673: Imperial News

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 5m
November 27th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir Don Tomaso DI Toronto, Amy Pousson, Robert Wieda, Sir David Foley Grand Duke of the USA

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Otaku KF5SVR, Sir Norman McDonough, Sir DH Slammer, David Kitay, Sir Guy Boazy, Robert Cain, Joseph Frost, Ronald Dreslinski Jr, David Alston, Joseph Capati


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This program has been the true leader in tracking the progression of the 80 year cycle depression food known as Mac & Cheese
Presidential Proclamation -- Thanksgiving Day, 2014
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:29
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 26, 2014
Thanksgiving Day invites us to reflect on the blessings we enjoy and the freedoms we cherish. As we gather with family and friends to take part in this uniquely American celebration, we give thanks for the extraordinary opportunities we have in a Nation of limitless possibilities, and we pay tribute to all those who defend our Union as members of our Armed Forces. This holiday reminds us to show compassion and concern for people we have never met and deep gratitude toward those who have sacrificed to help build the most prosperous Nation on earth. These traditions honor the rich history of our country and hold us together as one American family, no matter who we are or where we come from. Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Pilgrims left their homeland and sailed across an ocean in pursuit of liberty and prosperity. With the friendship and kindness of the Wampanoag people, they learned to harvest the rich bounty of a new world.
Together, they shared a successful crop, celebrating bonds of community during a time of great hardship. Through times of war and of peace, the example of a Native tribe who extended a hand to a new people has endured. During the American Revolution and the Civil War, days of thanksgiving drew Americans together in prayer and in the spirit that guides us to better days, and in each year since, our Nation has paused to show our gratitude for our families, communities, and country. With God's grace, this holiday season we carry forward the legacy of our forebears. In the company of our loved ones, we give thanks for the people we care about and the joy we share, and we remember those who are less fortunate. At shelters and soup kitchens, Americans give meaning to the simple truth that binds us together: we are our brother's and our sister's keepers. We remember how a determined people set out for a better world -- how through faith and the charity of others, they forged a new life built on freedom and opportunity. The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal. It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others. Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity -- that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation. This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties. 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 Thursday, November 27, 2014, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth 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.
Background on the Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey | The White House
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:24
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 26, 2014
WASHINGTON '' On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, President Obama will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony at the White House. The President will celebrate the 67th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, reflect upon the time-honored traditions of Thanksgiving, and wish American families a warm, safe, and healthy holiday.
The President will pardon Cheese and his alternate Mac, both 20-week old, approximately 48-pound Turkeys. The names of turkeys were chosen from submissions by Ohio students and Morven Park visitors. This year, the American public once again decided which of the two turkeys '' Mac or Cheese '' would become the 2014 National Thanksgiving Turkey by casting a vote for #TeamMac or #TeamCheese on Twitter.
National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper of Ft. Recovery, Ohio, his wife Cheryl, and seven members of the Cooper family will be in attendance at today's ceremony. Cooper's son, Cole, raised and selected the turkeys that will be presented to President Obama. Both of the birds were raised antibiotic-free.
After the pardoning, the turkeys will travel to their permanent home at Morven Park's ''Turkey Hill,'' the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia. The National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate will be on display for visitors at Morven Park's Turkey Hill.
Jaindl's Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, presented the First Family with two dressed turkeys that will be donated to a local area food bank.
Presidential Proclamation -- National Family Week, 2014
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:24
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 21, 2014
- - - - - - -
In big cities and small towns throughout our Nation, the strength and diversity of hardworking families reflect the promise of America -- that with grit and determination, anyone can build a better future for themselves and their children. Families provide love and encouragement, and they are a source of support and inspiration to a generation limited only by the size of their dreams and the power of their imagination. During National Family Week, we celebrate our family members and the countless ways they lift us up, and we continue our work to bolster the bonds that tie all of us together.
Family is the bedrock of our lives, and my Administration is fighting to ensure Americans are able to seize their every opportunity and fulfill their responsibilities to their loved ones. Working mothers and fathers should not have to choose between their career and their life at home -- especially when a new baby or an aging parent needs them most -- and no one who works full-time should have to raise their family in poverty. Family leave, childcare, and workplace flexibility are not bonuses, they are basic needs; and earlier this year, we held the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, bringing together private and public sector partners who know that family-friendly policies are good business practices too.
My Administration is supporting programs that help families thrive. Many workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage are supporting children and families, and that is why I continue to work to make sure an honest day's work is rewarded with an honest day's pay. The Affordable Care Act expands access to quality, affordable health insurance, providing millions of Americans with the freedom to take the best job for their families without worrying about losing their health care. And the Federal Government is leading the way by increasing opportunities for flexible work schedules for Federal employees and giving these workers the right to request them.
Each day, American families do everything right: they work hard, live responsibly, take care of their children, and participate in their neighborhoods. They deserve the opportunity to succeed and a country that supports lasting economic security for all. This week, we recognize the employers and communities that empower families, and we honor our family members and all those who sacrifice to ensure every possibility is within our reach. Let us recommit to building a society where dynamic workplaces support strong families, where time with our loved ones is precious but not rare.
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 23 through November 29, 2014, as National Family Week. I invite all States, communities, and individuals to join in observing this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities to honor our Nation's families.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first 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.
Jack Downey, RIP
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:09
Jack Downey, RIPWhen one of the great trees in the forest falls, something needs to be said in remembrance.Jack Downey was one of the tallest among us, in stature and in strength of spirit. I was one of his classmates, not at Yale, but at the Infantry School in Fort Benning , where in 1951 as young CIA officers under alias, we went through jump school, and special courses on sabotage and escape and evasion. We were all drawn to him, because of his athletic record, his sense of humor, and his quiet strength. In one exercise we were paired off by size, and told to carry each other on our backs for as far as we could go. I got about 50 feet with Jack aboard, while he carried me effortlessly until told to stop. ''I certainly hope I don't have to rely on you to get me off the field if I'm wounded,'' he said with a grin as he dumped me gently on the ground.We both wound up in Asia in 1952, Jack in Japan , and I on Saipan , a large CIA training base. I happened to be in Japan on the night before he took off on his ill-fated, and ill-conceived mission, designed to drop supplies to an agent team (already captured by the Chinese) and to ''air-snatch'' an agent off the ground and into the supply plane. Lucius Horiuchi and I had dinner with Jack at a colorful Japanese restaurant, and Lucius and I recall it as a festive occasion, as Jack was excited about getting into action. The food was good, the Japanese waitresses were pretty, and we all felt that we would live forever.Jack's plane was shot down. He, Dick Fecteau, and a few others survived the crash, and Jack was sentenced by the Chinese to life imprisonment. He spent twenty years and four months in prison, trapped like a fly in amber, while my life, and Lucius's, progressed normally, into marriage and fatherhood. I thought often of Jack during those years and wondered how he was holding up. It was most reassuring to hear his first words as he left prison, entered Hong Kong , and was asked how it felt to be free. He said ''I don't mean to sound chauvinistic, but I can't help noticing that skirts are a lot shorter today than when I went to prison.'' Once a Yalie, always a Yalie.Shortly after his return home, Jack and I had a chance to talk about his time in captivity. The first two years had been by far the hardest. He said he had not been tortured, but that the interrogations had been endless and severe. As Jack put it ''they never forgot anything I said, and I could not keep my lies straight, so in the end I told them what I knew.'' Things then gradually eased, and he could, as he put it, ''focus on keeping myself alive.''Jack and I stayed in close touch over the intervening years. It was a joy to see his life resume and develop magnificently, through marriage, fatherhood and a distinguished legal career. CIA has gone out of its way to honor Jack. It has made a movie about him and Fecteau, to be used as a training film, and last year Jack was given CIA's highest honor, awarded only for valor. He and Fecteau were cheered to the echo by large crowd at CIA headquarters when the director spoke of his heroism, and of the role that he now plays in CIA's history.My high point with Jack took place at Yale Law School a few years ago, when Dean Harold Koh invited me to speak to a class on CIA and the legal issues it was tangled up in. I invited Jack to attend the class. He quietly slipped into the room and sat down. When I introduced him, the law students were literally bug-eyed with surprise and appreciation. One of the many things I loved about Jack was his sense of wry amusement about the fact that Yale Law School had turned him down, and that he had gone to Harvard. His acceptance of life as it came at him was astonishing. No complaining, no bitterness, only enduring strength, and a spark of humor that endured more than 7,000 days and nights of imprisonment.We shall not see his like again.US Ambassador to Korea 1989-93Pacific Century Institute
Poke n Pin doesn't work the same.
Dutch rich immigrant incentives fail. One guy said yes and was rejected.
Dutch marine shop in Africa to combat Ebola.
Jocelyn Radfick film
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.
Internet Freedom
NYTimes: ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Should Apply Worldwide, E.U. Panel Says
Shut Up Slave!
UK anti-terror law is 'dangerous grab-bag' - The Scotsman
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 01:06
New anti-terror laws have been published amid criticism by human rights groups and concerns raised by the terrorism legislation watchdog.
A new Counter-terrorism and Security Bill, containing a range of draconian powers including new orders that can block suspected British fighters from returning to the UK, was introduced to parliament.
The anti-extremist reforms were published as police officers entered the third day of a counter-terrorism awareness week, which will see more than 6,000 people receive briefings at 80 venues across Britain.
Plans to block suspected jihadists returning to Britain in the bill are ''nothing like as dramatic'' as David Cameron indicated they would be earlier this year, according to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson.
Mr Anderson described the original proposals unveiled by the Prime Minister in September to counter the threat from UK-based extremists travelling abroad to fight for Islamic State (IS) as an ''announcement waiting for a policy''.
He told MPs and peers he believed it had soon become clear that such a move would ''neither legally nor practically'' work and the plan was now for a system of ''managed return''.
The new counter-terror legislation will ban insurance companies from footing the bill for terrorist ransoms and powers will be re-introduced to relocate terror suspects across the UK. A statutory duty will be placed on named organisations '' such as colleges, universities, the police and probation providers '' to help deter radicalisation and, where organisations fail, ministers will be able to issue court-enforced directions to them.
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Police are to be handed powers to force internet firms to hand over details that could help identify suspected terrorists and paedophiles, while police and border staff will be given the power to seize their passports.
The bill's second reading in parliament '' the first opportunity for MPs to debate its principles '' will take place today.
However, Amnesty International UK legal adviser Rachel Logan said: ''It's dangerous to rush through this grab-bag of measures without proper scrutiny or challenge. While the government needs to ensure anyone suspected of criminal activity is investigated, measures like invalidating passports and excluding British nationals from their home country push the boundaries of international law.''
She said adding the ''internal exile of forced relocation'' to current measures raised ''significant concern for basic freedoms''. She continued: ''We simply don't have the fair and proper processes in place for such drastic decisions.''
Islamic Human Rights Commission chair Massoud Shadjareh said: ''To go down the same route of policies which have failed to address terrorism is just going to alienate Muslims further and increase 'otherisation' of communities, encouraging the kind of victimisation that has resulted in attacks on places of worship and individuals.''
But Home Secretary Theresa May said: ''This bill includes a considered, targeted set of proposals that will help keep us safe at a time of very significant danger by ensuring we have the powers we need to defend ourselves.''
Yesterday, the counter-terror campaign shifted focus to preventing vulnerable people from being brainwashed through social media.
Earlier this week the intelligence and security committee in its report on the murder of soldier Lee Rigby said the government's Prevent programme, designed to divert individuals from radicalisation, has not been given sufficient priority.
People found at risk of radicalisation are then offered support through the ''Channel'' process, which involves agencies working to give individuals access to services such as health, education, specialist mentoring and diversionary activities.
Between 2007 and 2014, there were 3,934 referrals to Channel.
National policing lead for the Prevent programme, Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, said: ''The police cannot be in every mosque, college or other community venue monitoring what is discussed and the doctrines promoted. Nor would we want Britain to be such a society.
''We need parents, schools, partners, friends and colleagues to be aware of the signs someone is being influenced by extremist messages and have the confidence to report any concerns to the police. Look out for notable changes in behaviour and mood, those vulnerable may begin to express extreme views, or appear increasingly sympathetic to terrorist acts, their appearance may change along with the friends they spend time with or they may start to spend excessive time on their own or on the internet.''
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: ''We have seen unprecedented numbers of people travelling from our country to join Isil [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Syria and Iraq, so more does need to be done to make sure there are rapid ways to remove someone's passport if they are about to travel to join the fighting, and also to deal with the threat from those who want to return.
''We will look at the detail of these proposals to make sure they are effective and proportionate, with appropriate safeguards in place.
''However, it is important to ensure any new measures are workable and are drawn up to deal with the terror threat rather than to deal with the Prime Minister's headlines. We need strong powers to tackle the threat from Isil and we also need strong checks and balances too.''
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Free speech is so last century. Today's students want the 'right to be comfortable' >> The Spectator
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:21
Don't be a Stepford student '-- subscribe to The Spectator's print and digital bundle for just £22 for 22 weeks.
Have you met the Stepford students? They're everywhere. On campuses across the land. Sitting stony-eyed in lecture halls or surreptitiously policing beer-fuelled banter in the uni bar. They look like students, dress like students, smell like students. But their student brains have been replaced by brains bereft of critical faculties and programmed to conform. To the untrained eye, they seem like your average book-devouring, ideas-discussing, H&M-adorned youth, but anyone who's spent more than five minutes in their company will know that these students are far more interested in shutting debate down than opening it up.
I was attacked by a swarm of Stepford students this week. On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings 'who do not have uteruses' should get to hold forth on abortion '-- identity politics at its most basely biological '-- and claimed the debate would threaten the 'mental safety' of Oxford students. Three hundred promised to turn up to the debate with 'instruments' '-- heaven knows what '-- that would allow them to disrupt proceedings.
Incredibly, Christ Church capitulated, the college's censors living up to the modern meaning of their name by announcing that they would refuse to host the debate on the basis that it now raised 'security and welfare issues'. So at one of the highest seats of learning on Earth, the democratic principle of free and open debate, of allowing differing opinions to slog it out in full view of discerning citizens, has been violated, and students have been rebranded as fragile creatures, overgrown children who need to be guarded against any idea that might prick their souls or challenge their prejudices. One of the censorious students actually boasted about her role in shutting down the debate, wearing her intolerance like a badge of honour in an Independent article in which she argued that, 'The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups.'
This isn't the first time I've encountered the Stepford students. Last month, at Britain's other famously prestigious university, Cambridge, I was circled by Stepfords after taking part in a debate on faith schools. It wasn't my defence of parents' rights to send their children to religious schools they wanted to harangue me for '-- much as they loathed that liberal position '-- it was my suggestion, made in this magazine and elsewhere, that 'lad culture' doesn't turn men into rapists. Their mechanical minds seemed incapable of computing that someone would say such a thing.
Their eyes glazed with moral certainty, they explained to me at length that culture warps minds and shapes behaviour and that is why it is right for students to strive to keep such wicked, misogynistic stuff as the Sun newspaper and sexist pop music off campus. 'We have the right to feel comfortable,' they all said, like a mantra. One '-- a bloke '-- said that the compulsory sexual consent classes recently introduced for freshers at Cambridge, to teach what is and what isn't rape, were a great idea because they might weed out 'pre-rapists': men who haven't raped anyone but might. The others nodded. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Pre-rapists! Had any of them read Philip K. Dick's dystopian novella about a wicked world that hunts down and punishes pre-criminals, I asked? None had.
When I told them that at the fag-end of the last millennium I had spent my student days arguing against the very ideas they were now spouting '-- against the claim that gangsta rap turned black men into murderers or that Tarantino flicks made teens go wild and criminal '-- not so much as a flicker of reflection crossed their faces. 'Back then, the people who were making those censorious, misanthropic arguments about culture determining behaviour weren't youngsters like you,' I said. 'They were older, more conservative people, with blue rinses.' A moment's silence. Then one of the Stepfords piped up. 'Maybe those people were right,' he said. My mind filled with a vision of Mary Whitehouse cackling to herself in some corner of the cosmos.
If your go-to image of a student is someone who's free-spirited and open-minded, who loves having a pop at orthodoxies, then you urgently need to update your mind's picture bank. Students are now pretty much the opposite of that. It's hard to think of any other section of society that has undergone as epic a transformation as students have. From freewheelin' to ban-happy, from askers of awkward questions to suppressors of offensive speech, in the space of a generation. My showdown with the debate-banning Stepfords at Oxford and the pre-crime promoters at Cambridge echoed other recent run-ins I've had with the intolerant students of the 21st century. I've been jeered at by students at the University of Cork for criticising gay marriage; cornered and branded a 'denier' by students at University College London for suggesting industrial development in Africa should take precedence over combating climate change; lambasted by students at Cambridge (again) for saying it's bad to boycott Israeli goods. In each case, it wasn't the fact the students disagreed with me that I found alarming '-- disagreement is great! '-- it was that they were so plainly shocked that I could have uttered such things, that I had failed to conform to what they assume to be right, that I had sought to contaminate their campuses and their fragile grey matter with offensive ideas.
Where once students might have allowed their eyes and ears to be bombarded by everything from risqu(C) political propaganda to raunchy rock, now they insulate themselves from anything that might dent their self-esteem and, crime of crimes, make them feel 'uncomfortable'. Student groups insist that online articles should have 'trigger warnings' in case their subject matter might cause offence.
The 'no platform' policy of various student unions is forever being expanded to keep off campus pretty much anyone whose views don't chime perfectly with the prevailing groupthink. Where once it was only far-right rabble-rousers who were no-platformed, now everyone from Zionists to feminists who hold the wrong opinions on transgender issues to 'rape deniers' (anyone who questions the idea that modern Britain is in the grip of a 'rape culture') has found themselves shunned from the uni-sphere. My Oxford experience suggests pro-life societies could be next. In September the students' union at Dundee banned the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children from the freshers' fair on the basis that its campaign material is 'highly offensive'.
Barely a week goes by without reports of something 'offensive' being banned by students. Robin Thicke's rude pop ditty 'Blurred Lines' has been banned in more than 20 universities. Student officials at Balliol College, Oxford, justified their ban as a means of 'prioritising the wellbeing of our students'. Apparently a three-minute pop song can harm students' health. More than 30 student unions have banned the Sun, on the basis that Page Three could turn all those pre-rapists into actual rapists. Radical feminist students once burned their bras '-- now they insist that models put bras on. The union at UCL banned the Nietzsche Society on the grounds that its existence threatened 'the safety of the UCL student body'.
Stepford concerns are over-amplified on social media. No sooner is a contentious subject raised than a university 'campaign' group appears on Facebook, or a hashtag on Twitter, demanding that the debate is shut down. Technology means that it has never been easier to whip up a false sense of mass outrage '-- and target that synthetic anger at those in charge. The authorities on the receiving end feel so besieged that they succumb to the demands and threats.
Heaven help any student who doesn't bow before the Stepford mentality. The students' union at Edinburgh recently passed a motion to 'End lad banter' on campus. Laddish students are being forced to recant their bantering ways. Last month, the rugby club at the London School of Economics was disbanded for a year after its members handed out leaflets advising rugby lads to avoid 'mingers' (ugly girls) and 'homosexual debauchery'. Under pressure from LSE bigwigs, the club publicly recanted its 'inexcusably offensive' behaviour and declared that its members have 'a lot to learn about the pernicious effects of banter'. They're being made to take part in equality and diversity training. At British unis in 2014, you don't just get education '-- you also get re-education, Soviet style.
The censoriousness has reached its nadir in the rise of the 'safe space' policy. Loads of student unions have colonised vast swaths of their campuses and declared them 'safe spaces' '-- that is, places where no student should ever be made to feel threatened, unwelcome or belittled, whether by banter, bad thinking or 'Blurred Lines'. Safety from physical assault is one thing '-- but safety from words, ideas, Zionists, lads, pop music, Nietzsche? We seem to have nurtured a new generation that believes its self-esteem is more important than everyone else's liberty.
This is what those censorious Cambridgers meant when they kept saying they have the 'right to be comfortable'. They weren't talking about the freedom to lay down on a chaise longue '-- they meant the right never to be challenged by disturbing ideas or mind-battered by offensiveness. At precisely the time they should be leaping brain-first into the rough and tumble of grown-up, testy discussion, students are cushioning themselves from anything that has the whiff of controversy. We're witnessing the victory of political correctness by stealth. As the annoying 'PC gone mad!' brigade banged on and on about extreme instances of PC '-- schools banning 'Baa Baa, Black Sheep', etc. '-- nobody seems to have noticed that the key tenets of PC, from the desire to destroy offensive lingo to the urge to re-educate apparently corrupted minds, have been swallowed whole by a new generation. This is a disaster, for it means our universities are becoming breeding grounds of dogmatism. As John Stuart Mill said, if we don't allow our opinion to be 'fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed', then that opinion will be 'held as a dead dogma, not a living truth'.
One day, these Stepford students, with their lust to ban, their war on offensive lingo, and their terrifying talk of pre-crime, will be running the country. And then it won't only be those of us who occasionally have cause to visit a campus who have to suffer their dead dogmas.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 22 November 2014
Tags:Abortion, Free speech, Gender politics, Laddism, LSE, Philip K. Dick, political correctness, Rape culture, Sexism, Students, UCL, Universities, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Zionism
AP News : UK police: up to 5 terror plots foiled this year
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:58
By DANICA KIRKAPublished: YesterdayLONDON (AP) - The head of London's police force said Sunday that as many as five terror plots were foiled this year, as he warned of increasing pressure on resources amid the rising threat.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told the BBC that normally security services disrupt one plot annually. However, he said this year alone authorities have disrupted "we think four or five."
Police have become increasingly concerned about young people traveling to fight in Syria and becoming radicalized by the Islamic State group. The fear is that they will return and wage attacks at home. Authorities estimate that some 500 British jihadists have traveled to Syria.
Hogan-Howe's comments come as authorities prepare for a nationwide terrorism awareness campaign in which the police will attempt to build grass-roots support in a bid to prevent attacks. Briefings at some 80 venues such as schools, airports and shopping centers are planned.
The Scotland Yard chief said police are increasingly worried about the possibility of a "lone wolf" attack and that thwarting such attacks is putting pressure on resources because police need to move fast.
"It doesn't take an awful lot of organizing, doesn't take too many to conspire together, there's no real complexity to it," he said. "What that means is we have got a very short time to interdict, to actually intervene and make sure that these people don't get away with it. So, that is causing real pressure on us in terms of resources."
Hogan-Howe's comments came as Home Secretary Theresa May said she would propose a bill in the House of Commons this week forcing Internet firms to retain data linking Internet Protocol or IP addresses to individual users.
May said the Anti-Terrorism and Security Bill would boost national security.
Senator tells Visa and MasterCard to stop serving ''cyberlockers'' | Ars Technica
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:57
The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee has sent letters to the two leading credit card companies, asking them to stop serving 30 Web storage services, including Kim Dotcom's Mega, that were called out in an earlier report attacking Internet "cyberlockers."
"The cyberlockers listed in the NetNames report (PDF) bear clear red flags of having no legitimate purpose or activity," wrote Sen. Patrick Leahy in letters addressed to the CEOs of MasterCard and Visa. 29 of the 30 sites accept Visa and MasterCard, and some of them bear the credit companies' logos, which "lends the sites a harmful imprimatur of legitimacy," stated Leahy.
"I ask MasterCard to swiftly review complaints against those cyberlockers and to ensure that payment processing services offered by MasterCard to those sites, or any others dedicated to infringing activity, cease," the senator wrote in the letter (PDF) to MasterCard. The wording in the letter to Visa is nearly identical.
The report Leahy references was published in September and funded by Digital Citizens Alliance, a group that produces reports about online crime. Many of those reports are dedicated to blaming Google for all manner of Internet wrongs.
In this report, the group is focused on pressuring Visa and Mastercard, and Leahy seems to have taken up their challenge.
Leahy, who will lose his committee chairmanship when the new Congress is seated in January, differentiates the 30 named services from "lawful cloud storage services" without much detail as to what makes them different. The cyberlockers "exist to unlawfully store and disseminate infringing files around the world," he writes.
The report lists the 30 cyberlockers, with names like RapidGator, FreakShare, and Videoweed, saying they're part of a "shadowy" group that makes an estimated $96 million annually through distributing content. The cyberlockers don't have internal search engines, but the report describes how external "linking sites" point users to copyrighted content. The sites charge for premium download and access services, and it's typically those premium users who get asked for their MasterCard or Visa credit cards.
Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014-Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 1233, H.R. 4194, S. 885, S. 898, S. 1093, S. 1499, S. 1512, S. 1934, S. 2141, S. 2539 and S. 2583 | The White House
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:35
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 26, 2014
On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, the President signed into law:
H.R. 1233, the "Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014," which establishes and amends several procedures related to Presidential and Federal records management;
H.R. 4194, the "Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014," which eliminates and modifies certain statutory requirements for reports to Congress;
S. 885, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located in Danville, Vermont, as the Thaddeus Stevens Post Office;
S. 898, the "Albuquerque, New Mexico, Federal Land Conveyance Act of 2013," which authorizes the General Services Administration to convey certain real property located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Amy Biehl High School Foundation;
S. 1093, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, as the First Lieutenant Alvin Chester Cockrell, Jr. Post Office Building;
S. 1499, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located in Chadron, Nebraska, as the Sergeant Cory Mracek Memorial Post Office;
S. 1512, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located in Rochester, New York, as the Specialist Theodore Matthew Glende Post Office;
S. 1934, the "Clifford P. Hansen Federal Courthouse Conveyance Act," which authorizes the General Services Administration to convey the Clifford P. Hansen Federal Courthouse to Teton County, Wyoming;
S. 2141, the "Sunscreen Innovation Act," which modifies the process for the review and approval of over-the-counter sunscreen ingredients by the Food and Drug Administration;
S. 2539, the "Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2014," which reauthorizes appropriations for programs and activities at the Department of Health and Human Services relating to the study, prevention, and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI); improves coordination of Federal TBI activities; and studies brain-injury management in children; and
S. 2583, the "Enhance Labeling, Accessing, and Branding of Electronic Licenses Act of 2014" or the "E-LABEL Act," which promotes the non-exclusive use of electronic labeling for certain devices licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.
Text - H.R.4194 - 113th Congress (2013-2014): Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:35
Shown Here:Enrolled Bill (11/14/2014)Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this legislative text may be shown by tags (e.g., or ) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF or HTML/XML.
[Congressional Bills 113th Congress][From the U.S. Government Printing Office][H.R. 4194 Enrolled Bill (ENR)] H.R.4194 One Hundred Thirteenth Congress of the United States of America AT THE SECOND SESSION Begun and held at the City of Washington on Friday, the third day of January, two thousand and fourteen An Act To provide for the elimination or modification of Federal reporting requirements. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014''.SEC. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS. The table of contents for this Act is as follows:Sec. 1. Short title.Sec. 2. Table of contents. TITLE I--DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURESec. 101. Reports eliminated. TITLE II--DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCESec. 201. Reports eliminated. TITLE III--CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICESec. 301. Reports eliminated. TITLE IV--DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSESec. 401. Reports eliminated. TITLE V--DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONSec. 501. Report on Impact Aid construction justifying discretionary grant awards eliminated. TITLE VI--DEPARTMENT OF ENERGYSec. 601. Reports eliminated. TITLE VII--ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCYSec. 701. Great Lakes management comprehensive report eliminated. TITLE VIII--EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENTSec. 801. Report relating to waiver of certain sanctions against North Korea eliminated. TITLE IX--GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICESec. 901. Reports eliminated.Sec. 902. Reports modified. TITLE X--DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITYSec. 1001. Reports eliminated. TITLE XI--DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORSec. 1101. Royalties in-kind report eliminated. TITLE XII--DEPARTMENT OF LABORSec. 1201. Report eliminated. TITLE XIII--OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCESec. 1301. Report eliminated. TITLE XIV--DEPARTMENT OF STATESec. 1401. Report eliminated. TITLE XV--DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATIONSec. 1501. Reports eliminated.Sec. 1502. Report modified. TITLE XVI--DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURYSec. 1601. Reports eliminated. TITLE XVII--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRSSec. 1701. Report eliminated. TITLE I--DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SEC. 101. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Peanut Base Acres Data Collection and Publication.--Section 1302(d) of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 8752(d)) is amended-- (1) by striking paragraph (3); (2) in paragraph (4), by striking ``Paragraphs (1) through (3)'' and inserting ``Paragraphs (1) and (2)''; and (3) by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (3). (b) Report on Export Credit Guarantees to Emerging Markets.--Section 1542(e) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-624; 7 U.S.C. 5622 note) is amended-- (1) by striking ``(1) Effect of credits.--''; and (2) by striking paragraph (2). (c) Evaluation of the Rural Development, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program Financing of Locally or Regionally Produced Food Products.--Section 310B(g)(9)(B) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1932(g)(9)(B)) is amended-- (1) by striking clause (iv); and (2) by redesignating clause (v) as clause (iv). (d) Quarterly Export Assistance Reports.--Section 603 of the Agricultural Trade Act of 1978 (7 U.S.C. 5713) is repealed. (e) Rural Collaborative Investment Program.-- (1) Secretarial report on regional rural investment boards.-- Section 385C(b)(7) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 2009dd-2(b)(7)) is amended-- (A) in subparagraph (B), by adding ``and'' at the end; (B) in subparagraph (C), by striking ``; and'' and inserting a period; and (C) by striking subparagraph (D). (2) Report by regional rural investment board to national rural investment board and the secretary.--Section 385D(a)(7) of Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 2009dd- 3(a)(7)) is amended-- (A) in subparagraph (C), by adding ``and'' at the end; (B) by striking subparagraph (D); and (C) by redesignating subparagraph (E) as subparagraph (D). (f) Status Report for Foreign Market Development.--Section 702 of the Agricultural Trade Act of 1978 (7 U.S.C. 5722) is amended by striking subsection (c). TITLE II--DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE SEC. 201. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Efforts and Progress in Becoming Designated as Sea Grant College or Institute.--Section 207 of the National Sea Grant Program Act (33 U.S.C. 1126) is amended by striking subsection (e). (b) Enterprise Integration Standardization and Implementation.--Section 3 of the Enterprise Integration Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 278g-5) is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (c); and (2) by redesignating subsections (d) and (e) as subsections (c) and (d), respectively. (c) Ensuring Equal Access to Sea Grant Fellowship Program.--Section 208(a) of the National Sea Grant Program Act (33 U.S.C. 1127(a)) is amended by striking the fourth sentence. (d) Technology Innovation Program Activities.--Section 28 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278n) is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (g); (2) by redesignating subsections (h) through (l) as subsections (g) through (k), respectively; and (3) in subsection (k)(5), as redesignated, by striking ``under subsection (k)'' and inserting ``under subsection (j)''. (e) TIP Advisory Board Annual Report.--Section 28 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278n) is further amended in subsection (j), as redesignated by subsection (d), by striking paragraph (5). (f) Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Activities.--Section 212 of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Convention Act of 1995 (16 U.S.C. 5611) is repealed. TITLE III--CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE SEC. 301. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Service-Learning Impact Study.--The National and Community Service Act of 1990 is amended by repealing part IV of subtitle B of title I (42 U.S.C. 12565). (b) Reports by Other Federal Agencies to the Corporation.--Section 182 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12642) is amended-- (1) by striking the following: ``(a) Design of Programs.--''; and (2) by striking subsection (b). TITLE IV--DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SEC. 401. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Display of Annual Budget Requirements for Air Sovereignty Alert Mission.--Section 354 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417; 10 U.S.C. 221 note) is hereby repealed. (b) Annual Report on Reliability of Department of Defense Financial Statements.--Section 1008 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Public Law 107-107; 10 U.S.C. 113 note) is amended-- (1) by striking subsections (a) and (b); and (2) in subsection (d)(1), by striking ``(b) or''. TITLE V--DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SEC. 501. REPORT ON IMPACT AID CONSTRUCTION JUSTIFYING DISCRETIONARY GRANT AWARDS ELIMINATED. Section 8007(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7707(b)) is amended by striking paragraph (7). TITLE VI--DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY SEC. 601. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Science and Engineering Education Pilot Program.--Section 983 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16323) is amended by striking subsection (d). (b) Strategic Unconventional Fuels Development Program.--Section 369(i) of Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 15927(i)) is amended by striking paragraph (3). (c) Energy Efficiency Standards for Industrial Equipment.--Section 342(a)(6)(C) of Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6313(a)(6)(C)) is amended-- (1) by striking clause (v); and (2) by redesignating clause (vi) (as added by section 310(a)(4) of Public Law 112-110; 126 Stat. 1524) as clause (v). TITLE VII--ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY SEC. 701. GREAT LAKES MANAGEMENT COMPREHENSIVE REPORT ELIMINATED. Section 118(c) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1268(c)) is amended-- (1) by striking paragraph (10); and (2) by redesignating paragraphs (11) through (13) as paragraphs (10) through (12), respectively. TITLE VIII--EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT SEC. 801. REPORT RELATING TO WAIVER OF CERTAIN SANCTIONS AGAINST NORTH KOREA ELIMINATED. Section 1405 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (22 U.S.C. 2799aa-1 note) is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (c); and (2) by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (c). TITLE IX--GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE SEC. 901. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Expenditures of Local Educational Agencies.--Section 1904 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6574) is repealed. (b) Use of Recovery Act Funds by States and Localities Report.--Section 901 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5; 123 Stat. 191) is repealed. (c) Help America Vote Act Funds Audit.-- (1) Elimination of audit.--Section 902(b) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15542(b)) is amended-- (A) in paragraph (1), by striking ``paragraph (5)'' and inserting ``paragraph (4)''; (B) by striking paragraph (3); and (C) by redesignating paragraphs (4) through (6) as paragraphs (3) through (5). (2) Preservation of authority to recoup funds resulting from prior audits.--Section 902(c) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15542(c)) is amended by inserting after ``subsection (b)'' the following: ``prior to the date of the enactment of the Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014''. (d) State Small Business Credit Initiative Audit and Report.--Section 3011 of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (12 U.S.C. 5710) is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (b); and (2) by redesignating subsections (c) and (d) as subsections (b) and (c), respectively. (e) Small Business Lending Fund Program Audit and Report.--Section 4107 of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (12 U.S.C. 4741 note) is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (c); and (2) by redesignating subsections (d) and (e) as subsections (c) and (d), respectively. (f) Housing Assistance Council Financial Statement Audit Report.--Section 6303(a) of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (42 U.S.C. 1490e note) is amended by striking paragraph (3). SEC. 902. REPORTS MODIFIED. (a) National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council.--Subsection (i) of section 4001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 300u-10) is amended by striking ``The Secretary and the Comptroller General of the United States shall jointly conduct periodic reviews'' and inserting ``The Secretary shall conduct periodic reviews''. (b) Postcard Mandate.--Section 719(g)(2) of title 31, United States Code is amended-- (1) by striking the first sentence and inserting the following: ``The Comptroller General shall make each list available through the public website of the Government Accountability Office.''; and (2) in the second sentence, by inserting ``of Congress'' after ``committee or member''. (c) Annual Audit of the Congressional Award Foundation.-- (1) Use of private independent public accountant.--Section 107 of the Congressional Award Act (2 U.S.C. 807) is amended to read as follows: ``audits ``Sec. 107. (a) Contracts With Independent Public Accountant.--The Board shall enter into a contract with an independent public accountant to conduct an annual audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards, of the financial records of the Board and of any corporation established under section 106(i), and shall ensure that the independent public accountant has access for the purpose of the audit to any books, documents, papers, and records of the Board or such corporation (or any agent of the Board or such corporation) which the independent public accountant reasonably determines to be pertinent to the Congressional Award Program. ``(b) Annual Report to Congress on Audit Results.--Not later than May 15 of each calendar year, the Board shall submit to appropriate officers, committees, and subcommittees of Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States a report on the results of the most recent audit conducted pursuant to this section, and shall include in the report information on any such additional areas as the independent public accountant who conducted the audit determines deserve or require evaluation. ``(c) Review by the Comptroller General of Annual Audit.-- ``(1) The Comptroller General of the United States shall review each annual audit conducted under subsection (a). ``(2) For purposes of a review under paragraph (1), the Comptroller General, or any duly authorized representative of the Comptroller General, shall have access to any books, documents, papers, and records of the Board or such corporation, or any agent of the Board or such corporation, including the independent external auditor designated under subsection (a), which, in the opinion of the Comptroller General, may be pertinent. ``(3) Not later than 180 days after the date on which the Comptroller General receives a report under subsection (b), the Comptroller General shall submit to Congress a report containing the results of the review conducted under paragraph (1) with respect to the preceding year.''. (2) Amendments relating to compliance with fiscal control and accounting policies and procedures.--Section 104(c) of the Congressional Award Act (2 U.S.C. 804(c)) is amended-- (A) in paragraph (1), in the first sentence, by-- (i) inserting ``policies and'' before ``procedures''; and (ii) striking ``fund''; and (B) in paragraph (2)(A)-- (i) in the first sentence, by striking ``The Comptroller General of the United States'' and inserting ``The independent public accountant conducting the annual audit of the financial records of the Board pursuant to section 107(a)''; and (ii) in the second sentence, by striking ``the Comptroller General'' and inserting ``the independent public accountant''. (3) Effective date.--The amendments made by this subsection shall take effect on October 1, 2014. (d) Annual GAO Review of Proposed HHS Recovery Threshold.--The third sentence of section 1862(b)(9)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395y(b)(9)(B)(i)) is amended by striking ``for a year'' and inserting ``for 2014''. TITLE X--DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITYSEC. 1001. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Prohibition on Importation of Products Made With Dog or Cat Fur.--Section 308 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1308) is amended by striking subsection (e). (b) Port of Entry Infrastructure Assessment Study and National Land Border Security Plan.--The Border Infrastructure and Technology Modernization Act of 2007 (title VI of division E of Public Law 110-161; 6 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) is amended by striking sections 603 and 604. (c) Fees for Certain Customs Services.-- (1) Repeal.--Section 13031 of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-272; 19 U.S.C. 58c) is amended-- (A) in subsection (a)(9), by striking subparagraph (C) and redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (C); and (B) in subsection (f)-- (i) in paragraph (3)-- (I) by striking subparagraph (D); and (II) by redesignating subparagraph (E) as subparagraph (D); (ii) by striking paragraph (4); and (iii) by redesignating paragraphs (5) and (6) as paragraphs (4) and (5), respectively. (2) Conforming amendments.--Subsection (f) of such section is further amended-- (A) in paragraph (1)(B), by striking ``paragraph (5)'' and inserting ``paragraph (4)''; and (B) in paragraph (3)(A), by striking ``paragraph (5)'' and inserting ``paragraph (4)''. (d) Modernization of National Distress and Response System.-- (1) Repeal.--Section 346 of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-295; 14 U.S.C. 88 note) is repealed. (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended by striking the item relating to section 346. TITLE XI--DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORSEC. 1101. ROYALTIES IN-KIND REPORT ELIMINATED. Section 342 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 15902) is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (e); and (2) by redesignating subsections (f) through (j) as subsections (e) through (i), respectively. TITLE XII--DEPARTMENT OF LABORSEC. 1201. REPORT ELIMINATED. Section 207 of the Andean Trade Preference Act (19 U.S.C. 3205) is repealed. TITLE XIII--OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCESEC. 1301. REPORT ELIMINATED. Section 2(5)(E) of the Senate resolution advising and consenting to ratification of the Document Agreed Among the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) of November 19, 1990, adopted at Vienna May 31, 1996 (Treaty Doc. 105-5) (commonly referred to as the ``CFE Flank Document''), 105th Congress, agreed to May 14, 1997, is repealed. TITLE XIV--DEPARTMENT OF STATESEC. 1401. REPORT ELIMINATED. Section 620F of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2376) is amended by striking subsection (c). TITLE XV--DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATIONSEC. 1501. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Reports of Air Traffic Services Committee.--Section 106(p)(7) of title 49, United States Code, is amended-- (1) by striking subparagraph (H); and (2) by redesignating subparagraph (I) as subparagraph (H). (b) Annual Summaries of Airport Financial Reports.-- (1) In general.--Section 47107 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking subsection (k). (2) Conforming amendments.-- (A) Section 47107 of title 49, United States Code, as amended by paragraph (1), is further amended-- (i) by redesignating subsections (l) through (t) as subsections (k) through (s), respectively; (ii) in paragraph (5) of subsection (k), as redesignated by clause (i)-- (I) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking ``subsection (n)(7)'' and inserting ``subsection (m)(7)''; and (II) in subparagraph (B), by striking ``subsection (n)'' and inserting ``subsection (m)''; (iii) in subsection (m), as so redesignated-- (I) by striking ``subsections (b) and (l)'' each place it appears and inserting ``subsections (b) and (k)''; and (II) by striking ``subsection (o)'' each place it appears and inserting ``subsection (n)''; (iv) in subsection (n), as so redesignated, by striking ``subsection (n)'' each place it appears and inserting ``subsection (m)''; (v) in subsection (o), as so redesignated, by striking ``subsection (o)'' and inserting ``subsection (n)''; (vi) in subsection (p), as so redesignated, by striking ``subsections (a) through (p)'' and inserting ``subsections (a) through (o)''; and (vii) in subsection (q), as so redesignated, by striking ``subsections (q)(1) through (3)'' and inserting ``paragraphs (1) through (3) of subsection (p)''. (B) Section 46301(d)(2) of such title is amended by striking ``section 47107(l)'' and inserting ``section 47107(k)''. (C) Section 47111(e) of such title is amended by striking ``section 47107(l)'' and inserting ``section 47107(k)''. (D) Section 9502 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ``section 47107(n)'' each place it appears and inserting ``section 47107(m)''. (c) Annual Report on Pipeline Safety Information Grants to Communities.--Section 60130 of title 49, United States Code, is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (c); and (2) by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (c). (d) Annual Report on Pilot Program for Innovative Financing of Air Traffic Control Equipment.--Section 182 of the Vision 100--Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (117 Stat. 2515; 49 U.S.C. 44502 note) is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (e); and (2) by redesignating subsection (f) as subsection (e). (e) Reports on Justifications for Air Defense Identification Zones.--Section 602 of the Vision 100--Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (117 Stat. 2563), and the item relating to that section in the table of contents contained in section 1(b) of that Act, are repealed. (f) Annual Report on Standards for Aircraft and Aircraft Engines To Reduce Noise Levels.--Section 726 of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (114 Stat. 167; 49 U.S.C. 47508 note) is amended by striking subsection (c).SEC. 1502. REPORT MODIFIED. Section 1138(a) of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking ``at least annually, but may be conducted''. TITLE XVI--DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURYSEC. 1601. REPORTS ELIMINATED. (a) Annual Report on the North American Development Bank.--Section 2 of Public Law 108-215 (22 U.S.C. 290m-6) is repealed. (b) Report on Voting on International Financial Institutions Loan Proposals.--Section 701 of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262d) is amended by striking subsection (c) and redesignating subsection (d) through subsection (g) (as added by section 501(g) of Public Law 96-259) as subsections (c) through (f), respectively. (c) Report on New IMF Arrangements Regarding Rates and Maturities.--Section 605 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1999 (112 Stat. 2681-222), as enacted into law by section 101(d) of division A of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999 (Public Law 105-277), is amended by striking subsection (d). (d) Report on Significant Modifications.--The Government Securities Act Amendments of 1993 (Public Law 103-202; 31 U.S.C. 3121 note) is amended-- (1) by striking section 203; and (2) in the table of contents for such Act, by striking the item relating to section 203. TITLE XVII--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRSSEC. 1701. REPORT ELIMINATED. Section 8125 of title 38, United States Code, is amended-- (1) by striking subsection (d); and (2) by redesignating subsection (e) as subsection (d). Speaker of the House of Representatives. Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate.
Take Your Meds Slave!
"Sluggish Cognitive Tempo,"-Daydreaming may be the next childhood psychiatric target - Eric Schulzke
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:51
While parents and teachers have been focused for years on the debate of ADHD, some psychiatrists are more interested in the kid who causes no disruption at all, but merely sits staring out the window.The new frontier of ADHD is "Sluggish Cognitive Tempo," or SCT.
"The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology devoted 136 pages of its January issue to papers describing the illness," writes Alan Schwarz at the New York Times, "with the lead paper claiming that the question of its existence 'seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.' The psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, for 30 years one of A.D.H.D.'s most influential and visible proponents, has claimed in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo 'has become the new attention disorder.'"
One leading proponent of SCT is Dr. Russell Barkley, who, The Guardian reports, calls the condition "the second attention disorder" - between a third and a half of all those diagnosed with the inattentive subtype of ADHD are, in fact, suffering from SCT, and about the same number again remain undiagnosed. In the U.S., that would add up to around two million children."
Dr. Allen Frances, who headed the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV for the American Psychiatric Association, is not amused and is making no bones about it."Sluggish Cognitive Tempo is a remarkably silly name for an even sillier proposal," Frances wrote at the Psychology Today website. "Its main characteristics are vaguely described but include some combination daydreaming, lethargy, and slow mental processing. Its proponents estimate that SCT afflicts approximately 2 million children. Not surprisingly, Eli Lilly is already on the case."
"Some of the researchers who contributed to the journal issue have financial ties to the the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. They'd previously published research on the ADHD drug Strattera as a possible treatment for the condition," noted Business Insider.
Comment by clicking here.
The armored personnel carriers flashed all over TV do not belong to the Ferguson PD, but to the SLCPD and other metro and county agencies.
Police: Woman allegedly kills herself with gun bought to prepare for Ferguson unrest - CNN.com
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:44
By CNN Justice Reporter Evan Perez and Producer Shimon Prokupecz
November 23, 2014 -- Updated 2358 GMT (0758 HKT)
St. Louis (CNN) -- A woman appears to have accidentally fatally shot herself in the head with a gun bought to prepare for possible Ferguson-related unrest, according to sources briefed on the police investigation.
The shooting occurred Friday night in downtown St. Louis, the city's Metropolitan Police Department said, in an area dominated by vacant lots beside a football stadium.
The female victim, identified in a police report as Becca Campbell, 26, was a passenger in a car involved in an auto accident. Her 33-year-old boyfriend was driving, the sources told CNN.
The boyfriend, who wasn't identified, told police that the couple had bought a gun because of fears of unrest related to the pending grand jury decision on the shooting of Michael Brown, the sources said.
He told investigators that as they drove late Friday night, the victim waved a gun, jokingly saying the couple were ready for Ferguson, the sources said.
He ducked to get out of the way of the gun and accidentally rear-ended another car. He said the accident caused the gun to go off and she was struck by a bullet in the head, the sources said.
The victim was rushed to a hospital but died.
The investigation is continuing because police want to be sure the story as told by the boyfriend is correct, the sources said. Police are awaiting gun trace results, as part of the ongoing investigation.
Listen Up, America. Obama is Speaking Truth to Blacks and Whites - NationalJournal.com - Linkis.com
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:20
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Activist Post: With Everyone Focused on Ferguson, Obama Quietly Passing 3,400 New Regulations Before Thanksgiving
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:51
Melissa MeltonActivist PostAlthough the government and mainstream media perfectly timed the Ferguson grand jury decision to go off right after President Obama passed executive amnesty (which, magically, no one in the mainstream media is talking about anymore), it also works out well for the White House that this event transpired right before the upcoming holiday.
Why, you might ask?
Because the Obama administration has prepared, for the fifth time now, to oh-so-quietly release 3,415 brand spanking new regulations right before Thanksgiving while everyone just so happens to be totally distracted and focusing on the orchestrated civil disorder going on in Ferguson.
Via The Daily Caller:
The federal Unified Agenda is the Obama administration's regulatory road map, and it lays out thousands of regulations being finalized in the coming months. Under President Barack Obama, there has been a tradition of releasing the agenda late on Friday '-- and right before a major holiday.
''It's become an unfortunate tradition of this administration and others to drop these regulatory agendas late on a Friday and right before a holiday,'' Matt Shudtz, executive director of the Center for Progressive Reform, told The Hill newspaper.
The White House's regulatory agenda for spring 2014 was released on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend, when millions of people set out on weekend getaways or family vacations.''It's unfortunate because it's an update on protections for Americans of all stripes,'' Shudtz told the Hill. ''It lays out the administration's plan and it deserves more attention.''
Nice, right?Apparently, this release comes new and improved with even more regulations than last time, and it even comes complete with the added bonus of having 189 rules which come with a nice fat price tag of $100 million.
It's funny'... Once upon a time, throwing out an amount like a hundred million would've made some people's eyeballs literally pop out of their heads. I can use the word literally in a figurative sense now without being incorrect, because apparently we live in such an Idiocracy society that the official definition of the word ''literally'' has been updated to include ''used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.''
'... I'm not even kidding.
See?Anyway, who knows what evil will be lurking in those 3,415 new regulations. No, really. Who knows? Hardly anyone knows, because these regs will be slipped in under cover of concocted protests in Ferguson, a plate full of turkey and stuffing, and a football game.
Melissa Melton is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared, and a co-creator of Truthstream Media with Aaron Dykes, a site that offers teleprompter-free, unscripted analysis of The Matrix we find ourselves living in. Melissa also co-founded Nutritional Anarchy with Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper, a site focused on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Wake the flock up!
If you enjoy our work, please donate to keep our website going.
Officer Darren Wilson's story is unbelievable. Literally. - Vox
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 08:14
We've finally heard from Officer Darren Wilson.
Wilson had been publicly silent since the events of August 9, when he shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. And, even as the grand jury announced its decision not to indict him, he remained silent. He had his attorneys release a statement on his behalf.
But on Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the evidence given to the grand jury, including the interview police did with Wilson in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. And so we got to read, for the first time, Wilson's full, immediate account of his altercation with Brown.
And it is unbelievable.
I mean that in the literal sense of the term: "difficult or impossible to believe." But I want to be clear here. I'm not saying Wilson is lying. I'm not saying his testimony is false. I am saying that the events, as he describes them, are simply bizarre. His story is difficult to believe.
The story Wilson tells goes like this:
At about noon on August 9th, Wilson hears on the radio that there's a theft in progress at the Ferguson Market. The suspect is a black male in a black shirt.
Moments later, Wilson sees two young black men walking down the yellow stripe in the center of the street. He pulls over. "Hey guys, why don't you walk on the sidewalk?" They refuse. "We're almost at our destination," one of them replies. Wilson tries again. "But what's wrong with the sidewalk?" he asks.
And then things get weird.
Brown's response to "what's wrong with the sidewalk?", as recorded by Wilson, is "fuck what you have to say." Remember, Wilson is a uniformed police officer, in a police car, and Brown is an 18-year-old kid who just committed a robbery. And when asked to use the sidewalk, Wilson says Brown replied, "Fuck what you have to say."
Wilson says Brown replied, "Fuck what you have to say."
Wilson backs his car up and begins to open the door. "Hey, come here," he said to the kid who just cursed at him. He says Brown replied, "What the fuck you gonna do?" And then Brown, in Wilson's telling, slams the car door closed. Wilson tries to open the door again, tells Brown to get back, and then Brown leans into the vehicle and begins punching him.
Photos surround Michael Brown's casket in Ferguson, MO. (Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
Let's take a breath and recap. Wilson sees two young black men walking in the middle of the street. He pulls over and politely asks them to use the sidewalk. They refuse. He asks again, still polite. Brown tells Wilson '-- again, a uniformed police officer in a police car '-- "fuck what you have to say." Wilson stops his car, tries to get out, and Brown slams the car door on him and then begins punching him through the open window.
What happens next is the most unbelievable moment in the narrative. And so it's probably best that I just quote Wilson's account at length on it.
I was doing the, just scrambling, trying to get his arms out of my face and him from grabbing me and everything else. He turned to his...if he's at my vehicle, he turned to his left and handed the first subject. He said, "here, take these." He was holding a pack of '-- several packs of cigarillos which was just, what was stolen from the Market Store was several packs of cigarillos. He said, "here, hold these" and when he did that I grabbed his right arm trying just to control something at that point. Um, as I was holding it, and he came around, he came around with his arm extended, fist made, and went like that straight at my face with his...a full swing from his left hand.
So Brown is punching inside the car. Wilson is scrambling to deflect the blows, to protect his face, to regain control of the situation. And then Brown stops, turns to his left, says to his friend, "Here, hold these," and hands him the cigarillos stolen from Ferguson Market. Then he turns back to Wilson and, with his left hand now freed from holding the contraband goods, throws a haymaker at Wilson.
Every bullshit detector in me went off when I read that passage. Which doesn't mean that it didn't happen exactly the way Wilson describes. But it is, again, hard to imagine. Brown, an 18-year-old kid holding stolen goods, decides to attack a cop and, while attacking him, stops, hands his stolen goods to his friend, and then returns to the beatdown. It reads less like something a human would do and more like a moment meant to connect Brown to the robbery.
Wilson next recounts his thought process as he reached for a weapon. He considered using his mace, but at such close range, the mace might get in his eyes, too. He doesn't carry a taser with a fireable cartridge, but even if he did, "it probably wouldn't have hit [Brown] anywhere". Wilson couldn't reach his baton or his flashlight. So he went for his gun.
Brown sees him go for the gun. And he replies: "You're too much of a fucking pussy to shoot me."
"You're too much of a fucking pussy to shoot me."
Again, stop for a moment and think about that. Brown is punching Wilson, sees the terrified cop reaching for his gun, and says "You're too much of a fucking pussy to shoot me." He dares him to shoot.
A protestors holds up a sign saying "don't shoot". (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
And then Brown grabs Wilson's gun, twists it, and points it at Wilson's "pelvic area". Wilson regains control of the firearm and gets off a shot, shattering the glass. Brown backs up a half step and, realizing he's unharmed, dives back into the car to attack Wilson. Wilson fires again, and then Brown takes off running. (You can see the injuries Wilson sustained from the fight in these photographs.)
Wilson exits the car to give chase. He yells at Brown to get down on the ground. Here, I'm going to go back to Wilson's words:
When he stopped, he turned, looked at me, made like a grunting noise and had the most intense, aggressive face I've ever seen on a person. When he looked at me, he then did like the hop...you know, like people do to start running. And, he started running at me. During his first stride, he took his right hand put it under his shirt into his waistband. And I ordered him to stop and get on the ground again. He didn't. I fired multiple shots. After I fired the multiple shots, I paused a second, yelled at him to get on the ground again, he was still in the same state. Still charging, hand still in his waistband, hadn't slowed down.
The stuff about Brown putting his hand in his waistband is meant to suggest that Wilson had reason to believe Brown might pull a gun. But it's strange. We know Brown didn't have a gun. And that's an odd fact to obscure while charging a police officer.
Either way, at that point, Wilson shoots again, and kills Brown.
There are inconsistencies in Wilson's story. He estimates that Brown ran 20-30 feet away from the car and then charged another 10 feet back towards Wilson. But we know Brown died 150 feet away from the car.
There are also consistencies. St Louis prosecutor Robert McCulloch said that Brown's DNA was found inside Wilson's car, suggesting there was a physical altercation inside the vehicle. We know shots were fired from inside the car. We know Brown's bullet wounds show he was only hit from the front, never from the back.
But the larger question is, in a sense, simpler: Why?
Why did Michael Brown, an 18-year-old kid headed to college, refuse to move from the middle of the street to the sidewalk? Why would he curse out a police officer? Why would he attack a police officer? Why would he dare a police officer to shoot him? Why would he charge a police officer holding a gun? Why would he put his hand in his waistband while charging, even though he was unarmed?
None of this fits with what we know of Michael Brown
None of this fits with what we know of Michael Brown. Brown wasn't a hardened felon. He didn't have a death wish. And while he might have been stoned, this isn't how stoned people act. The toxicology report did not indicate he was on PCP or something that would've led to suicidal aggression.
Which doesn't mean Wilson is a liar. Unbelievable things happen every day. The fact that his story raises more questions than it answers doesn't mean it isn't true.
But the point of a trial would have been to try to answer these questions. We would have either found out if everything we thought we knew about Brown was wrong, or if Wilson's story was flawed in important ways. But now we're not going to get that chance. We're just left with Wilson's unbelievable story.
More:Michael Brown spent his last day with his friend Dorian Johnson. Johnson was also there when Officer Wilson stopped Brown.Here's where Johnson's testimony corroborates, and diverges, from Wilson's account.
snopes.com: How Did 'Black Friday' Get Its Name?
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 08:25
Claim: The term "Black Friday" originated with the practice of selling off slaves on the day after Thanksgiving.Example: [Collected via e-mail, November 2013]Is this true?DID YOU KNOW: Black Friday stemmed from slavery? It was the day after Thanksgiving when slave traders would sell slaves for a discount to assist plantation owners with more helpers for the upcoming winter (for cutting and stacking fire wood, winterproofing etc.), hence the name ...
Origins: "Black Friday" is the (originally derisive, now mainstream) term for the phenomenon that takes place in the U.S. on the day after Thanksgiving Thursday, when millions of consumers who get the day off from work or school crowd into stores for what is traditionally considered thebeginning of the Christmas shopping season. The origins of the term "Black Friday" have become somewhat obscured in the mists of time, however, leading people to invent fanciful explanations for how that phrase became attached to the day after Thanksgiving. The example reproduced above posits the term started with a tradition of slaveowners or slave traders using that day as an opportunity for selling their wares.The use of "Black Friday" as a descriptor for the day after Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the selling of slaves, though, and the term didn't originate until nearly a century after the practice of slavery was abolished in the U.S. The earliest known use of "Black Friday" in such a context stems from 1951 and referred to the practice of workers calling in sick on the day after Thanksgiving in order to have four consecutive days off (because that day was not yet commonly offered as a paid day off by employers):
WHAT TO DO ABOUT "FRIDAY AFTER THANKSGIVING""Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis" is a disease second only to the bubonic plague in its effects. At least that's the feeling of those who have to get production out, when the "Black Friday" comes along. The shop may be half empty, but every absentee was sick '-- and can prove it.
What to do? Many companies have tried the standard device of denying Thanksgiving Day pay to employees absent the day before and after the holiday. Trouble is, you can't deny pay to those legitimately ill. But what's legitimate? Tough to decide these days of often miraculously easy doctors' certificates.
Glenn L. Martin, Baltimore aircraft manufacturer has another solution: When you decide you want to sweeten up the holiday kitty, pick Black Friday to add to the list. That's just what Martin has done. Friday after Thanksgiving is the company's seventh paid holiday.
We're not suggesting more paid holidays just to get out of a hole. But, if you can make a good trade in bargaining, there are lots of worse things than having a holiday on a day that was half holiday anyway. Shouldn't cost too much for that reason, either.
By 1961 the term "Black Friday" (and "Black Saturday" as well) was being commonly used in a derisive sense by Philadelphia police, who had to deal with the mayhem and headaches caused by all the extra pedestrian and vehicular traffic created by hordes of shoppers heading for the city's downtown stores on the two days after Thanksgiving:For downtown merchants throughout the nation, the biggest shopping days normally are the two following Thanksgiving Day. Resulting traffic jams are an irksome problem to the police and, in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday.
In a 1994 article, former Philadelphia Bulletin reporter Joseph P. Barrett recalled how he took part in popularizing the term "Black Friday" throughout Philadelphia in the early 1960s, from which it eventually spread into nationwide usage:The term "Black Friday" came out of the old Philadelphia Police Department's traffic squad. The cops used it to describe the worst traffic jams which annually occurred in Center City on the Friday after Thanksgiving.It was the day that Santa Claus took his chair in the department stores and every kid in the city wanted to see him. It was the first day of the Christmas shopping season.
Schools were closed. Late in the day, out-of-town visitors began arriving for the Army-Navy football game.
Every "Black Friday," no traffic policeman was permitted to take the day off. The division was placed on 12 hours of duty, and even the police band was ordered to Center City. It was not unusual to see a trombone player directing traffic.
Two officers were assigned to intersections along Market Street to control the throngs of pedestrians.
The department also placed police officers outside parking garages because the "lot filled" signs failed to deter motorists from lining up on the curb lane outside the garage. This reduced street size from two lanes to one. This caused traffic to back up and block traffic at the next intersection. This caused massive gridlock.
In 1959, the old Evening Bulletin assigned me to police administration, working out of City Hall. Nathan Kleger was the police reporter who covered Center City for the Bulletin.
In the early 1960s, Kleger and I put together a front-page story for Thanksgiving and we appropriated the police term "Black Friday" to describe the terrible traffic conditions.
[W]e used it year after year. Then television picked it up.
One popular alternative explanation for the origins of "Black Friday" is that it is the day on which retailers finally began to show a profit for the year (in accounting terms, moving from being "in the red" to "in the black") after operating at an overall loss from January through mid-November. However, this explanation didn't take hold until about the early 1980s, long after Philadelphia police had been using the term in reference to traffic issues.Last updated: 24 November 2014
Urban Legends Reference Pages (C) 1995-2014 by snopes.com.This material may not be reproduced without permission.snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.
ISIS executes two men suspected of being gay - Middle EastIsrael News - Haaretz Israeli News source
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:54
Iraqi security forces standing guard in front of the Islamic court run by the Islamic State in Sadiyah, north of Baghdad, Nov. 2... / Photo by APBy Haaretz
Published 10:20 26.11.14
Two Syrian men were stoned to death for being gay by ISIS, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, according to AFP.
The first man, 20, was killed in Mayadeen, in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, AFP reported. A second man, 18, was stoned to death in Deir Al-Zor.
ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL, claimed it had found videos on the first man's cellphone, in which he was "practicing indecent acts with males," according to the report. ISIS also accused the second man of being gay without specifying the basis for its allegations.
The men were both opponents of ISIS, according to activists on social media, who charged the terrorist group used the gay allegation as a pretext to murder them.
ISIS militants have been accused of executing prisoners since taking control of widespread areas across Iraq and Syria during the spring. ISIS executed some 600 Iraqi prisoners in June, which amounted to war crimes and most likely crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch charged.
Moshe foreachYour talkback has been submitted successfully.If selected for publication, it will appear as soon as possible on Haaretz.com.
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EMAIL: Peter Kassig's 'invisible' family suffered in silence
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:19
The Peter Kassig farce gets more bizarre...
Peter Kassig's'invisible=9; family suffered in silencehttp://www.indysta=r.com/story/news/2014/11/24/peter-kassigs-invisible-family-suffered-silence=/70062866/?showmenu=3Dtrue
From the moment they met Peter Kassig, they were family.
On June 1, 2006, the 18-year-old pulled up to the Indianapol=is home of his biological mom and two siblings in his beat-up green pickup =truck, hopped out =E2=80=94 with the car still running =E2=80=94 and made a= beeline for his siblings.
He hugged 12-year-old Jana. He hugged 10-year-old Sam. And t=hat was that.
They went to his track meets now, and he had a key to their =house. He helped Sam with his homework and kept tabs on Jana's boyfrien=ds. At times they loved each other. At times they couldn't stand each o=ther.
In short, he was their big brother.
But not in the eyes of the federal government, they say.
In their first interview since Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig was= taken, tortured and killed by the Islamic State group in Syria, his biolog=ical mother, Rhonda Schwindt, and two siblings describe a bureaucracy that =declined to help a grieving family at its lowest moments.
When they lost contact with their brother Oct. 1, 2013, the =Schwindts say the FBI kept his captivity a secret from them for 5 1/2 month=s, despite extending victim's assistance to his adoptive parents, Ed an=d Paula Kassig. Once they learned of his fate, the Schwindts say they were =denied federal assistance in finding grief counseling and told by the FBI t=o keep quiet =E2=80=94 even after his parents and friends were encouraged t=o speak up in an unsuccessful attempt to save him.
More than a week after his death, Jana Schwindt still doesn&=#39;t have an exact copy of the letter her brother penned to her in captivi=ty. The original, they were told by the FBI, was processed as evidence and =destroyed.
The Schwindts insist they were denied help from the FBI beca=use they did not meet the agency's legal definition of next of kin.
But in response to inquiries, the FBI issued a brief stateme=nt that appears to contradict a portion of the Schwindts' account. The =agency declined to elaborate.
"The law and the Attorney General Guidelines permit and=/or encourage inclusion with regard to providing victim services, but due t=o privacy considerations, the FBI is not in a position to comment on any sp=ecific services offered or provided to victim or victim families," the= statement read.
The Schwindts acknowledge that the agency did notify them wh=en it learned of Kassig's execution.
But what they wanted most during Peter's captivity was t=he chance to tell the world about the man they knew =E2=80=94 the older bro=ther with the goofy grin who took them out for ice cream and stayed up unti=l 3 a.m. watching "Elf" with his kid sister.
"I've been invisible for over a year," said Ja=na, a college student who works at the Humane Society of Indianapolis. &quo=t;He wasn't just this aid worker. He was also a brother and a son and a=n Army Ranger, and he likes singing with me in the car very badly and he wa=nted to get a tattoo. Just, stuff that made him human.
"I'm kind of tired of the whole superhero stuff, be=cause he was more than that."
Siblings wanted
Rhonda Schwindt was 25 at the time of Peter's birth and =could have supported him financially. But her life was a wreck, she said, a=nd she wasn't ready to be a single mother.
Schwindt put the baby up for adoption, and handpicked Ed and= Paula from a list of potential families. Ed, the school teacher, and Paula=, the public health nurse, met all but one of her criteria.
"I wanted him to have siblings."
When the time came to let Peter go, Schwindt was devastated.= But there was no doubt she'd chosen the right family. When they heard =through the adoption attorney that she was suffering, the Kassigs sent her =a picture of Peter safe in his crib, wearing the outfit Schwindt had bought= for him.
"That provided me with immense comfort at a time when I= had none," Schwindt said.
Over the years that followed, they kept her updated on his l=ife, even though she had no legal right to ask for it. Peter's adoption= was closed, and their identities were a secret by law.
When Peter was 6, Paula wrote to Schwindt about how thankful= he was to be adopted.
"He has said more than once, 'I'm so glad that =my birth mommy let me have you and Daddy because I love you so big.'&qu=ot;
Years later, when Peter sought out the Schwindts, Rhonda ask=ed Paula about the elephant in the room.
"She said, 'Can someone really ever have too many m=oms in the world?'" Schwindt recalled.
For Peter, it was never about finding a second mom. It was a=bout the one thing Paula and Ed couldn't give him. The missing criteria=.
"He wanted a brother and he wanted a sister."
'We're brothers'
Jana and Sam didn't just look up to Peter, they wanted t=o be him.
Peter was a runner, so Sam took up cross country. ("He =sucked at it," Jana insists.)
Jana went through a camouflage phase.
"I mean, what's cooler? You find out you have a big= brother and he's this big, tough Army Ranger," she said. "He= can do no wrong."
In the few short months before he shipped off to basic train=ing, they became close. Jana was his "Little Punk." Sam was his &=quot;Little Bro." His birthmom was dubbed "M-squared."
"I remember sometimes we'd be sitting on the front =porch and he'd just be playing his guitar" =E2=80=94 usually somet=hing by the Beatles =E2=80=94 "and we'd sit there and read," =Sam said. "Just nice moments like that."
But things weren't always storybook with Peter. When he =returned in 2007 from a 4-month deployment in Iraq, he was different, they =said =E2=80=94 lost. It was then that he bounced from Hanover College to me=dical training in Georgia to Butler University, never staying long in one p=lace.
Peter's outbursts of anger =E2=80=94 often directed at R=honda =E2=80=94 led the Schwindts to sever ties with him multiple times. An=d though Jana always welcomed him back with open arms, Sam wouldn't rec=onnect with him until after Kassig returned to the Middle East in 2012.
"I added him on Facebook and I was like, 'what the =hell is going on Peter? We're brothers. We need to fix this.'"= Sam said.
And they did. They messaged back and forth for a couple mont=hs, exchanging life updates. Just before Peter's capture, they had plan=ned to video chat. But Sam was hanging out with friends and suggested they =reschedule.
The next day, just as suddenly as Peter had come into their =lives, he was gone.
5 1/2 months
On Oct. 1, 2013, Kassig was captured by militants during an =aid mission to eastern Syria. His ambulance had been intercepted by a convo=y, but he had a few moments to call a friend and alert his parents to his c=apture.
His Facebook page went dark. The FBI knew he'd been capt=ured. His siblings say they weren't told until March.
He was supposed to come home for Thanksgiving. He and Sam ha=d made plans to hang out.
"Sam spent five and a half months desperately seeking h=is brother when Peter went dark =E2=80=94 desperately seeking," said R=honda, her voice shaking with emotion. She doesn't fault the Kassigs fo=r keeping the secret at the government's insistence. The blame, she say=s, lies with the FBI.
"They let him suffer for five and a half months. And th=e only reason he got the information was because Sam finally wrote a letter= to Paula and Ed and said 'where the hell is my brother?'"
They all took it hard. But for Sam, it came at a tough time.= A senior in high school, he had recently come out as gay and was strugglin=g with his identity.
Now, he also had to live with the regret of canceling his la=st chance to see his brother.
"I thought there was no rush =E2=80=94 that we would al=ways have more time. I guess that's never true," said Sam, now an =art student at DePaul University. "You just need to take advantage of =when you have people like that.
Lingering frustration
The FBI would not answer specific questions about its handli=ng of the case. But Rhonda Schwindt recalled frustrating meetings with the =agency in which her pleas for help went unanswered.
"I was like, 'Peter has three blood relatives, and =they're sitting right in front of you,'" she said. "And t=he people in his darkest moments, who did he think about? His father. And h=is mother. And he thought about his brother and sister.
"And you can't =E2=80=94 you can't offer them a=ssistance. Shame on them. Shame on them for that."
Schwindt had asked for help finding a therapist who speciali=zed in traumatic grief, but she said the government refused. "They exp=ected me to do it on my own because I'm a mental health professional.&q=uot;
The Schwindts experience differs sharply from the FBI's =own account of what it offers to the families of American hostages. Federal= law requires that they offer certain services to victims and their familie=s, including mental health counseling, according to a press release on the =group's website.
The reason? "It's the right thing to do," the =website proclaims.
"Families of kidnap victims are dealing with one of the= most stressful events in their lives," said Carl Dickens, a psycholog=ist with the FBI. "Unfortunately there are no roadmaps for a family wh=en something like this happens. While their loved one is being held, we try= to offer families a sense of hope."
The Schwindts claim they were denied that.
Jana and Sam are both in therapy now. Their schoolwork has s=uffered, they say.
"It seems so ridiculous. I'm in a beginning drawing= class, and I'm drawing a vase of flowers," he said. "Right n=ow my brother is being held captive and tortured, and I'm drawing a vas=e of flowers."
While she insists the FBI "did damage" to her chil=dren, Rhonda acknowledges that she gave up her legal rights when she signed= the adoption papers.
They weren't supposed to be a family. But Peter made the=m one anyway.
"Did you know, when I was little, I used to pray for a =little sister? I prayed and prayed but I didn't see how it was possible=," he wrote to Jana from captivity. "What do you know, one day I =found myself staring at a picture of you and all I could think was 'she='s perfect.'
"You are the best thing that has ever happened to me; y=ou and your brother."
Oil Trains vs Pipes
China, Nigeria Sign $12B Bullet Train Agreement
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:04
A state-owned Chinese company has signed a $12 billion agreement with the federal government to build a railway along Nigeria's coast that is billed as China's single largest overseas contract, the state media said on Thursday.
China Railway Construction Corp. Ltd. (CRCC) signed the official construction contract with the Nigerian government on Wednesday in Abuja, the Xinhua news agency said.
The Nigerian railway will stretch for 1,402 kilometres (871 miles) along the coast, linking Lagos, the financial capital of Africa's largest economy and leading oil producer, and Calabar in the east, according to the report.
The $11.97 billion deal marks China's largest single overseas contract project so far, it said, citing CRCC.
The news came two weeks after Mexico cancelled a $3.75 billion bullet train deal only days after it was signed with a Chinese-led consortium headed by CRCC '-- the sole bidder '-- reportedly due to concerns about transparency.
CRCC Chairman Meng Fengchao said the Nigeria project would adopt Chinese technological standards and lead to $4 billion-worth of Chinese exports of construction machinery, trains, steel products and other equipment, Xinhua said.
It will create up to 200,000 local jobs during the construction and a further 30,000 positions once the line is operational, he said.
''It is a mutually beneficial project,'' Meng was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Trains will travel at a maximum speed of 120 kilometres per hour on the link, the report added.
China has dramatically stepped up its presence on the African continent in recent decades as it seeks more resources and new markets for its economy. Trade between China and Nigeria totalled $13.6 billion last year.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang promised more investment and more Chinese technical expertise during a visit to Nigeria in May this year.
Source: allafrica.com
Development Details of Calabar Port Complex | Nigerian Ports Authority
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:09
Historically, Calabar port served as an important focus of trade with the outside world for the Eastern States and a natural harbour for the Northern States of Nigeria right from the pre-colonial and colonial times.
The Old Port was privately administered and operated by various shipping companies until December 1969 when the Federal Government took over the inadequate Calabar Port facilities from the erstwhile operators and vested it on the Nigerian Port Authority.
The development, modernization and expansion of the Calabar port was embarked upon under the 3rd National Development Plan of 1975''1980 in order to upgrade the port facility to cope with the ever increasing demand of our economy. The new port complex was commissioned on 9th June, 1979 and lies 45 nautical mile (about84km) upstream from Fairway Buoy.
Today, Calabar Port Complex comprises the following: the Old Port, the New Port and the Dockyard; and has jurisdiction over Crude Oil Terminals at Antan, Odudu, Yoho, QuaIboe; and other jetties at NIWA, McIver, NNPC, ALSCON, Dozzy, Northwest. The three Terminals of Calabar Port are operated by world class Terminal Operators; namely: ECM Terminal Ltd, INTELS Nigeria Ltd and Shoreline Logistics Nigeria Limited.
Calabar port's profile in the oil and gas industry is fast gaining prominences as increasing number of Petroleum importers are finding it convenient to use the port due to the safe, serene and stress-free environment. Moreover, the presence of Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) within the Port offers unique advantage to investors in terms of duty waivers and other incentives. Besides, over 160 hectares of virgin land have been set aside for new port development investors
We look forward to a fruitful business relationship with you. Contact us today.
Engr. Musa Wada
Port Manager, Calabar Port Complex
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:12
Gridlock, says Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) director of operations Niyi Ali, characterises the Apapa area in Lagos together with Tin-Can Island, which between them ''host the two largest seaports in the country''. A major contributory reason for the traffic problem has been that almost everything moves by road. Some oil marketing companies have transferred automotive gas oil (AGO) consignments to the railway, but petroleum products are still handled by road hauliers.
According to Ali, rail links to the tank farms are almost complete and it is hoped to begin transport of oil products from the harbour area by train during October. ''We moved 12 wagons of AGO from Lagos to Kano,'' Ali says. Moving the 528,000 litres of AGO by rail didn't pose serious safety considerations. ''Transloading from road tankers to railway tankcars is not a problem,'' he added.
Yemen tribesmen blow up oil export pipeline
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:55
SANAA: Armed tribesmen blew up Yemen's main oil pipeline Wednesday, halting the flow to the export terminal on the Red Sea coast, tribal sources and an industry official said.
The 435-kilometer pipeline, which links the Safir oil fields, in Marib province, east of the capital, to the Ras Isa terminal, near the port of Hodeida, has been a repeated target of sabotage.
The latest attack hit a section of pipeline in the Sarwah district of Marib, tribal sources told AFP.
It brought the flow to a "complete halt," an industry official said.
The motive for the latest sabotage was not immediately clear.
But Yemen's heavily armed tribes frequently target oil and other infrastructure in a bid to extract concessions from the central government.
Yemen is a minor producer but relies on oil and gas exports for 90 percent of its foreign currency earnings.
Attacks on infrastructure cost the impoverished country $4.75 billion over the two years from March 2011 to March 2013, according to government figures.
Remarks by the President on the Resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:38
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 24, 2014
State Dining Room
11:10 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: About a year ago, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was visiting our troops in the Republic of Korea thanking them for their service and answering their questions, and they asked about the usual topics, about our national security, the future of our military. And then one soldier, a sergeant from Ohio asked him, what was the most pertinent question of the day, which was what was your favorite college football team. To which Chuck replied, born and raised in Nebraska, I don't have a choice; I am a strong Cornhuskers fan.
Now there was a time when an enlisted soldier might have been reluctant to ask that kind of question of the Secretary of Defense. But Chuck Hagel has been no ordinary Secretary of Defense. As the first enlisted combat veteran to serve in that position, he understands our men and women like few others, because he's stood where they stood, he's been in the dirt and he's been in the mud, and that's established a special bond. He sees himself in them and they see themselves in him. And their safety, their lives, have always been at the center of Chuck's service.
When I asked Chuck to serve as Secretary of Defense we were entering a significant period of transition. The draw-down in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready. Over nearly two years, Chuck has been an exemplary Defense Secretary, providing a steady hand as we modernized our strategy and budget to meet long-term threats, while still responding to immediate challenges like ISIL and Ebola. Thanks to Chuck, our military is on a firmer footing, engaged in these missions and looking ahead to the future.
Now last month, Chuck came to me to discuss the final quarter of my presidency and determined that having guided the department through this transition, it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service. Let me just say that Chuck is and has been a great friend of mine. I've known him, admired him and trusted him for nearly a decade since I was a green-behind-the-ears, freshman senator, and we were both on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If there's one thing I know about Chuck, it's that he does not make this or any decision lightly, this decision does not come easily to him, but I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have had him by my side for two years. And I am grateful that Chuck has agreed to stay on until I nominate a successor and that successor is confirmed by the Senate. Which means that he'll continue to guide our troops at this challenging time.
I'll have more opportunity to pay tribute to Chuck's life of service in the days ahead. For now, let me just say this: Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women in uniform across more than six decades. He volunteered for Vietnam and still carries the scars and shrapnel from the battles that he fought. At the VA, he fought to give our veterans, especially his fellow Vietnam veterans, the benefits they had earned. As head of the USO, he made sure America always honors our troops. As a Senator, he helped lead the fight for the post-9/11 GI Bill, which is helping so many of our newest veterans and their families realize their dreams of a college education. As Secretary, Chuck has helped transition our military and bolstered America's leadership around the world. During his tenure, Afghan forces took the lead for security in Afghanistan. Our forces have drawn down. Our combat mission there ends next month, and we'll partner with Afghans to preserve the gains we have made.
The NATO Alliance is as strong as it has ever been, and we have reassured our allies with our increased presence in Central and Eastern Europe. We've modernized our alliances in the Asia Pacific; updated our defense posture and recently agreed to improve communications between the U.S. and Chinese militaries. Chuck has been critical to all these accomplishments.
Meanwhile, Chuck has ensured that our military is ready for new missions. Today our men and women in uniform are taking the fight against ISIL in Iraq, in Syria, and Chuck helped build the international coalition to ensure that the world is meeting this threat together.
Today our forces are helping to support the civilian effort against Ebola in West Africa, a reminder, as Chuck likes to say, that America's military is the greatest force for good in the world.
Finally, in a very difficult budgetary environment, Chuck has never lost sight of key priorities. The readiness of our force and the quality of our life of our troops and their families. He's launched new reforms to ensure that even as our military is leaner, it remains the strongest in the world and so our troops can continue to get the pay, the housing, the healthcare, the childcare that they and their families need -- reforms that we need Congress to now support.
At the same time, after the tragedies we've seen, Chuck has helped lead the effort to improve security at our military installations and to stamp out the scourge of sexual assault from the ranks.
Chuck, I also want to thank you on a personal level. We come from different parties, but in accepting this position you send a powerful message -- especially to folks in this city -- that when it comes to our national security and caring for our troops and their families, we are all Americans first. When I nominated you for this position, you said that you'd always give me your honest advice and informed counsel. You have. When it's mattered most -- behind closed doors, in the Oval Office --you've always given it to me straight. And for that I will always be grateful.
I recall when I was a nominee in 2008, and I traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq. Chuck Hagel accompanied me on that trip along with Jack Reed. And it's pretty rare at a time when sometimes this town is so politicized to have a friend who was willing to accompany a nominee from another party because he understood that whoever ended up being President, what was most important was that we were unified when we confronted the challenges that we see overseas. And that's the kind of class and integrity that Chuck Hagel has always represented.
Now, Chuck, you've said that a life is only as good as the family you have and the friends you surround yourself with. And in that, you are blessed. I want to thank Lilibet, your son Ziller and your daughter Allyn for the sacrifices that they've made as well. I know that as reluctant as we are to see you go, they are equally excited to getting their husband and father back. And I'm sure the Cornhuskers are also happy that a fan will be there to cheer them on more often.
Today, the United States of America can proudly claim the strongest military the world has ever known. That's the result of investments made over many decades, the blood and treasure and sacrifices of generations. It's the result of the character and wisdom those who lead them, as well -- including a young Army sergeant in Vietnam who our rose to serve as our nation's 24th Secretary of Defense. So on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Chuck. (Applause.)
SECRETARY HAGEL: Thank you very much.
Mr. President, thank you -'' thank you for your generous words, for your friendship, for your support which I have always valued and will continue to value. And to my not old, but my longtime, dear friend Vice President Biden, who I have always admired and respected, and both the President and I have learned an awful lot from the Vice President over the years -'' thank you. And I want to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense who is here, Bob Work, and the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marty Dempsey, who also is here. I want to thank them for being here this morning.
I also want to thank you both for your tremendous leadership of the Defense Department and what you mean to our men and women and their families all over the world; and for the honor I've had to serve with each of you and the privilege it's been in every way.
And I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon. Without their support and wise counsel over the last couple of years our many accomplishments, and the President noted some, I have been part of that -'' but it's a team. It's all these tremendous men and women, as you know Mr. President, that make this happen and I couldn't be prouder of them and what we have accomplished over the almost two years that I've had the honor of serving in this position.
And as the President noted I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of Defense. It's been the greatest privilege of my life; the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important, to serve -- to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families. I am immensely proud of what we've accomplished during this time. We have prepared ourselves, as the President has noted, our allies and Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan. We bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world.
And we've launched important reforms that the President noted -- reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in decades to come. I believe we have set not only this department ''- the Department of Defense -'' but the nation on the stronger course toward security, stability and prosperity. If I didn't believe that, I would not have done this job.
As our country prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I want to ''- you, Mr. President, and you, Vice President Biden, -'' acknowledge what you have done and how grateful I am to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again.
I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day so unselfishly; and their families, what they do for our country, so unselfishly. And as I have said ''- and as the President noted ''- I will stay on this job and work just as hard as I have over the last couple of years, every day, every moment, until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.
I'd also like to express my gratitude to our colleagues on Capitol Hill -- my gratitude to them for their support of me, but more importantly their support of our troops and their families and their continued commitment to our National Security.
I also want to thank my international counterparts for their friendship and their partnership and their advice during my time as Secretary of Defense. Their involvement with me and their partnership with me -- in so many of these important areas as we build these coalitions of common interests as you have noted, Mr. President ''- are so critically important and to them, I am grateful I will be forever grateful.
And finally I'd like to thank my family. My wife Lilibet, who you have mentioned, Mr. President, who was with me this morning as she has been with me throughout so many years, and during so many tremendous experiences. And this experience and opportunity and privilege to serve as Secretary of Defense has been one of those; and to my daughter Allyn and my son Ziller.
Mr. President, again, thank you. To you and to all of our team everywhere, as we know Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it is a team effort. And that's part of the fun of it, to help build teams and to work together to make things happen for the good of the country and make a better world. For all of that I am immensely grateful. And to all of you, your families, happy Thanksgiving. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 11:25 A.M. EST
Don's response to NYTimes article: "Washington is a very tough town, and this is a penetrating article. I had sensed all the things that it alluded to during Hagel’s tenure. Too bad."
FACT SHEET: Vice President Joe Biden Announces $135 Million in Additional Humanitarian Assistance for Syria Crisis
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:25
The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
November 22, 2014
Vice President Joe Biden announced today in Istanbul, Turkey that the United States is providing nearly $135 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help feed civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria. With this announcement, the United States has provided more than $3 billion in critical humanitarian aid since the start of the crisis, including $222 million for international humanitarian organizations working with the Government of Turkey as they continue to help those affected by the war in Syria.
The new funding will help feed vulnerable people inside Syria; Syrian refugees in Turkey; and Syrian refugees in other neighboring countries. Turkey has generously committed substantial portions of its national resources to hosting an estimated 1.6 million refugees from Syria. The world has watched with great concern as more than 190,000 Syrians from Kobani fled to Turkey in recent weeks. The United States is grateful that Turkey kept its doors open to people fleeing the brutality of ISIL as well as the appalling atrocities committed by the Assad regime.
Of this total new U.S. funding for the Syria crisis, more than $132.8 million will go to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and other partners to respond to ongoing emergency food needs inside Syria and in countries hosting Syrian refugees, including Turkey. This includes $63 million for WFP's operations inside Syria and $70 million for WFP's operations benefiting Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. WFP's operations, to which the United States remains the largest donor, feed millions of Syrians every month, including through household food ration deliveries inside Syria and distributions of food vouchers to refugees in neighboring countries.
Nearly $11 million of the new assistance will support the WFP in Turkey. WFP redirected hundreds of tons of food to the Suruc border district in response to the sudden recent influx of refugees and continues to work in close coordination with the Turkish government to feed hundreds of thousands of refugees daily. The new funding also includes nearly $2 million for the Turkish Red Crescent, through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appeal for Turkey, to provide hot meals for Syrian refugees from Kobani. The work of WFP and the Turkish Red Crescent are critical to meeting the emergency food needs of Syrians seeking shelter in Turkish camps and urban settings.
Inside Syria, U.S. government partners keep people alive by reaching millions of people per month'--often at great risk to partner staff'--with household food rations and flour for bakeries. In neighboring countries, including Turkey, WFP's food voucher program bolsters local economies stressed by the influx of Syrian refugees.
U.S. assistance to the Syrian people also includes a commitment to resettle thousands of the most vulnerable to the United States. As the largest resettlement country in the world, and one deeply committed to assisting the Syrian people, the United States will be a major participant in the international effort to resettle Syrian refugees from Turkey and elsewhere. The U.S. refugee resettlement program in Turkey is one of our largest programs worldwide. We intend to admit close to 7,000 refugees from Turkey in the coming year, including Iraqis, Iranians, and a growing number of Syrians.
The United States remains committed to supporting relief agencies working to meet the needs of Syrians throughout the region.
For more detailed information on the U.S. government's response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, please visit: www.usaid.gov/crisis/syria.
DoD Updates Doctrine on "Detainee Operations"
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:03
When it comes to Department of Defense doctrine on military treatment of detained persons, ''unlawful enemy combatants'' are a thing of the past. That term has been retired and replaced by ''unprivileged enemy belligerents'' in a new revision of Joint Publication 3-13 on Detainee Operations, dated November 13, 2014.
Among other changes, the revised Publication adopts Article 75 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions which provide minimum standards for humane treatment of detained persons. It also presents expanded discussion of biometric capabilities that are applicable to detainees.
The previous edition of Joint Publication 3-13, published in 2008, is available here for comparison.
Fred Teeven - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 23:57
Fred TeevenState Secretary for Security and JusticeIncumbentAssumed officeOctober 14, 2010Prime MinisterMark RuttePreceded byNebahat AlbayrakMember of the House of RepresentativesIn officeSeptember 20, 2012 '' November 5, 2012Member of the House of RepresentativesIn officeNovember 30, 2006 '' October 14, 2010Parliamentary leader of Livable Netherlands in the House of RepresentativesIn officeMay 16, 2002 '' January 30, 2003Preceded byPosition createdSucceeded byPosition abolishedMember of the House of RepresentativesIn officeJuly 22, 2002 '' May 27, 2003Personal detailsBornFredrik Teeven(1958-08-05) August 5, 1958 (age 56)Haarlem, NetherlandsNationalityDutchPolitical partyPeople's Party for Freedom and Democracy(since 2003)Other politicalaffiliationsPeople's Party for Freedom and Democracy(until 2002)Livable Netherlands(2002-2003)Children2 daughtersResidenceAmsterdam, NetherlandsAlma materVrije Universiteit(Master of Laws)University of Twente(Master in Project Management)OccupationPoliticianCivil servantJuristProsecutorReligionNon-religious (Atheism)WebsiteMinistry of Security and JusticeFredrik "Fred" Teeven (born August 5, 1958) is a Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). He was the State Secretary for Security and Justice in the first Rutte cabinet and has again been in the second Rutte cabinet, dealing with prevention, family law, youth justice, and copyright law.[1]
Early careerEditIn 2002, Teeven succeeded Pim Fortuyn as Front runner (lijsttrekker) of Livable Netherlands (Leefbaar Nederland). From May 16, 2002 to January 30, 2003, he was the parliamentary group leader of Livable Netherlands in the House of Representatives and also a member of the House of Representatives from July 22, 2002 to May 27, 2003. After he found out that he would not be Front runner in the 2003 elections, he quit the party and returned to his former post of public prosecutor.
In 2006, Teeven announced his return to politics, this time for the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). For the Dutch general election of 2006, he was 6th on the candidate list for the VVD, and was elected into House of Representatives on November 30, 2006. He was the main spokesperson for justice policy.
For the Dutch general election of 2010 he was 3rd on the candidate list for the VVD. After the cabinet formation of 2010 for the first Rutte cabinet, Teeven became the State Secretary for Security and Justice taking office on October 14, 2010 and resigned the same day as an MP. On November 5, 2012, he continued as State Secretary for Security and Justice in the second Rutte cabinet. Meanwhile he was an MP again from September 20, 2012 to November 5, 2012. [2]
ReferencesEdit^As State Secretary for Security and Justice Teeven is allowed to use the ministerial title Minister of Security while on foreign business.^(Dutch)Alle namen van het nieuwe kabinet Rutte II, RTL Nieuws, October 25, 2012External linksEditPersondataNameTeeven, FredAlternative namesTeeven, FredrikShort descriptionDutch politicianDate of birthAugust 5, 1958Place of birthHaarlem, NetherlandsDate of deathPlace of death
Ex-Russian spy Anna Chapman sent to train with troops - NY Daily News
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:00
Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has unleashed a weapon of mass distraction.
In a bid to pretty-up the not-so-pretty image of the Russian army, Putin sent sexpot spy Anna Chapman on maneuvers with a tank unit that has been accused of aiding Moscow-backed rebels in Ukraine.
''It's almost 6 a.m. and 3,000 handsome men are still sleeping,'' Chapman purred on Russian Ren TV. ''I am very lucky to be at the heart of my motherland's army. It's a very special day for me.''
Unlike the conscripts, the flame-haired Chapman wore makeup as she fired a Kalashnikov, rode around on a tank, and demonstrated how to kill with a knife.
''This is hugely untypical,'' she helpfully informed viewers. ''If I was a soldier in the regular army I would not have the right to put on lipstick.''
No frumpy uniform for Chapman, either.
''I'm so excited about getting the uniform,'' she gushed in footage translated by The Daily Mail. ''Is it the famous uniform designed by (Russian fashion designer) Valentin Yudashkin? Will it suit me? I will have to wear this for the entire day.''
And Chapman was practically giddy as she tromped around with the troops.
''This is so-called tactical training,'' she told the camera. ''It's very much like real life. I can almost feel the danger.''
Chapman, 32, was one of nine sleeper spies in the U.S. who were unmasked four years ago by the FBI and sent back to Mother Russia as part of a spy swap with Moscow.
Now a fixture on Russian TV, Chapman was enlisted in Putin's propaganda war as Russia has been trying to justify annexing Ukrainian territory and backing Russian-speaking rebels in the eastern part of the country.
The Russian army is notorious for abusing its own men and Chapman expressed surprise that the barracks of the men assigned to the Kantemirovskaya division ''have hot water here.''
''Until five minutes ago, I was sure all of our soldiers wash their face with cold water,'' she said.
Ever the good soldier, Chapman also noted that ''a Russian private gets almost 4,500 calories a day. This is twice more than a woman should eat to keep fit.''
Also, she said, ''Our soldiers are better fed'' than soldiers in the German, French or American armies.
''In the American army they fight obesity,'' she added. ''The Kantemirovskaya division fighters don't have this problem. Everyone here looks as is they were hand-picked.''
Chapman made sure to heap praise on Putin for keeping his troops well fed.
''As the saying goes, you can postpone a war but never a lunch,'' she said. ''To be honest, after everything I heard about the army, I was expecting to see barley porridge and not so much choice.''
Instead, said Chapman, she is ''all but dizzy from the multitude of salads. They even have olives.''
On a mobile device? Click here to watch the video.
Russia Turns East at Shocking Speed with China Mega Energy Deals
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:47
While Western mainstream media concentrates attention on the emissions agreement signed by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi at the recent APEC Beijing Summit, Russia's Putin and China's Xi quietly signed major new energy agreements that will have enormous geopolitical significance in bringing about the very nightmare that US strategists such as Zbigniew Brzezinski warned about way back in 1997 when America seemed indomitable as sole Superpower.
The impetus, ironically, to the array of strategic Russia-China deals are the very economic and financial sanctions the rather stupid strategists at the US Treasury and National Security Council devised to ''punish'' Putin beginning last May for allegedly ''invading'' Crimea.
China to be Russia's major gas customer
On November 9 in meetings on the periphery of the Beijing APEC summit, Putin and Xi signed 10 agreements. Far the most significant is the one for the so-called West Route gas pipeline that will connect gas fields in western Siberia with northwest China through the Altai area of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. They also agreed on provisions for possible second and third sections to be added later that would bring capacity to a staggering 100 billion cubic meters a year. West Route is designated a priority and to be finished in six years. Initially it will give China another 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually over 30 years.
The West Route is in addition to the so-called Russian East Route pipeline deal signed between Putin and Xi in May. That deal, a $400 billion agreement over 30 years will begin sending gas in 2018 for another 38 billion cubic meters annually from Russia to China. When both East and West Route pipelines are operational, Russia will supply some 40% of the current Chinese annual natural gas consumption, replacing the EU as Russia's largest gas export market. Today China consumes 169 billion cubic meters annually.
The first pipeline laying in Russia for the East Route began already in September. When it was signed in May, many Western sources were shocked, as negotiations had been ongoing for almost a decade. It was called the ''Holy Grail'' and the ''Gas Deal of the Century.'' With the signing now only six months later of a second almost equally large West Route gas deal, Russia and China have just agreed to ''Holy Grail II.''
At the same Beijing meeting the two presidents and their respective state oil companies Rosneft and CNPC signed a deal whereby CNPC buys a 10% stake in Rosneft subsidiary Vankorneft which operates the huge Russian Vankor oil field. China will receive some $7 billion worth of Russian oil from Vankor in the deal.
Notably, largely unnoticed by western media, China's state Xinhua news agency reported that a day before opening of the Beijing APEC forum, the Chinese and Russian military leadership reached wide-ranging cooperation agreements as well. Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff and Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), reached agreements on a number of important military cooperation projects during the 17th round of strategic consultation. Xinhua quoted Gerasimov, ''Many cooperation projects in critical areas were agreed upon during the current round of consultation.''
They reportedly discussed ''the current international and regional security situations, regional issues as well as the relationship between the two militaries'', said Xinhua. One can wonder just what those ''situations'' might be, perhaps the brazen US and EU intervention into Ukraine to give the excuse for financial warfare and a proxy war against Russia, and perhaps the US National Endowment for Democracy's ''Umbrella Revolution'' in Hong Kong, designed to rattle Beijing as well as the Obama ''Asia Pivot'' military focus on China? The Washington neo-conservative hawks and their backers in the CIA, State Department and NSC are managing to accelerate the very Eurasian alliance that is they are trying to destroy.
The United States, during my own childhood growing up in Texas in the 1950's, was the unchallenged industrial leader in the world economy. Americans were rightly proud of their industrial excellence. Tragically, today the United States has managed to transform itself into the world's largest virtual economy. The main item produced today is virtual money by the Federal Reserve to give paper steroids to the mega banks of Wall Street so they can continue their criminal enterprises with increasingly worthless paper dollars.
America's industrial excellence is mostly a relic of the past. Factory work has been outsourced to'...the Peoples' Republic of China. Domestically, American democracy, or at least its earlier traces, has given way to a rule by power-addicted loveless American Oligarchs. Now those loveless oligarchs see their world, their power, threatened by a growing cooperation between the great nations of Eurasia, led by China and Russia with Iran also playing a significant role.
Ironically their very stupid attempts to initiate global dis-order and a new world war, in order to retain their failing grip on power, is having the opposite effect. It is driving China, Russia, the entire BRICS countries and other nations into closer ties on all levels to build a defense against that attempt. The oligarchs and their war machine are stupid precisely because they seem incapable of thinking in comprehensive terms of how interconnected everything in our universe is. They seem blinded by their addiction.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''
Gazprom and Eni hold South Stream discussions in Sochi
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:47
Gazprom and Eni have held a meeting in Sochi to discuss further energy cooperation and their partnership over the South Stream gas transmission project
The parties addressed the main areas of and prospects for enhancing the bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, in particular, the partnership within the South Stream project. It was pointed out that new supply routes would provide European consumers with the required gas volumes over the long run.
The meeting was held in Sochi between Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, and Claudio Descalzi, chief operating officer of Eni.
The meeting participants also discussed the issues of Russian natural gas supply to Italy.
Eni is a global energy company represented in oil and gas sectors, power generation and sales, petrochemistry, service and engineering support to oil fields.
South Stream is Gazprom's global infrastructure project aimed at constructing a gas pipeline with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters to Southern and Central Europe for the purpose of diversifying the natural gas export routes and eliminating transit risks. The first gas will be supplied via South Stream in late 2015. The gas pipeline will reach its full capacity in 2018.
Eni holds a 20 per cent stake in South Stream Transport, a joint project company focused on the construction of South Stream's offshore section. Italy is the second largest importer of Russian gas to the EU after Germany. In 2013 the volume of Gazprom's supplies to Italy made up 25.3 billion cubic metres of gas.
E.U. Nat Gas South Stream Project Is Of Interest to Whole Europe'...'.....Hush Now | New World Order G20
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:39
The whole Europe has a common interest in building the South Stream gas pipeline, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto said after talks on Friday, ITAR TASS reports.''We are going to implement this project because we are convinced that it will considerably improve the safety of gas supplies to Central Europe. That is why we believe that the South Stream project is of European interest,'' Szijjarto said.According to him, Hungary has three major interests in Central Europe: peace, reliable energy supplies and improvement of economic ties. Reliable energy supplies can be achieved, among other things, through diversification of gas supply routes, Szijjarto said. He also called on Russia and the European Union to resume a dialogue on the South Stream project.Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, in turn, confirmed that the construction of the South Stream project is in the interests of both countries. He added that the cost of works in Serbia was estimated at more than $40 million and that the country would annually receive hundreds of million euros worth of gas transit revenues.''That is why we insist that the European Union work out a common approach to all projects without double standards when it comes to projects that concern some other countries which are not obliged to meet the requirements that are currently being imposed on the South Stream project,'' Dacic said.He added that Serbia wants Europe to be stable and promised that Serbia which is taking over the OSCE rotating chairmanship in 2015 will do everything possible to include all the parties concerned in the solution of these problems.South Stream is a global infrastructure project of Russia's gas giant Gazprom for laying a gas pipeline with a throughput of 63 billion cubic meters (part of it under the Black Sea) to countries in Southern and Central Europe with an aim to diversify export routes for natural gas and warding off transit risks. The ground stretch of the South Stream pipeline is to cross Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria.In the autumn of 2013, the European Commission launched an anti-monopoly investigation into the South Stream project on suspicion that it disagrees with the rules of the EU's Third Energy Package under which companies are supposed to separate generation and sales operations from transmission networks.Russia-EU dispute over Third Energy PackageLast year, the European Commission urged to review bilateral intergovernmental agreements between Russia and EU countries to ensure that they comply with the Third Energy Package, which requires the separation of gas production, transportation and sale to prevent gas suppliers from dominating the infrastructure.Russia insists the South Stream project should be exempt from the effect of the Third Energy Package because it signed bilateral inter-governmental agreements with the EU countries participating in the construction of the gas pipeline on their territory before the EU's new energy legislation came into force.Therefore, Russia says that the European Commission's requirement to adapt these documents to the Third Energy Package contradicts the basic law principle that legislation cannot have retroactive force.The Third Energy Package requires, in particular, that a half of the capacities of the pipeline built with Russian money must be reserved for independent suppliers, i.e. for cheap and free transit of Caspian gas to Europe independently from Russia.Therefore, Russia does not recognize the legitimacy of applying the Third Energy Package to the South Stream gas pipeline project. If Moscow agrees to the EU's proposal to consider exemptions for the South Stream gas pipeline as part of the Third Energy Package, this will mean that Russia will de facto recognize the legitimacy of using this ultra-liberal regulation.
Elisa reports problems in web traffic | Yle Uutiset | yle.fi
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 09:31
Elisa is one of the nation's three biggest operators.Image: Essi Peijariniemi / YleTelecom operator Elisa reported problems with its landline network on Wednesday. The interruption began around 3.35 pm.
"We don't have an exact idea yet of the reason for or extent of the disruption so far. We know that we've had widespread interruptions in data transfer," Elisa Service Management Director Lasse Huttunen, told Yle.
Huttunen said that many customers reported problems with internet usage on Wednesday afternoon and evening.
"Some websites can be reached but not others," Huttunen added.
He said there was reason to believe that the problem is nationwide.
"But it is showing up in that some traffic is being blocked and not others. There does not right now seem to be a total national blackout. But we know there are problems."
Huttunen later added that the problems seem to be related to fibre optic cables linking Finland to Sweden. He said the glitch did not appear to be directly affecting telephone service, but that it may do so later. Mobile web services are affected.
"Primarily this is a case of problems for internet users. Since we have not yet been able to isolate the source of the problem, we cannot estimate the timetable for fixing it," he said after 5 pm.
There were also disruptions in Saunalahti's internet services, which use the same cable network.
At 3.55 pm the service provider published an advisory on the disruption on its Finnish-language website. At that time it indicated that the problems began at around 10.54 am.
After 6pm, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat quoted an Elisa representative as saying the problem was due to a digger breaking an underground cable in the southern town of Lohja.
Huttunen confirmed this to Yle, saying that a repair crew was at the scene. He said it remained unclear how long it would take to fix the rupture, but that it would likely be several hours.
Since connections to the rest of the world via Sweden seem to be cut off, traffic is being re-routed through Tallinn, Estonia, which is causing overloading, he added.
Elisa said in a statement Thursday that service had been restored by 5.33 am Thursday.
Update: This story was edited to reflect the fact that Elisa issued its first advisory (in Finnish) on the service disruption on its website at 3.55 pm. It has also been updated to reflect Elisa's statement that service was restored fully at 5.33 am Thursday morning.
Gazprom and Turkey '' Strategic Partners'...'....Of Course
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:15
Moscow hosted today a working meeting between Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Taner Yildiz, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkey.
The meeting addressed the issues of strategic partnership, in particular, the prospects for cooperation deepening in natural gas supplies from Russia to Turkey. The parties noted that Turkey was among top consumers of Russian 'blue fuel' for many years and Russia, in its turn, was a reliable provider of natural gas for the Turkish economy, thus covering nearly 60 per cent of the country's total consumption.
The Blue Stream gas pipeline is important for ensuring stable gas supplies to Turkey. For instance, around 110 billion cubic meters of gas have been conveyed via Blue Stream since the start of commercial gas deliveries. The meeting participants stressed that Russian gas exports via that route were gradually increasing, and this upward trend could continue. In this regard, the parties confirmed their mutual intention to expand Blue Stream's capacity by 3 billion cubic meters.
BackgroundTurkey is Gazprom's second largest sales market behind Germany. In 2013 Gazprom supplied Turkey with 26.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
Russian natural gas is supplied to Turkey via the Blue Stream and the Trans-Balkan gas pipelines.
Running under the Black Sea, the Blue Stream gas pipeline secures annual direct supplies of some 16 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Turkish consumers, starting from 2003.
The cooperation in the gas sector between Russia and Turkey commenced in 1984 when the USSR and the Republic of Turkey signed the Agreement on natural gas supply to Turkey.
Turkey and Russia To Increase Blue Stream Gas Supplies By 3Billion CM
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:05
/TASS/. Turkey expects to receive additional gas volumes via the Blue Stream pipeline with a discount, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday.''We have sent our proposals to Gazprom concerning the discount for gas, and we hope that Gazprom will take these proposals into account,'' he said. Gazprom may launch additional gas supplies to Turkey via Blue Stream in early 2016, Yildiz said.Russia and Turkey are currently working out economic and technical conditions for increasing gas supplies via Blue Stream by 3 billion cubic meters.Russia is currently discussing plans to increase natural gas supplies to Turkey via the Blue Stream pipeline, a statement issued after a session of a Russian-Turkish intergovernmental commission said on Wednesday.The sides noted that an assessment into the economic efficiency of the needed investment has to be completed before taking a balanced decision on boosting the gas supplies through the major trans-Black Sea gas pipeline.Russia stressed that works to complete the modernization of an entry section of the Durusu Terminal in Turkey are a necessary condition for ensuring the increase in Russian gas supplies via the pipeline.The parties expressed readiness to contribute to a speedy modernization of the terminal and pledged to swiftly agree on simplified customs processing for supplies of the necessary equipment.The Blue Stream gas pipeline, commissioned in December 2002, has a total length of 1,213 kilometers (754 miles). As of March 2014, the amount of gas supplied via Blue Stream since February 2003 totaled 100 billion cubic meters.
Another Keynesian Debt Boondoggle: How Brussels Plans To Turn Zero New Cash Into A $400B Stimulus | David Stockman's Contra Corner
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:39
The desperation and fraud of the Keynesian policy apparatus gets more stunning by the day. Apparently, the pettifoggers in Brussels will soon be announcing a new $400 billion bazooka to blast the euro-economy out of its lethargy. This massive new ''stimulus'' is supposed to spur all manner of infrastructure and private investment that is purportedly bottled-up for want of cheap capital in the private markets.
Are they kidding? Thanks to the Draghi Put (''whatever it takes'') and the hedge fund gamblers who have gone all-in front running the promised ECB bond-buying campaign, this very morning the corrupt and bankrupt government of Spain can borrow all the money it could possibly need for infrastructure at hardly 2.0% for ten years. And any healthy German exporter or machinery maker can borrow at a small spread off the German 10-year bond which is trading at 73 basis points. For all intents and purposes, sovereigns of any stripe and reasonably healthy businesses in most parts of Europe can access capital at central bank repressed rates which are tantamount to free money.
And, yet, these fools want to bring coals to Newcastle. Well, its actually worse than that because not only does Newcastle not need any coal, but the impending ''Juncker Plan'' doesn't include any new coal, anyway!
In fact, not a penny of the $400 billion is new EU cash: Its all about leverage and sleight-of-hand. Thus, having apparently failed to notice that most of the sovereigns which comprise the EU are already bankrupt, the Brussels bureaucrats plan to conjure this new ''stimulus'' money at a 15:1 leverage ratio. That is to say, the actual ''capital'' under-pinning approximately $375 billion in new EU borrowings amounts to only $26 billion.
But wait. The EU is self-evidently broke'--that's why its dunning Mr. Cameron and even its Greek supplicants for back taxes'--so where is it going to get the $26 billion of ''capital''? Needless to say, an empty treasury has never stopped Keynesian bureaucrats from dispensing the magic elixir of ''stimulus'' money.
Thus, it turns out that $20 billion of the Juncker Plan ''capital'' will consist of member state ''guarantees'', not cash in hand. And the remaining $6 billion will consist of already existing European Investment Bank (EIB) funds'--''money that is available only because the EIB's balance sheet is also ''guaranteed'' by the same bankrupt member-states which don't have another nickel to send to Brussels in the first place.
This is called a circle jerk in less polite company. And a pointless one at that.
According to the attached Bloomberg story, the $400 billion pot of stimulus will be used for ''seeding investment in infrastructure'' and ''to share the risks of new projects with private investors''.
Let's see. Can even the duplicitous apparatchiks in Brussels believe that the continent is parched for public infrastructure and that this explains Europe's stagnation? After all, the peripheral countries are not only buried in debt, but also have been inundated over the past two decades with every manner of highways, public transit and other public facilities that EU funds and their own bloated government budgets could buy.
Spain has world class roads going everywhere on the Peninsula, for example, but its problem is want of loaded trucks to utilize them. The same is true in Italy, which has splendid roads, rails, airports and seaports from the Alps to the tip of the boot, but a private economy that is suffocating in taxes, regulation and corruption. Nor can it be gainsaid that France's high-speed rail system, Germany's autobahns or Holland's canals and dykes have been neglected.
Indeed, to a substantial degree Europe's sovereign debt crisis is owing to the fact that under the tutelage of its Keynesian policy apparatus, it has been absolutely profligate in building infrastructure owned by the public or subsidized in behalf of crony capitalist ''partners''. So why at this late stage of the game does Brussels feel compelled to launch a giant financial shell game designed to generate even more unaffordable infrastructure?
The same question holds for private investment. The very idea that the European economies are ''under-invested'' in private production capacity is truly laughable. What actually occurred after the mid-1990s, as the single market and single currency went into full swing, was a tsunami of private borrowing and investment.
Between 1996 and 2011, for example, euro bank loans to the private sector nearly tripled, rising at a 7.0% compound rate and leaping from 55% of GDP to 95% during the period. Nor does that include the additional trillions which were raised in the euro and dollar bond markets by business' located in the EC.
The plateauing since then is self-evidently not owing to the scarcity of capital or borrowers being rationed out of the market by punitively high interest rates. No, the problem is that there are few credit worthy borrowers left who actually need funds for projects that will generate profitable returns.
In short, the ''Juncker Plan'' is just another installment of the state-driven financialization that has been 180 degrees off-target, and has actually compounded Europe's economic malaise. The real problem is statist economics'---that is, welfare state subsidies for inefficiency and non-production, dirigisme and financialization.
Europe has high unemployment, vanishing growth and crushing debts because its all-in labor costs are too high owing to government labor mandates, brutal rates of payroll taxation, coddled unions and subsidized idleness. Likewise, business enterprise, productivity and innovation is thwarted by a triple layer of local, national and EU regulation and nanny-state interference that puts the red capitalists of Beijing to shame.
Stated differently, what is left of European capitalism needs to be liberated from the dead hand of the state. But the crisis of growth, employment and debt that today's insidious regime of statist Keynesian economics has generated, ironically, is pushing the EC in just the opposite direction. That is, to even more interventionist obstacles to prosperity'--- arising from the even more rigid, remote and destructive levels of centralization in the Brussels bureaucracies.
Needless to say, this latest $400 billion shell game is just another monument to the Keynesian paint-by-the numbers affliction that is corroding capitalist prosperity everywhere in the world. When the state tries to micromanage the economy through fiscal maneuvers and central bank intervention it ends up confusing sustainable generation of real wealth with transient headline numbers in the GDP accounts. Indeed, the former can not be generated or targeted by the state at all; it is an unplanable outcome produced by millions of producers, consumers, savers, investors, innovators and entrepreneurs in the real main street economy.
Long ago, Keynes himself pointed out, perhaps inadvertently, the profound difference between GDP and wealth. If we merely want a higher GDP print'---which measures spending, not wealth'--governments should handout spoons so that millions of citizens can dig holes and millions more refill them. It would appear that the statesmen of Brussels are fixing to try the modern day equivalent of just that.
By Rebecca Christie at Bloomberg News
he European Union is planning a 21 billion-euro ($26 billion) fund to share the risks of new projects with private investors, two EU officials said.
The new entity is designed to have an impact of about 15 times its size, making it the anchor of the EU's 300 billion-euro investment program, according to the officials, who asked not to be named because the plans aren't final. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to announce the three-year initiative this week.
The commission will pledge as much as 16 billion euros in guarantees for the vehicle, which will also include 5 billion euros from the European Investment Bank, the officials said. Loans, lending guarantees and stakes in equity and debt will be part of its toolbox, with the goal to jumpstart private risk-taking so that stalled projects can get off the ground.
Juncker's investment plan aims to combine EU resources and regulatory changes ''to crowd in more private investment in order to make real investments a reality,'' EU Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Nov. 14 in Bratislava. The plan is one element of the EU's economic strategy and ''not a magic wand with which we will be able to miraculously invest ourselves out of a difficult economic climate,'' he said.
Europe is struggling to spur economic growth as it emerges only slowly from waves of crisis. The 18-nation euro area is forecast to see growth of just 0.8 percent this year, according to EU forecasts, while the region's unemployment rate of 11.5 percent masks rates of about 25 percent in Greece and in Spain.
'What We Must'The euro is on course for a fifth monthly decline after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said last week that ECB officials ''will do what we must'' to spur inflation. The single currency was little changed at $1.2404 against the U.S. dollar at 7:38 a.m. in London after declining 1.2 percent on Nov. 21.
While the Juncker proposal involves seeding investment in infrastructure and other fields, the 21 billion-euro sum with a proposed leverage rate of 15 times risks disappointing markets.
Even with additional funds of 30 billion euros and a more modest leverage rate of 10 times, ''the plan may not be credible as a start,'' Royal Bank of Scotland Plc analysts including Alberto Gallo said Nov. 18. All the same, if the European Central Bank became involved in joint action with the EIB, ''it could be a game changer for Europe,'' they said.
Broad RangeThe fund is designed to make use of existing resources and not require any new cash infusions from member nations, the EU officials said. The EIB will house the fund, which will have its own management and be able take on a broad range of roles. It will be able to operate with fewer restrictions than earlier initiatives, like a project-bond program that is only available to cross-border ventures.
The EU is preparing a list of projects alongside that could take shape quickly. Because the fund will be able to bear some of the risk of starting projects, it may offer a way around national budget constraints and private-sector reluctance to take on new risk, according to the officials.
''We need a step change in efforts to tackle the obstacles hampering private investment and to optimize the use of public investment in Europe,'' Emma Marcegaglia, president of the BusinessEurope federation of employer groups, said on Nov. 21. The group released a report on investment in Europe calling for the EU to lower national barriers, improve regulation and lower the costs of doing business inside the 28-nation bloc.
RBS admits to data error in European stress test
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:54
Getty Images
Royal Bank of Scotland admitted on Friday it submitted erroneous data for European bank stress tests in October and had in fact only just scraped through, calling into question whether it can pass a tougher British test.
The revised result means that RBS, which is 80 percent-owned by the British government, was the worst performing UK bank in the European stress test, which assessed whether banks have enough capital to weather another economic crash.
The revelation is another embarrassment for the bank, which has been fined in the past two weeks for failing to stop its traders attempting to manipulate foreign exchange rates and for a computer systems failure two years ago which locked millions of customers out of their bank accounts.
RBS said on Friday it held core capital under full Basel III rules of 5.7 percent after the adverse scenarios, scraping past the minimum 5.5 percent required. It had initially appeared to pass the test comfortably, holding core capital of 6.7 percent.
"We are examining how this mistake was made, and will be working with our regulators as we do so," RBS said.
Rival state-backed lender Lloyds Banking Group was initially understood to be the worst performing British lender, with core capital of 6.2 percent under the adverse scenarios.
The Bank of England's test will measure the resilience of Britain's banks if house prices fell by 35 percent and interest rates rose to 6 percent. The results will be published on December 16.
Britain's regulator told banks just a week before the test that they needed to use a stricter measure to assess their capital than they had initially anticipated.
The stress test by European regulators was based on banks' capital position at the end of 2013 while the BoE's test will take into accounts improvements made since.
RBS has strengthened its capital this year through a stock market listing of its U.S. business Citizens and other measures. It held core capital of 10.8 percent at the end of September compared with 8.6 percent at the end of 2013.
The bank said on Friday that the stress test error did not impact its latest reported capital position or its target to hold core capital of 12 percent by the end of 2016.
Germany to introduce legal quotas for women on company boards
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:46
Germany to introduce legal quotas for women on company boardsTop News
Germany to introduce legal quotas for women on company boards
Tue, Nov 25 18:10 PM EST
BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition parties agreed on Tuesday to a draft law that would force Germany's leading listed companies to allocate 30 percent of the seats on non-executive boards to women from 2016 onward.
Although Europe's biggest economy has a female leader and roughly 40 percent of the cabinet is female, women still are under-represented in business life.
Among the 30 largest companies on Germany's blue-chip DAX index, women occupied only 7 percent of executive board seats and barely 25 percent of supervisory board seats by the end of June, according to the DIW economic think-tank.
The draft law agreed late on Tuesday by senior members of Merkel's three-party "grand coalition" would apply to listed companies which have employee representation on their supervisory boards, affecting more than 100 firms.
A further 3,500 medium-sized companies would have to determine their own quota for executive and supervisory board seats, party officials said. The cabinet is expected to pass the gender law next month.
Although the issue is divisive among conservative voters, Merkel, who has in the past resisted legal quotas, now backs the idea that was pushed by the Social Democrats, her junior partner.
The move has sparked criticism not only from right-wing conservative circles, but also the leading BDI industry association. "We absolutely do not need any kind of legal quotas," BDI head Ulrich Grillo said.
In 2003, Norway became the first country in the world to impose a gender quota requiring at least 40 percent of public limited company board members to be women.
Other countries, including France, Spain and the Netherlands, have followed with similar requirements.
In Sweden, the new government wants to introduce quotas to bring more women onto company boards if businesses don't act themselves during the next two years.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Diane Craft)
Germany to introduce legal quotas for women on company boardsTop News
Germany to introduce legal quotas for women on company boards
Tue, Nov 25 18:10 PM EST
BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition parties agreed on Tuesday to a draft law that would force Germany's leading listed companies to allocate 30 percent of the seats on non-executive boards to women from 2016 onward.
Although Europe's biggest economy has a female leader and roughly 40 percent of the cabinet is female, women still are under-represented in business life.
Among the 30 largest companies on Germany's blue-chip DAX index, women occupied only 7 percent of executive board seats and barely 25 percent of supervisory board seats by the end of June, according to the DIW economic think-tank.
The draft law agreed late on Tuesday by senior members of Merkel's three-party "grand coalition" would apply to listed companies which have employee representation on their supervisory boards, affecting more than 100 firms.
A further 3,500 medium-sized companies would have to determine their own quota for executive and supervisory board seats, party officials said. The cabinet is expected to pass the gender law next month.
Although the issue is divisive among conservative voters, Merkel, who has in the past resisted legal quotas, now backs the idea that was pushed by the Social Democrats, her junior partner.
The move has sparked criticism not only from right-wing conservative circles, but also the leading BDI industry association. "We absolutely do not need any kind of legal quotas," BDI head Ulrich Grillo said.
In 2003, Norway became the first country in the world to impose a gender quota requiring at least 40 percent of public limited company board members to be women.
Other countries, including France, Spain and the Netherlands, have followed with similar requirements.
In Sweden, the new government wants to introduce quotas to bring more women onto company boards if businesses don't act themselves during the next two years.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Diane Craft)
Investment: Commission relying on a financial miracle | ETUC
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:13
Commenting on Juncker's Jobs and Investment Plan, Bernadette S(C)gol, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said
''I salute any attempt to increase investment which would bring jobs, but I do not believe Mr Juncker can raise '‚¬315bn from '‚¬21bn.
''The European Commission seems to be relying on a financial miracle like the loaves and fishes.''
''Raising '‚¬315bn would be quite a feat, but would fill less than 40% of the annual investment shortfall since the crisis.''
''I am not holding my breath for a major impact on growth or unemployment. A lot more will be needed to get Europe's economy moving. I urge European Governments to boost the investment effort.''
Notes :
The EU annual investment gap since the crisis is estimated at '‚¬280bn*
'‚¬105 per year ('‚¬315 over 3 years) = 37.5% of the above investment gap (and that does not make up for the years of investment shortfall since the crisis).
A 'leverage factor' of 15 is extremely high and almost certainly unrealistic.
The ETUC published its 'big questions' http://www.etuc.org/press/junckers-investment-plan-new-start-or-false-start-big-questions#.VHRFCYvF8w0 for Juncker's investment plan and asked whether it would be the promised 'new start' or a false start, and whether it was simply old wine in new bottles.
*by think-tank Bruegel
Price of oven gloves and marigolds to rise because of 'bonkers' EU - Telegraph
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:09
Matthew Hancock, the Conservative business minister, is expected to fail in his bid to block the proposals because of opposition from Germany and the Netherlands.
He described the proposals as ''completely bonkers'' and ''over-zealous'' and said that he would continue to fight over-regulation from the EU.
''This EU power grab for our kitchen sinks is completely bonkers,'' Mr Hancock said. It would place a huge weight on businesses who are trying to serve their customers.
''These over-zealous proposals underscore the need for EU reform and why we must fight Brussels over-regulation to get the best deal for Britain. Only the Conservatives can deliver the reform we need in Europe .''
A spokesman for the European Commission said: ''Of course every jurisdiction anywhere in the developed world has product safety and quality standards covering pretty much all products to avoid people being injured.
''Sub-standard oven gloves could for example obviously lead to severe burns '' and people conned out of money for products that don't work.''
The spokesman said that any changes to EU rules are ''always subject to extensive consultation with industry and impact assessment''.
It came after the EU earlier this year banned the sale of powerful vacuum cleaners to tackle climate change.
The new law banning vacuum cleaners rated above 1,600 watts came into effect on September 1.
European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Why the EU needs a Digital Single Market: Speech by Vice-President Ansip in the European Parliament plenary session
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:21
Honourable Members,
It's a pleasure to be back in the European Parliament and in Strasbourg. I agree with you that the Digital Single Market requires our immediate attention. For this, we need the Telecoms Single Market as a solid basis for the future.
I know this Parliament agrees with the ambitious plan to achieve a truly connected Digital Single Market, as can be seen in your resolution and your support for the Telecoms Single Market package. But I am worried about the direction that the Telecoms Single Market negotiations have taken in the Council, where Member States are divided.
The Telecoms Single Market is an essential building block of the Digital Single Market. Without it, we cannot achieve the rest. The European Council asked for it in October 2013, and tomorrow, in the Telecoms Council, Member States need to be ambitious and take a decisive step towards achieving it. What kind of Digital Single Market would we build without decent solutions on roaming, net neutrality and, more importantly, on spectrum?
The net neutrality concept has to be solid and should be clearly defined. And with spectrum, more cooperation in spectrum allocation is not a technical issue. It's about getting high quality '' and decently priced '' connectivity, and new services.
Our citizens want the best the internet can offer, they want an internet that is safe and accessible to everybody. This is not a reality in Europe today.
There is even more work to do to achieve a truly connected digital single market. A market where every consumer is able to enjoy digital content and services - wherever they are in the EU, including government services. It means every company should be able to share and sell its wares to a market of 500 million, using seamless online channels.
Today, a small business trying to spread across the EU faces 28 rules for consumer protection, data protection, contract law, tax rates. Consumers trying to buy online face endless barriers.
And it just costs too much, both for consumers and businesses. I want to see more efficient parcel delivery across Member States and to tackle e-commerce. I want to make sure we can do online what is possible offline. This is why I have proposed a set of initiatives to my fellow Commissioners and committed to focus on six main areas of work that I will steer and coordinate in my role as Vice-President.
A first area of our work will be about building trust and confidence in the online world. As I said during my European Parliament hearing last month, both these issues matter a great deal to me. They are vital if a Digital Single Market is to exist in Europe and function properly.
This means moving further on consumer rights, ensuring that the consumer rights directive is fully implemented but also simplifying and modernising rules for online purchases and digital products. It also means concluding negotiations on data protection rules and cyber-security.
Another work area relates to removing restrictions and preventing new ones from appearing. One particular area to address will involve putting a stop to blocking of online consumers based on their location or residence. This will be about reforming and modernising copyright rules and getting rid of unjustified curbs on transfer and access to digital assets.
Again, as I said during my hearing, I am committed to getting rid of geo-blocking. This goes against the core principles of Europe's Single Market.
Our other areas of work will aim to guarantee online access, connectivity and investment; build the digital economy and making the Digital Single Market matter to businesses and their opportunities.
In your resolution, you addressed non-discrimination when using search engines. I agree that we need to address this issue: search engines are a key part of the development of the Digital Single Market. We should discuss a broad range of measures, starting with transparency, self-preference and vertical services in this area.
There are also competition tools to address this issue. The Commission will remain vigilant when it comes to competition law infringements that hamper the Digital Single Market. Commissioner Vestager will decide how to proceed with the ongoing investigation into Google's business practices, once she has heard those who are most directly affected by such practices.
I also want to promote e-society, ensure that our citizens have the skills needed to get ahead in the digital age and stimulate digital innovation and research to keep Europe a world ICT leader.
I know you also have more ideas. Thank you for setting them out: we will examine them very closely.
Our timetable is ambitious. In 2015, the Commission will present its strategy and prepare corresponding measures based on a clear assessment of the most urgent obstacles to be removed.
We won't overcome these obstacles by words '' or by weak rules. Better regulation means efficient rules, minimum burdens for business and consumers, effective competition and high-quality services across pan-European markets.
There are different ways to achieve that '' harmonisation, mutual recognition, "country of origin". These are principles the Single Market was built on. The same must apply online. I have made this principle clear in my hearing and I will fight for it.
That is what we need to achieve. We have the political steer, from the European Council, from President Juncker, and from this Parliament. Now we need action: and the determination to deliver a fully functional Digital Single Market.
The benefits of a Digital Single Market are 260 billion euros a year, potentially more. Imagine ending those barriers, making this a benefit to Europe, not the cost of non-Europe.
This is the jolt that our economy needs and the opportunity our citizens want. It is not something we should turn our backs on. It is what we can build with a Digital Single Market. We have a great opportunity and should make the best of it.
Closing statement
Mr President, honourable Members,
I would like to thank you for this debate. The resolution covers the key and critical points needed for the development of a fully functional Digital Single Market.
I can only support your call to the Council to open negotiations on the Telecoms Single Market. It is a crucial building block towards a European market that fits the needs of our citizens.
Barriers will not fall easily, but ensuring the implementation of existing instruments [such as the Consumer Rights Directive], and the full enforcement of our rules, including competition rules, will guarantee fair competition, bring more transparency in the market and reduce administrative burden.
Our Single Market needs to further modernise consumer rules and copyright but it also needs to adapt for the technologies ready to come on the market in the near future '' like big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things.
We have an ambitious agenda and I look forward to working closely with the European Parliament on the development of the Digital Single Market. Thank you for all your ideas for how to achieve this goal.
Thank you for your attention.
The Crowdsourcing Scam - The Baffler
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:00
In 1968 a Norwegian science fiction writer named Tor …ge Bringsv...rd published a peculiar short story called ''Codemus.'' The story has achieved the kind of retrospectively prophetic quality that makes sci-fi such a useful imaginative map for navigating our relationship with technology. (It also happens to be a good story, clever and light on its feet in its portrayal of a looming techno-fascism.) Bringsv...rd's tale is about a thirty-eight-year-old man named Codemus who lives in a thoroughly automated society. ''In the efficient society everything goes as planned,'' goes one of the story's mantras. ''In the efficient society everything goes the way it should.''
''Codemus'' is set sometime in the fifth decade of the twenty-first century, and its manically efficient society displays the kind of sterilized exactitude that we might associate with sci-fi's New Wave period, when writers were less focused on space travel and ray guns than on questions of politics and personal freedom. A worldwide computer network, much like the Internet, provides information freely, although people have access only to end-user terminals (here Bringsv...rd seems to have envisioned a version of the cloud). Everyone has been equipped with a ''little brother'''--a digital assistant that we might recognize as a smartphone, right down to its sinister double-duty as a tracking device. Little brothers wake their owners up, tell them when to go to work, guide them on their commutes, and bring them home. They are at once companions, fonts of information, communication tools (everyone talks on them while walking in public), and draconian taskmasters hiding behind the scrim of technological sophistication and awesome computing power. To disobey one's little brother is to violate a central directive of this efficient society.
Codemus always follows his little brother's commands, but one day, the gadget decides to rebel. Little Brother (Codemus refers to his affectionately, affording him the dignity of capital letters) fails to wake up Codemus for work. Little Brother later decides to take Codemus, who is still under the spell of his machine, out to the park. Not much happens; they bask in the sun and try to start up a conversation with a park employee, who is immediately spooked. This mild encounter represents a grave offense on a day when park visits aren't scheduled. Soon Codemus is a fugitive, pursued by police and bloodhounds through the city's monorail system. Shadowed by the authorities at every stop, Little Brother demands that Codemus leave him behind. ''They've got a fix on me, naturally,'' Little Brother says, presaging an era when communication and surveillance would become synchronized processes. ''I'm leaving a regular wake of radio waves behind us.''
Codemus doesn't want to abandon his gadget-cum-companion, but eventually he acquiesces and dumps Little Brother. Soon fear, confusion, and emptiness take hold. Codemus has no idea who he is or what he's supposed to do. ''A human is a social entity,'' goes another of the story's aphoristic mantras, and Codemus is now alone. He is utterly, metaphysically lost. He decides to give himself up and falls into the arms of his pursuers. The story ends with Codemus ''led back to the flock,'' given a new little brother, and returned to the cool embrace of the efficient society. His purpose, such as it is, is restored.
We may not live in the dystopian society forecast by Bringsv...rd, but many of its elements are recognizable in ours. The smartphone has become the universal prosthetic. Its widespread adoption has helped create a surveillance climate in which everyone is his own little brother and everyone may be tracked at all times. Indeed, Codemus's world resembles nothing so much as the handiwork of the visionary engineers at Google. There's the same trademark ethos of all-consuming paternalism, the same seamless use of cloud computing and data collection as a bastion of social order, the same embrace of efficiency as a supreme value. There's even the same promotion of automated transport free of human interference. Little Brother is like a hopped-up version of Google Now, the search giant's personal assistant that spends all day rifling through your data, reminding you when you have meetings, when you should leave for your next appointment, how you should get there, what news might interest you, and so on ad infinitum.
Let's step back for a moment'--or rather, float upward a bit, and imagine a bird's-eye view of this society, one in which harried workers are sent to and fro by way of commands conveyed to them through personal computing devices. They don't know why they are doing these things, nor what sort of calculus informs all their data-charged activity. But still they follow the commands, which come with the computer's imprimatur of mathematical precision and authority. They move between tasks with all the attention and care of worker bees; accomplishing the job without hesitation is all that matters. They live and work in conditions of closely choreographed banality.
From this vantage, the efficient society that terrorizes and comforts Codemus, and enfolds him in the straitjacket of a diffused, technologized fascism, resembles the experience of many workers today. Increasing numbers of people receive their instructions from, and report back to, software and smartphones. Whether operating a bin selector in an Amazon warehouse or freelancing from a coffee shop, many Americans work long days without having contact with other human beings'--neither coworkers nor supervisors. (There are no subordinates for this class of workers.) Everything they do is tracked, because efficiency is the sine qua non. Some of them work for online labor markets like Elance, oDesk, and Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which offer micro-jobs that can be done remotely, with little to no training. They complete surveys, tag photos, and transcribe interviews, for pay of a few dollars per hour or at a piecework rate of little more than a few cents per task. Occasionally, a job requires someone to go out into the physical world to confirm that a restaurant is still open or to photograph a store display so that the multinational company paying for it knows that it (and thousands of other displays like it, scattered around the country or the world) is set up properly.
The greatest deception of crowdsourcing is the notion that there is a crowd at all.
These labor markets depend on a kind of internalized offshoring. By fine-tuning an increasingly unstable employment regime'--part of a countrywide ''jobless recovery'''--companies can focus on retaining and fairly compensating highly skilled (and highly sought after) employees, such as engineers, lawyers, programmers, doctors, and scientists. Meanwhile, less complicated work can be either farmed out to low-wage freelance and temporary workers or subdivided into smaller and smaller units of work, which are then widely distributed through a cloud-based labor market. The result is an extreme form of Taylorism: in boom conditions, workers have more tiny tasks than they can say yes to, but they acquire no skills, they learn nothing about the product or service to which they are contributing, they have no contact with other workers, and they have no chance to advance or unionize. They simply do the task offered to them, for a very low fee, and move on as quickly as possible. Imagine a factory in which each employee wears blinders and can see only the thing in front of him on the conveyor belt. An algorithm acts as the overseer, and this boss doesn't miss a thing. (If you work for Gigwalk, for example, and don't respond to a message within thirty minutes, the app may lower your rating in its system, decreasing your chances of getting more work.)
The software facilitating this transaction acts as the ultimate mediator; the employee and the employer never have to deal with one another directly. Payment can be unreliable and is wholly contingent on the employer accepting the laborer's product. If the former doesn't like what he receives, he can simply reject it and not pay the worker for his time. Contract employees have no chance, in this setup, to appeal or to revise their work.
Silicon Valley calls this arrangement ''crowdsourcing,'' a label that's been extended to include contests, online volunteerism, fundraising, and more. Crowdsourced work is supposed to be a new, more casual, and more liberating form of work, but it is anything but. When companies use the word ''crowdsourcing'''--a coinage that suggests voluntary democratic participation'--they are performing a neat ideological inversion. The kind of tentative employment that we might have scoffed at a decade or two ago, in which individuals provide intellectual labor to a corporation for free or for sub-market wages, has been gussied up with the trappings of technological sophistication, populist appeal, and, in rare cases, the possibility of viral fame. But in reality, this labor regime is just another variation on the age-old practice of exploiting ordinary workers and restructuring industrial relations to benefit large corporations and owners of the platforms serving them. The lies and rhetorical obfuscations of crowdsourcing have helped tech companies devalue work, and a long-term, reasonably secure, decently paying job has increasingly become a MacGuffin'--something we ardently chase after but will likely never capture, since it's there only to distract us from the main action of the script.
Brother, Can You Spare a Cycle?
No bad big idea achieves its full cultural potential without first being sacralized by Wired magazine. Crowdsourcing is no different. In June 2006 the tech industry's bible ran a story called ''The Rise of Crowdsourcing'' (the cover headline was more typically hyperbolic: ''A Billion Amateurs Want Your Job''). ''The new pool of cheap labor,'' the article's writer, Jeff Howe, explained, is ''everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R&D.''
The casual characterization of human beings as something like modular computer components, complete with their ''spare cycles,'' was a revealing tic, one that has gone on to mark much of the subsequent popular literature on crowdsourcing. In this field, humans are required only so long as they complete the minimum amount of work that cannot be done by software. Even if they are replacing highly paid and skilled human beings, they are still treated like vestigial parts of a machine. As a driver for UberX'--a vast, imperious experiment in crowdsourcing amateur drivers to replace cabbies, with their thorny regulations and job security'--told Re/code as part of a complaint about Uber's company policies, ''We have become the functional end of the app.''
And that's the ugly, dystopian truth at the heart of the networked digital economy: crowdsourced workers are expected to work seamlessly with software, following its commands. Software has replaced corporate bureaucracy as the inscrutable taskmaster. It's become practically a legal entity unto itself. Millions of dollars in potential tort awards now depend on if and how Uber drivers are interacting with the app when they get into traffic accidents, run over pedestrians, or assault passengers. In March Uber announced new limited insurance coverage for UberX drivers, but the company continues to downplay its liabilities. After all, it's not even a transportation or taxi firm but a ''transportation network company'' or, as it's also been referred to, a ''peer-to-peer ride-sharing service.'' Uber engineers just make the app; what happens to people using it is of little concern to them.
This combination of treating humans like machines and recasting work as something different'--something casual, informal, and frivolously fun'--is a perennial selling point for the digital world's army of crowdsourcing consultants. At the same time, it's an all-too-obvious horror show for anyone still clinging to any critical detachment from the booster-mad tech scene. ''Distributed labor networks are using the Internet to exploit the spare processing power of millions of human brains,'' Howe explained, as if people are just waiting for corporations to call up and ask if they have any extra neurons available. The corollary is that people shouldn't expect much for donating these spare cycles, but corporations can profit tremendously.
What emerges from Howe's article'--which, perhaps inevitably, resulted in a book-length treatment, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business'--is the sense that crowdsourcing is indeed a good way to extract labor from masses of people at very low cost. Whether that labor will be done ethically or produce good work are other matters. ''Crowdsourcing sites are not communities from which good ideas and products spring,'' scholar Daren C. Brabham wrote in a study of iStockphoto, the micropayment platform that decimated the market for many professional photographers by offering up user-submitted stock photography at bottom-of-the-barrel rates. This is likely true, but companies that turn to crowdsourcing benefit from high margins'--TV shows that make use of clips submitted by viewers, from America's Funniest Home Videos to more recent programs on VH1 and Comedy Central, are incredibly cheap to produce'--and highly advantageous economies of scale. If thousands of people are submitting ideas to you for free, some of them are bound to be good, or at the very least useful. And it's much cheaper to have a couple of interns sorting through submissions for T-shirt ideas than it is to pay professional artists to do the design.
That's why corporate America has also used crowdsourcing for more rarified work. Take InnoCentive, a platform on which companies like Eli Lilly and DuPont post complex problems for the public to solve'--how to improve art restoration, say, or to inject fluoride into toothpaste tubes. Winning solutions may earn tens of thousands of dollars in rewards'--a hefty amount, sure, but pennies compared to what these companies usually spend on research and development. In the process, a few garage tinkerers might make off pretty well, while Boeing or Procter & Gamble can slash its R&D department and harvest ideas from people who will never be in a position to sue them for infringement of intellectual property rights or to go work for a competitor.
These benefits haven't been lost on the Fortune 500, which has taken to crowdsourcing and similar efforts in the same way it has to social media. Both technological platforms allow companies to interact directly with customers and to offer the impression that they are something other than impersonal, profit-driven monoliths beholden only to their shareholders. By running contests soliciting ads for major media events, brands like Doritos and Dove can save on their advertising budgets while also earning good press for appearing to be open to contributions from the public. The winning entries then are cast as meritocratic victories of amateur creativity rather than low-cost replacements for the professional ad campaigns for which agencies (their questionable taste aside) charge millions.
One might, in jaundiced fashion, nonetheless regard the crowdsourced life as yet another flourish of self-inflicted market idolatry on the part of the digerati'--if not a natural-selection mechanism for the guileless amateurs who would have rolled over in similar fashion if they'd been graced with a cubicle in a Silicon Valley coding farm. But that's just the problem: crowdsourcing has burrowed its way into all realms of life, most notably into government, philanthropy, higher education, and other sectors from which one might, in more confident chapters in our political economy's development, expect some countervailing force against the land rush for free labor and opportunistic pseudo-populism. Instead, throughout the public sector as well as in the corporatized sanctums of the market, workers are urged to collaborate in their own systematic casualization and deskilling, all in the name of libertarian emancipation.
Uber Alles
A confluence of conditions has allowed crowdsourcing to thrive: the advent of highly distributed, mobile computing; the steadily blurring distinctions between work and play; an efficiency fetish in which all possible work must be captured and put towards productive ends; and a sense that technology is inherently empowering and beneficent.
The field also couldn't exist without a generalized sense that liberal institutions are either in disarray or not up to tackling twenty-first century problems. In the crowdsourcing world, these challenges are inevitably cast as confusing, complicated, and amenable to technological fixes that politics or social movements can't provide. And yet every crowdsourced appeal on GoFundMe or GiveForward for someone's medical care'--whether an impoverished artist or a victim of a mass shooting'--is itself an outrage. These appeals are much more than the online equivalent of a charity bake sale. Spontaneous and virtuous outbursts of public generosity, for all the genuine good they can achieve for individual petitioners, are nonetheless powerful indictments of the public's myopia, for no one should ever have to start a fundraiser to afford medical care. We're willing to click ''donate'' to give $20 to someone in a time of dramatized suffering'--it makes us feel good; we can share our involvement on social media; we feel a genuine longing to help someone in need'--but are unable to mount the kind of sustained campaign needed to procure healthcare for everyone. And with every heartwarming story of a crowdfunding goal achieved (complete with the platform taking its cut), the case for systemic reform suffers.[*]
From healthcare to defense, the call for the private sector to usurp the responsibilities of government always beckons. Take the example of the increasingly militarized United States''Mexico border. After pouring a billion dollars into SBInet, the so-called ''virtual'' border fence designed by Boeing, the Department of Homeland Security abandoned the project in 2011. Steve Smith, a member of the Arizona State Legislature, shepherded into law a bill to crowdfund the fence, along with a state-sanctioned website, buildtheborderfence.com. Three years later Smith's project was dead, having raised only $264,000'--far less than the federal government's $2.8 million estimated price tag for one mile of fencing. Even with Smith's plan to use convict labor, the $264k haul was not enough to do anything, and the funds, which were reportedly solicited from corporations and private citizens alike, remain stuck in a state account. The irony of this debacle is practically recursive: here was a failed campaign to make up for the failure of the government to build a fence that, even if it had worked, represented a solution to a nonproblem'--that of dangerous illegals taking away American jobs and bringing drugs and terrorism in their wake.
An app's terms of service agreement is the closest thing we have to an employment contract.
Yet the libertarian excitement for crowdsourcing endures, founded in the misguided belief that once power is arrogated away from doddering governmental institutions, it will somehow find itself in the hands of ordinary people. In one typical effusion of libertarian magical thinking, William D. Eggers, writing earlier this year in Reason, marveled over the casual poaching of work via the miracle of software. He began by praising Luis von Ahn, who has made a career out of crafting fiendishly inventive technologies that manage to extract labor out of web users without their knowledge. Von Ahn's breakthrough project was reCAPTCHA, a version of the now-ubiquitous online tests used to verify that a person is not a spambot. This program, bought up by Google in 2009, shows two words, barely legible and contorted into loopy shapes, to a user, who types them in a box. When she types them correctly, she verifies that she's a human being, but in the process, she also transcribes a word or two from Google's massive book-scanning project'--and she provides a service that the company's optical character recognition software can't. If one accepts the legitimacy of CAPTCHAs and similar verification schemes, then the harvesting of the user's labor is incidental'--which is precisely what makes it so ethically confounding.
Eggers also lauds another von Ahn invention: Duolingo, which, the writer explains, ''allows people to learn a foreign language while simultaneously translating huge chunks of the Internet.'' These pieces of the Internet'--which fortunately remain (for now anyway) comparatively small'--are mostly for-profit websites with which Duolingo partners. Companies like BuzzFeed and CNN submit articles to Duolingo, which duly parcels them out to its online battery of students, who work through them as translation exercises. A fully translated article is then aggregated from various students' contributions, and voil : a major media organization has a complete translation of its material, without the expense of hiring a professional translator or a local journalist to re-report the story.
One might counter that the students use Duolingo for free and that this is a way of repaying that debt. But most students participate in this arrangement unwittingly. What's more, and far more troubling, Duolingo users are contributing to the erosion of the societal and market value of once-expert skills like translation. (They're also translating for some pretty crummy media organizations.) One is left with a tough bargain: Do we accept Duolingo, for all of its subterfuges, as part of the inevitable drift of digitization within the working world'--and as a lesser evil than, say, Google's translation service, which has automated the process of translation and cut out human beings entirely?
Another option is to overlook these issues altogether, which is what Eggers chooses. He does say that ''the genius of reCAPTCHA and Duolingo is that they divide labor into small increments, performed for free, often by people who are unaware of the project they're helping to complete.'' It's disturbing that this arrangement excites him without reservation. Then again, that is the market worshipper's creed: greater entanglement within the matrices of capitalist exchange is always, by sheer dogmatic definition, freedom. Thus, Eggers observes, ridesharing companies like Uber let us form ''de facto taxi service[s]'' and build ''two-sided markets'''--albeit ones in which, Eggers neglects to say, we are always buying and selling the basic components of our lives.
Unruffled, Eggers hops from glory to glory, next citing that other wellspring of techno-utopian pabulum: TED. In a TED Talk titled ''Massive-Scale Online Collaboration,'' von Ahn enthuses about ''humanity's large-scale achievements.'' The most impressive of these, such as building the pyramids and the Panama Canal or landing on the moon, involved about one hundred thousand people. ''The reason for that,'' he says, is that ''before the Internet, coordinating more than one hundred thousand people, let alone paying them, was essentially impossible.'' Now, with the Internet, everything is different, because everything is always different with the Internet.
What von Ahn and his proxy, Eggers, neglect to note is that the pyramids were built with slave labor; that tens of thousands of workers died building the Panama Canal; that landing on the moon was one of this country's shining achievements but also a specific product of a decades-long Cold War that gave birth to a military-industrial complex that continues to chew through our treasury and civil liberties alike. In the same register of uncritical and ahistorical gadget-enthrallment, they likewise fail to stipulate that the CAPTCHA-driven digitization of human knowledge they celebrate is merely a scaffolding on which Google can hang more ads (having begun the project without bothering to consult any of the authors or publishers who owned the original work).[**]
Workers are urged to collaborate in their own deskilling, all in the name of libertarian emancipation.
Small wonder, then, that the apostles of the crowdsourcing gospel casually annex the traditional functions of the public sector into their grand digital bargain. Despite their diehard libertarian animus against the public sector, they hew to the cartoonishly technocratic faith that government can wipe away most stubborn social complexities'--provided that it does so with suitably robust measures of crowdsourcing. ''Volunteers'' will walk through Kenyan slums and use GPS units to tag landmarks. Finland's national library is ''perpetually short of funds'''--it shouldn't be, but no one bothers to consider that'--so it will crowdsource volunteers to digitize documents. Health, online education, and work will be gamified and our data turned over to the owners of the platforms that will parse it for us, allowing us to live better. (These benevolent market actors surely won't sell our precious data elsewhere'--or if they do, they will at least once more fail to notify the originators of all this content that it's been strategically repurposed.) Citizens will comment on laws directly, perhaps even writing them. We might sign up for a U.S. Patent Office trial program ''in which each patent application runs past the eyes of several citizens, often with science backgrounds, rather than distracting a lone bureaucrat.'' Often with science backgrounds, you say! And yes, a moment of thought for the lone bureaucrat, who is now, like the rest of us, an artisan creating folk art in his spare time; he too turns to crowdsourcing, but only when he needs to fill up the tip jar.
In this idealized type of digital exchange, the impermanence of these relationships, the ad hoc nature of it all, is a recipe for stability, not anxiety and disorder. Here there are no technological or economic divides. Everyone can afford the same gadgets and is able to put in time performing services, tracking personal data, and making suggestions that others'--paid, professional, competent people'--would have once made instead. The participants are diverse'--contrary to academic studies showing that crowdsourcing projects tend to be white, male, and prosperous'--and so the data is, too. Power accrues'--though never to excess'--to those with the right blend of moxie and good ideas. ''The burden of basic services gets shifted from credentialed professionals to individuals empowered with technology,'' Eggers says. Of course, in failing to exercise even the most basic critical faculties in this Pollyannaish account of the crowdsourced knowledge economy, Eggers is showcasing the colossal market failure of citizen journalism. A longtime consultant on government reform, he churns out online PR boilerplate that virtually doubles as an infomercial for the kind of services provided by his current employer, the neoliberal consultancy colossus Deloitte.
We Live as We Dream, Alone
The greatest deception of crowdsourcing is the notion that there is a crowd at all. Sure, there may be thousands of people participating in the T-shirt design contest, driving cars for Lyft, filling out paid surveys, or helping a police force identify looters in CCTV footage, but they are not assembled as a crowd. They are not in communication with one another, much less occupying one physical space. Each submission is handled individually, likely by a piece of software; as far as the system is concerned, each submitter is a data profile. There is no group of people organizing, conferring with one another, leveraging their power as a group, and finally submitting their work to someone else. This is a crowd only in name.
In Crowds and Power, his landmark study of crowds and the political and social forces surrounding them, Elias Canetti emphasizes that the crowd is a place of unification. There, distinctions are thrown off: ''Only together can men free themselves from their burdens of distance; and this, precisely, is what happens in a crowd. During the discharge distinctions are thrown off and all feel equal.'' This equality matters but is also ''based on an illusion,'' Canetti explains. Once the crowd disperses, its members return to their atomized lives as individuals in their own homes, with their own families and concerns; they don't abandon these relationships for the sake of the crowd. But for at least a moment, they close that distance and unify for a common cause. Another word for this phenomenon might be politics.
The contemporary practice of crowdsourcing employs this illusion'--that everyone is equal, united in a shared goal'--while combining it with another popular deceit, that of meritocracy. Under the regime of crowdsourcing, everyone is actually competing with one another, ostensibly under protocols that are impartial and fair. But in reality, those contributing to a crowdsourced project control nothing about the terms of their participation. Sure, it may be up to them whether they want to participate at all, but under the clever labor-extracting end runs and subterfuges of many crowdsourced projects, contributors are commonly denied that most basic of democratic rights: consent of the governed (or in this case, the subcontracted). At its most manipulative, crowdsourcing produces projects along the lines of Twitch, an Android app that takes over your phone's lock screen and, rather than having you enter an unlock code or pattern, asks you to answer a quick question or rate photos'--microwork that benefits whichever patron may pay to place a task there. While apps like these aren't yet the default, the next step is dismally clear'--participation in crowdsourced work could soon be the condition of unlocking the devices we need to perform all our other crowdsourced tasks.
When they do have a choice, users don't typically crowdsource their labor for the sheer giddy pleasure of selfless amateur participation. They tend, rather, to do it under false pretenses or simply because they have few other options for earning money or for gaining the attention of the sort of people who, they hope, might one day hire them for genuine wage labor.
In this way, crowdsourcing depoliticizes the crowd. It prevents crowd members from communicating with one another and from organizing. Those activities, after all, might upset whoever is running the design contest or controlling the transportation app that nominally employs them. Uber, for example, has responded to drivers protesting mass firings by claiming that these drivers received poor ratings through the app and that their accounts were merely ''deactivated.'' On Mechanical Turk forums, workers vociferously oppose unions, often claiming that MTurk work is individualistic and that a union would get between a worker and the person offering him a few cents or dollars to complete a menial task. (On the other hand, it's rarely suggested in such forums that Mechanical Turk itself is getting between workers and those assigning tasks, or that workers might require some protections and would benefit from organizing.)
Constantly rated and assessed, these workers appear to have internalized the sense of competition imposed on them from above. They know that the communitarian rhetoric surrounding crowdsourcing is but a pretense and that fellow workers represent competitors for the few decently paying jobs available. And yet if crowdsourced laborers were able to come together and organize, they might find that their lot would improve in the long run. It is at the very moment that workers strike, as Canetti says, that their ''fictitious equality . . . has suddenly become a real equality'':
As long as they were working they had very varied things to do, and everything they did was prescribed. But, when they stop work, they all do the same thing. . . . Stopping work makes the workers equals. Their concrete demands are actually of less importance than the effect of this moment.
In the harried, covertly competitive environment of crowdsourcing, this kind of stoppage seems impossible. There is no strength to be won from these weak ties. But it's only through some kind of strike or organization that crowdsourced laborers could improve their working conditions. Unfortunately, the process by which that might be achieved is unclear. Whereas workers once hoped to unite to fight the edicts of management, crowdsourced workers would have to transcend algorithmic barriers and the dictates of software. How do you picket'--much less launch a work stoppage'--against a faceless app?
You can see where all this is going, pulled toward the death spiral of diminishing expectations. As governments continue to practice austerity, making lifetime employment and pension benefits a thing of the past, American corporations, despite a booming stock market and record cash reserves, follow suit. Stable employment, benefits, and retirement funds become anachronistic perks of a pre-digital workforce. Companies begin to think in terms of short-term spending rather than long-term investment, as borrowing and hiring both atrophy. More and more of us are forced to be contingent laborers, freelancers, crowdsourced volunteers, or ''permalancers'' always on the lookout for more opportunities, always advertising ourselves through social media and public networks, knowing'--with a sense of generalized suspicion'--that our public utterances on social media may influence our future job prospects. Risk assessment algorithms may already be parsing our social media profiles, pooling information to be used in a future background check. Obliged to work constantly to pay off household debt or school loans, we don't have the time to learn the skills that would, we are told, allow us to succeed in the knowledge economy.
Large corporations, meanwhile, start to realize that they can not only build on existing outsourcing'--which has seen human resources, IT, customer service, and a range of other support staff shunted overseas'--but also practice a pro tem outsourcing at home, summoning pliable, cheap workers whenever they're needed. Managers get plaudits for being technologically progressive and nimble'--and of course, for cutting budgets in the process. Stock markets reward companies operating on high margins, so more employees are fired from already profitable companies. More power is granted to software engineers, executives, high-level managers, and those controlling the algorithms and the networks; these men (and they are mostly men) are plied with spectacular working conditions and stock options to keep them happy and supportive of the status quo.
Workers, in turn, have more mobility and a semblance of greater control over their working lives. But is any of it worth it when we can't afford health insurance or don't know how much the next gig might pay, or when it might come? When an app's terms of service agreement is the closest thing we have to an employment contract? When work orders come through a smartphone and we know that if we don't respond immediately, we might not get such an opportunity again? When we can't even talk to another human being about the task at hand and we must work nonstop just to make minimum wage?
Here is where Tor …ge Bringsv...rd's story deviates from reality. Yes, Codemus lived in a fully administered society where surveillance technology, automation, and the iron god of efficiency had coalesced into something irreproachable and frightening. But there was one aspect of his life that today seems too strange for fiction: he had a job that provided for all of his needs.
Big, bad tech: how America's digital capitalists are taking us all for a ride | John Naughton | Comment is free | The Guardian
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 05:59
San Franciscos's Uber company has disrupted the taxi trade in cities throughout the world. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
One useful side-effect of the revelations that a senior executive of the cyber-minicab outfit Uber was caught musing about the attractions of hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on journalists who are critical of the company is that it has lifted the veil on what we might call digital capitalism.
Uber, you may recall, is a lavishly-funded San Francisco startup whose mission is to disrupt taxi services in cities worldwide. It has already sparked protests and demonstrations in its targeted cities, including London, and begun to attract the attention of regulators and municipalities everywhere.
Although Uber's activities have attracted a good deal of media attention, much of it has been strangely uncritical, admiring, even. It has been portrayed as a standard bearer for Clayton Christensen's cliched idea of ''disruptive innovation''. Existing taxi businesses and franchises are seen as lazy, cosy, sometimes corrupt municipal monopolies that gouge customers (many of whom are, of course, journalists).
Uber, in contrast, is cool, modern (it works via a smartphone app, so it must be cool), a worthy surfer on the wave of creative destruction that is capitalism's way of renewing itself. And if Uber's executives are, er, a mite aggressive, well then so are the incumbents whom the company threatens. Did not London cabbies bring the capital to a standstill in a protest a while back?
The problem with this is that Uber is no more a tech company than is UPS or M&S. It's a company that uses technology in order to intervene/operate in the offline world. It has, however, borrowed two ideas from the pure internet operators. First, it takes the standard tech business model of being a ''platform'' (translation: intermediary) '' putting buyers in touch with sellers, taking a cut, harvesting the data and taking no responsibility for anything.
Second, it is an obsessive user of metrics to keep its self-employed contractors up to scratch. After each ride, customers are invited to ''rate'' their experience on a scale from one to five stars. ''Mentally,'' an Uber driver who used to do contract limo work told a reporter from business magazine Quartz last week, ''these rating systems affect us a lot'... If I am driving somebody who doesn't live in New York, and they complain that I took the wrong route, how would they know the route that I should have taken?''
He went on to note that in 20 years of working with corporate employees, he hadn't a single customer complaining. Now he feels he's living in fear of losing his job: ''I have a 4.8 average [out of a possible top average mark of 5]. I can still get fired though, if I go below a 4.6.''
Then there's the data-harvesting side of the business. An intriguing insight into this could be found in a post that appeared on the company blog on 26 March 2012 under the title ''Rides of Glory''. ''Recently,'' wrote the author, ''I have come to understand that some of you may have on occasion found love that you might immediately regret upon waking up the morning after. In times of yore you would have woken up in a panic, scrambling in the dark, trying to find your fur coat or velvet smoking jacket. Then that long walk home. But that was then. One of the neat things we can do with our data is discover rider patterns: are there weekend riders that only use Uber post-party? It was while playing around with this idea of (blind!) rider segmentation that we came up with the Ride of Glory (RoG). A RoGer is anyone who took a ride between 10pm and 4am on a Friday or Saturday night, and then took a second ride from within 1/10th of a mile of the previous night's drop-off point 4-6 hours later (enough for a quick night's sleep).''
As Monty Python used to say: ''Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know wot I mean squire?''
Interestingly, the post disappeared from the web sometime last week, so now if you go to http://blog.uber.com/ridesofglory you'll find only the ''Error 404'' notice: nothing interesting here. The PR crisis-management team has obviously been combing through the company files, weeding out embarrassing or creepy material that yields insights into how its employees view their customers. (Memo to aspiring journalists: when you find something interesting, scrape the page just in case it gets ''disappeared''.)
The real lesson of the Uber expos(C), though, is that it's time to discard the rose-tinted spectacles with which we have hitherto viewed these Silicon Valley outfits. For too long, they have been allowed to trade fraudulently on the afterglow of the hippie libertarianism that supposedly infected the early days of the personal computer industry. The billionaire geeks who currently run the giant internet companies may look and talk like a new species of entrepreneur but it would be more prudent to view them as John D Rockefellers in hoodies.
And the economic philosophy that's embedded in this new digital capitalism is neoliberalism red in tooth and claw, which is why they minimise the number of ''ordinary'' (ie non-geek) workers on their payrolls, outsource everything they can, despise trade unions, view regulators as barriers to ''innovation'' and are outraged by the temerity of European institutions that seek to curb their freedoms of action.
There's a geopolitical angle to this too. In the wake of the Snowden revelations, the internet companies have been behaving like scandalised maiden aunts up whose skirts the naughty NSA has been putting a hand or two. But what's really bothering them is that their, er, complicated relationship with US government agencies might eventually lead to their users going elsewhere. They're already experiencing that in, for example, the way in which US-based cloud computing services are viewed with increasing suspicion by European consumers and companies, and if this were to gather momentum, who knows where it might lead?
So an illusion is being energetically fostered '' that it's the poor companies and their hapless users (that's you and me) versus the overbearing national security state. This is pure baloney: the bottom line is that all the major technology companies outside of China are American. And as the global influence of the US begins to wane, companies such as Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco '' and Uber '' have metamorphosed into manifestations of what Joe Nye famously christened ''soft power''. They know whose side they're on and it isn't ours.
Agenda 21
Ice to close upper Mississippi from November 20, earliest on record
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:25
Ice to close upper Mississippi from November 20, earliest on recordTop News
Ice to close upper Mississippi from November 20, earliest on record
Wed, Nov 19 21:43 PM EST
By Michael Hirtzer
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The shipping season on the upper Mississippi River will end on Thursday as ice surrounding locks and dams near Minnesota's Twin Cities forced the earliest winter closure on records that date back to 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.
"There's so much ice through the whole system," said Bryan Peterson, navigation manager for the Army Corps' St. Paul district. "They're getting the barges they can out and not risking getting stuck there all winter."
There were two tow boats waiting to pass lock and dam No. 2 near Hastings, Minnesota. Once they moved down river, no more vessels were expected, Peterson said.
The shipping season typically ends around the beginning of December on upper portions of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. In 1989, no more vessels reached the Twin Cities after Nov. 24, Peterson said.
The closure came as a blast of arctic air brought early snow and freezing temperatures across the United States.
The Mississippi River connects farms in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, where about 60 percent of U.S. corn, soybean and wheat exports exit the country. The closure will also halt upriver shipments of fertilizer, salt and other goods to the most northern reaches of the country's busiest waterway.
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer. Editing by Andre Grenon)
Ice to close upper Mississippi from November 20, earliest on recordTop News
Ice to close upper Mississippi from November 20, earliest on record
Wed, Nov 19 21:43 PM EST
By Michael Hirtzer
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The shipping season on the upper Mississippi River will end on Thursday as ice surrounding locks and dams near Minnesota's Twin Cities forced the earliest winter closure on records that date back to 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.
"There's so much ice through the whole system," said Bryan Peterson, navigation manager for the Army Corps' St. Paul district. "They're getting the barges they can out and not risking getting stuck there all winter."
There were two tow boats waiting to pass lock and dam No. 2 near Hastings, Minnesota. Once they moved down river, no more vessels were expected, Peterson said.
The shipping season typically ends around the beginning of December on upper portions of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. In 1989, no more vessels reached the Twin Cities after Nov. 24, Peterson said.
The closure came as a blast of arctic air brought early snow and freezing temperatures across the United States.
The Mississippi River connects farms in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, where about 60 percent of U.S. corn, soybean and wheat exports exit the country. The closure will also halt upriver shipments of fertilizer, salt and other goods to the most northern reaches of the country's busiest waterway.
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer. Editing by Andre Grenon)
Everything You Need to Know about the U.S.''China Climate Change Agreement - Scientific American
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:12
A turning point has been reached in the world's bid to curb global warming
November 12, 2014 |By David BielloHISTORIC AGREEMENT: President Obama's visit to Beijing has yielded a pact to cut greenhouse gas pollution from the world's two biggest emitting nations.Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy
The presidents of the world's two most polluting nations agree: something should be done about climate change. And they're just the leaders to do it, per the terms of what President Barack Obama called a "historic agreement" announced November 12 between the U.S. and China. Although neither country has plans to stop burning coal or oil in the near future, both countries now have commitments to reduce the greenhouse gases that result. "As the world's two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change," said Obama in a joint press conference with President Xi Jinping, wrapping up a visit to Beijing that included the joint effort on climate change. The U.S. will double the speed of its current pollution reduction trajectory, which has seen carbon dioxide emissions fall roughly 10 percent below 2005 levels to date. The country will now aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. That's in addition to the 17 percent reduction below 2005 levels due by 2020 and shows the kind of five-year planning the U.S. would like to see adopted in international plans to combat climate change. In other words, ever-increasing ambition in reduction targets delivered every five years. "This is an ambitious goal, but it is an achievable goal," Obama said. "It puts us on a path to achieving the deep emissions reductions by advanced economies that the scientific community says is necessary to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change." Although Chinese leaders are quite fond of five-year plans, their new climate version would not begin until "around 2030," under the terms of the new agreement. That is when the country's CO2 pollution will peak, advancing the Chinese war on pollution onto the invisible front. The nation will also "strive" to reach that peak even sooner. Just as Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli pledged at the United Nations in September "to peak total CO2 pollution as soon as possible," now Xi has followed through in November with the first agreed-on date to cap its global warming pollution by 2030. The problem is coal, which currently provides more than 70 percent of the energy the fast-developing nation uses. Hundreds of new coal-burning power plants account for how China surpassed the U.S. in the past decade as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But already several Chinese cities and provinces are experimenting with the kind of capitalist solutions favored by U.S. free marketeers'--cap-and-trade programs that in some cases even extend to cover public transportation and buildings themselves. These programs are pilots and may be scaled up for a national program expected in coming years or scrapped in favor of some new national plan or carbon tax. "China has plans for a national market and one that is the most ambitious in the world," says Barbara Finamore, Asia director at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council and longtime Beijing resident. "It would dwarf any other carbon market in the world." More importantly perhaps, the Chinese central government has begun to talk about a cap on coal-burning itself. Statistics show that this year coal use in China slowed for the first time this century, dropping by around 1 percent, according to Greenpeace International. The hopeful sign suggests that peak coal use could come within the next decade or so, although this dip could also be a result of slowing economic growth rather than proactive efforts to slow climate change. But peak coal use is exactly what the Chinese have agreed to ensure now, along with cuts in CO2 intensity by 2020. Already China's National Development and Reform Commission has laid out a plan to cope with climate change through the end of the decade. That means building even more nuclear power plants, wind farms, hydroelectric dams and even to start employing more solar power, of which the country installed 12 gigawatts-worth in 2013. In fact, in 2013 more new clean energy sources were added to the grid in China than fossil fuel-fired power'--for the first time ever. China has added several hundred gigawatts-worth of such clean energy'--the Three Gorges Dam alone pumps out 22 gigawatts'-- but hopes to add as much as 1,000 gigawatts of these low-carbon emitting sources by 2030. That would constitute 20 percent of its energy'--and roughly the total amount of all electricity produced in the U.S. or all the coal-fired power plants China has built in the last few decades. It's also double what the Chinese have committed to achieve by 2015 in their current Five-Year Plan. China is already the world leader in new nuclear and new renewable energy sources, and the energy intensity of its economy dropped by more than 19 percent between 2006 and 2010. But this week's commitment will require an acceleration in these already fast-paced transition efforts. At the same time, the U.S. and China will continue to collaborate on developing the kind of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) that could help clean coal-burning for power plants but also industry, such as steel and cement-making. That change will come through increased funding to the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center'--one of the fruits of the last deal between the two countries in 2009'--and at least one "large-scale pilot project." This project will not rely on flushing more oil out of the ground with the CO2 to be buried, as U.S. CCS projects have done, but rather serve as a bid to help solve China's water crisis by using CO2 to produce fresh water from an underground saltwater aquifer. The project is expected to "inject one million tons of CO2 and create approximately 1.4 million cubic meters of freshwater per year," a major technological advance if achieved. Trade will also play a role: The tariff agreement signed this week by the two countries may also extend to green goods in the future, such as more energy-efficient and resilient building materials. After all, how China builds out its cities in the next few decades will lock in either highly polluting energy for decades'--or not. Already, conventional air pollution like smog is driving change in China, including the mandated shutdown of factories and driving restrictions around Beijing in recent days in a bid to clear the air for world leaders. "Air pollution has become one of the most important issues facing China today, both for social stability and also international reputation," Finamore notes. "They are beginning to decouple coal use and economic growth." Cleaner air could also come in the form of converting coal to gas or liquids at giant chemical plants before burning it, which would help reduce smog but exacerbate CO2 pollution. Or it could come in the form of CCS, nuclear and renewables. "There is real potential for shifting of coal use in China from most polluted regions inland, which is why a national cap on coal consumption that's mandatory is so important," Finamore says, adding that it's a "real possibility." The agreement between the two countries that together emit more than 40 percent of global CO2 pollution suggests a strong deal will be signed by the world's nations in Paris in 2015, under the terms of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, unlike Copenhagen in 2009. Prior to that meeting China and the U.S. pledged to cooperate but made no firm commitments to reduce pollution, resulting in the last-minute hullabaloo to salvage international efforts known as the Copenhagen Accord. This weeks' agreement does not mean, however, that the problem of climate change is solved. The U.S. and China are still on pace to add billions of metric tons of CO2 pollution each year into the atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that the world has already put into the atmosphere about half the carbon it can to avoid more than 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, and time is running out. Already, global average temperatures are up nearly 1 degree C and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have touched 400 parts-per-million for the first time since Homo sapiens sapiens walked on Earth. The 28 nations of the European Union have pledged to cut greenhouse gas pollution by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, which means, including this new agreement, the countries responsible for more than half of the world's emissions now have plans to cut it. But other major polluters such as Australia, Canada and Japan have all fallen back in their efforts to curb global warming pollution. Australia's pollution jumped after it repealed its carbon tax this year; Canada has repudiated its prior commitment to reduce pollution under the current international global warming agreement; and Japan's pollution has swelled as it burns more natural gas and coal to produce electricity to replace that generated by the nuclear reactors shuttered in the wake of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. There is no guarantee that the U.S. or China might not also see similar setbacks on the road to less CO2, particularly given the climate denial politics that are rampant in the U.S. Congress and China's imperative to deliver continued economic growth or its history of gaming international carbon markets. And a new major polluter'--India'--has arrived on the scene. In hoping to repeat China's development success it will burn more and more coal. Just as China has accounted for the bulk of rapidly rising climate-changing pollution in the first decades of the 21st century, India could soon take over driving that growth. But there is hope in the form of cleaner energy sources. New Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "very engaged on renewables and solar power to electrify and provide energy access in India to hundreds of millions who don't have it," says Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, an environmental group. Plus, the new agreement is nowhere near ambitious enough to meet the reduction targets laid out in the most recent report of the IPCC. No country or league of countries'--not even the E.U.'--is on track to reduce pollution enough. Policy modeler Chris Hope of the University of Cambridge fed the new commitments plus the E.U. effort into a computer model under the assumption that other countries would continue to allow pollution to grow. He came out with "less than a 1 percent chance of keeping the rise in global mean temperatures below the iconic 2 [degree C] level in 2100. Most likely the rise will be about 3.8 [degrees C]." In other words, more needs to be done and China's level of striving to reach peak pollution before 2030 will prove crucial. The world still has a long way to go to combat climate change and even this new inadequate agreement will require some tough, perhaps impossible, efforts from the U.S. and China. "We're nowhere near the world we need to be in to achieve our most ambitious climate goals," says Valerie Karplus, director of the Tsinghua-M.I.T. China Energy and Climate Project. "We need to recognize that reality and think where do we go from here." But just as John Kerry did when he was the lone U.S. senator to hold a press conference back in Copenhagen in 2009 stressing the importance of this issue, as Secretary of State in 2013 and 2014 has pressed the issue of combating climate change with his Chinese counterparts. As a result, the U.S. and China have now begun to show that it just might be possible for the nations of the world to stop global warming for the first time since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in the 1990s. As Obama also said in his joint press conference with Xi: "When we work together, it's good for the United States, it's good for China and it is good for the world."
Quiet Atlantic hurricane season spares U.S. for ninth year running - Yahoo News Canada
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:57
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NYTimes: European Legislator Urging the Breakup of Google Has Ties to a Law Firm
Stitcher Radio told to ''stop stealing our shows'' by claimed rights owner Podcast One | 9to5Mac
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:47
The popular podcast app Stitcher Radio has been accused of stealing content from Podcast One, which claims to have the exclusive rights to some of the content streamed by the app. Podcast One has cited a long list of shows it says Stitcher has no right to use, including Adam Carolla, Clark Howard, Dan Patrick, Carcast, The Dr. Drew Podcast, Rich Eisen and Yahoo! Sports Radio '...
Podcast One CEO Norm Pattiz said that Stitcher had ignored requests to cease streaming its content.
''You can't just steal content without permission. Podcasting is breaking through big time, not only with consumers but with advertisers as well. I see new players coming into the market, all touting technology that will allow them to grab podcasts for their subscribers. Let this be a message '' make sure you have secured the rights from content suppliers before you distribute programing you don't have the rights to.''
Podcast One says that it is also urging consumers to use its own app for the podcasts it owns, and is calling on advertisers not to support Stitcher Radio.
We've reached out to both Stitcher and Adam Carolla, one of the top artists cited, and will update with any response.
The Stitcher Radio app was updated last month to add CarPlay support after being acquired by music streaming company Deezer.
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Twitter to track users' installed apps for ad targeting | Circa News
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00
Twitter to track users' installed apps for ad targeting
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VIDEO-CNN Covers Sex Abuse Case Against Obama 'Friend,' As Big Three Censor Story | MRCTV
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:11
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
CNN stood out on 23 and 24 November 2014 for actually covering the sex abuse charges against Terry Bean, a "major fundraiser for President Obama," as anchor Fredricka Whitfield called him. The cable network devoted two full reports and two news briefs to the criminal charges against Bean, who is also the co-founder of the left-wing homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign. As of Monday morning, the Big Three networks have yet to cover the story on their morning and evening newscasts.
VIDEO-Rudy Rebukes Dyson's 'White Supremacy' Jab: 'I Said the Same Thing' Obama Said | MRCTV
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:56
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
Rudy Giuliani fired back at Michael Eric Dyson on the 25 November 2014 edition of CNN's New Day for the MSNBC analyst's "white supremacy" attack on the former New York City mayor. When anchor Alisyn Camerota raised Giuliani's supposedly "controversial comments" from Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC, the former Republican politician underlined that he had "said the same thing the President of the United States said, and I was accused of being a racist."
Giuliani continued by paraphrasing from President Obama's Monday night speech, where the Democrat asserted that "nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates." The one-time mayor added, "When he [Obama] said it, he wasn't accused of being a racist. When I said it, my adversary [Dyson] said I was a racist."
VIDEO-Ronan Farrow: Ferguson Grand Jury Made 'Incendiary Announcement' | MRCTV
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:52
Video cross-posted here at NewsBusters. On Tuesday afternoon, MSNBC host Al Sharpton conducted a news conference with attorneys for the family of Michael Brown and immediately following MSNBC's Ronan Farrow expresses his outrage at the lack of charges brought against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. Speaking during his daily Ronan Farrow Daily broadcast, the MSNBC host proclaimed ''Reverend Al Sharpton along with attorneys for Michael Brown's family, Benjamin Crump and Anthony Gray, giving their first remarks since the incendiary announcement in Ferguson last night.''
VIDEO-MSNBC Panelist: 'Foundation of This Country Is Racism' | MRCTV
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:50
[See NewsBusters for more.] According to MSNBC panelist Mychal Denzel Smith, the problem with the Ferguson decision is that people are not dealing with the inherent "racism" and "white supremacy" of America. He explained, "The foundation of this country is racism and white supremacy and all of our institutions uphold that."
VIDEO-CNN Wonders If Ferguson Prosecutor Should 'Overrule the Grand Jury' | MRCTV
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:46
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
Two CNN anchors channeled the supporters of Michael Brown's family on the 25 November 2014 edition of Early Start, as they played up how St. Louis County, Missouri Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch presented the Brown case to a grand jury, instead of pursuing charges himself. Chris Cuomo, reporting live from Ferguson, asserted that "the grand jury itself is a dinosaur," and pointed out that "the prosecutor could still bring charges even after the grand jury."
Cuomo added that "one of the major complaints from sober minds here in Ferguson was that...if this prosecutor wanted to bring a case, he would just have brought it himself '' that this was punting. You keep hearing the term 'punting' '' to put this on a grand jury."
Early Start anchor Deborah Feyerick then forwarded her colleague's point during the following segment with Eric Zahnd, a prosecuting attorney from a neighboring country in the Show Me State:
DEBORAH FEYERICK: ...[W]e heard Chris Cuomo saying that basically, the prosecutor could have brought charges independently '' that, in fact, by using a grand jury, he punted. Now, the D.A. has an ethical obligation to only bring those cases in which he thinks he can get a conviction. Could the prosecutor right now '' say, basically, overrule the grand jury and say, charges should be filed '' whether they be first-degree, second-degree, voluntary/involuntary manslaughter?
VIDEO-BBC News - Juncker reveals giant EU investment plan
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:09
26 November 2014Last updated at 10:33 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Jean-Claude Juncker: ''It is a question of getting some new winds blowing through Europe... some fresh air into the structures"
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has given details of a '‚¬315bn (£250bn; $393bn) investment plan to kick-start Europe's economy.
At its heart is a new '‚¬21bn fund that would provide loans for infrastructure projects. Mr Juncker hopes most of the rest of the money will come from private backers.
Only '‚¬16bn of the original money would come from the European Union budget.
However, critics doubt it can attract so much private investment.
There was immediate scepticism from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) whose General Secretary, Bernadette Segol, suggested the Commission was "relying on a financial miracle like the loaves and fishes".
She said she did not believe that '‚¬315bn could be raised from '‚¬21bn, a leverage factor of 15 which the ETUC argued was "almost certainly unrealistic".
The Commission believes it could create up to 1.3 million jobs with investment in broadband, energy networks and transport infrastructure, as well as education and research.
Analysis by BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt
This is the new Commission's big idea. It is the EU's New Deal.
To a large extent it will be judged by its success or failure.
The markets are currently awash with money. The big test is whether they will invest in Europe where the economy is stagnating and confidence is low.
"Europe needs a kick-start and today the Commission is providing the jump leads," Mr Juncker said as he detailed his ambitious five-year plan at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
He said Europe had to face "the challenge of a generation" head-on, without a money-printing machine, and described his plan as the greatest effort in recent EU history to trigger additional investment without changing the rules.
The plan would take the burden off national governments, already facing big debts after the financial crisis. But they could contribute to the fund if they wished, and would be asked to come up with a list of projects with "high socio-economic returns" that would start between 2015 and 2017.
Illustrating the type of projects he has in mind, Mr Juncker said he had a vision of:
Schoolchildren walking into a brand new classroom equipped with computers in the Greek city of Thessaloniki European hospitals saving lives with state of the art medical equipment French commuters charging electric cars on motorways in the same way as petrol stations are used now Households and companies becoming more energy efficient The Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) would create the fund's '‚¬21bn reserve, according to Mr Juncker, which would then enable the EIB to fund loans worth '‚¬63bn. Private investors would be expected to put forward the lion's share of the money, some '‚¬252bn.
Mr Juncker's speech came a day after Pope Francis addressed the same parliament, criticising an "elderly and haggard" Europe that had become less and less of a protagonist.
Initial reaction to Mr Juncker's plan came from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told the German parliament that her government supported the package in principle, but it had to be clear to everyone where the projects were in the future.
The Commission president, who came to office at the start of November, said he could not promise how much investment would go to each country, but he argued that investment in one country could only be good for growth in another.
Structural reforms were necessary to modernise Europe's economy and fiscal responsibility was needed to restore confidence in public finance, but now investment had to be boosted as well, he said.
The start of the former Luxembourg prime minister's term as president has been overshadowed by his country's role in a tax break row.
Hundreds of multi-national firms were reportedly attracted to Luxembourg in legal tax avoidance schemes. Mr Juncker was prime minister at the time but denies wrongdoing.
Although a vote against him is due to take place at the European Parliament on Thursday, it is unlikely to attract widespread support.
VIDEO-Don Lemon Live from Ferguson: "Obviously, There's a Smell of Marijuana"
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:18
How long you think it took for Don Lemon to say something infuriatingly dumb and insensitive on this rotten night? If you guessed less than a minute after Anderson Cooper threw to him, you guessed right.
"Obviously, there's a smell of marijuana in the air."
Don Lemon can'tnot.
VIDEO-Few oil trains travel downtown; crews preparing | WANE
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:17
Related CoverageFORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) '' ''What about Fort Wayne?'' It's a question some have asked during 15 Finds Out's investigative series mostly focused on oil trains traveling through Noble and DeKalb Counties. The city has significantly fewer oil trains, still emergency crews are preparing for the worst-case-scenario.
More crude oil than ever is being drilled in North Dakota and shipped through northeast Indiana on railroads. The month of November, 15 Finds Out has focused on the growing risk and the government's response.
The vast majority of oil trains traveling through northeast Indiana run through Noble and DeKalb Counties. According to railroad statistics, 33 to 59 trains carrying a million gallons or more of crude oil travel through those counties every week, on two separate lines.
Between 0 and 4 oil trains travel directly through downtown Fort Wayne every week.
Since the beginning of last year, there have been at least 10 major oil train derailments in the U.S. and Canada. One incident in Quebec killed 47 people.
So far, 15 Finds Out uncovered first responders who were left in the dark regarding oil train statistics, a battle to make oil trains safer, and an emergency plan that could evacuate anyone living up to five miles away from an oil train derailment.
In September, Allen County Homeland Security Director Bernie Beier told 15 Finds Out he disagrees with the U.S. Department of Transportation calling the rise in crude-by-rail a growing risk.
''I would argue that there's less of a risk not only for crude but for all products because of the attention that crude has received at state and local governments,'' Beier said.
Leaders with the Fort Wayne Fire Department said they're currently looking at the potential problems and the risk of an oil train derailing in the city. Like others, they have boosted training.
They're responses Beier said are essential.
''It's the unknown that makes things more dangerous,'' Beier said. ''So the more we know as first responders, as local government, and as a community about what's moving through our community and the more we partner with those moving it through to talk about those what if's, to talk about resources and capabilities and to acknowledge how to respond, that alone makes a community safer.''
15 Finds Out will have updates once a decision is made on proposed regulations aimed at making crude-by-rail safer.
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VIDEO-MAC-N-CHEESE-Who started the presidential turkey pardon?
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:15
GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, a decades-old tradition played out at the White House again today, one in which, for a change, the turkeys do not get eaten.
Domenico Montanaro has that.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: In front of an audience at the White House, President Obama presided over his sixth turkey pardoning as commander in chief today. The annual tradition sees two lucky birds spared from the dinner table. Only one is selected to take part in the ceremony.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm here to announce what I'm sure will be the most-talked about executive action this month.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, I'm taking an action fully within my legal authority, the same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me, to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You are hereby pardoned.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: The tradition has happened every year for the last quarter-century. But there's debate about how it all got started.
BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United States: President Truman was the first president to pardon a turkey.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: But that's not true. In fact, the library says, Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table. Truman was actually the first president to receive a turkey from the National Turkey Federation. The industry group started giving ceremonial turkeys to American presidents in 1947.
So who was the first president to pardon a turkey? Lincoln, it appears, was the first on record to spare a bird. But it was a Christmas turkey that his son had taken a liking to.
President John F. Kennedy was the first to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey. In 1963, despite a sign hanging around the turkey's neck that read, ''Good eating, Mr. President,'' Kennedy sent the bird back to the farm.
Richard Nixon also gave the birds a reprieve, sending his turkeys to a nearby petting zoo. Ronald Reagan was the first to use the word pardon when he was talking turkey in 1987.
The turkey pardoning became formalized in 1989, with President George H.W. Bush.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, Former President of the United States: Let me assure you and this fine tom turkey that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table, not this guy.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: The Virginia farm where that turkey was sent was in the ironically named Frying Pan Park. That became the home of future presidential turkeys for the next 15 years. But, after that, it was out of the Frying Pan and into Disney, because, hey, you just won a presidential turkey pardon. Where are you going to go next?
After the five-year stint with Mickey, the turkeys' next move was to the more sedate confines of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate. This year, the spared birds will be sent to this park in Leesburg, Virginia. The property is a well-known turkey haven. It was owned by former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis, who raised his own birds there in the 1930s and '40s.
The event has become a White House holiday tradition.
BILL CLINTON: This is the eighth I have had the privilege to meet and set free in the Rose Garden.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: In 2000, Jerry the turkey from Wisconsin sported a White House pass around his neck. Four years later, the Bush administration also had some with fun with the event. That year's turkeys were chosen in a vote on the White House Web site.
GEORGE W. BUSH, Former President of the United States: This is an election year, and Biscuits had to earn his spot at the White House. Biscuits and his running mate, Gravy, prevailed over the ticket of Patience and Fortitude. The vice president and I are here to congratulate Biscuits for a race well-run.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: The Obama White House has taken to social media sites like Instagram to decide which bird goes before the cameras. Mac and cheese might be a side for your Thanksgiving dinner, but they won't be for the first family this year.
VIDEO-Protester interrupts Don Lemon in Ferguson says "FUCK CNN" - YouTube
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:12
VIDEO-POLISH-President Obama Speaks in Chicago About His Action on Immigration - YouTube
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 09:45
VIDEO-President Obama Remarks Immigration | Video | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 08:09
November 25, 2014President Obama spoke at the Copernicus Community Center in Chicago, Illinois about his executive action on immigration.
Javascript must be enabled in order to access C-SPAN videos.
*The transcript for this program was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
Related VideoNovember 24, 2014President Obama's Executive Immigration ActionAlan Kraut talked about the historical context of President Obama's executive order on immigration.
November 24, 2014Open PhonesTelephone lines were open for viewer comments on the question: ''Is more funding or oversight needed for U.S.'...
November 23, 2014White House Immigration ProposalsFrancine Kiefer and Aaron Zitner talked about the political and legislative future of President Obama's'...
November 22, 2014Open PhonesTelephone lines were open for viewer responses to the question, ''How should Congress respond to President'...
Clips from This Video
VIDEO- "balance of probabilities" BBC News - Concerns over terror exclusion plans
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 01:30
26 November 2014Last updated at 13:04 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
David Anderson QC told a committee of MPs there could be a "more sensible" approach
Concerns about plans to exclude people from the UK if they go abroad to fight with extremist groups have been raised by the UK's reviewer of terror laws.
David Anderson QC said his "central concern" about the proposals first unveiled by David Cameron in early September was: "Where are the courts?"
Temporary Exclusion Orders are one of the measures in the counter terrorism bill published by Theresa May.
It also includes tougher powers to stop people going abroad to fight.
It will include plans to stop some British citizens returning to the UK, and others from leaving the country.
Analysis by Political Correspondent Robin Brant
The government proposes the law, parliament passes it, then David Anderson reviews it - and sometimes makes recommendations. That's the usual sequence of events.
But today the independent reviewer was criticising the process before the new Counter-Terror and Security Bill was published.
The QC used his customary polite, sometimes understated, tone - but this was a criticism of politicians whom he said hadn't fully thought through some of the proposals announced in early September.
Read more from Robin
Mrs May's new measures to tackle terrorism come days after she said the UK faces a "greater" terror threat than ever before.
The measures include requiring airlines to pass on details of their passengers and changes to the way TPIMs - Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures - work to monitor terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted.
But campaigners have condemned it, saying it threatens civil liberties.
'A more sensible way'
Mr Anderson - appointed by the government to be its independent reviewer of terrorism legislation - said the new anti-terror legislation was "nothing like as dramatic" as David Cameron had proposed earlier this year.
He told the Joint Committee on Human Rights the original plan to block suspected British jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria as "an announcement waiting for a policy".
But he said it soon became clear such a move would "neither legally or practically" work and the current plan was now much "closer to managed return".
He argued there could be "a more sensible" way of dealing with some people suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.
"One could look at it in terms of young, possibly vulnerable people caught up with the wrong crowd in Syria - didn't really know exactly what they were doing," he said.
"Do you want to throw the book at them straight away in terms of arrest and charge? Or is there something to be said, even though you do suspect them of having fought, of keeping them under a very light regime where they might have to report daily to a police station?
The new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill includes:
Counter-radicalisation measures - requirements that schools, colleges and probation providers help prevent people being radicalised Changes to TPIMs - Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures - to allow the authorities to force suspects to move to another part of the country and restrict their movement outside a certain area Raising the burden of proof for imposing TPIMs from "reasonable belief" to "balance of probabilities" Greater powers to stop people heading abroad to fight - including cancelling passports at the border for up to 30 days Statutory temporary exclusion orders to control return to the UK of British citizens suspected of terrorist activity Tighter aviation security - requiring airlines to provide passenger data more quickly and effectively, with penalties for those failing to comply A ban on insurance companies from covering ransoms Forcing firms to hand details to police identifying who was using a computer or mobile phone at a given time "They might have to notify their residence; they might have to go along to meetings with probation or with some similar which perhaps might be for some people be a more sensible way of dealing with them than putting them straight into the criminal justice process."
Mr Anderson said the use of exclusion orders would require the cooperation of carriers, such as airlines and of states where these people might find themselves.
"But certainly presented with an order at the check-in desk, the person might say: 'I want to come home,' or decide not to come home," he said.
"The concern I have about this power and the central concern about it is: where are the courts in all of this?
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Theresa May outlined the new powers in a speech on Monday
"If the home secretary wants to impose a TPIM she has to go to the court first and if the court says she's got it wrong, it will say so.
"One will want to look very carefully to see if this is a power that requires the intervention of the court at any stage, or whether it's simply envisaged as something the home secretary imposes.
"If one is abroad when this order is served on you, then it's a little difficult to see in practical terms how a right to judicial review could be exercised."
Mr Anderson spoke out as a week-long counter-terrorism awareness campaign enters its third day.
'Changing threats'
The UK's terror threat level remains "severe" after it was upped from "substantial" earlier this year in response to conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
Speaking ahead of the bill's publication, Mrs May said: "We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology. These powers are essential to keep up with the very serious and rapidly changing threats we face.
"This bill includes a considered, targeted set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger by ensuring we have the powers we need to defend ourselves."
The government wants to "fast-track" the bill through Parliament, citing the need to tackle the direct threat posed by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS) and the increasing number of Britons travelling to Iraq and Syria to fight on its behalf.
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said more was needed to be done to stop British citizens from being radicalised and to deal with any threat this posed to national security.
Amnesty International called the powers "draconian", adding none of the measures seemed "properly thought through".
And Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: "Yet again, politicians resort to high talk and rushed legislation in an attempt to look tough in the face of terrorism. Another chilling recipe for injustice and resentment by closing down the open society you seek to promote."
The Home Office says communications data has played a major role in "every Security Service counter-terrorism operation over the last decade" but gaps in the UK's access to such information need to be filled.
Mrs May has warned that even the new data retention powers will not fully address the threat, reiterating the need for a Communications Data Bill to bring in more wide-ranging web monitoring powers.
That bill - labelled a snooper's charter by critics - was scrapped following Lib Dem opposition.
Web dataTechnology firms said there had been insufficient consultation on the more limited proposals in the bill requiring firms to keep information to help the authorities to match internet protocol (IP) addresses to an individual user or a device.
The Home Office said it had met internet service providers and other groups to discuss the measures but the Internet Services Providers Association said there had been "a distinct lack of engagement" with the industry.
Ministers want to amend legislation passed earlier this year to require firms to retain data, including that "required to identify the sender or recipient of a communication, the time or duration of a communication, the type, method or pattern of communication and the telecommunications system used".
However, the bill stresses that the content of messages and details that would "explicitly identify" what websites someone had visited would not have to be stored.
On Tuesday a report into last year's killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby raised questions about whether social network providers should have to report details of extremist activity.
David Cameron said companies had a "social responsibility" to act on terrorist material posted online after the report detailed how Michael Adebowale, one of two men convicted of Mr Rigby's murder, spoke on Facebook about wanting to murder a soldier.
Facebook said it did not allow terrorist content and aimed to stop it.
VIDEO-Drone Strike Kills 7 in North Waziristan, Pakistani Officials Say - NBC News.com
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 22:04
PESHAWAR, Pakistan '-- Missiles fired from what Pakistani government and security officials said was a U.S. drone killed seven suspected militants in Pakistan's remote North Waziristan on Wednesday. The strike targeted a suspected militant hideout in the mountainous Shawal valley, the officials said.
The drone attack was the second in the area in as many weeks. Another drone strike earlier this month in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan killed an alleged militant who owned the house where alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in 2003, according to an al-Qaeda-affiliated group. The Pakistani army is currently waging a months-long operation against Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants who have controlled North Waziristan for years.
?'-- Mushtaq YusufzaiFirst published November 25 2014, 10:33 PM
VIDEO-White Police Chief Loses It and Tells the Blunt TRUTH About Black Crime [VIDEO]
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 07:09
Police Chief Edward Flynn has had enough.
Recently, the chief of Milwaukee's law enforcement agency came under attack by black activists.
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The activists accused Flynn of not taking a recent officer-involved shooting seriously.
That shooting ended with a black man named Donte Hamilton dead. The officer was defending himself from a potentially deadly attack by the deranged Hamilton, who had taken a police baton and violently assaulted the responding officer.
As in Ferguson, groups very quickly accused white officers of being racist and of targeting blacks for no reason.
At a police commission meeting related to that shooting, protesters began disrupting the group and shouting anti-police phrases at officers.
They also singled out Chief Flynn as being uncaring and mocked him for being on his cell phone during part of the meeting.
There was only one problem: Flynn was actually on his phone being notified about a drive-by shooting that was carried out by a black gang, which took the life of a 5-year-old girl.
When a reporter outside the meeting brought up the phone call as a way to belittle Chief Flynn, he took it personally '-- and unleashed a verbal thrashing on the gathered crowd. [H/T YoungCons]
''I was on my phone, that's true,'' Flynn began. ''I was following developments with a 5-year-old little girl, sitting on her dad's lap who just got shot in the head by a drive by shooting.''
Then his demeanor changed, and Flynn appeared visibly upset by the words he had just spoken.
''If some of the people here gave a good ******* about the victimization of people in this community by crime, I'd take some of their invective more seriously.''
Then Flynn turned his righteous anger toward the race baiters, who were trying to use every event a to call white officers racist.
''The greatest racial disparity in the city of Milwaukee is getting shot and killed, hello! 80 percent of my homicide victims every year are African American. 80 percent of our aggravated assault victims are African American.''
He tore into the the people trying to use a police-involved shooting to push an agenda, instead of facing the real crime that is happening all around them.
''Now, they know all about the last three people that have been killed by the Milwaukee police department over the course of the last several years,'' the upset Flynn stated. ''There's not one of them, can name one of the last three homicide victims we've had in this city.''
He continued: ''This city is at risk all right '-- but it's not because men and women in blue risk their lives protecting it.''
The veteran officer then tried to calm himself before finishing up with one final point.
''We're going up there, and there's a bunch of cops processing the scene of a dead kid. And they're the ones that are gonna be out there patrolling and stopping suspects that might have guns under the front seat. They're the ones that are gonna take the risk to their lives, to try to clean this thing up.''
The video is a moving reminder that it is easy to criticize the police '-- but the reality is, they are the ones who face crime and violence on a daily basis, so that others don't have to.
It is refreshing to see this kind of brutal honesty about the black-on-black gang crime that is destroying cities'... and to be reminded about who actually has to deal with it.
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VIDEO-Rep. Peter King: It Would Be 'Very Helpful' If President Obama Invited Officer Wilson To The White House | Crooks and Liars
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:00
Isn't this lovely?
Peter King: President Obama should invite Officer Darren Wilson to the W.H.:
Rep. Peter King has a suggestion for the White House in dealing with the latest developments in Ferguson '-- invite Officer Darren Wilson over.
''I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or invited him to the White House and said, 'You've gone through four months of smear and slander, and the least we can do is tell you that it's unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job,''' the New York Republican told Fox Business on Tuesday. [...]
''I thought it was terrible how, over the last four months, a narrative was put out there by our national leaders and by many in the media presuming that the police officer was guilty,'' King said.
President Barack Obama addressed the nation shortly after the decision was handed down and urged protesters to show ''care and restraint.''
King was not happy with Obama's remarks, and said, ''I wish he had said one good word about the police, one good word about Officer Wilson, who has gone through all this.''
I'll let Digby take it from here: Troll 'o the day: An alien from another planet:
And maybe afterwards they could wave the confederate flag and sing Dixie.
I love the fact that he thinks the president should thank the officer for killing an unarmed teenager. Even Prosecutor McCullough had the decency to call the whole thing a tragedy and say that they should try to take steps that it never happens again.
These people are sick.
That's probably one of the nicer things you can say about them.
'†' Story continues below '†'
Ferguson Protests Continue All Over Tonight
VIDEO-President Obama Issues a Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision | The White House
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:45
November 24, 2014 | 9:35 | Public Domain
Tonight, the President spoke to the American people following the announcement of the grand jury's decision in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Download mp4 (352MB) | mp3 (9MB)
VIDEO-Inauguration of Herman Van Rompuy's bust - YouTube
Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:29
VIDEO-NEEDED-malcolm rifkind internet cnn - Google Search
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:53
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Nameless 'US Internet Company' Blame Game - Guy ...order-order.com/2014/11/25/namless-us-internet-company-blame-game/9 hours ago -Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of the Intelligence and Security select committee, is seeking to blame an unnamed 'US internet company' for failing ...Articles written by Malcolm Rifkind - Muck Rackmuckrack.com/malcolm-rifkind/articlesMalcolm Rifkind on Muck Rack. Malcolm Rifkind. As seen in: CNN, Telegraph ... Lee Rigby murder: It was preventable, but an internet company failed to alert the ...News Video - The Telegraphwww.telegraph.co.uk 'º NewsSir Malcolm Rifkind accuses internet firm for providing a "safe haven for terrorists" in Lee Rigby murder, adding that MI5, MI6 and GCHQ could not have ...The age of triumph is over - LockerDomehttps://lockerdome.com/6170318091865665/7130319283433748cnn.com's Hangs ... Will the FCC ruin the Internet? ... Editor's note: Sir Malcolm Rifkind is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Kensington and former ...Patrick Osgood (@PatrickOsgood) | Twitterhttps://twitter.com/patrickosgoodEvery Sunday I watch on CNN Farid Zakaria at 10pm a program called GPS ... ''@ spectator: Sir Malcolm Rifkind suggests internet companies are 'a safe haven ...
VIDEO-NJ Lawmaker Proposed 'Rape By Fraud' Legislation CBS New York
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:03
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) '-- A New Jersey lawmaker has a plan that would make it a crime to lie in order to sleep with someone.
As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported, Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Mount Laurel) calls it ''rape by fraud.''
Women and even men have been lured into relationships with people who aren't who they say they are.
''You probably would not consent to someone who purported to be a million different things other than they are,'' Singleton said.
The assemblyman has introduced a bill that would make lying to get someone to have sex equal to rape.
''We think it is important to folks to be protected and this is just another way to provide that protection,'' he said.
Under the bill, it would require more than a little white lie to land you in jail. The lies would have to be continuous and rise to a high level of deceit.
''When you are told lies of identity, you're basically having a sexual relationship with a person who is a total stranger,'' Joyce Short said.
Short supports the bill. She claims she was deceived for years by her now ex-husband.
''He lied about his marital status, he lied about his education. He said he had a bachelor's in accounting from NYU and was, in fact, a high school dropout,'' Short said.
At least five states already make it a crime to have sex by fraud, but some make it a lesser offense than rape.
But some say it should be a matter of personal responsibility, not a case for the prosecutor.
''She or he should do their due diligence and check the guy out. If he or she isn't what they say they are, then move on,'' Mark Harris said.
If the bill becomes law, major cases of lying and deception for sex could result in 10 to 20 years in prison.
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VIDEO-Ferguson: Fire and chaos erupt after no indictment - CNN.com
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 05:18
NEW: Temporary flight restriction at St. Louis airportObama: "We need to accept this decision was the grand jury's to make"Protesters outside police station react with anger; some cry, others scream"Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference," Brown's family urgesFerguson, Missouri (CNN) -- The announcement of a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown was met with a wave of unrest late Monday.
[Breaking news update at 12:12a.m.]
St. Louis' main airport has a temporary flight restriction, according to a tweet from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The restriction is for incoming flights, not outgoing, according to the airport message.
"It is affecting just a handful of remaining flights that are due in," spokesman Jeff Lea told CNN.
[Breaking news update at 11:48 p.m.]
Several more businesses are being looted or set on fire in Ferguson, Missouri. Meanwhile, protesters have shut down Interstate 44. Police officers are now standing in a line across highway lanes.
[Breaking news update at 11:33 p.m.]
A Little Caesars pizza restaurant has been set ablaze as chaos continues to mount throughout Ferguson, Missouri.
"What is so tragic is this is exactly what the parents of Mike Brown did not want," CNN commentator Van Jones said.
[Breaking news update at 11:23 p.m.]
Officer Darren Wilson told a grand jury that Michael Brown punched him in the face when he drove back to him after identifying him as a possible suspect in a shop theft, according to documents released by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch.
He said he tried to get out of his cruiser, but Brown slammed the door shut twice and hit him with his fist.
"I felt that another of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse," Wilson said. "... I've already taken two to the face and I didn't think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right."
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Officer Darren Wilson's injuries
It appears all the names of witnesses have been redacted in the court documents.
[Breaking news update at 11:21 p.m.]
"Right now all hell is breaking loose," St. Louis blogger Aaron Laxton said.
[Breaking news update 11:09 p.m. ET]
Protests have started across the country, including in New York, Chicago and in front of the White House in Washington, following a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.
[Breaking news update 11:05 p.m. ET]
A few protesters hurled items at CNN's Stephanie Elam, and some said they did not want the media reporting on the unrest in Ferguson.
[Breaking news update 11:05 p.m. ET]
Attorney General Eric Holder stressed that the federal civil rights investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown continues.
"Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence," Holder said. " And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions."
[Breaking news update 11:01 p.m. ET]
The violence that has broken out in Ferguson following the grand jury's decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson is not what the Brown family wanted, family attorney Benjamin Crump told CNN. "They wish that people will not be violent" but be peaceful and constructive, he said.
[Breaking news update 11 p.m.ET]
Ferguson Market & Liquor -- the same store where Michael Brown had allegedly stolen cigars before his confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson in August -- was being looted Monday night, CNN crews reported.
[Breaking news update 10:59 p.m.ET]
A grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, setting off fresh confrontations between protesters and police in the tense Missouri city Monday night.
While most of the protesters were peacefully assembled on the streets of Ferguson, some protesters smashed the windows of a police cruiser and tried to overturn it, CNN's Jake Tapper reported. Some picked up bricks and smashed the windows of a restaurant.
Several gunshots were heard, CNN teams on the ground said.
Some protesters rushed the officers lined up in front of the Ferguson police department. Some in the crowd told the agitators to stop throwing bottles, but their urgings fells on deaf air.
Police responded by lobbing tear gas, even though they said they were smoke pellets.
One protester named Angel told CNN that a woman in the crowd had a heart attack, and as several people tried to carry the woman away, they were tear gassed.
In the distance, a police cruiser was on fire.
Fearing just such a reaction, Brown's father had urged demonstrators earlier to remain calm no matter what the grand jury decided.
"Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer," Michael Brown Sr. said. "No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son's death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change. Change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone."
Brown Sr.'s words were echoed by President Barack Obama who too called for calm.
It is an "understandable reaction" that some Americans will agree and others will be made angry by the decision to not indict Wilson, Obama said Monday night.
"First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept this decision was the grand jury's to make," he said.
'Let's make a difference'
Wilson, a white police officer, shot and killed Brown, a black teenager, on August 9.
After an "exhaustive review," the jurors deliberated for two days, he said. The grand jurors are "the only ones who have heard all the evidence," St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told reporters.
"The physical and scientific evidence examined by the grand jury, combined with the witness statements, supported and substantiated by that physical evidence, tells the accurate and tragic story of what happened," he said.
Brown's father is "devastated" that Wilson will not face charges, a spokeswoman for Michael Brown Sr. told CNN's Evan Perez.
"While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change," the family said in a statement. "We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen." The family made a call for police officers across the country to wear body cameras.
The statement closed: "Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference."
'Split second decision'
Through a statement issued by his attorneys, Officer Wilson expressed thanks to those who have "stood by his side" since the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown. "Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions," the statement said. "Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law."
'Not the time to turn on each other'
Earlier Monday, officials urged residents to remain calm -- regardless of the grand jury announcement.
"No matter what is announced, people will be emotional. I want people to think with their heads and not with emotion," said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. "This is not the time to turn on each other. It is a time to turn to each other."
Brown's death ignited a national debate on race and law enforcement. Nowhere was the tension more evident than in the predominantly black town of Ferguson, which has a mostly white police department and town government.
Supporters of Brown's family back witness accounts that Wilson fired while Brown, 18, had his hands up in surrender. Wilson's supporters say that Brown was the aggressor and had tried to take Wilson's gun while he was in his vehicle and that the officer fired in self-defense.
The town couldn't even agree what happened during weeks of street demonstrations. Protesters argued that authorities were trying to stifle protests; officials said they were acting to keep violence under control.
'We're just ready for it to be over with'
Byron Conley, protesting outside city police department, told CNN before the grand jury announcement, "We're just ready for it to be over with. Let's get on with our lives."
Rick Canamore stood with his sign -- "RIP Mike Brown" -- outside the police department.
"I'm already angry because it has taken so long," he said. "If Mike Brown had shot Darren Wilson, it would have been over a long time ago. But Darren Wilson is walking around free. He hasn't apologized to Mike Brown's family. He has not apologized to the community."
Though the basic facts of the case -- that Brown was unarmed when Wilson shot him -- are not in question, the facts of the fatal moment are hotly disputed. Authorities have said Wilson stopped Brown because Brown and a friend were blocking traffic, by walking down the middle of the street.
Protests in Ferguson might be hampered by winter weather, with temperatures expected to drop into the upper 20s Monday night.
Unanimous indictment decision isn't needed
Unlike a jury in a criminal case, which convicts someone if jurors are convinced of guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," a grand jury decides whether there is "probable cause" to charge someone with a crime, based on testimony and evidence presented.
In Missouri, grand jurors don't have to be unanimous to indict, as long as nine of the 12 agree on a charge.
The grand jury could have issued an indictment on any of these four charges: First-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
It also could have added a charge of armed criminal action, authorities said.
Complete coverage of what's happening in Ferguson
Moni Basu reported from Ferguson. Holly Yan and Dana Ford reported and wrote in Atlanta. CNN's Rachel Clarke, Ralph Ellis, Steve Almasy, Evan Perez and Josh Levs also contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Ferguson Prosecutor Robert McCulloch Gives Bizarre Press Conference
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 05:06
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced on Monday night that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in a press conference that many found baffling, unwieldy and inflammatory.
McCulloch said the grand jury "gave up their lives" while deliberating.
The prosecutor also repeatedly lashed out at the media, blaming the internet and "the 24-hour news cycle" for the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was shot and killed in August. He continued talking for several minutes before revealing the much-anticipated grand jury decision.
''The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about, following closely behind with the non-stop rumors on social media,'' he said.
Media figures and social media users lashed out at the notion that cable news and Twitter were to blame for the tension in the months following Brown's death, rather than the death itself.
"Social media isn't the problem," author Maureen Johnson said. "Shooting children is the problem."
CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin called the press conference "an extended whine" and "entirely inappropriate and embarrassing."
VIDEO-Activist Post: Another Banker Found Dead Under Strange Circumstances
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:03
Joshua KrauseActivist PostOver the past several years there has been a long string of deaths in the financial community. Top executives and advisers in the banking industry have been dying off in droves, and often under very peculiar circumstances. This year alone has seen 16 banker deaths, with most of them ruled as suicides. Now we can chalk that number up to 17, with the death of Shawn Miller of Citigroup.
Miller was found dead in his apartment with his wrists and throat slashed, and the case is now being investigated as a suicide. He was apparently a well known advocate for responsible business practices.
Police believe Miller killed himself, Detective Martin Speechley, an NYPD spokesman, told Bloomberg News Wednesday. However, the official cause of death will remain a mystery until the autopsy report is concluded. Miller ''was highly regarded at Citi and across the financial services industry as a leader and tireless advocate for environmental and sustainable business practices,'' top managers at Citigroup wrote in a letter to staff in his department, Bloomberg reported.
''He will be greatly missed by all who knew him,'' the letter said.
Miller had a strong background in advocating corporate social responsibility throughout his career, first at the World Bank and then at Citigroup.After winning a US government-funded fellowship to study Bengali in Calcutta, India, Miller worked for the International Finance Corp, the investment arm of the World Bank, for nine years, advocating ''public consultation'' and better cooperation with environmental and human rights groups.
At Citigroup from 2004, he was responsible for policies drawn up by the Equator Principles Association, a group of 80 lenders worldwide that called for banks to defend environmental and social conditions when financing projects, Bloomberg News reported.
He co-authored standards for ''responsible risk decision-making,'' according to Citigroup's website.
However, not everything is as it seems with the death of Shawn Miller.Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua's reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua's website is Strange Danger.
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VIDEO-Planned Parenthood Official Argues for Right to Post-Birth Abortion | The Weekly Standard
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:25
Florida legislators considering a bill to require abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion were shocked during a committee hearing this week when a Planned Parenthood official endorsed a right to post-birth abortion.
Alisa LaPolt Snow, the lobbyist representing the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, testified that her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion and her abortion doctor.
"So, um, it is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I'm almost in disbelief," said Rep. Jim Boyd. "If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?''
"We believe that any decision that's made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician," said Planned Parenthood lobbyist Snow.
Rep. Daniel Davis then asked Snow, "What happens in a situation where a baby is alive, breathing on a table, moving. What do your physicians do at that point?''
"I do not have that information," Snow replied. "I am not a physician, I am not an abortion provider. So I do not have that information.''
Rep. Jose Oliva followed up, asking the Planned Parenthood official, "You stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you're saying?''
Again, Snow replied, ''That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.''
''I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn't you agree?'' asked Oliva.
"That's a very good question. I really don't know how to answer that," Snow said. "I would be glad to have some more conversations with you about this.''
Later another representative asked Snow, ''What objection could you possibly have to obligate a doctor to transport a child born alive to a hospital where it seems to me they would be most likely to be able to survive?''
Snow said Planned Parenthood was concerned about "those situations where it is in a rural health care setting, the hospital is 45 minutes or an hour away, that's the closest trauma center or emergency room. You know there's just some logistical issues involved that we have some concerns about.''
You can watch the full exchange at the 39-minute mark of this video.
Correction: Alisa LaPolt Snow's middle name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.
VIDEO-Obama: Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Is ''Not a Choice We Want Americans to Make'' -
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:14
In a quest to get more American children enrolled at even younger ages into our government indoctrination centers, er, public schools, Obama recently made a pretty straightforward statement on Uncle Sam's position regarding stay-at-home moms. Watch for yourself:
Speaking in Rhode Island on Halloween, Obama said, ''Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that's not a choice we want Americans to make.''
''That's not a choice we want Americans to make.''
To be a stay-at-home mom? No stay-at-home moms in America, then?
Oh really? Shouldn't it not be a choice women have to make?
And ''we''? Who in the hell is ''we''? Who cares what choice the government wants women to make in their personal/professional lives anyway? As a mom, I don't consult King Obama and his band of merry morons every time I make a parenting decision, and frankly, I am scared of any parent who would.
Talk about flushing society down the toilet'...because we all know how loving and nurturing public schools in this country are. Definitely a mom replacement there!
It really should go without saying, but because of how stupid this particular comment from our president is, I'm going to say it anyway. Most moms don't work in lieu of staying home with their children because they want to. Most moms these days work because they have to in order to support their kids'...not because they choose their job over their children and definitely not because the government wants them to choose their job over their children.
Obama then went on to talk about how we need to get 6 million American children enrolled in preschool programs on the taxpayer dime'...blah blah blah'...
Obama and his administration have long been pushing longer hours of indoctrination for children, tossing around both longer public school days and completely doing away with summer vacation.
''Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas. Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom,''Obama quipped in September 2009.
As previously reported, even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been talking about expanded school hours and instituting a school dinner program (because the crappy school lunch program Michelle Obama has been touting all over the place has been going over oh so well):
This agenda has obvious benefits for the State, whose metabolism is fueled by greater power and expanded mandates. There are also some pretty naked benefits for the many corporations which benefit from government contracts '' including some pretty lucrative business in school lunch programs.
Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper reported back in October about the latest trend in schools to ban students bringing their own brown-bagged lunches '' unless they have a special recommendation from their doctor!
Why? Ostensibly it is to promote a ''balanced and healthy diet'' for the kids, of course.
But behind the veil, is more profit through a captive market '' tens of millions of school children eat billions of dollars worth of school food every year.
Agricultural surplus '' subsidized by the USDA-administered Farm Bill '' is given to schools free of charge; contracting food suppliers, however, frequently make substantial profits by processing that food into derivative products'...
The rest of that article has a pretty in-depth example of how our taxpayer-funded public schools provide big kickbacks to Big Ag corporations like Tyson Chicken, etc. through school food programs.
So less stay-at-home moms is a boon for the government agenda in multiple ways. It means more propaganda and indoctrination (and in the case of government preschools, at a younger age) with an added financial kickback to mega corporations.
Again, the idea, of course, is that more time spent in school is supposed to mean improved academic performance. But the more well-read and educated youth of our nation's past didn't have longer school years; they had a more substantial curriculum. Take a look at the case for The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, penned by former education department official Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt. It has loads of leaked documentation detailing the downfall of the education system in this country '-- info which won't exactly motivate parents to want to send their children to these schools for even longer hours (if at all).
Beyond longer school days, though, the idea to break apart the family so both adult members of a household can be taxed instead of just one was initially a Rockefeller and CIA propaganda campaign to ultimately destabilize society. Where do you think the whole feminism movement, which relied heavily on propaganda via the media, to socially re-engineer (and thus control) women (and their role in the family and reproductive habits as well) came from in the first place?
Do a little research'...it's pretty sickening.
It isn't shocking that the government does not value stay-at-home moms and their role in a child's life and society in general. If anything about the establishment puppet-in-chief's comments is shocking at all, it is the fact that he actually admitted the government's position on camera.
Melissa Melton is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple and a co-creator of Truthstream Media with Aaron Dykes, a site that offers teleprompter-free, unscripted analysis of The Matrix we find ourselves living in. Melissa also co-founded Nutritional Anarchy with Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper, a site focused on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Wake the flock up!
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VIDEO-Common Core Co-Author Admits He Wrote Curriculum to End ''White Privilege'' - Freedom Outpost
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:04
According to Onan Coca, "Dr. David Pook is a professor at Granite State College in Manchester, New Hampshire. He's also the chair of the History Department and one of the authors of the Common Core standards. He was a guest at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics when he opened up on his reasons for participating in the creation of the Common Core standards."
So what were his reasons? You are about to learn the motivation behind Common Core through one of its authors.
The truth is, not surprisingly to some, that Common Core is very racist and very political.
According to Dr. Pook, he helped write it to balance the scales because he, and many others, are benefiting from some mythical 'white privilege' that was not earned.
No, it's not about uniform and effective educational standards that benefit our children.
This is about a leftist agenda and yet another shining example of the trainwreck called political correctness.
Dr. Pook's startling admission is contained within the video below:
"The reason why I helped write the standards and the reason why I am here today is that as a white male in society I am given a lot of privilege that I didn't earn."
Jason Dewitt of Top Right News notes:
Pook's role is documented at the pro-Common Core website, AchieveTheCore.com, which confirms that he "worked closely with Susan Pimentel and the Council of Chief State Officers in drafting the Core Standards for English Language Arts, and currently has several projects underway with Student Achievement Partners on work aligned with the CCSS."
Ironically, as Campus Reform notes, the Derryfield School where Pook works does not use the Common Core State Standards and has a student body that is 91 percent white.
Common Core is not only about irrational and bizarre math problems as some might think. Make no mistake, this program is about indoctrinating our children into a leftist way of thinking which includes destructive ideas such as the embracing of Islam and normalizing sexual promiscuity.
Is it any wonder that states are rejecting and suing the federal government over Common Core?
Common Core is just another weapon in the leftist war on our children.
AUDIO-Researchers Suggest Ways To Make Pill Swallowing Easier : NPR
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:02
Almost one-third of people have trouble swallowing pills, according to German researchers. They say some people have so much trouble, they avoid taking the recommended dosage.
Copyright (C) 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.
Anxiety is a factor behind another common problem - trouble swallowing pills. Some people find it so hard, they avoid taking all the medication they need. Researchers in Germany have been working on techniques to help. And NPR's Maanvi Singh volunteered to try them.
MAANVI SINGH, BYLINE: I have always hated swallowing pills. As a kid, I'd bury them under sofa cushions or slip them under carpets. I'd hide the pill under my tongue and spit it out later. My parents tried everything, including sneaking tablets in food. But I was way too smart to fall for that. Things have improved slightly since then. As an adult, I understand we must all be prepared to take a few bitter pills. But I still gag on Tylenols and crush up my antibiotics. Turns out the same is true for my Science Desk colleague Alison Richards.
ALISON RICHARDS, BYLINE: It's easier to give pills to the cat then to take them myself. My throat just kind of seizes up.
SINGH: She blames her parents who are both pharmacists. She says they had a pill for every ill. Still, she bravely agreed to join me in testing out two methods suggested by researchers at the University of Heidelberg, with hopes that they would solve our pill-swallowing troubles for good. The first is called the pop bottle method, designed to work with large, dense tablets. You put the pill in your mouth, and then you close your lips tightly around a bottle filled with water. Tilt your head back and suck the water and the pill down.
RICHARDS: I'm not convinced, but I'm going to give it a try. So I'm putting the pill in now. Actually, that wasn't too bad. I think that worked.
SINGH: It didn't work quite as well for me. It hurt my throat. So I tried another technique, which works best with capsules.
So this one's called the lean forward technique. You're supposed to put the tablet on your tongue, take a medium sip of water, but don't swallow. And then bend your head forward by tilting your chin slightly towards your chest, and then you try to swallow while you're bending forward. (Coughing).
OK, so neither technique was particularly fun. But they both worked. Still, I'll be sticking with my tried and tested method, buying the smallest pill I can find. I'm Maanvi Singh for NPR News.
INSKEEP: Participatory journalism on Your Health for this Monday morning. Now, if you want to see how these techniques work, go to our blog Shots at npr.org/blogs/health, where you can watch a demonstration by our legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.
Copyright (C) 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.


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