access this compartment and how to toggle the correct switches suggests a high degree of technical sophistication.
Further evidence of the hijacker's sophistication comes from the fact that they also managed to turn of the ACARS reporting system. This is can be done from the cockpit, but only by those with specialized knowledge. ''Disabling it is no simple thing,'' Emirates Airline CEO Tim Clark told Der Spiegel recently, ''and our pilots are not trained to do so.''
For all its importance, the 777 E/E bay is surprisingly accessible to members of the flying public. The hatch, generally left unlocked, is set in the floor at the front of the first class cabin, near the galley and the lavatories. You can see a video of a pilot accessing the E/E bay inflight here. (In Airbus jets, the hatch is located on the far side of the locked cockpit door.) Once inside, an intruder would have immediate physical access to the computer systems that control communication, navigation, and flight surfaces. A device called a Portable Maintenance Access Terminal allows ground crew to plug into the computer system to test systems and upload software.
The security implications of leaving the plane's nerve-center freely accessible have not gone unnoticed. Matt Wuillemin, an Australian former 777 pilot, wrote a master's thesis on the vulnerability in June 2013 and submitted it various industry groups in the hope of spurring action, such as the installation of locks. In his thesis, Wuillemin notes that in addition to the Flight Control Computers, the E/E bay also houses the oxygen cylinders that supply the flight crews' masks in case of a depressurization event and the controls for the system that locks the flight deck door. ''Information is publicly available online describing the cockpit defences and systems located within this compartment,'' Wuillemin notes. ''This hatch may therefore be accessible inflight to a knowledgeable and malevolent passenger with catastrophic consequences.''
Wuillemin reports that, among others, he sent his thesis to Emirates' Tim Clark. A vice president for engineering at Emirates responded that the airline did not perceive the hatch to be a security risk, since the area is monitored by cabin crew and surveillance cameras. Wuillemin notes that cabin crew are often called away to duty elsewhere, and that the surveillance cameras are only routinely monitored when someone is seeking entry to the cockpit; he adds:
Emirates considered the possible requirement for crew to access the area should there be a 'small' in-flight fire. Research indicated there is no procedure, checklist or protocol (manufacturer, regulator or operator) to support this latter position. In fact, Emirates Operations manuals (at that time) specifically prohibited crew accessing this area in flight. Emirates amended the Operations manual recently and re-phrased the section to 'enter only in an emergency'.
The fact that someone must have entered the E/E bay during MH370's disappearance diminishes the likelihood of one of the more popular MH370 theories: that the captain barred himself in the cockpit before absconding with the plane. Even if he locked the copilot on the far side of the door and depressurized the cabin to incapacitate everyone aboard, emergency oxygen masks would have deployed and provided those in the cabin with enough air to prevent Zaharie from leaving the cockpit before the next ACARS message was scheduled to be sent at 17:37, 18 minutes after the flight crew sent its last transmission, ''Goodnight, Malaysia 370'' at 17:19.
It's conceivable that Zaharie could have acted in advance by leaving the cockpit, descending into the E/E bay, pulling the circuit breakers on the satcom system and then returning to the cockpit to lock himself in before making the final radio call and diverting the plane to the west, depressurizing the cabin, and waiting until everyone was dead before returning to the E/E bay to turn the SDU back on. But if his goal was to maintain radio silence he could have achieved the same effect much more simply by using cockpit to controls to deselect the SDU without turning it off.
As it happens, Wuillemin's efforts to draw attention to the potential hazards afforded by unlocked E/E bay hatches proved too little, too late. MH370 went missing just two months after he submitted his work to the Australian government.
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James Langevin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 23:29
James R. Langevin (born April 22, 1964) is the U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 2nd congressional district, serving since 2001. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
Early life and education[edit]Langevin was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He attended Bishop Hendricken High School, located in Warwick, Rhode Island, and then went on to study at Rhode Island College, from which he received an undergraduate degree, in addition to serving as President of Student Community Government, Inc., and he has a Masters of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.[1]
In 1980, at age 16, he was seriously injured in an accidental shooting. He had been working as a volunteer at the Warwick Police Department when a weapon accidentally discharged, leaving him a quadriplegic.
Rhode Island government[edit]Langevin's first experience in politics was when he was elected to the state's 1986 constitutional convention and was named its secretary. Langevin, who uses a wheelchair, once ran on the slogan "I'll stand up for you", which he stated during a meeting in West Warwick.
Langevin was first elected a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1988 and served as a state representative until 1994. He was elected Secretary of State of Rhode Island in November 1994, defeating Republican incumbent Barbara Leonard. While Secretary of State, he earned a reputation for weeding out corruption in state government.
U.S. House of Representatives[edit]Committee assignments[edit]Caucus Memberships[edit]Congressional Arts CaucusPolitical positions[edit]Abortion[edit]Langevin has a mixed record on abortion. He has voted both to restrict and defend the choice to have the procedure. He voted against banning abortion coverage in the Affordable Care Act, however he has voted for the Abortion Pain Bill, which seeks ''to ensure that women seeking an abortion are fully informed regarding the pain experienced by their unborn child."[2] However, he strongly promotes contraceptive availability, and in a statement in 2007 said, ''I have great respect for the passion displayed by Mr. Smith and Mr. Stupak and I share their opposition to abortion. However, in this instance I must strongly disagree with their decision to prevent the distribution of contraception to some of the most poor and needy people and nations in the world.''[3] Because of his mixed stance on the issue, he has received fluctuating ratings from interest groups such as Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life Committee.[4]
Langevin believes that abortion should be legal when the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape or when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, but does wish to decrease the number of abortions in the country.[5] His relatively complex stance on abortion contributes to somewhat contradictory interest group ratings because of his supporting of various bills: Representative Langevin's stance on abortion supported the interests of the NARAL Pro-Choice America 0 percent in 2006 but in 2007, the same group gave Representative Langevin a grade of 100 and the National Right to Life Committee gave the Representative zero points, with points assigned for actions connected to a pro-life anti-abortion agenda.[6]
Healthcare[edit]On the issue of Health Care, Langevin has strongly demonstrated his support of reform. In May 2009, he introduced the American Health Benefits Program Act of 2009, which has the stated purpose of "amending the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to assure comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans through an American Health Benefits Program.[7] He has voted in favor of health care extensively during his time in office.[8] In addition, he receives much of his campaign donations from health professionals.[9] Langevin stated his goal for universal health care as ''a system of portable and continuous coverage based on quality, affordability and choice that promotes investment in long-term prevention and drives down the cost of care over time.''[10]
Labor[edit]Langevin is considered strongly pro-labor. He has received $130,000 in campaign contributions from pro-labor groups.[11] During his time in office, he has supported labor interests in over 25 votes.[12] Numerous labor interest groups have rated him extremely highly, including the United Auto Workers, the AFL-CIO, and the Utility Workers Union of America.[13] Interestingly, however, the Latin America Working Group and The Alliance for Worker Freedom have ranked Langevin very poorly.[13]
Gun control[edit]He supports gun control, and co-sponsored a 2005 bill which would have reauthorized the 1994 assault weapons ban, which had expired in 2004.
Stem cell research[edit]One of Langevin's top priorities as a Member of Congress has been the expansion of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.[14] His policy position is driven by his paralysis and the possibilities that stem cell research provide in helping this condition; he joined other members of the House in introducing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, expanding the limited funding put in place in 2001.[14]
Cybersecurity[edit]Langevin helped to found the House Cybersecurity Caucus, which he co-chairs.[15] The Representative has appeared on 60 Minutes speaking about the national security challenges the country will face this century in regards to protecting infrastructure and data.[16] Langevin has said that he hopes to raise awareness of the need for security in that area and supports strict penalties for internet crimes as well as strong internet privacy laws.[5]
Rep. Langevin supports cybersecurity measures as long as they do not add "unnecessary regulations to business".[17] His state of Rhode Island passed a statewide cybersecurity plan which Langevin greatly supported in October 2012. In May of 2012, Langevin proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA) which would account for the cyber risks that United States faces in terms of national security, saying without these measures the United States is " ignoring key aspects of what is fast becoming the biggest threat to our security"[18]
"Cybersecurity contractors General Dynamics and Raytheon were Langevin's two top sources for campaign contributions" in the 2010 election.[15]
Armed forces[edit]Langevin, who serves on the Committee of Armed Services, has regularly voted for additional support of armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan but he has voted for a timeline for U.S. forces to leave Iraq as well as a ban on any permanent U.S. bases in the country.[19] Langevin has also voted against limiting the interrogation techniques used in fighting terror and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.[20]
Tax cuts[edit]Langevin, who serves on the Congressional Committee on the Budget, believes in tax-cuts for low-income and middle class citizens while eliminating the tax cuts made for the wealthy, indicating in his Political Courage Test that he wishes to ''greatly decrease'' taxes for families making less than $75,000.[5] Langevin also supports temporary incentives for businesses to invest in job creation. Representative Langevin, with a 100% rating from the AFL-CIO, is pro-labor and supports the regulation of business.[6]
Advocacy for people with disabilities[edit]Langevin is known as an advocate for people with disabilities and for universal health care, being himself a quadriplegic. He is the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress.[21]
On July 27, 2004, he spoke to the Democratic National Convention, largely on the subject of stem cell research.
In March 2007, Langevin became a co-sponsor of the Christopher and DanaReeve Paralysis Act, which had the stated purpose of "enhancing and furthering research into paralysis and to improve rehabilitation and the quality of life for persons living with paralysis and other physical disabilities." The bill passed the House of Representatives but not the Senate. However, in 2009, the bill was included in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, also co-sponsored by Langevin, which passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama.
For the Presidency in 2008, Langevin announced his support for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY),[22] by serving as a special adviser on issues ranging from stem cell research to people with disabilities.
On July 26th, 2010, Langevin became the first member of Congress to preside over the House of Representatives while using a wheelchair.[23] The House had just recently installed a wheelchair lift leading up to the Speaker's rostrum.[24]
The Environment[edit]Representative Langevin leans to the left on environmental and energy issues in Congress. Environmental issue groups have generally given him high ratings; more recently he received a 97% from the League of Conservation Voters in 2011. He has also received a rating of 100% from the Defenders of Wildlife Foundation. Conservative issue groups concerning the energy and the environment have given him very low ratings. He is a strong supporter of alternative energy from oil and coal, voting 'Nay' for the Stop the War Against Coal Act of September 2012[25] and he has supported measures for new wind farms in New England. He has praised these developments, saying wind farm "development holds great promise for Rhode Island and the country to have more stable and cleaner energy resources, while boosting our economy by presenting an opportunity to build a manufacturing base for these turbines and create quality jobs in the Ocean State."[26][27]
In 2011, Langevin strongly opposed the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would limit the EPA's ability to regulate carbon outputs. Calling the act the "Dirty Air Act," Langevin explained that in passing this act America would be "turning back the progress we have made to protect our health under the Clean Air Act," also claiming that the passage of the bill would be "continuing our nation's addiction to foreign oil."[28] Moreover, he has fought for more environmental regulations that he believes will help Rhode Islanders live healthier lives, saying that "protecting the environment is a matter of pride."[29]
Political campaigns[edit]Langevin was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2000, defeating perennial candidate Robert Tingle for a seat that was left open when Congressman Robert Weygand ran for the U.S. Senate. He took office in 2001, representing Rhode Island's 2nd congressional district. He has been re-elected with relative ease ever since, defeating independent Rodney Driver in 2006 and Republican Mark Zaccaria in 2008.
2010In 2010, he again defeated Republican nominee Mark Zaccaria.
2012Langevin ran for reelection in the 2nd District.[30] He was challenged by Republican nominee Michael Riley and Independent Abel Collins, an environmental activist.[31] Langevin was re-elected with 55.7% of the vote.[32]
References[edit]^"U.S. Representative Jim Langevin at house.gov". Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-04-22. ^"Project Vote Smart - Representative Langevin on HR 6099 - Abortion Pain Bill". Votesmart.org. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^"Project Vote Smart - Representative James R. 'Jim' Langevin - The Department Of State, Foreigh Operations And Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008-Continued". Votesmart.org. 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^"Project Vote Smart - Representative James R. 'Jim' Langevin - Interest Group Ratings". Votesmart.org. 2010-05-14. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^ abc"Congressional Election 2000 National Political Awareness Test". ^ ab"Project Vote Smart Interest Group Ratings of James Langevin". ^"H.R. 2399: American Health Benefits Program Act of 2009". GovTrack.us. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^"Project Vote Smart - Representative James R. 'Jim' Langevin - Voting Record". Votesmart.org. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^"Jim Langevin: Campaign Finance/Money - Summary - Congressman 2008". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^"Jim Langevin for Congress: Issues: Health Care". Jimlangevin.com. Retrieved 2010-07-12. [dead link]^"Jim Langevin: Campaign Finance/Money - Industries - Congressman 2008 | OpenSecrets". 63.e5bed1.client.atlantech.net. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^"Project Vote Smart - Representative James R. 'Jim' Langevin - Voting Record". Votesmart.org. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^ ab"Project Vote Smart - Representative James R. 'Jim' Langevin - Interest Group Ratings". Votesmart.org. Retrieved 2010-07-12. ^ ab"James Langevin for Congress: Stem Cells". ^ abCarney, Timothy (2011-04-27) The rise of the cybersecurity-industrial complex, Washington Examiner^"Cyber security is the topic for Langevin on 60 Minutes", Providence Journal-Bulletin, November 8, 2009^"Langevin Responds to Panetta's Stark Warnings about Cyber Threats". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 December 2012. ^"Langevin Proposes Cybersecurity Amendments to Defense Bill". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 December 2012. ^"James Langevin's Voting Record on Defense". ^"James Langevin's Voting Record on the Military". ^http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/07/historic-lift-wheelchairbound-member-presides-over-house/^"Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin Endorses Clinton". June 1, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-22. ^http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/07/historic-lift-wheelchairbound-member-presides-over-house/^http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/07/historic-lift-wheelchairbound-member-presides-over-house/^"HR 3409 - Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 - Key Vote". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 December 2012. ^"Langevin Applauds Key Step Toward RI Wind Farm". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 December 2012. ^"Interior Launches Leasing Process for Commercial Wind Energy Offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 December 2012. ^"Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 December 2012. ^"Langevin, Kennedy Urge Defeat of Anti-Environmental Legislation". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 December 2012. ^Peoples, Steve (April 29, 2011). "Langevin's Influence Jeopardized in Minority". GoLocalProv. Retrieved April 7, 2012. ^Arditi, Lynn (7 June 2012). "Environmental activist challenges Langevin for District 2 seat". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 16 June 2012. ^"2012 House Races". Politico. Retrieved 30 January 2013. External links[edit]PersondataNameLangevin, JamesAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican politicianDate of birthApril 22, 1964Place of birthProvidence, Rhode IslandDate of deathPlace of death
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Caliphate!
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Private Jihad - The New Yorker
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 20:24
Rita Katz is tiny and dark, with volatile brown eyes, and when she is nervous or excited she can't sit still. She speaks in torrents, ten minutes at a stretch. Everybody who works in intelligence calls her Rita, even people who don't know her well. She sometimes telephones people she hasn't met'--important people in the government'--to tell them things that she thinks they ought to know. She keeps copies of letters from officials whose investigations into terrorism she has assisted. ''You and your staff . . . were invaluable additions to the investigative team,'' the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.'s Salt Lake City Division wrote; the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boise said, ''You are a rare and extraordinary gem that has appeared too infrequently throughout the course of history.'' The letters come in handy, she told me, when she meets with skepticism or lack of interest; they are her establishment bona fides.
Katz, who was born in Iraq and speaks fluent Arabic, spends hours each day monitoring the password-protected online chat rooms in which Islamic terrorists discuss politics and trade tips: how to disperse botulinum toxin or transfer funds, which suicide vests work best. Occasionally, a chat-room member will announce that he is turning in his user name and password and going to Iraq to become a martyr, a shaheed. Several weeks later, his friends will post a report of the young man blowing himself up. Katz usually logs on at six in the morning. When she has guests for dinner, she leaves a laptop open on the kitchen counter, so she can check for updates. ''It is completely addicting,'' she says. ''You wake up thinking, I've been offline for seven hours, but the terrorists have been making plans.''
Traditionally, intelligence has been filtered through government agencies, such as the C.I.A. and the N.S.A., which gather raw data and analyze it, and the government decides who sees the product of their work and when. Katz, who is the head of an organization called the Search for International Terrorist Entities, or SITE Institute, has made it her business to upset that monopoly. She and her researchers mine online sources for intelligence, which her staff translates and sends out by e-mail to a list of about a hundred subscribers.
Katz's client list includes people in the government who are presumably frustrated by how long it takes to get information through official channels; it also includes people in corporate security and in the media, who rarely get much useful material from the C.I.A. She has worked with prosecutors on more than a dozen terrorism investigations, and many American officers in Iraq rely on Katz's e-mails to, for example, brief their troops on the designs for explosives that are passed around terrorist Web sites. ''You're thrown into Baghdad, and there are a million different groups out there you've never heard of claiming responsibility for attacks,'' Robert Worth, a Times reporter who used Katz's service during the eighteen months he spent in Iraq, told me. ''Rita really knows what she's talking about'--who's responsible for attacks, what's a legitimate terrorist organization and what's not.'' Because many reporters rebroadcast her information, it can reach the public before people in the government have had a chance to evaluate it; her organization's work is cited in the Times and the Washington Post about twice a month.
Katz has many critics, who believe that she is giving terrorists a bigger platform than they would otherwise have, and that the certainty and obsession that make her a dedicated archivist also make her too eager to find plots where they don't exist; she publicized a manual for using botulinum in terror attacks, for example, which experts later concluded was not linked to any serious threat. It's possible that her immersion in the world of terrorism has removed whatever skepticism or doubts she may have had. ''Much as Al Jazeera underplays terrorist threats, the SITE Institute at times overhypes them,'' Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A.'s bin Laden unit, said.
More fundamentally, some people involved in counterterrorism do not think that a private group with limited resources can do as good or as prudent a job as government agencies can. ''Intelligence analysis is a set of skills that you learn, not just something that anyone can walk in off the street and pick up,'' Steven Aftergood, who monitors the intelligence community for the Federation of American Scientists, told me. Katz, however, pointed out that, for example, the professionals consistently missed signals about Al Qaeda before September 11, 2001, and said that she was simply filling a gap. (A 2004 audit showed that the F.B.I. alone had thousands of hours of untranslated intercepts.) Indeed, Katz has received outsourcing contracts from the government.
Before the September 11, 2001, attacks, the official counterterrorism agencies paid relatively little attention to the jihadis' online presence. But in the past few years that has changed, in large measure because of changes in the way terror networks operate. ''Nearly everything about Al Qaeda that matters is happening online right now,'' Peter Bergen, a journalist and terrorism expert, said. Some analysts believe that Al Qaeda today is a model of what is called ''leaderless resistance'': self-appointed cells operating with help and inspiration from materials that they find online. Traffic rose dramatically after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, posted a video of the beheading of the American contractor Nicholas Berg.
''It's not as if Al Qaeda were inventing this,'' Jessica Stern, a terrorism specialist who served on the National Security Council under President Clinton, said. What's unique about Islamic terror and the Internet is that there is up-to-the-minute access to what terrorists are thinking. Rita Katz is, in a sense, the natural complement, the engineer of a leaderless counter-resistance to the terrorist groups. ''Some people think that she's a zealot,'' Stern said when I asked her about Katz, ''but only a zealot would provide this kind of service.''
In March, I visited Katz at her office, on the seventh floor of an old building in a Northeastern city that she refuses to allow reporters to identify in print. She told me to take a train to the city's main terminal, and then call the office for further directions. By the time I got to SITE's locked door, which has a black security camera and a plaque bearing the name of a nonexistent business, I half expected to walk into a center full of high-tech equipment, with flashing maps and screens.
The SITE Institute's office looked like a college newspaper's. There were three rooms: Katz's office, dominated by a large conference table; a small room for two translators (more work part time, from home); and what's called the pit, where several researchers and interns, all in their twenties, sat under a long, eye-level row of mug shots of wanted terrorists'--mostly bearded Arab men, with grim, unsmiling glares. There was an air of intense isolation, with everyone focussed on his own projects. It was hard to ignore the office's youth; Katz told me of a new service she had added that scanned French-language terrorist sites, and that depended on an undergraduate intern who spoke fluent French (Katz has since hired another French-speaker for the service).
Each day, Katz finds about a half-dozen items on the Arabic message boards that are worth distributing. Her researchers, who monitor English-language jihadist Web sites, often find a few more. Some are propaganda: videos taking responsibility for attacks, statements of intent to attack, announcements of allegiances or splits. Others involve tactics and weapons. ''You don't need to go to Afghanistan for training anymore,'' Katz said as we paged through a list of credit-card information that seemed to have been stolen from Houston suburbanites. ''You just get it on the Internet.'' SITE tries to have the items translated and sent to subscribers within an hour and a half of their first appearance online; when the material could be a big news story'--for instance, a new audiotape released by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's closest associate'--SITE's translation may go on television a few minutes later. The full transcript of the video of the American reporter Jill Carroll, made by her kidnappers, was posted within twenty-five minutes.
Katz has a testy relationship with the government, sometimes acting as a consultant and sometimes as an antagonist. About a year ago, a SITE staffer, under an alias, managed to join an exclusive jihadist message board that, among other things, served as a debarkation point for many would-be suicide bombers. For months, the staffer pretended to be one of the jihadis, joining in chats and watching as other members posted the chilling messages known as ''wills,'' the final sign-offs before martyrdom. The staffer also passed along technical advice on how to keep the message board going. Eventually, he won the confidence of the site's Webmasters, who were impressed with his computer skills, and he gained access to the true e-mail addresses of the members and other information about them. After monitoring the site for several more days, the staffer told Katz that one of the site's members, a young Muslim man in a European country, had just posted a will. ''It was obvious that he was planning to become a martyr very soon,'' Katz said.
Katz called officials in Washington, and was met with institutional resistance: ''They said, 'Oh, Rita, I'm not sure you should even be communicating with them'--you might be providing material support!' And they wanted to get approval from the Department of Justice to look at the e-mails. I said, 'Look, we have to do something.' '' Katz then called an American counterterrorism official stationed in the young man's country, and he, in turn, sent the jihadi's e-mails to local investigators. Within twenty-four hours, they had him under surveillance, and a week later they arrested him. ''In my opinion, they probably wouldn't have had a clue if it hadn't been for Rita,'' the official told me. This, Katz said, is what she always hopes to achieve: ''It's one case where everything just worked so well.''
At the SITE office, Katz showed me some suicide-bombing videos from Iraq. They are often five or ten minutes long, overlaid with religious chanting. In one video, a middle-aged Iraqi doctor straps on a suicide vest. ''In Israel, they always told you that the profile of a suicide bomber was someone young, without family, from the lowest economic level, but what we see here over and over is just the opposite,'' Katz said.
We watched the last day in the life of Abu Mouwayia al-Shimali, a chubby, bespectacled Saudi. Shimali discusses a letter purportedly written by a female prisoner at Abu Ghraib named Fatima, describing nightly public rapes of female prisoners by American guards. The letter is apocryphal, but it has circulated widely online, and has become a rallying point for the Iraqi insurgency. Shimali does not sound unhinged or bloodthirsty; he sounds humble.
Shimali is shown waving as he walks to a car. Then he is in the driver's seat, with a rifle in his lap, patting a clunky metal apparatus next to him. His smile is warm, and he is speaking in a measured tone. ''He is saying, 'This is my bomb,' '' Katz translated. The car pulls up to a dusty checkpoint manned by American and Iraqi soldiers, and then explodes. SITE distributed the video two days after it was posted. As you watch, it feels not like an advertisement for homicide but like an advertisement for belief. Katz told me that even she, watching such videos, could imagine wanting to become a suicide bomber.
Katz believes that America has so far understood the terrorist threat only in bastardized and insufficient terms. She believes that it is wrong to assert, as President Bush does, that terrorists are motivated by hatred for our freedoms rather than by our policies in the Middle East or those of their own governments. Though she herself is circumspect about the issue of Iraq, some members of her staff believe that the war is a distraction from the fight with radical Islamic terrorism. But Katz also believes that terrorists are more sophisticated and resilient than most Americans realize, that the war against radical Islam is likely to last for decades, and that the outcome is far from clear. Her project is, in large measure, to convince Americans of the seriousness of the threat by building a direct conduit to the terrorist mind.
''What makes Rita unique is her background,'' Peter Probst, a terrorism consultant and retired C.I.A. officer who works with Katz, told me. ''Because of what she'd been through, she understood the threat earlier and better than most of us.''
Katz was born in Basra, Iraq, in 1963, one of four children of a wealthy Jewish businessman. In 1968, in the wake of the Six-Day War, the Baath government, with Saddam Hussein as its head of security, encouraged attacks against Iraqi Jews. Some Jews from prominent families were arrested and charged with spying for Israel, among them Katz's father. After he was imprisoned, his wife and children were transported to Baghdad and kept under house arrest in a stone hut. Katz's father was convicted in a military tribunal and executed, in 1969, with eight other Jews and five non-Jews, in a public hanging in Baghdad's central square. Hundreds of thousands of cheering Iraqis attended; the government offered free transportation to people from the provinces, and belly dancers performed for the crowd. Katz was six years old.
After the family had been living in the hut for months, Katz's mother drugged the guards and escaped with the children. By pretending to be the wife of a well-known Iraqi general, a woman she faintly resembled, she got the family first to the Iranian border and then to Israel. They settled in a small seaside town called Bat-Yam. Katz did her military service in the Israel Defense Forces after high school, and studied politics and history at Tel Aviv University. She married a medical student, and went into business with her mother, manufacturing clothes; Katz handled sales. In 1997, Katz's husband won a fellowship to do research in endocrinology at the National Institutes of Health, and they moved to Washington with their three children. (They later had a fourth.)
The particulars of her biography'--her father's execution, her escape from Iraq, and her education in Israel'--give Katz, in the eyes of some in the counterterrorism community, a kind of bionic character, as if she had been designed to hunt down terrorists. Her friends and allies are awed by her background; her critics find in it reason to be suspicious of her motives. Katz claims to attach no special meaning to it. ''I would have to think about that,'' she said, when I asked her if her early life had made her particularly sensitive to the terrorist threat. Later, she told me, ''I know that the people who killed my father aren't the same as the jihadis, but obviously I would never have got interested in the politics of this part of the world if it weren't for his execution.'' (She also said, ''When you grow up in a place like Iraq, you understand maybe a little bit about how Arabs think, and also what they are capable of.'')
Katz's first nine months in the United States were lonely'--''I cried on the phone to my mama every day'''--and she abruptly quit the one job she held, as an assistant in a suburban gift shop. (She didn't get along with her boss.) She saw an ad for an Arabic-speaking research assistant, applied for the job, and got it. Her employer was the Investigative Project, run by Steven Emerson, a former reporter with an interest in terror networks. Emerson became widely known in the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when, appearing as an expert on CBS News, he theorized that the attack was the work of Islamic extremists. It turned out that Timothy McVeigh was responsible.
The Investigative Project was an exciting place to be. By the mid-nineties, the Internet had begun to change intelligence gathering profoundly, allowing groups like Emerson's to emerge'--self-styled spies who relied on the floods of ''open source'' information available online'--tax records, credit reports, Internet newsletters written by people in Belgrade or Indonesia. Senior counterterrorism officials had been slow to take open-source information seriously. ''It was seen as irrelevant, and they much preferred working with spies and satellites,'' Timothy Naftali, of the University of Virginia, who wrote a history of American counterterrorism for the 9/11 Commission, said. Katz would start with the name of an organization, or an individual, and pore over records to find out who was associated with whom, whether they were sending money overseas, what they were writing. She was amazed at what she could discover. She began joining message boards related to a particular group or mosque and chatting with her subjects online, pretending to be a Muslim man.
The Investigative Project also did undercover work at Islamic fund-raisers and rallies. ''Our families all thought we were nuts,'' Evan Kohlmann, who worked with Katz and Emerson, said. (Kohlmann now runs his own Web-based consultancy, globalterroralert.com.) The I.P. sometimes sent Katz to events where non-Muslims would stand out; she pretended to be the wife of a radical Iraqi-American businessman. She taped crowds outside the Israeli Embassy screaming in Arabic, ''Jew, Jew, Muhammad is coming to get you.'' At particularly radical fund-raisers and conferences, she wore a burka, spoke a deferential Iraqi-accented Arabic, and sat apart from the men, averting her eyes. By volunteering to send cash to the families of suicide bombers, she said, she figured out which organizations were funnelling money to them. She openly videotaped events, as true believers do, and, she said, ''sometimes when I had trouble holding the video camera, they would be very polite and hold it for me.'' She became so consumed by this work'--telephoning her house from other cities at odd hours and telling her family that she'd be back in a day or two but couldn't say why'--that her husband suspected her of having an affair.
On December 14, 1999, an Algerian named Ahmed Ressam was arrested as he tried to cross the border from Canada with a trunk full of materials for an explosive device that he intended to detonate at Los Angeles International Airport. Richard A. Clarke, who was then President Clinton's counterterrorism adviser, called Emerson from the White House and asked the Investigative Project for a report on militant Islamic cells in North America. The worry was that Ressam was part of a larger plot planned for the millennium. Each day for the next two weeks, Kohlmann, Katz, Emerson, and two other analysts stayed at the office until well past midnight, looking through public records and other sources. Katz became convinced that she was looking at a single global network of terror. ''We began to realize how big it was, and how little anyone knew about it,'' she said, ''and it just began to swallow me up.''
On September 11, 2001, Kohlmann, then in law school, raced out of class and called Katz. ''She said, 'Time to get to work.' '' But by the following June Katz and Emerson, both combative personalities, had parted ways. Taking two staff members from the Investigative Project, Katz set up her own office. She got by on small government contracts. Some of that work, done for the Treasury Department, involved identifying Islamic groups that might be sending money to terrorist organizations. She also had a contract with the Swiss government and with a group of relatives of 9/11 victims who were suing Saudi Arabian officials, businesses, and charities. Still, during the first two years, Katz said, she couldn't always pay salaries.
But Katz's organization had embedded itself in the Internet, and when a part-time P.R. consultant whom Katz brought in suggested that she start a subscription service, Katz sent out an e-mail to people and groups she had worked with. In a few weeks, SITE had a few dozen subscribers, each paying twenty-five hundred dollars annually. (SITE is a nonprofit organization, and also raises money from private donors.)
The world of private, open-source counterterrorism operations is tiny'--a few dozen people, if you're counting liberally'--and it tends to have the same characteristics as other self-appointed, at-the-barricades (C)lites, like the neoconservatives, or the old American left, or, for that matter, an underground terrorist organization. There are the same personal allegiances and petty feuds, the same mixture of importance and self-importance. Kohlmann and Josh Devon, who left the Investigative Project with Katz and helped set up SITE, have been friends since middle school. They finished college in 2001. Kohlmann has long hair and a beard and is aided in his work, he said, ''by looking like the kind of grad-school, hippie American that Islamic terrorists think they can recruit''; Devon has curly hair and always looks slightly surprised. When I asked Devon whether they had given much thought to the implications of selling intelligence by subscription, he said, ''We were just trying to survive.''
In May, 2003, Katz published, anonymously, a memoir about her work, called ''Terrorist Hunter.'' (She was exposed as its author soon afterward.) The book is as psychologically blunt as she is, and the tone, at times, verges on smugness; the F.B.I., she writes, didn't ''possess one-thousandth of my knowledge on the relevant issues.'' It is also an account, in almost religious terms, of her revelation about the threat and reach of global Islamic terrorism. Not that Katz goes through any real conversion in the course of the book; the only change is the slow, mechanical development of na¯vet(C) into experience, of suspicion into conviction, like water into steam.
That month, Katz went on ''60 Minutes'' to promote ''Terrorist Hunter,'' and to talk about her investigation into terrorist financing. Wearing a wig, five hours' worth of makeup, and a large fake nose to conceal her identity, Katz also suggested that Mar-Jac Poultry, a Georgia chicken farm, was sending money to terrorists. She speculated that the company had hidden the transfers by selling chickens that it had recorded in its books as dead. Mar-Jac sued Katz and CBS. (The suit is still pending.) ''This woman knows nothing about money laundering, and she sure as hell knows nothing about poultry,'' Mar-Jac's lawyer, Wilmer Parker, told me.
Katz said that her information was sound, but the publicity from the suit was not good. And there were other setbacks. In 2004, after she spent months helping the Department of Justice prepare a case against a young University of Idaho computer scientist named Sami Omar al-Hussayen for giving material support to terrorists, a jury acquitted him.
The invasion of Iraq opened up new opportunities for small, private groups like SITE, and as the war went on, and the insurgency continued to grow, SITE provided instantaneous bits of information to keep up with the news cycle. ''It's like when CNN came on the scene in the Gulf War, with twenty-four-hour news'--it forever changed the field,'' Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at RAND told me. ''SITE sends out six, seven e-mails a day, and the stuff is good, and it forces everyone else to play catch-up.''
SITE's detractors have also questioned the quality, or, rather, the possible slant, of SITE's translations'--an especially troubling issue given the shortage of alternatives. ''An Arabic word can have four or five different meanings in translation,'' Michael Scheuer, the former C.I.A. analyst, said. SITE, in his view, always picks the ''most warlike translation.''
''Our translations are as close as we can get to the original language,'' Katz told me. ''We have native speakers who do them, and I definitely don't tell the native speakers what word to use'--I am too busy to do that.''
Last December, Katz was reading a jihadist message board called Al Safanat when she discovered a manual describing how to attack the Alaska pipeline. She was struck by the level of detail: the manual recommended that an (C)lite cell of four or five men equipped with armor-piercing bullets or explosives sneak across the border into Alaska from Canada. ''They spilled our brothers' blood and they stole our oil resources,'' it said. ''This is our time to teach them a lesson.'' SITE sent the manual to its subscribers that day.
Soon afterward, the Anchorage Daily News published an article on the threat, crediting SITE for the information. ''That's when everything went crazy,'' Katz said. Other reports followed, and soon Katz's phone was ringing so frequently that she was overwhelmed. Things were even more overwhelming for workers on the pipeline. ''We were already in communication with local, state, and federal officials,'' Mike Heatwole, a spokesman for the company that manages the pipeline, said. When the media reports of the manual came out, Heatwole's company sent internal memos reassuring its employees and their spouses that there was no credible threat. ''The situation we don't want to be in is to have CNN on in our facilities and someone on TV saying, 'This just in'--terrorist threat to the pipeline,' and all our workers and their families saying, 'Oh, no!' ''
Katz conceded that her group doesn't check the scientific accuracy of each manual, or the legitimacy of every threat'--although she tries to make sure that the Web site that a particular item appears on has produced credible threats in the past, and that the threat seems serious. And, she said, vetting isn't her role. ''I'm telling people what terrorists are thinking,'' Katz says. ''Wouldn't you rather know that they're thinking about the Alaska pipeline, even if this manual wouldn't work?''
There are hundreds of extremist Web sites, but there is also a hierarchy: sites on which terrorist groups release statements and videos have the most devoted audiences. As soon as something appears, users post it on dozens of message boards, chat rooms, and blogs. For much of the past two years, activity centered on a board called Ansar; once it was shut down, with its British-based Webmaster imprisoned for his part in a bomb plot, users shifted to a board called Al Hesbah. ''There was absolutely no disruption,'' Katz said.
Al Hesbah has several thousand regular users, and most log on from Europe and the Middle East. The tone of the conversation is respectful'--''brother'' is the universal term of greeting'--and dissent is not tolerated. Once in a while, someone will ask whether it is justifiable to kill Muslims or women in the course of jihad in Iraq, but in the past year, according to Rebecca Givner-Forbes, an analyst with the Terrorism Research Center, ''that has pretty much stopped.''
One afternoon early last fall, Katz came across a new thread. It was about her. A jihadi had posted a link to the SITE Institute's Web site. ''The SITE is lurking,'' he wrote. Its people were on the boards, using false names and acting as spies. He urged his brothers to ferret them out and expel them.
But another poster responded that SITE might be providing a valuable service. He wrote, ''They translate the statements into English on our behalf, and they do not analyze them. Why do we not grab the opportunity?'' Eventually, a moderator on the site weighed in: ''All right, men, do not argue. We will carry out an election, and then we will see if we should keep them or expel them'--what do you think? I am a democratic operative, don't you think?'' He ended with a smiley-face emoticon. By the time attention shifted to a new thread, opinion was running fifty-fifty as to whether SITE was, on balance, good for jihad.
Terrorism is, in part, theatre and psychological warfare, and many of the statements that Katz translates are propaganda intended to raise the profile of obscure groups. Katz sees her audience mainly as professionals'--people whose job it is to stop terrorism or uncover it. But, by creating a shortcut around government agencies, she may also be contributing to the tendency that the media (and at times the government) has displayed since 9/11 to dramatize even the flimsiest threat. In recent months, Katz has noticed Algerian radicals and Afghan terrorists releasing videos that mirror Zarqawi's in substance and tone and that are also designed to impress young militants in the West. Katz believes that the terrorists have been underestimated, and that more people should have direct access to what they are thinking and saying. The terrorists, of course, think so, too.
Katz has a very specific vision of the counterterrorism problem, which she shares with most of the other contractors and consultants who do what she does. They believe that the government has failed to appreciate the threat of Islamic extremism, and that its feel for counterterrorism is all wrong. As they see it, the best way to fight terrorists is to go at it not like G-men, with two-year assignments and query letters to the staff attorneys, but the way the terrorists do, with fury and the conviction that history will turn on the decisions you make'--as an obsession and as a life style. Worrying about overestimating the threat is beside the point, because underestimating the threat is so much worse.
''The problem isn't Rita Katz'--the problem is our political conversation about terrorism,'' Timothy Naftali says. ''Now, after September 11th, there's no incentive for anyone in politics or the media to say the Alaska pipeline's fine, and nobody's cows are going to be poisoned by the terrorists. And so you have these little eruptions of anxiety. But, for me, look, the world is wired now: either you take the risks that come with giving people'--not just the government'--this kind of access to information or you leave them. I take them.'' '...
Rita Katz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 20:19
Rita Katz (born 1963) is a terrorism analyst and the co-founder of the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group, a private intelligence firm based in Washington, DC.
The Institute tracks global terrorist networks, and intercepts and distributes secret messages, videos, and advance warnings of suicide bombings from terrorist groups' communications networks.[2][3]
Early life[edit]Katz, a fluent Arabic speaker, was born in Basra in Southern Iraq in 1963 to a well-to-do Iraqi Jewish family.[1][4] After the Six Day War and shortly after Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party seized power in Iraq in 1968, her father was arrested on charges of spying for Israel.[4] The family's property was confiscated by the state, and the rest of the family put under house arrest in a stone hut.[1][4] The following year, after having been tortured, Katz's father was convicted and executed in a public hanging in the central square of Baghdad to the roaring applause of more than half a million Iraqis; the government offered free transportation to people from the provinces, and belly dancers performed for the crowd.[1][4][5] Katz's mother managed to escape on foot with her three small children to Iran, and from there they made their way to Israel.[4]
The family settled in the seaside town of Bat Yam.[4] While in Israel, Katz served in the Israeli Defense Forces and studied politics, history, and Middle Eastern studies at Tel Aviv University.[4] As a committed Zionist, Katz was reluctant to ever leave Israel saying, ''I believed that Jews belong in Israel''.[6] Nevertheless in 1997 Katz's husband was offered a research fellowship in endocrinology at the National Institutes of Health and they moved to Washington with their three children.[7] Katz has acknowledged that at this time she worked in violation of the provisions of her visa. This was disclosed whilst she was acting as a witness against a defendant accused amongst other things of visa fraud.[8]
In approximately 1997 she began working for a Middle Eastern research institute.[1] As a result of her research, she realized that the Holy Land Foundation was a front group for Hamas.[1] Wanting to examine it more closely, she attended a fundraiser of theirs dressed as a Muslim woman.[1] Soon thereafter, again disguised as a Muslim woman, wearing a burqa and wearing recording equipment, she began attending Islamic conferences and fundraisers, visiting mosques, and participating in pro-Palestinian rallies in the U.S. as an undercover investigator in order to expose links of American Islamic groups to foreign terrorist groups.[1][9]
Katz's SITE Institute, co-founded with Josh Devon in July 2002, was funded by various federal agencies and private groups. It analyzes "corporate records, tax forms, credit reports, video tapes, internet news group postings and owned websites, among other resources, for indicators of illicit activity".[10] It provided information on radical Muslim groups operating in the United States, and led to closures of organizations, deportations, and ongoing investigations.[11] She spends hours every day monitoring password-protected online chat rooms in which Islamic terrorists discuss politics, exchange tips, and announce their plans and accomplishments.[4] She and her researchers research online sources for intelligence, which her staff translates and sends out by e-mail to about 100 subscribers.[4] Among her subscribers are people in government, in corporate security, and in the media.[4] She has worked with prosecutors on more than a dozen terrorism investigations, and many American officers in Iraq rely on her e-mails to, for example, brief troops on the designs for explosives that are passed around terrorist Web sites.[4]
With the SITE Institute, which she co-founded to monitor Islamic extremist websites and to expose terrorist front groups, she worked with federal investigators in terrorism cases.[4][12] She was cited in Richard Clarke's book, "Against All Enemies", as having helped to provide information to the government on the Al Qaeda network.[13][14] Clarke wrote that she and Steven Emerson, for whom she formerly worked, regularly provided the White House with a stream of information about possible Al Qaeda activity inside the U.S. that was apparently largely unknown to the FBI before the 9/11 attacks.[15] They gave Clarke and his staff the names of Islamic radical Web sites, the identities of possible terrorist front groups, and the phone numbers and addresses of possible terror suspects'--data Clarke was unable to get from elsewhere in the government.[16] She also served as a consultant in a $1 trillion wrongful-death suit seeking to hold Saudi government and business interests accountable for the 9/11 attacks.[citation needed]
In May 2003 Katz published an anonymous semi-autobiography entitled Terrorist Hunter: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman Who Went Undercover to Infiltrate the Radical Islamic Groups Operating in America. She appeared in disguise on the CBS newsmagazine, "60 Minutes", to promote her book using the pseudonym "Sarah", and wearing a wig and a fake nose,[17] to protect herself and her family from retaliation from groups that she said were linked to al-Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah.[1] In the book she tries to reveal what she sees as the gravity and extent of the presence of Islamic fundamentalism in America, and that government agencies still do not all work together as one to fight terrorism, but instead hide information from each other, try to take over investigations, and even deliberately slow down terrorism investigations.[1]
SITE's work was cited in The New York Times and the Washington Post about twice a month as of 2006.[4] In January 2007, Al-Jazeerah reported that the National Association of Muslim American Women filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, and also with the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that as a result of misleading and false information provided to U.S. law enforcement agencies, the media, and various governmental bodies, various Jewish organizations and individuals including Katz had sought to create an environment in the U.S. that is hostile towards U.S. Muslims, resulting in the deprivation and violation of Muslim civil liberties and civil rights.[18]
In October 2007, it was revealed that Katz had discovered and issued to the Bush administration a copy of an Osama bin Laden video which had yet to be released by al-Qaeda. Katz issued the video via a private link to a SITE web page to White House counsel Fred F. Fielding and Joel Bagnal, deputy assistant to the President for Homeland Security. Within 20 minutes, computers registered to various parts of the Executive Branch began downloading the video, and within hours a transcript referencing SITE had appeared on Fox News. Katz had requested that the web page remain confidential, and has reported that dissemination of this information tipped off her Al-Qaeda supporters who had since eliminated the ability of SITE to gather such information.[19]
"Rita really knows what she's talking about'--who's responsible for attacks, what's a legitimate terrorist organization, and what's not", said Robert Worth, a New York Times reporter.[4]
Controversy[edit]In July 2003 two of the groups she discussed in her book and on television (the Heritage Education Trust and the Safa Trust) sued her and revealed her name and identity. The number of lawsuits she was named in rose to three, all in connection with her work helping the government investigate Islamic charities in northern Virginia. In two of the suits, targets of the investigation said they were defamed in the 60 Minutes television broadcast. Katz said she has been the victim of a smear campaign, and attempts to intimidate her, adding:
"As they were never able to challenge the accuracy of my research, and as they were upset by the ramifications of it in terms of arrests, indictments, and raids, a few Muslim activist organizations have on occasion tried to portray me as a Muslim-basher. I have no quarrel with Islam or Muslims, and I only target terrorists and their supporters."[20]
In one case, in 2005 federal Judge Leonie Brinkema dismissed Katz from the lawsuit by a leader of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, Iqbal Unus, and Katz's dismissal was upheld on appeal unanimously by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009. The court also ordered Unus to pay Katz $41,000 in legal fees.[21][22]
Critics of Katz claim she is giving terrorists a larger platform than they would otherwise have, and is too eager to find plots where they don't exist.[4] Some people also do not think a private group with limited resources can do as good a job as government agencies can.[4] Katz maintains professionals missed many signals about al-Qaeda before 9/11, and she is simply filling a gap.[4][23] A 2004 audit showed that the FBI alone had thousands of hours of untranslated intercepts.[4]
Book[edit]Select articles[edit]"American servers of terror", San Francisco Chronicle, with Josh Devon, August 11, 2002"Getting at the Whole Network; A lawsuit helps expose more of al Qaeda", National Review, with Josh Devon, August 20, 2002"The Weakness of the West; Stopping al Qaeda", National Review, with Josh Devon, September 17, 2002.[dead link]"Collaborating Financiers of Terror: Hamas and al Qaeda", National Review, with James Mitre, December 16, 2002.[dead link]"Terror Tools; Saudi-funded front in Michigan", National Review, with Josh Devon, March 11, 2003.[dead link]"Ending Al Qaeda; War's many fronts", National Review, with Josh Devon, March 20, 2003.[dead link]"Perilous Power Play; FBI vs. Homeland Security", National Review, with Josh Devon, May 27, 2003.[dead link]"A Global Network; What's really happening on some U.S. paintball courses", National Review, with Josh Devon, June 30, 2003.[dead link]"WWW.JIHAD.COM; E-Groups abused by jihadists", National Review, with Josh Devon, July 14, 2003.[dead link]"Al Qaeda's Fitna; The jihad on Muslims", National Review, with Josh Devon, February 6, 2004.[dead link]"Center of the Jihadist World; They call it ''Londonistan'' for a reason", National Review, with Michael Kern, July 11, 2005Katz, Rita. "It's Real; The arguments over that Zawahiri letter suggests we don't know our enemy"[dead link], National Review, October 21, 2005"The Coming New Wave of Jihad", The Boston Globe, March 13, 2006"Terrorist 007, Exposed", The Washington Post, with Michael Kern, May 26, 2006. Preview"Osama's olive branch to Shi'ites", The Boston Globe, with Josh Devon, July 26, 2006"Web of Terror", Forbes, with Josh Devon, May 7, 2007"Franchising Al Qaeda", The Boston Globe, with Josh Devon, June 22, 2007Testimony[edit]"The Online Jihadist Threat", Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee; Terrorism, and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, U.S. House of Representatives, with Josh Devon, February 14, 2007"The Online Jihadist Threat", Testimony Before The Homeland Security Committee; Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, U.S. House of Representatives, with Josh Devon, November 6, 2007See also[edit]References[edit]^ abcdefghijLopez, Kathryn Jean (June 26, 2003). "Q-A: The Terrorist Hunter Speaks; An amazing story of an Iraqi Jew at the heart of dismantling terrorism.". National Review. Retrieved March 23, 2010. [dead link]^Bartholet, Jeffrey (September 11, 2007). "Keeping an Eye on Al Qaeda: Rita Katz surfs jihadi websites for indications of terrorist activity". Newsweek. Retrieved March 23, 2010. ^Warrick, Joby (September 12, 2007). "Bin Laden, Brought to You by...". The Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved March 23, 2010. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrWallace-Wells, Benjamin (May 29, 2006). "Private Jihad: How Rita Katz got into the spying business". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 23, 2010. ^Glick, Caroline B. "A personal jihad", Jerusalem Post, page 12B, July 25, 2003, (fee required) Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Aaron Leibel Author Infiltrates Islamic Terror Cells' Washington Jewish Week 29 August 2003^Benjamin Wallace-Wells, 'PRIVATE JIHAD: How Rita Katz got into the spying business', The New Yorker, 29 May 2006^Bob Fick, Associated Press. Jurors in Saudi computer student's terrorism trial can view, 14 May 2004^Malone, Julia. "Group hunting terrorists online: A nonprofit outfit screens thousands of jihadist Web sites", (fee required) Richmond Times, April 9, 2006. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Watt, Holly, and Winnett, Robert. "Spies trawl Friends Reunited for terror whispers", The Sunday Times, August 6, 2006. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Leibel, Aaron."Author Infiltrates Islamic Terror Cells", Jewish Journal, August 28, 2003. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Cha, Ariana Eunjung."From a Virtual Shadow, Messages of Terror", The Washington Post, page A01, October 2, 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^"Consultant gives limited testimony; Katz's court role in Al-Hussayen case mundane", Spokesman-Review, May 16, 2004,(fee required). Retrieved 03-23-10.^Schmitt, Richard B. "Demand Broadens the Field of Terror Experts; Young, Internet-savvy consultants are making careers in an area once reserved for bookish academics. Critics worry they're just cashing in", Los Angeles Times, (fee required) April 17, 2004. Retrieved January 31, 2010.^Sealey, Geraldine."Thursday's must-reads", Salon, April 1, 2004, accessed January 31, 2010[dead link]^Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball."Terror Watch: How Clarke 'Outsourced' Terror Intel; The Former Counterterrorism Chief Tapped A Private Researcher To Develop Intelligence On Al Qaeda. The Disclosure Sheds New Light On White House Frustrations With the FBI", Newsweek, March 31, 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Marc Perelman,'Muslim Charities Sue CBS, Investigator', Forward, 13 June 2003^"National Association of Muslim American Women files for Department of Justice investigation of Jewish Lobby," Al-Jazeerah, January 19, 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Warrick, Joby (October 9, 2007). "Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda's Secrets: Firm Says Administration's Handling of Video Ruined Its Spying Efforts". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 23, 2010. ^Schmitt, Richard B."Antiterror expertise goes high-tech; Many consultants young, Web-savvy", Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Gerstein, Josh. "Judge Dismisses Suit Questioning Federal Tactics", The New York Sun, November 8, 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^O'Dell, Larry, Associated Press."Appeals court says raid on Muslims' Va. home OK", The Guardian, May 7, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-23.^Worth, Robert F. "Mideast Analysis, Fast and Furious", The New York Times, June 18, 2006. Retrieved 2010-03-23.External links[edit]SITE Intel Group website"Islamist Networks in the United States; A Luncheon with Rita Katz, Director of the SITE Institute", The Nixon Center, November 19, 2003"Tracking the Terrorists Online", Yassin Musharbash, Der Spiegel, August 29, 2008Gannon, Kathy; Associated Press (March 8, 2008). "Al-Qaeda taps tech-savvy militants". USA Today. Retrieved March 23, 2010. Warrick, Joby; Rondeaux, Candace (April 9, 2009). "Extremist Web Sites Are Using U.S. Hosts: Ease and Anonymity Draw Taliban, al-Qaeda". Washington Post. Retrieved March 23, 2010. PersondataNameKatz, RitaAlternative namesShort descriptionAnti-terrorism activistDate of birth1963Place of birthBasra, IraqDate of deathPlace of death
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IS Beheads Peter Kassig, Challenges U.S. to Send Ground Troops | Jihadist News
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 16:07
The Islamic State (IS) released a video showing the head of American citizen Peter Kassig after it was severed from his body, with the British executor who killed other American and British citizens challenging the U.S. to send ground troops into Iraq and Syria.
The 15 minute, 53 second, English-subtitled video, entitled, ''Although the Disbelievers Dislike It,'' was produced by al-Furqan Media Foundation, and was distributed on Twitter and jihadi forums on November 16, 2014. The production tracks the growth of the IS from 2003, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi began jihadi operations in Iraq under the name of Tawhid Wal Jihad, and its success over time, through al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Mujahideen Shura Council, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS). In addition to showing the severed head of Kassig, the video also shows the brutal simultaneous beheading of several Syrian pilots. Fighters march the men in a line, grabbing knives along the way, and behead the men after the British executor says:
''To Obama, the dog of Rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we will be slaughtering your soldiers. And with Allah's permission, we will break this final and last Crusade, and the Islamic State will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, will begin to slaughter your people on your streets.''
In the segment with Kassig after his execution, the British fighter declares:
''This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen of your country. Peter who fought against the Muslims in Iraq while serving as a soldier under the American army, doesn't have much to say. His previous cellmates have already spoken on his behalf, but we say to you Obama, like our Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-'Adnani said, you claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. We said to you then that you were liars, that you had not withdrawn, and if you had withdrawn, that you would return, even if after some time. You would return. Here you are. You have not withdrawn. Rather, you hid some of your forces behind your proxies and withdrawn the rest. Your forces will return, greater in number than they were before. You will return, and your proxies will not benefit you.
''We also remind you of the haunting words that our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi told you: "The spark has been lit here in Iraq and its heat will continue to intensify by Allah's permission until it burns the Crusader army in Dabiq. Here we are, burning the first American Crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.''
Following is a transcript of the video:
0:00
[Text]
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"Although the Disbelievers Dislike It"
Allah's Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) said, "Indeed, Allah gathered the Earth for me, and thus I saw its eastern and western extents, and indeed the reign of my Ummah will reach what was gathered for me from the Earth" (Sahih Muslim)
1:00
[Narrator]
The invasive crusader forces announced the collapse of Baghdad on the 6th of Safar in the year 1424 of the Prophetic Hijrah. And while they enjoyed the ecstasy of false victory, the sons of Islam were preparing themselves for a battle whose flames would not wane until they struck the armoes of the Cross near Dabiq. So some of the jihadi battalions and factions were formed, including Jama'at at-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which was established by Shaykh Abu Mus'ab az-Zarqawi (may Allah have mercy upon him). Sheikh Abu Mus'ab then gave bay'ah [pledge of allegiance] to Shaykh Usamah ibn Ladin (may Allah have mercy on them both) to announce the establishment of Tandhim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad ar-Rafidayn.
Time did not pass long before Tandhim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad ar-Rafidayn alongside a number of factions joined together under the umbrella of Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin with the Shaykh 'Abdullah ibn Rashid al-Baghdadi as the leader of the council. During this stage, the condition of the Mujahidin was great - praise be to Allah the Exalted - as they inflicted devastation against the cross worsippers until Shaykh Abu Mus'ab (may Allah have mercy upon him) was killed in a crusader raid. After him, the banner was carried by Shaykh Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir (may Allah have mercy upon him) and thereafter Hilf al-Mutayyabin was announced, which gathered Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin, the Sunni tribes, and the pure factions, to announce after Hilf al-Mutayyabin the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the dissolving of all the factions under this new name, including Tandhim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad ar-Rafidayn, and the bay'ah to Abu 'Umar al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi as Amirul-Mu'minin and the appointment of Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir as Minister of War.
And with this progress and advance, the sons of Islam in the lands of the two rivers continued to wage the severest of battles. Then the two Shaykhs Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi and Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir (may Allah have mercy upon them both) were killed in a Crusader raid. Then Ahlul-Hali wal-'Aqd gathered and appointed the Mujahid Shaykh Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi (may Allah preserve him) as Amirul-Mu'minin. The years passed until the people of Islam were anguished by the affliction and tribulation that struck Ahlus-Sunnah in the lands of Sham. Their brothers from the Islamic State of Iraq could not abandon them and therefore they sent groups of soldiers to repel the aggression of the Nusayri regime. And before long, Allah bestowed them with the conquest of cities and villages.
And with the passing of days, it became necessary to prevent division from spreading as it was feared might happen, so Ahlul-Halli wal-'Aqd from the Islamic State of Iraq agreed upon the necessity of openly emerging in the Shami battlefield. Thus the new name was announced - the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham. And the conflict progressed and Allah granted HIs slaves consolidation as they gained control over extensive regions. Therefore, they announced - while relying upon Allah - the establishment of the Khilafah and the bay'ah to the Mujahid Shaykh Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi as Amirul-Mu'minin and the Khalifah of the MUslims, and thus the new name for the State became the Islamic State.
4:20
[Audio clip of Zarqawi]
O Alas, if Baghdad were to ever become rafidi [Shi'ite], for Baghdad, despite having been ruled by apostate rulers who humiliated and subjugated its people for many years, had never been rafidi even for just a day. Now Baghdad sees the blackness rise over it day after day. And here the rites of paganism and shirk become apparent to the eyes. The voices of the rafidah have raised, as they curse the companions and wives of our Prophet day and night upon their pulpits and in their media. And may Allah have mercy on Imam Malik who said, "One must not remain in a land in which Abu Bakr and 'Umar are insulted."
5:30
[Narrator]
It was not befitting for the grandsons of Abu Bakr and 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) to take the stance of a subservient and humiliated person. So they sharpened every blade to make the rafidah taste all sorts of killing and torment. They uprooted the fortresses, pounded the strongholds of shirk, and cleansed the land of the filth of the rafidah. They liberated the prisons, which had been filled with free women, and they remained an impenetrable barrier and strong fort for Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah, for they no longer had anyone to strengthen and support them after Allah ta'ala other than the Islamic State.
6:30
Caption: Nusayri airstrikes against the Muslims of Sham
6:50
[Voiceover]
By Allah, we will never forget our people in Houla. By Allah, we will never forget what you did to our people in Ghouta. By Allah, we will never forget what you did to our people in Baniyas.
7:15
[Narrator]
And just as the Islamic State wages war against the safawi expansion symbolized by the rafidah of Iraq, it likewise wages war against the nusayriyyah in Sham, as the goal for which it was established is clear and apparent. And it will fight in every region to which its authority expands until Allah is worshipped alone, without any partners associated to Him, and until the religion is entirely for Allah.
7:45
[Fighters march prisoners and grab knives from a box along the way]
Caption: Nusayri officers and pilots in the hands of the Khilafah
8:35
[The British executor]
To Obama, the dog of Rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we will be slaughtering your soldiers. And with Allah's permission, we will break this final and last Crusade, and the Islamic State will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, will begin to slaughter your people on your streets.
9:50
[The fighters proceed to behead the pilots]
11:10
[Audio clip of al-'Adnani]
Know that we have armies in Iraq and an army in Sham of hungry lions whose drink is blood and play is carnage.
11:35
[Audio of pledge from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis]
Therefore, in obedience to the order of Allah ('azza wa jall) and in obedience to His Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), ordering not to divide and to stick to the jama'ah...
[Saudi Arabia]
We declare from the lands of al-Haramayn the bay'ah (pledge of allegiance) to Khalifah Ibrahim ibn 'Awwad ibn Ibtahim al-Qurashi al-Husayni...
[Yemen]
Pledging to selflessly hear and obey, in times of hardship and ease, and in times of delight and dislike.
[Libya]
We pledge not to dispute the matter of those in authority except if we see obvious kufr concerning which we have proof from Allah.
[Algeria]
We call the Muslims everywhere to give bay'ah to the Khalifah and support him, in obedience to Allah and actualization of the unheeded obligation of the era.
12:20
[Audio clip of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi]
Glad tidings, O Muslims, for we give you good news by announcing the expansion of the Islamic State to new lands, to the lands of al-Haramayn and Yemen... to Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. We announce the acceptance of the bay'ah of those who gave us bay'ah in those lands, the nullification of the groups therein, the announcement of new wilayat for the Islamic State, and the appointment of wulat for them. We also announce the acceptance of bay'at given by the groups and individuals in all of those mentioned wilayat and others.
13:15
[Narrator]
After the light of the Khilafah emerged and spread through the lands, and there arose for the Muslims a State and a Khalifah and an army, the people craned their necks and hastened to their State from every direction. And the chant of the souls that yearn for the sublimity and superiority of Islam became, "When will the caravan reach the land of Islam, the aspiration of every thirsty one?" For the era of division has passed. The era of being lost and astray has gone. And those who love their religion have not ceased, to declare their bay'ah and support their Khilafah, even if they are distant.
14:05
[British executor in Dabiq]
This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen of your country. Peter who fought against the Muslims in Iraq while serving as a soldier under the American army, doesn't have much to say. His previous cellmates have already spoken on his behalf, but we say to you Obama, like our Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-'Adnani said, you claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. We said to you then that you were liars, that you had not withdrawn, and if you had withdrawn, that you would return, even if after some time. You would return. Here you are. You have not withdrawn. Rather, you hid some of your forces behind your proxies and withdrawn the rest. Your forces will return, greater in number than they were before. You will return, and your proxies will not benefit you.
We also remind you of the haunting words that our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi told you: "The spark has been lit here in Iraq and its heat will continue to intensify by Allah's permission until it burns the Crusader army in Dabiq. Here we are, burning the first American Crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.
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Footage of Syrian boy 'braving sniper fire' to rescue girl was faked by Norwegian filmmakers
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 08:34
The unidentified boy was labelled as a hero after footage circulated showing him apparently dodging a shower of bullets with the terrified girl to drag her to safety.
After being shared by Syrian activists and the Shaam Network, it attracted international attention and has so far garnered more than 5 million views on YouTube.
But now a group of Norwegian filmmakers has come forward to say they faked the video and deliberately presented it as reality to ''spur debate''.
It was scripted and filmed in Malta over the summer with professional child actors and Syrian refugees volunteering to ''react'' in the background.
Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director from Oslo, told BBC Trending he was ''not uncomfortable'' potentially deceiving millions of people.
''We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war,'' he said. ''We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video."
The Norwegian Film Institute, which contributed 280,000 kroner (£26,480) towards the controversial project, said it was the producers' responsibility to tell people the footage was not genuine.
The boy climbs back up off the floor after seemingly being shot Ase Meyer, a short film commissioner for the institute, told BBC Trending she was ''surprised'' people thought it was real because there is no blood visible after the boy appears to be shot.
"It was not a cynical way to get attention. They had honest motivations,'' she added.
The Syrian civil war has been raging since the Arab Spring in 2011, with civilians trapped at the mercy of Government forces, defence militias and Islamist groups, including Isis, who have all been accused of atrocities.
Read more: 'Child bride' blog is actually Norwegian campaignRecord 3 million refugees displaced by Syrian civil warUN report accuses Assad regime of crimes against humanity
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Islamic State sets sights on Saudis
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:30
14 November 2014Last updated at 19:15 By Frank GardnerBBC security correspondentThe leadership of Islamic State (IS) has no intention of standing still.
In a 17-minute audio message, purportedly from its elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group sets its sights firmly on Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam and the world's largest oil producer and exporter.
The speaker does not refer to it as Saudi Arabia, since this is a name derived from the ruling tribe, the al-Saud, whose authority IS does not accept.
Instead he calls it "the land of Haramayn", the land of the two holy places, meaning Mecca and Medina.
Reaching out to IS's growing number of Saudi followers, he sets out a target list for attack, starting with the Shia who make up a minority of Saudi nationals, living mostly in the oil-rich Eastern Province, and whom hardline Salafi radicals view as heretics.
So deep are the sectarian divisions opened up in the Middle East by the insurgency in Iraq that many Saudis view IS not as a marauding band of terrorists but as brave defenders of Sunni Islam against the encroaching forces of Iran and its Shia allies.
Saudi officials have long been warning that their country is the primary target of IS.
Having declared itself a caliphate this summer, it was inevitable that sooner or later the group would turn its attention to the largest and most important country in the region.
Saudi Arabia's supreme religious authority, the grand mufti, has branded IS as the "greatest enemy of Islam".
A recent op-ed written in the New York Times by Saudis close to the government said: "Saudi Arabia is the only authority in the region with the power and legitimacy to bring IS down."
Rejecting blameYet many blame the Saudi authorities for the rapid rise of IS, accusing them of funding and exporting an intolerant version of Islam that has become a stepping stone towards violent jihad.
Continue reading the main storyAlong with Qatar and Kuwait, the Saudi authorities are struggling to prevent donations from private individuals ending up with IS''
End QuoteThe Saudi government emphatically rejects any blame for the growth of IS, pointing out that it is a function of the chaos engendered by the Syrian civil war and the discriminatory policies towards Iraqi Sunnis practised by the Shia-led government in Baghdad.
The Saudis also point out that they fought and won a bitter three-year insurgency by al-Qaeda inside their country that cost hundreds of lives.
Today the Saudis find themselves in an extremely uncomfortable position.
Their air force has joined the US-led coalition in conducting numerous air strikes against IS positions in Syria, yet this is deeply unpopular with many Saudis.
A prince who has flown sorties against IS in an F15 jet has reportedly received death threats.
More than 2,000 Saudi nationals are estimated to have joined the ranks of IS, bringing with them an extreme brand of "takfiri" ideology that views large portions of the population with suspicion and intolerance.
Along with Qatar and Kuwait, the Saudi authorities are struggling to prevent donations from private individuals ending up with IS.
On top of this, security has deteriorated rapidly on the southern border with Yemen, where a number of Saudi extremists have joined al-Qaeda after being released from rehab programmes where they pledged to renounce violence.
Saudi Arabia is unlikely to face a direct military invasion by IS.
It has a well-marked and patrolled northern border with Iraq and a military equipped with billions of dollars' worth of Western weapons.
Instead, it faces a growing threat of isolated violence within its borders, likely to manifest itself as occasional bombings, shootings and kidnappings that will test the resources of its domestic intelligence service.
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Now ISIS wants to introduce its own currency | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:52
ISIS said to be planning to introduce its own currency to areas it controlsMilitants allegedly want to bring back the dinar - an ancient Islamic currencyThe original dinar currency consisted of purely gold and silver round coins By Emma Glanfield for MailOnline
Published: 15:42 EST, 10 November 2014 | Updated: 08:00 EST, 11 November 2014
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ISIS wants to introduce its own currency and plans to bring back solid gold and silver dinar coins, it has emerged.
The Middle East terror group apparently wants to introduce its own Islamic currency as part of its attempts to solidify its makeshift caliphate.
Militants are said to want to bring back the original dinar, which is an ancient currency from early Islam, and religious figures in Mosul and Iraq's Nineveh province have apparently announced its return in mosques.
ISIS apparently wants to introduce its own currency and plans to bring back gold and silver dinar coins (above)
The currency known as the dinar, which once consisted purely of gold and silver coins, is today used by a variety of countries, but the coins are created from different materials to the originals.
However, the jihadi group is understood to be planning to return to the original gold and silver coins, which were first introduced during the Caliphate of Uthman in 634 CE.
The original Islamic dinar was a gold coin which was the weight of gold equivalent to 4.3 grams. Its silver counterpart, known as the Islamic dirham, was a silver coin equal in weight to 3 grams of silver.
Both were round in shape and one side of the coin was typically stamped with an Islamic message, while the other side featured the date of minting and the country's ruler.
The terror group, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (pictured addressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul), is apparently keen to introduce its own currency to areas it controls
IS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi on rewards of Jihad (Archive)
PURE GOLD AND SILVER: THE DINARThe original dinar coins were first introduced during the Caliphate of Uthman in 634 CE.
The coins were made purely from gold and silver and were round in shape.
The gold coin was known as the Islamic dinar, while the silver was known as the Islamic dirham.
Typically, one side of the coin was stamped with an Islamic message, while the other side featured the date of minting and the country's ruler.
While ISIS has yet to confirm the introduction of its currency, social media is awash with claims that leading religious figures announced the plans during recent prayers in Mosul and Nineveh province.
It is believed the terror outfit wants to use the independent currency in areas it controls as part of its war on the West.
The currency, which could be introduced within the next few weeks, will involve changing from regular dinars and Lira to golden dinars and silver dirhams.
Last month, it emerged that ISIS, which also goes by the name Islamic State, is raking in money at a remarkable rate - earning about $1million a day from black market oil sales alone.
The group extracts oil from territory captured across Syria and Iraq, and sells it to smugglers.
David Cohen, who leads the Treasury Department's effort to undermine the Islamic State's finances, said the extremists also get several million dollars a month from wealthy donors, extortion rackets and other criminal activities, such as robbing banks.
In addition, he said the group has taken in at least $20million in ransom payments this year from kidnappings.
Mr Cohen said ISIS, which is led by Iraqi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,obtains the vast majority of its revenues through local criminal and terrorist activities.
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US top general predicts drawn-out ISIL battle - Al Jazeera English
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:07
The United States' top military officer has told American troops on a surprise visit to Baghdad that the momentum in the battle with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was "starting to turn", but predicted a drawn-out campaign lasting several years.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was on Saturday visiting Iraq for the first time since President Barack Obama responded to ISIL advances this summer by ordering troops back into a country they left in 2011.
Hours earlier, an Iraqi army colonel said security forces appeared close to retaking the country's biggest refinery at Beiji, which has been under siege for months by ISIL.
Obama last week authorised roughly doubling the number of American ground forces as the military expands the reach of its advisers after slowing ISIL's advances with US air strikes.
Dempsey told the troops the US military had helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces "pull Iraq back from the precipice", Reuters news agency reported.
"And now, I think it's starting to turn. So well done," Dempsey told a group of Marines at the US embassy in Baghdad.
ISIL has captured swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria, where the United States is also conducting air strikes with its allies in pursuit of Obama's declared objective to "degrade and destroy" the group.
'Bunch of midgets'
Dempsey said it had been crucial to show ISIL was not an unstoppable, 10-foot-tall force and instead "a bunch of midgets running around with a really radical ideology".
He was hardly triumphant, however. Earlier, he visited a Joint Operations Centre and watched a live video feed of a location showing Islamic State's black flag waving.
Thirty-six people were kidnapped by ISIL in western Iraq on Saturday, security sources said, members of the same tribe reportedly massacred in the hundreds by the group recently.
Dempsey repeatedly made the point that military force could not root out ISIL unless Iraq's government manages to work across the Sunni-Shia divide.
Building trust would take time. So would the US mission, he said.
"How long? Several years," said Dempsey.
About 1,400 US troops are now in Iraq. Obama's new authorisation allows for deployment of up to 3,100.
After meeting senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad including Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi, Dempsey travelled to Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan semi-autonomous region in the north.
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ISIS executioner 'Jihadi John' injured in airstrike: reports
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 08:50
LONDON: The British government said on Saturday it was investigating reports that "Jihadi John", the British-accented ISIS militant apparently responsible for the beheading of western hostages, had been injured in a US air strike.
The Foreign Office could not confirm reports published in the Mail on Sunday that the masked executioner, who has appeared in a series of grisly videos posted online, had been wounded while attending a meeting of ISIS leaders in an Iraqi town close to the Syrian border last week.
According to the paper, he was taken to hospital following the US-led attack on a bunker in Al Qaim, western Iraq, on November 8 that killed around 10 ISIS commanders and wounded 40 more.
The Mail reported that it was the same attack that injured elusive ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, sparking initial rumours that he had been killed.
"Jihadi John", named after Beatle John Lennon due to his British background, is believed to be responsible for the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Allan Henning.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, asked about the reports while at the G20 summit in Brisbane, said: "We should be in no doubt that I want 'Jihadi John' to face justice for the appalling acts that have been carried out in Syria, but I wouldn't make any comment on individual issues or strikes and the like, you wouldn't expect me to.
"I think the point though is clear, if people travel to Syria or Iraq in order to conduct terror operations against British people, British citizens, or people back here in Britain, then they are putting themselves in harm's way, they shouldn't be in any doubt about that."
Despite being a foreigner, the masked assassin, who goes by the nom de guerre Jalman Al-Britani, has become a leading figure in the Islamist group that swept across Syria and northern Iraq.
The Mail claimed that a nurse who treated some of those wounded in the attack said there was a man named Jalman on her list, referring to him as "the one who slaughtered the journalists".
The wounded men were then driven to the ISIS's Syrian stronghold of Raqa, according to the Mail's source.
British intelligence officers estimate that there are around 500 home-grown militants fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and Cameron announced plans this week to stop them returning to Britain for two years.
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Report: More U.S. partners needed in Israeli gas basins - UPI.com
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 07:50
HOUSTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Israel is on the cusp of becoming a natural gas exporter and is inviting U.S. energy companies to join in reaping the rewards, an official said from Houston.Amit Lang, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Economy, told the Houston Chronicle that U.S. companies "might find gold" in the form of natural gas through partnerships in Israel.
"All the predictions say that our gas discoveries are not done," he said in an interview published Sunday.
In September, Israel's Delek Group, alongside U.S. energy company Noble Energy, signed an agreement with the National Electric Power Co. of Jordan for natural gas deliveries from the Leviathan natural gas field off the Israeli coast to the delight of the U.S. State Department.
"We probably have more gas around the Leviathan," Lang said. "And we need more companies to come get licenses for exploration."
The State Department facilitated talks between the parties in February that led to the signing of a similar deal for gas from Israel's offshore gas field, Tamar.
Leviathan, with an estimated 18 trillion cubic feet of gas, should go onstream in 2016. Tamar is estimated to hold as much as 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Noble is the only U.S. partner working in Israeli waters, but Lang said he's in Houston hoping to court more U.S. investors to the offshore potential.
"We very much hope that other companies based in Houston, the big oil and gas companies, will also go into Israel and get a license for exploration so we have more competition," he said. "It's not good to be in one company's hands."
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
China-Russia ink Western Route agreement and discuss shadowy offshore accord
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 07:59
A framework agreement stipulating natural gas supply terms to China via Russia's the Western Route pipeline transmission network was signed between CNPC and Gazprom in Beijing yesterday in the presence of Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping
''Gazprom goes on boosting the cooperation with its Chinese partners,'' said Miller, chairman of the Gazprom board of directors.
''Power of Siberia, the world's largest project for gas supplies via the Eastern Route, is well underway. Today the framework agreement has been signed for gas supplies via the Western Route. This legally binding document creates the necessary prerequisites for signing a gas purchase and sale agreement within this top-priority project.
''Joint large-scale activities with our Chinese colleagues develop very fast. We set ourselves ambitious goals and we are confident that they will be achieved.''
The agreement defines conditions such as the volume and terms of supply, the take-or-pay level, and the location of the gas delivery point on the border. The framework agreement defines the schedule of compiling a gas purchase and sale agreement, a technical agreement and an intergovernmental agreement on the Western Route.
In addition, Miller and Wang Yilin, chairman of the CNOOC board of directors, signed a confidential memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the oil and gas sector.
CNPC is China's largest petroleum company wholly-owned by the state and is one of the world's leading integrated oil and gas production companies, focused on hydrocarbon production and transmission as well as providing engineering and petroleum services.
The western route stipulates annual gas supply in the amount of 30 billion cubic metres from Western Siberia to China via the Altai gas pipeline.
On May 21, 2014 Gazprom and CNPC signed the purchase and sale agreement for the Russian gas supply via the Eastern Route. The 30-year contract provides for gas supplies in the amount of 38 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
CNOOC is the oldest out of the three major petroleum companies in China, holding an exclusive right for prospecting and exploration as well as for oil and gas production offshore China. CNOOC is also the largest LNG importer of China.
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Pierre Omidyar's man in India is named to Modi's cabinet
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:28
By Mark AmesOn November 9, 2014
A longtime senior executive in eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar's global impact fund, Jayant Sinha, has been appointed to Indian ultranationalist leader Narendra Modi's council of ministers.
In 2009, Sinha established Omidyar Network India Advisors and served as partner and managing director in the First Look Media publisher's impact fund. Sinha also served on Omidyar Network's five-member global Executive Committee, and steered well over $100 million of Omidyar Network funds into India, making it the most active single-country investment for the $700 million impact fund, the world's largest impact fund. Earlier this year, Sinha stepped down as partner and managing director at Omidyar Network to run for his father's seat in India's parliament on the far-right BJP Party ticket.
Sinha's appointment to Modi's cabinet makes him the second high-profile Omidyar figure to rise to power in a right-wing, pro-business government in the last two weeks. In late October, PandoDaily reported that Svitlana Zalishchuk '-- whose Ukrainian NGO ''New Citizen'' received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Omidyar and USAID, and took credit for organizing the Maidan revolution '-- took a seat in Ukraine's new parliament, on the party ticket of billionaire president Petro Poroshenko. Since coming to power after the February ''revolution,'' Poroshenko led Ukraine into a bloody and disastrous offensive campaign against Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country, leaving thousands dead. Human Rights Watch has accused Poroshenko of committing potential war crimes by using cluster bombs ''indiscriminately in populated areas.''
As PandoDaily has been reporting all year, Jayant Sinha'--and his boss, Omidyar'--have been playing an unusual dual role in Indian politics over the past few years, conflating supposedly philanthropic activities with decidedly political investments that dovetailed with Sinha's party's political campaign when it was out of power.
Some of those Omidyar grants went to for-profit investments, such as Omidyar investments in microfinance firms like SKS Microfinance, which ended disastrously when SKS's aggressive debt collectors were implicated in pushing hundreds of poor villagers into gruesome suicides, by drinking bottles of pesticide, drowning themselves, and other means.
Other Omidyar-Sinha investments went into NGOs whose campaigns dovetailed perfectly with the far-right BJP Party's campaigns when they were in the opposition, particularly by focusing attention on corruption under the previous center-left government that ruled from 2005 through this year. The BJP won this year's election on an anti-corruption backlash; and Omidyar Network bankrolled one of India's most prominent anti-corruption NGO campaigns, ''I Paid A Bribe.'' In 2010, Sinha and Omidyar Network awarded $3 million to an Indian NGO, Janaagraha, to run the ''I Paid A Bribe'' campaign. A top USAID official, Sarah Mendelsen, described as ''spell-binding'' a speech about anti-corruption campaigns by Janaagraha's co-founder at a Google event in 2011. Janaagraha had previously worked with the World Bank to privatize Bangalore's water.
At the same time that Omidyar Network's Sinha invested in anti-corruption campaigns that undermined India's ruling center-left party, Sinha secretly worked on Modi's team to prepare for the 2014 elections. According to two senior BJP Party members, Sinha also ''worked in Modi's team'' in 2012 and 2013, undisclosed at the time, while simultaneously heading Omidyar Network and guiding the fund's global strategy. Sinha also served as a director in the BJP Party's powerful think-tank, the India Foundation, set up by Ajit Doval, who now heads India's national intelligence apparatus under Modi.
Another Indian NGO that Sinha and Omidyar Network funded was caught in 2012 illegally influencing members of India's parliament on the country's tight e-commerce laws. India's top security agency at the time denounced the NGO as ''detrimental to national security,'' accused it of providing cover for ''foreign'' intelligence agencies to infiltrate India's government '-- and stripped it of its registration.
After that scandal, the co-founder of the beleaguered NGO, CV Mudhakar, was hired by Omidyar to serve as Omidyar Network India's director of investments in'...''government transparency.''
Sinha has for years been pushing India to open its e-commerce markets to foreign investment '-- which would directly benefit Omidyar, who is still chairman of eBay. After Sinha moved from Omidyar Network to campaigning for Modi in February of this year, Modi suddenly began to parrot Sinha's and Silicon Valley's wish-list on opening up India's e-commerce to Silicon Valley. In early June, weeks after Modi and Sinha's election victories, the new Modi government invited representatives from eBay, as well as Amazon and Google, to help rewrite India's e-commerce laws.
As PandoDaily has been reporting this year, Omidyar and other Silicon Valley titans have been huge supporters of Modi, despite his long history of violent sectarianism '-- from his role in the semi-fascist R.S.S. paramilitary, to his role overseeing the mass-murders, gang rapes and ethnic cleansings of Muslims under his watch as head of the state of Gujarat. Modi was blacklisted by the US State Department for years over his role in the anti-Muslim violence.
Now, with Omidyar's former right-hand man in Omidyar Network taking power in Modi's cabinet of ministers, it's becoming clear why Obama's UN Representative Samantha Powerpraised The Intercept's publisher for his role as a leading private arm of the US government's global power.
For more PandoDaily reports on Omidyar Network and Indian politics, read ''REVEALED: The head of Omidyar Network in India had a secret second job'... Helping elect Narendra Modi''; ''Just as we predicted, India's new leader is about to make Pierre Omidyar a lot richer''; ''Now it's time for Silicon Valley to profit from the new Indian ecommerce laws it helped shape''; ''eBay Shrugged: Pierre Omidyar believes there should be no philanthropy without profit''.
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Who's Paying the Pro-War Pundits? | The Nation
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:52
Retired General Anthony Zinni, retired General Jack Keane and former Bush administration official Fran TownsendIf you read enough news and watch enough cable television about the threat of the Islamic State, the radical Sunni Muslim militia group better known simply as IS, you will inevitably encounter a parade of retired generals demanding an increased US military presence in the region. They will say that our government should deploy, as retired General Anthony Zinni demanded, up to 10,000 American boots on the ground to battle IS. Or as in retired General Jack Keane's case, they will make more vague demands, such as for "offensive" air strikes and the deployment of more military advisers to the region.
But what you won't learn from media coverage of IS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America's military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America's defense industry.
Keane is a great example of this phenomenon. His think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which he oversees along with neoconservative partisans Liz Cheney and William Kristol, has provided the data on IS used for multiple stories by The New York Times, the BBC and other leading outlets.
Jack Keane (Screenshot: Fox News)
Keane has appeared on Fox News at least nine times over the last two months to promote the idea that the best way to stop IS is through military action'--in particular, through air strikes deep into IS-held territory. In one of the only congressional hearings about IS over the summer, Keane was there to testify and call for more American military engagement. On Wednesday evening, Keane declared President Obama's speech on defeating IS insufficient, arguing that a bolder strategy is necessary. "I truly believe we need to put special operation forces in there," he told host Megyn Kelly.
Left unsaid during his media appearances (and left unmentioned on his congressional witness disclosure form) are Keane's other gigs: as special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater; as a board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics; a "venture partner" to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an "operations management decision support system" company used in Air Force drone training; and as president of his own consulting firm, GSI LLC.
To portray Keane as simply a think tank leader and a former military official, as the media have done, obscures a fairly lucrative career in the contracting world. For the General Dynamics role alone, Keane has been paid a six-figure salary in cash and stock options since he joined the firm in 2004; last year, General Dynamics paid him $258,006.
Keane did not immediately return a call requesting comment for this article.
Disclosure would also help the public weigh Keane's policy advocacy. For instance, in his August 24 opinion column for The Wall Street Journal, in which he was bylined only as a retired general and the chairman of ISW, Keane wrote that "the time has come to confront the government of Qatar, which funds and arms IS and other Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas." While media reports have linked fundraisers for IS with individuals operating in Qatar (though not the government), the same could be said about Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where many of the major donors of IS reportedly reside. Why did Keane single out Qatar and ignore Saudi Arabia and Kuwait? Is it because his company, Academi, has been a major business partner to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar's primary rival in the region?
Other examples abound.
Anthony Zinni (Screenshot: Charlie Rose)
In a Washington Post story about Obama's decision not to deploy troops to combat IS, retired Marine General James Mattis was quoted as a skeptic. "The American people will once again see us in a war that doesn't seem to be making progress," Mattis told the paper. Left unmentioned was Mattis's new role as Keane's colleague on the General Dynamics corporate board, a role that afforded Mattis $88,479 in cash and stock options in 2013.
Retired General Anthony Zinni, perhaps the loudest advocate of a large deployment of American soliders into the region to fight IS, is a board member to BAE Systems' US subsidiary, and also works for several military-focused private equity firms.
CNN pundit Frances Townsend, a former Bush administration official, has recently appeared on television calling for more military engagement against IS. As the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit that studies elite power structures, reported, Townsend "holds positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group, and serves as an advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences."'¨'¨
Fran Townsend (Screenshot: CSPAN)
"Mainstream news outlets have a polite practice of identifying former generals and former congressmembers as simply 'formers''--neglecting to inform the public of what these individuals are doing now, which is often quite pertinent information, like that they are corporate lobbyists or board members," says Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College.
Media outlets might justify their omissions by reasoning that these pundits have merely advocated certain military strategies, not specific weapons systems, so disclosure of their financial stake in the policy need not be made. Yet the drumbeat for war has already spiraled into calls for increased military spending that lifts all boats'--or non-operational jets for that matter.
When the Pentagon sent a recent $2 billion request for ramped-up operations in the Middle East, supposedly to confront the IS issue, budget details obtained by Bloomberg News revealed that officials asked for money for additional F-35 planes. The F-35 is not in operation and would not be used against IS. The plane is notoriously over budget and perpetually delayed'--some experts call it the most expensive weapon system in human history'--with a price tag now projected to be over $1 trillion. In July, an engine fire grounded the F-35 fleet and again delayed the planned debut of the plane. How it ended up in the Pentagon's Middle East wish list is unclear.
"I think an inclination to use military action a lot is something the defense industry subscribes to because it helps to perpetuate an overall climate of permissiveness towards military spending," says Ed Wasserman, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School for Journalism. Wasserman says that the media debate around IS has tilted towards more hawkish former military leaders, and that the public would be best served not only with better disclosure but also a more balanced set of opinions that would include how expanded air strikes could cause collateral civil casualties. "The past fifty years has a lot of evidence of the ineffectiveness of air power when it comes to dealing with a more nimble guerrilla-type adversary, and I'm not hearing this conversation," he notes.
The pro-war punditry of retired generals has been the subject of controversy in the past. In a much-cited 2008 expos(C), The New York Timesrevealed a network of retired generals on the payroll of defense contractors who carefully echoed the Bush administration's Iraq war demands through appearances on cable television. '¨'¨
The paper's coverage of the run-up to a renewed conflict in the region today has been notably measured, including many voices skeptical of calls for a more muscular military response to IS. Nonetheless, the Times has relied on research from a contractor-funded advocacy organization as part of its IS coverage. Reports produced by Keane's ISW have been used to support six different infographics used for Times stories since June. The Times has not mentioned Keane's potential conflict of interest or that ISW may have a vested stake in its policy positions. The Public Accountability Initiative notes that ISW's corporate sponsors represent "a who's who of the defense industry and includes Raytheon, SAIC, Palantir, General Dynamics, CACI, Northrop Grumman, DynCorp, and L-3 Communication." As the business network CNBC reported this week, Raytheon in particular has much to gain from escalation in Iraq, as the company produces many of the missiles and radar equipment used in airstrikes.
In addition to providing reports and quotes for the media, ISW leaders have demanded a greater reaction to IS from the Obama administration. In The Weekly Standard this week, ISW president Kim Kagan wrote that President Obama's call for a limited engagement against IS "has no chance of success." '¨'¨
ISW's willingness to push the envelope has gotten the organization into hot water before. In 2013, ISW suffered an embarrassing spectacle when one of its analysts, Elizabeth O'Bagy, was found to have inflated her academic credentials, touting a PhD from a Georgetown program that she had never entered.
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But memories are short, and the media outlets now relying heavily on ISW research have done little to scrutinize the think tank's policy goals. Over the last two years, ISW, including O'Bagy, were forcefully leading the push to equip Syrian rebels with advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry to defeat Bashar al-Assad.
For Keane, providing arms to Syrian rebels, even anti-American groups, was a worthwhile gamble. In an interview with Fox Business Network in May of last year, Keane acknowledged that arming Syrian rebels might mean "weapons can fall into radical Islamists' hands." He continued, "It is true the radical Islamists have gained in power and influence mainly because we haven't been involved and that is a fact, but it's still true we have vetted some of these moderate rebel groups with the CIA, and I'm convinced we can'--it's still acceptable to take that risk, and let's get on with changing momentum in the war." '¨'¨That acceptable risk Keane outlined has come to fruition. Recent reports now indicate that US-made weapons sent from American allies in the region to Syrian rebels have fallen into the hands of IS.
Keane, and ISW, is undeterred. The group just put out a call for 25,000 ground troops in Iraq and Syria.
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James Franklin Jeffrey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 23:37
James Franklin Jeffrey is a former senior American diplomat and an expert in political, security, and energy issues in the Middle East, Turkey, Germany, and the Balkans.
He has held senior assignments in Washington, D.C., and abroad, including as Deputy National Security Advisor (2007''2008); United States Ambassador to Iraq (2010''2012); United States Ambassador to Turkey (2008''2010); and United States Ambassador to Albania (2002''2004). In 2010 Jeffrey was appointed to the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service, Career Ambassador. From 1969 to 1976, Jeffrey was a U.S. Army infantry officer, with service in Germany and Vietnam.
Jeffrey is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a member of the Defense Policy Board, a member of the American Council on Germany, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves on the advisory board for DC-based non-profit America Abroad Media.[1] He is a frequent commentator on broader foreign policy, national security, and economic trends.
Personal life[edit]Jeffrey was born in Saugus, Massachusetts, in 1946. He received a BA in History from Northeastern University in 1969, and a MS in Business Administration from Boston University Graduate School of Management in 1977. Jeffrey also holds a diploma in the French language from the University of Paris. He speaks German, Turkish, and French along with English. Jeffrey is married with two children and is a resident of Virginia.
European security affairs[edit]Jeffrey joined the US Foreign Service in 1977. After a training assignment in Tunis, Tunisia he was posted to Sofia, Bulgaria, where he served as the on-site U.S. representative during a hijacking of a Turkish Air Flight with five U.S. businessmen taken as hostages, in May 1981. Jeffrey then served on assignments in Adana, Turkey and Ankara, Turkey as a political-military officer, from 1983 to 1987.
Jeffrey served in Munich, Germany, during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany from 1989 to 1991, including as acting principal officer during the first Gulf War, and liaison to Radio Free Europe. He then was selected as the State Department's coordinator for the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (now OSCE). Jeffrey later served as the Deputy Presidential Special Advisor for Bosnia Implementation, working to put into place the Dayton Accords.
Middle East affairs[edit]In 1996 Jeffrey was selected as Deputy Chief of Mission to the American Embassy Kuwait, and served during Operation Desert Fox and the evacuation of Embassy Kuwait. In 1999 he returned to Turkey, as Deputy Chief of Mission. After serving as Ambassador to Albania from 2002 to 2004, he was selected by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Ambassador John Negroponte to bridge the transition from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and subsequently served as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2004 to 2005. He served as Charg(C) d'Affaires in Baghdad before returning to Washington to serve as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Special Advisor for Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Jeffrey then served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, covering broader Middle East policy matters, including co-chairing the Interagency Iran Policy Group.
President George W. Bush nominated Jeffrey as Ambassador to Turkey in 2008, where he served in his fourth and final assignment to Turkey until 2010. President Barack Obama nominated him to serve as Ambassador to Iraq in 2010. Jeffrey oversaw its expansion into the largest Embassy in the world with almost 16,000 employees and an annual budget of over $6 billion, and worked with the U.S. military to ensure a successful transition to a civilian lead.
Deputy National Security Adviser[edit]In the summer of 2007, Jeffrey was selected to serve on detail to the White House as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for President George W. Bush, serving as acting National Security Adviser on Bush's 2007 and 2008 trips to the Pacific nations.
Recognitions[edit]Jeffrey has received the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award on two occasions, in 2010 and 2012, as well as the Secretary of State's Career Service Award in 2012, and the Distinguished Honor Award in 2005. Secretary Leon Panetta presented him with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service in 2011, and CIA Director David Petraeus awarded Jeffrey the Director's Medal in 2012. He received Boston University's School of Management Award for Distinguished Service in 2006, and the American Bar Association's Award for Promoting Rule of Law Worldwide in 2004. His military awards include the Bronze Star.
References[edit]The information of this article comes from the U.S. Department of State website [1].External links[edit]PersondataNameJeffrey, James FranklinAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican diplomatDate of birth1947Place of birthMassachusettsDate of deathPlace of death
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Obama Nation
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What Gen Y Doesn't Get About Open Enrollment - Forbes
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 14:25
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
With the arrival of the Affordable Care Act, the already-confusing world of health insurance and open enrollment just got a whole lot more confusing '' especially for Gen Y. Not only does this group have fewer years of work experience under their belts '' meaning less experience evaluating employer plans and health coverage overall '' recent surveys indicate that they largely don't understand the provisions of the new health care law.
According to a study by EHealthInsurance, only 17% of Millennials consider themselves to be well informed about health care reform; what's more, 33% mistakenly believe that the individual mandate (requirement for everyone to have health insurance) is already in effect.
To be fair to this overeducated, often-mocked group, employee benefits have long been confusing to employees of all ages. A recent Aflec survey found that just 26% of workers (of all ages) say they ''always'' understand everything that is covered by their health policy and 33% say they have a full understanding of deductible costs when selecting health insurance.
With open enrollment season kicking into high gear, it's time to clear up the misconceptions and answer some frequently-asked health-related questions. (A broader look at employee benefits at stake during open enrollment'--including dependent care accounts and vacation buy-ups '-- can be found here.)
To start: what exactly is open enrollment, anyway?
''You have one time during the year to shop, compare and actually pick a health insurance plan,'' says Carrie McLean, director of consumer care for EHealthInsurance.com. ''If you lose track of time and don't get a plan, you have to wait a whole other year to get insurance (through your employer), which is not a good thing if something happens to you.''
McLean added that while most Millennials '' that 18 to 32 set '' are healthy and don't need to worry about major illnesses, it's still important that they have health insurance '-- and of course, beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, it's also required by the ACA. ''If they have any sort of extracurricular activity, a number of issues can happen if you twist your ankle and one trip to the emergency room can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. This group may have student loans and other things they have to start paying for and you don't want to start it out with also having medical bills,'' she says.
With the ''what'' and ''why'' out of the way, here are five more things about health insurance and the implementation of the ACA that Millennials find particularly confounding, along with some expert advice about what it all means and how to find the health coverage that's right for you.
The vocabulary. Deductibles and premiums, co-pays and coinsurance '' the jargon can be both endless and indecipherable. For all its flaws in its early weeks of existence, healthcare.gov actually has a great glossary of all relevant terms and jargon you'll need to know as you evaluate coverage. However, the four most important to understand are the four already mentioned, because they basically translate into ''what, in dollars, you will actually pay.'' Your premium is what you pay for health insurance '' in other words, your bill. Your deductible is the amount you owe for health services before your insurer starts to pay for things, not including the premium. The two are related, though: the lower your deductible, the more you'll pay in premiums. The higher your deductible, the less you'll pay in premiums.
A co-pay is a fixed dollar amount you pay for health services, while coinsurance is a fixed percentage you pay for health costs. An insurance plan with a $20 co-pay for doctor's visits means you pay $20 to see a doctor no matter how much that visit costs; an insurance visit with a 20% coinsurance provision means you pay 20% of the allowed amount for that visit.
What happens when. It should be noted that there are two types of open enrollment: that which is through your employer, in which you can evaluate employer coverage and decide to switch plans if need be, and that which is through the government's marketplace. Your employer will provide the dates you need to know in order to complete enrollment on time, but these dates may not be the same as the dates tied to the individual marketplace. EHealth's McLean explains that since this is the first year of the open marketplace, the open enrollment period is quite long: it started October 1 and goes until March 31, 2014. However, if you want your coverage to begin on January 1, 2014, you will need to submit your application by December 15, 2013.
The possible downsides of staying on a parent's plan. One of the most popular provisions of the ACA allows children under the age of 26 to remain on their parents' health plan; this was implemented in 2010, but the provision will become even more lenient in 2014. It used to be that children under 26 could stay on their parents' plan if and only if their employer did not offer them coverage; in 2014, children under 26 can stay on the parents' plan even if an employer offers coverage. However, while this sounds convenient, it could actually be logistically difficult '' and even quite expensive.
''It may be, for example, that a 24, 25 year-old is working far away in a different state and the parents' plan may not have as attractive a network,'' says Karen McLeese, vice president of Employee Benefit Regulatory Affairs for CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services. With limited access to in-network doctors and hospitals, finding care you need when you need it could prove to be a headache. McLeese says that convenience isn't the only consideration, either.
''The parents' plan may be a family plan '' it may be multi-tiered where incrementally it does cost more to have a child on the plan. That child as single or married employee may be able to get a better deal at the place of his or her employment,'' she says, noting that families can run into particular trouble if the parents use an HSA, which can only be used for the medical expenses of a spouse or ''qualified child.'' If a child is older than 19 but younger than 26 and out on their own working, the child won't qualify as a ''qualifying child,'' and his or her medical expenses can't be reimbursed by the HSA. (According to the IRS, full time students up to age 24 still count as a qualifying child.)
The new rating system. Bronze, silver and gold aren't just for the Olympics anymore. These metals (and medals) are being used to help designate the level of coverage of all major health insurance plans in 2014 and how much you'll pay. McLean and EHealth break it down like this: A bronze plan is designed to cover about 60% of a typical member's medical expenses, with the consumer paying the rest through deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, etc. A silver plans will have 70% coverage and gold will cover 80% of costs. There's also a platinum level, which will cover 90% of your expenses. Just like the premium/deductible ratio, the higher you go up the metal scale the more generous your overall coverage will be '' but the more you'll pay in monthly premiums. McLean says that if you're healthy and young and don't take a ton of prescriptions, a bronze plan may cover all of your needs, but it's important to make sure you could cover the maximum out-of-pocket amount in case of an emergency.
It should be noted that some of these plans can look quite expensive compared to the average 20-something's budget '' an Aetna bronze plan in Pennsylvania with a $5,500 deductible and 10% coinsurance costs $227 per month, for example '' but the government is offering subsidies for those who meet the income requirements (400% of the federal poverty level, or $45,960 for a single individual). If you're not sure if your income would qualify you for a government subsidy, you can use this calculator here. But '-- and this is a big but '-- if you are offered an employer plan and choose to go to the individual exchanges, you aren't eligible for a subsidy, even if your income would otherwise qualify you for a subsidy.
Finally, it's worth noting that if your parents claim you as a dependent, your subsidy eligibility will be based on your family's income, not just yours. If your parents don't claim you as a dependent but you are under 26 and eligible to stay on your family's health plan, you can still qualify for a subsidy based on your income.
How to find the best-fitting plan. Once you know what everything means, the real work begins: comparing plans and figuring out what type of coverage you need and what plan will give you the most bang for your buck. To do this, McLeese says, it's helpful to make a list of your existing conditions and prescription needs along with coverage you might think you need for the coming year, and compare that against the plans either being offered by your employer or through the open market in your state.
''I think it is important to make a checklist. Say okay, I would like to know whether I have dental, orthodontists (for families), ophthalmology,'' she says. ''List out everything that's important to you about obtaining health coverage, and then the plans you're looking at, look at which of those things are covered, how you'd have to pay for it, what kind of [government] subsidy is available. Or for some people, maybe it's going to be that the government subsidy isn't going to be available.''
McLean adds that if you make these lists and try to do a comparison yourself and are still confused, it can be helpful to find a licensed insurance agent to help talk you through things. EHealthInsurance, she says, offers this advice for free. If you're confused about an employer-sponsored plan, your HR department should be able to talk you through things as well.
Finally, if you already have health insurance '' either through an employer, a parent, or possibly through a university if you're in school '' don't assume that it's not worth evaluating other options. You could find a plan that's even better. This, McLean says, is a mistake that many employees make when they get benefits paperwork from their HR department.
''Don't go through just on autopilot when you get that pack of paper. Look to make sure '' what changed with the benefits you're being offered? Is anything in your life changing? Maybe you'll be starting a family. Is there maternity care on that benefit; how is that paid?'' she asks. ''Now that individual market has an open enrollment, now's the time you can also compare and see what else is out there and know: am I getting the best deal for the coverage I have?''
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H.R. 5712: To authorize the Private Sector Office of the Department of Homeland Security to improve private sector engagement in protecting the homeland, and for other purposes.
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:15
Introduced: Sponsor: Rep. Curtis ''Curt'' Clawson [R-FL19]
This bill was referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security which will consider it before sending it to the House floor for consideration.
Rep. Curtis ''Curt'' Clawson [R-FL19] is a member of the committee.
Govtrack.us Summary
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H.R. 5719: To secure the Federal voting rights of non-violent persons when released from incarceration.
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:20
create a new accountall it takes is a username and password
privacy philosophywe limit data collected about you and your use of the platform,your personal information is never for sale,we use and disclose information to prevent people from abusing the platform, butwe never disclose it for any other reason unless required by law.for more information, see our privacy policy.
is it really that easy? only one way to find out...
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F-Russia
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Sweden Provides No Proof Of Russian Sub Yet Starts To Increase Military Spending Anyway'...'...War is the New Economy
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:11
World Bulletin/News Desk
Swedish military officials say they have confirmed that a foreign submarine was illegally operating in Swedish territorial waters in the archipelago of Sweden's capital Stockholm in October.
Sweden's top military officer Sverker G¶ransson said on Friday the Swedish armed forces had proof that a small submarine violated Swedish territory.
G¶ransson said: ''Sweden has been exposed to a gross and intolerable violation by a foreign power.''
''I would not say so if I was not completely confident in the conclusions.''
His comments referred to reported speculation which began in late October that a ''Russian submarine'' could be beneath Swedish territorial waters.
Military spending call
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven, who also attended Friday's press conference, said intrusion in Swedish waters was ''unacceptable''.
L¶fven said: ''Let me put this clearly to those responsible: this is completely unacceptable.
''We will strengthen our abilities to discover and identify those who are looking for illicit affairs in our waters, in Swedish territory.''
Stefan L¶fven has raised the prospect of taxpayers increasing military spending, which currently accounts for one percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, a modest ratio of national income compared to its European neighbors.
Hundreds of military and naval staff were involved in a $2.75m week-long search for an underwater vessel after Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported a damaged or missing Russian submarine could have sent ''encrypted signals'' to Russia from a location in the area.
'Language of power'
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov later accused the Swedish government of hyping-up tensions in the Baltic Sea region.
He said: ''Such unfounded actions of the Swedish Defense Department, fuelled by the Cold War-style rhetoric, are only leading today to escalation of tension in the region.
Critics have warned that a military build-up would not improve security in Sweden.
''If we respond with military means, then we will further shift the language of power in that direction, which would be incredibly unfortunate, both for our own safety and security in the Baltic Sea area,'' Anna Ek Chairman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) told the Swedish public broadcaster SVT on October 21.
Sweden faces military build-up call after submarine claims23 October 2014 Thursday
Media reports of a suspected Russian submarine in Swedish waters could pressure the country to spend more on its military, expert saysWorld Bulletin/News Desk
While Swedish citizens enjoy a high standard of living and efficient national social welfare systems, they could face demands to increase spending on the military following widespread media coverage of allegations a Russian submarine may be in waters off the Stockholm archipelago, an expert says.
Many critics have questioned the veracity and timing of speculation a Russian submarine could be hiding in Swedish territorial waters at a time of heightened global military tensions under the US-led ''war on terror'', and also point out it is common knowledge that most developed nations operate fleets of military submarines around the world.
But, in the wake of the allegations, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven has raised the prospect of taxpayers increasing military spending, which currently accounts for one percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, a modest ratio of national income compared to its European neighbors.
L¶fven said during a visit to the Estonian capital of Tallinn on Tuesday: ''We agree on a broad basis between many parties in Sweden in the Swedish parliament that we need to increase our capacity, meaning that we need to put more resources into defense.''
According to the Swedish government, the 2014 budget for defense expenditure is 9 billion kronor ($1.24 billion).
In contrast, neighbor Norway has an annual military budget of $6.8 billion, according to the Norwegian government, and Finland $3.5 billion for 2014, according to the European Defense Agency.
'No security'
Sweden, which is not a member of the NATO military alliance of 28 states across Europe and North America, has traditionally been neutral in its foreign policy and recently announced it would become the first EU member country to recognize the state of Palestine.
Although it is a partner of NATO and has collaborated with the alliance in, for example, Afghanistan, the Scandinavian country does not have full membership because its policy of remaining neutral in any potential war.
However, Ulf Bjereld, Professor in political science at Sweden's University of Gothenburg, told Anadolu Agency that Swedish opinion could shift to a more NATO-friendly position if people came to believe the mysterious submarine allegedly floating in Swedish territorial waters was a proven act of Russian aggression.
''Developments in the event could lead to increased defense expenses and a build-up of the defense forces,'' Bjereld said.
The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS), Scandinavia's largest peace organization, has warned that a military build-up would not improve security in Sweden.
Anna Ek, Chairman of SPAS, told the Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Tuesday: ''If we respond with military means, then we will further shift the language of power in that direction, which would be incredibly unfortunate, both for our own safety and security in the Baltic Sea area.''
Allegations denied
The Russian merchant ship, NS Concord, was reported to have been spotted floating in international waters right outside Stockholm on Wednesday last week, and a Swedish signal intelligence official was reported to have detected an encrypted conversation in Russian the following day.
Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that a damaged or missing Russian submarine could be in the archipelago after the encrypted signals were allegedly sent to Russia from its location.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom described the reports as ''speculations'' while the Russian Defense Ministry denied the allegations and said none of its military vessels were damaged.
Wallstrom said ahead of a EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday: ''We have no confirmation of anything, so now I leave it to the armed forces to follow up.''
Russian jets violated Swedish and Finnish airspace in late August and September, which prompted the Swedish government to request a report from the armed forces.
A Soviet navy submarine ran aground in the coast of south Sweden in 1981 while a Swedish naval exercise was taking place.
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Russia alternative version of Wikipedia
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:25
14 November 2014Last updated at 21:41 Russia is planning an alternative version of the Wikipedia, the country's presidential library has said.
A statement said the initiative aimed to provide better information about Russia than is available on Wikipedia.
Analysis had shown that Wikipedia "does not have enough detailed and reliable information about Russian regions and the life of the country", it said.
Some 50,000 books and documents had been collected, it said, to portray Russia "objectively and accurately".
But the new site has some catching up to do - Wikipedia is the world's sixth most popular website. The Russian edition has more than one million entries.
The move comes amid increasing Kremlin control of the web.
In August, laws were enacted forcing bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers to register with the mass media regulator.
And in March, websites run by opponents and critics of President Vladimir Putin were blocked.
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MIC
Defense.gov News Article: Hagel Announces New Defense Innovation, Reform Efforts
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 08:47
Hagel Announces New Defense Innovation, Reform EffortsBy Cheryl PellerinDoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2014 '' In a keynote speech tonight at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a plan to harness the brightest minds and cutting-edge technology to change the way the Department of Defense innovates and operates.
On the second day of a five-day trip nationwide to see some of the critical training the force receives to maintain readiness, Hagel addressed members of Congress, DoD officials, military leaders, and members of the defense industry during the annual forum held in Simi Valley, California.
Along with the new innovation initiative, the secretary also announced a project to reform the defense enterprise, preparing it to deal with dwindling budgets in an uncertain future.
DoD Experiencing a Time of Transition
''The Department of Defense is undergoing a defining time of transition,'' Hagel said. ''We [face] a reshaping of our enterprise by a fiscal environment plagued by '... budget uncertainty and a large decline in resources, and by an historic realignment of interests and influences around the world.''
As these dynamics unfold, he added, the U.S. military is engaged in crises and security challenges around the world -'' degrading the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, helping to stop the spread of Ebola virus disease, and reinforcing NATO allies.
''Few would have predicted these missions a year ago,'' the secretary said, adding that DoD is responsible for addressing a range of contingencies and crises.
New, Old Threats, Challenges
''We face the rise of new technologies, national powers and non-state actors,'' as well as ''sophisticated, deadly and often asymmetric emerging threats ranging from cyberattacks to transnational criminal networks, [and] persistent, volatile threats we have faced for years,'' Hagel said.
The nation's long-term security, he added, depends on whether the department can address today's crises while preparing for tomorrow's threats.
Hagel described the department's two most-important investments as bolstering the United States' unrivaled capacity for innovation and reforming the defense enterprise to ensure that the military foundation is reliable, agile, accountable and worthy of the men and women who serve.
While the United States and its allies spent more than a decade at war, he said, countries like Russia and China have heavily invested in military modernization programs to blunt the U.S. military's technological edge, fielding advanced aircraft, submarines and longer-range and more accurate missiles, and developing new anti-ship and air-to-air missiles, and counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare, undersea and air-attack capabilities.
New Defense Innovation Initiative
''Today I am announcing a new Defense Innovation Initiative,'' Hagel told the audience, describing the effort as an ambitious, departmentwide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America's military dominance for the 21st century.
''Continued fiscal pressure will likely limit our military's ability to respond to long-term challenges '... so to overcome challenges to our military superiority we must change the way we innovate, operate and do business,'' the secretary explained.
The innovation initiative, he said, will ensure that U.S. power-projection capabilities continue to sustain a competitive advantage over the coming decades.
Identifying, Developing Cutting-edge Technologies
As part of the initiative, Hagel said, a new Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program will help identify, develop and field breakthroughs from the most cutting-edge technologies and systems, especially in robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data and advanced manufacturing, including 3-D printing.
''The program will look toward the next decade and beyond,'' he said, ''[but] in the near-term it will invite some of the brightest minds from inside and outside government to '... assess the technologies and systems DoD [should] develop over the next three to five years and beyond.''
The innovation initiative will explore and develop new operational concepts, including new approaches to warfighting, and balancing DoD's investments between platforms and payloads, Hagel said.
People Are DoD's Premier Asset
New approaches to war-gaming and professional military education already are in development, the secretary added, ''and [the initiative] will focus on the department's most-important asset -- people -- by pursuing time-honored leadership development practices and emerging opportunities to reimagine how we develop managers and leaders.''
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work will guide the innovation initiative's development and lead a new Advanced Capability and Deterrence Panel to drive it forward, Hagel said.
''The panel will integrate DoD's senior leadership across the entire enterprise -- its policy and intelligence communities, the armed services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and research, development and acquisition authorities,'' he said.
Hagel said he expects the panel to propose changes to the way DoD diagnoses and plans for challenges to the military's competitive edge, and to face a new challenge head-on -- the fact that many breakthrough technologies are no longer in the domain of DoD development pipelines or traditional defense contractors.
Seeking Private-sector Proposals
''We all know that DoD no longer has exclusive access to the most cutting-edge technology or the ability to spur or control the development of new technologies the way we once did,'' the defense secretary said. ''So we will actively seek proposals from the private sector, including firms and academic institutions outside DoD's traditional orbit.''
The Defense Innovation Initiative will shape the department's programs, plans and budgets, Hagel said, adding that as the initiative matures over time he expects its impact on the defense budget to scale up as well.
''As the world in which we operate changes, we must change too,'' the defense secretary said, adding that he has ordered full reviews of the department's business and management systems.
''The first reviews are underway now, starting with the Office of the Secretary of Defense,'' Hagel said. ''DoD must embrace better business practices that are core to any modern enterprise, private or public.''
Upgrade Business, Information Technology Systems
The department will upgrade business and information technology systems and processes, striking the right balance between civil service and contractor support and avoiding duplication of support functions in OSD and the services, he said, adding that after years of postponement and delay the department is making progress in moving toward greater financial accountability.
Hagel said the department has been making hard choices and mustering the flexibility required by new geopolitical and fiscal realities.
''But to succeed,'' he said, ''we need the support and partnership of Congress, especially at a time when demands on our military are surging and our resources are shrinking and our ability to manage our institution is being more and more limited.''
The continuation of sequestration could impose nearly $1 trillion in cuts to the defense budget over 10 years, the defense secretary said, in a department that has already begun taking deep cuts over the last few years.
Sequestration 'Would Devastate' Military Readiness
Sequestration, he said, ''would devastate our military readiness and threaten our ability to execute our nation's defense strategy. Congress has an opportunity this year to help the Defense Department, and I and all the leaders of DoD look forward to working with Congress on this challenge.''
Hagel added, ''If we make the right investments in our partnerships around the world in innovation and in our defense enterprise we will continue to keep our nation's military and our nation's global leadership on a strong and sustainable path for the 21st century.''
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)
White House announces push for next generation of hi-tech weapons
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 07:06
The US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, has announced that the Pentagon will push into cutting-edge technologies to develop new weapons. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
The US military will pursue an ambitious programme to identify and develop new weapons systems based on cutting-edge technologies in a bid to maintain its dominance, the defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, has announced.
Hagel announced the Defence Innovation Initiative and said it would include an effort to develop and field new systems using technologies such as robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturisation, data processing and three-dimensional printing.
Noting the defence department did not dominate the technologies it hoped to exploit, Hagel said the Pentagon would turn to businesses and universities for ideas and help.
He said the Pentagon expected the push to produce systems that would offset its rivals' advantages, as atomic weapons did in the 1950s and precision strike and stealth have done in more recent years.
''We are entering an era where American dominance in key warfighting domains is eroding and we must find new and creative ways to sustain, and in some areas expand, our advantages,'' Hagel said in a memo to Pentagon leaders announcing the initiative.
While the United States had been engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, powers such as Russia and China had invested heavily in military modernisation, fielding advanced aircraft, submarines, and both longer-range and more accurate missiles, Hagel said.
Technologies and weapons that were once the exclusive province of advanced nations had become available to a broad range of militaries and non-state actors, from North Korea to Hezbollah, he added.
Hagel's remarks echoed those of other senior Pentagon officials appearing at the forum.
Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer, said the US military had been ''complacent'' about its superior technologies.
''We're so used to having a dominant military power that we just took it for granted,'' he said.
Hagel said the Pentagon would put ''new resources'' into the initiative, even as he acknowledged the constraint of shrinking budgets as the department tries to cut nearly a trillion dollars from projected spending over a decade. He did not say how much the Pentagon planned to spend.
The initiative, which will be led by the deputy defence secretary Robert Work, comes at a time when US officials have been voicing rising concern that the department is loosing its technical edge due to the spread of technologies.
Agenda 21
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United States and Japan Announce $4.5 Billion in Pledges to Green Climate Fund (GCF) | The White House
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 08:33
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 15, 2014
Making good on our commitment to support efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience worldwide, the United States and Japan announced a total of up to $4.5 billion in pledges to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This includes up to $3 billion from the United States and up to $1.5 billion from Japan, subject to respective domestic procedures and based on strong contributions from other donors. Our pledges build on those already announced by Germany, France, and other donors, which include developed and developing countries.
Our pledges will be reiterated at the GCF's pledging session on November 20 in Berlin, Germany, where additional countries are expected to announce pledges. By announcing significant pledges promptly and at the leader level, we aim to provide great momentum to the ongoing climate change negotiations toward a post-2020 agreement that is applicable to all, in which countries make ambitious and transparent commitments to reduce their emissions.
Today's announcement builds on a history of collective leadership by the United States, Japan, and other countries to support resilient and low-carbon development around the world. In 2008, our countries jointly spearheaded the establishment of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). Our pledges to the GCF are a continuation of that spirit of leadership. The GCF will mobilize investment from the private sector, whose resources and expertise will be essential to meet the climate challenge.
We encourage all countries that are able to join us in pledging to the GCF. We will continue working with our partners on the GCF Board and other stakeholders to make the GCF fully operational and ensure that it is an efficient and effective channel for climate finance.
Green Climate Fund - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 08:37
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a fund within the framework of the UNFCCC founded as a mechanism to redistribute money from the developed to the developing world, in order to assist the developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. The GCF is based in the new Songdo district of Incheon, South Korea. It is governed by a Board of 24 members and initially supported by an Interim Secretariat.
'The Green Climate Fund will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows'.[1] It is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise Climate Finance of $100 billion a year by 2020. This is not an official figure for the size of the Fund itself, however. Disputes also remain as to whether the funding target will be based on public sources, or whether "leveraged" private finance will be counted towards the total.[2] Only a fraction of this sum had been pledged as of July 2013, mostly to cover start-up costs.
According to the Climate & Development Knowledge Network, at the third meeting of the Board in Berlin, Germany, in March 2013, members agreed on how to move forward with the fund's Business Model Framework (BMF). They identified the need to assess various options for how nations could access the fund, approaches for involving the private sector, plus ways to measure results and ensure requests for monies are country-driven.[3] At the fourth Board meeting in Songdo, South Korea, in June 2013, Hela Cheikhrouhou, a Tunisian national, was selected to become the Fund's first Executive Director.[4] "Resource mobilisation" (establishing a process for funding pledges) is expected to be the most contentious issue for the fifth Board meeting in Paris, France, in October 2013.[5]
The Copenhagen Accord, established during the 15th Conference Of the Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen in 2009 mentioned the "Copenhagen Green Climate Fund". The fund was formally established during the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun and is a fund within the UNFCCC framework.[6] Its governing instrument was adopted at the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa.[7]
OrganizationEditDuring COP-16 in Cancun, the matter of governing the GCF was entrusted to the newly founded Green Climate Fund Board, and the World Bank was chosen as the temporary trustee.[6] To develop a design for the functioning of the GCF, the 'Transitional Committee for the Green Climate Fund' was established in Cancun too. The committee met four times throughout the year 2011, and submitted a report to the 17th COP in Durban, South Africa. Based on this report, the COP decided that the 'GCF would become an operating entity of the financial mechanism' of the UNFCCC,[8] and that on COP-18 in 2012, the necessary rules should be adopted to ensure that the GCF 'is accountable to and functions under the guidance of the COP'.[8] Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute state that without this last minute agreement on a governing instrument for the GCF, the "African COP" would have been considered a failure.[9] Furthermore, the GCF Board was tasked with developing rules and procedures for the disbursement of funds, ensuring that these should be consistent with the national objectives of the countries where projects and programmes will be taking place. The GCF Board was also charged with establishing an independent secretariat and the permanent trustee of the GCF.[8]
Sources of FinanceEditThe Green Climate Fund is intended to be the centrepiece of Long Term Financing under the UNFCCC, which has set itself a goal of raising $100 billion per year by 2020. Uncertainty over where this money would come from led to the creation of a High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF) was founded by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in February 2010. There is no formal connection between this Panel and the GCF, although its report is one source for debates on "resource mobilisation" for the GCF, an item that will be discussed at the Fund's October 2013 Board meeting.[10]
The lack of pledged funds and potential reliance on the private sector is controversial and has been criticized by developing countries.[11]
The process of designing the GCF has raised several issues. These include ongoing questions on how funds will be raised,[12] the role of the private sector,[13] the level of "country ownership" of resources,[14] and the transparency of the Board itself.[15] In addition, questions have been raised about the need for yet another new international climate institution which may further fragment public dollars that are put toward mitigation and adaptation annually.[16]
The Fund is also pledged to offer "balanced" support to adaptation and mitigation, although there is some concern amongst developing countries that inadequate adaptation financing will be offered, in particular if the fund is reliant on "leveraging" private sector finance.[17]
Role of the private sectorEditOne of the most controversial aspects of the GCF concerns the creation of the Fund's Private Sector Facility (PSF). Many of the developed countries represented on the GCF board advocate a PSF that appeals to capital markets, in particular the pension funds and other institutional investors that control trillions of dollars that pass through Wall Street and other financial centers. They hope that the Fund will ultimately use a broad range of financial instruments.[18]
However, several developing countries and non-governmental organizations have suggested that the PSF should focus on "pro-poor climate finance" that addresses the difficulties faced by micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. This emphasis on encouraging the domestic private sector is also written into the GCF's Governing Instrument, its founding document.[19]
Additionality of fundsEditThe Cancun agreements clearly specify that the funds provided to the developing countries as climate finance, including through the GCF, should be 'new' and 'additional' to existing development aid.[6] The condition of funds having to be new means that pledges should come on top of those made in previous years. As far as additionality is concerned, there is no strict definition of this term, which has already led to serious problems in evaluating the additionality of emission reductions through CDM-projects, leading to counterproductivity, and even fraud.[20][21]
A lack of stakeholder involvementEditUsing the money in the right way in order to enforce actual change on the ground is one of the biggest challenges ahead. Many academics argue that, in order to do this in an efficient way, all stakeholders should be involved in the process, instead of using a top-down approach. They point to that fact that, without their input, it is harder to achieve targets set. Moreover, projects often even miss out on their actual purpose.[17][22][23][24][25] A group of researchers associated with the Australian National University,[26] call for the foundation of so-called 'National Implementing Entities' (NIE) in each country, that would become responsible for 'the implementation of sub-national projects'.[26] This would avoid national governments getting too involved, because in the past, they 'often hindered the flow of international support to subnational scale reform for sustainable development'.[26] Overall, this view on the need for more stakeholder involvement can be framed within the movement in environmental governance calling for a shift from traditional ways of government to governance.[27] The Climate & Development Knowledge Network is funding a research project that aims to help the GCF Board, by analysing how best to allocate resources among countries. The project will research and present four case studies of how federal or central government money is presently distributed to sub-national entities. Chosen for the diversity in their underlying political systems, these are: China, India, Switzerland and the USA.[28]
Further readingEditReferencesEdit^UNFCCC. "Transitional Committee for the design of the Green Climate Fund". Retrieved 23 November 2011. ^Institute for Policy Studies (2013), Green Climate Fund,A Glossary of Climate Finance Terms. Retrieved 23 July 2013^NEWS: Board members sketch out an operational framework for the Green Climate Fund, Climate & Development Knowledge Network, 27 March 2013^Green Climate Fund (press release) (2013), Green Climate Fund Board selects Hela Cheikhrouhou as Executive Director. Retrieved 31 July 2013^Institute for Policy Studies (2013), Green Climate Fund: 5th Board meeting: A Background Briefing, Retrieved 4 October 2013^ abcUNFCCC. "Report of the Conference of the Parties on its sixteenth session, held in Cancun from 29 November to 10 December 2010". Retrieved 23 November 2011. ^UNFCCC. "Green Climate Fund - report of the Transitional Committee". Retrieved 23 July 2013. ^ abcIISD (13 December 2011). "Summary of the Durban Climate Change Conference: 28 November - 11 December 2011". Earth Negotiations Bulletin12 (534). ^Schalatek, L., Stiftung, H., Nakhooda, S. and Bird, N., February 2011, The design of the Green Climate Fund,Overseas Development Institute. Retrieved 7 April 2012^UN. "UN Secretary-General's High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF)". Retrieved 13 December 2011. ^Sethi, Nitin (6/12/11). "A green climate fund but no money at Durban". The Times of India. Retrieved 13 December 2011. ^Brandon Wu (2013), Where's the Money? The Elephant in the Boardroom,Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 July 2013^Oscar Reyes (2013), Songdo Fallout: is green finance a red herring?,Foreign Policy in Focus. Retrieved 24 July 2013^Annaka Peterson Carvalho, 3 ways country ownership is being put to the test with climate change funding,Oxfam America. Retrieved 24 July 2013^Emilio Godoy (2013), Civil Society Pushes for More Active Participation in Green Climate Fund,Inter Press Service. Retrieved 24 July 2013^Assaad W. Razzouk (2013), Why We Should Kill The Green Climate Fund, "The Independent". Retrieved 8 December 2013^ abAbbott, K.W., Gartner, D. (2011). "The Green Climate Fund and the Future of Environmental Governance". Earth System Governance Working Paper No. 16. ^Oscar Reyes (2013), Songdo Fallout: is green finance a red herring?,Foreign Policy in Focus. Retrieved 23 July 2013^Friends of the Earth USA (2013), Pro-poor Climate Finance: Is There a Role for Private Finance in the Green Climate Fund?,Friends of the Earth USA. Retrieved 24 July 2013^Wara, M. W.; Victor, D. G. (April 2008). "A Realistic Policy on International Carbon Offsets". PESD Working Paper (74). Retrieved 7 November 2011. ^International Rivers. "Failed Mechanism: Hundreds of Hydros Expose Serious Flaws in the CDM". Internationalrivers.org. Retrieved 7 November 2011. ^Easterly, William (May 2008). "Institutions: Top down or Bottom up?". The American Economic Review98 (2): 95''99. doi:10.1257/aer.98.2.95. ^Bond, Patrick (2006). "Global Governance Campaigning and mdgs: from top-down to bottom-up anti-poverty work". Third World Quarterly27 (2): 339''354. doi:10.1080/01436590500432622. ^Altieri, Miguel A.; Masera, O. (April 1993). "Sustainable rural development in Latin America: building from the bottom-up". Ecological Economics7 (2): 93''121. doi:10.1016/0921-8009(93)90049-c. ^Richardson, K., Steffen, W. & Liverman, D. (2011). Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 524. ^ abcvan Kerkhoff, Lorrae; Ahmad I.H., Pittock J. and Steffen W. (2011). "Designing the Green Climate Fund: How to Spend $100 Billion Sensibly". Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development53 (3): 18''31. doi:10.1080/00139157.2011.570644. ^Evans, James P. (2012). Environmental Governance. London: Routledge. p. 247. ^NEWS: Guiding allocation of resources from the Green Climate Fund, Climate & development Knowledge Network, 17 December 2012
G20 Summit Communique
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 08:42
''The G20 must be at the forefront in helping to address key global economic challenges. Global economic institutions need to be effective and representative, and to reflect the changing world economy. We welcome the increased representation of emerging economies on the FSB and other actions to maintain its effectiveness. We are committed to maintaining a strong, quota-based and adequately resourced International Monetary Fund (IMF). We reaffirm our commitment in St Petersburg and in this light we are deeply disappointed with the continued delay in progressing the IMF quota and governance reforms agreed in 2010 and the 15th General Review of Quotas, including a new quota formula. The implementation of the 2010 reforms remains our highest priority for the IMF and we urge the United States to ratify them. If this does not happen by year-end, we ask the IMF to build on its existing work and stand ready with options for next steps.''
Also see this China Daily article for confirmation of BRICS intentions to continue working within the IMF structure.Full G20 Brisbane Summit Communique can be read here.Like this:LikeLoading...
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FACT SHEET: United States Support for Global Efforts to Combat Carbon Pollution and Build Resilience
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:28
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 15, 2014
Today, President Obama is announcing the intention of the United States to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), reflecting the U.S. commitment to reduce carbon pollution and strengthen resilience in developing countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. The United States joins other nations that have already pledged financial support to this vital new global effort, including Mexico, Korea, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland. Additional countries are expected to pledge soon.
By financing investments that help countries reduce carbon pollution and strengthen resilience to climate change, the GCF will help leverage public and private finance to avoid some of the most catastrophic risks of climate change. By reducing those risks, the GCF will help promote smart, sustainable long-term economic growth and preserve stability and security in fragile regions of strategic importance to the United States.
The U.S. contribution to the GCF builds on a history of U.S. leadership to support climate action. In 2008, the Bush Administration pledged $2 billion to the Climate Investment Funds, which were established as a transitional measure to finance efforts to help developing countries address climate change. The U.S. pledge to the GCF demonstrates a continuation of the bipartisan resolve to help developing nations reduce their own emissions, whose dangerous impacts on the climate affect us all, as well as to help the most vulnerable cope with the impacts of climate change. The GCF will also help spur global markets in clean energy technologies, creating opportunities for U.S. entrepreneurs and manufacturers who are leading the way to a low-carbon future.
The GCF was originally called for in 2009 in the Copenhagen Accord, in which developing countries first committed to taking action to mitigate their carbon emissions, including by laying out specific goals and targets. The GCF will employ world-class safeguards and will finance projects and programs with the greatest potential to reduce harmful pollution and foster adaptation to climate impacts. Although the political impetus to establish the GCF came from the multilateral climate negotiations, the GCF is an independent legal entity that makes independent funding and operational decisions. It is not a United Nations agency or entity, nor will it have a large bureaucracy.
The United States intends to contribute $3 billion to this initial fund raising effort, not to exceed 30 percent of total confirmed pledges. This share is consistent with the U.S. contribution to other funds in which we have exercised U.S. leadership to catalyze other contributions. We expect that the U.S. share will decline over time as the range of countries contributing to the GCF expands. While the United States is committed to supporting a wide range of mitigation and adaptation programs in developing countries through the GCF, we will target a significant portion of our GCF support to the GCF's Private Sector Facility. This is in recognition of the essential role the GCF must play in mobilizing private sector financing to scale up low-emission and climate-resilient investment in developing countries.
The United States expects that the GCF will become a preeminent, effective, and efficient channel for climate finance and is working to finalize the GCF's governance and institutional policies in 2015. In this regard, the United States reserves the ability to direct a portion of this pledge to other multilateral climate funds to the extent necessary based on the pace of progress.
Some of the innovative features of the GCF include:
A dedicated Private Sector Facility. Unlike most climate funds, the GCF will have a dedicated Private Sector Facility to support entrepreneurs developing low-carbon and climate resilient projects. It will also mobilize capital from private investors around the world. The Board is also advised by a standing Private Sector Advisory Group, composed of business leaders from developed and developing countries.Inclusive governance and wider donor base. The GCF's governance structure'--headed by a 24-member Board with an equal number of developed and developing countries'--gives it a uniquely high level of international buy-in and collaboration, with a corresponding ability to attract non-traditional donors. World-class safeguards and accountability mechanisms. The GCF will require among the strongest fiduciary standards and social and environmental safeguards for all multilateral funds in climate finance today. This will help promote GCF-financed projects and programs that are responsibly designed and implemented, and that all financial resources are managed prudently and transparently. Moreover, the GCF has an Independent Evaluation Unit, which evaluates the impact of GCF programs and projects, as well as an Independent Integrity Unit, which investigates allegations of wrongdoing or prohibited practices. Both units will report to the Board, not the Secretariat. The Board itself makes independent funding and operational decisions.Work in both mitigation and adaptation. The GCF will balance its support for emissions mitigation and climate adaptation and resilience activities, building up expertise in both areas and positioning itself to capitalize on synergies between them. This balance will make the GCF unique compared with other funds.Global reach. The GCF will work through a larger network of public and private partners than most other climate funds. This will help reach more regions and communities, as well as unlock opportunities in both adaptation and mitigation in hard-to-reach locations. ###
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H.R. 5718: To study the effect of the Earth's magnetic field on the weather.
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:15
Introduced: Sponsor: Rep. Steve Stockman [R-TX36]
This bill was referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology which will consider it before sending it to the House floor for consideration.
Rep. Steve Stockman [R-TX36] is a member of the committee.
Govtrack.us Summary
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Poppie$
Afghanistan sees increase in poppy cultivation - The Washington Post
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:09
By Associated PressNovember 12 at 5:22 AM
KABUL, Afghanistan '-- Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan hit a record high this year, rising by seven percent over the 2013 figure and accounting for 90 percent of the world's heroin supply, officials and the United Nations said on Wednesday.
The U.N.'s Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report that the increased cultivation could produce 6,400 tons (7,054 U.S. tons) of opium, or 17 percent more than in 2013.
Afghanistan's Minister for Counter-Narcotics Din Mohammad Mubariz Rashidi urged countries around the world to give fresh impetus to controlling the drug's production and trade.
''The international community must fight opium drugs and poppy cultivation in Afghanistan as seriously as they fight terrorism,'' he said.
The area used for poppy cultivation grew to 224,000 hectares (553,500 acres), 89 percent of it in nine provinces with a significant Taliban presence, the U.N. report said. The Taliban, which have been waging war against the Afghan government since 2001, are heavily involved in poppy cultivation and opium distribution.
The report said that the wholesale price of opium was falling because of increased supply, but the value of the crop was equivalent to 4 percent of the country's GDP, which is $22 billion.
Andrey Avetisyan, the UNODC's regional representative, said that with the end of the U.S. and NATO combat mission in December, the production of opium had to be tackled if Afghanistan was to develop its post-war economy.
''Without tackling the problem of drugs seriously, no serious economic achievement is possible to develop Afghanistan,'' he told reporters. ''To help Afghanistan with economic development, we all together have to finally seriously do something with the threat of narcotics.''
Billions of dollars have been spent on counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan in the past decade, including programs encouraging farmers to switch to other cash crops like wheat, fruit and saffron.
The support farmers receive from the Taliban, like fertilizer and cash advances, are strong incentives for poor farmers to stick with poppy rather than wait years for a return on lower-yield produce with uncertain markets and inadequate means of storage and transport.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Dude Named Ben
Email on CERT warning
ITM!
Since you mentioned industrial security, I would like to share my personal experiences.
I am an information security professional, and worked in a petrochemical plant for over 6 years, i also worked with banks and many government agencies.
The advice US-CERT is providing looks trivial, but knowning how things actually work can better explain the real situation.
In most scenarios, control systems are not operated or supported by IT departments, they are managed by the maintenance department of industrial companies. These are guys with no clue how to create a new folder.
Most control systems are running outdated windows machines that are enclosed in industrial casing. Big vendors like Siemens, Honeywell never touch any of those system because they just work!
Most of these systems are never patched and have no anti-virus.
Systems are not replaced because they are part of a huge setup that costs thousands of dollars.
Many of those vendors will just advice the maintenance department to install a firewall to "secure" systems.
In many cases, USB ports are enabled and you have bored operators hooking their drives to watch a movie or some porn in graveyard shifts.
Just to illustrate how dumb things can get. One day during my career there, we were doing an IT Asset Audit. We came across a an old PC in the Quality Testing lab and we were asked not to touch a single thing. We were told locate the serial number and make sure it's there in the asset list. The PC was showing grey numbers on a black DOS like screen, operators check the readings every 6 hours and record their findings.
Guess what! the damn power cord was disconnected and the dumb operators were taking the readings from this burnt CRT for years!! All steady!
Since most industrial companies have no interests in buying security products and services, many of these systems are being attacked and exploited by security vendors who will showcase how they can blowup plant or a generator. The exploit against Saudi Aramco was an obvious example. They made the Aramco one look like it's coming from Iran, while it might be the Russians (Karpersky) or even McAfee. I heard that after the attacks, that Aramco was flying experts from all over the planet and issuing them visas on arrival then sending them in private cars from the airport straight to the company.
You can use any of the above examples, as usual, I do not exist ;)
More on Dark Energy FUD
I am a dude named Ben that works for a large power company. I am a security analyst. The reports regarding Dark Energy are FUD. However you and John should be made aware that ICS systems are 10+ years behind IT systems (http://media.kaspersky.com/en/business-security/kaspersky-ics-protection-whitepaper.pdf?icid=it-IT:ent-carousel) when it comes to security. We have imbedded systems that cannot even be pinged without falling over. While my company has invested millions in securing our ICS systems many Critical infrastructure related companies have not. You would be shocked at how may DCS and PLC systems can be found on Shodan. As someone who has spent years in IT security, I can tell you it was a losing battle, and now that I am in critical infrastructure security it is 1000x worse. Most ICS systems are designed, tested, and implemented by control systems engineers who have no notion that there systems would ever be attacked. When I was discussing with one said engineer about the effects of sending a single malformed packet to his controller he responded "why would anyone send an invalid packet". This is the reality our most critical assets are designed by people who have even thought of the implications of connecting there controls to the network. The reason why we have not seen more issues is twofold. One, most critical control systems where air gaped… Now even nuclear power plants have network connections (most are through data diodes / one way gateways - see http://www.waterfall-security.com/). The plants have these connections so that the corporate overlords can “monitor and make intelligent business decisions”. Fossil plants are even worse off and most have a number of connections into them. Including some vender remote access (think the target data breach). Two, hackers did not have access to PLCs or DCS controllers. Now you have Kickstarters and raspberry pi firmware that emulates that give cheap and easy accesses to test attacks against the most popular controllers (see https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/85810353/cybatiworks-ics-scada-iot-cybersecurity-education ). IF all of this wasn’t enough our ICS systems are generally maintained by I&C departments and controls engineers who DO NOT understand security or even their systems exposure. Most I&C techs do not even understand the protocols that the controllers use. They are the Linksys Larry of the industrial world; its like if chase trusted its security to the guy down the street who is “a geek”. Better analogy would be trusting there IT security to Leo… yeah enough said.
If you or John ever have any questions regarding the security of our critical infrastructure please feel free to ask.
Email re Total CEO Crash
I'm working in IT under a NDA, so please do not reveal me and my work context as a source regarding the following. If you use this info in the show, refer to me as 'a dude named Ben'.
I work as an network administrator at company producing oil and gas on the Dutch continental shelve. In a recent meeting with other oil companies a manager of Total was present.
His position is not upper management, but right below, responsible for a whole department.
During this meeting, the passing of the CEOs was mentioned. In the talks I learned the following:
The ceo was very respected, not only within Total, but within the whole industry.
The manager had met the ceo before and he described him as a very warm and likable person.
He was the guy you would call when a tough description needed to be forced, in Dutch we'd call him a 'lijmer'. Fixing things getting people together.
That was the exact reason why he was in Russia.
Within Total there are no doubts regarding this event, it was an accident.
That's it. Just some background from the field.
Shut Up Slave!
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Obamacare Architect Explains "Stupidity of American Voter" Needed to Pass ACA
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 09:29
The truth on Obamacare is finally out: The bill was purposely written to trick the CBO (congressional Budget Office) into believing the bill was not a tax. Moreover, the bill also depended on the "Stupidity of the American Voter".
Many of us knew that long ago. But those are the words of Jonathan Gruber, a numbers wizard at M.I.T., who was courted by the Obama administration, and paid $400,000 for his efforts to see that the bill made its way through Congressional obstacles.
The following short video explains the setup.
Academic Case
Back in 2012, regarding Gruber's role in getting the bill passed, the New York Times wrote Academic Built Case for Mandate in Health Care Law.
Interestingly, Gruber was also the architect for Romneycare when Mitt Romney was Massachusetts governor.
Romney was proud of Romneycare until president Obama endorsed virtually the same idea as Obamacare. Romney then ran against his own creation. Lovely.
I picked up the video above from Reason.Com Watch Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber Explain Why "Lack of Transparency" Was Key to Passing the Health Care Law.
Complete Quote
Gruber: "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it's written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in '' you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed'... Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass....Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I'd rather have this law than not."
Reason says (and I wholeheartedly agree) ...Gruber thinks it's acceptable to deceive people if he believes that's the only way to achieve his policy preference. That's not exactly surprising, given that he failed to disclose payments from the administration to consult on Obamacare even while providing the media with supposedly independent assessments of the law.
But it's particularly revealing in light of Gruber's recently discovered comments regarding the way the law's subsidies for health insurance are supposed to work. In a 2012 video unearthed this summer, Gruber said explicitly that the tax credits to offset coverage costs were conditioned on state participation in the law's exchanges'--a contention that the administration denies, and is at the heart of a legal challenge on its way to the Supreme Court.
Tax Credit Legal ChallengeJumping to the above 2012 video link we find Gruber arguing out of both sides of his mouth in regards to tax credits. Each side taking the opposite side of the other.
Gruber: "What's important to remember politically about this is if you're a state and you don't set up an exchange, that means your citizens don't get their tax credits'--but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you're essentially saying [to] your citizens you're going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that's a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this."
Reason: "What he says is exactly what challengers to the administration's implementation of the law have been arguing'--that if a state chooses not to establish its own exchange, then residents of those states will not be able to access Obamacare's health insurance tax credits. ... In early 2013, Gruber told the liberal magazine Mother Jones that the theory advanced by the challengers in this case was 'nutty.' Gruber also signed an amicus brief in defense of the administration and the IRS rule. But judging by the video it is quite clear that in 2012 he accepted the essence of the interpretation advanced by the challengers."
Here's the video, which according to YouTube's date stamp was uploaded by Noblis on January 20, 2012. The relevant passage starts around minute 31.And so here we are, stuck in a system designed by Gruber and implemented first by Mitt Romney, then by President Obama.
To get Obamacare through Congress was a chore. It depended on the "Stupidity of the American Voter", says Gruber in those exact words.
Whom do we "thank" most? Gruber, Romney, Obama, or the stupid American public?
Mike "Mish" Shedlockhttp://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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Dutch court won't rule whether Black Pete racist | News , World | THE DAILY STAR
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:57
THE HAGUE: The Netherlands' highest administrative court refused Wednesday to wade into the increasingly acrimonious national debate around "Black Pete," the sidekick to the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus.
Opponents call Pete, who is often played by white people wearing black-face makeup and a frizzy Afro wig, a racist caricature. Most Dutch people insist he is a harmless fantasy figure.
The Council of State on Wednesday overturned a lower court's decision that Amsterdam municipality shouldn't have allowed last year's festive arrival of Sinterklaas in the city because Pete "forms a negative stereotyping of black people."
Council of State President Jaap Polak said Amsterdam's mayor isn't empowered to take the issue into account when granting permits for the celebrations.
That ruling means that the Council of State "cannot and will not answer the question" of whether Black Pete breaches Dutch anti-discrimination law, Polak told a packed courtroom.
The ruling said that opponents could instead file civil or criminal complaints against organizers - shifting the debate to other courts and possibly opening the door to such complaints from opponents around the country.
"I think a lot of people will be disappointed with that - supporters and opponents who were waiting for a judgment on what we should think of Black Pete," said Wil Eikelboom, a lawyer for opponents of Pete.
In the Dutch Sinterklaas festival, St. Nicholas arrives by steamboat in mid-November and spends a month in the country accompanied by dozens of Petes, clown-like figures who leave cookies, chocolate and other treats for children. The celebrations end in a night of gift-giving on Dec. 5.
St. Nicholas is due to officially "arrive" in the country on Saturday in the central city of Gouda. The city's mayor has said some of the Petes in the parade will be yellow-faced "Cheese Petes" and "Cookie Petes." That appears intended to accommodate the views of Black Pete opponents.
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Public universities in California launch loan program for illegal immigrants
Mon, 10 Nov 2014 16:41
TweetStudents in the country illegally can now receive extra financial aid through California's public universities under a new loan program recently approved by the state legislature that circumvents federal regulations prohibiting non-U.S. residents from obtaining federally funded student loans.
California already allows many undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges, and they can get state-funded tuition aid through Cal grants.
''Nevertheless, many of these students remain ineligible for federal student aid for reasons beyond their control,'' the law states. ''Lack of access to federal student loans presents a substantial barrier for these students to obtain a baccalaureate degree from the California State University or the University of California. The California DREAM Loan Act addresses this barrier by providing access to additional state aid.''
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in late September, and universities are preparing to offer the loans starting with the 2015''16 academic year.
The interest rate for loans issued under the DREAM program will be the same as those given to students through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, the law states. California will funnel $9.2 million annually from its coffers to support the program, to be run by the California State University and University of California systems. Lawmakers anticipate 3,000 borrowers during the first year.
The Dream program parallels the federal loan system in that students are not required to start repaying their loans until at least six months after ending school.
''Establishing the California DREAM Loan Program will take some of our state's top students closer to the graduation finish line,'' its sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara, said in a prepared statement.
Lara added that ''these students have an estimated 'gap' in their financial aid packages of roughly $5,000 to $6,000 at the University of California and $3,000 for the California State University that other students with similar financial circumstances do not have. There are an estimated 1,300 undocumented students attending the UC and 6,400 at the CSU.''
Jesse Melgar, a representative for Lara, told The College Fix the program closes financial aid gaps for undocumented students. Asked how the program might affect students' incentive to apply and qualify for U.S. citizenship, Melgar said he hopes it helps them, adding ''these are people who have been waiting a long time.''
However, the senator seeks to ''integrate'' rather than ''ostracize'' the illegal immigrants already residing in California since they are ''actively contributing to the economy,'' Melgar added.
''Citizenship or not'...we're not going to sit idly by and wait for Washington, Congress, or the president to act; we're going to take a proactive approach to integrate the talents and contributions of the undocumented population'...there's a lot of inaction at the federal level,'' Melgar said.
Other supporters of the act echo those sentiments.
''Thousands of undocumented students have never had access to an affordable education in California,'' said Riana King, a state spokeswoman for Young Invincibles, a student group that backed the bill, in an email to The College Fix. ''The DREAM Loan Program will give undocumented students the ability to afford a higher education so that they, too, can increase their prospects of earning higher wages.''
College Fix reporter Mairead McArdle is a student at Thomas Aquinas College.
Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter
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racially aggravated offence under section four of the Public Order Act Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2831246/McDonald-s-manager-arrested-launching-foul-mouthed-racist-tirade-Somali-customers-telling-f-restaurant.html#ixzz3Isor4I5h Fo
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:12
Yasin Farah, 27, and friends went to the restaurant for breakfast at 5.30amThe manager became angry, saying all Somalis are 'the same'Mr Farah called the police and the manager was arrested and cautioned By Sam Webb for MailOnline
Published: 04:54 EST, 12 November 2014 | Updated: 07:32 EST, 12 November 2014
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A McDonald's manager was arrested and cautioned over a foul-mouthed racist tirade against Somali customers.
The victims of his abuse say he told them to 'get the f*** out of my restaurant,' adding: 'All you f****** Somalians are the same.'
Yasin Farah, 27, and friends went to the restaurant in south east London, for breakfast at 5.30am on Sunday November 2 following a night out.
He said the manager of the restaurant, who is understood to be black and had a West African accent, quickly turned on him and four friends.
The manager of a McDonald's restaurant was arrested and cautioned over a foul-mouthed racist tirade against Somali customers (left to right) Abdi Mahamud, Yasin Farah and Mohamoud Duhod
Mr Farah, of Penge, said: 'When it came to us being served the manager jumped on the till and straight away was aggressive with us.
'He was saying to my friend: "Can you not read, can you not see? What do you want for your breakfast?"
'I didn't understand why he was asking if he could read, so I jumped in and starting saying "just let him order his breakfast".
'Then he started telling us to get the f*** out of the restaurant. I thought: "How can you talk to a paying customer like that?"'
At this point things took an even more unpleasant turn.
You are a low life, get out of the restaurant, all you f****** Somalians are all the same
Mr Farah said: 'Then all of a sudden he says I am a low-life.
'He says: "You are a low-life, get out of the restaurant, all you f****** Somalians are all the same".
'A lot of his colleagues were coming in, trying to calm him down.
'The customers were shocked, his response was completely out of proportion.'
'His actions, his mannerisms, the way he was saying the things he said, made me want to take action.
'I called the police. At the end of the day he's the manager, you cannot set that kind of example. No one is allowed to speak to anyone like that in today's society.'
A McDonald's spokeswoman said: 'We are aware of the incident and are working with the individual and restaurant team to ensure this never happens again.
'All are aware of the severity of this and are following internal HR processes.'
A police spokesman said: 'Police were called to an allegation of racially aggravated harassment at McDonald's at 5.50am on Sunday November 2.
'A 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence under section four of the Public Order Act. He was subsequently issued with a police caution.'
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Freedom! Democracy!
FACT SHEET: U.S. Assistance to Burma
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 04:14
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 13, 2014
U.S. assistance to Burma reflects the U.S. government's goal of supporting Burma's democratic and economic transition. Since 2012, the U.S. government has provided over $225 million in assistance to Burma (FY 2012-2013). In FY 2014, the United States provided over $150 million in additional assistance.
Assistance is targeted at five key goals:
National Reconciliation: U.S. assistance builds networks of cooperation and understanding within Burma's diverse citizenry, and strengthens processes for peace and national reconciliation.
U.S.-funded programs have increase the conflict-mitigation capacity of 35 local partners, ensuring their programs ''do no harm'' and reduce conflict in their communities.The Embassy's Small Grants Program funds small-scale projects in ethnic states across the country to bolster civil society's capacity and development, including women's engagement in the peace and reconciliation processes, and promoting trust between parties in conflict.Democratic Institutions: U.S. assistance builds the capacity of democratic institutions and a politically-engaged civil society, promotes human rights, and strengthens rule of law to strengthen the people's ability to shape Burma's democratic reform.
In the last year, the U.S. Government provided assistance to over 300 civil society organizations throughout the country and supported local initiatives valued at more than $10.5 million, and implemented by 90 local partners.U.S.-funded programs strengthen parliamentarians' ability to perform their legislative, budgeting, and oversight functions; help political parties represent the interests of their constituents; and work to improve the transparency of electoral processes in advance of the 2015 elections.Economic Development: The U.S. supports Burma's ongoing economic reform efforts, and believes that responsible investment and transparent policy dialogue will encourage further change, promote inclusive economic development, and contribute to the welfare of the Burmese people.
U.S. support will reach 350,000 farm households with new technologies, strengthen targeted value chains, and improve land tenure security for small-holder farmers.U.S.-funded programs target the development of small and medium-enterprises and support reforms to establish a better business and trade-enabling environment as a means to create jobs and improve conditions of employment.The U.S. government is supporting programs to reform Burma's tax system, strengthen the capacity of government institutions to supervise the financial sector, and improve governance in the extractive energy sector.The U.S. has also partnered with the International Labor Organization, Japan, and others on an initiative to modernize Burma's labor code, improve compliance, and foster a robust dialogue on labor issues between the government, workers' and employers' organizations, and civil society.Healthy, Resilient Communities: U.S. assistance improves the lives of millions in Burma. Programs aim to assist internally displaced people (IDPs) and reduce under-five child mortality and transmission of infectious diseases.
U.S. assistance provided clinical services to over 57,000 clients through mobile health clinics.U.S.-funded programs have reached over 20,000 individuals at heightened risk for HIV with outreach services, and screened more than 70,000 people for TB, treating more than 23,000.U.S. emergency food assistance supports 172,000 IDPs in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.Peace Corps is poised to open its first-ever program in Burma, where Volunteers will partner with Burmese counterparts to strengthen local capacity and facilitate cultural exchanges at the grassroots level, beginning with the first arrival of volunteers in late-2015.Regional Cooperation: The U.S. government has supported Burma's chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014 through dialogue with ASEAN-focused senior officials and training young diplomats on the principles, mechanisms, and protocols in ASEAN.
President Obama and Ang San Suu Kyi Hold a Press Conference
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:05
November 14, 2014 | 41:06 | Public Domain
On November 14, 2014, President Obama and Ang San Suu Kyi held a press conference at her house in Yangon, Burma.
Download mp4 (1520MB) | mp3 (40MB)
NWO / SDR
IMF Welcomes Bank of Japan's Increased QE'...'....Of Course Debt For Everybody
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:06
TOKYO: The Bank of Japan's unexpected expansion of monetary stimulus is ''welcome and appropriate,'' and now needs to be accompanied by more forceful structural reforms, a senior International Monetary Fund official said on Friday.''An aggressive pace of the BOJ's monetary easing may need to be maintained for an extended period,'' Odd Per Brekk, director of the IMF's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, told a briefing.
''The BOJ's further easing '... needs to be complimented by a bolder and more ambitious approach to growth reforms,'' such as deregulation in the agricultural sector, he said.
North Korea
South Korea Plans to Buy Russian Air Cushion Landing (Hover) Craft
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:06
SOURCE: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3223948/posts
South Korea plans to buy Russian air cushion landing craftTass ^ | November 06, 2014Posted on 11/06/2014 4:32:30 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Russia and South Korea are expected to shortly sign a contract under which Russia will build several air cushion amphibious assault landing craft Murena-E for South Korea, an informed source from the Russian delegation to INDO Defence 2014 exhibition told TASS on Thursday.
''South Korea already ordered three boats in 2004 and is very satisfied with their operational capabilities, seeking to buy several more that would be upgraded a bit,'' he said, adding that India and Turkey are also viewing the purchase of Murena craft.
The source said all modifications have already been added in a new project.
''We expect the contract will be signed shortly. By experience of the first contract that was completed in 2007, the lead ship was built in a year-and-a-half and the others within a year,'' the source added.
The trio of South Korea's Murena craft will soon be repaired with repair work conducted by Russian specialists. It is up to the Korean side to decide where repairs will be made, the source said.
''India also shows interest in similar projects. Besides, negotiations are under way with Turkey,'' the source said. He said Murena boats could be landed from Mistral helicopter carriers depending on their design and size.
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Twitter rated as 'junk' by S&P, shares drop 5pc - Telegraph
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 09:26
"We could raise the rating if Twitter broadens its revenue sources through international expansion and new product launches, maintains its market position, continues to improve its profitability, and achieves positive and sustained discretionary cash flow in excess of $100m in 2016," S&P said in a note.
However, the agency put a stable outlook on the company as it expects it "to experience very strong growth and not encounter a significant increase in competitive pressure".
Twitter's shares fell 5.9pc to $40.04 in New York on Thursday.
The "junk rating" came just a day after Twitter unveiled new features in a bid to attract new users and make the site easier to use.
Users will be able to upload and tweet videos from next year and change the way tweets are shown so people are shown messages more relevant to them.
Kevin Weil, vice-president of product at Twitter, wrote in a blog post: ''Right now, what you see of the 500m tweets published every day is based entirely on who you follow, and that's a great model for many people. But with that many tweets every day, there's no way even the most avid Twitter user will find everything that's relevant to their interests in any particular moment.
''That's why we're exploring ways to surface relevant tweets so the content that is interesting to you is easy to discover '' whether you stay on Twitter all day or visit for a few minutes '' while still preserving the real-time nature of the platform that makes Twitter special.''
Another announcement was the ability to include tweets in direct messages, to allow two people to privately discuss an individual message more easily.
Last month Twitter revealed it had attracted millions more users in its third quarter, helping the company to post much higher revenues.
The company reported 284m monthly active users in the three months to September 30, up 13m on the previous three months and a rise of 23pc from the same period last year. However, just 3m of the 13m new users who joined Twitter during the three-month period were from the US.
Twitter said revenues hit $361m, double the amount in the same period last year and beating analyst expectations of $351m. Profits were in line with estimates at $7m.
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Taylor Swift's record label disputes Spotify payment claims - CNET
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 09:12
Singer received less than $500,000 in the past 12 months for US music streaming, label tells Time magazine.
Taylor Swift's record label disputes Spotify's compensation claims.Getty Images
The war of words over how recording artists are compensated by streaming-music services heated up Wednesday when Taylor Swift's music label released revenue figures that don't appear to jibe with Spotify's.
The singer was paid less than $500,000 for domestic streaming of her music in the past 12 months, Scott Borchetta, the CEO of Big Machine, told Time magazine. Borchetta's comments come a day after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post that an artist of Swift's popularity could expect payments in excess of $6 million a year.
While Ek's figure reflects a global presence in 60 markets and not just the US, Borchetta's comments highlight the friction in an industry undergoing a fundamental change in how consumers purchase music. Streaming music is one of the top sources of music sales and is growing briskly, while sales from physical music (CDs) and digital downloads are in decline, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
However, the payment models have not kept pace with that rapid change in distribution and sales, leading artists such as Swift, Pink Floyd and Radiohead's Thom Yorke to criticize the burgeoning streaming-music model.
"The facts show that the music industry was much better off before Spotify hit these shores," Borchetta told Time. "Don't forget this is for the most successful artist in music today. What about the rest of the artists out there struggling to make a career? Over the last year, what Spotify has paid is the equivalent of less than 50,000 albums sold."
Spotify representatives declined to comment beyond what it told Time, which indicated that its artist payout is growing with its user base.
"Our users, both free and paid, have grown by more than 50 percent in the last year, which means that the run rate for artists of every level of popularity keeps climbing," said Jonathan Prince, Spotify's global head of communications and public policy. "And Taylor just put out a great record, so her popularity has grown too. We paid Taylor's label and publisher roughly half a million dollars in the month before she took her catalog down -- without even having 1989 on our service -- and that was only going to go up."
Swift's apparent frustration with Spotify's business model led the country-pop singer to pull her entire music catalog off the streaming site last week. Spotify complied with Swift's request to remove her songs just as her latest album, "1989," had the largest sales week for any record since 2002.
She later explained that her decision was based on her unwillingness to contribute her life's work to an experiment that doesn't fairly compensate writers, producers, artists and other music creators.
"I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free," she said in an interview with Yahoo. She let some of her music remain on other free services such as YouTube and Soundcloud.
Ek responded in his blog post Tuesday that Spotify doesn't devalue music and said that Spotify has paid more than $2 billion to rights holders -- $1 billion from 2008 through 2013 and another $1 billion in 2014 alone.
Ek said stories from artists and songwriters about receiving little or no money from streaming frustrate him as well. If Spotify's $2 billion in payments aren't "flowing to the creative community in a timely and transparent way, that's a big problem," he said, adding that the company will work with the industry to solve it.
CNET's Joan E. Solsman contributed to this report.
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Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faith
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:44
Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faithTop News
Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faith
Fri, Nov 14 12:57 PM EST
By Alexei Oreskovic, Sarah McBride and Malathi Nayak
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday.
He'd left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product -- he recently wore his pair to the beach.
But Brin's timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.
While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.
Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.
Plenty of larger developers remain with Glass. The nearly 100 apps on the official web site include Facebook and OpenTable, although one major player recently defected: Twitter.
"If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There's no market at this point," said Tom Frencel, the Chief Executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook Inc-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift.
Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations.
And a Glass funding consortium created by Google Ventures and two of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capitalists, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, quietly deleted its website, routing users to the main Glass site.
Google insists it is committed to Glass, with hundreds of engineers and executives working on it, as well as new fashionista boss Ivy Ross, a former Calvin Klein executive. Tens of thousands use Glass in the pilot consumer program.
''We are completely energized and as energized as ever about the opportunity that wearables and Glass in particular represent," said Glass Head of Business Operations Chris O'Neill.
Glass was the first project to emerge from Google's X division, the secretive group tasked with developing ''moonshot'' products such as self-driving cars. Glass and wearable devices overall amount to a new technology, as smartphones once were, that will likely take time to evolve into a product that clicks with consumers.
''We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launch this product until it's absolutely ready,'' O'Neill said.
Brin had predicted a launch this year, but 2015 is now the most likely date, a person familiar with the matter said.
GLASS SELLING... ON EBAY
After an initial burst of enthusiasm, signs that consumers are giving up on Glass have been building.
Google dubbed the first set of several thousand Glass users as "Explorers." But as the Explorers hit the streets, they drew stares and jokes. Some people viewed the device, capable of surreptitious video recording, as an obnoxious privacy intrusion, deriding the once-proud Explorers as ''Glassholes.''
''It looks super nerdy,'' said Shevetank Shah, a Washington, DC-based consultant, whose Google Glass now gathers dust in a drawer. ''I'm a card carrying nerd, but this was one card too many.''
Glass now sells on eBay for as little as half list price.
Some developers recently have felt unsupported by investors and, at times, Google itself.
The Glass Collective, the funding consortium co-run by Google Ventures, invested in only three or four small start-ups by the beginning of this year, a person familiar with the statistics said.
A Google Ventures spokeswoman declined to comment on the number of investments and said the Web site was closed for simplicity. "We just found it's easier for entrepreneurs to come to us directly," she said.
The lack of a launch date has given some developers the impression that Google still treats Glass as an experiment.
''It's not a big enough platform to play on seriously," said Matthew Milan, founder of Toronto-based software firm Normative Design, which put on hold a Glass app for logging exercise and biking.
Mobile game company Glu Mobile, known for its popular ''Kim Kardashian: Hollywood'' title, was one of the first to launch a game on Glass. Spellista, a puzzler released a year ago, is still available, but Glu has discontinued work on it, a spokesman for the company said.
Another developer, Sean McCracken, won $10,000 in a contest last year for creating an aliens-themed video game for Glass, Psyclops, but Google never put it on the official hub for Glass apps, making it tougher to find. He has quit working on updates.
Still, there are some enthusiastic developers. Cycling and running app Strava finds Glass well-suited for its users, who want real-time data on their workouts, said David Lorsch, vice president of business development. And entrepreneur Jake Steinerman said it is ideal for his company, DriveSafe, which detects if people are falling asleep at the wheel.
PIVOTING AWAY
In April, Google launched the Glass at Work program to help make the device useful for specific industries, such as healthcare and manufacturing. So far the effort has resulted in apps that are being tested or used at companies such as Boeing and Yum Brands' Taco Bell.
Google is selling Glass in bulk to some businesses, offering two-for-one discounts.
CrowdOptic, which uses Glass as portable computers for surgeons and other people out of offices, is currently in use at 19 U.S. hospitals and expects that to grow to 100 hospitals early next year, said Chief Executive Jon Fisher.
Alex Foster began See Through, a Glass advertising analytics firm for business, after a venture firm earlier this year withdrew its offer to back his consumer-oriented Glass fitness company when it became clear no big consumer Glass release was imminent.
"It was devastating," he said. "All of the consumer glass startups are either completely dead or have pivoted," to enterprise products or rival wearables.
(editing by Edwin Chan and Peter Henderson)
Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faithTop News
Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faith
Fri, Nov 14 12:57 PM EST
By Alexei Oreskovic, Sarah McBride and Malathi Nayak
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday.
He'd left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product -- he recently wore his pair to the beach.
But Brin's timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.
While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.
Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.
Plenty of larger developers remain with Glass. The nearly 100 apps on the official web site include Facebook and OpenTable, although one major player recently defected: Twitter.
"If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There's no market at this point," said Tom Frencel, the Chief Executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook Inc-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift.
Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations.
And a Glass funding consortium created by Google Ventures and two of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capitalists, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, quietly deleted its website, routing users to the main Glass site.
Google insists it is committed to Glass, with hundreds of engineers and executives working on it, as well as new fashionista boss Ivy Ross, a former Calvin Klein executive. Tens of thousands use Glass in the pilot consumer program.
''We are completely energized and as energized as ever about the opportunity that wearables and Glass in particular represent," said Glass Head of Business Operations Chris O'Neill.
Glass was the first project to emerge from Google's X division, the secretive group tasked with developing ''moonshot'' products such as self-driving cars. Glass and wearable devices overall amount to a new technology, as smartphones once were, that will likely take time to evolve into a product that clicks with consumers.
''We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launch this product until it's absolutely ready,'' O'Neill said.
Brin had predicted a launch this year, but 2015 is now the most likely date, a person familiar with the matter said.
GLASS SELLING... ON EBAY
After an initial burst of enthusiasm, signs that consumers are giving up on Glass have been building.
Google dubbed the first set of several thousand Glass users as "Explorers." But as the Explorers hit the streets, they drew stares and jokes. Some people viewed the device, capable of surreptitious video recording, as an obnoxious privacy intrusion, deriding the once-proud Explorers as ''Glassholes.''
''It looks super nerdy,'' said Shevetank Shah, a Washington, DC-based consultant, whose Google Glass now gathers dust in a drawer. ''I'm a card carrying nerd, but this was one card too many.''
Glass now sells on eBay for as little as half list price.
Some developers recently have felt unsupported by investors and, at times, Google itself.
The Glass Collective, the funding consortium co-run by Google Ventures, invested in only three or four small start-ups by the beginning of this year, a person familiar with the statistics said.
A Google Ventures spokeswoman declined to comment on the number of investments and said the Web site was closed for simplicity. "We just found it's easier for entrepreneurs to come to us directly," she said.
The lack of a launch date has given some developers the impression that Google still treats Glass as an experiment.
''It's not a big enough platform to play on seriously," said Matthew Milan, founder of Toronto-based software firm Normative Design, which put on hold a Glass app for logging exercise and biking.
Mobile game company Glu Mobile, known for its popular ''Kim Kardashian: Hollywood'' title, was one of the first to launch a game on Glass. Spellista, a puzzler released a year ago, is still available, but Glu has discontinued work on it, a spokesman for the company said.
Another developer, Sean McCracken, won $10,000 in a contest last year for creating an aliens-themed video game for Glass, Psyclops, but Google never put it on the official hub for Glass apps, making it tougher to find. He has quit working on updates.
Still, there are some enthusiastic developers. Cycling and running app Strava finds Glass well-suited for its users, who want real-time data on their workouts, said David Lorsch, vice president of business development. And entrepreneur Jake Steinerman said it is ideal for his company, DriveSafe, which detects if people are falling asleep at the wheel.
PIVOTING AWAY
In April, Google launched the Glass at Work program to help make the device useful for specific industries, such as healthcare and manufacturing. So far the effort has resulted in apps that are being tested or used at companies such as Boeing and Yum Brands' Taco Bell.
Google is selling Glass in bulk to some businesses, offering two-for-one discounts.
CrowdOptic, which uses Glass as portable computers for surgeons and other people out of offices, is currently in use at 19 U.S. hospitals and expects that to grow to 100 hospitals early next year, said Chief Executive Jon Fisher.
Alex Foster began See Through, a Glass advertising analytics firm for business, after a venture firm earlier this year withdrew its offer to back his consumer-oriented Glass fitness company when it became clear no big consumer Glass release was imminent.
"It was devastating," he said. "All of the consumer glass startups are either completely dead or have pivoted," to enterprise products or rival wearables.
(editing by Edwin Chan and Peter Henderson)
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Obama gets it right on net neutrality | MSNBC
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 17:27
In a week dominated by headlines proclaiming Republican's epic electoral victory last week, President Obama proved'--from the other side of the world'--that his relevance should not be called into doubt. Moreover, and perhaps intentionally, he did so with a touch of irony.
The president is in China this week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The meetings are supposed to produce headlines on a range of challenging issues including trade, a resurgent Russia, the evolving China-Japan relationship, and recent unrest in Hong Kong. No doubt it will do so.
But this week, thousands of miles from Washington and Silicon Valley, the president fully injected himself into the ongoing debate at home over ''net neutrality.'' And the fact that he did so in a country noted for repression of Internet openness should be lost on no one.
For all of the complexity surrounding the net neutrality discussion, the proposition is quite simple. At its most basic level, net neutrality means that consumers who are marketed and pay for access to all lawful Internet content should get what they pay for. In practical terms, that means that last-mile Internet service providers (ISPs) that provide residential broadband access'--typically, telephone or cable companies'--should not be able to limit the web content and applications that their customers access.
[Editor's note: Comcast, a cable company and Internet service provider, is the parent company of msnbc.]
In theory, one would expect ISPs to embrace this concept. After all, it is in their economic interest to encourage consumers to buy faster and more expensive levels of broadband Internet service to access the ever-increasing array of bandwidth-intensive content that is available online. That theory, however, must be considered in light of two countervailing circumstances that can alter an ISP's cost-benefit analysis.
First, as is well-recognized, last-mile broadband ISPs'--such as Comcast or Verizon'--often face little or no competition in the provision of high-speed Internet access. Even where such competition exists, the obstacles and costs associated with switching ISP providers often deter consumers from doing so as one would expect them to do in a fully competitive market.
Second, the largest ISPs are vertically integrated communications and entertainment conglomerates. As a result, these firms have strong incentives to favor content or services that they own or with which they have economic affiliations at the expense of unaffiliated content or services. This is particularly true when online competitors, like streaming video services, provide a direct competitive substitute for elements of the lucrative ''bundles'' that the ISPs sell to consumers.
These incentives, coupled with the ability of ISPs to interfere with consumers' ability to access certain types of Internet content, underscore the need for an effective and enforceable net neutrality regulatory regime. Indeed, even in overturning the Federal Communications Commission's last attempt to implement such rules, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recognized these risks and the threat they pose to a truly open Internet. At the same time, the court told the FCC that it had to go back to the drawing board to articulate a different legal rationale for promulgating such rules.
That process is well underway, and has drawn the attention of millions of concerned Americans. The president understands that, and in his statement today laid out the core principles that must form the foundation of a new net neutrality framework'--no blocking, no throttling, increased transparency, and no paid prioritization. The last of these is especially critical. As the president said, ''No service should be stuck in a 'slow lane' because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet's growth.''
There are a number of options'--and combination of options'--the FCC can use to reach these goals. The one the president articulated'--reclassifying consumer broadband service under Title II of the Communications Act, coupled with the limited application of the regulatory oversight such reclassification entails'--is an effective means to address the problem.
Precisely how the FCC gets there, as long as it does so in a manner consistent with applicable law, is not of paramount importance. What really matters is that the FCC ensures that the Internet remain an open platform for innovation and economic growth.
Today's Internet, while global in its reach, is a quintessential American creation. The Internet that we know and rely upon could not have developed in a country like China that limits the freedom of expression and entrepreneurial creativity that has catalyzed the Internet economy. Perhaps motivated by his brief time in China, President Obama took the opportunity to urge the FCC to protect America's digital bequest to the world. The FCC should embrace the president's call to action.
Robert M. Cooper is a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in Washington, D.C, and an expert in telecommunications litigation. His client relationships include advising Cogent Communications Group, a multinational Internet service provider, on regulatory and policy issues.
The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/10/14, 10:38 PM ET
Net neutrality the next politicized policy Rachel Maddow talks to Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau Chief for the Huffington Post, about President Obama's comments on net neutrality today and the GOP's reaction to the polarizing policy issue.
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LGBBTQQIAAP
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H.R. 5711: To amend title 18, United States Code, to extend the coverage of the Federal prohibition against hate crimes in order to provide greater protections to persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:19
create a new accountall it takes is a username and password
privacy philosophywe limit data collected about you and your use of the platform,your personal information is never for sale,we use and disclose information to prevent people from abusing the platform, butwe never disclose it for any other reason unless required by law.for more information, see our privacy policy.
is it really that easy? only one way to find out...
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Japanese School Holds 'Sex Change Day' for Students To Get Students 'To Try Something New''...'....Just Like In U.K. and U.S.
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:06
A high school in Japan held a 'Sex Change Day' this week '' where boys dressed in skirts, and girls wore suits and ties.
On Tuesday, Fuji Hokuryo High School, in the Yamanashi prefecture encouraged students to swap uniforms with the opposite sex for a day.
Despite the name, the event has nothing to do with reassignment surgery '' and was simply intended to promote a message of tolerance and acceptance, and to challenge traditional notions of gender.
北ç¨' 楽しã'ーだなーwwwww #sexchangedaypic.twitter.com/yXSt7U1BEd
'-- å¤(C)野 龍ç>> (@A801Ryu) November 11, 2014
Japan's school system usually strongly relies on gender roles, with gender-specific uniforms for boys and girls still expected.
However, the take-up of the event was surprisingly high, with just 8% of students indicating that they did not support the event, and over 300 taking part.
As part of the day, students were taught about perception of gender, and how changing gender can influence those around them.
According to the school's principal, the day might become an annual event '' with the main complaint on the day was boys complaining that their legs were cold wearing a skirt.
Vice Principal Hirofumi Miyashita told Japan Real Time: ''This is a project for students to observe things differently'', without being bound by gender.
He added that the event allows pupils to try something new.
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PedoBear
Westminster sex abuse inquiry widens amid child homicide claims
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 08:19
Police say the homicide investigation, Operation Midland, is at an early stage. Photograph: Julian Elliott Photography/Getty Images
Scotland Yard has launched a criminal investigation into claims a child was killed by a paedophile ring alleged to have high-level connections to the establishment.
Detectives were already investigating allegations of historic child sexual abuse from more than 30 years ago. But officers said in recent weeks they had received fresh allegations of a possible homicide which they have decided to fully investigate, despite the passage of decades since the alleged death.
The Guardian understands the claim involves the alleged killing of a child during the alleged activities carried out by members of the ring.
The report comes from a man who says he was also abused by the group. Now middle-aged, he has been deemed to be sufficiently credible for his allegations to warrant a full murder investigation, with officers from Scotland Yard's homicide unit being drafted in.
Detectives will be looking to see if it is possible to corroborate the witness's claims about the homicide some three decades after the alleged killing.
Police stress the homicide investigation, Operation Midland, is at an early stage. It is not thought that the alleged incident involved any of the senior politicians of three decades ago claimed to have been part of the paedophile ring.
Officers continue to investigate claims of a VIP paedophile ring. That inquiry, Operation Fairbank, was launched after the Labour MP Tom Watson made claims in parliament about a sex abuse gang with establishment connections.
The Metropolitan police said: ''Detectives from the child abuse investigation command are working closely with colleagues from the homicide and major crime command concerning this information, which is being looked at under the name of Operation Midland.
''We will not comment upon speculation as to the identity of any person or locations that may or may not feature in this inquiry. We have taken the decision to release this statement today following a number of media inquiries requesting an update on Operation Midland.''
Also on Friday an alleged victim broke his silence to tell of the suffering he endured and to encourage others to come forward so the abusers can be brought to justice. The man, named only as Nick, told the BBC he had been abused by the paedophile ring with VIP connections for nine years.
He said he had been interviewed on camera for three days by Met detectives, a claim he first made to Exaro News. He said of his abusers: ''They were very powerful people and they controlled my life for the next nine years. They created fear that penetrated every part of me, day in day out. You didn't question what they wanted, you did as they asked without question and the punishments were very severe.''
He said the alleged abusers were ''very organised'' and got chauffeur-driven cars to collect boys from locations such as schools, and drive them to the places they would be attacked, such as hotels or flats in London and other cities.
Nick said the abusers showed little concern about being identified or caught: ''They had no hesitation in doing what they wanted to do. Some of them were quite open about who they were. They had no fear at all of being caught, it didn't cross their mind.''
He claimed the abusers would inflict brutal punishments on any child who did not obey orders. He told of the long-lasting effects of the attacks: ''[The abuse] destroyed my ability to trust. It's pretty much wrecked any relationships I have had. Intimacy for me is a pretty much a no-go area.''
The alleged victim said there were many people who may have witnessed the abuse and its surrounding activities, as well as those who were attacked, and they should come forward. He said: ''They need to find the strength that we as survivors have done.
''People who drove us around could come forward. Staff in some of the locations could come forward. There are so many people who must have had suspicions. We weren't smuggled in under a blanket through the back door. It was done openly and people must have questioned that and they need to come forward.''
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-Disappearance of Perry Hall girl brings complex world of social media to light - ABC2News.com
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 11:14
PERRY HALL, Md - Much of the investigation surrounding the disappearance of Jasmine Baker, the 12-year-old Perry Hall girl who went missing Tuesday before being found Friday in North Carolina , center on her social media habits.
RELATED: Police examine missing girl's social media activity
That has led police and others to explain to many that social media goes much deeper than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Police stress that those sites aren't the only ways kids can connect with people from all over the world.
Detectives say they can't confirm whether Jasmine communicated on Xbox live in the last few weeks. That's why experts say it's important for parents to also master gaming technology with their kids. Police are now checking other social media sites to see if Jasmine was active on those sites.
Jasmine's family thinks she was taken. Investigators are now reviewing surveillance video from all over the region.
VIDEO-Netherlands: Dozens arrested at 'Black Pete' protests | euronews, world news
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 10:19
Dutch police have arrested around 90 people during a protest over 'Black Pete' '' St Nicholas's controversial black-faced companion.
Most arrests were made when people protested in a non-designated zone in the town of Gouda.
Scuffles broke out at a re-enactment of the St Nicholas story. Many see 'Black Pete' as a racial stereotype, while others say it is not linked to race.
''All I'm against is black faces. That's all. No black faces,'' explained one protester.
Another went further, saying: ''As descendants of slaves, who have been abused by the Netherlands, we don't agree that about 300 black lookalike slaves come along here with Saint Nicholas.''
A woman defending the practice said: ''All those people who have a problem with 'Black Pete''... It's our tradition. Leave it alone. You have your traditions, so why can't we?''
The tradition is attracting mounting controversy.
Amsterdam's regional court has said the image of 'Black Pete' gives rise to racial stereotyping and has ordered the city's authorities to review the festival.
VIDEO-New Jersey Assembly Approves Assisted Suicide Bill CBS New York
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 10:04
Measure Would Create Process To Allow Terminal Patients To Choose End Of Life OptionNovember 13, 2014 5:36 PM
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) '' New Jersey's Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.
The 41-31 vote came after the measure was pulled from consideration in June.
The bill establishes a procedure for patients to request to end their lives. A second doctor would have to certify the original terminal diagnosis and confirm the patient is capable of making the decision to die without pressure from others.
In addition, the attending physician would have to offer the patient a chance to rescind their request. A consulting physician would then be called upon to certify the original diagnosis and reaffirm the patient is capable of making a decision.
A patient must have a prognosis of six months or less to live to request and be prescribed medication under the bill.
''This discussion is about revisiting a statute last looked at in 1978 that never took into account an individual's right to control their body and their circumstances,'' said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, one of the bill's co-sponsors. ''Like society, medicine, palliative care and hospice services have changed dramatically since then. While there are many choices available right now that may be right for certain people, there is one more choice, not currently available, that deserves an honest discussion.
''One thing is clear by all the polling and public testimony taken: that in New Jersey, a majority of people would like to have another option along with balance of care and hospice,'' Burzichelli told WCBS 880'²s Sean Adams. ''It doesn't mean that they would necessarily choose it.''
New Jersey Assembly Set To Vote On Assisted Suicide BillAs CBS2'²s Hazel Sanchez reported, Janet Colbert, who is suffering from a rare and incurable form of liver cancer, was at the state capitol to show her support for the bill.
''I would like to know that I had a choice if it goes a way that I'm not comfortable with, or the pain in unmanageable,'' she said.
But opponents have said life expectancy estimates are often wrong, and the bill is a recipe for elder abuse.
''If the patient has the prescription and does not want to take it, we have no way of knowing whether that person is being forced to take it,'' said Marie Tasy, executive director of the group New Jersey Right to Life.
''I felt all the legislators who voted for the bill today were very irresponsible,'' Tasy added. ''The bill is riddled with loopholes. There is so much room for abuse of the disabled and the elderly.''
Added Dr. Ana Denisita Gomes, a general practitioner: ''This bill completely eradicates what the role of a physician is. We're a healer. We're not killer.''
The bill defines a ''terminal disease'' as an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, result in a patient's death within six months.
Specifically, the legislation would provide that a patient may make a written request for self-administered medication in order to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner if the patient:
Is an adult resident of New Jersey.Is capable and has been determined by the patient's attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal disease.Has voluntarily expressed a wish to die.The bill additionally would require that the patient's attending physician, at the time the patient makes an initial oral request for medication under the bill, recommend that the patient participate in a consultation concerning additional treatment opportunities, palliative care, comfort care, hospice care and pain control options, and provide the patient with a referral to a health care professional qualified to discuss these options.
The vote came week after physician-assisted suicide advocate Brittany Maynard ended her life under an Oregon law allowing terminally ill people to choose when to die.
Maynard, 29, defended her decision last month to CBS News' Jan Crawford.
''Cancer is ending my life,'' she said. ''I am choosing to end it a little sooner and in a lot less pain and suffering.''
''Statistics from other states that have enacted laws to provide compassionate aid in dying for terminally ill patients indicate that the great majority of patients who requested medication under the laws of those states, including more than 90 percent of patients in Oregon since 1998 and between 72 and 86 percent of patients in Washington in each year since 2009, were enrolled in hospice care at the time of death,'' Burzichelli said. ''This suggests that those patients had availed themselves of available treatment and comfort care options available to them at the time they requested compassionate aid in dying.''
The bill now awaits further action by the Senate.
Gov. Chris Christie has said he opposes the measure.
Burzichelli said he is not discouraged by Christie's opposition to date.
''The bill doesn't leave here today and go to his desk,'' the assemblyman said. ''And things change over time. So I would hope, as it continues to make its way through, a better understanding is hand by all.''
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:
(TM and (C) Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
VIDEO-Jim Carrey Unleashes the Secrets of the Illuminati (VIDEO)
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:02
Comedian Jim Carrey appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night to promote his new movie Dumb and Dumber To, but he had a different plan.
Carrey and the ''all mocking tongue'' come onto the show to reveal the real motives of the mysterious Illuminati.
(Via sourcefed)
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VIDEO-BBC News - Clashes at Dutch Black Pete protest in Gouda
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:47
15 November 2014Last updated at 14:28 ET Dutch police have arrested dozens of people during a protest over Black Pete, a controversial black-faced sidekick to the local St Nicholas.
The police said most of the 90 people were arrested for protesting in a non-designated area in the city of Gouda.
Many in the Netherlands see Black Pete as a racial stereotype, but others say the tradition is not linked to race.
The Dutch version of the St Nicholas legend depicts him arriving by boat from Spain with armies of Black Petes.
Trouble broke out in Gouda, selected as the city to kick off this year's festivities, during a re-enactment of the arrival of Nicholas and his Black Petes.
State TV showed footage of scuffles as protesters unfurled banners reading "Black Pete is racism".
Police said protesters had been forbidden from demonstrating at the re-enactment, but refused to move away.
The Black Pete character is causing mounting controversy in the Netherlands.
Last year, hundreds of people staged a protest in Amsterdam.
Earlier this year, Amsterdam's regional court said the image of Black Pete "with his thick red lips, being a stupid servant, gives rise to a negative stereotyping of black people".
The court ordered Amsterdam's authorities to review the festival.
VIDEO-'Sharia Patrols' Harassing Citizens in London, Belgium, Sweden | MRCTV
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:39
''Ultimately I want to see every single woman in this country covered from head-to-toe; I want to see the hand of the thief cut; I want to see adulterers stoned; I want to see Sharia in Europe, and I want to see it in America as well,'' says "Sharia Patrol" member Abu Rumaysah in an eye-opening interview with CBS correspondent Clarissa Ward.
The streets of London are an ''alternate reality'' at night, says CBS correspondent Clarissa Ward: Western women are abused, men who dare to drink alcohol or gamble are harassed by Sharia patrols.
''You may not dress like that in Muslim area!'' the Sharia patrols shout, calling a woman in a short skirt ''a prostitute.''
''You're dirty, mate! You're gay, mate! You need to get out of here,'' the patrols shout at another man they call a ''fag'' and assume is gay.
When Ward interviews Rumaysah, one has a glimpse into the mindset of those enforcing Sharia, and it is frightening:
''The only thing I would say is that in America and in the United Kingdom, we have a system: democracy,'' begins Ward.
''A backwards one,'' says Rumaysah.
''But it's a system...'' she continues.
''A barbaric one,'' he interrupts.
''...that allows the people to choose what they want and allows people freedom,'' Ward says.
''So why can't I choose Sharia?'' asks Rumaysah. ''When in Rome, overthrow Caesar and commit Sharia.''
''In your home, you can do whatever you want,'' says Ward patiently.
''But what about in the public?'' replies Rumaysah angrily. ''Why can't I tell you to cover up? Am I free to say that?''
''Because it would be outrageous,'' replies Ward. ''Of course, you're not...''
''So where's my freedom? Where's my freedom?!'' he shouts back petulantly.
''You can say it to me, but you...''
''Okay. So cover up. Wear the hijab,'' replies Rumaysah.
London isn't the only place in Europe where this is happening '' in Belgium, girls in bikinis are attacked, Jewish and Christian symbols vandalized, and in Muslim neighborhoods Sharia is enforced, CBN reports.
And a new Swedish police report identifies 55 ''no-go'' zones controlled by Islamic extremists, where even police officers need police protection, and postal and fire services cannot enter without it.
''They are de facto Muslim micro-states under Sharia law that reject Western values, society and legal systems,'' reportsInvestors Business Daily. ''In these districts non-Muslims are expected to conform to the dictates of fundamentalist Islam or face violent consequences.''
''A pair of policemen in May were in pursuit of a suspect and unwisely entered the no-go zone of the southern city of Landskrona,'' reportsThe Daily Caller. ''Their car was rammed and the officers were forced out of the car. They were cornered by a crowd of some 50 hostile thugs and drew their weapons to hold them back and called for immediate backup.''
From The Daily Caller:
''Several nearby patrol cars responded to the call and sped towards the scene, only to be ordered to stop half a mile away '-- just outside the no-go border. The police commander didn't send the backup units in, fearing escalation and all-out war.
''Swedish police have not seriously tried to contest the zones since the 2013 Stockholm ghetto riots in which hundreds of cars and buildings were burned,'' says Investors Business Daily. ''The police report that there are now vehicle checkpoints operated by Muslim gangs on the borders of these zones''
"A more precise name for these zones," says Middle Eastern expert Daniel Pipes, "would be Dar al-Islam '-- the House of Islam or the place where Islam rules."
VIDEO-Earnest: Gruber's Wrong, Obamacare Process 'Extraordinarily Transparent' | MRCTV
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:38
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest found himself against the wall defending the push for the Affordable Care Act in light of recently discovered comments made by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber admitting that the government misled the American people.
During the press briefing, Fox News' Ed Henry cited the videos of Gruber blatantly stating that a ''lack of transparency'' and ''the stupidity of the American voter'' were critical to getting the law passed in 2010. Moreover, that the ACA was purposefully written in a "very tortured way" to mislead people about the taxes and other aspects of the law.
In response, Earnest disagreed ''vigorously with that statement.'' He argued that ''there was a steadfast commitment by this administration to make sure that people had good insight into the benefits of the law.''
Earnest shifted the blame on Republicans, whom he claimed were the ones ''who haven't been particularly transparent or even honest about the true impact'' of the law's benefits.
Earnest said,
''The fact of the matter is, the process associated with writing and passing and implementing the Affordable Care Act has been extraordinarily transparent.''
Many would disagree.
Nonetheless, Earnest utilized the press briefing as an opportunity to sell the health care system once more:
"We're nearing the open enrollment period once again," he said. "We certainly would hope the people would take advantage of that opportunity to see if they find something that's in their best interest."
Here's a transcript of the exchange:
ED HENRY: While you've been here, the President has been here, there's videotape from Jonathan Gruber, who was one of the architects when the law came out. Among the things he said was that the bill was originally written in a "very tortured way," in his words, to kind of mislead people about the taxes in the law and other parts of the law. He went on to say, "A lack of transparency was a huge political advantage for the President'..." in terms of selling it to the American people.
I thought it was just the opposite. Didn't the President promise unprecedented transparency? Why would one of the architects of the law suggest that you were misleading people?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I'm not sure, frankly, Ed. The fact of the matter is the process associated with writing and passing and implementing the Affordable Care Act has been extraordinarily transparent.We all sat through many town hall meetings and discussions where this piece of legislation was vigorously debated by people on both sides. There was even a meeting that the President convened at Blair House with Republicans to discuss this policy proposal.It was, as you know, broadcast by C-SPAN.
There was a steadfast commitment by this administration to make sure that people had good insight into the benefits of the law. The fact is we spent a lot of time talking about one of those benefits. And that is the fact that individuals could receive tax credits from the federal government to make their health care costs more affordable. The fact is, I think it's actually Republicans who haven't been particularly transparent or even honest about the true impact of those.
HENRY: He talked about some of the downsides, saying that we had told people that sick people were going to get more benefits; healthy people wouldn't pay more -- and not tax credits, but people paying higher taxes. And CBO, he said, scoring it as a tax, that that was going to hurt. He wasn't talking about the benefits. He was saying that some of the negative sides. You misled people.
MR. EARNEST: Well, again, it sounds like you may have watched the video a few more times than I have.
HENRY: (Off-mic.)
MR. EARNEST: Right, right, right. Again, I think you've probably watched it more than I have, so I'm not going to quibble with what he actually said.
I do think that the question that you raised is about the commitment to transparency that was embodied in the process of writing and passing the Affordable Care Act. And again, I think the President is proud of the transparent process that was undertaken to pass that bill into law.
And again, I do think that the benefits are transparent to people who have gone to the website and evaluated the health care options that are available to them. In many cases, these are higher quality, more affordable options than had ever been available to them.
This does lead me to one other segue, which is that there is an opportunity for people now -- in advance of the enrollment period -- to go onto the website and to begin shopping. And that again is a commitment that this administration has made to try and get people as much information as possible, as soon as possible, so that they can make the kinds of decisions that are in the best interest of their families or their small business.
HENRY: On the video, he also says that -- he says, "Call it what you will, the stupidity of the American voter -- if we have been more transparent, this wouldn't have passed." To suggest that voters are stupid and that's how you passed it, you don't feel bad about that at all?
MR. EARNEST: I disagree vigorously with that assessment, I think is what I would say. I think the fact of the matter is this is a -- this was a very difficult undertaking, but ultimately this is a law that has had significant benefits for millions of people that have been able to sign up through the marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act. We're nearing the open enrollment period once again where millions more people will have the opportunity to at least go online and shop to see if they can get a better deal for their family through the Obamacare marketplaces. We certainly would hope the people would take advantage of that opportunity to see if they find something that's in their best interest.
Again, that is one of the benefits of this proposal, of this law, is that it does empower consumers to make these kinds of decisions with more transparency, with a greater understanding about the market, with a greater understanding of what the costs are associated with each of the plans, and what the benefits are.
And again, that I think is one of the hallmarks of this proposal. It's one of the reasons that it's been so successful so far, and it's one of the reasons that we're bullish about its prospects moving forward.
I will say -- and I think this warrants mentioning, as well -- it has been Republicans who have been less than forthright and transparent about what their proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act would do in terms of the choices that are available to middle-class families. I know there is at least one very prominent Republican who campaigned for reelection saying that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, but yet keep in place the Affordable Care Act marketplace that has operated very successfully in his state.
VIDEO-Johnny Depp Slurs And Mumbles Through Barely Coherent Hollywood Speech | MRCTV
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:37
Johnny Depp took the stage at the Hollywood Film Awards Friday night to present an award to talent manager Shep Gordon. What resulted was a mumbling and barely coherent slurred speech that looked like it was being given by Captain Jack Sparrow!
Stick to acting Johnny Depp!
VIDEO-BBC News - Stars unite for Ebola Band Aid 30 record
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:31
Stars including One Direction, Emeli Sande, Rita Ora and Ed Sheeran have gone into the studio to record a new version of the Band Aid charity single.
Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, Chris Martin and Bono are also singing on the reworked Do They Know It's Christmas?
The recording, which comes 30 years after the original Band Aid, will raise money for the fight against Ebola.
Lizo Mzimba reports.
VIDEO-MH17 SHOOT DOWN
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:08
Last updated 12:03 16/11/2014
Russian state-controlled TV has broadcast what it calls "sensational" photographs, which it says supported Moscow's theory that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.
Several commentators who have examined the photographs have described them as forgeries, however.
The photographs, said to be taken by a Western satellite, appear to show a fighter jet firing a missile at a passenger plane over eastern Ukraine where the Malaysian airliner was shot down on July 17, killing all 298 people on board.
Moscow has long said it believed the aircraft was destroyed by a Ukrainian military jet, while Western officials say evidence suggests the plane was hit by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatist rebels.
The photographs were aired on news show Odnako, which said they had been sent to a Russian expert by a man called George Bilt, who had presented himself as a graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
"We have at our disposal sensational photographs presumably made by a foreign spy satellite in the last seconds of the Malaysian Boeing's flight over Ukraine," Channel One presenter Dmitry Borisov said.
"The pictures support that version which has hardly been heard in the West."
Since being aired by Channel One, the photographs have met with widespread scepticism.
Andrei Menshenin, a commentator for independent Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, called the TV report a "pseudo-sensation", and said the angle of attack indicated by the photographs did not correspond to the location of the damage.
Bellingcat, a British investigative journalism website, described the photographs as "a crude fabrication", highlighting what it said were several inconsistencies, which included signs that the photos had been partly compiled from historical Google Earth imagery dating from 2012.
Also drawing ire online is the fact neither of the aircraft looks as it should. The Ukrainian jet does not match a Su-25, the aircraft the Russians have previously claimed took out the passenger jet.
The MH17 plane depicted appears to be a Boeing 767 rather than a 777, the Malaysia airlines logo is in the wrong place and a near identical image can be sourced when googling "Boeing top view".
Neither the Kremlin nor any of the five countries most affected by the crash, which killed all 298 onboard including 37 Australians, have publicly engaged with the new "photo".
The Russians have long contended the plane crash was the work of the Ukrainian airforce.
"The pictures support that version which has hardly been heard in the West," said Channel One presenter Dmitry Borisov.
"We have at our disposal sensational photographs presumably made by a foreign spy satellite in the last seconds of the Malaysian Boeing's flight over Ukraine."
In July, an opinion poll by the Levada Center polling agency said only three per cent of Russians believed the Malaysian airliner was hit by rebels, with 82 per cent saying it was shot down by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Internationally, many believe the plane was shot out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile deployed from Russian weapons shared with Ukrainian separatist forces as the smaller nation is locked in a civil war.
This theory better fits the known ballistics evidence, which suggests the plane was downed by a surface-to-air missile given the shrapnel damage, rather than an air-to-air missile, which are usually heat-seeking.
Dutch investigators into the crash of MH17 are yet to release a definitive verdict on the cause of the accident, beyond that it was caused by multiple "high-energy objects" such as a missile strike.
- Agencies
VIDEO-Pelosi Gruber | Video | C-SPAN.org
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 22:00
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VIDEO-Is this the moment MH17 was shot down as it flew over Ukraine? | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 15:19
'Leaked' images show a missile streaking towards the MH17 flightRussian experts said Boeing was shot down by a Ukrainian warplaneKremlin-owned channel suggested a State crime was committedIt was claimed that the space pictures were from a British or US satelliteWest has suggested the plane was shot down by pro-Moscow rebelsBy Will Stewart In Moscow for MailOnline
Published: 14:10 EST, 14 November 2014 | Updated: 16:31 EST, 14 November 2014
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Russian experts have claimed Malaysian Boeing MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian warplane and not a ground to air missile.
This follows the release of 'leaked' satellite images which show a missile streaking towards the passenger plane, produced tonight by Russia's main state broadcaster.
It was claimed that the space pictures were from a British or US satellite.
Russian Channel 1 has released satellite images which suggest Malaysian Boeing MH17 (top of picture) was shot down by a Ukrainian warplane (bottom left)
The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was travelling over the conflict-hit region when it disappeared from radar.
A total of 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members were killed.
TV presenter Mikhail Leontiev claimed that the mysterious source who provided the images concluded they showed 'how a Mig-29 fighter plane destroys the Boeing passenger plane'.
The West has repeatedly suggested the plane was shot down by pro-Moscow rebels using a Russian-made BUK missile system.
It was claimed that the mysterious source who provided the images concluded they showed 'how a Mig-29 fighter plane (pictured) destroys the Boeing passenger plane'
A total of 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members were killed after MH17 was shot down
Russia has argued an unidentified plane was in vicinity at the time of the crash, and that Ukraine and the West have hushed up this fact.
The Kremlin-owned channel's presenter said: 'Today we have all grounds to suppose that a State crime was committed by those who deliberately destroyed the plane. And by those who are cynically hiding it, having the full information.'
The extraordinary broadcast came ahead of Western leaders including David Cameron confronting Vladimir Putin over the crash at a summit in Australia.
Channel One claimed: 'We have at our disposal a sensational shot, supposedly made by foreign satellite spy during the final seconds of MH17 above Ukraine.'
Ivan Adrievskiy, vice president of Russian Engineers Union, suggested the image was taken by an American or British satellite
An 'expert' called George Bilt was cited as saying the Boeing was shot out of the sky in 'a classic fighter jet attack from the rear'
The reported disputed a BUK missile as the cause of the tragedy.
'To cut it short, it looks like there was no BUK and no launch from the ground. There were dozens professional and thousands of amateur witnesses, and no-one registered it,' claimed Leontiev.
Ivan Adrievskiy, vice president of Russian Engineers Union, said: 'We see a photograph taken from space from a low orbit. Usually such images are taken for the sake of general reconnaissance of the air and the ground.
'The coordinates of the photograph mean we can suppose that the image was taken by an American or British satellite.
'We have studied this picture in detail and did not find any sign proving it to be fake.'
An 'expert' called George Bilt was cited as saying the Boeing was shot out of the sky in 'a classic fighter jet attack from the rear'.
Remains of MH17 litter field in eastern Ukraine (Archive)
The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was travelling over the conflict-hit region when it disappeared from radar
The burning wreckage of the passenger flight after it crashed near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine
Vladimir Putin accused the Ukrainians of 'constantly shelling' the MH17 crash site earlier this week amid steeply rising concern in the West that he has ordered massive military reinforcements to bolster pro-Moscow rebel forces.
At least 21 trucks, six tanks and 14 howitzer cannons were seen driving through rebel-territory to Donetsk, while residents reported a convoy of 12 unmarked military trucks.
Ukraine alleges that recent days have seen a huge increase in military hardware, professional soldiers and AK-74 assault rifles fitted with laser pointers moving towards Donetsk from Russia.
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VIDEO: Johnny Depp speech sparks twitter buzz
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:25
The Hollywood Film awards was aired on television for the first time on Friday with a star-studded audience in attendance.
British actors did well with Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Eddie Redmayne and Jack O'Connell all winning awards.
Ben Affleck collected the top award for Hollywood Film for the movie Gone Girl.
However, a lot of the talk on twitter was about Johnny Depp's unconventional introduction for the Hollywood Documentary award.
Pictures courtesy of Dick Clark Productions, Inc.
VIDEO-Weekly Address: Open Enrollment Starts Today | The White House
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:13
November 15, 2014 | 3:15 | Public Domain
In this week's address, the President reminded Americans that Affordable Care Act open enrollment begins this weekend.
Download mp4 (121MB) | mp3 (3MB)
VIDEO-Obama unveils $3 bn contribution to UN climate fund: US official - Yahoo News
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 05:55
Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) - US President Barack Obama will pledge $3 billion to a UN fund aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change in the world's poorest countries, a US official said Friday.
"It is in our national interest to helping vulnerable countries to build resilience to climate change," the administration official said as Obama headed to a G20 summit in Australia.
Obama was en route to Brisbane after visiting Myanmar and China, where on Wednesday he and President Xi Jinping announced ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions as part of a pact designed to breathe new life into attempts to replace the international Kyoto treaty.
Obama was expected to outline his pledge in a speech on Saturday in Brisbane on the sidelines of the G20 talks, as backers and donors involved in the UN's "Green Climate Fund" (GCF) prepare to meet in Berlin on November 20.
The US president's renewed focus on climate change threatens to upend Australia's stated focus of keeping the G20 summit confined to economic issues.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a sceptic about man-made global warming and he was forced to deny Friday that the revived debate about the issue this week risks leaving him isolated.
View gallery
Barack Obama takes part in a civil society roundtable discussion at the US Embassy in Yangon on Nove '...
And Obama himself must yet get Congress to agree to the contribution, which could be a tough sell after the Republicans regained control of both houses in this month's mid-term elections.
The UN-backed GCF is designed to enlist private-sector money on top of government donations, and so help poorer countries to invest in environmentally friendly technologies and build up their defences against rising sea levels and less predictable weather patterns.
The US official said Obama's $3 billion pledge would also help make the world safer.
"More resilient communities are less likely to descend into instability or conflict in the aftermath of extreme climate events, needing more costly interventions to restore stability and rebuild," the official said.
- Abbott in the cold? -
View gallery
Tony Abbott (left) shakes hands with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo on the sidelines of the G '...
At the G20 summit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to say that Japan will give up to $1.5 billion to the Green Climate Fund, Kyodo News agency reported Friday.
Christiana Figueres, the head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has called for an initial capitalisation of $10 billion by the end of the year.
France and Germany have already pledged to contribute $1 billion each.
The G20 meeting is the third event in an intensive week for international summitry, and comes after Obama and Xi agreed their deal to make their countries -- the world's top two polluters -- curb their emissions.
China set a target for its greenhouse gas output to peak "around 2030", the first time Beijing had agreed to an approximate target date for beginning to reverse its emissions trend.
Obama set a goal for the US to cut such emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
The Sino-US pact was hailed by climate scientists as the jolt in the arm that post-Kyoto negotiations need heading into a major meeting in Paris next year.
But US Republicans denounced it for having the potential to kill economic growth and job creation.
And Abbott, a conservative who like many Republicans disdains the science behind climate change, has withdrawn a "carbon tax" that his Labor predecessor had introduced as a way of combatting industrial emissions.
On Friday Abbott said the tax had been "damaging our economy without helping the environment".
Instead, he said his government was taking "strong action" of its own by committing to reduce emissions by five percent on 2000 levels by 2020.
The US official, however, urged "all major countries" to contribute to the GCF.
"As the US and China showed earlier this week, we need to reach across traditional divides to tackle climate change, and that includes providing support to the poorest and most vulnerable."
Politics & GovernmentNature & EnvironmentBarack Obamaclimate changegreenhouse gas emissions
VIDEO: FPI Eurasia Analyst Hannah Thoburn Discussed How How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 05:54
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
VIDEO-Berkeley sends warning letters to residents about Brown grand jury ruling | FOX2now.com
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 14:22
BERKELEY, MO (KTVI) '' At least two north county cities have now sent out warning letters to residents about the coming Michael Brown grand jury decision.
The letters gave instructions on preparing residents to have plans in place in case of, ''a period of disruption.''
Many of the pieces of advice in the letter sound more like something you'd see in preparation for a storm, which the letter states the advice should be treated as.
The Berkeley letter says residents should be ready to stay in or near their homes for several days.
VIDEO-Weathering change - The Personal
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 08:50
Before the temperature drops below zero, you must protect the outdoor faucet against freezing. If your house has an outdoor frost-proof faucet, you have simply to ensure that it is firmly closed and remove the watering hose. However, if you have a conventional-type faucet, it is important to drain it to keep it from bursting. Here is how:
Close the shut-off valve inside the house.Open the outside faucet in order to drain any water.Close the faucet and cover it for protection.
VIDEO-The Vergecast, live today at 4:30PM ET! | The Verge
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 23:11
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VIDEO-#AskDrH: The President's Science Advisor Is Answering Your Questions on Climate Change | The White House
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 22:44
Watch on YouTube
Got questions about climate change? Ask the President's science advisor.
Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wants to answer any questions that you have about climate change -- what it means, how bad it actually is, and what we can do to fight it.
Starting today, ask Dr. Holdren your questions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine using the hashtag #AskDrH -- and he'll answer some of them on camera.
Climate change is a hot topic (no pun intended), and unfortunately there's a lot of misinformation out there about the subject. That's why Dr. Holdren wants to set the record straight and make sure that people are as informed and knowledgeable about this issue as possible.
So head over to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine, and ask Dr. Holdren any questions that you have about climate change, using the hashtag #AskDrH. And make sure to share this with anyone else who has questions, too.
Find out more about the President's plan to fight climate change here.

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