678: Lustration

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 5m
December 14th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Sir Duke Don Tomaso Di Toronto, Sir Thomas Nussbaum, Sir Reeshmeister of Divide by Zero, Sir London Foley, Sir Hank Viscount of Queens NY, with all it rights lands and privileges, Sir Otaku, Christopher Dolan, Mark Lay, Sir Patrick Order of Pugner, Baronette Sir Norman McDonough, Trevor Mudge

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Stan of Kingswood, Sir Richard Moffat, Sir Allan Bose Baron of British Columbia, Sir Chris Speers, Dame Astrid Viscountess of Tokyo, James Cates, Anonymous, Richard Riley

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat


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Letter from the President -- Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:13
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 11, 2014
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I am providing this supplemental consolidated report, prepared by my Administration and consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.
In furtherance of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the United States continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the U.S. Central Command's and U.S. Africa Command's areas of responsibility. In this context, the United States has deployed U.S. combat-equipped forces to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities and support the counterterrorism operations of our friends and allies, including special operations and other forces for sensitive operations in various locations around the world. Specific information about counterterrorism deployments to select countries is provided below, and a classified annex to this report provides further information.
Military Operations Against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and Associated Forces and in Support of RelatedU.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
Since October 7, 2001, the United States has conducted combat operations in Afghanistan against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces. In support of these and other overseas operations, the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation. Such operations and deployments have been reported previously, consistent with Public Law 107-40 and the War Powers Resolution, and operations and deployments remain ongoing. These operations, which the United States has carried out with the assistance of numerous international partners, have been successful in seriously degrading al-Qa'ida's capabilities and brought an end to the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan. If necessary, in response to this terrorist threat, I will direct additional measures to protect U.S. citizens and interests. It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States.
Afghanistan. United States Armed Forces have transitioned the lead for security to Afghan security forces while striking significant blows against al-Qa'ida's leadership and preventing Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland. On May 27, 2014, I announced my decision to end the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, and to maintain a limited number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014. These forces in Afghanistan will be for the purposes of training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qa'ida.
The U.N. Security Council most recently extended its authorization of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan until December 31, 2014, in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2120 (October 10, 2013). The mission ofISAF, under North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command and in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is to reduce the capability and will of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and facilitate improvements in governance and socio-economic development in order to provide a secure environment for sustainable stability. For the last few years, the ISAF campaign has focused on preparing the ANSF for full security transition in 2014.
Since June 2013, the ANSF have been in the lead for security nationwide and have been conducting the overwhelming majority of operations. ISAF is now in support of the ANSF, and the only unilateral operations that ISAF conducts are in support of its own security, sustainment, and redeployment. During the remainder of its campaign, ISAF will continue to focus on developing the sustainability of the ANSF at the corps and ministerial levels. The security transition process -- as agreed to at the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon and reaffirmed at the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago -- remains on track, and the ANSF are expected to assume full responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Following the completion of the ISAF mission at the end of 2014, the mission to help train, advise, and assist the ANSF and Afghan ministries and institutions will continue through the follow-on NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
Today, there are approximately 15,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The U.S. Armed Forces are on track to draw down to a Force Management Level of 9,800 by early 2015. (The actual number of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan may exceed this Force Management Level due to, for example, overlap during rotations of units and the continued presence of forces with the single mission of supporting the retrograde of U.S. equipment, both of which are excluded from counting against the Force Management Level.) By the end of 2016, U.S. forces would draw down to a small presence at our embassy in Kabul, focusing primarily on security assistance activities. The United States would continue to work with our Afghan partners to pursue the remnants of al-Qa'ida and more broadly to work with our partners in the region to continue to detect and disrupt extremist threats.
As I noted in my report of June 12, 2014, on March 25, 2013, the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Afghanistan under which the United States transferred all Afghan nationals detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan to the custody and control of the Afghan government.Pursuant to the MOU, any new Afghan detainees are to be transferred to Afghan custody and control within 96 hours after capture. United States forces in Afghanistan continue to detain a small number of third-country nationals under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war.
Iraq and Syria. In order to provide support and security to U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and as part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), I authorized, earlier this year, the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces to Iraq. These deployments of U.S. forces, which I reported to the Congress in a series of reports in recent months, are conducting coordination with Iraqi forces and providing training, communications support, intelligence support, and other support to select elements of the Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Additionally, these forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes and other necessary actions against ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria and airstrikes against elements of al-Qa'ida known as the Khorasan Group in Syria. The Force Management Level for U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq currently is 3,100 personnel.
These actions are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the Government of Iraq and in conjunction with coalition partners.
Somalia. In Somalia, a small contingent of U.S. military personnel, including some special operations forces, has worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab. On September 1, 2014, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia that killed the emir of the terrorist group al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi al-Muhammad, also known as Ahmed Godane.
Yemen. The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Government of Yemen to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa'ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to theUnited States and our interests.
Cuba. Combat-equipped forces, deployed since January 2002 to the Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continue to conduct humane and secure detention operations for the 142 detainees at Guantanamo Bay under the authority provided by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war.
Military Operations in Niger in Support of U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
As indicated in my report of December 13, 2013, U.S. military personnel in Niger continue to provide support for intelligence collection and to facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in the Sahel and with other partners in the region. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 200.
Military Operations in Chad in Support of Efforts to Locate Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria
The deployment of U.S. military personnel to Chad to support U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations has concluded. A small number of U.S. military personnel remain deployed to Chad for security cooperation activities.
MILITARY OPERATIONS RELATED TO THE LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMYIn October and November 2011, U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment initially deployed to Uganda to serve as advisors to regional forces of the African Union Regional Task Force (AU-RTF) that are working to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and other senior Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leaders from the battlefield, and to protect local populations. United States forces deployed to central Africa also operate and maintain U.S. aircraft providing air mobility support to foreign partner forces. The aircraft and personnel providing the enhanced air mobility support will deploy to the LRA-affected areas of central Africa episodically, as they are available, consistent with other Department of Defense requirements. During these deployments, the number of U.S. military personnel deployed to the central Africa region, including advisors deployed for this mission and personnel providing logistical and support functions to this and other missions, will fluctuate at a level up to approximately 300.
United States forces are working with select partner nation forces of the AU-RTF to enhance cooperation, information-sharing and synchronization, operational planning, and overall effectiveness. These forces, however, will not engage LRA forces except in self-defense. It is in the U.S. national security interest to help our regional partners in Africa to develop their capability to address threats to regional peace and security, including the threat posed by the LRA. The United States is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to help the governments and people of this region in their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and to address the impact of theLRA's atrocities.
Additional information about military operations related to the Lord's Resistance Army is provided in the classified annex.
Approximately 700 military personnel are assigned to the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers, which have been present in Egypt since 1981.
As initially detailed in my report of June 21, 2013, at the request of the Government of Jordan, U.S. Armed Forces elements, including Patriot missile systems, fighter aircraft, and related support, command, control, and communications personnel and systems, are deployed to Jordan to support the security of Jordan and promote regional stability. The total number of U.S. forces in Jordan is approximately 1,700 U.S. military personnel. These forces will remain in Jordan, in full coordination with the Government of Jordan, until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed.
The U.N. Security Council authorized Member States to establish a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Resolution 1244 on June 10, 1999. The original mission of KFOR was to monitor, verify, and, when necessary, enforce compliance with the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), while maintaining a safe and secure environment. Today, KFOR deters renewed hostilities in cooperation with local authorities, bilateral partners, and international institutions. The principal military tasks of KFOR forces are to help maintain a safe and secure environment and to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo. The U.S.contribution to KFOR is approximately 700 U.S. military personnel out of the total strength of approximately4,600 personnel.
As stated in my report of June 12, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces remain in Yemen to support the security of U.S. personnel. These forces will remain deployed, in full coordination with the respective host governments, until the security situation no longer requires them.
As I noted in my report of July 27, 2014, during the period July 25-26, embassy personnel and the U.S. forces supporting their security were relocated outside Libya. To support the safe departure of the embassy staff from Libya over land through Tunisia, U.S. military aircraft and additional military personnel entered Libya and Tunisia; those forces also departed Libya.
As I noted in my report of September 11, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces deployed to the Central African Republic to support the resumption of the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Bangui. The force is expected to remain in the Central African Republic until it is replaced by an augmented U.S. Security Guard Detachment and additional Department of State civilian security personnel as the security situation allows.
I have directed the participation of U.S. Armed Forces in all of these operations pursuant to my constitutional and statutory authority as Commander in Chief (including the authority to carry out Public Law 107-40 and other statutes), and as Chief Executive, as well as my constitutional and statutory authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States. Officials of my Administration and I communicate regularly with the leadership and other Members of Congress with regard to these deployments, and we will continue to do so.
Why Today's Date Is Special
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:26
12/13/14 has a kind of pleasing order that you might've noticed this morning when you woke up. But today's date is interesting because of more than just minor curiosity '-- it's the last sequential date this century.
As Quentin Fottrell has pointed out over at Market Watch, people actually care about cool dates. Five times as many people have set today to be their wedding day than you'd expect for a snowy Saturday. He also contacted a professor at the University of Portland, who pointed out that this isn't just any old sequential date '-- the dates themselves are made up of just four sequential digits: 1, 2, 3 and 4. [Market Watch]
US Senate Passes 2015 Government Funding Bill to Avert Shutdown
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:51
US06:13 14.12.2014(updated 09:24 14.12.2014)
WASHINGTON, December 14 (Sputnik) '' The $1.1 trillion spending bill for 2015 bill, approved by the Senate in a 56 to 40 vote on Saturday, will now go to US President Barack Obama to be signed into law. Earlier in the day, Obama signed a temporary funding bill to keep the government running through December 17.It had been expected that voting for the final budget would face obstacles in the Senate, mainly over disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over the financing of Obama's immigration reform. However, the Senators have reached a surprisingly swift agreement on the bill, which will fund most of the US federal government through September.
(C) REUTERS/ Kevin Lamarque
The Department of Homeland Security will only be funded through February, which will allow House and Senate Republicans to revisit the immigration reform issue and challenge it next year.The House passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill just hours before the US government's spending authority was due to expire on Thursday, averting a shutdown.
Last year, the US Congress could not agree either on an annual federal budget or a short-term funding bill, which led to a partial US government shutdown.
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.
Flights Cancelled After Traffic Control Glitch
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 19:23
Dozens of flights have been cancelled and many others were delayed after a major computer failure grounded planes in London and the South.
A glitch at the state-of-the-art UK air traffic control centre headquarters in Swanwick, Hampshire, caused severe disruption.
For a time no aircraft were able to take off at some of the UK's major airports. Some flights were allowed to land.
It was reported airspace over London had been closed but air traffic control company NATS denied this, saying airspace capacity was "restricted in order to manage the situation".
The computer problem is at Swanwick air traffic control centre
NATS later said the system had been restored and it was in the process of returning services to normal.
The glitch lasted from 3.27pm to 4.03pm and Sky sources said a flight planning server had failed.
Play video "What Is Causing Airspace Problems?"Video:What Is Causing Airspace Problems?Airports affected by the disruption included Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City.
Aberdeen and Edinburgh were also hit by the computer problem. Other airports that reported delays included Birmingham, Manchester, Luton and Bristol.
Heathrow said at least 50 flights have been cancelled and it expected the number to rise.
It said the problem was likely to have a knock-on effect for flights on Saturday because aircraft and crew will not be in the correct positions.
British Airways said: "We are working hard to look after our customers who have been affected by the air traffic control failure experienced by all airlines at Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports.
"We anticipate disruption to both departing and arriving aircraft but will do all we can to minimise any impact."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the disruption was unacceptable and he has asked NATS for a full explanation of the incident.
Speaking to Sky News, NATS managing director of operations Martin Rolfe defended his organisation's handling of the chaos.
Play video "Timelapse: Skies Clear Over London"Video:Timelapse: Skies Clear Over London"It was a technical failure at our Swanwick centre which handles 6,500 flights a day," he said.
"We went through our backup systems and restored things relatively quickly but not without delays to passengers, which we hugely regret.
"These things are relatively rare. We are a very busy island for air traffic control, so we're always going to be operating near capacity.
"What we've seen today is a very quick response. We didn't close any airports, we didn't close any airspace. We reduced the flow to make sure everything could be handled safely."
East Midlands and Birmingham airports said they were virtually unaffected.
One passenger caught up in the travel chaos was Matt Warren. He tweeted: "Stuck on the tarmac at Heathrow airport. Air traffic control failures. No flights in or out."
David Fitzgerald, who was stuck in a plane on the tarmac at Gatwick, should have been going to Dublin for a 3pm departure.
"We were boarding but then we were told the news there was a major failure at air-traffic control,'' he said.
Play video "November: How Busy Is UK Airspace?"Video:November: How Busy Is UK Airspace?"The good news is that some aircraft are being allowed to leave using a lower flight level '' it's only the higher flight level that's affected."
Nick Adderley, a police chief superintendent, was also stuck on the tarmac at Gatwick after trying to fly home to Manchester.
He told Sky News: "This is a business flight for me'... [I am] trying to get home after a business meeting in London.
"There are a number of people on board trying to get connecting flights to go on holiday. The spirits are pretty high. The mood is pretty good at the moment."
The centre at Swanwick has been subject to a number of computer glitches since NATS moved there from its old headquarters in West Drayton in west London in the early part of the last decade.
One of the worst problems was a year ago - on Saturday 7 December 2013 - when thousands of passengers were left stranded when hundreds of flights were grounded following a technical fault at the Hampshire centre.
GLITCH!-AP News : London hit by air traffic control computer failure
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 00:59
By DANICA KIRKA and GREGORY KATZPublished: YesterdayLONDON (AP) - The British government has demanded an investigation after a computer failure Friday at one of Britain's two air traffic control centers caused a major disruption of air traffic into and out of London.
The congested airspace over the British capital was closed during the 35-minute shutdown, leading to severe delays and flight cancellations in London and other parts of Europe that officials said would spill over into Saturday.
The problem was traced to the computer system at NATS, the troubled U.K.-based air traffic management company, which has experienced a number of operational problems related to computer issues.
British officials seethed over the system meltdown on a busy Friday afternoon during the run-up to the holiday season, when travel demand is particularly high.
"Disruption on this scale is simply unacceptable and I have asked NATS for a full explanation of this evening's incident," Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said.
NATS said a computer problem at its center in Swanwick, England, had touched off troubles in the system. After it was fixed, NATS said its operations were returning to normal but would not say how long that would take. It said "further information" about the cause would be released when it becomes available.
Problems were particularly acute at London's Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest. Some 66 flights were cancelled there as of 6 p.m. (1 p.m. EST), with more expected, since planes and flight crews were out of position.
British aviation authorities did not ask the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to hold flights destined for Heathrow on the ground during the shutdown, so there was no impact on departures from the U.S., said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.
Planes headed for the U.S., however, were held on the ground, unable to take off safely.
Heathrow officials urged passengers to check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport. Airlines issued the same cautionary advice.
The NATS center at Swanwick has been plagued by problems since it opened in 2002 - six years late and at twice its anticipated cost. Software and reliability issues have caused repeated disruptions since.
A few months after it opened, the BBC cited an unidentified air traffic controller as complaining of "potentially catastrophic" problems at the facility, including erratic radio transmissions. Other controllers cited by the broadcaster said the text on their computer screens was "too tiny to read."
In 2004, Swanwick was in the news when a computer problem grounded scores of flights across Britain. An even more serious glitch in September 2008 grounded hundreds of flights and affected tens of thousands of travelers.
In December 2013, another computer problem at Swanwick took 12 hours to fix, causing severe delays at the outset of the holiday season.
At the time, NATS chief Richard Deakin called the failure a "one-in-10-year event."
The malfunction Friday was repaired much more quickly, but it still led to significant delays felt throughout Europe and delayed flights bound for the United States.
The substantial problems triggered by the relatively brief malfunction illustrate how vulnerable the modern air traffic control system is to any type of breakdown.
John Potter, an expert with the Strategy& professional services company, said: "The grounding of hundreds of scheduled flights because of a technical problem at Swanwick highlights how reliant the airline industry has become on technologies which can and do fail."
Martyn Thomas, a visiting professor of software engineering at the University of Oxford who had examined NATS computer failures in the early 2000s, said the systems in place are not up to date.
"Some of NATS' computer systems are very old - the National Airspace System (NAS) that performs flight data processing is software that dates from the 1960s," he said in a statement. "Interfacing new systems to this old software can create difficulties."
Thomas said NATS has an outstanding safety record but once controllers lost their computer-based tools, delays were inevitable "because without the tools, the controllers cannot handle as many simultaneous aircraft."
The shutdown, which began at about 3:27 p.m. and ended at 4:03 p.m., affected London's five commercial airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted, and Luton.
Heathrow alone handles about 1,200 to 1,400 flights a day, some 200 of those to and from the United States, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware, which said Friday's problem most directly affected departures from London.
At Heathrow on Friday, passengers on United Flight 941 to Newark were told about the computer problem as they boarded. United employees said the plane would be loaded and head toward a runway in the hope that the computer problem would be fixed soon. Passengers appeared nonplussed and good-natured about the delay.
Federica Ceresa, 34, was returning home after a business trip to France. Her flight to London was scheduled to land about 3:30 p.m. - just about the time the computer issue began.
The pilot of her British Airways Flight 368 at first told passengers the plane would be going to Paris instead. Then he said they were going to Brussels. They were just about to land there when the plane was, fortunately, re-routed back to its original destination - London.
"There was clapping of hands," she said brightly.
Even though her 90-minute flight took about four hours, she wasn't too upset. She saw many passengers waiting to re-book flights as well as the eerie sight of an empty departure lounge. She felt quite lucky.
"Now I can go to Friday drinks!" she told an Associated Press reporter.
Raphael Satter and Kathleen Carroll in London, Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin and Joan Lowy in Washington contributed.
REVEALED: Titsup flight plan mainframe borks UK air traffic control ' The Register
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:16
Analysis London's airspace was effectively shut down on Friday afternoon after a flight data server fell over, the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has confirmed to The Register after multiple sources gave us specific details of the cockup.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or diverted after NATS was forced to restrict the airspace over the capital for less than an hour. Operations are now up and running, and NATS says investigations are continuing '' but a couple of well-placed sources familiar with the situation have explained what went wrong.
Air traffic control systems are enormously complicated and riddled with failsafe systems; when you're directing flying tubes with hundreds of people and highly combustible jet fuel, nobody at NATS just wings it. Today's problems were down to a combination of a server and data connection failure triggering the automatic safety systems that make sure everybody gets onto the ground safely, albeit a little late in some cases.
Safety in duplicationIn order to keep the skies running smoothly, the air traffic control (ATC) system uses dual feeds of data. On the one hand all aircraft have to deliver a flight plan showing exactly when, where, and at what altitude, they intend to fly over the UK. This data is stored on a server, dubbed the flight data processing system.
At the same time, all flights in UK airspace are tracked on radar and that information is sent to a central flight server. This flight server matches the actual progress of air traffic on radar with the planned information from the flight data processing system and feeds that data to operations controllers directing air traffic.
On Friday afternoon an IBM S/390 mainframe running the flight data processing system fell over, according to sources familiar with the matter.
It hasn't been confirmed if it was a hardware or software flaw, but one well-placed source said the machine had never had a hardware failure before so software was more likely. There is a backup flight data processing system, which kicks in within seconds if the primary fails.
"Invariably someone puts a flight plan wrong and it borks the system," one source told El Reg on condition of anonymity.
"If the same data goes into the backup server it will sometimes fall over on same processing problems, and start switching back and forth with the main server. When we get a switchover then the first thing that's usually done is to shut down the backup processor."
Doing that takes time, but the engineers at NATS are used to sorting out problems quickly. They have to, since once the flight data processing system fails then a countdown begins before emergency safety measures take control.
If the flight data processing system is down for more than eight minutes, the flight server alerts controllers that the data it is getting is stale. Aircraft can travel a long way in those few minutes and the flight server alerts controllers, who then focus on radar and start to shut down flights in a process described as "graceful degradation."
This involves reducing the flow of aircraft into UK airspace, either by directing flights elsewhere or bringing them down as quickly and safely as possible at their intended destination. Given the amount of lives involved aircraft and passenger safety always takes precedence over convenience.
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UK flights chaos: Air traffic control computers using software from the 1960s - Telegraph
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:14
It is just the latest in a string of computer problems that have plagued Nats in recent years at its headquarters in Swanwick, Hants.
A consultant who has worked for Nats said it knew its software needed to be replaced a decade ago but will be relying on the 1960s programmes for another two years.
Martyn Thomas, Visiting Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Oxford, said: ''The National Airspace System that performs flight data processing was originally written for American airspace in the late 1960s.
''It wasn't designed to cope with the volume of air traffic we have today, or to interface with modern computer software.''
Prof Thomas said the NAS system was written using a now defunct computer language called Jovial, meaning Nats has to train programmers in Jovial just to maintain the antiquated software.
He said: ''When Swanwick opened in 2002 there were a number of failures because as air traffic grew NAS wasn't able to handle the additional complexity and the extra information they were having to put in.
Passengers pass the time in Terminal Three at Heathrow Airport
''Some of the other software they use dates back to the 1980s, and they knew a decade ago that it needed replacing, but they haven't made it a priority.
''Britain is now the only country that is using the 1960s software. It is due to be replaced with a new system from a Spanish company in about two years, but until then they will just have to manage.''
Heathrow, the country's busiest airport, had to cancel 50 flights, with around 20 more scrapped at Stansted and dozens more delayed or diverted to airports in Europe from Gatwick, London City and Luton. Delays were also reported at Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
Passengers left stranded included Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, who was on his way to Vilnius in Lithuania to make a speech when his flight was delayed at Stansted Airport in Essex.
He said: ''I don't know what is going on - there's a lack of information. Economically it is a catastrophe for the country.
"We are an international trading nation, and this is bad. It's really not good."
It was the second major computer failure in 12 months at the £700 million Nats facility, which opened five years late in 2002 and cost more than five times the original budget.
Last December another computer failure meant Nats had to reduce flights by 20 per cent on a busy Saturday, leading to major disruption.
The Swanwick centre controls all flights south of Manchester, meaning incoming flights were grounded at most European airports and aircraft already in the air had to land in other countries. Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street communications secretary, was among passengers who unexpectedly found themselves in Paris because of London airspace being closed.
The computer error lasted from 3.27pm to 4.03pm, and Nats said that while it had not been caused by a power cut, it was too early to say exactly which system failed.
A spokesman said: ''As with any safety-critical industry, we will have to have a full investigation to determine the exact cause.
''We need to see if there are any other systems or underlying root causes that haven't been addressed today, so we cannot speculate on whether it might happen again.''
A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said: "The earlier problem will cause delays and cancellations to flights for the rest of the day and is likely to have a knock-on effect on some services tomorrow because aircraft and crew will now be out of position.
"Passengers due to depart today and tomorrow should check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to Heathrow. We are very sorry for the disruption to passengers' journeys. We have extra staff on duty to help passengers."
Nats: computer failure behind London airport chaos was unprecedented | UK news | The Guardian
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:05
People queue at Heathrow airport after London's airspace was restricted due to a computer failure. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP
An unprecedented systems failure was responsible for the air traffic control chaos that affected airports across London and south-east England on Friday.
Nats, the company responsible for controlling British airspace, on Saturday gave the first detailed explanation of the problem at its national centre in Swanwick, Hampshire, that resulted in dozens of flights being cancelled and delayed.
It stressed that safety was not compromised during the incident, which was connected to the number of computer workstations used by controllers being ''in a certain state'', combined with the number of airspace sectors open at the time.
''In this instance a transition between the two states caused a failure in the system which has not been seen before,'' Nats said in a statement. ''The failure meant that the controllers were unable to access all of the data regarding individual flight plans, which significantly increases their workload.
''Our priority is to maintain a safe operation for the flying public; consequently when the failure occurred we immediately took steps to reduce the traffic into and out of the UK network. The controllers had a full radar picture and full communications with all aircraft at all times during the incident and at no time was safety compromised in any way.''
The transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: ''Disruption on this scale is simply unacceptable and I have asked Nats for a full explanation of this evening's incident.''
Louise Ellman, chair of the Commons transport select committee, said McLoughlin would be questioned about the incident on Monday.
''I am very concerned about this major breakdown in UK air traffic control and the impact of the disruption this failure has caused on airports, airlines and passengers,'' she said. ''In such circumstances safety remains paramount, but going forward it is vital that we establish what happened yesterday, and what Nats must do in order to ensure the same problem does not recur in future.
''I also hope that the committee will call Nats and the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] to give evidence to us, so that we can get to the bottom of what led up to this weekend's events.''
The incident closed runways at Heathrow and Gatwick. About 70 flights at Heathrow were cancelled on Friday night and a further 38 flights early on Saturday after the disruption.
British Airways cancelled 14 services from Heathrow on Saturday, mostly to European destinations including Stockholm, Dublin, Madrid and Zurich. A BA flight to Istanbul, scheduled to take off at 6.20am was two hours late, and a service to Athens was delayed by more than three hours. EasyJet said that 90% of its arrivals on Saturday were on time.
Gatwick said there some delays to departures and arrivals on Friday, but full service resumed on Saturday morning.
Stansted said all flights were running to schedule on Saturday, while neither Luton nor City airports had any reported delays.
Nats is a public-private partnership created in 2001 between the government, which holds 49% and a golden share, and the Airline Group, which holds 42%. Its stakeholders include British Airways, easyJet and the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Nats staff hold a further 5% stake and LHR Airports Limited 4%. It dates back to the National Air Traffic Control Services, which was established in December 1962.
A computer problem affected operations at Swanwick for almost 12 hours last December, leaving thousands of passengers stranded as hundreds of flights were grounded.
Swanwick had been due to open in 1997 at a cost of £132m but software problems meant that was not completed until January 2002 for a final bill of £700m.
Swanwick technical failure UPDATE 21:45 | NATS
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:01
Chief Executive, Richard Deakin said: ''The air traffic control systems used by NATS are robust and have contingency built in to them so that if a problem occurs, it can be identified quickly and resolved. Our contingency plans worked as they should have done yesterday (Friday 12 December) and allowed our complex systems to be fully back up and running after 45 minutes.
Failures like this are extremely rare, but when they occur it is because they are unique and have not been seen before. If they do occur, root causes are identified and corrections made to prevent them happening again. We have never seen a repeat occurrence once a fix has been made. Following the issue on Friday, the root cause was identified, a correction put in place and we do not expect that failure to repeat.
Once the backlog in the network has been caught up over this weekend, this issue will not cause further disruption over the holiday season. We are confident in the strength of the systems and the people we use to successfully manage over two million flights every year.
Safety was not compromised at any time but we do sincerely apologise for the delays and inconvenience caused to passengers and our airport and airline customers.''
Homeland Security Today: Congress Approves Cybersecurity Legislation
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 23:32
By: Anthony Kimery, Editor-in-Chief
12/11/2014 ( 1:37pm)
The House Thursday unanimously passed S. 2519, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 which the Senate passed earlier this week, as well as Senate amendment to H.R. 2952, the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act -- both bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation's cyber defenses.
Legislators said this is the most significant cyber bill to pass Congress in over a decade.
"The cyber bills passed this week are a historic moment in the fight against cyber attacks," said House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). "Every day, Americans' private information is lost in criminal data breaches like those at Target and Home Depot. Nation-state actors, such as Russia, China and Iran, are increasingly hacking into US companies and government networks to conduct espionage or steal intellectual property. In fact, former director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander described this loss of IP as 'the greatest transfer of wealth in history.' However, the most malicious threat is from those who wish to do our country harm by shutting down our power grid, energy or water systems."
''With the passage of these bipartisan and bicameral bills, we can protect our vital digital private and government networks from daily attacks from foreign enemies across the globe by encouraging and supporting federal and private sector threat sharing," McCaul said. "These bills are a significant step in the right direction, and my colleagues have shown that cybersecurity is a priority for this Congress. But there is more work to be done.''
The National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 codifies the existing cybersecurity and communications operations center at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.
Approved in June by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the bill calls on the center to serve as a federal civilian information sharing interface for cybersecurity, and would authorize the center's current activities to share cybersecurity information and analysis with the private sector, provide incident response and technical assistance to companies and federal agencies and recommend security measures to enhance cybersecurity.
"Cybersecurity is one of the biggest national security challenges our country faces. Our laws should reflect that reality,'' said Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.). ''By codifying the Department of Homeland Security's existing cybersecurity operations center, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 bolsters our nation's cybersecurity while providing the department with clear authority to more effectively carry out its mission and partner with private and public entities. It is critical that the department continues to build strong relationships with businesses, state and local governments, and other entities across the country so that we can all be better prepared to stop cyber attacks and quickly address those intrusions that do occur.''
"Cyber attacks are one of the biggest national security threats facing our nation,'' said ranking committee member, retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). ''Every day, adversaries are working to penetrate our networks and steal the American people's information at a great cost to our nation. One of the best ways that we can defend against cyber attacks is to encourage the government and private sector to work together and share information about the threats we face. By codifying DHS's cyber security information sharing center, this bill sets the stage for future legislation for cyber security information sharing that includes liability protections for the private sector.''
Introduced by Carper and Coburn, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 would better delineate the roles and responsibilities assigned to agencies charged with securing the ''.gov'' domain, move agencies away from the current paperwork-heavy security review processes and put greater management and oversight attention on data breaches at federal agencies,'' according to the committee.
''The bill is more than overdue,'' Carper's office said, noting that'' cyber attacks reported by federal agencies have increased by nearly 680 percent over the past six years, according to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office [GAO].''
''Cybersecurity is one of our nation's biggest challenges,'' Carper said. ''Recently, several federal agencies, from the Postal Service to the Office of Personnel Management to the State Department to the White House, have been hit with serious cyber attacks. It is more than clear that the federal government needs to address this 21st century threat with a 21st century response.''
To that end, Carper said, ''This bill will modernize our outdated federal network security laws, provide the tools and authorities needed to improve security at our federal agencies, and increase transparency and accountability for data breaches at federal agencies. On top of that, it allows taxpayer dollars to be better spent on improving network security by reducing unnecessary and burdensome paper-based reporting.''
''For too long, the federal government has struggled with poor cybersecurity practices, which puts the American people's sensitive information at risk,'' Coburn added, saying, ''This bipartisan reform bill is a small but significant step to address the problem.''
He said, ''It requires agencies to be accountable to Congress and the public for data breaches and other incidents to protect the public's information.''
The Senate also has approved the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 that would update the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 to better protect and held federal agencies thwart cyber attacks.
In September, the Senate passed the DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act of 2014 which would help address critical challenges that the Department of Homeland Security faces in hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals by providing the secretary of homeland security hiring and compensation authorities for cybersecurity experts like those of the Secretary of Defense.
In July, the House overwhelmingly passed three bills to strengthen efforts to combat cyber attacks on critical infrastructure through the distribution of cyber threat information, the development and procurement of new technologies and support for DHS's cybersecurity workforce.
Breaking: Congress Passes Bill Giving Police Unlimited Access to Citizens' Private Communications | The Free Thought Project
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 23:17
''One of the most egregious sections of law I've encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.''Washington, D.C. '' In a sneak attack on the civil liberties of all Americans, the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2015 was rushed to the House floor with a dangerous Senate amendment added to section 309 with virtually no debate.
The legislation was scheduled for only a ''voice vote,'' which means that it is simply declared ''passed'' with voice votes and no record.
This is considered the simplest and quickest voting method, not what one would expect from such an important piece of legislation. For most pieces of major legislation, a roll call vote would be the standard operating procedure.
Thankfully, Representative Justin Amash, when catching wind of what was transpiring, went to the House floor to demand a roll call vote so that everyone would have to have their vote recorded.
The fact that this important piece of legislation was handled in this way indicates that this was done intentionally to sneak it past the public eye. It becomes even more suspicious when you realize that it was done concurrently with the CIA torture report being released and the Gruber hearing.
It seems clear there was an effort made to slip the vote by without having to answer to the American people, as Congress is well aware that Americans do not want to be spied upon by their government after the revelations by Edward Snowden.
Congressman Justin Amash stated that when he learned this bill was ''being rushed to the floor for a vote'... I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language.''
What he says next should raise red flags for every American citizen.
He claims what his staff discovered was:
''One of the most egregious sections of law I've encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.''
The bill in question is H.R. 4681. (Sec. 309)
Rep. Amash wrote a last minute letter to all of his colleagues in Congress to implore them to vote ''NO'' on H.R. 4681.
Here is the text of that letter:
Dear Colleague:
The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.
Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309'--one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes ''the acquisition, retention, and dissemination'' of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.
To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons' private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans' private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.
Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch's power to retain Americans' private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive's retention of Americans' communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans' communications within five years of acquiring them'--although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.
In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch's capture and use of Americans' private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents'--especially when we are asked to expand our government's surveillance powers.
I urge you to join me in voting ''no'' on H.R. 4681, the intelligence reauthorization bill, when it comes before the House today./s/
Justin AmashMember of Congress
This bill will allow information gained from domestic spying by the feds, in the name of ''terrorism,'' to be transferred to local law enforcement for criminal investigations without any type of court order, subpoena or warrant.
This is one of the most drastic changes in U.S. law in our lifetimes and has the potential to turn the U.S. into a true police state.
When the feds take what is claimed to be a means of fighting ''terrorism'' and use it as means of forwarding criminal prosecutions against American citizens, without any court order or warrant, we are on the brink of total tyranny.
We urge everyone to call their Representative and let them know that you do not support H.R. 4681'... tell them NO new domestic spying powers!!
Please help get the word out and share this information with your fellow Americans!
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Here is the original post by Representative Justin Amash on his Facebook page:
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.
H. R. 4681 (Enrolled-Bill) SECTION 309
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:48
IIntelligence activities 101.Authorization of appropriationsFunds are hereby authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2015 for the conduct of the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the following elements of the United States Government: (1)The Office of the Director of National Intelligence. (2)The Central Intelligence Agency. (3)The Department of Defense. (4)The Defense Intelligence Agency. (5)The National Security Agency. (6)The Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force. (7)The Coast Guard. (8)The Department of State. (9)The Department of the Treasury. (10)The Department of Energy. (11)The Department of Justice. (12)The Federal Bureau of Investigation. (13)The Drug Enforcement Administration. (14)The National Reconnaissance Office. (15)The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. (16)The Department of Homeland Security. 102.Classified Schedule of Authorizations (a)Specifications of amounts and personnel levelsThe amounts authorized to be appropriated under section 101 and, subject to section 103, the authorized personnel ceilings as of September 30, 2015, for the conduct of the intelligence activities of the elements listed in paragraphs (1) through (16) of section 101, are those specified in the classified Schedule of Authorizations prepared to accompany the bill H.R. 4681 of the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress. (b)Availability of classified Schedule of Authorizations (1)AvailabilityThe classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in subsection (a) shall be made available to the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, and to the President. (2)Distribution by the PresidentSubject to paragraph (3), the President shall provide for suitable distribution of the classified Schedule of Authorizations, or of appropriate portions of the Schedule, within the executive branch. (3)Limits on disclosureThe President shall not publicly disclose the classified Schedule of Authorizations or any portion of such Schedule except'-- (A)as provided in section 601(a) of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (50 U.S.C. 3306(a)); (B)to the extent necessary to implement the budget; or (C)as otherwise required by law. 103.Personnel ceiling adjustments (a)Authority for increasesThe Director of National Intelligence may authorize employment of civilian personnel in excess of the number authorized for fiscal year 2015 by the classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in section 102(a) if the Director of National Intelligence determines that such action is necessary to the performance of important intelligence functions, except that the number of personnel employed in excess of the number authorized under such section may not, for any element of the intelligence community, exceed 3 percent of the number of civilian personnel authorized under such Schedule for such element. (b)Treatment of certain personnelThe Director of National Intelligence shall establish guidelines that govern, for each element of the intelligence community, the treatment under the personnel levels authorized under section 102(a), including any exemption from such personnel levels, of employment or assignment in'-- (1)a student program, trainee program, or similar program; (2)a reserve corps or as a reemployed annuitant; or (3)details, joint duty, or long term, full-time training. (c)Notice to congressional intelligence committeesThe Director of National Intelligence shall notify the congressional intelligence committees in writing at least 15 days prior to each exercise of an authority described in subsection (a). 104.Intelligence Community Management Account (a)Authorization of appropriationsThere is authorized to be appropriated for the Intelligence Community Management Account of the Director of National Intelligence for fiscal year 2015 the sum of $507,400,000. Within such amount, funds identified in the classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in section 102(a) for advanced research and development shall remain available until September 30, 2016. (b)Authorized personnel levelsThe elements within the Intelligence Community Management Account of the Director of National Intelligence are authorized 794 positions as of September 30, 2015. Personnel serving in such elements may be permanent employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence or personnel detailed from other elements of the United States Government. (c)Classified authorizations (1)Authorization of appropriationsIn addition to amounts authorized to be appropriated for the Intelligence Community Management Account by subsection (a), there are authorized to be appropriated for the Community Management Account for fiscal year 2015 such additional amounts as are specified in the classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in section 102(a). Such additional amounts for advanced research and development shall remain available until September 30, 2016. (2)Authorization of personnelIn addition to the personnel authorized by subsection (b) for elements of the Intelligence Community Management Account as of September 30, 2015, there are authorized such additional personnel for the Community Management Account as of that date as are specified in the classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in section 102(a).IICentral Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System 201.Authorization of appropriationsThere is authorized to be appropriated for the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability Fund for fiscal year 2015 the sum of $514,000,000.IIIGeneral provisions AGeneral Matters 301.Increase in employee compensation and benefits authorized by lawAppropriations authorized by this Act for salary, pay, retirement, and other benefits for Federal employees may be increased by such additional or supplemental amounts as may be necessary for increases in such compensation or benefits authorized by law. 302.Restriction on conduct of intelligence activitiesThe authorization of appropriations by this Act shall not be deemed to constitute authority for the conduct of any intelligence activity which is not otherwise authorized by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. 303.National intelligence strategy (a)In generalTitle I of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3021 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 108 the following: 108A.National intelligence strategy (a)In generalBeginning in 2017, and once every 4 years thereafter, the Director of National Intelligence shall develop a comprehensive national intelligence strategy to meet national security objectives for the following 4-year period, or a longer period, if appropriate. (b)RequirementsEach national intelligence strategy required by subsection (a) shall'-- (1)delineate a national intelligence strategy consistent with'-- (A)the most recent national security strategy report submitted pursuant to section 108; (B)the strategic plans of other relevant departments and agencies of the United States; and (C)other relevant national-level plans; (2)address matters related to national and military intelligence, including counterintelligence; (3)identify the major national security missions that the intelligence community is currently pursuing and will pursue in the future to meet the anticipated security environment; (4)describe how the intelligence community will utilize personnel, technology, partnerships, and other capabilities to pursue the major national security missions identified in paragraph (3); (5)assess current, emerging, and future threats to the intelligence community, including threats from foreign intelligence and security services and insider threats; (6)outline the organizational roles and missions of the elements of the intelligence community as part of an integrated enterprise to meet customer demands for intelligence products, services, and support; (7)identify sources of strategic, institutional, programmatic, fiscal, and technological risk; and (8)analyze factors that may affect the intelligence community's performance in pursuing the major national security missions identified in paragraph (3) during the following 10-year period. (c)Submission to CongressThe Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees a report on each national intelligence strategy required by subsection (a) not later than 45 days after the date of the completion of such strategy.. (b)Table of contents amendmentsThe table of contents in the first section of the National Security Act of 1947 is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 108 the following new item: Sec. 108A. National intelligence strategy.. 304.Software licensingSection 109 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3044) is amended'-- (1)in subsection (a)(2), by striking usage; and and inserting usage, including'-- (A)increasing the centralization of the management of software licenses; (B)increasing the regular tracking and maintaining of comprehensive inventories of software licenses using automated discovery and inventory tools and metrics; (C)analyzing software license data to inform investment decisions; and (D)providing appropriate personnel with sufficient software licenses management training; and; (2)in subsection (b)'-- (A)in paragraph (1), by striking ; and and inserting a semicolon; (B)in paragraph (2), by striking usage. and inserting usage, including'-- (A)increasing the centralization of the management of software licenses; (B)increasing the regular tracking and maintaining of comprehensive inventories of software licenses using automated discovery and inventory tools and metrics; (C)analyzing software license data to inform investment decisions; and (D)providing appropriate personnel with sufficient software licenses management training; and; and (C)by adding at the end the following new paragraph: (3)based on the assessment required under paragraph (2), make such recommendations with respect to software procurement and usage to the Director of National Intelligence as the Chief Information Officer considers appropriate.; and (3)by adding at the end the following new subsection: (d)Implementation of recommendationsNot later than 180 days after the date on which the Director of National Intelligence receives recommendations from the Chief Information Officer of the Intelligence Community in accordance with subsection (b)(3), the Director of National Intelligence shall, to the extent practicable, issue guidelines for the intelligence community on software procurement and usage based on such recommendations.. 305.Reporting of certain employment activities by former intelligence officers and employees (a)RestrictionTitle III of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3071 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 303 the following new section: 304.Reporting of certain employment activities by former intelligence officers and employees (a)In GeneralThe head of each element of the intelligence community shall issue regulations requiring each employee of such element occupying a covered position to sign a written agreement requiring the regular reporting of covered employment to the head of such element. (b)Agreement ElementsThe regulations required under subsection (a) shall provide that an agreement contain provisions requiring each employee occupying a covered position to, during the two-year period beginning on the date on which such employee ceases to occupy such covered position'-- (1)report covered employment to the head of the element of the intelligence community that employed such employee in such covered position upon accepting such covered employment; and (2)annually (or more frequently if the head of such element considers it appropriate) report covered employment to the head of such element. (c)DefinitionsIn this section: (1)Covered employmentThe term covered employment means direct employment by, representation of, or the provision of advice relating to national security to the government of a foreign country or any person whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized, in whole or in major part, by any government of a foreign country. (2)Covered positionThe term covered position means a position within an element of the intelligence community that, based on the level of access of a person occupying such position to information regarding sensitive intelligence sources or methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters, the head of such element determines should be subject to the requirements of this section. (3)Government of a foreign countryThe term government of a foreign country has the meaning given the term in section 1(e) of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (22 U.S.C. 611(e)).. (b)Regulations and certification (1)RegulationsNot later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the head of each element of the intelligence community shall issue the regulations required under section 304 of the National Security Act of 1947, as added by subsection (a) of this section. (2)CertificationNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees'-- (A)a certification that each head of an element of the intelligence community has prescribed the regulations required under section 304 of the National Security Act of 1947, as added by subsection (a) of this section; or (B)if the Director is unable to submit the certification described under subparagraph (A), an explanation as to why the Director is unable to submit such certification, including a designation of which heads of an element of the intelligence community have prescribed the regulations required under such section 304 and which have not. (c)Table of contents amendmentsThe table of contents in the first section of the National Security Act of 1947 is amended'-- (1)by striking the second item relating to section 302 (Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries) and the items relating to sections 304, 305, and 306; and (2)by inserting after the item relating to section 303 the following new item: Sec. 304. Reporting of certain employment activities by former intelligence officers and employees.. 306.Inclusion of Predominantly Black Institutions in intelligence officer training programSection 1024 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3224) is amended'-- (1)in subsection (c)(1), by inserting and Predominantly Black Institutions after universities; and (2)in subsection (g)'-- (A)by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (5); and (B)by inserting after paragraph (3) the following new paragraph: (4)Predominantly Black InstitutionThe term Predominantly Black Institution has the meaning given the term in section 318 of the Higher education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1059e).. 307.Management and oversight of financial intelligence (a)Requirement for planNot later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall prepare a plan for management of the elements of the intelligence community that carry out financial intelligence activities. (b)Contents of planThe plan required by subsection (a) shall establish a governance framework, procedures for sharing and harmonizing the acquisition and use of financial analytic tools, standards for quality of analytic products, procedures for oversight and evaluation of resource allocations associated with the joint development of information sharing efforts and tools, and an education and training model for elements of the intelligence community that carry out financial intelligence activities. (c)Briefing to CongressNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall brief the congressional intelligence committees on the actions the Director proposes to implement the plan required by subsection (a). 308.Analysis of private sector policies and procedures for countering insider threats (a)AnalysisNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the National Counterintelligence Executive, shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees an analysis of private sector policies and procedures for countering insider threats. (b)ContentThe analysis required by subsection (a) shall include'-- (1)a review of whether and how the intelligence community could utilize private sector hiring and human resources best practices to screen, vet, and validate the credentials, capabilities, and character of applicants for positions involving trusted access to sensitive information; (2)an analysis of private sector policies for holding supervisors and subordinates accountable for violations of established security protocols and whether the intelligence community should adopt similar policies for positions of trusted access to sensitive information; (3)an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of applying mandatory leave policies, similar to those endorsed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Securities and Exchange Commission to identify fraud in the financial services industry, to certain positions within the intelligence community; and (4)recommendations for how the intelligence community could utilize private sector risk indices, such as credit risk scores, to make determinations about employee access to sensitive information. 309.Procedures for the retention of incidentally acquired communications (a)DefinitionsIn this section: (1)Covered communicationThe term covered communication means any nonpublic telephone or electronic communication acquired without the consent of a person who is a party to the communication, including communications in electronic storage. (2)Head of an element of the intelligence communityThe term head of an element of the intelligence community means, as appropriate'-- (A)the head of an element of the intelligence community; or (B)the head of the department or agency containing such element. (3)United States personThe term United States person has the meaning given that term in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801). (b)Procedures for covered communications (1)Requirement to adoptNot later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act each head of an element of the intelligence community shall adopt procedures approved by the Attorney General for such element that ensure compliance with the requirements of paragraph (3). (2)Coordination and approvalThe procedures required by paragraph (1) shall be'-- (A)prepared in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence; and (B)approved by the Attorney General prior to issuance. (3)Procedures (A)ApplicationThe procedures required by paragraph (1) shall apply to any intelligence collection activity not otherwise authorized by court order (including an order or certification issued by a court established under subsection (a) or (b) of section 103 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1803)), subpoena, or similar legal process that is reasonably anticipated to result in the acquisition of a covered communication to or from a United States person and shall permit the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of covered communications subject to the limitation in subparagraph (B). (B)Limitation on retentionA covered communication shall not be retained in excess of 5 years, unless'-- (i)the communication has been affirmatively determined, in whole or in part, to constitute foreign intelligence or counterintelligence or is necessary to understand or assess foreign intelligence or counterintelligence; (ii)the communication is reasonably believed to constitute evidence of a crime and is retained by a law enforcement agency; (iii)the communication is enciphered or reasonably believed to have a secret meaning; (iv)all parties to the communication are reasonably believed to be non-United States persons; (v)retention is necessary to protect against an imminent threat to human life, in which case both the nature of the threat and the information to be retained shall be reported to the congressional intelligence committees not later than 30 days after the date such retention is extended under this clause; (vi)retention is necessary for technical assurance or compliance purposes, including a court order or discovery obligation, in which case access to information retained for technical assurance or compliance purposes shall be reported to the congressional intelligence committees on an annual basis; or (vii)retention for a period in excess of 5 years is approved by the head of the element of the intelligence community responsible for such retention, based on a determination that retention is necessary to protect the national security of the United States, in which case the head of such element shall provide to the congressional intelligence committees a written certification describing'-- (I)the reasons extended retention is necessary to protect the national security of the United States; (II)the duration for which the head of the element is authorizing retention; (III)the particular information to be retained; and (IV)the measures the element of the intelligence community is taking to protect the privacy interests of United States persons or persons located inside the United States. 310.Clarification of limitation of review to retaliatory security clearance or access determinationsSection 3001(b)(7) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (50 U.S.C. 3341(b)(7)) is amended'-- (1)in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking 2014'-- and inserting 2014, and consistent with subsection (j)'--; (2)in subparagraph (A), by striking to appeal a determination to suspend or revoke a security clearance or access to classified information and inserting alleging reprisal for having made a protected disclosure (provided the individual does not disclose classified information or other information contrary to law) to appeal any action affecting an employee's access to classified information; and (3)in subparagraph (B), by striking information, inserting information following a protected disclosure,. 311.Feasibility study on consolidating classified databases of cyber threat indicators and malware samples (a)In generalNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the National Security Agency, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall conduct a feasibility study on consolidating classified databases of cyber threat indicators and malware samples in the intelligence community. (b)ElementsThe feasibility study required by subsection (a) shall include the following: (1)An inventory of classified databases of cyber threat indicators and malware samples in the intelligence community. (2)An assessment of actions that could be carried out to consolidate such databases to achieve the greatest possible information sharing within the intelligence community and cost savings for the Federal Government. (3)An assessment of any impediments to such consolidation. (4)An assessment of whether the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise can support such consolidation. (c)Report to CongressNot later than 30 days after the date on which the Director of National Intelligence completes the feasibility study required by subsection (a), the Director shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees a written report that summarizes the feasibility study, including the information required under subsection (b). 312.Sense of Congress on cybersecurity threat and cybercrime cooperation with UkraineIt is the sense of Congress that'-- (1)cooperation between the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the United States and Ukraine should be increased to improve cybersecurity policies between these two countries; (2)the United States should pursue improved extradition procedures among the Governments of the United States, Ukraine, and other countries from which cybercriminals target United States citizens and entities; (3)the President should'-- (A)initiate a round of formal United States-Ukraine bilateral talks on cybersecurity threat and cybercrime cooperation, with additional multilateral talks that include other law enforcement partners such as Europol and Interpol; and (B)work to obtain a commitment from the Government of Ukraine to end cybercrime directed at persons outside Ukraine and to work with the United States and other allies to deter and convict known cybercriminals; (4)the President should establish a capacity building program with the Government of Ukraine, which could include'-- (A)a joint effort to improve cyber capacity building, including intelligence and law enforcement services in Ukraine; (B)sending United States law enforcement agents to aid law enforcement agencies in Ukraine in investigating cybercrimes; and (C)agreements to improve communications networks to enhance law enforcement cooperation, such as a hotline directly connecting law enforcement agencies in the United States and Ukraine; and (5)the President should establish and maintain an intelligence and law enforcement cooperation scorecard with metrics designed to measure the number of instances that intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the United States request assistance from intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Ukraine and the number and type of responses received to such requests. 313.Replacement of locally employed staff serving at United States diplomatic facilities in the Russian Federation (a)Employment requirement (1)In generalThe Secretary of State shall ensure that, not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, every supervisory position at a United States diplomatic facility in the Russian Federation shall be occupied by a citizen of the United States who has passed, and shall be subject to, a thorough background check. (2)ExtensionThe Secretary of State may extend the deadline under paragraph (1) for up to one year by providing advance written notification and justification of such extension to the appropriate congressional committees. (3)Progress reportNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on progress made toward meeting the employment requirement under paragraph (1). (b)Plan for reduced use of locally employed staffNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with other appropriate government agencies, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a plan to further reduce the reliance on locally employed staff in United States diplomatic facilities in the Russian Federation. The plan shall, at a minimum, include cost estimates, timelines, and numbers of employees to be replaced. (c)Appropriate congressional committees definedIn this section, the term appropriate congressional committees means'-- (1)the congressional intelligence committees; (2)the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and (3)the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives. (d)Rule of constructionNothing in this section shall be construed to infringe on the power of the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls.'' 314.Inclusion of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities in United States diplomatic facilities in the Russian Federation and adjacent countries (a)Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility requirementEach United States diplomatic facility that, after the date of the enactment of this Act, is constructed in, or undergoes a construction upgrade in, the Russian Federation, any country that shares a land border with the Russian Federation, or any country that is a former member of the Soviet Union shall be constructed to include a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. (b)National security waiverThe Secretary of State may waive the requirement under subsection (a) if the Secretary determines that such waiver is in the national security interest of the United States and submits a written justification to the appropriate congressional committees not later than 180 days before exercising such waiver. (c)Appropriate congressional committees definedIn this section, the term appropriate congressional committees means'-- (1)the congressional intelligence committees; (2)the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and (3)the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives. BReporting 321.Report on declassification processNot later than December 31, 2016, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to Congress a report describing'-- (1)proposals to improve the declassification process throughout the intelligence community; and (2)steps the intelligence community could take, or legislation that may be necessary, to enable the National Declassification Center to better accomplish the missions assigned to the Center by Executive Order No. 13526 (75 Fed. Reg. 707). 322.Report on intelligence community efficient spending targets (a)In generalNot later than April 1, 2016, and April 1, 2017, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees a report on the status and effectiveness of efforts to reduce administrative costs for the intelligence community during the preceding year. (b)ElementsEach report under subsection (a) shall include for each element of the intelligence community the following: (1)A description of the status and effectiveness of efforts to devise alternatives to government travel and promote efficient travel spending, such as teleconferencing and video conferencing. (2)A description of the status and effectiveness of efforts to limit costs related to hosting and attending conferences. (3)A description of the status and effectiveness of efforts to assess information technology inventories and usage, and establish controls, to reduce costs related to underutilized information technology equipment, software, or services. (4)A description of the status and effectiveness of efforts to limit the publication and printing of hard copy documents. (5)A description of the status and effectiveness of efforts to improve the performance of Federal fleet motor vehicles and limit executive transportation. (6)A description of the status and effectiveness of efforts to limit the purchase of extraneous promotional items, such as plaques, clothing, and commemorative items. (7)A description of the status and effectiveness of efforts to consolidate and streamline workforce training programs to focus on the highest priority workforce and mission needs. (8)Such other matters relating to efforts to reduce intelligence community administrative costs as the Director may specify for purposes of this section. 323.Annual report on violations of law or executive order (a)In generalTitle V of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3091 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following: 511.Annual report on violations of law or executive order (a)Annual reports requiredThe Director of National Intelligence shall annually submit to the congressional intelligence committees a report on violations of law or executive order relating to intelligence activities by personnel of an element of the intelligence community that were identified during the previous calendar year. (b)ElementsEach report submitted under subsection (a) shall, consistent with the need to preserve ongoing criminal investigations, include a description of, and any action taken in response to, any violation of law or executive order (including Executive Order No. 12333 (50 U.S.C. 3001 note)) relating to intelligence activities committed by personnel of an element of the intelligence community in the course of the employment of such personnel that, during the previous calendar year, was'-- (1)determined by the director, head, or general counsel of any element of the intelligence community to have occurred; (2)referred to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution; or (3)substantiated by the inspector general of any element of the intelligence community.. (b)Initial reportThe first report required under section 511 of the National Security Act of 1947, as added by subsection (a), shall be submitted not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act. (c)GuidelinesNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the head of each element of the intelligence community, shall'-- (1)issue guidelines to carry out section 511 of the National Security Act of 1947, as added by subsection (a); and (2)submit such guidelines to the congressional intelligence committees. (d)Table of contents amendmentThe table of sections in the first section of the National Security Act of 1947 is amended by adding after the item relating to section 510 the following new item: Sec. 511. Annual report on violations of law or executive order.. (e)Rule of constructionNothing in this section or the amendments made by this section shall be construed to alter any requirement existing on the date of the enactment of this Act to submit a report under any provision of law. 324.Annual report on intelligence activities of the Department of Homeland Security (a)In generalFor each fiscal year and along with the budget materials submitted in support of the budget of the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis of the Department shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees a report for such fiscal year on each intelligence activity of each intelligence component of the Department, as designated by the Under Secretary, that includes the following: (1)The amount of funding requested for each such intelligence activity. (2)The number of full-time employees funded to perform each such intelligence activity. (3)The number of full-time contractor employees (or the equivalent of full-time in the case of part-time contractor employees) funded to perform or in support of each such intelligence activity. (4)A determination as to whether each such intelligence activity is predominantly in support of national intelligence or departmental missions. (5)The total number of analysts of the Intelligence Enterprise of the Department that perform'-- (A)strategic analysis; or (B)operational analysis. (b)Feasibility and advisability reportNot later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees a report that'-- (1)examines the feasibility and advisability of including the budget request for all intelligence activities of each intelligence component of the Department that predominantly support departmental missions, as designated by the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, in the Homeland Security Intelligence Program; and (2)includes a plan to enhance the coordination of department-wide intelligence activities to achieve greater efficiencies in the performance of the Department of Homeland Security intelligence functions. (c)Intelligence component of the DepartmentIn this section, the term intelligence component of the Department has the meaning given that term in section 2 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 101). 325.Report on political prison camps in North Korea (a)In generalThe Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on political prison camps in North Korea. (b)ElementsThe report required by subsection (a) shall'-- (1)describe the actions the United States is taking to support implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including the eventual establishment of a tribunal to hold individuals accountable for abuses; and (2)include, with respect to each political prison camp in North Korea to the extent information is available'-- (A)the estimated prisoner population of each such camp; (B)the geographical coordinates of each such camp; (C)the reasons for confinement of the prisoners at each such camp; (D)a description of the primary industries and products made at each such camp, and the end users of any goods produced in such camp; (E)information regarding involvement of any non-North Korean entity or individual involved in the operations of each such camp, including as an end user or source of any good or products used in, or produced by, in such camp; (F)information identifying individuals and agencies responsible for conditions in each such camp at all levels of the Government of North Korea; (G)a description of the conditions under which prisoners are confined, with respect to the adequacy of food, shelter, medical care, working conditions, and reports of ill-treatment of prisoners, at each such camp; and (H)unclassified imagery, including satellite imagery, of each such camp. (c)FormThe report required by subsection (a) shall be submitted in an unclassified form and may include a classified annex if necessary. 326.Assessment of security of domestic oil refineries and related rail transportation infrastructure (a)AssessmentThe Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis shall conduct an intelligence assessment of the security of domestic oil refineries and related rail transportation infrastructure. (b)SubmissionNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees'-- (1)the results of the assessment required under subsection (a); and (2)any recommendations with respect to intelligence sharing or intelligence collection to improve the security of domestic oil refineries and related rail transportation infrastructure to protect the communities surrounding such refineries or such infrastructure from potential harm that the Under Secretary considers appropriate. 327.Enhanced contractor level assessments for the intelligence communitySection 506B(c) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3098(c)) is amended'-- (1)in paragraph (11), by striking or contracted; (2)by redesignating paragraph (12) as paragraph (13); and (3)by inserting after paragraph (11) the following: (12)The best estimate of the number of intelligence collectors and analysts contracted by each element of the intelligence community and a description of the functions performed by such contractors.. 328.Assessment of the efficacy of memoranda of understanding to facilitate intelligence-sharingNot later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis, in consultation with the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Program Manager of the Information Sharing Environment, shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives, the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives an assessment of the efficacy of the memoranda of understanding signed between Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial agencies to facilitate intelligence-sharing within and separate from the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Such assessment shall include'-- (1)any language within such memoranda of understanding that prohibited or may be construed to prohibit intelligence-sharing between Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial agencies; and (2)any recommendations for memoranda of understanding to better facilitate intelligence-sharing between Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial agencies. 329.Report on foreign man-made electromagnetic pulse weapons (a)ReportNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees, the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives a report on the threat posed by man-made electromagnetic pulse weapons to United States interests through 2025, including threats from foreign countries and foreign non-State actors. (b)FormThe report required under subsection (a) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex. 330.Report on United States counterterrorism strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliated or associated groups (a)Report (1)In generalNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a comprehensive report on the United States counterterrorism strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliated or associated groups. (2)CoordinationThe report required by paragraph (1) shall be prepared in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Defense, and the head of any other department or agency of the United States Government that has responsibility for activities directed at combating al-Qaeda and its affiliated or associated groups. (3)ElementsThe report required by paragraph (1) shall include the following: (A)A definition of'-- (i)al-Qaeda core, including a list of which known individuals constitute al-Qaeda core; (ii)an affiliated group of al-Qaeda, including a list of which known groups constitute an affiliate group of al-Qaeda; (iii)an associated group of al-Qaeda, including a list of which known groups constitute an associated group of al-Qaeda; and (iv)a group aligned with al-Qaeda, including a description of what actions a group takes or statements it makes that qualify it as a group aligned with al-Qaeda. (B)A list of any other group, including the organization that calls itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), that adheres to the core mission of al-Qaeda, or who espouses the same violent jihad ideology as al-Qaeda. (C)An assessment of the relationship between al-Qaeda core and the groups referred to in subparagraph (B). (D)An assessment of the strengthening or weakening of al-Qaeda and the groups referred to in subparagraph (B) from January 1, 2010, to the present, including a description of the metrics that are used to assess strengthening or weakening and an assessment of the relative increase or decrease in violent attacks attributed to such entities. (E)An assessment of whether or not an individual can be a member of al-Qaeda core if such individual is not located in Afghanistan or Pakistan. (F)An assessment of whether or not an individual can be a member of al-Qaeda core as well as a member of a group referred to in subparagraph (B). (G)A definition of defeat of core al-Qaeda. (H)An assessment of the extent or coordination, command, and control between core al-Qaeda and the groups referred to in subparagraph (B), specifically addressing each such group. (I)An assessment of the effectiveness of counterterrorism operations against core al-Qaeda and the groups referred to in subparagraph (B), and whether such operations have had a sustained impact on the capabilities and effectiveness of core al-Qaeda and such groups. (4)FormThe report required by paragraph (1) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex. (b)Appropriate committees of Congress definedIn this section, the term appropriate committees of Congress means'-- (1)the congressional intelligence committees; (2)the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate; and (3)the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives. 331.Feasibility study on retraining veterans in cybersecurityNot later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall submit to Congress a feasibility study on retraining veterans and retired members of elements of the intelligence community in cybersecurity.HR 4681 ENR: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 U.S. House of Representatives text/xml EN Pursuant to Title 17 Section 105 of the United States Code, this file is not subject to copyright protection and is in the public domain.
I One Hundred Thirteenth Congress of the United States of America At the Second SessionBegun and held at the City of Washington on Friday, the third day of January, two thousand and fourteen H. R. 4681 AN ACT To authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes.
1.Short title; table of contents (a)Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. (b)Table of contentsThe table of contents for this Act is as follows: Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents. Sec. 2. Definitions. Sec. 3. Budgetary effects. TITLE I'--Intelligence activities Sec. 101. Authorization of appropriations. Sec. 102. Classified Schedule of Authorizations. Sec. 103. Personnel ceiling adjustments. Sec. 104. Intelligence Community Management Account. TITLE II'--Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System Sec. 201. Authorization of appropriations. TITLE III'--General provisions Subtitle A'--General Matters Sec. 301. Increase in employee compensation and benefits authorized by law. Sec. 302. Restriction on conduct of intelligence activities. Sec. 303. National intelligence strategy. Sec. 304. Software licensing. Sec. 305. Reporting of certain employment activities by former intelligence officers and employees. Sec. 306. Inclusion of Predominantly Black Institutions in intelligence officer training program. Sec. 307. Management and oversight of financial intelligence. Sec. 308. Analysis of private sector policies and procedures for countering insider threats. Sec. 309. Procedures for the retention of incidentally acquired communications. Sec. 310. Clarification of limitation of review to retaliatory security clearance or access determinations. Sec. 311. Feasibility study on consolidating classified databases of cyber threat indicators and malware samples. Sec. 312. Sense of Congress on cybersecurity threat and cybercrime cooperation with Ukraine. Sec. 313. Replacement of locally employed staff serving at United States diplomatic facilities in the Russian Federation. Sec. 314. Inclusion of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities in United States diplomatic facilities in the Russian Federation and adjacent countries. Subtitle B'--Reporting Sec. 321. Report on declassification process. Sec. 322. Report on intelligence community efficient spending targets. Sec. 323. Annual report on violations of law or executive order. Sec. 324. Annual report on intelligence activities of the Department of Homeland Security. Sec. 325. Report on political prison camps in North Korea. Sec. 326. Assessment of security of domestic oil refineries and related rail transportation infrastructure. Sec. 327. Enhanced contractor level assessments for the intelligence community. Sec. 328. Assessment of the efficacy of memoranda of understanding to facilitate intelligence-sharing. Sec. 329. Report on foreign man-made electromagnetic pulse weapons. Sec. 330. Report on United States counterterrorism strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliated or associated groups. Sec. 331. Feasibility study on retraining veterans in cybersecurity. 2.DefinitionsIn this Act: (1)Congressional intelligence committeesThe term congressional intelligence committees means'-- (A)the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate; and (B)the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives. (2)Intelligence communityThe term intelligence community has the meaning given that term in section 3(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3003(4)). 3.Budgetary effectsThe budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go-Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage. Speaker of the House of Representatives.Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate.
SECTION 309------H.R.4681 - 113th Congress (2013-2014): Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:42
Shown Here:Passed House amended (05/30/2014)Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 - Title I: Intelligence Activities - (Sec. 101) Authorizes FY2014-FY2015 appropriations for the conduct of intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the: (1) Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI); (2) Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); (3) Department of Defense (DOD); (4) Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); (5) National Security Agency (NSA); (6) Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; (7) Coast Guard; (8) Departments of State, the Treasury, Energy (DOE), and Justice (DOJ); (9) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); (10) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); (11) National Reconnaissance Office (NRO); (12) National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA); and (13) Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
(Sec. 102) Specifies that the amounts authorized and the authorized personnel ceilings as of September 30, 2014, and as of September 30, 2015, respectively, for such activities are those in the classified Schedule of Authorizations for FY2014 and FY2015, which shall be made available to the congressional appropriations committees and the President.
(Sec. 103) Allows the DNI to authorize employment of civilian personnel in excess of the number authorized for FY2014 or FY2015 when necessary for the performance of important intelligence functions. Requires notification to the intelligence committees on the use of such authority.
Requires the DNI to establish guidelines to govern the treatment under such authorized personnel levels of employment or assignment in: (1) a student or trainee program; (2) a reserve corps or as a reemployed annuitant; or (3) details, joint duty, or long term, full-time training.
(Sec. 104) Authorizes appropriations for the Intelligence Community Management Account for FY2014 and FY2015, as well as for personnel positions for elements within such Account.
Title II: Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System - (Sec. 201) Authorizes appropriations for FY2014 and FY2015 for the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability Fund.
Title III: General Provisions - Subtitle A: General Matters - (Sec. 301) Permits appropriations authorized by this Act for salary, pay, retirement, and other benefits for federal employees to be increased by such additional or supplemental amounts as necessary for increases in such compensation or benefits authorized by law.
(Sec. 302) Prohibits the authorization of appropriations by this Act from being deemed to constitute authority to conduct any intelligence activity not otherwise authorized by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
(Sec. 303) Requires funds appropriated for the construction of the High Performance Computing Center 2 (as described in the table entitled Consolidated Cryptologic Program in the classified annex to accompany the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 [P.L. 113-6]) that exceed the amount specified in the classified annex accompanying the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 to be specifically authorized by Congress for purposes of complying with restrictions on the use of appropriated funds under the National Security Act of 1947.
(Sec. 304) Exempts from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act the identities of employees of the intelligence community who submit complaints or information to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.
(Sec. 305) Authorizes the DNI to establish functional managers of appropriate intelligence functions to act as the principal advisors to the DNI on their respective functions.
(Sec. 306) Directs the DNI to report annually to Congress regarding each intelligence function for which such a functional manager has been established. Requires such reports to identify or describe: (1) the capabilities, programs, and activities of such function; (2) the investment and allocation of resources for such function; (3) the function's performance; (4) technical interoperability standards and operational overlap; (5) any efforts to integrate such function with other intelligence disciplines or to establish consistency in tradecraft and training; and (6) technology developments.
(Sec. 307) Directs the chief information officer of each element of the intelligence community to conduct, and the Chief Information Officer of the Intelligence Community to compile and report to Congress every two years with respect to, inventories of all existing software licenses of each element. Requires such reports to assess the actions that could be carried out to achieve economies of scale and cost savings in software procurement and usage.
Directs the DNI, after receiving recommendations from the Chief Information Officer, to issue guidelines for the intelligence community on software procurement and usage.
(Sec. 308) Requires the President to establish a written plan to respond to the unauthorized public disclosure of each type of activity undertaken as part of a covert action.
(Sec. 309) Directs the heads of the DNI, CIA, DIA, NSA, NRO, and NGA to ensure that there is a full financial audit of their respective entities each year and that each audit contains an unqualified opinion of the entity's financial statements. Requires the chief financial officer of each entity to provide an annual audit report to Congress.
(Sec. 310) Requires certain employees of elements of the intelligence community and officers or employees of Congress with access to sensitive compartmented information to notify their employer within three business days after they commence any negotiation for future employment or compensation with: (1) any person acting on behalf or under the supervision of a foreign government designated by the DNI as a significant counterintelligence threat to the United States; or (2) any entity owned or controlled by a foreign government so designated.
(Sec. 311) Amends the Public Interest Declassification Act of 2000 to extend through December 31, 2018, the authority of the Public Interest Declassification Board (advises the President, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Office of Management and Budget [OMB], and other executive branch officials on the identification, collection, review for declassification, and release to Congress, interested agencies, and the public of declassified records and materials that are of archival value).
(Sec. 312) Authorizes DHS to use specified National Intelligence Program funds (that are made available for necessary expenses for intelligence analysis and operations coordination activities) for official representation items in support of the Coast Guard Attache Program.
(Sec. 313) Requires the DNI, within 120 days after the enactment of this Act, to: (1) complete a declassification review of documents collected in Abbattabad, Pakistan, during the mission that killed Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011, (2) make publicly available any information that is declassified as a result of such review, and (3) report to Congress with a justification as to why any such information must remain classified.
(Sec. 314) Directs the DNI to carry out the merger of the Foreign Counterintelligence Program into the General Defense Intelligence Program.
(Sec. 315) Expands a grant program for historically black colleges and universities to include predominantly black institutions.
Subtitle B: Reporting - (Sec. 321) Directs the DNI to report annually to Congress regarding violations of law or executive order by personnel of an element of the intelligence community. Requires such report, consistent with the need to preserve ongoing criminal investigations, to include any actions taken in response to such violations relating to intelligence activities that were: (1) determined by the director, head, or general counsel of any element of the intelligence community to have occurred; (2) referred to the DOJ for possible criminal prosecution; or (3) substantiated by the inspector general of any element of the intelligence community.
(Sec. 322) Directs the DNI, CIA, and each element of the DOD intelligence community to provide to Congress copies of plans submitted to OMB pertaining to agency operations and orderly shutdown procedures in the absence of appropriations.
(Sec. 323) Requires the DNI to report to Congress on the Syrian chemical weapons program and provide updates regarding: (1) chemical weapon stockpiles, quantities, locations, forms of storage and production, and research and development facilities in Syria; (2) a listing of key personnel associated with the program; (3) undeclared chemical weapons stockpiles, munitions, and facilities, as well as an assessment of how stockpiles, precursors, and delivery systems were obtained; (4) intelligence gaps; and (5) any denial and deception efforts on the part of Syria.
(Sec. 324) Directs the DNI to establish procedures requiring cleared intelligence contractors to report to a designated element of the intelligence community when there is a successful penetration of a network or information system that contains or processes information created by or for an element of the intelligence community with respect to which such contractor is required to apply enhanced protection. Requires such procedures to provide for: (1) intelligence community personnel to, upon request, obtain access to equipment or information of the contractor as necessary for a forensic analysis; (2) the contractor to provide only such access as required to determine whether information created by or for an element of the intelligence community in connection with any intelligence community program was successfully exfiltrated from the network or information system; and (3) protection of trade secrets, commercial or financial information, and information that can be used to identify a specific person other than the suspected perpetrator.
Defines "cleared intelligence contractor" as a private entity granted clearance by the DNI or the head of an element of the intelligence community to access, receive, or store classified information for the purpose of bidding for a contract or conducting activities in support of any program of an element of the intelligence community.
Prohibits dissemination outside the intelligence community of information obtained or derived through such procedures that is not created by or for the intelligence community, except: (1) with approval of the contractor providing such information, (2) to Congress, or (3) to law enforcement agencies to investigate a reported penetration.
(Sec. 325) Directs the DNI to report to Congress on the extent to which the intelligence community has implemented recommendations of the Inspector General on electronic waste disposal. Requires such report to assess the applicability of the intelligence community's electronic waste policies to commercial entities that contract with an element of the intelligence community.
(Sec. 326) Requires the DNI to submit to the Secretary of Education and Congress a report describing anticipated hiring needs of the intelligence community in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including cybersecurity and computer literacy.
(Sec. 327) Directs the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis to report to Congress regarding the security of domestic oil refineries and related rail transportation infrastructure.
(Sec. 328) Repeals specified reporting requirements concerning: (1) the threat of attack on the United States using weapons of mass destruction, and (2) the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
Modifies reporting requirements to: (1) direct the DNI and the CIA to notify Congress each time they create an advisory committee (currently, such notice is provided in an annual report), (2) terminate in 2014 (currently, 2015) a report on intelligence community business system transformation, and (3) require privacy and civil liberties officers of specified agencies to submit reports at least semiannually (currently, quarterly).
(Sec. 329) Requires the DNI to submit to Congress a report describing: (1) how to improve the declassification process across the intelligence community; and (2) what steps the intelligence community can take, or what legislation may be necessary, to enable the National Declassification Center to better accomplish its mission.
(Sec. 330) Requires the DNI to assess the reliance of intelligence activities on contractors to support government activities.
(Sec. 331) Directs the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis to submit to Congress an assessment of the efficacy of the memoranda of understanding signed between federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies to facilitate intelligence-sharing within and separate from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
(Sec. 332) Requires the DNI to report to Congress regarding the threat posed by man-made electromagnetic pulse weapons to U.S. interests through 2025, including threats from foreign countries and foreign non-state actors.
(Sec. 333) Directs the DNI to submit to Congress a comprehensive report on the U.S. counterterrorism strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda, affiliated groups, associated groups, and adherents. Requires such report to include assessments of: (1) the strengthening or weakening of al-Qaeda and such groups and adherents from January 1, 2010, to the present; (2) whether an individual can be a member of a DNI-defined al-Qaeda core if such individual is not located in Afghanistan or Pakistan; (3) the coordination, command, and control between core al-Qaeda and such groups and adherents; and (4) whether counterterrorism operations have had a sustained impact.
Requires the DNI to define "defeat of core al-Qaeda" in such report.
(Sec. 334) Directs the DNI to submit to Congress recommendations for retraining veterans and retired members of elements of the intelligence community in cybersecurity.
Title IV: Matters Relating to Elements of the Intelligence Community - (Sec. 401) Amends the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 to authorize the CIA Director to engage in fund raising for the benefit of nonprofit organizations that provide support to surviving family members of deceased CIA employees or for the welfare, education, or recreation of current CIA employees, former employees, or their family members.
(Sec. 402) Amends the Inspector General Act of 1978 to require the President to appoint, with advice and consent of the Senate, the NSA Inspector General. (Currently, the NSA Inspector General is appointed by the NSA Director.)
Establishes a General Counsel to the NSA Inspector General, to be appointed by the NSA Inspector General.
Requires the General Counsel to prescribe professional rules of ethics and responsibilities for employees, officers, and contractors of the NSA Inspector General.
Authorizes the NSA Inspector General, after providing the Attorney General with seven days' advance notice, to subpoena the attendance and testimony of former NSA employees or NSA contractors, former contractors, or former detailees.
Directs the NSA Inspector General to provide Congress with an evaluation of any notice or statement of reasons it receives from the DOD Secretary regarding the DOD Secretary's exercise of authority in the interest of national security to prohibit the Inspector General from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit or investigation.
Requires the NSA Inspector General to: (1) submit such evaluations to Congress within seven days after receiving such notice or statement, and (2) expand a semiannual report to include a description of the instances in which the DOD Secretary prohibited such an audit or investigation.
Title V: Security Clearance Reform - (Sec. 501) Requires the DNI, subject to the direction of the President, to: (1) ensure that the background of each employee or officer and contractor of the intelligence community is monitored continuously to determine their eligibility for access to classified information; and (2) develop procedures to require sharing of potentially derogatory security information concerning an employee officer, contractor, or employee of a contractor of the intelligence community that may impact the eligibility of such individuals for a security clearance.
(Sec. 502) Requires the DNI to: (1) ensure that any contractor to an element of the intelligence community with access to classified information develops and operates a security plan that is consistent with DNI standards for intelligence community networks, (2) conduct periodic assessments of each such security plan, and (3) ensure that the insider threat detection capabilities and policies of the intelligence community apply to facilities of contractors with access to a classified network.
(Sec. 503) Requires the DNI to submit to Congress an analysis of the relative costs and benefits of improving the process for: (1) investigating persons who are proposed for access to classified information, and (2) adjudicating whether such persons satisfy the criteria for obtaining and retaining access to such information.
(Sec. 504) Requires the DNI to report to Congress each year, through 2017, on the reciprocal treatment of security clearances, including: (1) the periods of time required by authorized adjudicative agencies for accepting background investigations and determinations completed by an authorized investigative entity or adjudicative agency; and (2) the total number of cases in which a background investigation or determination completed by an authorized investigative entity or adjudicative agency is, or is not, accepted by another agency.
(Sec. 505) Directs the DNI to submit to Congress each year, through December 31, 2017, a strategic plan for updating the process for periodic reinvestigations consistent with a continuous evaluation program.
Title VI: Technical Amendments - Makes technical amendments to the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, the National Security Act of 1947, and the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.
Russian spy Anna Chapman was ordered to seduce Edward Snowden | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis
Sun, 07 Dec 2014 22:14
A defector has revealed that Russian spy Anna Chapman was ordered by her Russian bosses to seduce US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
According to former KGB major Boris Karpichkov, if the whistleblower had accepted he would have a right to Russian citizenship, which would have locked him in Russia, as he would have needed permission because of the citizenship, the Mirror reported.
He said that the pair met just once, but Snowden became concerned about what the ­consequences would be.
The 32-year-old spy even proposed marriage to Snowden on the orders of Russian ­intelligence high command on Twitter.
Anna Chapman ordered to seduce Edward Snowden, claims defector | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 03:36
Ex-KGB agent Boris Karpichkov makes claims over proposal backgroundAlleges that plan was launched for Chapman to keep Snowden in MoscowThis would be so the Russians could continue to question him, he claimsThey apparently met just once - but Chapman proposed in tweet last year By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Published: 07:29 EST, 7 December 2014 | Updated: 07:01 EST, 8 December 2014
Ex-spy: Anna Chapman has become a celebrity in Russia since she was deported there four years ago
Former intelligence agent Anna Chapman was told by Russian spy chiefs to seduce Edward Snowden, a defector claimed today.
Ex-KGB agent Boris Karpichkov alleged that a plan was launched for Chapman, 32, to keep US whistleblower Snowden, 31, in Moscow - so the Russians could continue to question him.
The two were said to have met just once - but Chapman proposed in a tweet in July 2013.
Mr Karpichkov told journalist Nigel Nelson for the Sunday People: 'If Snowden had accepted he would have a right to Russian citizenship. That would lock him in Russia. As a citizen he'd need permission to leave.'
Mr Karpichkov - who fled to Britain after 15 years as a KGB agent, but is still in contact with sources in Moscow - said Snowden became 'concerned about what the consequences would be' of being attached to Chapman.
Former Conservative MP Rupert Allason, better-known now as spy writer Nigel West, said that Chapman was 'sophisticated enough to live with an American'.
Mr Allason told the Sunday People: 'There aren't many of those in the FSB (formerly the KGB). She would be prepared to use her obvious gifts.'
In September 2013, Chapman refused to answer questions about the proposal in a bizarre five-minute interview with NBC, and walked out after she was asked about the tweet. She has never publicly commented on it.
Chapman, the daughter of a senior KGB agent, was arrested in 2010 with nine others, accused of working for a spy ring for Russia's external intelligence agency.
Edward Snowden is wanted in the US after leaking classified details of government surveillance programmes
Anna Chapman was arrested in 2010 with nine others, accused of working for a spy ring for Russia's external intelligence agency. She pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy and was deported back to Russia in 2010
Anna Chapman in uniform as she visits Russian tank division
She pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy and was deported back to Russia in July 2010 as part of a prisoner swap. She has since become a celebrity in Russia.
She married British public schoolboy Alex Chapman in 2002 and the pair moved to London, but divorced in 2006. When unmasked as a Russian agent, she was stripped of her British passport.
Since returning to Moscow, Chapman - dubbed a 'femme fatale' - has carved out a lucrative career as a TV presenter, model and owner of a fashion brand.
Question: They were said to have met just once - but Chapman proposed to Snowden in a tweet in July 2013
Russian Spy Anna Chapman walks out of Today Show interview
In the spotlight: Since returning to Moscow, Chapman has carved out a lucrative career as a TV presenter, model and owner of a fashion brand
Snowden left his long-term girlfriend Lindsay Mills in Hawaii when he fled the US, and was granted asylum in Moscow in August 2013, after six weeks of waiting at the city's airport.
In the summer Snowden was reunited in Russia with Miss Mills, a pole-dancer. The pair were pictured together on a theatre date in Moscow. Snowden now has a three-year residency permit.
He is wanted in the US after leaking classified details of government surveillance programmes. His critics view him as a traitor, while supporters see him as a hero who spoke up for civil liberties.
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Obama renews NSA snooping for 90 more days - Washington Times
Tue, 09 Dec 2014 01:30
President Obama has renewed the NSA's phone-snooping program for another three months, with the administration saying Monday that it's too important to let it expire right now, defying members of Congress who said it was time to ax the controversial program.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper said Monday they've won a 90-day extension of the snooping authority from the secret court that oversees intelligence activities.
They said they'd prefer Congress rewrite the laws to limit the program, but Senate Republicans last month filibustered a bill to do that, foisting the decision about whether to renew the program back solely on the president.
''Given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, as modified by the changes the president directed in January,'' the two men said in a joint statement.
The new order was issued on Dec. 4, and gives the NSA snooping powers through Feb. 27.
The National Security Agency's program collects the phone numbers, times and durations of calls made on U.S. telephone companies' systems. The data is stored for five years, and investigators are allowed to check it to build a network of connections if they have a number they believe to be associated with terrorism.
Administration lawyers argue the program is justified by a part of the Patriot Act that they said allows for bulk collection of data on Americans. Opponents '-- including the Patriot Act's author '-- say that's a misreading of the law.
Congressional opponents easily won House passage earlier this year of a bill to rein in bulk collection, but Republicans filibustered a different version in the Senate last month. That filibuster signals it is unlikely Congress will reach an agreement on the snooping program next year, when the GOP will control both the House and Senate.
Given that gridlock, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the senior Democrat in the Senate, had urged Mr. Obama to kill the program himself by declining to seek the 90-day extension.
''The president can end the NSA's dragnet collection of Americans' phone records once and for all by not seeking reauthorization of this program by the FISA Court,'' Mr. Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said last week.
Mr. Obama says he's already taken steps to limit the NSA's snooping, including usually asking investigators to seek court permission before scouring the database for connections and limiting their search to just two ''hops,'' or connections, from the initial number they were investigating.
The program's operations were mired in secrecy until it was revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden. And while details have now been discussed publicly, the program remains sensitive.
Even the fact that the administration sought another 90-day review was initially classified, and Mr. Clapper had to clear it for release. The final court order granting the extension should also be released once it too is declassified, likely in several weeks.
Derivatives on FDIC
My ex-banker buddy - Drinks
Depression really n brought in some reserves
Recent changes put those at about 12%
This new 'insurance' is the final straw needed for US banks to crush all other banks, especially EU / Barclays / SG / UBS
Sez IMF has no power
Sez when a new crisis hits, a bank will definitely go down, but the system is stable, and that includes their FDIC 'reserves'
derivatives fdic is a good thing - Google Search
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 20:41
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New Law Would Make Taxpayers Potentially Liable For ...theeconomiccollapseblog.com/.../new-law-make-taxpayers-potentially-lia...6 days ago - If the quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble implodes, who should be stuck with the bill? ... through subsidiaries that are federally insured by the FDIC. ..... The Eurasian Union that takes full effect on Jan1st will be a good thing.FDIC: Trust Examination Manualhttps://www.fdic.gov/.../fdic_secti...Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
May 10, 2005 -The initial review is of great importance, as the fiduciary may be required to ..... CMOs are a mortgage derivative security consisting of several ...Bank of America & The Great Derivatives Transfer ...jonathanturley.org/2011/.../bank-of-america-the-great-derivatives-transfe...Nov 6, 2011 -Why the FDIC is Upset With Bank of America's Derivatives Transfer Despite Dodd -Frank ..... Just ask the people who tried to do the right thing.FDIC Insurance for derivatives?? - Daily Koswww.dailykos.com/story/.../-FDIC-Insurance-for-derivativesMay 29, 2013 - For the record, the US government doesn't contribute to the FDIC. ... they are '' bets'' whose ''value'' fluctuates along with the thing they are betting on. ... established during the Great Depression, which forbade commercial and ...Wall St. Demanding Deregulation For Derivatives In ...crooksandliars.com/.../wall-st-wants-deregulation-deriva...Dec 5, 2014 -How could they even dream about such a thing after they were ... Big Wall Street banks had typically traded derivatives from these FDIC-backed units, but ... 10 Things that Make a Company a Great Place to Work (Ricoh Work ...BofA puts taxpayers on the hook for Merrill's derivativesblogs.reuters.com/.../bofa-puts-taxpayers-on-the-hook-for-merrills-deriv...Oct 20, 2011 -The derivatives aren't themselves insured by the FDIC, but they have ... And as Bill Black points out, the whole thing is dubiously legal in any case: ... part of the BAC empire into the retail sub unless there's a very good reason.Is the FDIC now insuring 53 T$ of BofA derivatives? [Archive ...boards.straightdope.com 'º ... 'º Main 'º General QuestionsOct 19, 2011 - 10 posts - 'Ž7 authors
(BAC), hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill ... It seems more complicated then that; but is this a good idea? .... I am not saying whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for non-BAC ...
Jamie Dimon himself called to urge support for the derivatives rule in the spending bill - The Washington Post
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:19
The acrimony that erupted Thursday between President Obama and members of his own party largely pivoted on a single item in a 1,600-page piece of legislation to keep the government funded: Should banks be allowed to make risky investments using taxpayer-backed money?
The very idea was abhorrent to many Democrats on Capitol Hill. And some were stunned that the White House would support the bill with that provision intact, given that it would erase a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, one of Obama's signature achievements.
But perhaps even more outrageous to Democrats was that the language in the bill appeared to come directly from the pens of lobbyists at the nation's biggest banks, aides said. The provision was so important to the profits at those companies that J.P.Morgan's chief executive Jamie Dimon himself telephoned individual lawmakers to urge them to vote for it, according to a person familiar with the effort.
The White House, in pleading with Democrats to support the bill, explained that it got something in return: It said that it averted other amendments that would have undercut Dodd-Frank, protected the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from Republican attacks, and won double digit increases in funds for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. "The president is pleased," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Earnest said that Democrats were upset about "a specific provision in this omnibus that would be related to watering down one provision of the Wall Street reform law. The President does not support that provision. But on balance, the President does believe that this compromise proposal is worthy of his support."
But "that provision" isn't just any provision. It's one that goes to the heart of the Dodd Frank reform because it would let big banks undertake risky activities with funds guaranteed by the federal government and, hence taxpayers.
The omnibus appropriations bill would do that by undoing the Dodd Frank provision that ordered banks to move their riskiest activities -- such as default swaps, trading commodities, and trading derivatives -- to new entities so that deposits guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. would not be in danger.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pointed to this item as the main reason she would vote against a bill backed by her own president.
"What I am saying is: the taxpayer should not assume the risk," she said. She said the amendment went "back to the same old Republican formula: privatize the gain, nationalize the risk. You succeed, it's in your pocket. You fail, the taxpayer pays the bill. It's just not right."
It isn't only liberal congressional Democrats up in arms about the proposed change. "It really is outrageous," said a former senior Obama Treasury official, who asked for anonymity to preserve business relationships. "This was the epicenter of the crisis. This is what brought AIG down, what brought Lehman Brothers down."
The nation's biggest banks -- led by Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and Bank of America -- have been lobbying for the change in Dodd Frank, which had given them a period of years to comply. Trade associations representing banks, the Financial Services Roundtable and the American Bankers Association, emphasized that regional banks are supportive of the change as well.
The banks have long argued that the Dodd Frank provision will limit their ability to extend credit to clients and that setting up separate entities to engage in derivatives and commodities trading isn't practical. The ABA's top lobbyist, James Ballentine, executive vice president of congressional relations and political affairs, said in an e-mailed statement that the requirement that banks move some swaps in to separate affiliates "makes one stop shopping impossible for businesses ranging from family farms to energy companies that want to hedge against commodity price changes."
But the regulatory change could also boost the profits of major banks, which is why they are pushing so hard for passage, said Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
"It is because there is a lot of money at stake," Johnson said. "They want to be able to take big risks where they get the upside and the taxpayer gets the potential downside," he said.
Johnson said the amendment of Dodd Frank only affects a small portion of derivatives. ''I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill on this,'' he said. But he added that ''on a forward looking basis this could become very big.''
The effort to enact this language has been years in the making. Language that was written and edited in part by the major banks was originally inserted in a House bill that called for relaxation of the push out rules in 2013. Citi declined to comment on the role its lobbyists played in developing the legislation, which was originally disclosed in an e-mail exchange reported on by the New York Times. However, a blog post written in 2013 by the bank's head of global public affairs, referred to the effort to modify this portion of Dodd-Frank as ''a great example of how the industry and Congress can work together to find common ground.''
The banking lobby has always been a powerful force in Washington. The banks that could benefit from this change -- Citigroup and J.P. Morgan -- are among Washington's most influential corporate players. Each firm, for example, spent over $5 million a year lobbying in recent years, both of them ranking in the top 90 firms for lobbying expenditures, according to data prepared by the Center for Responsive Politics. In addition J.P. Morgan contributed over $5 million to federal candidates and parties in 2012, compared with $2.6 million in the last election cycle for Citigroup. And both firms have strong connections on Capitol Hill and the White House. Citi, for example, includes among its stable of lobbyists former House Speaker Bob Livingston (R-La.) and former Senators John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
Former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank on Wednesday also urged his former colleagues to reject the omnibus appropriations bill. He called the amendment inserted into the bill ''a substantive mistake, a terrible violation of the procedure that should be followed on this complex and important subject, and a frightening precedent that provides a road map for further attacks on our protection against financial instability."
Frank added that ''ironically it was a similar unrelated rider put without debate into a larger bill that played a major role in allowing irresponsible, unregulated derivative transactions to contribute to the crisis." He said people could disagree about how best to regulate derivatives but that the way to do that was "not for a non-germane amendment inserted with no hearings, no chance for further modification, and no chance for debate into a mammoth bill in the last days of a lame-duck Congress."
A $1 trillion spending bill unveiled Tuesday keeps most of the federal government funded through September. Here, The Post's Ed O'Keefe points out a few of the most notable components of the legislation. (Davin Coburn/The Washington Post)
Steven Mufson covers the White House. Since joining The Post, he has covered economics, China, foreign policy and energy.
Tom Hamburger covers the intersection of money and politics for The Washington Post.
Activist Post: The Global Bankers' Coup Coming to US with Bail-In Bill
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 23:25
Ellen BrownActivist PostOn December 11, 2014, the US House passed a bill repealing the Dodd-Frank requirement that risky derivatives be pushed into big-bank subsidiaries, leaving our deposits and pensions exposed to massive derivatives losses. The bill was vigorously challenged by Senator Elizabeth Warren; but the tide turned when Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase, stepped into the ring. Perhaps what prompted his intervention was the unanticipated $40 drop in the price of oil. As financial blogger Michael Snyder points out, that drop could trigger a derivatives payout that could bankrupt the biggest banks. And if the G20's new ''bail-in'' rules are formalized, depositors and pensioners could be on the hook.
The new bail-in rules were discussed in my last post here. They are edicts of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), an unelected body of central bankers and finance ministers headquartered in the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. Where did the FSB get these sweeping powers, and is its mandate legally enforceable?Those questions were addressed in an article I wrote in June 2009, two months after the FSB was formed, titled ''Big Brother in Basel: BIS Financial Stability Board Undermines National Sovereignty.'' It linked the strange boot shape of the BIS to a line from Orwell's 1984: ''a boot stamping on a human face'--forever.'' The concerns raised there seem to be materializing, so I'm republishing the bulk of that article here. We need to be paying attention, lest the bail-in juggernaut steamroll over us unchallenged.
The Shadowy Financial Stability BoardAlarm bells went off in April 2009, when the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) was linked to the new Financial Stability Board (FSB) signed onto by the G20 leaders in London. The FSB was an expansion of the older Financial Stability Forum (FSF) set up in 1999 to serve in a merely advisory capacity by the G7 (a group of finance ministers formed from the seven major industrialized nations). The chair of the FSF was the General Manager of the BIS. The new FSB was expanded to include all G20members (19 nations plus the EU).
Formally called the ''Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors,'' the G20 was, like the G7, originally set up as a forum merely for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. What set off alarms was that the new Financial Stability Board had real teeth, imposing ''obligations'' and ''commitments'' on its members; and this feat was pulled off without legislative formalities, skirting the usual exacting requirements for treaties. It was all done in hasty response to an ''emergency.'' Problem-reaction-solution was the slippery slope of coups.
Buried on page 83 of an 89-page Report on Financial Regulatory Reform issued by the US Obama administration was a recommendation that the FSB strengthen and institutionalize its mandate to promote global financial stability. It sounded like a worthy goal, but there was a disturbing lack of detail. What was the FSB's mandate, what were its expanded powers, and who was in charge? An article in The London Guardian addressed those issues in question and answer format:
Who runs the regulator? The Financial Stability Forum is chaired by Mario Draghi, governor of the Bank of Italy. The secretariat is based at the Bank for International Settlements' headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.
Draghi was director general of the Italian treasury from 1991 to 2001, where he was responsible for widespread privatization (sell-off of government holdings to private investors). From 2002 to 2006, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street. He was succeeded in 2011 by Mark Carney, who also got his start at Goldman Sachs, working there for 13 years before going on to become Governor of the Bank of Canada in 2008 and Governor of the Bank of England in 2012. In 2011 and 2012, Carney attended the annual meetings of the controversial Bilderberg Group.What will the new regulator do? The regulator will monitor potential risks to the economy . . . It will cooperate with the IMF, the Washington-based body that monitors countries' financial health, lending funds if needed.
The IMF is an international banking organization that is also controversial. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist for the World Bank, charged it with ensnaring Third World countries in a debt trap from which they could not escape. Debtors unable to pay were bound by ''conditionalities'' that included a forced sell-off of national assets to private investors in order to service their loans.What will the regulator oversee? All 'systemically important' financial institutions, instruments and markets.
The term ''systemically important'' was not defined. Would it include such systemically important institutions as national treasuries, and such systemically important markets as gold, oil and food?How will it work? The body will establish a supervisory college to monitor each of the largest international financial services firms. . . . It will act as a clearing house for information-sharing and contingency planning for the benefit of its members.
''Information-sharing'' can mean illegal collusion. Would the information-sharing here include such things as secret agreements among central banks to buy or sell particular currencies, with the concomitant power to support or collapse targeted local economies?What will the new regulator do about debt and loans? To prevent another debt bubble, the new body will recommend financial companies maintain provisions against credit losses and may impose constraints on borrowing.
What sort of constraints? The Basel Accords, imposed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (also housed at the BIS) had not necessarily worked out well. The first Basel Accord, issued in 1998, had been blamed for inducing a recession in Japan from which that country had yet to recover; and the Second Basel Accord and its associated mark-to-market rule had been blamed for bringing on the 2008 crisis. (For more on this, see The Public Bank Solution.)The Amorphous 12 International Standards and Codes
Most troubling, perhaps, was this vague parenthetical reference in a press releaseissued by the BIS, titled ''Financial Stability Forum Re-established as the Financial Stability Board'':
As obligations of membership, member countries and territories commit to . . . implement international financial standards (including the 12 key International Standards and Codes) . . . .
This was not just friendly advice from an advisory board. It was a commitment to comply, so you would expect some detailed discussion concerning what those standards entailed. But a search of the major media revealed virtually nothing. The 12 key International Standards and Codes were left undefined and undiscussed. The FSB website listed them, but it was vague. The Standards and Codes covered broad areas that were apparently subject to modification as the overseeing committees saw fit. They included money and financial policy transparency, fiscal policy transparency, data dissemination, insolvency, corporate governance, accounting, auditing, payment and settlement, market integrity, banking supervision, securities regulation, and insurance supervision.Take ''fiscal policy transparency'' as an example. The ''Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency'' was adopted by the IMF Interim Committee in 1998. The ''synoptic description'' said:
The code contains transparency requirements to provide assurances to the public and to capital markets that a sufficiently complete picture of the structure and finances of government is available so as to allow the soundness of fiscal policy to be reliably assessed.
Members were required to provide a ''picture of the structure and finances of government'' that was complete enough for an assessment of its ''soundness'' '-- but an assessment by whom, and what if a government failed the test? Was an unelected private committee based in the BIS allowed to evaluate the ''structure and function'' of particular national governments and, if they were determined to have fiscal policies that were not ''sound,'' to impose ''conditionalities'' and ''austerity measures'' of the sort that the IMF was notorious for imposing on Third World countries? Suspicious observers wondered if that was how once-mighty nations were to be brought under the heel of Big Brother at last.
For three centuries, private international banking interests have brought governments in line by blocking them from issuing their own currencies and requiring them to borrow banker-issued ''banknotes'' instead. Political colonialism is now a thing of the past, but under the new FSB guidelines, nations could still be held in feudalistic subservience to foreign masters.
Consider this scenario: the new FSB rules precipitate a massive global depression due to contraction of the money supply. XYZ country wakes up to the fact that all of this is unnecessary '' that it could be creating its own money, freeing itself from the debt trap, rather than borrowing from bankers who create money on computer screens and charge interest for the privilege of borrowing it. But this realization comes too late: the boot descends and XYZ is crushed into line. National sovereignty has been abdicated to a private committee, with no say by the voters.
Marilyn Barnewall, dubbed by Forbes Magazine the ''dean of American private banking,'' wrote in an April 2009 article titled ''What Happened to American Sovereignty at G-20?'':
It seems the world's bankers have executed a bloodless coup and now represent all of the people in the world. . . . President Obama agreed at the G20 meeting in London to create an international board with authority to intervene in U.S. corporations by dictating executive compensation and approving or disapproving business management decisions. Under the new Financial Stability Board, the United States has only one vote. In other words, the group will be largely controlled by European central bankers. My guess is, they will represent themselves, not you and not me and certainly not America.
The Commitments Mandated by the Financial Stability Board Constitute a Commercial Treaty Requiring a Two-thirds Vote of the SenateAre these commitments legally binding? Adoption of the FSB was never voted on by the public, either individually or through their legislators. The G20 Summit has been called ''a New Bretton Woods,'' referring to agreements entered into in 1944 establishing new rules for international trade. But Bretton Woods was put in place by Congressional Executive Agreement, requiring a majority vote of the legislature; and it more properly should have been done by treaty, requiring a two-thirds vote of the Senate, since it was an international agreement binding on the nation.
''Bail-in'' is not the law yet, but the G20 governments will be called upon to adopt the FSB's resolution measures when the proposal is finalized after taking comments in 2015. The authority of the G20 has been challenged, but mainly over whether important countries were left out of the mix. The omitted countries may prove to be the lucky ones, having avoided the FSB's net.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.
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Scot Young death 'wasn't suicide as Russian mafia held him over balcony' claim pals - Mirror Online
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:20
Property dealer Scot Young had a Russian mafia death sentence hanging over him for two years, a close friend has said.
The 52-year-old died on Monday afternoon when he plunged four storeys from a window at the £3.2million London penthouse he shared with fiance Noelle Reno, 30, and was impaled on railings below.
The friend, who did not wish to be named, alleged bankrupt Mr Young owed a lot of cash to the ''wrong sort of people,'' and that he had been held over the edge of a balcony at London's Dorchester Hotel by the Russian mafia.
The friend said Mr Young had always feared for his life since then, adding: ''I believe Scot was murdered''.
Scotland Yard are not treating his death as suspicious but the friend insisted the dad-of-two was told two years ago he would be dropped from the luxury Park Lane hotel window if he didn't pay up.
The friend, who fears for his own safety, said: ''I do not believe for one minute Scot committed suicide, my heart tells me he was killed. There is no way he would have jumped to his death.
''I knew him very, very well, we have been friends for over 20 years. We are all very scared about what might happen. I believe Scot was murdered.
''He owed a lot of money to the wrong sort of people.''
Other friends have claimed Mr Young feared for his safety only a month before his death at the flat in Marylebone.
Another source said: ''He was very worried, he said he knew someone was following him. Many of Scot's friends aren't surprised that he died.''
Mr Young was involved in one of Britain's most bitter divorce cases with ex-wife Michelle, 49, mother of his two daughters.
Ex-wife: Michelle Young They are thought to have owned properties in Belgravia and Florida, a yacht in Monaco and a private jet, while Mr Young reportedly bought his wife £1 million worth of jewellery for her 40th birthday.
But their separation in 2006 led to an acrimonious six-year divorce battle.
His ex-wife claimed he had hidden £400million in offshore accounts, but Scot told the court his entire fortune was gone and he had been saddled with debts of £30million from a Russian property deal.
But when he refused to reveal the extent of his assets to the court, he was jailed for six months in January 2013.
Scot was described as a fixer to the super-rich '' including oligarchs such as Boris Berezovsky, 67, who was found hanged 21 months ago at his home in Berkshire '' but said he went bust after a disastrous deal.
Mr Berezovsky was living in exile in the UK after falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Happy: Noelle Reno and Scot Young Despite claiming creditors were chasing him for £27million of debts, Scot recently rented an £8,000-a-month flat with Noelle and had bought her a six-carat diamond engagement ring.
Friends said Ms Reno, 30, was making Scott happy and he was on the road to recovery after going through a bleak time.
One said: ''He was suffering from depression but he would not have done this.
"He was truly in love with Noelle, he had asked her to marry him and they were going to wed next year. He idolised her.
''She wasn't with him for the money. He would have done anything for her.''
Ms Reno, who appeared with Mr Young on reality TV show Ladies of London, said: ''I'm distraught by the sudden loss of my best friend and ask you give me the respect and privacy I need to grieve in peace.''
Some reports said the property dealer had split up with designer Noelle in the weeks before he fell to his death.
But a spokesman for Ms Reno declined to comment on the rumours of a break-up.
Ms Reno previously said Scott's loss of wealth had always ''killed him'', and in recent years it was known he had attempted suicide, spent time in rehab and was sectioned twice.
Tragedy: Exterior of Scot Young's apartment in Montagu Square, London One source said: ''He was drinking a lot. It seemed like the he wheels were starting to come off.''
Friend James Creed sobbed as he revealed he had spoken to the tycoon minutes before his death.
Mr Creed said: ''It's unbelievable, just shocking. How can a man die like that? It doesn't make sense does it. I knew Scot well, we did everything together.
''I spoke to him on the phone on Monday, it must have been at around 4 in the afternoon. I suppose that means I was the last person to talk to him.
''He seemed quiet, nothing unusual. No one would have expected this.''
A young man who also laid a bunch of flowers said that Mr Young was his ''business mentor.''
Shahab Awan, 21, who works nearby said: ''This death is a shock to lots of people in Marylebone.
''He was always so friendly and jokey. I heard about it and felt so shocked. I spent a whole day thinking and talking about him.
Couple: Scot Young, property tycoon and fiance Noelle Reno ''I heard that Noelle had said that he was very fond of me. She is obviously very upset about this terrible tragedy at the moment.''
In the last in the latest series of Ladies of London, which highlighted the couple's fractious relationship, Mr Young had told the reality show about their time in Marylebone saying: ''We're feeling settled, we love the area. It's great.''
Ms Reno said: ''It has been a really tricky time this summer with the press, Scot's divorce and me being dragged through that. But I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel''.
Earlier in the series they toured another flat in Marylebone and Miss Reno said: ''Some people might have got the misconception that I am a gold-digger. But look around, does this place say gold-digger to you?''
She went on: ''Before I met Scot he was living this incredibly glamorous life with all sorts of Bentleys, mansions and jets. I met him at the wrong time.''
"Riddles" Surround 36th Dead Banker Of The Year | Zero Hedge
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 04:09
52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack - a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals - was described as 'impeccable', 'sporty', 'cared-for', and 'successful' and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrpunded by riddles...
Tack disappeared on November 5th...
Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to the 52-year-old from the Belgian Geert Tack Haaltert.
Geert Tack worked as a private banker for ING and managed portfolios of wealthy clients. The Belgian had a lot of respect in the financial world and was known as an up and top professional. His sudden disappearance was also smashed like a bomb. "If Tack himself was having trouble he has managed to keep it well hidden", say colleagues.
Nobody then could have guessed that the man would not return on Wednesday, November 5th to his wife in their villa Vondelen.
and was found dead this weekend off the coast of Ostend...
On December 3, the body was found on the coast of Ostend and removed from the water. The prosecutor confirmed today that it is Geert Tack, but it is still awaiting further results of the autopsy for the exact cause of death. The results of toxicological testing are not yet known.
The examiner states that the body showed no outward signs of violence.
As Vermist comments, he was well-liked and successful but the situation of his disappearance remain odd to say the least...
What makes the matter is that the extra mysterious circumstances under which he disappeared are rather peculiar. Tack had a few weeks earlier his car drove into each other and if the garage then take away a replacement car. Oddly enough, he made it much later, shortly before he disappeared, use. The car, a Renault Espace, has been found in Knokke, but Tack missing to date each track.
Also - Why he had in the weeks before the disappearance sometimes so difficult to get to sleep? Why he did that Wednesday morning his laptop and cell phone at home?
Although a desperate act can not be excluded, there are also people who take into account that the missing part of a preconceived plan. From his position Tack had the opportunity to be there - whether or not forced by third parties - to run off with money from his clients. It is a hypothesis that being seriously investigated by the federal police, but where colleagues want to know anything.
"Something like that would never do," said one of them certainly. "Geert is a blameless man."
This is the 36th Dead Banker of the year (via Beforeitsnews):
1) David Bird, 55, long-time reporter for the Wall Street Journal working at the Dow Jones news room2) Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG3) William Broeksmit, 58, former senior manager for Deutsche Bank4) Ryan Henry Crane, age 37, JP Morgan5) Li Junjie, 33, Hong Kong JP Morgan6) Gabriel Magee, 39, age JP Morgan employee7) Mike Dueker, 50, who had worked for Russell Investments8) Richard Talley, 57, was the founder and CEO of American Title (real estate titles)9) James Stuart Jr. 70, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO was found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz10) Jason Alan Salais, 34 year old IT Specialist at JPMorgan since 200811) Autumn Radtke, 28, CEO of First Meta, a Singapore-based virtual currency trading platform12) Eddie Reilly, 47, investment banker, Vertical Group, New York13) Kenneth Ballando, 28, investment banker, Levy Capital, New york14) Joseph A. Giampapa, 55, corporate bankruptcy lawyer, JP Morgan Chase15) Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, voormalig topbestuurder ANB/AMRO, Laren, Nederland16) Juergen Frick, 48, CEO Bank Frick & Co AG, Liechtenstein17) Beno®t Philippens, 37, directeur BNP Parisbas Fortis Bank, Ans, Belgi.18) Lydia'..., 52, bankier Bred-Banque-Populaire, Parijs19) Andrew Jarzyk, 27, bankier, PNC Bank, New York20) Carlos Six, 61, Hoofd Belastingdienst en lid CREDAF, Belgi21) Jan Winkelhuijzen, 75, Commissaris en Fiscalist (voormalig Deloitte), Nederland.22) Richard Rockefeller, 66, achterkleinzoon elitebankier John D. Rockefeller, Amerika23) Mahafarid Amir Khosravi (Amir Mansour Aria), 45, bankeigenaar, zakenman en derivatenhandelaar, Iran24) Lewis Katz, 76, zakenman, advocaat en insider in de bancaire wereld, Amerika25) Julian Knott, Directeur Global Operations Center JP Morgan, 45, Amerika26) Richard Gravino, IT Specialist JP Morgan, 49, Amerika27) Thomas James Schenkman, Managing Director Global Infrastructure JP Morgan, 42, Amerika28) Nicholas Valtz, 39, Managing Director Goldman Sachs, New York, Amerika29) Therese Brouwer, 50, Managing Director ING, Nederland30) Tod Robert Edward, 51, Vice President M & T Bank, Amerika31) Thierry Leyne, 48, investeringsbankier en eigenaar Anatevka S.A., Isral32) Calogero Gambino, 41, Managing Director Deutsche Bank, Amerika33) Shawn D. Miller, 42, Managing Director Citigroup, New York, Amerika34) Melissa Millian, 54, Senior Vice President Mass Mutual, Amerika35) Thieu Leenen, 64, Relatiemanager ABN/AMRO, Eindhoven, Nederland36) Geert Tack, 52, Private Banker ING, Haaltert, Belgi
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Dead Banker #37? London 'banker' impaled after falling from penthouse >> WTF RLY REPORT
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:22
Via Evening Standard (UK)| WTF News |
Dead banker number 37 for 2014? A man believed to work in the financial industry in London 'fell' to his death and impaled himself on a fence Tuesday. Firemen had to cut the fence to get the body down which was 'hanging there' for hours.
Neighbors said the man may have worked in the financial district called ''The City'' in London's center where many international financial firms are based for legal and tax purposes. UK newspapers report it is 'not being treated as suspicious' though no explanation has been given yet.
Huff Post UKA man has been killed after falling from a fourth-floor Marylebone penthouse.
The victim, in his 50s, was impaled on 5ft railings below.
Police, ambulance and fire crews were called to the address in London's exclusive Montagu Square at around 5.30pm on Monday.
A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade confirmed to Huffington Post UK they had assisted police by cutting through the metal railings with an angle grinder.
His death is not being treated as suspicious.
The Evening Standard reports the £3m property is next door to one which used to be owned by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
A neighbour told the newspaper: ''It is horrific and very sad. My cleaners were here and saw the man's body. They were traumatised.
''It was a very gruesome scene. The body was hanging there for a while.
''Police covered it with a tent straight away when they arrived but quite a few people must have seen it. I couldn't look, I was horrified.''
The victim is believed to have worked in the banking or financial services industry, neighbours said.
His death follows last week's news that 52 year old Belgian Geert Tack died in suspicious fashion. Tack, a private banker for ING, was reported to be at least the 36th banker who has died under suspicious circumstances in 2014.
36 Dead bankers in 2014 (via Beforeitsnews):
1) David Bird, 55, long-time reporter for the Wall Street Journal working at the Dow Jones news room2) Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG3) William Broeksmit, 58, former senior manager for Deutsche Bank4) Ryan Henry Crane, age 37, JP Morgan5) Li Junjie, 33, Hong Kong JP Morgan6) Gabriel Magee, 39, age JP Morgan employee7) Mike Dueker, 50, who had worked for Russell Investments8) Richard Talley, 57, was the founder and CEO of American Title (real estate titles)9) James Stuart Jr. 70, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO was found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz10) Jason Alan Salais, 34 year old IT Specialist at JPMorgan since 200811) Autumn Radtke, 28, CEO of First Meta, a Singapore-based virtual currency trading platform12) Eddie Reilly, 47, investment banker, Vertical Group, New York13) Kenneth Ballando, 28, investment banker, Levy Capital, New york14) Joseph A. Giampapa, 55, corporate bankruptcy lawyer, JP Morgan Chase15) Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, voormalig topbestuurder ANB/AMRO, Laren, Nederland16) Juergen Frick, 48, CEO Bank Frick & Co AG, Liechtenstein17) Beno®t Philippens, 37, directeur BNP Parisbas Fortis Bank, Ans, Belgi.18) Lydia'..., 52, bankier Bred-Banque-Populaire, Parijs19) Andrew Jarzyk, 27, bankier, PNC Bank, New York20) Carlos Six, 61, Hoofd Belastingdienst en lid CREDAF, Belgi21) Jan Winkelhuijzen, 75, Commissaris en Fiscalist (voormalig Deloitte), Nederland.22) Richard Rockefeller, 66, achterkleinzoon elitebankier John D. Rockefeller, Amerika23) Mahafarid Amir Khosravi (Amir Mansour Aria), 45, bankeigenaar, zakenman en derivatenhandelaar, Iran24) Lewis Katz, 76, zakenman, advocaat en insider in de bancaire wereld, Amerika25) Julian Knott, Directeur Global Operations Center JP Morgan, 45, Amerika26) Richard Gravino, IT Specialist JP Morgan, 49, Amerika27) Thomas James Schenkman, Managing Director Global Infrastructure JP Morgan, 42, Amerika28) Nicholas Valtz, 39, Managing Director Goldman Sachs, New York, Amerika29) Therese Brouwer, 50, Managing Director ING, Nederland30) Tod Robert Edward, 51, Vice President M & T Bank, Amerika31) Thierry Leyne, 48, investeringsbankier en eigenaar Anatevka S.A., Isral32) Calogero Gambino, 41, Managing Director Deutsche Bank, Amerika33) Shawn D. Miller, 42, Managing Director Citigroup, New York, Amerika34) Melissa Millian, 54, Senior Vice President Mass Mutual, Amerika35) Thieu Leenen, 64, Relatiemanager ABN/AMRO, Eindhoven, Nederland36) Geert Tack, 52, Private Banker ING, Haaltert, Belgi
Scotland Yard pressured to rethink view that Scot Young's death wasn't suspicious | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:07
One-time fixer to the super-rich impaled on railings after four-storey fallHe had been at centre of one of Britain's most notorious divorce casesFriend pointed to his friendship with tycoon Boris Berezovsky, also deadMetropolitan Police have refused to say whether Mr Young, 52, left a noteBy Claire Duffin and Chris Greenwood and Inderdeep Bains for the Daily Mail
Published: 17:44 EST, 10 December 2014 | Updated: 19:46 EST, 10 December 2014
Scotland Yard was last night under intense pressure to look closer at the mysterious circumstances surrounding the horrific death plunge of a tycoon.
Scot Young, 52, a one-time fixer to the super rich '' including Russian oligarchs '' was impaled on railings after falling four storeys from a window on Monday.
He had been at the centre of one of Britain's most notorious divorce cases which had led to his imprisonment for refusing to reveal how much money he was worth to his ex-wife, Michelle.
Questions unanswered: Scotland Yard is under pressure to re-examine the death of tycoon Scot Young (left). The 52-year-old, who plunged to his death on Monday, was in a divorce battle with ex-wife Michelle (right)
Scene: Mr Young died in Marylebone, central London, where police are not saying whether he left a note
The house in Marylebone where Scot Young fell to death
Mrs Young, 49, has continued to doggedly pursue her ex husband for money and yesterday recently employed Nevyan Intelligence Services as part of her determined attempts to track down Mr Young's funds.
Police originally said within hours of his body's discovery there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
But last night detectives were under pressure re-investigate the fall amid fears they discounted foul play too soon. Officers have refused to say if he left a note. Some friends of Mr Young were also sceptical about whether he would have taken his own life.
One of them, who visited the scene of his death yesterday, said: 'He was a great man and a good father who has been let down by the British legal system. We don't know if it was suicide yet.'
Notorious: Scot Young, who fell to his death onto railings on Monday, was at the centre of one of Britain's best-known divorce battles with his wife Michelle. The pair are pictured together on the wedding day in 1995
Tragedy: The tycoon (left with fiancee Noelle Reno) was at the centre of one of Britain's most acrimonious divorce cases involving Michelle Young (right), 49 - who said she and their daughters were 'devastated'
Fall: Mr Young, pictured this year, went bankrupt after he made his fortune 'fixing' deals for the super-rich
One associate of Mr Young's said: 'I hope this [Mr Young's death] makes people realise now that there was no money, he didn't have any money. It is very unpleasant.'
Mr Young's body was found by residents in upmarket Marylebone, central London, at 5pm Monday afternoon.
He had fallen 60ft on to the iron railings and firefighters had to cut through the metal with an angle grinder before the body could be removed.
Neighbours said they believed Mr Young was alone in the £3million duplex flat when he fell, though they said his fianc(C), American model Noelle Reno, 30, had been at the property earlier in the day.
In a statement yesterday, Miss Reno said she was 'distraught by the sudden loss of my best friend'.
The couple, who met in 2008, became engaged after Mr Young proposed while they were filming an episode of an American reality television programme, called Ladies of London.
Couple: Mr Young was engaged to Ladies Of London star Noelle Reno, pictured together on holiday this year
Last picture: Scot Young attended a Christmas party with Noelle, together left, in London on November 27
But their relationship remained overshadowed by the divorce battle which sparked a six-year court fight and ended in a £20million settlement for Mrs Young and the jailing of Mr Young last year for contempt of court for refusing to reveal his wealth.
She said she was too distressed to comment yesterday and was instead focusing on comforting their two daughters, Sasha, 21, and Scarlet, 19, at the central London flat they share.
'We are just in shock, we don't know what to say,' she said. Earlier she said she and her daughters had been 'to hell and back'.
Another friend of Mr Young suggested he was financially struggling and had borrowed tens of thousands of pounds before he went to jail for contempt of court, saying: 'Scot was completely broke and needed cash to tide himself over.
'There was a date set when Scot promised to pay the money back, but it came and went and then he went to prison.
Mr Young's body was found by horrified residents in Marylebone on Monday afternoon. He had fallen 60ft onto the iron railings below his flat and police moved quickly to hide the distressing scene from onlookers
'When Scot was released he promised he would pay him back but he repeatedly failed to do so.'
A female friend of Mr and Mrs Young pointed to his one-time friendship with the late Russian tycoon Boris Beresovsky as something that should be investigated by police.
She said: 'The police need to look at this and the death of Boris Berezovsky again.'
In November last year a judge ordered Mr Young was ordered him to pay her £20million after ruling he had 'hidden' his wealth from the court.
During the divorce battle, Mr Young, had claimed he was 'penniless' with debts of £28million after his business empire imploded.
He claimed to have lost millions in a mysterious property deal in Russia called Project Moscow.
Mr Berezovsky, who died in mysterious circumstances last year, was known to be an investor in the scheme.
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Treasury Department Seeking Survival Kits For Bank Employees | Washington Free Beacon
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 19:01
Emergency masks, solar blankets to be delivered to every major bank in the U.S.
BY:Elizabeth HarringtonDecember 10, 2014 1:00 pm
The Department of Treasury is seeking to order survival kits for all of its employees who oversee the federal banking system, according to a new solicitation.
The emergency supplies would be for every employee at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which conducts on-site reviews of banks throughout the country. The survival kit includes everything from water purification tablets to solar blankets.
The government is willing to spend up to $200,000 on the kits, according to the solicitation released on Dec. 4.
The survival kits must come in a fanny-pack or backpack that can fit all of the items, including a 33-piece personal first aid kit with ''decongestant tablets,'' a variety of bandages, and medicines.
The kits must also include a ''reusable solar blanket'' 52 by 84 inches long, a 2,400-calorie food bar, ''50 water purification tablets,'' a ''dust mask,'' ''one-size fits all poncho with hood,'' a rechargeable lantern with built-in radio, and an ''Air-Aid emergency mask'' for protection against airborne viruses.
Survival kits will be delivered to every major bank in the United States including Bank of America, American Express Bank, BMO Financial Corp., Capitol One Financial Corporation, Citigroup, Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Company, and Wells Fargo.
Items will also be delivered to OCC offices across the country, from Champaign, Ill. to Billings, Mont. The agency also has offices in Sioux City, Iowa; Joplin, Mo.; and Fargo, N.D.
The mission of the OCC is to ''ensure that national banks and federal savings associations operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, treat customers fairly, and comply with applicable laws and regulations.''
The agency has roughly 3,814 employees, each of which would receive a survival kit. The staff includes ''bank examiners'' who provide ''sustained supervision'' of major banks in the United States.
''Examiners analyze loan and investment portfolios, funds management, capital, earnings, liquidity, sensitivity to market risk for all national banks and federal thrifts, and compliance with consumer banking laws for national banks and thrifts with less than $10 billion in assets,'' the OCC website explains. ''They review internal controls, internal and external audit, and compliance with law. They also evaluate management's ability to identify and control risk.''
It is not clear why the Treasury Department is ordering the kits. Contracts for survival kits are usually made for the military, or law enforcement such as the FBI.
The OCC did not return request for comment before publication of this story.
The Fix is In!
Gilens-Oligarchy Nation - US News
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:06
The wealthy move national policy, and average Americans are effectively powerless, two political scientists say.
Is America no longer a democracy?
Perhaps, two political scientists say in a provocative new study making the rounds in political circles. If they're right, it explains why certain issues with considerable popular appeal never seem to get traction at the national level in Washington.
Their thesis? That the wealthiest, most powerful elites in American society control more than just the levers of finance '' they control the terms of public debates, what people care about and, ultimately, what gets acted on at the national level in Congress and the White House.
[OPINION: Solving America's Inequality Puzzle]
From left, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, AIG CEO Robert Benmosche and GE Capital CEO Keith Sherin arrive at the White House in October for a meeting with President Barack Obama.
The wealthiest Americans care passionately about things like financial debt and budgets. What do most Americans put at the top of their list of concerns, according to polls from Gallup, Pew and others? Federal debt and budgets '' not access to health care, or job training, or clean water, or gun control, or climate disruptions, or access to higher education, or efforts to alleviate poverty.
The two political scientists, Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, organized a team of researchers to study 1,779 survey questions between 1981 and 2002 on major public policy issues and broke them down by income levels and how organized interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.
The conclusion? The wealthy move national policy, and average Americans are effectively powerless.
''Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association. (But) despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,'' Gilens and Page wrote in a study that will be published this fall in the journal Perspectives in Politics.
Essentially, the issues that the wealthiest care about are discussed nationally and enacted much more frequently than issues they don't care about, they found.
What's more, if the wealthy and powerful don't like something, they stop it. If they do like it, then something happens nearly half the time.
"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18 percent of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45 percent of the time," they wrote.
While this may not be surprising to people '' after all, most people already believe that Washington caters to the rich and powerful '' it does have profound implications about the way in which issues with generally popular support (like gun control efforts or climate change mitigation) are dealt with at the national level if powerful forces of status quo are determined to stymie political action.
''We believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened,'' they concluded.
[READ: The Disturbing Rise of Income Inequality in 3 Charts]
In fact, even in areas where a vast majority of Americans do care passionately about something but it cuts against the interests of the wealthy and elite in America, they lose at the national level.
''When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites'...or with organized interests, they generally lose,'' Gilens and Page wrote. ''Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.''
The wealthy move national policy, and average Americans are effectively powerless, two political scientists say. Pictured, the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, the former home of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, in 2013.
Which is why the current Supreme Court's relentless defense of unlimited spending by the wealthiest Americans in the political system has so many people unnerved '' it will only make it even more difficult for popular issues that aren't in favor with elites to gain any traction.
It's also why the national media's endless fascination with ''winners and losers'' in national public polls may be a bit pointless and even harmful to an understanding of how things happen in the national political system.
If, as the Gilens and Page study indicates, the wealthiest and the elite set both the terms of the public debates and national political action, then it may not even matter all that much about the ''winners and losers'' in public polling.
The only thing that matters is what the wealthiest Americans and vested business interests think - because that's what will be debated and enacted. Which is, for those paying attention, the definition of an oligarchy, and not a democracy.
Gilens- Is America an Oligarchy? - The New Yorker
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:00
From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy. After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.
''Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,'' Gilens and Page write:
Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
That's a big claim. In their conclusion, Gilens and Page go even further, asserting that ''In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule'--at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover '... even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.''
It is hardly surprising that the new study is generating alarmist headlines, such as ''STUDY: US IS AN OLIGARCHY, NOT A DEMOCRACY,'' from, of all places, the BBC. Gilens and Page do not use the term ''oligarchy'' in describing their conclusions, which would imply that a small ruling class dominates the political system to the exclusion of all others. They prefer the phrase ''economic (C)lite domination,'' which is a bit less pejorative.
The evidence that Gilens and Page present needs careful intepretation. For example, the opinion surveys they rely on suggest that, on many issues, people of different incomes share similar opinions. To quote the paper: ''Rather often, average citizens and affluent citizens (our proxy for economic elites) want the same things from government.'' This does get reflected in policy outcomes. Proposals that are supported up and down the income spectrum have a better chance of being enacted than policies that do not have such support. To that extent, democracy is working.
The issue is what happens when some income groups, particularly the rich, support or oppose certain things, and other groups in society don't share their views. To tackle this issue, Gilens and Page constructed a multivariate statistical model, which includes three causal variables: the views of Americans in the ninetieth percentile of the income distribution (the rich), the views of Americans in the fiftieth percentile (the middle class), and the opinions of various interest groups, such as business lobbies and trade unions. In setting up their analysis this way, the two political scientists were able to measure the impact that the groups have independent of each other.
This is what the data shows: when the economic (C)lites support a given policy change, it has about a one-in-two chance of being enacted. (The exact estimated probability is forty-five per cent.) When the (C)lites oppose a given measure, its chances of becoming law are less than one in five. (The exact estimate is eighteen per cent.) The fact that both figures are both below fifty per cent reflects a status-quo bias: in the divided American system of government, getting anything at all passed is tricky.
The study suggests that, on many issues, the rich exercise an effective veto. If they are against something, it is unlikely to happen. This is obviously inconsistent with the median-voter theorem'--which holds that policy outcomes reflect the preferences of voters who represent the ideological center'--but I don't think that it is a particularly controversial claim. A recent example is the failure to eliminate the ''carried interest'' deduction, which allows hedge-fund managers and leveraged-buyout tycoons to pay an artificially low tax rate on much of their income. In 2012, there was widespread outrage at the revelation that Mitt Romney, who made his fortune at the leveraged-buyout firm Bain Capital, paid less than fifteen per cent in federal income taxes. But the deduction hasn't been eliminated.
One of the study's other interesting findings is that, beyond a certain level, the opinions of the public at large have little impact on the chances a proposal has of being enacted. As I said, policy proposals that have the support of the majority fare better than proposals which are favored only by a minority. But, in the words of Gilens and Page, ''The probability of policy change is nearly the same (around 0.3) whether a tiny minority or a large majority of average citizens favor a proposed policy change.''
The paper is a provocative one, and there's sure to be a lot of debate among political scientists about whether it wholly supports the authors' claims. One issue is that their survey data is pretty old: it covers the period from 1982 to 2002. (On the other hand, it hardly seems likely that the influence of the affluent has declined in the past decade.) Another issue is that, in a statistical sense, the explanatory power of some of the equations that Gilens and Page use is weak. For example, the three-variable probability model that I referred to above explains less than ten per cent of the variation in the data. (For you statistical wonks, R-squared = 0.074.)
Even in this sort of study, that's a pretty low figure. Gilens and Page, to their credit, draw attention to it in their discussion, and suggest various reasons for why it's not a big issue. They also acknowledge another possible objection to their conclusions:
Average citizens are inattentive to politics and ignorant about public policy; why should we worry if their poorly informed preferences do not influence policy making? Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does. Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support'... But we tend to doubt it.
Me, too. There can be no doubt that economic (C)lites have a disproportionate influence in Washington, or that their views and interests distort policy in ways that don't necessarily benefit the majority: the politicians all know this, and we know it, too. The only debate is about how far this process has gone, and whether we should refer to it as oligarchy or as something else.
Photograph: Ryan Heffernan
James D'Angelo (Winner 2014 MIT Climate CoLab, ex-NASA scientist)
Open voting creates fraud, vote buying etc
Gilens Flatline
Shit everyone wants or no one wants, still only 30% success rate
See stats of 30% happiness among people, huge among finanical elites.
Lobbyists get HUGE sucess rates
Direct democracy, nothing would ever get doen properly
The charts changed dramatically in the 1970's
1970's legislation change: Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970
Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 18:23
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91''510) was an act of the United States Congress to "improve the operation of the legislative branch of the Federal Government, and for other purposes".[1] The act focused mainly on the rules that governed congressional committee procedures, decreasing the power of the chair and empowering minority members,[3] and on making House and Senate processes more transparent.[4]
Provisions[edit]Required that reports on a measure be made available 3 days before a floor vote.[3]Established procedures for recorded votes in the House Committee of the Whole and led to the installation of electronic voting machines.[3][4][5]Provided procedures to combat non-germane amendments in conference reports and compromises that exceeded the scope of the disagreement between House and Senate versions of the bill.[3]Required that debate time on conference reports be equally divided between the two major parties.[3][6]Allowed committees to meet while the Senate was in session, with approval of the Majority and Minority leaders.[6]Expanded committee staffing, gave minority members greater say in staff selections, and required majority approval for committee staff hirings and firings.[7]Renamed the Legislative Reference Service to the Congressional Research Service, gave it greater autonomy from the Library of Congress, expanded the services that it provided, and directed it to triple its staff.[7]Revised the executive oversight functions of standing committees, requiring committees to issue biennial reports.[8]Authorized funding of computer technology in member offices.[9]Authorized televising of open House committee hearings.[5]Created the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations.[10]History[edit]The origins of the act can be traced back to the formation of the Joint Committee on the Organization of the Congress in March 1965. The committee held extensive hearings and issued its recommendations on July 28, 1966.[12] These recommendations "formed the backbone" of the act.
On April 22, 1969, the House Rules Committee formed the Special Subcommittee on Legislative Reorganization. The chairman of the committee was B. F. Sisk (D-CA) and the other members were Ray J. Madden (D-IN), who was later replaced by John Young (D-TX), Richard Bolling (D-MO), H. Allen Smith (R-CA), and Delbert L. Latta (R-OH). The subcommittee held meetings over several months, creating a draft bill, held multiple briefings for House members, followed by hearings on the draft bill. After revisions to the draft bill, the subcommittee reported the bill to the full Rules Committee in early 1970. After further amendments, the committee reported the bill on May 12.
The full House began debate on the bill on July 13 and after amending it, passed the bill by a vote of 326''19 on September 17. The Senate took up the bill without referring it to committee, and passed the bill with amendments, by a vote of 59''5 on October 6. The House agreed to the Senate version by voice vote on October 8, and it was signed by President Nixon on October 26, 1970.
See also[edit]^"Public Law 91-510. 91st Congress, H. R. 17654. October 26, 1970.". Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^ abcde"House Floor Procedures: Reorganization in the Modern Congress". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^ ab"Nixon signs law on the way Congress would conduct business, Oct. 26, 1970". Politico.com. Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^ ab"Enhancing Public Understanding: Historical Overview". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved Nov 26, 2014. ^ ab"Senate Floor Procedures: Reorganization in the Modern Congress". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^ ab"Congressional Staff and Management: Historical Overview: Historical Overview". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^"Legislative-Executive Relations: Other Authority, Duties, and Resources". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^"Information Resources and Technology in Congress: Previous Reform Efforts Addressing Information Needs". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^"Bicameral Relations and Interchamber Cooperation: Efforts at Bicameral Reform". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. ^"Joint Committee on the Organization of the Congress (1965-66)". Guide to the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved May 19, 2010. References[edit]
Committee of the Whole (United States House of Representatives) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 18:22
In the United States House of Representatives, the Committee of the Whole, short for Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, is a parliamentary device in which the House of Representatives is considered one large congressional committee. The presiding officer is chosen by the Speaker of the House and is normally a member of the majority party who does not hold the chair of a standing committee.
Procedurally, the Committee of the Whole differs from the House of Representatives even though they have identical membership. The Committee of the Whole only requires 100 members for a quorum, while only 25 members are required to force a recorded rather than voice vote. In the version of the Committee of the Whole that existed in the British House of Commons, the original use of this committee was to debate bills privately and prevent a recorded vote from being taken. It is normally invoked to give initial consideration of important legislation, including bills for raising revenue, and serves to expedite the process since debate over amendment occurs under a special five-minute rule. The House and the Committee of the Whole do not operate at the same time; rather, to consider bills, the House must resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole. To dissolve itself, the Committee of the Whole must "rise and report with a recommendation". The Committee of the Whole can recommend amendments to any bill. The House must then approve these amendments before the amendments are added to the final bill.
It allows bills and resolutions to be considered without adhering to all the formal rules of a House session, such as needing a quorum of 218. All measures on the Union Calendar must be considered first by the Committee of the Whole.[1]
Participation of non-voting delegates[edit]In 1993, DelegateEleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), along with the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico and the delegates from Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, received a limited vote in the Committee of the Whole, based on their right to vote in legislative committees. However, this limited vote stipulated if any of the delegates provided the deciding vote on an issue considered by the Committee of the Whole, a new vote would be conducted and the delegates would not be allowed to vote. The right of delegates to vote in Committee of the Whole was removed by the Republican majority in 1995 after that party gained control of Congress in the 1994 congressional elections.[2] In January 2007, it was proposed by Democrats in the House that the 1993''1994 procedure be revived.[3] The House approved the proposal with the adoption of H.Res. 78 by a vote of 226''191.
On January 5, 2011, on the first day of the newly-Republican controlled House session, the House voted for a rules package again stripping non-voting delegates of their votes in the Committee of the Whole, with a 225''188 vote along party lines to table a motion by Eleanor Holmes Norton providing for further study of the non-voting delegate issue, thereby effectively killing it.[4]
Former use in the United States Senate[edit]The United States Senate used the Committee of the Whole as a parliamentary device until May 16, 1930, when the practice was abolished with respect to bills and joint resolutions. The Senate continued to utilize the Committee of the Whole for consideration of treaties until February 27, 1986,[5] with the passage of S.Res 28.[5]
References[edit]Further reading[edit]External links[edit]
Government in the Sunshine Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:43
Government in the Sunshine ActLong titleAn Act to provide that meetings of Government agencies shall be open to the public, and for other purposes.Enacted bythe 94th United States CongressEffectiveSeptember 13, 1976CitationsPublic Law94-409Statutes at Large90 Stat. 1241CodificationTitles amended5 U.S.C.: Government Organization and EmployeesU.S.C. sections createdChapter 5 §'‰552bLegislative historyIntroduced in the SenateasS. 5byLawton Chiles (D''FL) on January 15, 1975Committee consideration bySenate Government Operations, Senate Judiciary, Senate Rules and Administration, House Government OperationsPassed the Senate on November 6, 1975 (94-0)Passed the House on July 28, 1976 (passed/agreed)Reported by the joint conference committee on August 26, 1976; agreed to by the House on August 31, 1976 (384-0) and by the Senate on August 31, 1976 (agreed)Signed into law by PresidentGerald R. Fordon September 13, 1976The Government in the Sunshine Act (Pub.L. 94''409, 90 Stat. 1241, enacted September 13, 1976, 5 U.S.C. § 552b) is a U.S. law passed in 1976 that affects the operations of the federal government, Congress, federal commissions, and other legally constituted federal bodies. It is one of a number of Freedom of Information Acts, intended to create greater transparency in government.
"The Sunshine Act provides, with ten specified exemptions, that 'every portion of every meeting of an agency shall be open to public observation.' 5 U.S.C. 552b(b) It imposes procedural requirements to ensure, inter alia [among other things], that advance notice is given to the public before agency meetings take place. It also imposes procedural requirements an agency must follow before determining that one of the ten exemptions from the openness requirement applies. However, neither the openness requirement, nor the related procedural requirements, are triggered unless the governmental entity at issue is an 'agency,' and unless the gathering in question is a 'meeting' of the agency." Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 216 F.3d 1180, 1182 (D.C. Cir. 2000).
Definitions and exceptions[edit]The statute defines a "meeting" as "the deliberations of at least the number of individual agency members required to take action on behalf of the agency where such deliberations determine or result in the joint conduct or disposition of official agency business". 552b(a)(2).
The statute defines "agency" to include "any agency ... headed by a collegial body composed of two or more individual members ... and any subdivision thereof authorized to act on behalf of the agency". 552b(a)(1).
The Sunshine Act enumerates ten specific exemptions for categories of information that need not be disclosed, including:
information relating to national defense,related solely to internal personnel rules and practices,related to accusing a person of a crime,related to information where disclosure would constitute a breach of privacy,related to investigatory records where the information would harm the proceedings,related to information which would lead to financial speculation or endanger the stability of any financial institution, andrelated to the agency's participation in legal proceedings.Purpose[edit]The legislative intent of the Act is as follows: "The basic premise of the sunshine legislation is that, in the words of federalistNo. 49, 'the people are the only legitimate foundation of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter ... is derived.' Government is and should be the servant of the people, and it should be fully accountable to them for the actions which it supposedly takes on their behalf." (U.S.C.C.A.N. 2183, 2186).
See also[edit]External links[edit]
ALEC & Heritage foundation born then
Cassidy & Associates (massive lobbying group)
Abrahmoff scandal
Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:44
The Jack Abramoff Native American lobbying scandal is a United States political scandal relating to the work performed by political lobbyistsJack Abramoff, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Grover Norquist and Michael Scanlon on Native American casino gambling interests for an estimated $85 million in fees. Abramoff and Scanlon grossly overbilled their clients, secretly splitting the multimillion-dollar profits. In one case, they were secretly orchestrating lobbying against their own clients in order to force them to pay for lobbying services.
In the course of the scheme, the lobbyists were accused of illegally giving gifts and making campaign donations to legislators in return for votes or support of legislation. Representative Bob Ney (R-OH) and two aides to Tom DeLay (R-TX) have been directly implicated; other politicians have various ties.
Guilty pleas[edit]Scanlon and Abramoff have both pleaded guilty to a variety of charges related to the scheme.
On January 3, 2006, Abramoff pleaded guilty to three felony counts'--conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion'--involving charges stemming principally from his lobbying activities in Washington on behalf of Native American tribes. In addition, Abramoff and other defendants must make restitution of at least $25 million that was defrauded from clients, most notably the Native American tribes. Further, Abramoff owes the Internal Revenue Service $1.7 million as a result of his guilty plea to the tax evasion charge.[1]
On May 8, 2006, Neil Volz, former chief of staff to Representative Bob Ney (R-Ohio), staff director of the House Administration Committee, and later part of Team Abramoff, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, including wire fraud and violating House rules, charges stemming from his work both for Ney and for Greenberg Traurig.[2]
On March 23, 2007 former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of InteriorJ. Steven Griles pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the Senate investigation of the Abramoff scandal, the top Bush administration official to do so.[3]
Investigations[edit]On November 25, 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported the expansion of the investigation to four members of Congress: in addition to Ney and DeLay, the report includes Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.)[4] On December 2, 2005, the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors were considering a plea bargain arrangement that would give Abramoff some consideration if he provided evidence that would implicate members of Congress and their senior staffers in receiving job offers in return for legislative favors.
The guilty pleas signed by Abramoff in early January 2006 state that he bribed public officials. One of the cases of bribery described in detail involves a person identified as "Representative #1," who was reported by the Washington Post to be Representative Bob Ney (R-OH). Ney's spokesman confirmed that Ney was the representative identified, but denied any improper influence.[5] The agreement also details Abramoff's practice of hiring former congressional staffers. Abramoff used these persons' influence to lobby their former Congressional employers, in violation of a one-year federal ban on such lobbying.[6][7]
After Abramoff's guilty plea, the federal government shifted its investigation in January 2006 to focus on the lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group,[8] founded by a "close friend of DeLay's and his former chief of staff."[9] The lobbying firm announced its closure at the end of the same month due to "fatal publicity"; it had represented such large firms as Microsoft and PhRMA.
On June 22, 2006 the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs released its final report on the scandal.[10] The report states that under the guidance of the MississippiChoctaw tribe's planner, Nell Rogers, the tribe agreed to launder money because "Ralph Reed did not want to be paid directly by a tribe with gaming interests." It also states that Reed used non-profits, including Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, as pass-throughs to disguise the origin of the funds, and that "the structure was recommended by Jack Abramoff to accommodate Mr. Reed's political concerns."
ABC News reported on November 15, 2006 that Abramoff told prosecutors that Senator Harry Reid (D) requested contributions of $30,000 from Abramoff's clients. Reid agreed to assist him in matters concerning Indian casinos.[11]
In August 2010, the government ended a six-year investigation of DeLay's ties to Abramoff, according to DeLay's lead counsel in the matter, Richard Cullen. A state case continued in Texas, which ended in November 2010 with DeLay being found guilty of conspiracy and money laundering; in January 2011, he was sentenced to three years in prison.[12]
Background[edit]See Jack Abramoff for full details of Abramoff's life prior to tribal lobbying.
Mississippi Choctaw - Introduction to tribal lobbying[edit]In the second half of the 1990s, Abramoff was employed by Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP, the lobbying arm of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP law firm based in Seattle, Washington. In 1995, Abramoff began representing Native American tribes that were seeking to establish gambling on reservations, starting with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
The Choctaw originally had lobbied the federal government directly, but beginning in 1994, they found that many of the congressional members who had responded to their issues had either retired or were defeated in the "Republican Revolution" of the 1994 elections. Nell Rogers, the tribe's specialist on legislative affairs, had a friend who was familiar with Abramoff's father and Abramoff's work as a Republican activist. The tribe contacted Preston Gates, and soon after hired the firm and Abramoff.
One of Abramoff's first actions was to defeat a Congressional bill that sought to use the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) to tax Native American casinos; it was sponsored by Reps. Bill Archer (R-TX) and Ernest Istook (R-OK). Since the matter involved taxation, Abramoff enlisted help from his college acquaintance, fellow Republican Grover Norquist, and his Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). The bill was eventually defeated in 1996 in the Senate, due in part to grassroots work by ATR, for which the Choctaw paid $60,000.
According to Washington Business Forward, a lobbying trade magazine, "[Tom DeLay] was a major factor in those victories, and the fight helped cement the alliance between the two men.[13]
Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist[edit]Later in 1999, Abramoff enlisted the help of another Republican friend, Ralph Reed. The Choctaw needed to defeat a bill in the Alabama State Legislature which would allow casino-style games on dog racing tracks. This would have resulted in competition for their casino business. Reed had recently contacted Abramoff via email, looking for some help in establishing new business.
"Hey, now that I'm done with electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accounts! I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts."
'--Ralph Reed to Jack Abramoff, via email, November 12, 1998Reed proposed to Abramoff some work which he and his firm, Century Strategies, could perform. Reed could access "3,000 pastors and 90,000 religious conservative households" in Alabama, as well as "the Alabama Christian Coalition, the Alabama Family Alliance, the Alabama Eagle Forum, [and] the Christian Family Association." Reed would require a $20,000 per month retainer for his services.[citation needed]
On April 6, 1999, Abramoff got Preston Gates to approve hiring Reed as a subcontractor, and told Reed to "get me invoices as soon as possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks asap."[citation needed]
By May 10, 1999, the Choctaw had paid $1.3 million to Reed via Preston Gates, for various grassroots activities relating to the dog-track bill, as well as opposing an Alabama state lottery. The tribe discontinued paying the money through Preston Gates when Abramoff suggested that they again use Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform as a conduit, to which the tribe agreed. Although the anti-gambling effort was not related to ATR's anti-taxation activities, ATR passed checks of up to $300,000 from the Choctaw to Reed's firm, in one case taking $25,000 as a "management fee".
Later in 1999, Abramoff utilized Reed's services again to oppose the federal Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, on behalf of eLottery, a corporate client.[10]
"Team Abramoff"[edit]Main article: Team AbramoffAt Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff assembled a "dream team" made up of men who had previously worked as staff for Congressional leaders. The team included Tony Rudy, with whom Abramoff had worked extensively during the Marianas and eLottery lobbying, while Rudy was serving as Chief of Staff to Tom DeLay. Abramoff had hired Rudy while he was still at Preston Gates & Ellis, and brought him and six other staff lobbyists over to Greenberg Traurig. The hiring of Rudy was one of the first instances in a pattern by which Abramoff would directly hire aides of representatives he was actively lobbying.[14]
2001 White House Transition Team Member[edit]Abramoff's main contact in the office of the Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steven Griles was through Italia Federici, a former political aide to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton.[15] The lobbyist's main contact in the West Wing of the White House was his former aide Susan Ralston, who became the Executive Assistant to Karl Rove, then Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush. In 2007 Griles and Federici pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the Senate investigation of the Abramoff scandal; Griles on March 23 and Federici on June 8.
"Gimme Five" begins[edit]According to "Gimme Five"'--Investigation of Tribal Lobbying Matters, the final report of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs' investigation into Abramoff, the fraud began with an email interchange between Abramoff and Michael Scanlon on June 18, 2001.[10]
After his career in the office of Congressman Tom Delay, Scanlon had briefly been a member of Team Abramoff, but had since moved on to form his own public affairs consulting firm.
"A few weeks ago you mentioned something to me'--I took the concept and have put together a plan that will make serious money. We also talked briefly about it in the beginning of the year but I think we can really move it now."
'--Michael Scanlon to Jack Abramoff, via email, June 18, 2001.Scanlon described a plan by which Abramoff would help to build the client base of Scanlon's firm, Campaign Capitol Strategies, up to at least $3 million per year. At some point, Scanlon would use his contacts in the public affairs industry to get the firm acquired at a price of three times the revenue, and Scanlon and Abramoff would split up the profits. This is considered by investigators to be the beginning of what Abramoff and Scanlon would refer to as "gimme five".
Louisiana Coushatta[edit]In 2001, the Louisiana Coushatta tribe were going to renegotiate their gambling compact with the State of Louisiana. The tribe was interested in negotiating a 25-year compact with the state, but was expecting a "very vigorous fight" and were not certain that their current lobbying representatives were up to the challenge.
Abramoff and Scanlon were well recommended to the tribe by a representative of the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana. Kathryn Van Hoof, the Coushatta's outside counsel, introduced the idea to the Tribal Council that having a high-powered Federal lobbyist could help with any problems on the State level also.[10]
Abramoff and Scanlon make their pitch[edit]A few weeks later, after collecting details of the Coushatta's lobbying needs from Van Hoof, Abramoff and Scanlon gave a presentation to the Tribal Council. Abramoff claimed that he could get appropriation earmarks for the tribe, and "get things passed through the legislature". Abramoff mentioned his and Scanlon's ties with Tom DeLay, and the fact that he "worked with people" in the Department of Interior. Abramoff also suggested that participating in a DeLay golf tournament and paying "lists of suggested contributions" would give the tribe name recognition and access.
Scanlon claimed that his firm could organize direct mail, telephone, and media campaigns, as well as giving advice on strategies to gain the support of or neutralize the opposition of specific public officials. Scanlon also promised a customized database and "electronic-related services", based on polling and collection of information of individuals who could be "mobilized" in letter-writing campaigns and phone calls to officials.
The Tribal Council was initially somewhat confused by the relationship between Abramoff and Scanlon; one member believed that Scanlon's company was a branch of Greenberg Traurig. However, they were hired and paid separately, and members of the tribe later claim that Abramoff "never told the Council that he would personally collect a share of those proceeds that the tribe paid Scanlon." The tribe agreed on March 20, 2001 to hire Abramoff at a relatively high retainer of $125,000 a month, plus expenses. On April 12, the tribe agreed to hire Scanlon's firm for $534,500 for initial work on the compact renegotiation.
In July 2001, Louisiana Governor Mike Foster approved the gambling compact. The tribe later claimed that there was evidence that Scanlon's proposed strategies were implemented. Abramoff and Scanlon proposed a much larger scope of work to the tribe.[10]
The Texas Menace[edit]The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, or "Tigua tribe" opened its Speaking Rock Casino near El Paso, Texas in 1993. In 1999 the State of Texas sought to have the casino closed based on its interpretation of the Tribal Restoration Act, which had granted the tribe Federal recognition. The act stated that "[all] gaming activities which are prohibited by the laws of the State of Texas are hereby prohibited on the reservation and on lands of the tribe", which the State of Texas interpreted as allowing state law to preempt the tribe's ability to operate a casino. Future senator John Cornyn led the court challenge as the Texas Attorney General. The State of Texas succeeded in closing the casino in 2002.
In October 2001, Abramoff suggested to the Louisiana Coushatta that the Texas legislature was "one vote away" from legalizing certain forms of gambling in Texas. The Alabama Coushatta'--a related but competing tribe also sought to open a casino in eastern Texas in 2001. Abramoff told the Louisiana Coushatta that if the Tigua succeeded in their court case, then Texas would be forced to allow the Alabama Coushatta to open their casino.
Many of the Coushatta's casino customers traveled over the border from eastern Texas to Louisiana, so a Texas-based Indian casino could pose a grave threat to their livelihood. Scanlon suggested forming a "Grassroots Political Structure" in Texas to oppose the Tigua's effort.[16] Abramoff and Scanlon succeeded in negotiating nearly $4 million in additional fees for a "Louisiana Program". Although the fees were meant to be for grassroots activities, Scanlon insisted that $1 million be paid directly to Greenberg Traurig; he explained: "we plan to do some things through the law firm umbrella due to their highly sensitive nature and confidentiality reasons. I hate hiding behind lawyers - but we are going to do some crazy stuff on this one'--so I guess it's ok." However, the reason for this transfer was an email request the day before from Abramoff to Scanlon'--"I want to see if we can pump up our LDA [reporting requirements under the Lobbying Disclosure Act] for the second half to make sure we don't fall out of the top ten [lobbying firms]. I can achieve this if I can run some of the money for the Coushattas through the firm and then get it to CCS." Abramoff deceived both the Coushatta and Greenberg Traurig by having the money redirected as a donation to the Capital Athletic Foundation.
Abramoff and Scanlon suggested to the tribe that they ought to support Christian evangelical conservatives, who would be opposed to gaming expansion in Texas. Abramoff specifically suggested working with Ralph Reed but, according to a tribal leader, warned that "it can't get out ... It wouldn't look good if they're receiving money from a casino-operating tribe to oppose gaming. It would be kind of like hypocritical." The tribe paid Reed via payments from Southern Underwriters, a Louisiana insurance company, to American International Center, a shell corporation controlled by Scanlon. Scanlon and Abramoff would skim millions of dollars for themselves of fees paid through this method.
Reed worked with Houston pastors and church congregations to make demands on the state government to prevent the casinos from opening. Reed also claimed to work directly with John Cornyn; in a November 15 email, Abramoff claimed "Ralph and I spoke last night. Cornyn is supposed to call Ralph as soon as he can make it to a phone after El Paso." However, Senator Cornyn denied any direct connection in later media interviews.[17]
In addition to the grassroots efforts, Abramoff also claimed that he had influenced the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Bill Ratcliff, to prevent a bill, which would allow the Tigua to open their casino, from being scheduled for a vote in the State Senate. The efforts succeeded, and the Tigua officially closed their casino on February 12, 2002.
"Saving" the Tigua[edit]Jack Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!"
Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!"
Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002.[18]As the Tigua casino was being closed, Abramoff was trying to contact the Tigua. He made contact with the Tigua's public relations representative Marc Schwartz on February 6, 2002, and met with the tribal council on February 12. According to Schwartz, Abramoff "expressed indignation" over what had happened to the tribe and wanted to "right the terrible injustice that had been brought upon the tribe." During the meeting, Abramoff admitted that he was friends with Ralph Reed, who had publicly called for the closing of the casino, but claimed that Reed was "crazy, like other folks in the Christian Coalition", and that Reed was supplying information about the anti-gambling effort to Abramoff, so he knew their strategy. He also admitted that the Louisiana Coushatta were also his client, but claimed that the Coushatta didn't have a problem with the Tigua.
Abramoff proposed that he and Greenberg Traurig would represent the tribe pro bono until the casino was re-opened. But, he said they would have to pay "a lot" for Scanlon's services. The strategy, later called "Operation Open Doors", would cost over $5 million, and would entail getting a friendly lawmaker to sneak a provision into a federal bill permitting the Tigua to reopen. This would require some contributions to the lawmakers. Abramoff mentioned Scanlon's past career in the office of Tom DeLay, and Scanlon said that he "had an ongoing relationship with Congressman DeLay." Abramoff gave the tribe a list of contributions to legislators during the presentation, which he said were required and advised the tribe to make immediately.
Once the provision was made law, opponents would try to repeal it; the second part of the strategy was for Scanlon to create a nationwide database of grassroots supporters who could be called on to send letters and make phone calls to representatives to block any repeal. The Tigua agreed to the proposal on the condition that it cost only $4.2 million, and the contract was signed on March 5, 2002.
Guilty plea'--confirmed corrupt lobbying practices[edit]Abramoff and his partner Scanlon are alleged to have engaged in a series of corrupt practices in connection to their lobbying work for various Indian gaming tribes. The fees paid to Abramoff and Scanlon for this work are believed to exceed $85 million.
In particular, Abramoff and Scanlon were alleged to have conspired with Washington power broker Grover Norquist and Christian activist Ralph Reed to coordinate lobbying against his own clients and prospective clients with the objective of forcing them to engage Abramoff and Scanlon to lobby against their own covert operations. Reed was paid to campaign against gambling interests that competed with Abramoff clients. Norquist served as a go-between by funneling money to Reed.
Allegation of double dealing[edit]On June 22, 2000, Susan Ralston e-mailed Abramoff, "I have 3 checks from elot: (1) 2 checks for $80K payable to ATR and (2) 1 check to TVC for $25K," [...] "Let me know exactly what to do next. Send to Grover? Send to Rev. Lou?"[19]
Thus eLottery money went through Norquist's foundation, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the Faith and Family Alliance, and Reed's company, Century Strategies, while the last check was sent to Sheldon'sTraditional Values Coalition (TVC).
In 2000, Abramoff forced the Choctaws to give the AlabamaChristian Coalition of America $1.15 million in installments. Norquist agreed to pass the money on to the Coalition and another Alabama antigambling group, both of which Reed was mobilizing for the fight against a proposed Alabama state lottery.
In 2002, after Abramoff worked with Reed to close the casino of the Tigua tribe, he persuaded the tribe to hire him to lobby Congress to reopen the casino.
Of the $7.7 million Abramoff and Scanlon charged the Choctaw for projects in 2001, they spent $1.2 million on their behalf and split the rest in a scheme they called "gimme five."
Guilty plea'--confirmed spending irregularities[edit]In 2004, Abramoff resigned from Greenberg Traurig amid a scandal related to spending irregularities in his work as a lobbyist for Native American tribes involved in gambling, namely The MississippiChoctaw, the LouisianaCoushatta, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Sandia Pueblo, the SaginawChippewa and the Tigua of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians paid $15 million to Abramoff and Scanlon's organizations. The bills were heavily padded. For example, in April 2000 he padded 2 hours with over 60 hours to achieve a "$150k minimum."[20] The funds were diverted to a number of projects, including the Eshkol Academy, an all-boys Orthodox Jewish school set up by Abramoff in Maryland.
American International Center[edit]Part of the sums paid by the tribes for lobbying were paid to the American International Center, an organization presenting itself as a think tank headed by David Grosh, a lifeguard on the Delaware shore who operated it from his beach house. Grosh had no qualifications or experience relevant to policy research and currently works in construction. At a Senate hearing, Grosh admitted that he had abetted the deception and said that he was "embarrassed and disgusted to be a part of this whole thing."
Derogatory references to Native American clients[edit]In emails now made public by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which is investigating his activities, Abramoff repeatedly referred to Native Americans as "monkeys," "troglodites," and "morons."[21]
Abramoff once asked his co-conspirator Scanlon to meet a client, saying in an email, "I have to meet with the monkeys from the Choctaw tribal council. You need to close the deal... with the client..." In another email message he wrote, "we need to get some money from those monkeys!!"
About one tribal client Abramoff wrote to Scanlon (date unknown),
''These mofos are the stupidest idiots in the land for sure.''Abramoff's monetary influence[edit]Abramoff spent millions of dollars to influence and entertain Republican politicians. Abramoff had a reputation for largesse considered exceptional even by Washington standards. In addition to offering many Republican members of Congress expensive free meals at his restaurant, Signatures, Abramoff maintained four skyboxes at major sports arenas for political entertaining, at a cost of more than $1 million a year. Abramoff hosted many fundraisers at these skyboxes, including events for Republican politicians publicly opposed to gambling, such as John Doolittle.[22] Abramoff gave over $260,000 in personal contributions to Republican candidates, politicians, and organizations, and funded numerous trips for politicians and staffers, including both Republicans and Democrats. An estimated two thirds of Ambramoff's direct contributions went to Republican congressmen, and one third to Democratic congressional leaders.[23]
Of the approximately $85 million in tribal money entrusted to Abramoff, his employers, or his related organizations, over $4.4 million since 1999 were directed to at least 250 members of Congress, primarily Republicans in leadership positions or on relevant committees, and Democrats with standing connections to Native American interests, such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (in a 2-1 GOP ratio). These contributions have since become tainted by their association with Abramoff's criminal behavior.[24]
Some of those who received money from Abramoff or his clients have either returned the money or donated it. For example, months after the investigations began, on December 14, 2005, the Washington Post reported that Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), the vice-chairman for the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee, had announced he would return $67,000 in contributions from Indian tribes represented by Abramoff.[25] Others, such as Representative John Doolittle (R-CA), have refused to do so.[26] Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus, received more than $150,000 from Indian tribes once represented by Abramoff. He was the largest single recipient of Abramoff-related money. Hayworth said he would keep the donations because they were given independently of Abramoff's influence. He donated to charity $2,250 which was paid directly by Abramoff.
Other connected parties[edit]The Bush Administration[edit]US GSA Chief Procurement Officer David Hossein Safavian[edit]On September 19, 2005, David Safavian, who was serving as the head of the federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, was the first person arrested in the Abramoff scandal. Safavian was charged with lying to investigators and obstructing the federal inquiry of Abramoff.[27] Safavian knew Abramoff from the three years, 1995''1997, when he was part of Abramoff's lobbying team at Preston Gates & Ellis.[28]
Deputy United States Secretary of the Interior J. Steven Griles[edit]Abramoff claimed in emails sent in 2002 that Deputy United States Secretary of the Interior Griles had pledged to block an Indian casino that would compete with one of his clients. Abramoff later told two people that he was trying to hire Griles.[29]
Campaign contributions from Abramoff and his clients[edit]Abramoff also personally donated $14,000 over the period 1999-2004 to the congressional campaign of Representative John Doolittle (R-CA) [30] According to the Washington Post, Doolittle "was particularly close to Abramoff." Doolittle said he always thought of Abramoff as "a friend" for a single reason: "I liked him, frankly, because he was a partisan, conservative Republican activist."[31] Unlike many lawmakers, Doolittle has refused to give away or return any of the Abramoff money.
Fund raising by Abramoff for Doolittle[edit]An "ardent opponent of casino gambling," Doolittle held a fundraiser at Jack Abramoff's skybox at the MCI Center in February 1999. Abramoff, who rented the boxes himself, billed Indian tribes lobbying fees to cover his cost. These tribes had hired Abramoff to represent their casino interests.
Under federal campaign finance law, Doolittle was required to pay Abramoff for use of the box, or to report the use as an "in-kind" contribution from Abramoff to his campaign. Doolittle initially failed to report the use of the sky-boxes in his Federal Election Committee filings. In late 2004, his spokesperson, Laura Blackman, said "It was an in-kind contribution, and it was an oversight that it wasn't reported, but we are taking steps to correct that."[32]
In January 2005, Doolittle reported that his campaign fund had sent a check for $1,040 to one of Abramoff's former employers, the Preston Gates lobbying firm, to pay for the skybox. The lobbying firm returned the check because it had never owned the skybox. In May 2005, Doolittle campaign-fund spokesman Richard Robinson acknowledged that the rejection of the check should have been reported to the FEC and said a corrected accounting would be filed. Robinson said Doolittle's fund is determined to rectify the six-year lapse in paying for the box. "If we find out that Jack Abramoff paid for the suite, then we'll reimburse Jack Abramoff, because we want to reimburse the person or entity who paid for the box," Robinson said. "We thought we were doing that in January."[33]
Payments to Doolittle's wife by Abramoff[edit]From August 2002 through February 2004, Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig paid Julie Doolittle $66,000. Initially her work was to help plan a fundraiser for Abramoff's Capital Athletic Foundation, called the Spy Game Gala, which was to be MC'ed by Tony Snow. The event never happened because it coincided with the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq in March 2003. According to the initial statement by her attorney, the $66,000 in payments from Abramoff were because she "primarily performed public relations and other event planning services for the Spy Museum event."[34]
She was paid a total of $27,000 through February 2003, when payments stopped. In July 2003, Abramoff (via Greenberg Traurig) began paying her again, at the rate of $5,000 per month. This continued through mid-February 2004, when the first story on what would become the Abramoff scandal was published.
In a statement in June 2006, her attorney, William Stauffer, said that "Sierra Dominion, a small business owned by Julie Doolittle, provided marketing, event planning, and related services to the Greenberg Traurig law firm, and its partner, Jack Abramoff, from August 2002 through March 2004." "Sierra Dominion had a retainer arrangement with Greenberg Traurig under which it provided services concerning the Spy Museum event and also the Signatures and Stacks restaurants". (The two restaurants were owned by Abramoff.)[35]
Julie Doolittle's records in connection with her work for Abramoff have been subpoenaed by the United States Department of Justice.[36] The DOJ has not filed any charges in either case. No explanation has been given as to why Greenberg Taurig made the payments to Julie Doolittle, rather than the foundation (for whom the charity event was planned) or the restaurants or Abramoff personally (as restaurant owner).[35]
Doolittle's actions on behalf of Indian tribes[edit]In February 2002, Doolittle was among more than two dozen lawmakers who signed a letter to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton urging her to reject an Indian casino opposed by Abramoff's tribal clients.[26]
In October 2003, Doolittle appealed in a letter to Norton for quicker action for the Mashpee Wampanoag people of Massachusetts, which was seeking federal recognition as a tribe; the Wampanoag group was also a client of Greenberg Traurig, and Kevin Ring was a lobbyist on the account.[37]
Doolittle's actions on behalf of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)[edit]One of Abramoff's major clients was the government (Commonwealth) of the Northern Mariana Islands. Doolittle visited the islands in February 1999 as part of a congressional delegation. In April 2000 and April 2001, he met with CNMI House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial in Washington D.C. On May 25, 2001, the Saipan Tribune printed a letter from Doolittle to Fitial, which noted a recent $150,000 earmark, mentioned two possible Army Corps of Engineers projects on the islands, and said "I will urge the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee to include funding for the feasibility study for both projects in the FY 2002 appropriations bill."[38] In August 2001, he backed Fitial's candidacy for governor.[39] Doolittle was successful in securing $400,000 in Corps study funds in 2001, his first year on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.[40]
In the governor's election in early 2002, Fitial lost. The new governor, Juan N. Babauta, cancelled the contract with Greenberg Traurig.
Justice Department actions and hiring of lawyer[edit]Since then, "The congressman has not been subpoenaed or questioned by the Justice Department," as of December, 2005.[41]
On January 27, 2006, three weeks after Abramoff pleaded guilty to three federal felonies, Doolittle retained the legal services of the Virginia law firm of Williams Mullen. Doolittle's chief of staff, Richard Robinson, said the attorney handling Doolittle's inquiry is David Barger. Barger is the former president of the Virginia Bar Association's criminal law section and a former assistant US attorney who later was an associate of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration.[42]
Robinson said the campaign (which paid a $10,000 retainer) has hired Barger to address Doolittle's concerns about how he should respond to questions from the press as he contemplated having to talk about the scandal as part of his campaign for re-election. "The congressman has not retained an attorney to respond to any Justice Department inquiries as there have been none," Robinson said.[42]
Activities of Julie Doolittle[edit]During the 2001-2005 period, Julie Doolittle had at least three different occupations: she worked for Jack Abramoff doing event planning (see above); she worked as a bookkeeper for a lobbying firm; and she worked on commission as a fundraiser for her husband. (Richard Robinson, Doolittle's chief of staff, said Julie Doolittle had other clients. But he refused to provide their names "out of respect for the privacy of the clients."[43]
Payments to Julie Doolittle during the period were done via a company called Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions.[43] It was founded in March 2001, just after Congressman Doolittle gained a seat on the Appropriations Committee. It is based at the couple's home in Oakton, Virginia; Julie is the only employee. The company (that is, Julie) has continued to do fundraising, but no event planning or other work, since the Abramoff scandal first became public in early 2005.[43]
Work for lobbying firm[edit]From 2002 until mid-2005,[34] the Alexander Strategy Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm with close ties to Congressman Tom DeLay, paid Sierra Dominion for bookkeeping work for a nonprofit group called the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council (KORUSEC), created by Ed Buckham, a partner in the firm,[44] and located at the ASG headquarters. KORUSEC is also connected to Kevin Ring, one of Doolittle's former assistants.
Maryland '' Edward B. Miller[edit]In 2005, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena in 2005 to Edward B Miller, the deputy chief of staff of the Republican governor of Maryland, Robert L. Ehrlich, because of Miller's connection to Grassroots Interactive.[45]
See also[edit]Documentary Films[edit]References[edit]^Shapiro,Ari. "Lobbyist Abramoff Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges". NPR. The court filing is available as a PDF^Yost, Pete (May 8, 2006). "Former Aide to Rep. Ney Pleads Guilty". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. ^Susan Schmidt; James V. Grimaldi (March 23, 2007). "Former Interior Deputy Pleads Guilty in Abramoff Case". Washington Post. ^The Raw Story | Four congressmembers role in Abramoff lobbying scandal probed^Weisman, Jonathan (January 4, 2006). "GOP Leaders Seek Distance From Abramoff". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. ^The Washington Posthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/abramoff_info_010306.pdf. Retrieved May 5, 2010. ^"Lobbyist case threatens Congress". BBC News. January 4, 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2010. ^alexanderstrategy.com^U.S. lobbying inquiry shifts to a second firm - International Herald Tribune[dead link]^ abcde""Gimme Five"'--Investigation of Tribal Lobbying Matters" (PDF). Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. June 22, 2006. [dead link]^Ross, Brian; Schwartz, Rhonda (November 15, 2006). "Abramoff Reports to Prison; Officials Focus on Reid, Others". ABC News. ^McKinley, James Jr. "DeLay Sentenced to 3 Years in Conspiracy and Money-Laundering Case"The New York Times January 11, 2011.^www.bizforward.com^James V. Grimaldi (June 26, 2005). "Lobbyists, Clients Undeterred by Scandal: Alumni of Abramoff's 'Team' Still Collecting Fees, Trying to Influence Government". Washington Post. p. A05. ^"Italia Federici", SourceWatch]^Oversight Hearing Regarding Tribal Lobbying Matters, et al, November 2, 2005, Washington, DC, Part 2[dead link]^"Transcript for January 8 - Meet the Press, online at MSNBC". MSNBC. January 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-16. ^The Friends of Jack Abramoff | The Weekly Standard^Susan Schmidt; James V. Grimaldi (October 16, 2005). "How a Lobbyist Stacked the Deck'--Abramoff Used DeLay Aide, Attacks On Allies to Defeat Anti-Gambling Bill". Washington Post. p. A01. ^Susan Schmidt; James V. Grimaldi (December 29, 2005). "The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff: How a Well-Connected Lobbyist Became the Center of a Far-Reaching Corruption Scandal". Washington Post. p. A01. ^Whoriskey, Peter (January 7, 2006). "A Tribe Takes Grim Satisfaction in Abramoff's Fall". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. ^(Russian)"The lies of lobbygate", Rutland Herald Online]^Birnbaum, Jeffrey H.; Willis, Derek (June 3, 2005). "Democrats Also Got Tribal Donations". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. ^"Coming to the Hill: lots of hearing-room drama", Christian Science Monitor^Weisman, Jonathan; Willis, Derek (December 14, 2005). "Democrat on Panel Probing Abramoff to Return Tribal Donations". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. ^ abErica Werner, "Ties to ex-lobbyist Abramoff haunt NorCal Rep. Doolittle", Associated Press, January 12, 2006^The Raw Story | Bush Management and Budget Procurement chief arrested after quitting^Continetti, Michael (October 10, 2005). "Scandal Season: The long strange trip of David Safavian'--from lobbyist to defendant". The Weekly Standard. ^Schmidt, Susan (August 28, 2005). "Abramoff Cited Aid Of Interior Official". The Washington Post. ^Willis, Derek and Stanton, Laura (2005-12-12). "How Abramoff Spread the Wealth". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^War Room - Salon.com^Schmidt, Susan and Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. (2004-12-26). "Tribal Money Linked to GOP Fundraising". Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^Jon Kamman, "Hayworth, 2 others account for skyboxes: New filings omit links to lobbyist", Arizona Republic, May 10, 2005^ abKiel, Paul (2006-06-23). "Totalling Mrs. Doolittle's Take". TPMmuckraker. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^ abKiel, Paul (2006-07-03). "Abramoff's Payments to Rep's Wife Coincided with Favors". TPMmuckraker. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^Thomson, Gus (2005-12-28). "Doolittle draws increased scrutiny". Roseville Press Tribune. Retrieved 2006-08-18. [dead link]^Werner, Erica (2006-01-29). "Papers Link GOP Lawmaker, Abramoff Clients". The San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2006-09-10. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^"Letter from Congressman John T. Doolittle, Republican of California, to Speaker Ben Fitial on various issues pertaining to the NMI", Saipan Tribune, May 25, 2001^"Doolittle backs Fitial's candidacy", Saipan Tribune, August 20, 2001^Paul Kiel, "Doolittle was Abramoff Island Client's 'Hero'", TPMMuckraker.com, August 4, 2006^Lucas, Greg (2005-12-27). "Rep. Doolittle awaits fallout in lobbyist case". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^ abDavid Whitney, "Legislator tied to Abramoff hires lawyer", McClatchy News Service, April 18, 2006^ abcCalbreath, Dean (2006-03-19). "Congressman Doolittle, wife profited from Cunningham-linked contractor". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. and Grimaldi, James V. (2006-01-10). "Lobby Giant Is Scandal Casualty". Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2006-08-18. ^Mosk, Matthew (September 24, 2005). "Top Ehrlich Aide Assisting Abramoff Probe". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. External links[edit]Research/Media
Abramoff and Congressional Reform, JURISTAbramoff Team and Harry Reid's Office Had Frequent Contact[dead link]The Washington Post February 10, 2006"How Abramoff Spread the Wealth". The Washington Post. December 12, 2005. Retrieved May 5, 2010. Indian Affairs panel hears 'tale of betrayal'[dead link]The Hill, June 23, 2005.The Abramoff Galaxy: Washington Post GraphicSchmidt, Susan; Grimaldi, James V. (December 29, 2005). "The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. Branigin, William (January 3, 2006). "Unraveling Abramoff". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. Vanity fair article: "Washington's Invisible Man" A tell-all interview w/Jack Abramoff (pdf)[dead link]
Logrolling - exchange of votes
BBC News - Turkey police raid opposition media with Gulen links
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 14:35
14 December 2014Last updated at 09:33 ET Turkish police have made at least 23 arrests during raids on a newspaper and TV station with close ties to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Those detained are accused of forming an illegal organisation and trying to seize control of the state.
Mr Gulen, the spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement, is a rival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The raids come days after Mr Erdogan pledged a fresh campaign against Mr Gulen's supporters.
Among those arrested are journalists, producers, scriptwriters and a police chief in eastern Turkey.
Police attempted to raid the offices of the Zaman newspaper, one of Turkey's biggest, early on Sunday morning, but a crowd of protesters forced police to turn back before they could make arrests.
Staff at the paper also reported on the incident as it happened.
The paper's editor-in-chief, Ekrem Dumanli, tweeted a picture of himself at his desk, saying: "Officers [forced] back because of democratic reaction of my friends. I am at my place and wait."
But they returned and arrested him in a second raid in the afternoon.
Staff and supporters of the paper held placards and chanted "free press cannot be silenced" as police raided the building.
Mr Dumanli smiled and studied police documents before being led through the newspaper's headquarters to applause from staff crowded onto balconies.
"Let those who have committed a crime be scared," Mr Dumanli said as he was led away, according to Reuters.
"We are not scared."
Analysis by Mark Lowen, BBC News, IstanbulThe timing of these arrests isn't coincidental. It's almost a year to the day since the biggest corruption scandal in Turkey's modern history exploded. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, now president, was targeted, along with his inner circle. Four ministers were forced to resign. It was widely believed the government wouldn't survive.
Extraordinarily, Mr Erdogan managed to turn it around, declaring war on what he called a "parallel state": followers of his one-time ally Fetullah Gulen who he said were plotting a coup. He fired thousands of police officers and prosecutors, launching an endless tirade in the media that he's ensured is widely pro-government, and sidelined dissidents. This is stage two: arresting the critics.
Turkey already ranks 154th of 180 in the press freedom index compiled by Reporters without Borders. Human rights organisations raise concerns that freedom of expression is under attack in a country seeking EU membership.
But the Turkish government says it's a conspiracy against a country that won't tow the West's line. It talks of the "enemy within" which must be eradicated. Today's move will fuel international concerns of an eroding democracy here.
Read Mark Lowen's tweets from Turkey
'Disgrace'The chairman of Samanyolu TV, which also has links to Mr Gulen, was detained in a separate raid in Istanbul.
Hidayet Karaca told reporters the operation was "a disgrace for Turkey" before his arrest.
"Sadly in 21st Century Turkey this is the treatment they dish out to a media group with tens of television and radio stations, internet media and magazines," the English edition of Zaman quoted him as saying.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey's main opposition party, called the raids "a coup".
Staff at Zaman had been expecting the raid after details of the swoop were leaked by a Twitter user known as Fuat Avni, who has previously leaked advance details of police operations.
The police operation comes a year after corruption allegations against allies of Mr Erdogan emerged. He said it was a plot orchestrated by Mr Gulen supporters to topple him.
Mr Gulen denied this. He has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999.
On Friday Mr Edogan vowed to pursue Gulen supporters "in their lairs".
Hizmet movement Hizmet ("Service") is the Turkish name for what is commonly known as the Gulen movement The movement is inspired by the teachings of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the US Mr Gulen is a mainstream Sunni Hanafi Muslim scholar, influenced by Anatolian Sufism There is no formal structure but Hizmet followers are numbered in the millions, spread across more than 150 countries First expanded into Central Asia after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Gulen: Powerful but reclusive cleric
Profile: Hizmet movement
Turkey And The Islamic State - OpEd - Eurasia Review
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:34
By Neville Teller
No-one quite knows where Turkey stands in relation to the brutal and bloodthirsty Islamic State (IS), but there are reasons for fearing the worst. The worst, from the point of view of the West generally, as well as much of the Middle East, is that Turkey's antagonism towards Syria's President Bashar Assad outweighs any opposition it may have to IS, and that its current foreign strategy is postulated on that premise.
Underlying this position is the long-standing aim of Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to deny Kurdish aspirations for full independence, and crush the militant Kurdish organisation, the PKK '' a stance which has the full support of Ankara's political establishment. As demonstrated last autumn in the fight for Kobane, the town on the Syrian-Turkish border, rather than have the Kurds prevail the Turks would have preferred to see it overrun by IS. In the event, due to determined efforts by the US-led anti-IS alliance, Kobane has not fallen, but the Turks have sat on their hands while the battle raged.
The Western powers can perfectly well see what game Turkey is playing '' standing by while IS slogs it out with its traditional Kurdish enemies, and using the humanitarian disaster thus created to pressure the US into helping remove Assad and his Shia-supported Islamic government. In pursuit of replacing the Assad regime with one in the Sunni tradition, many fear that the Turks are actually supporting IS fighters with arms and training, as well as facilitating the flow of foreign fighters across its borders to join IS '' something that Turkey strongly denies.
Perhaps this explains the recent influx of foreign visitors to the court of Turkey's new president. First to arrive early in December was Russia's President Vladimir Putin. He was followed by a high-powered delegation of top officials from the European Union. Hard on their heels came the UK's prime minister, David Cameron. Each was seeking to pull Turkey closer to its own political interests.
Putin's visit highlighted a major disagreement between Russia and the EU involving the supply of gas to southern Europe. The South Stream pipeline project, announced in 2007, was a plan to transport natural gas from the Russian Federation through the Black Sea to Bulgaria, then through Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to Austria. The project fell foul of EU competition and energy legislation, and the difficulties could not be resolved. Putin made his trip to Turkey in order to announce that Russia was scrapping South Stream, and to name Turkey as its preferred partner for an alternative pipeline. The proposed undersea pipeline to Turkey, with an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic metres, would face no EU competition problems, since Turkey remains outside the EU.
No doubt Putin hoped that Turkey would respond by agreeing to retain its neutral stance as regards Russia's activities in Ukraine, and continue to refrain from imposing Western-style sanctions.
Facing the prospect of a new Russo-Turkish entente, and clearly fearing the worst as regards Turkish intentions in the anti-IS battle, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, together with other top EU officials, flew to Turkey on December 8 to urge its full participation in the fight against IS militants in Syria, and to persuade Turkey to stop the flow of foreign fighters across its borders.
Underlying the visit was Turkey's long-standing application, dating back to 1987, to join the EU. The visit by these top EU officials was one of the highest-profile in years and, said Mogherini, is a symbol of: '''...our desire to step up the engagement.''
The EU apparently hopes that the coincidence of a new president and prime minister in Turkey, and a new European Commission in Brussels, can mark a fresh start in EU-Turkey relations. This could at least pave the way for regular high-level talks to discuss common strategic interests, if not lead to granting Turkey's long-standing wish to join the EU.
One issue up for discussion during the visit was surely the fact that Turkey has not joined in with the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia over Ukraine. The proposed Russian-Turkish gas project clearly renders such a possibility even more remote, though EU officials doubtless pressed Turkey to join in sanctions, or at least not to take advantage of the situation by exporting affected products to Russia.
The EU officials had barely left Turkish soil before the UK's prime minister, David Cameron, flew into Ankara to try to persuade Erdogan to bend his policies in Britain's direction. In particular IS poses a direct threat to Britain's national security, both through its brutal beheadings of Western hostages and because of the growing number of British jihadists who are seeking to return home from fighting in Syria to carry out acts of terrorism.
Cameron hoped to persuade Erdogan to help track the movements of British and other foreign jihadists crossing Turkey's border with Syria. At a joint press conference with Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Prime Minister, Cameron was able to announce: ''The prime minister and I have agreed that we should exchange even more information, we should cooperate more in terms of intelligence.'' This is understood to include requiring all Turkey's airlines to share timely and accurate information about airline passengers flying from Turkish airports direct to the UK.
As for Turkey's EU aspirations, Cameron said that he discussed Turkey's accession to the EU during talks in Ankara on December 10 with Davutoglu. ''In terms of Turkish membership of the EU,'' he said, ''I very much support that. That's a longstanding position of British foreign policy.''
Cameron's difficulty is that Turkey, though a member of Nato, has a very different take on the Syrian conflict, and persuading Turkey's leaders to alter their focus from overthrowing Assad to defeating IS is a task probably beyond Cameron, let alone the high-powered EU delegation that preceded him in Ankara.
In fact, Erdogan has already announced the terms on which he might be persuaded to be more active in supporting the anti-IS alliance. His most specific demand is the creation of a buffer and no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syrian border, protected from Assad's troops and aircraft. This would represent a serious escalation of the conflict, since establishing a no-fly zone could involve destroying a good chunk of Assad's air defence system. Moreover, artillery within the range of the buffer zone might also have to be targeted.
There is also the implication for relations with Iran. Creating a buffer zone would be seen by Iran as an invasion of a key ally, and it might well scupper any hope the US may have of linking the on-going nuclear talks with securing Iran's support for a managed political transition that removes Assad but preserves much of the Syrian state.
All in all, the chances of persuading Turkey to abandon its somewhat equivocal approach to the Syrian conflict seem somewhat remote.
Mysterious '08 Turkey Pipeline Blast Opened New Cyberwar Era - Bloomberg
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 19:24
The pipeline was outfitted with sensors and cameras to monitor every step of its 1,099 miles from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The blast that blew it out of commission didn't trigger a single distress signal.
That was bewildering, as was the cameras' failure to capture the combustion in eastern Turkey. But investigators shared their findings within a tight circle. The Turkish government publicly blamed a malfunction, Kurdish separatists claimed credit and BP Plc (BP/) had the line running again in three weeks. The explosion that lit up the night sky over Refahiye, a town known for its honey farms, seemed to be forgotten.
It wasn't. For western intelligence agencies, the blowout was a watershed event. Hackers had shut down alarms, cut off communications and super-pressurized the crude oil in the line, according to four people familiar with the incident who asked not to be identified because details of the investigation are confidential. The main weapon at valve station 30 on Aug. 5, 2008, was a keyboard.
The revelation ''rewrites the history of cyberwar,'' said Derek Reveron, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Countries have been laying the groundwork for cyberwar operations for years, and companies have been hit recently with digital broadsides bearing hallmarks of government sponsorship. Sony Corp.'s network was raided by hackers believed to be aligned with North Korea, and sources have said JPMorgan Chase & Co. blamed an August assault on Russian cyberspies. Security researchers just uncovered what they said was a campaign by Iranian hackers that targeted commercial airlines, looking for vulnerabilities that could be used in physical attacks.
Energy PoliticsThe Refahiye explosion occurred two years before Stuxnet, the computer worm that in 2010 crippled Iran's nuclear-enrichment program, widely believed to have been deployed by Israel and the U.S. It turns out the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline hackers were ahead of them. The chief suspect, according to U.S. intelligence officials, is Russia.
The sabotage of the BTC line -- which follows a route through the former Soviet Union that the U.S. mapped out over Russian objections -- marked another chapter in the belligerent energy politics of Eurasia. Days after the explosion, Russian fighter jets dropped bombs near the line in neighboring Georgia. Alexander Dugin, an influential advocate of Russian expansionism and at the time an adviser to the Russian parliament, was quoted in a Turkish newspaper declaring the BTC was ''dead.''
Kinetic EffectsThe obituary was premature, but the attack proved to U.S. officials that they were right to be concerned about the vulnerability of pipelines that snake for hundreds of thousands of miles across Europe and North America. National Security Agency experts had been warning the lines could be blown up from a distance, without the bother of conventional weapons. The attack was evidence other nations had the technology to wage a new kind of war, three current and former U.S. officials said.
''The timing really is the significance,'' said Chris Blask, chairman of the Industrial Control System Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which works with utilities and pipeline companies. ''Stuxnet was discovered in 2010 and this was obviously deployed before that. This is another point on the timeline'' in the young history of cyberwar.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Russian government was behind the Refahiye explosion, according to two of the people briefed on the investigation. The evidence is circumstantial, they said, based on the possible motive and the level of sophistication. The attackers also left behind a tantalizing clue.
Infrared CameraAlthough as many as 60 hours of surveillance video were erased by the hackers, a single infrared camera not connected to the same network captured images of two men with laptop computers walking near the pipeline days before the explosion, according to one of the people, who has reviewed the video. The men wore black military-style uniforms without insignias, similar to the garb worn by special forces troops.
''Given Russia's strategic interest, there will always be the question of whether the country had a hand in it,'' said Emily Stromquist, an energy analyst for Eurasia Group, a political risk firm based in Washington.
Nikolay Lyaschenko, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, didn't respond to two e-mails and a phone call.
Eleven companies -- including majority-owner BP, a subsidiary of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, Chevron Corp. and Norway's Statoil ASA (STL) -- built the line, which has carried more than two billion barrels of crude since opening in 2006.
Circumventing RussiaIt starts in Azerbaijan, traverses Georgia and then enters Turkey, ending at the port city of Ceyhan. It was routed south to circumvent Russia, a blow to that country's aims to reassert control over Central Asia, a major pipeline deliberately built outside Russian territory to carry crude from the Caspian.
Traversing strategic, politically unsettled terrain, the line was built to be one of the most secure in the world. The 3-foot 6-inch diameter pipe is buried underground and punctuated by fenced valve stations designed to isolate sections in case of emergency and to contain leaks.
According to investigators, every mile was monitored by sensors. Pressure, oil flow and other critical indicators were fed to a central control room via a wireless monitoring system. In an extra measure, they were also sent by satellite.
The explosion, at around 11 p.m. on a warm summer night, was spectacular. Residents described feeling the heat a half mile away, and patients at a nearby hospital reported hearing a thunderous boom.
First MysteryAlmost immediately, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, an armed separatist group in Turkey, claimed credit. It made sense because of the PKK's history of bombing pipelines. The Turkish government's claim of mechanical failure, on the other hand, was widely disputed in media reports. Hilmi Guler, then Turkey's energy minister, said at the time there was no evidence of sabotage. Neither he nor officials at the Energy Ministry responded to requests for comment.
Huseyin Sagir, a spokesman for Botas International Ltd., the state-run company that operates the pipeline in Turkey, said the line's computer systems hadn't been tampered with. ''We have never experienced any kind of signal jamming attack or tampering on the communication lines, or computer systems,'' Sagir said in an e-mail. He didn't respond to questions about what caused the explosion. BP spokesman Toby Odone referred questions to Botas.
The BTC was shut down because of what BP referred to in its 2008 annual report simply as a fire.
Malicious ProgramThe investigators -- from Turkey, the U.K., Azerbaijan and other countries -- went quietly about their business. The first mystery they set out to solve was why the elaborate system in place to detect leaks of oil or a fire didn't work as planned.
Instead of receiving digital alerts from sensors placed along the line, the control room didn't learn about the blast until 40 minutes after it happened, from a security worker who saw the flames, according to a person who worked on the probe.
As investigators followed the trail of the failed alarm system, they found the hackers' point of entry was an unexpected one: the surveillance cameras themselves.
The cameras' communication software had vulnerabilities the hackers used to gain entry and move deep into the internal network, according to the people briefed on the matter.
Once inside, the attackers found a computer running on a Windows operating system that was in charge of the alarm-management network, and placed a malicious program on it. That gave them the ability to sneak back in whenever they wanted.
Extensive ReconnaissanceThe central element of the attack was gaining access to the operational controls to increase the pressure without setting off alarms. Because of the line's design, the hackers could manipulate the pressure by cracking into small industrial computers at a few valve stations without having to hack the main control room.
The presence of the attackers at the site could mean the sabotage was a blended attack, using a combination of physical and digital techniques. The super-high pressure may have been enough on its own to create the explosion, according to two of the people familiar with the incident. No evidence of a physical bomb was found.
Having performed extensive reconnaissance on the computer network, the infiltrators tampered with the units used to send alerts about malfunctions and leaks back to the control room. The back-up satellite signals failed, which suggested to the investigators that the attackers used sophisticated jamming equipment, according to the people familiar with the probe.
Investigators compared the time-stamp on the infrared image of the two people with laptops to data logs that showed the computer system had been probed by an outsider. It was an exact match, according to the people familiar with the investigation.
'Terrorism Act'Years later, BP claimed in documents filed in a legal dispute that it wasn't able to meet shipping contracts after the blast due to ''an act of terrorism.''
The explosion caused more than 30,000 barrels of oil to spill in an area above a water aquifer and cost BP and its partners $5 million a day in transit tariffs during the closure, according to communications between BP and its bankers cited in ''The Oil Road,'' a book about the pipeline.
Some of the worst damage was felt by the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which lost $1 billion in export revenue while the line was shut down, according to Jamala Aliyeva, a spokeswoman for the fund.
A pipeline bombing may fit the profile of the PKK, which specializes in extortion, drug smuggling and assaults on foreign companies, said Didem Akyel Collinsworth, an Istanbul-based analyst for the International Crisis Group. But she said the PKK doesn't have advanced hacking capabilities. ''That's not their modus operandi,'' she said. ''It's always been very physical, very basic insurgency stuff.''
Potential RivalsU.S. spy agencies probed the BTC blast independently, gathering information from foreign communications intercepts and other sources, according to one of the people familiar with the inquiry. American intelligence officials believe the PKK -- which according to leaked State Department cables has received arms and intelligence from Russia -- may have arranged in advance with the attackers to take credit, the person said.
The U.S. was interested in more than just motive. The Pentagon at the time was assessing the cyber capabilities of potential rivals, as well as weaknesses in its own defenses. Since that attack, both Iran and China have hacked into U.S. pipeline companies and gas utilities, apparently to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited later.
Critical ServicesAs tensions over the Ukraine crisis have mounted, Russian cyberspies have been detected planting malware in U.S. systems that deliver critical services like electricity and water, according to John Hultquist, senior manager for cyber espionage threat intelligence at Dallas-based iSight Partners, which first revealed the activity in October.
Russian hackers also targeted sensitive documents related to a NATO summit in September, hitting dozens of computers belonging to the Ukrainian government and others, according to an iSight report.
In the U.S., ''it is only a matter of the 'when,' not the 'if,' that we are going to see something dramatic,'' Michael Rogers, director of the NSA and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, told the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 20. ''I fully expect that during my time as the commander we are going to be tasked to help defend critical infrastructure.''
Three days after the BTC blast, Russia went to war with Georgia, and Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri accused Russia of sending the jets to bomb the BTC near the city of Rustavi. The bombs missed their presumed target, some by only a few feet, and the pipeline remained undamaged. The keyboard was the better weapon.
For Related News and Information: Russian Government Tied to Utilities Hacks, Security Firms Say Russian Hackers Tracking Ukraine Crisis Stole NATO Secrets UglyGorilla Hack of U.S. Utility Exposes Cyberwar Threats Digital Arms Makers Building NSA Arsenal From Cyber Flaws N. Korea's Fingerprints Said Found in Malware Crippling Sony
To contact the reporters on this story: Jordan Robertson in Washington at jrobertson40@bloomberg.net; Michael Riley in Washington at michaelriley@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net; Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net Anne Reifenberg
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ISIS's brutal beheading video: Search for clues - CNN.com
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:52
It was a killing choreographed for maximum brutality: The simultaneous beheading of 22 Syrian captives held by ISIS.
In November, ISIS released a propaganda video titled "Though the Unbelievers Despise It." It featured the apparent murder of an American hostage, Peter Kassig (known as Abdul Rahman Kassig after his conversion to Islam), and the mass killing of what appear to be nearly two dozen Syrian soldiers.
The US-based terrorism research organization TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) and UK-based counter-extremism think tank Quilliam have analyzed the footage frame-by-frame to understand the video's production techniques, the identity of the hostages and their killers, and the visual significance of such calculated brutality.
Here are some of their findings:
The video would have cost at least $200,000 to produce, according to TRAC. Similar to a feature film, the video features multiple takes using HD cameras to create images of a professional quality.Nearly all the killers appear unmasked and are clearly identifiable. There are 22 ISIS fighters of varying ethnicities and nationalities, all wearing the same camouflage uniforms. They are led by the militant known to the British press as "Jihadi John," the masked fighter with a British accent responsible for the killing of western hostages.Only one of the killers has been identified: Maxime Hauchard, a Muslim convert from France. Several other countries are now investigating whether any of their citizens are in the video.Lighting and shadows reveal the video was shot over a 4 to 6 hour period. The video was shot in multiple takes, and contains several inconsistencies. The order of the killers and prisoners in the line-up is switched in several places. In certain frames, fighters are seen chatting with one another, apparently passing time between takes.Two of the ISIS fighters wear clip-on microphones, but their audio is not recorded. It's possible their recorded messages were either cut out or have been saved for a future release.Three of the killers are have been edited out of the video, seen only in transitional sequences. This includes a fighter in a balaclava, the only masked militant other than "Jihadi John." TRAC believes the second masked militant may be acting as a body double for "Jihadi John," someone who acts as a decoy in case of an airstrike.Click on the numbers on the photo below for more analysis:
ISIS trying to sell beheaded body of James Foley for $1mn '-- RT USA
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 05:38
Published time: December 12, 2014 02:35Edited time: December 12, 2014 05:27James Foley (AFP Photo)
The Islamic State shocked the world in August when it released a video depicting the brutal murder of American photojournalist James Foley, and now it is trying to capitalize on that killing by selling the man's body for $1 million.
Three middlemen '' one a businessman, one a former rebel fighter in Syria, and one a senior official in the Free Syrian Army '' told Buzzfeed that the Islamic State (IS, or ISIS/ISIL) is trying to sell Foley's remains to either the United States government or the journalist's family.
READ MORE:Islamic State militants behead missing American journalist
Under the known terms of the proposed deal, the militants would hand over Foley's body in Turkey in exchange for the money. The extremist group, which gained wide swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria over the summer, said it would offer a DNA sample to prove the remains really belonged to Foley.
''They ask for $1 million, and they will send DNA to Turkey, but they want the money first,'' said the former rebel to the website. ''They will not give the DNA without the money.''
The tactic has been met with considerable scorn online and in the media. But for IS, a successful deal could mean another source of funding for its violent campaign to establish a caliphate. The group has successfully sold hostages to many foreign governments, allowing it to secure millions of dollars, but the United States and Britain have thus far refused to pay ransoms.
Having executed three Americans already, it is possible that the militants believe their remains could bring their families to the table with cash. It is unclear if the group is also trying to sell the bodies of journalist Steve Sotloff and former solider Peter Kassig.
However, even if Foley's family is interested in buying his remains, the US government could intervene and stop the deal from taking place. Before the journalist's murder, the family expressed interest in paying the ransom demanded by IS, but Foley's mother and brother said government officials had threatened them with prosecution if they moved forward and tried to raise money.
READ MORE:Kerry to Congress: Don't limit ISIS war or block ground troops
If the government itself buys Foley's body or allows the family to deal with IS, though, it could be hit with severe criticism, the Free Syrian Army official told BuzzFeed.
''It will be like a shame for the US government,'' the official said. ''People will ask why you brought the body but you didn't bring him when he was alive.''
IRBIL, Iraq: Sources: U.S. air strikes in Syria targeted French agent who defected to al Qaida | Syria | McClatchy DC
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 21:50
IRBIL, Iraq '-- A former French intelligence officer who defected to al Qaida was among the targets of the first wave of U.S. air strikes in Syria last month, according to people familiar with the defector's movements and identity.
Two European intelligence officials described the former French officer as the highest ranking defector ever to go over to the terrorist group and called his defection one of the most dangerous developments in the West's long confrontation with al Qaida.
The identity of the officer is a closely guarded secret. Two people, independently of one another, provided the same name, which McClatchy is withholding pending further confirmation. All of the sources agreed that a former French officer was one of the people targeted when the United States struck eight locations occupied by the Nusra Front, al Qaida's Syrian affiliate. The former officer apparently survived the assault, which included strikes by 47 cruise missiles.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that the assault on the Nusra Front locations, which came as the Americans and coalition partners also struck Islamic State positions elsewhere, was aimed at members of what the Obama administration has dubbed the Khorasan group, a unit of top-level terror operatives who had been dispatched to Syria to plot attacks on the West.
The only member of that unit U.S. officials have identified is Muhsin al Fahdli, a 33-year-old one-time confidant of al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden. The United States offered a $7 million reward in October 2012 for information leading to Fahdli's death or capture. Twitter accounts associated with jihadi sympathizers have said Fahdli was killed, but U.S. officials have said that information remains unconfirmed.
The former French officer may have been a more important target. Syrian rebels battling to topple President Bashar Assad said that U.S. officials had told them before the strikes that they were closely monitoring the defector's movements.
European intelligence officials said the former officer had defected from either French military intelligence or from France's foreign intelligence agency, the General Directorate for External Security, known by its French-language acronym as the DGSE.
The former officer, according to one rebel source, is an explosives expert who fought in Afghanistan and in Syria with al Qaida and had assembled a group of about five men that was operating out of a mosque in Idlib.
The French operative is ''still alive and kicking'' after the airstrikes, said one European intelligence official, who described the man as ''highly trained in Western intelligence trade-craft and explosives.'' The combination of Western-style intelligence training and devout jihadist beliefs made him among the most dangerous of al Qaida operatives, the intelligence official said.
It was unknown whether the former officer's al Qaida sympathies were missed during the French vetting process or manifested themselves later.
Four European intelligence agents from a variety of countries with a range of knowledge of the situation were able to confirm or partially confirm the French agent's existence. All declined to speak for attribution because of the sensitive nature of the information and because they feared being charged criminally in their home countries for revealing classified information. One called the existence of the French officer ''absolutely top secret.''
''I'm rather appalled I'm even having this conversation,'' he said.
''We don't know if he was sleeper [agent] or radicalized after he joined the service,'' said another European intelligence official familiar with the man's background. ''I assume my French colleagues are working hard to determine that and if they have figured it out, they certainly aren't sharing how they ended up in this mess, which as you could expect they find rather embarrassing.''
Two European intelligence sources provided the man's name but asked that it not be published '' one cited possible violence in France against the man's family. Both independently provided the same name.
When reached for comment on the situation, a U.S. intelligence official refused to provide any information.
Three attempts to discuss the matter with French intelligence services were rebuffed. ''There is no way I am going to discuss this matter'' was one response.
An intelligence official from a third country, who said that his familiarity with the situation stemmed only from casual conversation and not from an official briefing, said the situation represents an ''epic nightmare that we have so far been spared.''
''We've seen Arab partners lose well trained people to these groups, and in a handful of cases those defectors have benefited from our training through partnership programs,'' he said. ''It's the cost of doing business when you aid some of our regional allies.''
But the French officer's defection, he said, is the first he'd heard of by ''someone with legitimate security clearance and Western-style vetting and training.''
''As embarrassed as the French must be right now, it should be pointed out that the French services are highly regarded within the intelligence community as consummate and loyal professionals,'' he said. ''This failure, and I do believe this happened, must be seen in the context as an outlier and not anything systematic about the French services.''
One European official directly familiar with the case said the partial confusion over the man's resume '' which has been alternately described as French Special Forces, military intelligence or DGSE '' probably stems from the overlapping ''seconding'' process where specialists move between branches of the government on a fairly regular basis.
''It sounds likely he started as French military and maybe because of an Arabic family background and appearance, language skills and a high degree of competency, he would then be loaned out to different aspects of the French services,'' the European official said. ''Everyone does that all the time,'' he said, citing as an example a member of the U.S. military's Special Operations Command being assigned to the CIA.
For their part, Syrian rebels, who are already furious at the United States for not notifying them in advance about the strikes and for not including Assad government facilities among the targets, expressed puzzlement at why the U.S. government hadn't approached them about trying to seize the man.
But a European intelligence official said the decision to try to strike the defector with a missile rather than capture him was in part to keep the French agent's existence a secret. ''Perhaps some problems are best buried forever under a pile of rubble,'' he said.
Roy Gutman contributed to this story from Istanbul.
Prothero is a McClatchy special correspondent. Email: mprothero@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @mitchprothero
SITE-Report: Islamic State Claims 'Radioactive Device' Now in Europe | Washington Free Beacon
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 03:40
Smoke billows behind an Islamic State group sign / AP
BY:Adam KredoDecember 8, 2014 4:35 pm
An alleged weapons maker for the Islamic State (IS) claimed that a ''radioactive device'' has been smuggled into an undisclosed location in Europe, according to an intelligence brief released Monday by the SITE Intelligence Group.
''A Radioactive Device has entered somewhere in Europe,'' according Twitter user Muslim-Al-Britani, who claims to be a freelance jihadist weapons maker now working alongside IS (also known as ISIL or ISIS), according to tweets captured and disseminated by SITE.
The claim by Al-Britani comes just days after reports emerged that IS could have in its possession a dirty bomb, the elements of which were obtained via earlier IS raids on a university research facility in Mosul that contained uranium. Al-Britani is also responsible for the flurry of reports on the dirty bomb.
Al-Britani, who has disseminated on his Twitter feed ''weapon instructions and manuals,'' claimed on Nov. 23 that the ''Islamic State does have a dirty bomb. We found some radioactive material from Mosul university,'' according to the tweets reproduced by SITE.
While it is difficult to assess the veracity of Al-Britani's claims, U.S. officials have expressed concern about IS potentially smuggling nuclear and radioactive material out of Iraq.
U.S. and Iraqi officials inked a pact in September meant to step up efforts to combat this type of smuggling, which the United States deemed a ''critical'' threat.
''There's always a concern about radiological or radioactive sources,'' a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon at the time.
While the United States, at that time, was ''not aware of any cases of these types of material being smuggled out of the country thus far,'' ISIL could potentially use these radioactive materials to create a crude bomb, the official said.
''This is the kind of thing where if ISIL got its hands on enough radioactive sources or radioactive sources of a sufficient radioactivity level and they decided to turn it into a bomb and blow it up in a market, that would be a very unpleasant thing,'' the official said.
Iraq reportedly informed the United Nations in July that terrorists had seized nuclear materials being housed at Mosul University. Some 90 pounds of uranium were said to have been stolen, according to reports.
Former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin said that intelligence officials should be considering the information disseminated by purported IS confidants.
''Too often, counterterrorism officials plan to prevent replication of the last terror attack,'' Rubin said. ''Terror groups, however, plan to shock with something new.''
''Maybe Britani is lying, and maybe he's not. But Western officials would be foolish to assume that just because something hasn't happened yet, it won't,'' Rubin said. ''The terrorist groups have the motivation and, thanks to post-withdrawal vacuum created in Iraq, the means to strike the West like never before.''
The threats also should factor into the ongoing debates about border control, according to Rubin.
''Perhaps it's also time to recognize that open borders and successful counter-terrorism are mutually exclusive,'' he said. ''It's a lesson that might fly in the face of Obama's ideology, but reality will always trump political spin.''
Bio | Ming Holden
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 20:04
Ovoo, Ulaanbaaar, Mongolia
A creative writer, artist, and international development worker, Ming Holden was invited by the US Embassy to Suriname to a diplomatic speaking engagement under the U.S. Speakers Program for 2014 Women's History Month. (Here is the press release.) In 2011, she founded the Survival Girls, a theater group for young Congolese women in the slums of Nairobi. Her book about the experience, the nonfiction novella The Survival Girls, came out in 2013 through Wolfram Productions. Ming also won the USAID worldwide essay contest for inclusion in the USAID Frontiers in Developmentpublication alongside work by Bill Gates, Indra Noori, Paul Collier, and others. Her essay about the Survival Girls got some love from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself in the book's introduction! (Ming's writing about the Girls was also nominated for the AWP Intro Award for Nonfiction.)
Ming won Glimmer Train's 2013 Family Matters story contest and The Chattahoochee Review's 2013 nonfiction contest, and her nonfiction has placed as a finalist or runner-up for the annual nonfiction prizes at Arts & Letters, Passages North, and the Crab Orchard Review. While an undergraduate at Brown University ('07), Ming co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Brown Literary Review. Ming served the Mongolian Writers Union as its first-ever International Relations Adviser during her year as a Henry Luce Scholar in Mongolia and worked towards the formation of a Mongolia PEN Center. She has since returned to Mongolia to work for The Asia Foundation on a literary translation and advocated for an exiled Chinese writer in Turkey at the Writers and Literary Translators International Congress 2010, where she was the youngest presenter and one of the only Americans.
She is also the recipient of the Herman Wells Graduate Fellowship, Indiana University's most prestigious student award, designated for ''leadership abilities, character, social consciousness, and generosity of spirit,'' and the Woon-Joon Yoon Memorial Fellowship, for ''students who have exemplified tolerance and understanding across racial and religious lines through service, personal commitment, academic achievement and future potential.'' (Here's thepress release for the Wells.)
Before relocating to the Midwest, She has worked in Russia (at the Silver Taiga Sustainable Forestry Foundation); Syria (with Every Syrian); Turkey (independently); Ecuador (at the CEMOPLAF family planning clinic); Bolivia (at the Rio Beni Health Project); Mongolia (at The Asia Foundation); Kenya (at the UNHCR); Suriname (through the American Embassy); and also in New York (at Archipelago Books) and California (at People Helping People).
Ming's poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, photography, and literary translations have appeared in Alchemy, Arts & Letters, Cerise Press, The Best American Poetry Blog, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Huffington Post, Molotov Cocktail, Passages North, Peaches and Bats, The Poker, the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, the Santa Barbara Independent, Slice Magazine's blog, and others. She taught a cross-genre workshop at the Richard Hugo House. She stars at Janey in the Plaza Playhouse production of Calamity Jane in Carpinteria, and over the summer played the role of Reika in Dijo Production's Ghetto.
A Recipient of the University of California's Special Regents Fellowship, Ming is currently pursuing a PhD in the Theater and Dance Department. She was a part of the pilot Graduate Affiliate Fellow program at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, and this year she is the teaching assistant and research assistant for the Odyssey Project, which brings incarcerated young men to the UCSB campus for a theater workshop.
A list of Ming's publications is here. A list of her honors and awards is here.
She's got profiles in all the usual places: LinkedIn, Picasa, Youtube, & Facebook.
What ISIS really wants: Potato chips and candy
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 02:47
What do jihadi militants crave on break at the battlefront? Pringles are one frontline favourite. Another is Red Bull.
Thousands of foreign fighters who have flocked to Syria want to create an austere Islamic state harking back to the past. But they have retained their taste for the modern-day snacks and gadgets of the western countries they disdain.
Locals are not only living in fear of these militants, who use brutal mass executions and beheadings to impose their rule, but they are also trying to find ways to survive an economic crisis provoked by three years of civil war. Many say that the best strategy is catering to the tastes of the fighters they loathe.
Read MoreISIS's effect on oil
Crisps, chocolates, energy drinks and non-alcoholic beer are the treats of choice for many foreigners fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which has expanded across a swath of Syria and Iraq. It claims to be building a caliphate to emulate the days of Islam's prophet Mohammed.
More from The Financial Times:Jihadis exploit porous European bordersKobani fighters crave blood and batteriesFueling ISIS Inc.
Isis' religious edicts and foreign fighters' tastes are transforming local economies in areas the group occupies. Shops selling alcohol are closed, while junk food vendors, clothing stores '' especially ones offering military-style apparel '' and mobile phone shops make a modest profit.
"The economy in Isis areas is now driven by the foreign fighters. Everything else is at zero," says Saleh, a clothing retailer from the central Syrian city of Raqqa.
Many shopkeepers in Syria's rural east had never heard of energy drinks like Red Bull before foreign Isis fighters arrived. Nor had vendors in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor ever dreamt of selling Snickers or Bounty '' the favourite brands of chocolate bars for militants from Europe and the Gulf.
"These snacks were either unknown, or luxuries we couldn't afford'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰But when the fighters requested them, I didn't ask questions. I ran to my supplier and placed an order," says Nassim, a shopkeeper who used a pseudonym for his safety. "Pringles and Snickers? Isis guys buy those by the box to share at the front."
In Raqqa, a vendor who asks to be identified as Qasim says a can of Red Bull costs around 250 Syrian lira (about $1.50), while in Deir Ezzor, a tube of Pringles cost about $5.50. Both are well above the average $3 per day that most Syrians in the area now live on.
Local businessmen buy the crisps and non-alcoholic beer from regime-held areas, and add an extra 10 per cent to the price to cover the bribes at army checkpoints. Energy drinks and chocolates are brought over the border from Turkey.
Locals say Isis foreign fighters have a basic salary of at least $215 dollars a month '' twice the average income civilians can hope to earn. On top of that are shares of war loot, a $3 daily food stipend, and frequent bonuses.
"They never even check prices," says Saleh. "Money isn't a concern for them."
In eastern Syria, shops in areas where local residents carry battered Nokia phones are now stocking the latest smartphones. The town of Deir Ezzor is under siege by Syrian forces and is often bombed up to 20 times a day, but that has not stopped eager local traders from using the only river crossing to bring in Samsung Galaxies and iPhones.
"We even have the iPhone 6 in Deir Ezzor," says a shopkeeper who asked not to be named. "The Isis guys, especially the ones from the Gulf, are obsessed with mobiles," he adds. "Every time a model comes out, they trade in their old one and buy the newest thing. If they don't bring a local [to the shop], you can add another 30 to 40 dollars. Maybe even more."
But while some businesses are thriving, others have disappeared: caf(C)s '' once a focus of neighbourhood life in Syrian towns '' are now non-existent.
Read MoreISIS declares its own currency
"What do you do in a caf(C)? You smoke. That's forbidden," Qasim says. "Isis was always raiding caf(C)s in Raqqa '' they were the symbol of activist meetings and lovers' rendezvous '' both absolutely unacceptable to Isis."
Harsh laws separating men and women have also made restaurants less popular for locals.
"Now all the restaurants in Raqqa except one have moved to delivery '' we prefer to go home and eat among ourselves without them. The one restaurant that's open is filled with Isis fighters," Qasim says.
Shopkeepers and caf(C) owners are relieved to find a way to make ends meet in Isis controlled areas. But for the vast majority of Syrians, even the fighters' simple snack cravings are a bitter reminder of their second-class status.
"They govern us in the name of religion, living the good life while everyone else suffers," Nassim says. "Sometimes my customers say 'God willing, they'll eat it [the junk food] and get poisoned.' But there is nothing we can do."
Red Bull en Pringles voor buitenlandse strijders IS
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 02:47
Het bestuur Het kalifaat van Islamitische Staat draait op geld, angst en een beetje sympathie. Syrirs die verbonden zijn of waren aan IS vertelden de Volkskrant achter het front in Turkije over de methode-IS. Altijd meer betalen dan je rivalen, zonder pardon honderden burgers afslachten, maar ook de elektriciteitskabels repareren.
Dit is deel twee van een tweeluik. Lees hier deel (C)(C)n.
Door: Irene de Zwaan 13 december 2014, 23:00Hoe Islamitische Staat een stad inneemt en naar zijn hand zet, maakte rebellencommandant Shuja al-Nuweiji (41) vier maanden geleden aan den lijve mee. Deir Ezzor was volledig omsingeld door IS. Al-Nuweiji en zijn 210 manschappen van de al-Muhajireen ela Allah-brigade, die onderdeel uitmaakt van het Vrije Syrische Leger, werden voor de keuze gesteld: gedood worden, de wapens inleveren of aan de zijde van IS vechten.
NORWAY-ID now required at border crossings
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 14:32
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ISIS release images of execution after man found guilty of sodomy | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:42
An Islamic court ruled that he should be flung from the highest buildingThey posted the graphic images on a jihadist websiteIt is unknown whether the man died instantly from his injuriesThis is the third execution for homosexuality in less than a monthWARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT By Henry Austin For Mailonline
Published: 08:01 EST, 10 December 2014 | Updated: 11:15 EST, 10 December 2014
Chilling new images released by ISIS militants show a group of fighters throwing a man off the roof of a building for being gay.
Moments before he is flung to his death, a mob of at least eight men can be seen atop of the building that is believed to be somewhere in northern Iraq.
Posted on a jihadist website the group go on to show the graphic images of the man's body before seeking to justify the brutal execution.
After dragging the man to the top of a building the mob threw him to his death after he was found guilty by an Islamic court of being gay
Heavily armed, balaclava clad Islamic State fighters read the judgement which said the man who was found guilty of being gay, should be thrown off the highest point in the city, which is believed to be somewhere in northern Iraq
It is not known whether the man died instantly after being thrown from the roof. The Islamic court ruled that he should also be stoned to death
'The Islamic court in Wilayet al-Furat decided that a man who has practised sodomy must be thrown off the highest point in the city,' they said in a statement accompanying the images, adding that he would also be 'stoned to death.'
Wilayet al-Furat refers to an area stretching across the Syrian-Iraqi frontier, where the Euphrates river flows from Syria into Iraq.
It is not known whether the man died instantly after being thrown off the roof.
It is the third time in less than a month that the jihadist group has used the brutal execution method for alleged homosexuality.
After claiming they found videos on his mobile phone showing him 'practicing indecent acts with males,' a 20-year old man was stoned to death in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor in late November, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The London based activist group also claimed that an 18-year-old man was subjected to the same punishment in a separate incident.
Public executions are popular with the group who rule parts of northern Iraq and Syria with an iron fist, meting out harsh punishments for actions they see as violating their interpretation of Islamic law, such as adultery, stealing and blasphemy.
They have also killed a smaller number of foreign captives.
With children watching in the crowd, the group beheaded a man in northern Syria after accusing him of 'offending Allah' yesterday, reported the Observatory, which tracks the conflict using its own sources on the ground.
A statement posted on a jihadist website said the man admitted to blasphemy before being killed in the countryside of Raqqa province, which the hard line group controls.
A senior commander of Al Qaeda in Yemen has blasted his ISIS rivals for carrying out beheadings calling them 'very barbaric' and 'unacceptable' in the name of Jihad.
Although his group is suspected a number of executions, including the beheading of 15 Yemeni soldiers in August, Nasr bin Ali al-Ansi claimed that the executions were were 'individual acts' and not endorsed by the leadership.
'Filming and promoting it among people in the name of Islam and Jihad is a big mistake and not acceptable whatever the justifications are,' al-Ansi said in a video response to questions by reporters posted on one of the group's Twitter accounts.
'This is very barbaric,' he added in the video which appeared to have recorded the interview before British born hostage Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie were killed by militants during a rescue attempt by US special forces.
The Yemeni branch of the terror group is, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seen by the US as the group's most dangerous al Qaeda affiliate globally.
The group has criticized ISIS before for trying to expand its territory.
Al-Ansi went on to say that the drone strikes stoke popular outrage that boosts al Qaeda's popularity.
'While they kill some of the jihadis, the U.S. drone strikes increase the sympathy of Muslims with us,' he said, adding, 'thanks to the blood of the martyrs, the call for jihad spreads.'
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‘Daesh’: John Kerry starts calling the Islamic State a name they hate
'Daesh': John Kerry starts calling the Islamic State a name they hate - The Washington Post
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 05:01
On Wednesday, John Kerry was speaking at NATO headquarters in Belgium during a meeting of the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State extremist group. During his remarks, the secretary of state made a subtle, yet noteworthy, change to the language he was using: He began referring to the Islamic State by a name they hate.
After Kerry's first reference to the group in the speech, Kerry stopped referring to the group as ISIL (short for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and instead began referring to them as Daesh, an acronym for the group based on the Arabic original.
Kerry has rarely used the term Daesh to refer to the Islamic State. In October, he sporadically used the phrase while talking with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, though he still used ISIL in most references. On Wednesday, however, Kerry referred to the group as Daesh almost exclusively '' he used the term 16 times and only used ISIL twice.
Naming the Islamic State has proved a problem for many organizations since the Sunni Islamist extremist group gained traction in Iraq this year. At first, many referred to it as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the acronym ISIS. However, due to differences over how the name should be translated from its Arabic original, the U.S. government and some others referred to them as ISIL.
The group later announced that it should simply be called the "Islamic State" '' a reference to the idea that the group was breaking down state borders to form a new caliphate '' and many media organizations (including The Washington Post) began to refer to them this way. That in turn led to some complications: Islamic clerics around the world expressed anger at the extremist group being used to portray all of Islam, and requested that it be called by another name (a group of British imams suggested calling it the "Un-Islamic State," arguing that it was "neither Islamic, nor is it a state").
In most Arabic nations, however, the group is generally referred to as Daesh. Historian and blogger Pieter van Ostaeyen wrote this year that that word was a transliteration of an Arabic word (داعش), an acronym for al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham (which is itself a transliteration of the group's Arabic name: اÙدÙÙØ(C) اÙØ¥Ø"ÙاميØ(C) في اÙعراق ÙاÙشام). The word can be transliterated a variety of different ways: The Washington Post uses DAIISH, but DAASH, DAIISH and DAISH are also used.
Some non-Arab countries, including France, have begun using the name, too. "I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in September. "The Arabs call it 'Daesh' and I will be calling them the 'Daesh cutthroats.' ''
Swapping one acronym for another may not seem like too big a deal. But there's an interesting detail here: According to multiple reports, the Islamic State loathes the name. There have been reports of the Islamic State threatening to cut out the tongues of anyone who used the phrase publicly, perhaps due to the word's similarity to another Arabic word, دعØ", or Das, which means to trample down or crush. The word "Daeshi" is used as an insult by anti-Islamic State groups.
It's tempting to believe that Kerry was getting his revenge on the Islamic State, which has insulted him personally in the past year, but Kerry may just have been showing deference to his audience, many of whom were Arab leaders. On Friday, a State Department spokesperson denied reports that there was any change in policy. "In routine matters and documents, the Department refers to the terrorist organization as ISIL," the spokesperson said.
Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
ISIS in Arizona WTF
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 03:06
ISIS provides worldwide security, intelligence, technology and training to government and private enterprises. ISIS is strategically positioned across the globe, with a highly credentialed management team and personnel. We have a superlative track record for delivering exceptional service and support to the most demanding of clients in the most challenging of circumstances.
ISTANBUL: Suspected Israeli war jets strike near Damascus airport | Israel | McClatchy DC
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:43
ISTANBUL '-- Suspected Israeli aircraft bombed a military complex on the outskirts of Damascus' international airport Sunday in what Syrian state television said was an attack on warehouses housing an advance Russian-made anti-aircraft system.
The attack would be consistent with repeated Israeli pledges that it would not allow Syria to deploy the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system and raised the question of whether Russia had sent new components of the system to Syria, perhaps in violation of an August pledge not to complete delivery under terms of a United Nations arms embargo.
The Israeli military offered no comment on the report.
The government-operated Syrian Arab News Agency blamed Israel directly for the strikes and said they targeted ''two safe areas in the Damascus countryside in al Dimas and near Damascus International Airport.''
Video accompanying the government television report showed jet aircraft dropping anti-aircraft flares as they zoomed through the sky '' supposedly the raiding planes '' followed by explosions in the distance. The video was similar to postings on Twitter and other social media by users claiming to have witnessed the attack. All the video indicated the air strikes came during daylight hours.
The Russian sale of the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Syria has long been controversial. Israel first objected to the sale when it was agreed to in 2007, fearing that the system, with a range of nearly 50 miles, would allow the Syrians to down Israeli aircraft while still in Israeli airspace. Considered one of the most sophisticated anti-aircraft defense systems in the world, it is said to be able to track as many as 100 targets simultaneously.
An agreement to sell the system to Iran collapsed under international pressure in 2010.
Russia and Syria have both acknowledged that some S-300 components have been delivered. But Russia said in August that it would suspend delivery of the complete system due to the arms sale embargo the U.N. has placed on Syria. While Russia has used its veto in the U.N. Security Council to block a complete blockade on arms sales to Syria, it acknowledged that other sanctions covered the S-300, which would represent a massive upgrade in Syria's air defense capabilities.
An Aug 11, 2014, report by Russia's Interfax-AVN military news agency said the decision to cancel further deliveries of the S-300 system had been made by Russia's ''political leadership.'' It quoted Konstantin Buryulin, the deputy director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying that already delivered components ''will be disposed of'' if an ''appropriate application'' is not found. IHS Janes Defence Weekly first reported the statement on Aug 14, 2014.
It's unclear if the delivered components have any significant military value or could be used for purposes other than the S-300. It's also unknown if the components might be of use to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim political movement that has waged war against Israel for decades.
Israel has warned that it would strike Syrian targets if it saw any effort to transfer war technology to Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to help defend the government of President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to topple him from power.
On at least three occasions in the last two years, suspected Israeli jets struck targets either in Damascus or along the Lebanese border '' one strike occurred in Lebanese territory '' to stop what reportedly were transfers of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. Israel has not officially acknowledged responsibility for the attacks.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a brutal month long war in 2006 and while the border has essentially been quiet sense, Hezbollah officials frequently refer to having increased their military capability and technology and claim to have new weapons systems that can hit any part of Israel from Lebanon.
Prothero is a McClatchy special correspondent. Email: mprothero@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @mitchprothero
Rusland ontkent bijna-botsing met Zweeds vliegtuig | Buitenland | de Volkskrant
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 15:33
Zweedse functionarissen zeiden dat het vliegtuig van de Russische inlichtingendienst vrijdag zijn transponders had uitgezet, om niet op de commercile radar te verschijnen. Volgens de functionarissen kwam het vliegtuig gevaarlijk dichtbij een passagiersvliegtuig dat opgestegen was vanaf de luchthaven van Kopenhagen.
De Russische woordvoerder van Defensie, generaal-majoor Igor Konashenkov zei dat het militaire vliegtuig niet in de strijd met de regels van internationale luchtvaart opereerde, en op een veilige afstand van routes met burgervluchten vloog.
Het Zweedse hoofd van de luchtvaart, generaal-majoor Micael Byden zei gisteren dat het incident er tamelijk serieus uit zag. Byden stelde dat het passagiersvliegtuig onmiddellijk gedwongen werd om haar koers te wijzigen. Het hoofd van de luchtvaart zei wel dat het incident minder ernstig was dan een vergelijkbare situatie in maart. Toen kwam een Russisch vliegtuig binnen 100 meter van een vliegtuig van Scandinavian Airlines dat vertrokken was uit Kopenhagen.
Scandinavian Airlines houdt vol dat het Russische vliegtuig op veilige afstand van het passagiersvliegtuig vloog.
SpanningenDoordat de spanningen tussen Rusland en het Westen toenemen door het conflict in Oekra¯ne, heeft Rusland haar aanwezigheid in het gebied rondom de Baltische zee verhoogd. De NAVO houdt ook luchtpattrouilles boven de Baltische zee en roteert militaire eenheden in en uit buurlanden in de regio.
Konashenkov zei dat het aantal van vluchten door NAVO-oorlogsvliegtuigen over de Russische grenzen verdrievoudigd is in de afgelopen maanden. De Russische woordvoerder van Defensie zei ook dat er vrijdag een NAVO verkenningsvliegtuig tussen het Russische en het Zweedse vliegtuig in vloog. Het NAVO-vliegtuig had haar transponders ook niet aan staan, stelde Konashenkov.
''Sweden says it will pursue a feminist foreign policy to counter macho Russian aggression '...'' - The Washington Post
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:55
'''... even if no one really knows what that means.'' An interesting article by Nathalie Rothschild (Foreign Policy); here's an excerpt, though you should read the whole piece:
Margot Wallstr¶m, the newly minted foreign minister, has said that under her leadership Sweden will become the only country in the world to conduct a ''feminist foreign policy.'' That's a perspective that flows from U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark measure that recognized both the disproportionate impact war has on women and the role women must play in ensuring peace and security'....
By empowering women, the argument goes, there are better chances of snuffing out wars before they start and of ending them in more equitable ways. However, it is less clear what such a feminist foreign policy has to say about the old-school power politics that Putin has helped resuscitate in the past year.
During a recent debate in the Swedish parliament, Wallstr¶m said that her feminist approach is based on the American political scientist Joseph Nye's concept of ''smart power.'' ''The tools of foreign policy can, in varying degrees, be hard as well as soft. The situation at hand determines this,'' Wallstr¶m said. ''The half of the population that so far has been almost systematically excluded and forgotten '-- namely, women '-- will now be included.''
Asked how she believes a feminist foreign policy will help end Russian aggression, Wallstr¶m suggested it would be useful to review women's participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and to look at what it does to address the problems women face '-- a statement exactly as vague as it sounds '...
Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
The European Union Demands that Russia Bail Out both the EU and Ukraine | Global Research
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:02
IMF says Ukraine will be bankrupt 'within weeks' and needs $15 billion more for war against eastern Ukraine; EU threatens Russia with more sanctions if Russia lets Ukraine go bankrupt; EU will lose billions on Ukraine if Russia won't bail them out.
The details are here and here.
And here's the back-story to that:
Mark Adomanis of Forbes is the clearest and most honest writer in the West about Ukraine's financial situation, though he propagandizes constantly against Russia just like all the rest of the West's aristocracy-paid 'reporters' do (and must do, in order to keep their jobs). He wrote on 15 April 2014, that,
''when it bought $3 billion worth of [Ukrainian Government] bonds at the end of 2013 Russia inserted a clause that stipulates that the total volume of Ukrainian state-guaranteed debt cannot exceed 60% of its annual GDP. If that threshold is breached, Russia can legally demand repayments on an accelerated schedule. Given the parlous state of the Ukrainian economy and its government's extremely weak finances, this essentially means that if Ukraine's debt exceeds 60% of its GDP Russia can legally force it to default.''
Ukraine's foreign debt has soared above that $60 billion limit, because of a demand that the IMF placed upon its $17 billion loan on 1 May 2014, namely that Ukraine eliminate or otherwise crush the people in the area of Ukraine where the public had voted 90% for the pro-Russian Ukrainian President whom Obama had overthrown on February 22nd. The way that CNBC headlined it on May 1st, the day before pro-Government thugs massacred this new Government's resistors at the Trade Unions Building in Odessa and so started the program to exterminatethe residents of that region, was ''IMF Warns Ukraine on Bailout if It Loses East.'' What that meant was that, without the gas-fields and the other assets in the east, the Ukrainian Government wouldn't have valuable-enough assets to sell off or ''privatize'' so as to be able to make good on the IMF's $17 billion loan to Ukraine, and taxpayers in the U.S. and Europe would then need to absorb losses on those loans; so, the Ukrainian Government needed to follow-through and exterminate those people in order for the loans to keep coming. The aristocrats want to control their land, not the people on it. The residents are just an obstruction. This money was loaned by the IMF in order to enable Western corporations (mainly Big Oil and Big Ag and Big Military) to take over Ukraine. For examples: the residents in the areas that are being bombed did not want fracking there, and did not want a NATO missile base there.
In addition, the EU itself loaned the Ukrainian Government a further half-billion-euros on December 10th, at the way-below-market interest-rate of only 1.375% for 15 years. This money is being given away by EU taxpayers, and the interest-rate has become almost irrelevant, because it's now absolutely clear that even the principal won't be able to be repaid. Both the U.S. and Europe are investing heavily in this extermination-campaign, but taxpayers are paying for it; the aristocratic potential beneficiaries are not '-- so, they don't care about those losses to the taxpaying public. But, they want to blame ''Putin'' for the inevitable losses to taxpayers, and that's what the new PR campaign against Russia is really all about. The West's aristocrats want to destroy Russia, and want Russia to get the blame for everything along that rocky road.
So, now Russia is not only being blamed for supporting the residents whom Western aristocrats want to exterminate, but the propagandists for western aristocracies are already starting to blame Russia for not bailing out Western taxpayers '-- the people who will be absorbing the losses no matter what, even if aristocrats' business-bets on Ukraine score those 'entrepreneurs' a few gains.
Few people are stupid enough to think that Russia will bail out the West for its aggression against Russia and against Ukraine's ethnic Russians. However, the propaganda-campaign to blame Russia for Ukraine's coming economic collapse is already well under way.
The Western 'news' media don't lose their audiences even when their 'news reports' blame Russia's leader Vladimir Putin for the hundreds of thousands of southeastern Ukrainians who have been fleeing into Russia, to escape the Western-sponsored ethnic-cleansing against them. Thus, for example, on December 9th, The New York Times bannered ''Driving Ukrainians into Putin's Arms'' and opened by 'reporting' that:
''A recent United Nations report says that nearly half a million Ukrainians have fled the country since April.
The fact that families run from a war zone is heartbreaking but hardly unexpected. The disturbing part lies in the details '-- of the roughly 454,000 people who had fled Ukraine by the end of October, more than 387,000 went to Russia.
Most of those who fled were Russian speakers from the east, but this still raises a sobering question: If this is a conflict between Ukraine and Russia, why did so many Ukrainians choose to cast their lot with the enemy?''
The 'reporter' shows his 'independence' from Washington by denying a statement he alleges to Washington but that the Administration isn't even asserting:
''Mr. Putin and the Russian news media say that western Ukrainians in Mr. Poroshenko's government are neo-Nazis. The West denies these claims, averring that there are no neo-Nazi elements in the Kiev government. [But even Victoria Nuland did not deny that some 'neo-Nazis' helped bring the new Ukrainian Government to power, and she was never even asked whether some members of that Government are nazi; this 'reporter' is lying.] Both are wrong. The Kiev government and the armies fighting in eastern Ukraine contain a small minority of neo-Nazi ultranationalists.
To eastern Ukrainians, however, even one is too many.''
Actually, however, that Government is run by nazis; and the residents in Ukraine's southeast are fleeing into Russia (or ''Putin's Arms'') in order to escape from them.
Why do people subscribe to lying 'news'papers, even ones (such as the NYT) that were similarly stenographers for George W. Bush's lies about ''Saddam's WMD'' and ''Saddam's support for Al Qaeda''?
When will the consumer-boycott against America's lying press begin? Or do the American people still trust them '-- and, if so, then why, and how long will that trust go on?
Ukraine Needs Additional $15Bln to Avoid Financial Collapse: IMF / Sputnik International
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 10:24
Business11:55 10.12.2014(updated 12:36 10.12.2014)
(C) Sputnik. Evgeny Kotenko
MOSCOW, December 10 (Sputnik) '-- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculates that to avoid a financial collapse, $15 billion is needed for Ukraine in a matter of weeks, the Financial Times has reported, quoting sources in the IMF.A 7 percent drop in Ukraine's gross domestic product (GDP) and a disruption of exports to Russia, the country's biggest trading partner, have contributed to the fiscal gap, the newspaper stated Tuesday, adding that those factors have led to large capital outflows and a rundown in central bank reserves. Before the start of political unrest in the eastern Ukraine, those regions accounted for around 16 percent of the country's economic output.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine, said on Tuesday that his government was prepared to put in place belt-tightening measures, such as spending cuts and a crackdown on the shadow economy. He added that his government was not begging for money, but considered IMF as a partner.According to the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, the European Commission is considering a third rescue program for Ukraine.
Ukraine, currently on the verge of default, is facing a grave economic crisis. Kiev is hoping to save its economy with international financial aid. The additional funding would add to the $17 billion IMF made available in April that is expected to last until 2016. Since then, Kiev has received $8.2 billion in funding from the IMF and other international organizations.
Shut Up Slave!
Solidarity against online harassment | The Tor Blog
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 19:27
One of our colleagues has been the target of a sustained campaign of harassment for the past several months. We have decided to publish this statement to publicly declare our support for her, for every member of our organization, and for every member of our community who experiences this harassment. She is not alone and her experience has catalyzed us to action. This statement is a start.
The Tor Project works to create ways to bypass censorship and ensure anonymity on the Internet. Our software is used by journalists, human rights defenders, members of law enforcement, diplomatic officials, and many others. We do high-profile work, and over the past years, many of us have been the targets of online harassment. The current incidents come at a time when suspicion, slander, and threats are endemic to the online world. They create an environment where the malicious feel safe and the misguided feel justified in striking out online with a thousand blows. Under such attacks, many people have suffered '-- especially women who speak up online. Women who work on Tor are targeted, degraded, minimized and endure serious, frightening threats.
This is the status quo for a large part of the internet. We will not accept it.
We work on anonymity technology because we believe in empowering people. This empowerment is the beginning and a means, not the end of the discussion. Each person who has power to speak freely on the net also has the power to hurt and harm. Merely because one is free to say a thing does not mean that it should be tolerated or considered reasonable. Our commitment to building and promoting strong anonymity technology is absolute. We have decided that it is not enough for us to work to protect the world from snoops and censors; we must also stand up to protect one another from harassment.
It's true that we ourselves are far from perfect. Some of us have written thoughtless things about members of our own community, have judged prematurely, or conflated an idea we hated with the person holding it. Therefore, in categorically condemning the urge to harass, we mean categorically: we will neither tolerate it in others, nor will we accept it among ourselves. We are dedicated to both protecting our employees and colleagues from violence, and trying to foster more positive and mindful behavior online ourselves.
Further, we will no longer hold back out of fear or uncertainty from an opportunity to defend a member of our community online. We write tools to provide online freedom but we don't endorse online or offline abuse. Similarly, in the offline world, we support freedom of speech but we oppose the abuse and harassment of women and others. We know that online harassment is one small piece of the larger struggle that women, people of color, and others face against sexism, racism, homophobia and other bigotry.
This declaration is not the last word, but a beginning: We will not tolerate harassment of our people. We are working within our community to devise ways to concretely support people who suffer from online harassment; this statement is part of that discussion. We hope it will contribute to the larger public conversation about online harassment and we encourage other organizations to sign on to it or write one of their own.
For questions about Tor, its work, its staff, its funding, or its world view, we encourage people to directly contact us (Media contact: Kate Krauss, press @ torproject.org). We also encourage people join our community and to be a part of our discussions:https://www.torproject.org/about/contacthttps://www.torproject.org/docs/documentation#MailingLists
In solidarity against online harassment,
Roger DingledineNick MathewsonKate KraussWendy SeltzerCaspar BowdenRabbi Rob ThomasKarsten LoesingMatthew FinkelGriffin BoyceColin ChildsGeorg KoppenTom RitterErinn ClarkDavid GouletNima FatemiSteven MurdochLinus NordbergArthur EdelsteinAaron GibsonAnonymous SupporterMatt PaganPhilipp WinterSina RabbaniJacob AppelbaumKaren ReillyMeredith Hoban DunnMoritz BartlMike PerrySukhbir SinghSebastian HahnNicolas VigierNathan FreitasmeejahLeif RygeRuna SandvikAndrea ShepardIsis Agora LovecruftArlo Breaultsta Helgad"ttirMark SmithBruce LeidlDave AhmadMicah LeeSherief AlaaVirgil GriffithRachel GreenstadtAndre MeisterAndy IsaacsonGavin AndresenScott HerbertColin MahnsJohn SchrinerDavid StaintonDoug EddyPepijn Le HeuxPriscilla OppenheimerIan GoldbergRebecca MacKinnonNadia HeningerCory SvenssonAlison MacrinaArturo Filast²Collin AndersonAndrew JonesEva Blum-DumontetJan BultmannMurtaza HussainDuncan BaileySarah HarrisonTom van der WoerdtJeroen MassarBrendan EichJoseph Lorenzo HallJean CampJoanna RutkowskaDaira HopwoodWilliam GillisAdrian ShortBethany HorneAndrea ForteHernn FoffaniNadim KobeissiJakub DalekRafik NaccacheNathalie MargiAsheesh LaroiaAli MirjamaliHuong NguyenMeerim IlyasRandy BushZachary WeinbergClaudio GuarnieriSteven ZikopoulosMichael CeglarHenry de ValenceZachariah GibbensTim SammutNeel ChauhanMatthew PuckeyTaylor R CampbellKlaus LayerColin TebergJeremy GillulaWill ScottTom LowenthalRishab NithyanandBrinly TaylorJonah Silas SheridanRoss McElvennyAaron ZaunerChristophe MoilleMicah SherrGabriel RochaYael GrauerKenneth FreemanDennis WinterjustaguyLee AzzarelloZaki ManianAaron TurnerGreg SlepakEthan ZuckermanPasq GeroPablo Surez-SerratoKerry RutherfordAndr(C)s DelgadoTommy CollisonDan LueddersFlvio AmieiroUlrike ReinhardMelissa AnelliBryan FordhamNate PerkinsJon BlanchardJonathan ProulxBunty SainiDaniel CrowleyMatt PriceCharlie McConnellChuck PetersEjaz AhmedLaura PoitrasBenet HitchcockDave WilliamsJane AvrietteRenata AvilaSandra OrdonezDavid PalmaAndre N BatistaSteve BellovinJames RenkenAlyzande RenardPatrick LoganRory ByrneHolly KilroyPhillipa GillMirimirLeah CareyJosh SteinerBenjamin Mako HillNick FeamsterDominic CorriveauAdrienne Porter Feltstr4dAllen GunnEric S JohnsonHanno WagnerAnders HansenAlexandra SteinTyler H. MeersShumon HuqueJames VasileAndreas KinneJohannes SchillingNiels ten OeverDavid W. DeitchDan WallachDavid YipAdam FiskJon CallasAleecia M. McDonaldMarina BrownWolfgang BritzlChris JonesHeiko LinkeDavid Van HornLarry BrandtMatt BlazeRadek ValasekskruffyTom KnothGalou GentilDouglas PerkinsJude BurgerMyriam MichelJillian YorkMichalis PolychronakisSilenceEngagedKostas JakeliunasSebastiaan ProvostSebastian MaryniakClytie SiddallClaudio AgostiPeter LaurMaarten EyskensTobias PullsSacha van GeffenCory DoctorowFredrik Julie AnderssonNighat DadJosh L GlennVernon TangJennifer RadloffDomenico LupinettiMartijn GrootenRachel HaywireeliazHenriette HofmeierEthan HeilmanDanil VerhoevenAlex ShepardMax MaassEd AgroAndrew HeistPatrick McDonaldLlu­s SalaLaurelai BaileyGhostJos(C) Manuel Cerqueira EstevesFabio PietrosantiCobus CarstensHarald LampesbergerDouwe SchmidtSascha MeinrathC. WatersBruce SchneierGeorge DanezisClaudia DiazKelley MisataDenise MangoldOwen BlackerZach WickGustavo GusAlexander DietrichFrank SmythDafne Sabanes PlouSteve GiovannettiGrit HemmelrathMasashi Crete-NishihataMichael CarboneAmie StepanovichKaustubh SrikantharlenEnrique Pirac(C)sAntoine Beaupr(C)Daniel Kahn GillmorRichard JohnsonAshok GuptaBrett SolomonRaegan MacDonaldJoseph SteeleMarie GutbubValeria BetancourtKonstantin M¼llerEmma PerskySteve WyshywaniukTara WhalenJoe JustenIf you would like to be on this list of signers (please do '-- you don't have to be a part of Tor to sign on!), please reach us at tor-assistants @ torproject.org.
Spain passes tough new 'anti-protest' law - Europe's News in English
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:22
Jessica Jones | 12 Dec 2014, 10:40
Spain on Thursday finally passed its new controversial Citizen Security Law which opponents say will severely limit civil liberties in the country.
The unpopular law contains retains existing fines of up to '‚¬600,000 ($746,000) for unauthorized protests outside buildings "which provide basic services to the community", a definition that encompasses everything from hospitals to universities and the Spanish parliament.
The new law, which the government argues will ensure public security, also forbids the photographing or filming of police officers in situations where doing so could put them in danger. This could result in a fine of up to '‚¬30,000. Showing a "lack of respect" to those in uniform, meanwhile, could lead to a fine of '‚¬600.
The law has been dubbed the 'ley mordaza' or 'gag law' by opposition groups and the Spanish media, many of whom believe the law will curtail individual rights.
It was passed in the lower house of the Spanish parliament on Thursday, despite all parliamentary groups except for the ruling PP voting against the legislation. It will now be reviewed by the Spanish senate where the PP enjoys an overwhelming majority.
Spain's major opposition party, the socialist PSOE, vowed to overturn the legislation if they reclaim power in general elections set for late 2015.
The eventual vote was 181 for and 141 against and was met with protests from opposition politicians.
Seven MPs from the left.wing IU party had to be asked twice to take off white gags that they had taped over their mouths to express their clear rejection of the draft law, while members of the Solf"nica choir, connected to Spain's indignant protest movement, burst into a rousing rendition of 'Do you hear the people sing' from the musical Les Mis(C)rables.
Protesters in the gallery of the Spanish parliament belt out a rendition of 'Do you hear the people sing'? from Les Mis(C)rables on Thursday.
Spain's new Citizen Security Law also contains tough new measures to deal with the increasing number of immigrants trying to cross the border of Spain's two North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Under an amendment recently added to the legislation, Spanish authorities will be able to instantly deport migrants who illegally enter Spain by clambering over the border fences from Morocco into Ceuta and Melilla.
Spain has been internationally criticized in recent months for its treatment of migrants in the two Spanish enclaves, with critics saying the return of immigrants to Morocco once they have already crossed into Spain flouts both international and EU laws.
Hungary's leader wants drug tests for journalists - New York News
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 16:30
By PABLO GORONDIAssociated PressBUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) - The Hungarian prime minister, who has vowed to remake his country into a "non-liberal" state as he moves closer to Moscow, called Friday for mandatory drug testing of journalists and politicians.
Viktor Orban's plan alarmed critics, who called it an attack on civil liberties and a cynical attempt to combat his declining popularity.
A member of his governing Fidesz party had recently suggested mandatory annual drug tests for 12- to 18-year-olds as well, but that plan has apparently been dropped.
In an interview on state radio, Orban said drug use and the "drug mafia" are a growing threat and that his government will fight back during the rest of its term, which lasts until 2018.
"Politicians, journalists and those filling positions of public trust have to be included (in the drug tests) because it is clear that those who consume drugs cannot be relied on in the fight against drugs," Orban said.
"We have to clarify where everyone stands. We have to announce this fight, and the drug mafia has to be squeezed out of Hungary with the most draconian punishments and the most precise procedures by the authorities," Orban said.
Journalists and civil-rights leaders were outraged.
The head of the Association of Hungarian Journalists said that while it was too soon to give a definitive opinion about the proposal, it was a reminder of darker times.
"If it becomes law, then I would say it creates a very sad situation in Hungarian life by bringing back the concept of collective guilt, an evil memory," Karoly Toth said.
The proposal suggests that "media workers are some sort of depraved people," said Zsuzsanna Gyongyosi, president of the Association of Independent Journalists.
At the same time, Gyongyosi said she agreed with the idea put forward by an opposition group that would make all lawmakers in parliament take a breath alcohol test before entering the chambers.
Balazs Gulyas, who has organized recent anti-Orban protests, said the drug tests would "stigmatize journalists as drug users" and were another effort to limit media freedoms.
"It is quite scary that now the government is directly targeting journalists," said Gulyas, a leader of large rallies against a now-shelved plan by Orban to tax Internet use.
Since he took power in 2010, Orban has consolidated power for his conservative Fidesz party, tightening control over the media and courts and attempting to crack down on independent civic groups.
The U.S. government and international organizations have expressed alarm at what they see as a weakening of democratic guarantees in the country, which threw off communism 25 years ago and is now a member of the European Union.
A defining moment in Orban's political journey came in July, when he said he was building "an illiberal state, a non-liberal state," and cited Russia, China, Turkey and Singapore as successful models. At the same time, he has been moving closer to Russia, forging energy deals with Moscow and criticizing Western sanctions imposed after the Kremlin's aggressions in Ukraine.
Critics such as Gulyas say the drug-testing proposal is also a way for Orban to distract attention from the economic malaise and other frustrations in the country.
"How serious can this drug mafia be if Orban didn't talk about it for four years?" Gulyas said. "Either he was blind during his previous term or this is just a cheap populist ploy."
Polling company Ispos estimated that the Fidesz party has lost 800,000 voters in the past two months, its popularity among all voters falling from 35 percent in October to 25 percent in December.
While the far-right Jobbik party rose to 14 percent from 12 percent, most of the disaffected Fidesz voters now seem to be undecided. Those saying they had no party preference rose from 30 percent to 39 percent in those two months.
According to one expert, alcohol abuse is a far greater problem. The country of nearly 10 million has some 800,000 alcoholics and 20,000 drug addicts, says toxicologist Gabor Zacher, head of emergency services at Military Hospital in Budapest.
Critics said Orban's 2010 move to give tax exemptions to home distillers of palinka, a traditional fruit brandy, showed disregard for the alcoholism scourge. The exemption was struck down by European Union earlier this year.
Orban's party overwhelmingly won re-election earlier this year after changing the election rules in its favor. But his popularity seems under threat, with several large street protests in past weeks and opinion polls showing falling support for Fidesz.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A long list of sex acts just got banned in UK porn
Tue, 02 Dec 2014 19:13
The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 requires that video-on-demand (VoD) online porn now adhere to the same guidelines laid out for DVD sex shop-type porn by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).
Seemingly arbitrarily deciding what is nice sex and what is not nice sex, the board has banned the following acts from being depicted by British pornography producers:
Aggressive whipping
Penetration by any object "associated with violence"
Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)
Urolagnia (known as "water sports")
Female ejaculation
The final three listed fall under acts the BBFC views as potentially "life-endangering".
While the measures won't stop people from watching whatever genre of porn they desire, as video shot abroad can still be viewed, they do impose severe restrictions on content created in the UK, and appear to make no distinction between consensual and non-consensual practices between adults.
Femdom porn will be hit particularly hard by the regulations
"There appear to be no rational explanations for most of the R18 rules," Jerry Barnett of the anti-censorship group Sex and Censorship told Vice UK. "They're simply a set of moral judgements designed by people who have struggled endlessly to stop the British people from watching pornography."
More worryingly, the amendment seems to take issue with acts from which women more traditionally derive pleasure than men.
"The new legislation is absurd and surreal," Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, a dominatrix who produces porn with a feminist theme added to Vice UK. "I mean, why ban facesitting? What's so dangerous about it? It's a harmless activity that most femdom performers, myself included, do fully dressed anyway. Its power is symbolic: woman on top, unattainable."
In a piece for The Independent, award-winning erotic film director Erika Lust said that she believes "we need to rethink what is offensive or dangerous and what is, in fact, normal human nature, and remember that it's more important to educate than regulate."
Mass 'face-sitting' to take place on Friday in protest against porn censorship laws | Metro News
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:16
Ms Rose says the laws don't just affect the porn industry '' they are an attack on everyone's civil liberties (Picture: Getty Images)Here's a protest you might want to get behind.
Around 500 demonstrators will converge in Westminster on Friday to stage a mass 'face-sitting' and have fake sex in protest against porn censorship laws.
The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 banned a number of legal acts from UK pornography including spanking, female ejaculation and humiliation on 1 December on the grounds they could be dangerous and might encourage home 're-enactments'.
But protesters on Friday will express their anger at the new laws when they stage #PornProtest in Westminster in an event that will include a 'Sex Factor' gameshow, an attempt to break the 'face-sitting' world record and plenty of fake sex.
MORE: This McDonald's accidentally showed porn all evening and none of the staff noticed
MORE: Theatre sends porn DVDs to children instead of school performances
'These laws are not only sexist but they taking away people's choices without consent,' 2013's Sex Worker of the Year and political campaigner Charlotte Rose told London24.
'Personal liberty is what we are fighting for on Friday which no one has the right to take away from somebody else.'
Ms Rose worked briefly as a dominatrix before studying and starting a family, later returning to the sex industry as a therapist.
MORE: 'Vindictive' boyfriend avoids jail for posting revenge porn of ex-girlfriend
MORE: No make-up selfies: The porn star and model version
Charlotte Rose stood as an independent in the Rochester and Strood by-election (Picture: Charlotte Rose)And while she concedes the protest may sound silly, she stresses that the new regulations represent an attack on civil liberties that affects everyone.
Myles Jackman, a renowned obscenity lawyer, agrees.
'Pornography is the canary in the coal mine of free speech: it is the first freedom to die. If this assault on liberty is allowed to go unchallenged, other freedoms will fall as a consequence,' he told London24.
#PornProtest is taking place on Friday 12 December at 12pm in Old Palace Yard near the Houses of Parliament.
Sony's Amy Pascal Apologizes for Obama Emails | Variety
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 07:46
Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal has apologized for racially insensitive remarks made by her and producer Scott Rudin about President Obama in a series of stolen emails that were published online Thursday.
''The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am,'' she said in a statement, adding that ''although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.''
Buzzfeed published a story late Thursday containing personal emails in which Pascal and ''The Social Network'' producer Scott Rudin joked about Obama's favorite movies, suggesting he would prefer those about African Americans.
''Would he like to finance some movies,'' responded Rudin, when Pascal sought his advice on what she should say to the President at a Hollywood fundraiser.
''I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?'' said Pascal, with Rudin replying ''12 YEARS.''
''Or the butler. Or think like a man?'' continued Pascal, who is a major donor for the Democratic party and President Obama.
''Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart,'' said Rudin.
Rudin apologized two hours earlier for the comments Thursday in a piece on Deadline, calling them ''thoughtless and insensitive '-- and not funny at all.''
Pascal's other published email exchanges with producers and Sony executives include derisive remarks about top talent such as Kevin Hart, Angelina Jolie and Adam Sandler.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more
The moment Sony co-chairman tries to embrace Angelina Jolie '' after 'spoilt brat' comments - Telegraph
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 09:24
But it seemed the movie star was in a less than forgiving mood. Instead, she stared daggers and appeared to fix her friend with a venomous look that spoke volumes.
Miss Pascal had been involved in emails that were leaked by the hacking group Guardians of the Peace, believed to be linked to North Korea, which has been targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment for the last three weeks.
In them high profile producer Scott Rudin described Miss Jolie as a "celebrity and that's all" and predicted her remake of Cleopatra would be a "giant bomb."
He told Miss Pascal to "shut Angie down" and that the movie would be "the career-defining debacle for us both. We will end up being the laughing stock of our industry and we will deserve it."
Following her apparently tense meeting with the actress the studio chief said she was "hideously embarrassed."
She told the Hollywood Reporter: "I talked to Scott. Scott feels equally bad. We both feel hideously embarrassed and disappointed in ourselves. I'm sure you've written emails that you wouldn't want other people trying to be figuring out."
Perhaps even more damaging for Miss Pascal than the comments about Miss Jolie were others she made about President Barack Obama's race.
Ahead of meeting the president at a fundraising event she emailed Mr Rudin saying: "Should I ask him if he liked Django?" Mr Rudin responded "12 Years," and the pair went on to name other films starring black actors.
Miss Pascal said she had telephoned black civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as part of a "healing process."
She told the Hollywood Reporter: "I'm being proactive and I want to accept responsibility for these stupid, callous remarks."
She denied being racist, saying: "I know it's not true. And I know that doesn't reflect who I am or what I feel or what I've done. That certainly doesn't reflect this studio and what we've done here.
"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. You're being judged on things that you said in a 10-second frame that were stupid, and that's not my whole career and everything I've done.
"I think the conversation needs to switch to a conversation that a crime was committed, and that things have been stolen from our company that people are profiting from."
Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This Is My Story. | Vanity Fair
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 21:26
by Victoria Will/AP Photo.
Beverly Johnson in 2012.Like most Americans, I spent the 60s, 70s, and part of the 80s in awe of Bill Cosby and his total domination of popular culture. He was the first African American to star in a dramatic television series, I Spy, a show my family in Buffalo, New York, always watched. Cosby cut a striking figure on-screen then. He was funny, smart, and even elegant'--all those wonderful things many white Americans didn't associate with people of color. In fact, as I thought of going public with what follows, a voice in my head kept whispering, ''Black men have enough enemies out there already, they certainly don't need someone like you, an African American with a familiar face and a famous name, fanning the flames.''
Imagine my joy in the mid-80s when an agent called to say Bill Cosby wanted me to audition for a role on the The Cosby Show. Cosby played an obstetrician, and he sometimes used models to portray pregnant women sitting in his office waiting room. It was a small part with one or two speaking lines at most, but I wanted in.
I was in the midst of an ugly custody battle for my only child. I needed a big break badly and appearing on The Cosby Show seemed like an excellent way of getting Hollywood's attention. I'd appeared in one or two movies already, but my phone wasn't exactly ringing off the hook with acting jobs.
Cosby's handlers invited me to a taping of the show so I could get the lay of the land and an idea of what my role required. After the taping I met all the cast and then met with Cosby in his office to talk a bit about the hell I'd been through in my marriage. He appeared concerned and then asked what I wanted from my career going forward. He seemed genuinely interested in guiding me to the next level. I was on cloud nine.
I brought my daughter to the next taping I attended. Afterward, Cosby asked if I could meet him at his home that weekend to read for the part. My ex-husband had primary custody of my daughter at the time, and I usually spent my weekends with her. Cosby suggested I bring her along, which really reeled me in. He was the Jell-O Pudding man; like most kids, my daughter loved him. When my daughter and I visited Cosby's New York brownstone, his staff served us a delicious brunch. Then he gave us a tour of the exceptional multi-level home.
Looking back, that first invite from Cosby to his home seems like part of a perfectly laid out plan, a way to make me feel secure with him at all times. It worked like a charm. Cosby suggested I come back to his house a few days later to read for the part. I agreed, and one late afternoon the following week I returned. His staff served a light dinner and Bill and I talked more about my plans for the future.
After the meal, we walked upstairs to a huge living area of his home that featured a massive bar. A huge brass espresso contraption took up half the counter. At the time, it seemed rare for someone to have such a machine in his home for personal use.
Cosby said he wanted to see how I handled various scenes, so he suggested that I pretend to be drunk. (When did a pregnant woman ever appear drunk on The Cosby Show? Probably never, but I went with it.)
As I readied myself to be the best drunk I could be, he offered me a cappuccino from the espresso machine. I told him I didn't drink coffee that late in the afternoon because it made getting to sleep at night more difficult. He wouldn't let it go. He insisted that his espresso machine was the best model on the market and promised I'd never tasted a cappuccino quite like this one.
It's nuts, I know, but it felt oddly inappropriate arguing with Bill Cosby so I took a few sips of the coffee just to appease him.
Now let me explain this: I was a top model during the 70s, a period when drugs flowed at parties and photo shoots like bottled water at a health spa. I'd had my fun and experimented with my fair share of mood enhancers. I knew by the second sip of the drink Cosby had given me that I'd been drugged'--and drugged good.
By David Cooper/Toronto Star
Bill Cosby in 1978.[Editor's Note: Cosby's attorneys did not respond to Vanity Fair's requests for comment.]
My head became woozy, my speech became slurred, and the room began to spin nonstop. Cosby motioned for me to come over to him as though we were really about to act out the scene. He put his hands around my waist, and I managed to put my hand on his shoulder in order to steady myself.
As I felt my body go completely limp, my brain switched into automatic-survival mode. That meant making sure Cosby understood that I knew exactly what was happening at that very moment.
''You are a motherfucker aren't you?''
That's the exact question I yelled at him as he stood there holding me, expecting me to bend to his will. I rapidly called him several more ''motherfuckers.'' By the fifth, I could tell that I was really pissing him off. At one point he dropped his hands from my waist and just stood there looking at me like I'd lost my mind.
What happened next is somewhat cloudy for me because the drug was in fuller play by that time. I recall his seething anger at my tirade and then him grabbing me by my left arm hard and yanking all 110 pounds of me down a bunch of stairs as my high heels clicked and clacked on every step. I feared my neck was going to break with the force he was using to pull me down those stairs.
It was still late afternoon and the sun hadn't completely gone down yet. When we reached the front door, he pulled me outside of the brownstone and then, with his hand still tightly clenched around my arm, stood in the middle of the street waving down taxis.
When one stopped, Cosby opened the door, shoved me into it and slammed the door behind me without ever saying a word. I somehow managed to tell the driver my address and before blacking out, I looked at the cabbie and asked, as if he knew: ''Did I really just call Bill Cosby 'a motherfucker'?''
Why that was even a concern of mine after what I'd just been through is still a mystery to me? I think my mind refused to process it.
The next day I woke up in my own bed after falling into a deep sleep that lasted most of the day. I had no memory of how I got into my apartment or into my bed, though most likely my doorman helped me out.
I sat in there still stunned by what happened the night before, confused and devastated by the idea that someone I admired so much had tried to take advantage of me, and used drugs to do so. Had I done something to encourage his actions?
In reality, I knew I'd done nothing to encourage Cosby but my mind kept turning with question after question.
It took a few days for the drug to completely wear off and soon I had to get back to work. I headed to California for an acting audition. Not long after arriving, I decided I needed to confront Cosby for my own sanity's sake. I thought if I just called him, he would come clean and explain why he'd done what he had.
I dialed the private number he'd given me expecting to hear his voice on the other end. But he didn't answer. His wife did. A little shocked, I quickly identified myself to her in the most respectful way possible and then asked to speak to Bill. Camille politely informed me that it was very late, 11:00 P.M. and that they were both in bed together.
I apologized for the late call and explained that I was in Los Angeles and had forgotten about the three-hour time difference. I added that I would call back tomorrow.
I didn't call back the next day or any other day after that. At a certain moment it became clear that I would be fighting a losing battle with a powerful man so callous he not only drugged me, but he also gave me the number to the bedroom he shared with his wife. How could I fight someone that boldly arrogant and out of touch? In the end, just like the other women, I had too much to lose to go after Bill Cosby. I had a career that would no doubt take a huge hit if I went public with my story and I certainly couldn't afford that after my costly divorce and on going court fees.
For a long time I thought it was something that only happened to me, and that I was somehow responsible. So I kept my secret to myself, believing this truth needed to remain in the darkness. But the last four weeks have changed everything, as so many women have shared similar stories, of which the press have belatedly taken heed.
Still I struggled with how to reveal my big secret, and more importantly, what would people think when and if I did? Would they dismiss me as an angry black woman intent on ruining the image of one of the most revered men in the African American community over the last 40 years? Or would they see my open and honest account of being betrayed by one of the country's most powerful, influential, and beloved entertainers?
As I wrestled with the idea of telling my story of the day Bill Cosby drugged me with the intention of doing God knows what, the faces of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other brown and black men took residence in my mind.
As if I needed to be reminded. The current plight of the black male was behind my silence when Barbara Bowman came out to tell the horrific details of being drugged and raped by Cosby to the Washington Post in November. And I watched in horror as my longtime friend and fellow model Janice Dickinson was raked over the coals for telling her account of rape at Cosby's hands. Over the years I've met other women who also claim to have been violated by Cosby. Many are still afraid to speak up. I couldn't sit back and watch the other women be vilified and shamed for something I knew was true.
By Kal Yee.
When I sat down to write my memoir in 2013, I pondered if I should include my Cosby experience. I didn't want to get involved in a he-said/she-said situation. Now that other women have come forward with their nightmare stories, I join them.
Finally, I reached the conclusion that the current attack on African American men has absolutely nothing to do at all with Bill Cosby. He brought this on himself when he decided he had the right to have his way with who knows how many women over the last four decades. If anything, Cosby is distinguished from the majority of black men in this country because he could depend on the powers that be for support and protection.
I had to use my voice as a sister, mother, and grandmother, and as a woman who knows that, according to the C.D.C., nearly one in five women has been sexually assaulted at some time in her life, and that women of color face an even higher attack rate.
In part because of what happened to me nearly 30 years ago, I have agreed to serve on the board of the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children. The experience has been as humbling as it has been rewarding. Many of the young children I work with have been sexually abused and I watch in awe of their bravery as they work to recover and feel better.
How could I be any less brave?
Beverly Johnson was a top model during the 70s and 80s and was the first African American woman to appear on the cover of American Vogue in 1974.
Agenda 21
Troubled climate talks scrabble for exit strategy - Yahoo News
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:22
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Climate: UN talks adopt format for carbon pledges | GlobalPost
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 15:26
Agence France-PresseDecember 12, 2014 3:30December 12, 2014 3:30
UN members on Sunday adopted a format for national pledges to cut greenhouse gases, the heart of a planned pact to defeat climate change.
At a marathon conference in the Peruvian capital of Lima, they also approved a broad blueprint for negotiations leading up to the historic deal, due to be sealed in Paris in December 2015. "The document is approved," declared Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, as exhausted delegates cheered and clapped.
'Cos¬ Non Va!': General Strike Against Austerity Sweeps Italy | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:57
Another travesty and tragedy of the Occupation: Ziad Abu Ein, a 55-year-old Palestinian minister and father of four, died after being choked by an Israeli soldier as he and other activists attempted to plant olive trees at an illegal settlement near Ramallah. The head of the Commission Against the Separation Wall and Settlements, Abu Ein had moments before denounced the IDF's violent response to what was a peaceful protest. "This," he said, "is the terrorism of the occupation."
NORWAY-ID now required at border crossings
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 14:32
JavaScript is used in a variety of ways to improve your browsing experience, such as validating and executing form submissions and allowing interactive content. Below, we have provided simple instructions for enabling JavaScript in the most popular web browsers. To determine your browser version, click on Help in the menu bar of your browser and then select About.
Once you have enabled Javascript on your browser, click here to return to newsinenglish.no.
The following instructions describe how to enable JavaScript for:
Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, Opera, Safari, Chrome, Mozilla and AOL browsers.
Internet Explorer 5 and above
Select Internet Options from the Tools menu.In Internet Options dialog box select the Security tab.Select the earth(Internet) icon.Click the Custom Level... button. The Security Settings dialog box will pop up.Under Active Scripting category select Enable.Click OK twice to close out.Finally, Refresh your browser.Internet Explorer 5.X for Mac OS XSelect Preferences from the Explorer menu.Click the arrow next to Web Browser.Click Web Content.Under Active Content check Enable Scripting.Click OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Internet Explorer 5 for Mac OS 9Select Preferences from the Edit menu.Click the arrow next to Web Browser.Click Web Content.Under Active Content check Enable Scripting.Click OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Internet Explorer 4.XSelect Internet Options from the View menu.Click the Security tab.Click Custom.Click Settings.Scroll down to locate Scripting.Click Enable for Active Scripting.Click OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Firefox (Windows)Select Options from the Tools menu.Click the Content icon/tab at the top of the window.Check Enable JavaScript.Click OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Firefox (MAC)Select the Firefox menu item from the Apple/System bar at the top of the screen.From the drop-down menu, select Preferences...Select the Security icon/tab at the top of the window.Check the Enable Javascript checkbox under the Web Content category.Close the Options window to save your changes.Finally, Refresh your browser.Netscape 7.XSelect Preferences from the Edit menu.Click the arrow next to Advanced.Click Scripts & Plugins.Check Navigator beneath "Enable Javascript for".Click OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Netscape 6.XSelect Preferences from the Edit menu.Click AdvancedCheck Enable JavaScript for NavigatorClick OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Netscape 4.XSelect Preferences from the Edit menu.Click Advanced.Check Enable JavaScriptCheck Enable style sheetsClick OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Netscape 4.X for Mac OS 9Select Preferences from the Edit menu.Click Advanced.Check Enable JavaScriptClick OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.Opera (Windows)In the Tools drop-down menu at the top of the window, select Preferences...Select the Advanced tab at the top on the Preferences window.Find the Content item in the list on the left-side of the window and select it.Check the Enable JavaScript checkbox.Click OK to save your changes and close the Preferences window.Finally, Refresh your browser.Opera (MAC)Select the Safari menu item from the Apple/System bar at the top of the screen.From the drop-down menu, select Preferences.Select the Content icon/tab at the top of the Preferences window.Check the Enable JavaScript checkbox.Click OK to save your changes and close the Preferences window.Finally, Refresh your browser.Safari (MAC)Select the Safari menu item from the Apple/System bar at the top of the screen.From the drop-down menu, select Preferences.Click Security icon/tab at the top of the window.Check the Enable JavaScript checkbox.Close the window to save your changes.Finally, Refresh your browser.Safari (Windows)In the Edit drop-down menu at the top of the window, select Preferences...Select the Security icon/tab at the top on the window.Check the Enable Javascript checkbox.Close the window to save your changes.Finally, Refresh your browser.Chrome (Windows)Select Customize and control Google Chrome (wrench Icon) to the right of the address bar.From the drop-down menu, select Options.Select the Under the Hood tab at the top of the window.Under the Privacy heading, select the Content settings button.On the left, under the features heading, select JavaScript.Select the Allow all sites to run JavaScript radio button.Finally, close both preference windows, and refresh the browser.Chrome (MAC)Select the Chrome menu item from the Apple/System bar at the top of the screen.From the drop-down menu, select Options.Select the Under the Hood tab at the top of the window.Under the Privacy heading, select the Content settings button.On the left, under the features heading, select JavaScript.Select the Allow all sites to run JavaScript radio button.Finally, close both preference windows, and refresh the browser.Mozilla 1.XSelect Preferences from the Edit menu.Click the arrow next to Advanced.Click Scripts & Plugins.Check Navigator beneath "Enable Javascript for".Click OK.Finally, Refresh your browser.AOL 7.0 and aboveSelect Preferences from the Settings menu.Click Internet Properties (WWW) under Organization.Click the Security tab.Check the Custom Level button.Scroll down to locate Scripting.For Active Scripting click Enable.Click OK, and then OK again to close all dialogs.Close the Preferences window, and then Reload the page.
BBC News - Food allergy laws enforced in restaurants and takeaways
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:24
11 December 2014Last updated at 19:39 ET By Smitha MundasadHealth reporter, BBC News Restaurants and takeaways across Europe will be required by law to tell customers if their food contains ingredients known to trigger allergies.
Staff must provide information on 14 everyday allergens including nuts, milk, celery, gluten, soya and wheat.
The new measures, which come into force on Saturday, cover meals served in bakeries, cafes, care homes and packaged produce sold by supermarkets.
There may be fines for repeat offenders.
According to the European Academy of Allergy, food allergies affect more than 17 million people across Europe.
Continue reading the main storyI had six allergic reactions in the course of a month last year and each time it was because I was told it was fine to eat something that it later turned out I couldn't''
End QuoteOliver BollandAllergy suffererFatal reactionsSome five thousand people need treatment in hospital for severe allergic reactions each year in the UK, and some cases are fatal - causing an average of 10 deaths annually.
Experts say the majority of these deaths and visits to hospital are avoidable, and some are a result of people being given incorrect information about ingredients.
Under the new legislation (EU FIC Food Information for Consumers Regulation), customers must be told if their food contains any of the following:
celery - including any found in stock cubes and soup cereals containing gluten - including spelt, wheat, rye, barley crustaceans - eg crabs, lobster, prawns and shrimp paste eggs - including food glazed with egg fish lupin - can be found in some types of bread, pastries, pasta milk molluscs - mussels, land snails, squid, also found in oyster sauce mustard nuts - for example almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia peanuts - also found in groundnut oil sesame seeds - found in some bread, houmous, tahini soya - found in beancurd, edamame beans, tofu sulphur dioxide - used as a preservative in dried fruit, meat products, soft drinks, vegetables, alcohol. 'Real problem'Oliver Bolland, 30, from Hertfordshire, is allergic to eggs, fish, shellfish, molluscs and soya.
He said: "My allergies really became a problem when I became an adult - I can't just pop out for a meal with my girlfriend, friends or family.
"I had six allergic reactions in the course of a month last year and each time it was because I was told it was fine to eat something that it later turned out I couldn't.
"Often, waiters don't take my allergies seriously, or they don't know what ingredients are in their dishes.
"I've had to leave important events, including a close friend's wedding, because the waiter didn't check exactly what was in the food and thought I was just being fussy.
"I'll always have to be careful about not accidentally eating something I'm allergic to, but now restaurants and takeaways can no longer say they're not sure whether I can eat something, or that it's probably fine.
"This new law will make a huge difference to my life."
Businesses can choose how they give the information on allergens contained in their food - for example through conversations with customers, leaflets, food labelling or by highlighting ingredients on menus.
But if allergy advice is not clearly given, the Food Standards Agency says there need to be clear signs about where it can be obtained.
Lindsey McManus, from Allergy UK, said: "We hope that restaurants will see the advantage of going this extra mile as it offers huge benefits to the allergic customer and this will only encourage business.
"It will enable people to eat out in confidence, knowing that allergens are monitored in dishes, and that the regulations are being adhered to."
Pre-packaged food bought in supermarkets must also have clear allergen information on the labels.
Japan's ruling coalition heads for landslide
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 15:31
Japan's ruling coalition heads for landslideDEBKAfileDecember 14, 2014, 4:37 PM (IDT)
Exit polls in Japan's election show Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party easily maintaining its majority in the House of Representatives.
World's longest train journey reaches its final destination in Madrid - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 04:09
The train, named "Yixinou" arrives in Madrid Abronigal railway station in Madrid, Spain, on Dec. 9, 2014. Madrid was the final destination on Tuesday for a train which has set the record for the longest train journey in history: 13,052 kilometers between the Chinese city of Yiwu and the Spanish capital. (Xinhua/Xie Haining)
MADRID, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Madrid was the final destination on Tuesday for a train which has set the record for the longest train journey in history; 13,052 kilometers between the Chinese city of Yiwu and the Spanish capital.
The train which arrived in Madrid at 11a.m. local time (1000GMT), departed from Yiwu on November 18th with 40 wagons, carrying 1,400 tons of cargo, consisting of stationary, craft products and products for the Christmas market and it will return to China filled with luxury Spanish produce such as cured ham, olive oil and wine.
The results of this first historic journey which will then be evaluated with the aim of opening a regular two-way rail link between China and Spain, which could commence operations in early 2015.
Two major advantages of rail travel are that the goods were transported much faster than would otherwise be possible by boat, arriving in Spain in half of the time a cargo vessel would need to cross from China to Spain, while the train produces 62 percent less carbon dioxide contamination less than a lorry making the same journey by road.
The marathon journey crossed China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France, before arriving in Spain with 30 of the wagons it had originally set out with.
The 13,052 kilometers between Madrid and Yiwu is a greater distance than that between the north and south pole, although the distance was not covered using the same crew, nor the same engine.
The engine was changed approximately every 800 kilometers, while the crew changes with each country the train traversed. Meanwhile special stops were necessary at the frontier cities of Dostyk (Kazakhstan), Brest (Belarus) and Irun (Spain) in order to deal with the different railway gauges encountered along the route.
A host of dignitaries, such as Spain's Public Works Minister Ana Pastor, the Mayor of Madrid Ana Botella, as well as the Director of Business at the Chinese Embassy in Madrid Mr. Huang Yazhong, and the Director of Commerce for the Government of Zhejiang Province Mr. Zhang Shuming.
Mr. Huang said the journey showed the great importance China gave to strengthening relations with Europe, while thanking all of the authorities which had helped to make such a historic trajectory possible, while Mrs Botella commented that the 13,053 of railway which had made the historic feat possible was like a "new silk road for the 21st century, except that now the commerce will travel in both directions.
War on Crazy
SAFE Act: State identifies 278 mentally unstable people to lose their guns | syracuse.com
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:15
Syracuse, N.Y. -- New York state has identified 278 licensed gun owners who could lose their weapons because they are considered mentally unstable.
At least eight of them are Central New Yorkers, half of whom have had their guns and permits taken away by authorities.
Psychiatrists and other health professionals reported these individuals to the state because they appeared to be at risk of harming themselves or others. Under a provision of the New York SAFE Act gun control law, mental health providers have reported 38,718 at-risk patients, 737 of them from Central New York. Those reports are cross checked against a list of pistol permit holders. Less than 1 percent of the mental health reports statewide involved people with pistol permits.How many people in your county are too mentally unstable to have guns?
The SAFE Act took effect March 16, 2013. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators quickly pushed through the law with no public input after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The state Division of Criminal Justice Services provided county-by-county statistics from the database in response to a Freedom of Information Law request from syracuse.com.
Here's how many mentally unstable residents of local counties had pistol permits as of Oct. 3, according to the database: Onondaga, 3; Cayuga, 2; Cortland 1, Madison, 2; and Oswego, 0. Some county officials say the numbers are higher than that.
The state does not know how many permits were suspended and guns confiscated after the database identified mentally unstable patients with pistol permits. That's because it is up to local courts and licensing officials to act on those decisions, said Janine Kava of the Division of Criminal Justice. Local officials are not required to tell the state what actions they took.
Permit holders may not even know their names are in the state database because mental health providers are not required by the law to get an individual's authorization or consent before making a report.
Cayuga County sheriff's deputies confiscated guns and took back pistol permits from three residents, one more than the database shows, according to Sgt. John Leja of the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office.
Police in Cortland County confiscated guns from at least one permit holder, according to Cortland County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin, whose office processes gun permits. "We had another man who came in and voluntarily handed us his permit and gave his weapons to the police and said, 'I don't want them anymore,' " Larkin said.
She said her office has had four cases where permits holders were flagged by the new database, three more than state records show. In all four cases, a judge revoked the permits.
Police do not always take away weapons when a permit is revoked or suspended, according to Larkin. That's because permit holders are allowed to co-register their guns with another family member who has a permit. "If the person's son or wife has the weapons co-registered on their permit, the sheriff's office or state police would not confiscate them," she said.
When local authorities learn that a permit holder has been deemed too mentally unstable to have firearms they notify local courts.
"Once we get that notification we immediately suspend the permit in order to protect the public," said Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey. Judges issue those orders without seeing the mental health reports, he said.
Fahey said permit holders are given an opportunity to submit information in writing to the court if they wish to challenge the suspension.
Detective Jon Seeber, spokesman for the sheriff's office, could not say whether any guns were confiscated in Onondaga County.
After a court order is issued, a deputy delivers it to the permit holder and seizes their permit and guns, according to Leja of the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office.
He said his office stores the weapons in a secured vault. Leja said a judge may eventually decide to allow the person whose permit was suspended to make arrangements to sell the confiscated weapon to a gun dealer. But Leja said he has not seen that happen yet.
The names of people whose permits have been suspended must be kept confidential under provisions of the SAFE Act, state mental health law and other state statutes, said Robert Freeman, executive director of the State Committee on Open Government. Their names could only be disclosed by a court order, he said.
Some mental health providers and patient advocates are apprehensive about the database and the law's mental health reporting requirement. They believe the law unfairly links gun violence to mental illness and could discourage some people with mental health problems from seeking help.
Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services in Albany, is troubled by the number of reports. "It's bigger than I had thought," he said. "It sends a message to those who might need care that there are a lot of people who are going to be in a database."
But gun control advocates like the new database.
"It only takes one individual to wreak mayhem and tragedy if they have access to a firearm," said Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
She considers the number of reports filed small compared to the state's population of nearly 20 million.
"These are individuals who, under no circumstances, should have guns," she said.
Providers file the mental health reports with their county's mental health commissioner or director of community services. That individual reviews the reports and determines if they should be sent on to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. In Onondaga County that task is handled by Robert Long, the county's mental health commissioner, who refused to discuss the process.
Jed Wolkenbreit, an attorney for the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, said hospitals are filing most of the mental health reports. "These are mostly people who show up in emergency rooms with mental health issues," he said.
The county officials who review the reports are supposed to make sure providers filing the reports give adequate explanations of why they believe the patient meets the SAFE Act's reporting criteria. The law requires providers to report patients "... likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others."
"There has to be a specific reason," Wolkenbreit said. "It can't just be because the person is mentally ill. There are many people who are mentally ill who do not pose any danger."
Roger Ambrose, director of community services for Jefferson County, said most reports he reviews indicate the patient may be suicidal, while a smaller number indicate the patient may be homicidal.
Ambrose said he checks to make sure the person who filed the report has the proper credentials and the report meets the SAFE Act's requirements. "If they claim in the report the person who came in was suicidal and had a plan, I'm not going to second guess the treating physician and say, 'I don't think that person ought to have their weapons taken,'" Ambrose said. "That's not my call."
Related stories:NY SAFE Act gun control law encouraging mentally ill to seek help, study shows
Look up how many people in your county are too mentally unstable to have guns
Contact James T. Mulder anytime: Email | Twitter | 315-470-2245
NA-Tech News
Project Maelstrom: The Internet We Build Next | The Official BitTorrent Blog
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:50
An invite-only Alpha to help build the distributed web.
It started with a simple question. What if more of the web worked the way BitTorrent does?
Project Maelstrom begins to answer that question with our first public release of a web browser that can power a new way for web content to be published, accessed and consumed. Truly an Internet powered by people, one that lowers barriers and denies gatekeepers their grip on our future.
If we are successful, we believe this project has the potential to help address some of the most vexing problems facing the Internet today. How can we keep the Internet open? How can we keep access to the Internet neutral? How can we better ensure our private data is not misused by large companies? How can we help the Internet scale efficiently for content?
The power of distributed technology that underpins BitTorrent and all of our products has long been an example in this regard and bringing more of this power to the web is only natural as these challenges loom.
Please join us in this project, become a fractional owner of this new Internet and help us shape the future of our network.
Related Reading:
Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC's Net Neutrality Rules (Wall Street Journal) Coverage of Verizon's lawsuit to strike down incumbent Net Neutrality guidelines in January 2014.
The Cliff and the Slope by Susan Crawford (Medium). An analysis of Measurement Labs' report detailing consumer harm (traffic discrimination) by ISPs during Netflix negotiations in 2014.
How BitTorrent Change the Rules of the Internet by Drake Baer (FastCompany). The story of uTP, which helped solve the first Net Neutrality problem for the ISPs.
Net Neutrality: We Need a Better Deal OpEd from Eric Klinker
BitTorrent's 10th Anniversary & The Internet We Build Next by Eric Klinker
Written by: Eric KlinkerEric Klinker, BitTorrent's Chief Executive Officer, brings close to two decades of experience as a technologist and an innovator.
Related Posts:
Bleep: The First Step Toward Offline Messages
by Farid Fadaie on November 21, 2014
Introducing µTorrent Pro, now for $19.95 and including a Streaming beta
by Remi Del Mar on November 20, 2014
Where Creativity Thrives: BitTorrent 2014 User Study
by Straith on November 20, 2014
What To Expect Next From Sync
by Erik Pounds on November 19, 2014
BitTorrent Sync Reviewed by Third Party Security Firm
by Erik Pounds on November 19, 2014
Is It Possible to Build an Internet So Decentralized That It's Beyond the Government's Reach? BitTorrent is Going to Try. - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:50
Exciting news from BitTorrent:
It started with a simple question. What if more of the web worked the way BitTorrent does?
Project Maelstrom begins to answer that question with our first public release of a web browser that can power a new way for web content to be published, accessed and consumed. Truly an Internet powered by people, one that lowers barriers and denies gatekeepers their grip on our future.
The announcement is more of a manifesto than an actual explanation, but it's easy to extrapolate the basic details.
BitTorrent is a protocol that uses a peer-to-peer network for file sharing. It allows users to collect data in bits and pieces off the hard drives of others users instead of downloading files directly from a central server.
A Web browser built with BitTorrent could load pages by drawing information from other people who've already visited the same websites and automatically saved some of the information, instead of going straight to the source. So when users log on to Reason.com in the future, they'll be pulling different little pieces of data'--text, pictures, ads'--from millions (billions!) of other users instead of straight off of our server.
An obvious benefit is speedy browsing. With Project Malestrom, blockbuster stories at Reason.com wouldn't affect download speeds because users wouldn't all at once be trying to access the same server.
Project Malestrom could also help unclog the Internet's pipes'--muting the debate over net neutrality and denying Washington justification for "fucking up the Internet"'--because BitTorrent has an elegant system of prioritizing data flows called "Micro Transport Protocol."
"It's the best example we have of technology being used to solve what is perceived to be a policy problem," BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker toldFast Company when asked about its Micro Transport Protocol. "It's only through the technology that the Internet's rules are written."
But here's what I find most exciting about Project Maelstrom: If the Web is distributed over a vast decentralized network, governments have no way to control what people do and say online. Sending in men with guns to pull a server offline is a waste of time if the data on that server is duplicated on billions of computers dispersed around the globe.
This technology could also supercharge projects like OpenBazaar, a decentralized e-commerce platform in which home computers act as nodes in a vast free trade network that nobody controls. And it seems like a first step towards the dream of a "mesh network," in which the Internet has no trunk pipes and every computer is simply linked to another computer, creating a network so dispersed that no central authority could control or destroy it.
H/T: Mr. Knuckle of NXT FreeMarket.
Jim Epstein is a writer and producer at Reason.
SSTV Transmissions from the International Space Station Set for December 18 and 20
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:07
12/09/2014The Russian Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) team members plan to activate slow-scan television (SSTV) from the ISS on December 18 and December 20. The expected SSTV mode will be PD180 on a frequency of 145.800 MHz with 3-minute off periods between transmissions. Several passes will be over North America.
Twelve different photos will be sent during the operational period. Transmissions will begin at around 1420 UTC on December 18 and 1240 UTC on December 20. The transmissions should terminate around 2130 UTC each day. '-- Thanks to Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, ARISS-Europe Chairman
GADFLY-VIDEO-The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet [HQ FULL] - YouTube
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:51
The Gadfly - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:52
The GadflyFirst version of cover
AuthorEthel Lilian VoynichCountryUnited StatesLanguageEnglishGenreNovelPublisherH. HoltPublication date
June, 1897Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)Pages373 pp (first edition hardcover)ISBNNAThe Gadfly is a novel by Irish writer Ethel Lilian Voynich, published in 1897 (United States, June; Great Britain, September of the same year), set in 1840s Italy under the dominance of Austria, a time of tumultuous revolt and uprisings.[1] The story centres on the life of the protagonist, Arthur Burton, as a member of the Youth movement, and his antagonist, Padre Montanelli. A thread of a tragic relationship between Arthur and his love Gemma simultaneously runs through the story. It is a story of faith, disillusionment, revolution, romance, and heroism.
The book is primarily concerned with the culture of revolution and revolutionaries. Arthur, the Gadfly, embodies the tragic Romantic hero, who comes of age and returns from abandonment to discover his true state in the world and fight against the injustices of the current one. Gemma, his lover, and Padre Montanelli, his Priest, show various forms of love via their tragic relations with the focal character of Arthur: religious, romantic, and family. The story compares these emotions to those Arthur experiences as a revolutionary, particularly drawing on the relationship between religious and revolutionary feelings. This especially explicit at the climax of the book, where sacred descriptions intertwine with reflections on the Gadfly's fate. It is debatable to what extent an allegorical comparison can be drawn between the Gadfly and Jesus.
The landscape of Italy, in particular the Alps, is a pervading focus of the book, with its often lush descriptions of scenery conveying the thoughts and moods of characters.
BackgroundEditAccording to historian Robin Bruce Lockhart, Sidney Reilly '' a Russian-born adventurer and secret agent employed by the British Secret Intelligence Service '' met Ethel Voynich in London in 1895. Ethel Voynich was a significant figure not only on the late Victorian literary scene but also in Russian (C)migr(C) circles. Lockhart claims that Reilly and Voynich had a sexual liaison and voyaged to Italy together. During this scenic tarriance, Reilly apparently "bared his soul to his mistress," and revealed to her the story of his strange youth in Russia. After their brief affair had concluded, Voynich published in 1897 her critically acclaimed novel, The Gadfly, the central character of which, Arthur Burton, was allegedly based on Sidney Reilly's own early life.[2] However, Andrew Cook, a noted biographer of Reilly, calls Lockhart's romanticised version of such events doubtful, and counters instead that Reilly was perhaps informing on Voynich's radical, pro-(C)migr(C) activities to William Melville of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.[3]
PopularityEditWith the central theme of the book being the nature of a true revolutionary, the reflections on religion and rebellion proved to be ideologically suitable and successful. The Gadfly was exceptionally popular in the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China and Iran exerting a large cultural influence. In the Soviet UnionThe Gadfly was compulsory reading and the top best seller, indeed by the time of Voynich's death The Gadfly is estimated to have sold 2,500,000 copies in the Soviet Union alone.[4]
The Russian composer Mikhail Zhukov turned the book into an opera The Gadfly (Овод, 1928). In 1955, the Soviet director Aleksandr Faintsimmer adapted the novel into a film of the same title (Russian: Ovod) for which Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the score. The Gadfly Suite is an arrangement of selections from Shostakovich's score by the composer Levon Atovmian. A second opera The Gadfly was composed by Soviet composer Antonio Spadavecchia.
On the other hand, in Italy, where the plot takes place during the Italian Unification, the novel is totally neglected:[5] it was translated into Italian as late as in 1956 and was never reprinted: Il Figlio del Cardinale (literally, The Son of the Cardinal). A new edition, carrying the same title, came out in 2013.
Theatre adaptationsEdit1898. The Gadfly or the Son of the Cardinal by George Bernard Shaw.1899. The Gadfly by S. Robson, E. Rose and E.L. Voynich.1906. Zhertva svobody by L. Avrian (in Russian).1916. Ovod by V. Zolotarv (in Russian).1940. Ovod by A. Zhelyabuzhsky (in Russian).Opera, ballet, musical adaptationsEditFilm adaptationsEdit1928. Krazana, Soviet Georgian, by Kote Mardjanishvili.1955. Ovod, Soviet, by Aleksandr Faintsimmer. Shostakovich composed its film score. The Gadfly Suite, which includes the movement Romance, later becoming popular on its own right, is an arrangement of selections from Shostakovich's score by composer Levon Atovmian.1978. Chameleon (ATV Drama Series), starring Pat Poon Chi Man, Lau Chi Weng1980. Film of the same name by Nikolai Mashchenko, starring Sergei Bondarchuk and Anastasiya Vertinskaya.1987. Rivares. Soviet Georgian film of B. Chkheidze.2003. Niumeng, Chinese, directed by W. TianmingReferencesEdit^See Voynich, Ethel Lillian (1897). The Gadfly (1 ed.). New York: Henry Holt & Company. Retrieved 13 July 2014. via Archive.org^Robin Bruce Lockhart, Reilly: Ace of Spies; 1986, Hippocrene Books, ISBN 0-88029-072-2.^Page 39, Andrew Cook, Ace of Spies: The True Story of Sidney Reilly, 2004, Tempus Publishing, ISBN 0-7524-2959-0.^Cork City Libraries provides a downloadable PDF of Evgeniya Taratuta's 1957 biographical pamphlet Our Friend Ethel Lilian Boole/Voynich, translated from the Russian by S(C)amus ' Coigligh. The pamphlet gives some idea of the Soviet attitude toward Voynich.^S. Piastra, Luoghi reali e luoghi letterari: Brisighella in The Gadfly di Ethel Lilian Voynich, ''Studi Romagnoli'' LVII, (2006), pp. 717''735 (in Italian); S. Piastra, Il romanzo inglese di Brisighella: nuovi dati su The Gadfly di Ethel Lilian Voynich, ''Studi Romagnoli'' LIX, (2008), pp. 571''583 (in Italian); A. Farsetti, S. Piastra, The Gadfly di Ethel Lilian Voynich: nuovi dati e interpretazioni, ''Romagna Arte e Storia'' 91, (2011), pp. 41''62 (in Italian).External linksEdit
Google Just Admitted More Than Half Of The Ads It Serves Are Never Seen | Business Insider
Sun, 07 Dec 2014 22:15
Online ad viewability is a hot topic in advertising right now, as marketers are becoming more aware (and concerned) that many of the ads they buy online are never actually seen by people.
Advertisers are also shifting to pay only for ads that have actually been viewed, as opposed to those that are just being blindly served. That's why Google has released a study analysing its display ad platforms using its Active View technology, such as DoubleClick, to explore which factors affect ad viewability. It wants to show the market it is taking the issue seriously '-- and that it is responsible enough to admit that even its own platforms don't deliver 100% of the time.
The results seem staggering: Advertisers are essentially throwing half of their budgets away every time they pay for display ads. Some 56.1% of all the impressions served on the Google display platforms were not actually seen because they were served outside of the browser window.
When the world's largest digital display advertising company puts out a number this large (without even mentioning bot-related ad fraud), the industry should be jolted into sitting up and take notice of this massive problem. Google gets $US55 billion a year, roughly, in ad revenues. A huge chunk of that was paid for ads that no one saw, Google's study implies. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that many of these impressions are sold on a cost-per-click basis, so not all the ads that are served and go unseen are being paid for.
Digital advertising companies often say their properties are superior to traditional media like TV due to their sophisticated targeting and measurement. But just as TV viewers are likely to check at their phones or put the kettle on during a commercial break, it turns out legions of people never lay eyes on the ads served to them online.
The reason so many ads are going unseen?
Page position really matters. Google says the most viewable ad position is right above the page fold (the lowest point on the page before a user has to scroll) '-- not right at the top of the page as most people might think. However, Google also caveats this by saying above the fold is not always viewable, but just that it's the most likely place an ad will be seen.
Size matters when it comes to display ads too. Unsurprisingly, vertical ads garner the highest viewability rates. This is likely because they stay on the page as a user scrolls for longer.
Viewability also varies across different content verticals. The sites associated with the most captive engagement levels '-- reference, online communities and games '-- have far higher viewability scores than content about food and drink, news or real estate.
Google says this research should help advertisers better understand high and low-value inventory and then shift budgets and targets accordingly. On the publisher side, Google advises companies to aim for above 50% viewability rates, consider which ad sizes are most effective at different page positions and better identify and monetise often disregarded but valuable below-the-fold inventory.
But the research also raises the question as to why Google did not set these standards in the first place when it formed these publisher partnerships. It may only be the middle-man in the advertiser-publisher relationship, but it nevertheless plays its part in the advertising viewability problem too.
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Insurer's incentive: Get fit, get paid a buck a day
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 20:43
As many as 20,000 Oscar customers will be offered the chance to download a Misfit app onto their smartphones that will monitor the device. After the Oscar-branded wristband is shipped and activated by the customer, it then automatically syncs to the app and the customer's insurance plan account.
Read More'Kickback' flak: Sanofi's caseload grows bigger
The benchmarks determined by an algorithm "start around 2,000 steps per day, that would be the early goal," Schlosser said. "If it sees you hit your goal every day for a week or so, then it would increase your goal.... Of course, it comes down again if you start missing your goal."
The maximum goal is "a bit over 10,000" steps per day, he said. "You don't have to be a triathlete to achieve this."
Customers are awarded $1 per day '-- with a $20 monthly cap '-- if they beat the benchmarks. The award is loaded on an Amazon.com gift card.
With Oscar's cheapest "silver" Obamacare plans costing about $405 per month in premiums, the Misfit program offers customers the incentive of a discount equal to more than 5 percent per month.
"We think it can be a very powerful tool to getting people out on the street and being more active," Schlosser said.
Read MoreWeek 2 for Obamacare enrollment slows'--quite a bit
It also may be a tool to help Oscar make some money.
Part of the bet Oscar is making by handing out the Misfit devices, which has a $60 retail value, is to reduce the rate of health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes among Oscar's customers. That, in turn, could reduce their use of doctors and hospitals, which Oscar's plan pays for.
Asked what the return on that investment might be per customer, Schlosser said, "I don't think anybody can completely answer that question right now.
"It will pay off, at best, in the medium term, if not the short term," he said.
Bans in Netherlands, New Delhi deal new blows to Uber taxi service - The Globe and Mail
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 19:52
It's been a bad day for Uber, with authorities on two continents hitting the car-sharing service with new bans on its operations.
Monday's decision by the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal, which Uber has vowed to appeal, bans the car-sharing service from taking bookings in the Netherlands via its smartphone app. The decision could leave the car-sharing service with fines of up to '‚¬100,000 ($122,650 U.S.).
More Related to this StoryIn New Delhi, Uber has been forbidden from operating in the Indian capital after a female passenger accused one of its drivers of rape.
Launched in California four years ago, the service has rapidly become popular in a number of countries because it often undercuts established taxi and minicab services.
However, taxi drivers across Europe say Uber breaks local taxi rules and violates licensing, insurance and safety regulations. It has faced legal action in Germany and a number of European capitals. In Toronto last month, the city sought an injunction against the company in provincial court after an undercover investigation found what the city concluded were ''real and urgent'' safety problems with the service.
(Read more: Inside Toronto's Uber investigation)
The tribunal in The Hague ordered Uber to stop providing the service known as UberPop, which it said broke a law requiring that drivers have a special licence. Drivers could face fines of '‚¬10,000 for each violation, up to a maximum of '‚¬40,000, the court said.
''This is only the first step in a long-running legal battle,'' Uber said in a statement.
Uber had asked the Dutch court to overturn a government-imposed ban and fines for use of UberPop, the smartphone application used to arrange rides. ''We believe were are offering a service within the spirit of the law. We will continue to offer safe, competitive, quality services to consumers,'' said spokesman Thomas van Oortmerssen.
The accusations of rape against an Uber driver have reignited a debate about the safety of women in the South Asian nation.
Police said the 32-year-old driver dropped the woman home after attacking her and warned her not to inform the authorities. She managed to note the driver's number and take a photograph of his car, they said.
The arrested driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, appeared in court on Monday and was remanded in custody for three days.
Uber, which had employed the driver even though he had been arrested on allegations of sexual assault three years ago, would be blacklisted from providing any future services in the New Delhi area, the city's transport department said in a statement. A spokeswoman for Uber said she could not immediately comment.
Indian police said they were considering legal action against the taxi service for failing to run background checks on the driver. The company said there were no defined rules in India on background checks for commercial transport licenses and it was working with the government to address the issue.
''What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific,'' Travis Kalanick, Uber's chief executive officer, said in a statement before the ban. ''We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice.''
Is dit echt het einde van UberPOP? - Nederland - TROUW
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 19:50
Redactie '' 08/12/14, 14:24
(C) anp. De taxi-app Uber.
Vier vragen Dankzij Uber kan zo goed als iedereen met een vierdeursauto aan de slag als taxichauffeur. Maar vandaag oordeelde het College van Beroep voor het Bedrijfsleven opnieuw dat de taxidienst UberPOP illegaal is. Het bedrijf Uber moet stoppen met de dienst op straffe van een dwangsom van maximaal 100.000 euro. Trouw legt in vier vragen uit hoe het nou precies zit.
Wat is er gebeurd?In oktober werden vier UberPOP-chauffeurs opgepakt omdat ze taxiritjes maakten zonder vergunning. Ze kregen ieder een boete van 1500 euro. Gaan ze weer de fout in, dan kunnen ze boetes van 10.000 tot 40.000 euro krijgen. Het bedrijf zelf kreeg ook een dwangsom opgelegd: elke keer dat er een overtreding wordt geconstateerd, krijgt Uber een boete van 10.000 met een maximum van 100.000 euro.
Wat zegt Uber?Uber vindt de boetes onterecht. Het bedrijf noemt de wet achterhaald. "De huidige wetgegeving stamt uit 2000. Toen waren er nog geen smartphones en apps", aldus directeur Niek van Leeuwen. Bovendien let het bedrijf, naar eigen zeggen, voldoende op de kwaliteit van de chauffeurs. De boetes zouden een gezonde concurrentie op de taximarkt tegenwerken. Uber tekende bezwaar aan en daar maakte de rechter vandaag korte metten mee.
Wat zegt de rechter?Dat de boete terecht is. Een officile taxichauffeur moet een recente geneeskundige verklaring en een afgeronde opleiding met chauffeursdiploma hebben. UberPOP-chauffeurs zijn eigenlijk amateurs en beschikken niet over dergelijke papieren. Daarmee overtreden de UberPOP-chauffeurs de wet.
Volgens de rechter levert het bedrijf Uber niet alleen de technologische middelen om de chauffeurs en klanten samen te brengen, maar is Uber door het aanbieden van het platform meer betrokken dan dat. Uber selecteert de chauffeurs, kent de klanten, handelt de betalingen af en strijkt twintig procent van de winst op. Daarom gaat, volgens de rechter, de betrokkenheid van Uber verder dan alleen het verstrekken van de technologie. Het zijn dus niet alleen de chauffeurs die de wet overtreden door voor taxi te spelen, maar Uber overtreedt daardoor zelf ook de wet.
Maar werkt het?Trouw-verslaggever Niels Markus nam de proef op de som en maakte hetzelfde ritje met een gewone taxi en met UberPOP. Het ritje van de Trouw-redactie naar het Uber-hoofdkantoor duurde met de Taxi Centrale Amsterdam maar 17 minuten, maar kostte wel wel '‚¬ 24,19. De chauffeur van UberPOP ging even de mist in. "De chauffeur mist nog een belangrijke vaardigheid die veel taxichauffeurs wel bezitten: gelijktijdig praten en rijden. Op de A10 pakte hij per ongeluk de verkeerde afslag." Het ritje duurde hierdoor een stuk langer: 22 minuten. Maar de terugreis was met 15 euro wel goedkoper.
Uber omstreden vanaf beginVandaag werd Uber verbannen uit de Indiase hoofdstad New Delhi, nadat een UberPOP-chauffeur werd opgepakt in verband met een verkrachting. Maar de dienst roept al langer felle reacties op.
In Duitsland, Frankrijk, Belgi en Spanje heeft de rechter zich ook al gebogen over de diensten van het bedrijf dat in 2009 in San Francisco werd opgericht.
Toen Uber dit jaar in verschillende markten op het toneel verscheen, kwamen taxichauffeurs in actie. Ze protesteerden of staakten, omdat ze vinden dat het bedrijf en de chauffeurs die ervoor werken zich schuldig maken aan oneerlijke concurrentie. In Barcelona werden in oktober zelfs auto's van twee Uber-chauffeurs in brand gestoken.
Rechters in verschillende landen delen de mening van de taxichauffeurs. Uber mag helemaal geen diensten meer aanbieden in de Spaanse steden Madrid en Barcelona. In de Belgische hoofdstad Brussel en de Duitse steden Berlijn en Hamburg is de dienst UberPOP verboden.
In Duitsland had de rechter de dienst landelijk verboden, maar van een andere rechter mag Uber de diensten wel blijven aanbieden zolang de zaak niet definitief is beslist. Er volgt nog een hoger beroep. Ook in Frankrijk is UberPOP nog beschikbaar ondanks een verbod, omdat Uber in hoger beroep ging.
Gestage uitbreidingTegelijkertijd zijn de diensten van Uber in veel andere Europese steden wel toegestaan, al zorgt de gestage uitbreiding van de dienst bij lokale chauffeurs voor onvrede. Inmiddels is Uber volgens de eigen website in 51 landen actief. In Europa gaat het om 42 steden. In dat lijstje staan echter ook steden als Frankfurt en Barcelona, waar dus een verbod geldt.
Toch kijkt de brancheorganisatie volgens Hubert Andela van Koninklijk Nederlands Vervoer (KNV) Taxi met belangstelling naar de strijd die Uber met de overheid voert. "Er zijn zeker heel wat taxichauffeurs die best van de vergunningplicht af willen. Wij vinden vooral dat het wel wat goedkoper mag. Een vergunning kost nu ruim 1400 euro voor vijf jaar. Daar komen nog opleidingskosten bij, een chauffeurspas, de kosten voor een keuring enzovoort."
Neelie Kroes woestOverigens krijgt Uber niet alleen kritiek te verduren. Toenmalig Europees Commissaris Neelie Kroes vroeg de tegenstanders van de app om realistisch te blijven. "Digitale vernieuwingen zijn hier om te blijven. We moeten met hen werken, niet hen tegenwerken." Ook viel ze in een blog Brussels minister Brigitte Grouwels keihard aan: "Ik ben woest. Wat voor rechtssysteem is dit? Zo bescherm je geen banen, Madame, zo irriteer je alleen mensen!"
Overigens ziet het er niet naar uit dat Uber werkelijk binnenkort verdwenen zal zijn. In juni haalde het taxibedrijf in een tweede financieringsronde 1,2 miljard dollar op bij investeerders en wordt het nu op op meer dan 40 miljard dollar gewaardeerd. Dat is meer dan beursgenoteerde bedrijven als Twitter en American Airlines.
Nederlandse chauffeursUber is tot nu toe vaag over hoeveel Nederlandse amateurchauffeurs er voor het bedrijf rijden, maar Hubert Andela denkt dat het er niet veel zijn en dat ze vooral rijden in Amsterdam. Naast UberPop, dat deze zomer van start ging, bestaat er sinds twee jaar ook UberBlack en UberLux waar alleen beroepschauffeurs voor rijden. Volgens Andela maakt deze 'legale' concurrent nog geen procent uit van het totaal aantal ritten. "Wij zijn wel gewend aan concurrentie. Zelfs met die enorme hoeveelheid media-aandacht groeit Uber voor zover ik het zie niet hard. Nederland is nu eenmaal niet zo'n taxiland als Amerika of Groot-Brittanni."
NYC Police Union Seeks to Ban De Blasio From Line-of-Duty Funerals
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:41
The union representing New York City police is encouraging officers to sign a waiver banning Mayor Bill de Blasio from attending their funeral should they be killed in the line of duty.The "Don't Insult My Sacrifice" waiver is available on the website of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which has been enraged by the lack of support from de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito following a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, the New York Post reports.
The mayor added fuel to the fire at a news conference where he confided he'd warned his biracial son Dante to be careful around police, while PBA President Patrick Lynch charged de Blasio had basically thrown cops "under the bus."
"I, as a New York City police officer, request that Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito refrain from attending my funeral services in the event that I am killed in the line of duty,'' the waiver states.
"Due to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito's consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve, I believe that their attendance at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer's memory and sacrifice."
The mayor traditionally attends funerals for fallen officers.
"This is deeply disappointing," the mayor and the council speaker said in a joint statement, the Post reports.
"Incendiary rhetoric like this serves only to divide the city, and New Yorkers reject these tactics. The mayor and the speaker both know better than to think this inappropriate stunt represents the views of the majority of police officers and their families."
The PBA revolt comes as contract negotiations with the city have moved onto binding arbitration, the New York Observer reports.
The police union was not one of the eight uniformed unions accepting a contract deal this week.
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Space Fakes
Moon Landing A Hoax? Here's 10 Reasons Why
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 05:32
The Moon Landing A Hoax?For decades, people have debated whether or not the moon landing was real or fake '' and it is still to this day a hotly debated subject. Moon landing a hoax? Moon landing not a hoax? If so, what would the reasons even be?
Scholars brush it off as mere conspiracy theory, but there are some interesting facts to back up the possibility that the moon landing was done on a soundstage. A great article recently published on Listverse called ''10 Reasons the Moon Landings Could Be a Hoax'' [1] by Josh Fox lays out ten reasons the landing may have been a fake.
Fox says: The theory that the moon landings were hoaxed by the US government to assert their victory in the space race over Russia, is something which has grown in popularity over time.Recent polls indicate that approximately 20% of Americans believe that the U.S. has never landed on the moon.
After the Apollo missions ended in the seventies, why haven't we ever been back? Only during the term of Richard Nixon did humanity ever land on the moon, and after Watergate most people wouldn't put it past Tricky Dick to fake them to put America in good standing in the Cold War.In this list I have presented some of the proposed evidence to suggest that the moon landings were hoaxes. I tried to include NASA's explanations to each entry to provide an objective perspective.'¨
So, without further ado'... ''the list'''....
The Waving Flag
Conspiracy theorists have pointed out that when the first moon landing was shown on live television, viewers could clearly see the American flag waving and fluttering as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted it. Photos of the landing also seem to show rippling in a breeze, such as the image above which clearly shows a fold in the flag.
The obvious problem here is that there's no air in the moon's atmosphere, and therefore no wind to cause the flag to blow.Countless explanations have been put forward to disprove this phenomenon as anything unusual: NASA claimed that the flag was stored in a thin tube and the rippled effect was caused by it being unfurled before being planted. Other explanations involve the ripples caused by the reaction force of the astronauts touching the aluminum pole, which is shown to shake in the video footage.
Lack of Impact Crater
The claim goes as follows: had NASA really landed us on the moon, there would be a blast crater underneath the lunar module to mark its landing. On any video footage or photograph of the landings, no crater is visible, almost as though the module was simply placed there. The surface of the moon is covered in fine lunar dust, and even this doesn't seem to have been displaced in photographic evidence.Much like the waving flag theory, however, the lack of an impact crater has a slew of potential explanations. NASA maintains that the module required significantly less thrust in the low-gravity conditions than it would have done on Earth. The surface of the moon itself is solid rock, so a blast crater probably wouldn't be feasible anyway '' in the same way that an aeroplane doesn't leave a crater when it touches down on a concrete airstrip.
Multiple Light Sources
On the moon there is only one strong light source: the Sun. So it's fair to suggest that all shadows should run parallel to one another. But this was not the case during the moon landing: videos and photographs clearly show that shadows fall in different directions. Conspiracy theorists suggest that this must mean multiple light sources are present -suggesting that the landing photos were taken on a film set.NASA has attempted to blame uneven landscape on the strange shadows, with subtle bumps and hills on the moon's surface causing the discrepancies. This explanation has been tossed out the window by some theorists; how could hills cause such large angular differences? In the image above the lunar module's shadow clearly contradicts that of the rocks in the foreground at almost a 45 degree angle.'¨'¨
The Van Allen Radiation Belt
In order to reach the moon, astronauts had to pass through what is known as the Van Allen radiation belt. The belt is held in place by Earth's magnetic field and stays perpetually in the same place. The Apollo missions to the moon marked the first ever attempts to transport living humans through the belt. Conspiracy theorists contend that the sheer levels of radiation would have cooked the astronauts en route to the moon, despite the layers of aluminum coating the interior and exterior of the spaceship.NASA have countered this argument by emphasizing the short amount of time it took the astronauts to traverse the belt '' meaning they received only very small doses of radiation.
The Unexplained Object
After photographs of the moon landings were released, theorists were quick to notice a mysterious object (shown above) in the reflection of an astronaut's helmet from the Apollo 12 mission. The object appears to be hanging from a rope or wire and has no reason to be there at all, leading some to suggest it is an overhead spotlight typically found in film studios.The resemblance is questionable, given the poor quality of the photograph, but the mystery remains as to why something is being suspended in mid-air (or rather lack of air) on the moon. The lunar module in other photos appears to have no extension from it that matches the photo, so the object still remains totally unexplained.
Slow-Motion Walking and Hidden Cables
In order to support claims that the moon landings were shot in a studio, conspiracy theorists had to account for the apparent low-gravity conditions, which must have been mimicked by NASA. It has been suggested that if you take the moon landing footage and increase the speed of the film x2.5, the astronauts appear to be moving in Earth's gravity. As for the astronaut's impressive jump height, which would be impossible to perform in Earth's gravity, hidden cables and wires have been suggested as giving the astronauts some extra height. In some screenshots outlines of alleged hidden cables can be seen (the photograph above supposedly shows a wire, though it is extremely vague).'¨
Lack of Stars
One compelling argument for the moon landing hoax is the total lack of stars in any of the photographic/video evidence. There are no clouds on the moon, so stars are perpetually visible and significantly brighter than what we see through the filter of Earth's atmosphere.The argument here is that NASA would have found it impossible to map out the exact locations of all stars for the hoax without being rumbled, and therefore left them out '' intentionally falling back on an excuse that the quality of the photographs washes them out (an excuse they did actually give).Some photographs are high-quality, however, and yet still no stars are shown. Certainly eerie, considering you can take pictures of stars from Earth in much lower quality and still see them.'¨'¨
The ''C'' Rock
One of the most famous photos from the moon landings shows a rock in the foreground, with what appears to be the letter ''C'' engraved into it. The letter appears to be almost perfectly symmetrical, meaning it is unlikely to be a natural occurrence. It has been suggested that the rock is simply a prop, with the ''C'' used as a marker by an alleged film crew. A set designer could have turned the rock the wrong way, accidentally exposing the marking to the camera.NASA has given conflicting excuses for the letter, on the one hand blaming a photographic developer for adding the letter as a practical joke, while on the other hand saying that it may simply have been a stray hair which got tangled up somewhere in the developing process.
The Layered Cross-hairs
The cameras used by astronauts during the moon landings had a multitude of cross-hairs to aid with scaling and direction. These are imprinted over the top of all photographs. Some of the images, however, clearly show the cross-hairs behind objects in the scene, implying that photographs may have been edited or doctored after being taken. The photograph shown above is not an isolated occurrence. Many objects are shown to be in front of the cross-hairs, including the American flag in one picture and the lunar rover in another.Conspiracy theorists have suggested NASA printed the man-made objects over a legitimate photograph of the moon to hoax the landings '' although if they really planned on doing this, then why they used cross-hairs in the first place is a mystery.
The Duplicate Backdrop'¨
The two photos from the Apollo 15 mission shown above clearly have identical backdrops, despite being officially listed by NASA as having been taken miles apart. One photo even shows the lunar module. When all photographs were taken the module had already landed, so how can it possibly be there for one photo and disappear in another? Well, if you're a hardcore conspiracy theorist, it may seem viable that NASA simply used the same backdrop when filming different scenes of their moon landing videos.NASA has suggested that since the moon is much smaller than Earth, horizons can appear significantly closer to the human eye. Despite this, to say that the two hills visible in the photographs are miles apart is incontrovertibly false.
The Stanley Kubrick Theory
This loose extension of the popular conspiracy theory states that acclaimed film director Stanley Kubrick was approached by the US government to hoax the first three moon landings. There are two main branches of this somewhat implausible theory: one group of believers maintain that Kubrick was approached after he released 2001: A Space Odyssey (released in 1968, one year before the first moon landing), after NASA came to appreciate the stunning realism of the film's outer-space scenes at that time; another group contends that Kubrick was groomed by the government to film the moon landing long before this, and that 2001: A Space Odyssey was a staged practice run for him.So what evidence might support such claims? Well: apparently, if you watch The Shining (another Kubrick picture), you can pick up on some alleged messages hidden by Kubrick to subtly inform the world of his part in the conspiracy. The most obvious is the child's Apollo 11 shirt worn in only one scene. Another supposed gem is the line written on Jack Nicholson's character's typewriter: ''All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'', in which the word ''all'' can be interpreted as A11, or Apollo 11.If you aren't convinced yet, Kubrick made the mysterious hotel room in the film number 237. Guess how many miles it is from here to the moon: 238,000. So divide that by a thousand and minus one, and you've got one airtight theory right there.
[1] http://listverse.com/2012/12/28/10-reasons-the-moon-landings-could-be-a-hoax/?utm_source=cbpicks&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=direct
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Haiti's prime minister Laurent Lamothe resigns amid protests - The Globe and Mail
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 14:42
Haiti's prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, succumbed to domestic and international pressure on Sunday and announced he would resign in a televised address in the middle of night.
''I am leaving the post of prime minister this evening with a feeling of accomplishment,'' he said.
The announcement came a day after president Michel Martelly accepted the recommendations of a special commission that called for Mr. Lamothe's resignation as part of an effort to resolve a long-running political dispute over long overdue legislative and municipal elections.
Haiti, the poorest and most unequal country in the western hemisphere is still recovering from an earthquake five years ago that leveled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and in recent weeks has been rocked by street protests accusing the government of corruption and calling for the resignation of Mr. Lamothe and Mr. Martelly.
On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in several cities and one man was shot dead by police near the ruins of the presidential palace.
Mr. Lamothe said he was leaving with his head held high, citing the ''remarkable work'' of the government. ''We put this country on a dynamic of deep and real change for the benefit of the population,'' he said.
It was not clear when a new prime minister would be sworn in, but it marked the end of a close alliance between Mr. Martelly and Mr. Lamothe, friends and business partners.
Mr. Lamothe, who attended university in Miami, is credited with helping manage key infrastructure projects after taking office in May 2012, but fell out of favor this year over allegations he was straining the budget to boost his own presidential ambitions.
He is also accused by critics of lack of transparency in handling funds from Venezuela's preferential Petrocaribe fuel program.
Mr. Lamothe, 42, had been expected to run for president next year, but his forced resignation may have dented his chances.
Mr. Martelly's decision to sacrifice Lamothe to appease his critics also may not be enough for more radical opponents who have vowed not to rest until the president is ousted too.
If elections are not held before Jan 12 the parliament will shut down, leaving Mr. Martelly to rule by decree.
VIDEO-Elizabeth Warren's Searing Anti-Wall Street Speech Struck A GOP Nerve
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:14
AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) managed to get under Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) skin with a speech Friday night bashing CitiGroup's deep ties to Washington and a provision in a government spending bill rolling back part of Dodd-Frank.
Warren's speech came late Friday night as Congress struggled to pass legislation to prevent a government shutdown. Warren, in particular, called out CitiGroup and its employee's connections to Congress which, she argued, helped keep the provision in the $1.1 trillion spending bill.
"Mr. President, Democrats don't like Wall Street bailouts," Warren said. "Republicans don't like Wall Street bailouts. The American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts. And yet here we are five years after Dodd-Frank with Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing for the middle class, do nothing for community banks, do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again."
The influence of major banks like CitiGroup explains why the provision is in the bill at all, Warren explained. Warren listed a number of former CitiGroup officials who have taken top positions in the Obama administration and past administrations.
"You know, there is a lot of talk lately about how Dodd-Frank isn't perfect. There is a lot of talk coming from CitiGroup about how Dodd-Frank isn't perfect," Warren continued. "So let me say this to anyone listening at Citi '--I agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn't perfect. It should have broken you into pieces. If this Congress is going to open up Dodd-Frank in the months ahead then let's open it up to get tougher, not to create more bailout opportunities."
Warren's speech provoked Graham to come to the floor afterward and say that Warren was actually the problem.
"You have every right to vote no and argue to bring the bill down,'' Graham said, as noted by Politico. ''If there's something you don't like, welcome to democracy."
Graham then said that Warren was really the problem.
"If you follow the lead of the senator of Massachusetts '... people are not going to believe you are mature enough to run the place,'' Graham said. ''Don't follow her lead. She's the problem.''
Watch Warren's speech below:
Video-BBC News - Flights disruption: Nats bosses 'were warned' about plans
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:01
13 December 2014Last updated at 22:18 ET The UK's national air traffic control service Nats was reportedly warned four months ago that its plans on how to deal with technical failures were unclear.
The Independent says the Civil Aviation Authority criticised a report into a fault which grounded flights last year.
It follows Friday's disruption to UK flights caused by a computer malfunction at Nats's Swanwick centre.
Meanwhile, one MP has called for Nats's chief executive to be docked his bonus.
The CAA's warning came after Nats completed a report into a telephone failure at the Swanwick control room last December, which resulted in 300 cancelled flights.
Faulty codeIt was one of a number of technical hitches to hit the partly-privatised service since the centre opened in 2002.
The report included an assessment of contingency and resilience plans. According to the Independent, the CAA, responded that its "themes on avoiding a recurrence" were a "good first step but lack detail and clarity".
The CAA also asked for Nats to submit more detailed plans which would include a timescale for changes, and to explain who was to be accountable for fixing certain problems.
Friday's disruption was caused by a single faulty line of code in one computer system, Nats chief executive Richard Deakin said on Saturday.
The failure caused problems at airports around the country - including at Heathrow and Gatwick, where departing flights were grounded for several hours. Thousands of passengers faced delays and cancellations.
Flights returned to normal on Saturday, although almost 40 were cancelled at Heathrow.
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Nats chief executive Richard Deakin: "I would like to reiterate our apology"
Mr Deakin told the BBC that the software problem was "buried" among millions of lines of computer code.
"The challenge is that we have around 50 different systems at Swanwick and around four million lines of code. This particular glitch was buried in one of those four million lines of code."
"We haven't seen that particular issue before," he added.
He said Nats was spending an extra £575m over the next five years to bring its systems up to date, but warned that making improvements was a challenge as they had to be made "while the engine was still running".
Swanwick air traffic control centreSwanwick controls the 200,000 square miles of airspace above England and Wales, cost £623m to build, and employs about 1,300 controllers.
But the facility, which handles more than 5,000 flights every 24 hours, has had a troubled history.
It opened in 2002, six years after its planned commissioning date - a delay which Nats said was due to problems with the software used to power its systems.
Almost a year after it opened, a senior air traffic controller raised concerns with the BBC about health and safety standards and complications with radio communications - which he said cut out erratically.
Technical problems and computer faults hit flights in 2008 and again last summer. And, in December 2013, problems with the internal telephone system then caused further delays.
Labour MP Paul Flynn has called for Mr Deakin to be docked bonuses in his salary because of the disruption.
Full explanationMr Flynn, who sits on the public administration committee, told the Sunday Times: "I hope after the chaos, which was dreadful, though a rare event, he will have his bonus stripped from him."
It has emerged that Mr Deakin had his pay package increase by more than 45% this year, to more than £1m, due to the maturing of an incentive scheme.
Mr Deakin has said part of his performance-related pay was linked to flight delays.
"The reason why the pay went up was because the first of the long term incentive plans started maturing. It wasn't a pay rise. I had the same pay rise as every other employee in the company.
"I will be measured in terms of the delays per flight that will have been seen [on Friday], absolutely."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is likely to face questions from MPs on the issue when he appears before the Transport Select Committee on Monday.
On Friday, he said the situation was "unacceptable" and asked for a full explanation from Nats about what had gone wrong and what it would do to prevent such an incident happening again.
The BBC's political correspondent Robin Brant says Mr McLoughlin can expect to have a preliminary report from Nats on his desk by Monday.
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Transport Select Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman said it was "calamitous"
Labour has called for ministers to "get a grip" and the chairwoman of the transport select committee, Louise Ellman, said it was "vital that we establish what happened".
She said her committee would also call Nats and the Civil Aviation Authority to give evidence.
AUDIO-Farage's golden boy's rant at 'pooftahs', 'Chigwell Peasants' and 'Chinky bird': Astonishing leaked phone calls expose outbursts of Ukip man sent in to replace Neil Hamilton | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:38
Kerry Smith made series of astonishing remarks in recorded conversationThe Ukip activist was chosen last week to fight for Basildon South seatRefers to 'disgusting old pooftahs' and a Chinese woman as 'a Chinky'He also makes a baseless claim about Nigel Farage accepting a bribe Mr Smith issued an 'unreserved' apology and retracted corruption claimBy Simon Walters Political Editor For The Mail On Sunday
Published: 17:00 EST, 13 December 2014 | Updated: 21:50 EST, 13 December 2014
The Ukip activist picked last week to fight a key Parliamentary seat made homophobic, racist and obscene comments and accused Nigel Farage of corruption, it was revealed last night.
In tape-recorded phone calls leaked to The Mail on Sunday, Kerry Smith, chosen to fight Ukip target seat of Basildon South in Essex:
Mocks 'f***ing disgusting old pooftahs' who belong to a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning group, calling them 'BLTs' '' bacon, lettuce and tomato.Jokes about 'shooting peasants' and mocks Ukip activist Lucy Bostick for printing 'boring c**p' on her leaflets.Refers to a woman with a Chinese name as a 'Chinky.'Makes baseless claims about party leader Farage accepting a bribe to promote a Ukip ally over another rival.Calls Ukip's immigration spokesman Steve Woolf a 'f***ing carpetbagger and a***hole.'But Mr Farage last night refused to sack Mr Smith. A well-placed Ukip official said: 'Kerry wants to make a full apology and is hoping it all blows over.'
Scroll down for audio
Kerry Smith (left) was recorded making a series of astonishing comments including a baseless claim Nigel Farage (right) had accepted 'a nice fat envelope' for promoting a Ukip ally
EXCLUSIVE: Leaked phone calls expose rants of Ukip man
In a desperate attempt to avoid being fired, Mr Smith has made a grovelling apology and withdrawn his corruption claim.
In a statement made on Smith's behalf by Farage's official spokesman, Smith said: 'I wish to issue a wholehearted and unreserved apology to those who I have offended within the party and anyone else.'
Smith also retracted his claim that Nigel Farage had accepted a 'nice fat envelope' for promoting Ukip immigration spokesman Steve Woolf over his rival, Euro MP David Coburn, in the 2012 London Assembly elections.
The Mail on Sunday understands there is no truth in the allegations and that neither Mr Farage nor Mr Woolf did anything wrong. The false claim was due to a 'misunderstanding,' said Smith.
He added: 'With regards to the leadership and management of the party I was completely wrong and my comments were fuelled by frustrations.'
The homophobic comments by Smith refer to a Ukip gay group called LGBTQ. The 'Q' added to the usual LGBT initials stands for 'Queer/Questioning.'
The disclosure of the tape recording is the latest outbreak of vicious infighting in Ukip.
Smith was sacked as Ukip candidate for Basildon South and East Thurrock earlier this year and right wing former Tory MP Neil Hamilton was a hot favourite to be chosen to replace him last week.
With Ukip support rising fast, the party has high hopes of winning Basildon South.
'IF YOUR HUSBAND IS A CABINET MINISTER AND HAS A FONDNESS FOR TOURING TRAVEL LODGES, YOU'VE GOT REASON TO WORRY': SENSATIONAL CLAIMS OF FORMER UKIP ASSISTANT Alexandra Swann insists affairs and sexual harassment is more commonplace throughout Westminster than thought
The sexual harassment of young, female aides by high-powered Wesminster politicians is more rife than ever imagined, one former European Parliament assistant has claimed.
In the week that a former Tory councillor alleged she had been sexually harrassed by Ukip's former general secretary, Roger Bird, another of the party's insiders has said incidents such as the woman's claims are 'prevalent'.
Alexandra Swann, former Ukip assistant in the European Parliament, has revealed it is an 'open secret' that one Cabinet Minister has indulged in two affairs with junior staff members, while another 'prominent' politician enjoyed an 'insatiable' appetite for later-night phone sex.
'I know from my experience working in Westminster and Brussels for UKIP just how prevalent these incidents are - but in all parties, not just UKIP,' Miss Swann said.
'In Westminster it is an open secret that one senior Cabinet minister has had two affairs with junior staff members over the past few years, right under his wife's nose.
'Another senior politician '' one of the most prominent of the past two decades '' had a seemingly insatiable appetite for late-night phone sex when in his office, all conducted while his wife slept a few doors away.
'When that wasn't enough for him, a "dinner" would be arranged at the London home of a party donor, with him and his mistress as the only guests, and the host not even present.
'Another former Tory cabinet minister maintained a heated relationship with his young special adviser, but only ever behind the locked doors of his hotel room when she was accompanying him on overnight trips.
'She would innocently go inside with papers for him to sign, and simply not emerge until morning.
'If your husband is a cabinet minister and has developed a fondness for touring the country's Travelodges, you've got reason to worry.'
Miss Swann added it was a 'depressing yet enduring' element of her job that she felt the need to 'learn who to avoid in lifts and taxis;.
'Female friends used to refer to one Labour shadow cabinet minister as NSIT, meaning 'not safe in taxis.
'Over the years, his unwanted attentions have grown so voracious, he's now known as NSA: 'not safe anywhere'.
Mr Smith was last week announced as the candidate chosen to replace Neil Hamilton (pictured) for the seat of Basildon South in Essex
But in a shock last minute move, Smith, leader of the Labour group was reinstated.
MILLIONAIRE BACKER SUSPENDS DONATIONSNigel Farage's General Election plans were thrown into doubt last night after Ukip's single-biggest funder announced that he was suspending donations.
Multi-millionaire Paul Sykes, who has given Ukip about £1.3 million over the past year, said he wanted 'grassroots' members to finance the party's Election campaign instead.
He told The Mail on Sunday he was making 'no commitment' about future big donations to the party because that would 'destroy' Ukip's bid to build up a grassroots base and he was 'standing back' because party membership fees were rising.
He added: 'I am making no commitment and no statement regarding me writing big cheques out to Ukip because it destroys the fabric of what we are trying to build.'
The move will potentially be a huge blow to Mr Farage's plans for a breakthrough next year by winning Commons seats.
Ex-tyre fitter Mr Sykes, whose cash was crucial to Ukip's record results in this year's European elections, has been the party's single most important funder.
Last night Mr Farage said: 'For a political party to be too dependent on a few donors is not a good thing.' Asked if Ukip could make up any donations shortfall from other sources, Mr Farage said: 'We'll have to.'
The party is reportedly in line for a £300,000 donation from Daily Express owner Richard Desmond.
Hamilton was forced to pull out after damaging information about his expenses claims were leaked by Ukip enemies.
Ukip insiders say Farage was determined to stop Hamilton because of his controversial past in the notorious 'cash for questions' scandal in the 1990s.
Hamilton's allies claim Farage is 'jealous' of him and fears if Hamilton became MP for Basildon South and Farage fails to win in Thanet South across the Thames Estuary, Hamilton would be the party's most high profile politician.
Some Ukip insiders say the decision to deselect Smith as Basildon South candidate earlier this year came after a copy of the recording was sent to party HQ. 'Farage's people heard it and that is why Kerry was booted out,' said one insider.
'They were panicked into reinstating him because they were more worried about Hamilton getting the seat.
'They gambled that the tape wouldn't be leaked. Now it has. It serves them right.
'We cannot have grubby people like Kerry in the party, let alone standing for Parliament.'
Hamilton was on a list of five candidates in the running to become Ukip's candidate for South Basildon.
He claimed he was the victim of a 'dirty tricks' campaign when a letter challenging claims for staying in his wife's flat was leaked to the media just hours before the selection.
His withdrawal triggered a toxic row after the party's second largest donor, Stuart Wheeler, reportedly threatened to cut off funds unless Hamilton was picked as a candidate for next year's General Election.
It led to a furious reaction from Ukip's treasurer, Andrew Reid, who said: 'Nobody gets to buy a seat for someone else in Ukip.'
Ukip game to rate 'blacks' and Muslims to win £100... or golf umbrella: Farage in another race row over 'rate on immigrant' survey
The Ukip leader has found himself embroiled in another row over race
Nigel Farage was in another race row last night after asking supporters to rate 'blacks, Muslims and Eastern Europeans' in a game '' with prizes of cash and a Ukip golf umbrella.
The 'rate an immigrant' survey is part of a Ukip private survey of members aimed at helping the party draw up its policies.
Sent last week by Ukip chairman Steve Crowther, it asks members to say 'how close they feel' to a number of groups.
They include 'Blacks, Asians, Muslims, English, Eastern Europeans and Whites' as well as the four main political parties.
Ukip activists are urged to rate each on a scale from 0 for 'not close at all' to 10 for 'very close.'
But the survey was slammed as a racist stunt after details were leaked to The Mail on Sunday.
Last night, senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge condemned the Ukip survey as 'shocking'.
Mrs Hodge, who won a campaign against the BNP in her Barking constituency in east London, said: 'This openly brings race into politics. It's shameful, it's shocking and it's offensive.
'It lifts the lid on the unacceptable face of Ukip.' The survey comes after a series of claims of racism involving Ukip, although Farage has insisted 'stupid or offensive' comments by a handful of candidates 'never have and never will' represent the views of his party.
The email to thousands of Ukip members from chairman Crowther is headed: 'Help the Party and Win Prizes!'
It declares: 'Ukip is growing quickly. We want to strengthen our party by understanding our rapidly growing membership. We are asking all our members to complete a new survey.'
The aim was to 'use the insights to strengthen the Ukip operation'... Your responses will be invaluable in making sure we fulfil our promises over the coming years '' and in government!
'So please, do complete the survey. It should be fun! You might even win some prizes!'
Prizes included 'one prize of £100, two of £50, three prizes of a Ukip golf umbrella, four prizes of £25, five Ukip notebooks and six Ukip pocket diaries.'
Other Ukip race rows include:
National executive member Gerard Batten's call for Muslims to sign a 'charter of understanding' in which they rejected violence and parts of the Koran that promote 'violent physical Jihad.'Parliamentary candidate in Grimsby Victoria Ayling was recorded saying 'let's keep the blacks out'. Council candidate Andre Lampitt said Africans should 'kill themselves'.Council candidate William Henwood said Lenny Henry should 'emigrate to a black country'.Exeter activist David Challice denounced the 'lunacy of multiculturalism' and called Greeks 'vile'.Town hall candidate David Wycherley said Mo Farah was African, not British.A Ukip spokesman denied the survey was racist, claiming every major employer carried out similar research of their staff.
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VIDEO-Are Instagramming airline pilots violating the law? - Videos - CBS News
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 03:07
December 13, 2014, 8:06 AM|There is a growing trend on Instagram of airline pilots posting gorgeous photos of their views from the cockpit. But using any electronic device while piloting an airliner is strictly prohibited. David Yanofsky, a reporter for digital publication Quartz, joins "CBS This Morning Saturday" with the results of a six-month investigation.
VIDEO-MSNBC's Matthews Cheers On Sen. Warren's 'Revolution' | MRCTV
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:36
Read more at NewsBusters | Chris Matthews and gang at MSNBC have repeatedly attacked Tea Party conservatives in Congress, such as Ted Cruz, for attempts to use continuing resolution votes as leverage for conservative policy items. But now that liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the fly in the ointment, threatening to scuttle a spending bill agreed upon by Senate leadership and President Obama, the Hardball host is showering the Bay State Democrat with praise for a "revolutionary spirit" aimed at reinvigorating a despondent Democratic Party base standing in the "shadow of recent defeat" from November's electoral drubbing.
VIDEO-CBS Continues to Ignore Emails of Racist Jokes by Sony Pictures Execs About Obama | MRCTV
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:33
See more in the cross-post on the Newsbusters blog.
On Thursday night, CBS continued to make no mention of the news that the hacking attack on Sony Pictures has revealed emails between co-chairwoman Amy Pascal and film producer Scott Rudin mocking what they perceived to be President Barack Obama's movie tastes.
The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley covered continued fallout from the attack, but only in the context of no press being allowed at the premiere of the Sony film The Interview, which is largely believed to be the reason that the movie studio was targeted for attack
VIDEO-NBC Hails Elizabeth Warren as 'the Liberal Wing's Newest Star'; Blasted Cruz Over 2013 Funding Fight | MRCTV
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:30
See more in the cross-post on the Newsbusters blog.
During Thursday's NBC Nightly News, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell heaped praise on far left Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), anointing her ''the liberal wing's newest star'' as one of many to speak against the $1 trillion government funding bill being considered by Congress (which passed the House late Thursday night).
When one goes back to look at the program's coverage of the government funding battle in 2013 that led to a government shutdown, it had far different descriptions for one of the leading figures of that debate in Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Texas).
VIDEO-Giving Thanks for Our Troops | The White House
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 23:07
December 13, 2014 | 3:02 | Public Domain
In this week's address, the President thanks the men and women in uniform who serve and sacrifice to protect the freedom, prosperity, and security that we all enjoy as Americans.
Download mp4 (112MB) | mp3 (3MB)
VIDEO-Islamic State release drone video of Kobane - Telegraph
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:39
''It video imitates the graphics on Call of Duty or other video games,'' said Eliot Higgins, a Syria expert who specialises in identifying weaponry and military tactics used by parties in the war.
''A lot of these jihadists are from Western countries. They all have an Xbox. This is how they view conflict.''
Once the purview of governments to conduct reconnaissance operations, drone technology has now become readily available to the public, with civilians able to purchase the object relatively cheaply in shops or online.
The jihadist groups have increasingly adopted the technology in stylised propaganda videos that appear intended to both strike fear into the hearts of the enemy and as a recruitment drive. In August this year Isil posted one such video on YouTube that included aerial footage shot above Tabqa, a major military air field that the jihadists subsequently captured from the regime.
''The footage is also a display of their prowess in showing that they can fly a drone over an airbase,'' said Mr Higgins.
Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's wing in Syria has also started making use of drone technology.
In October the group published footage showcasing their own surveillance drones. In a video entitled ''Breaking the Siege'' they promoted their role in releasing several hundred rebels that were besieged in the Syrian town of Maliha.
Mr Higgins said: ''The jihadists have jumped on the general popularity of drones [in the West]. [By their standards] If it's a good video, you expect to include footage from a drone.''
VIDEO-Martin Gilens & Benjamin Page - The Daily Show - Video Clip | Comedy Central
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:04
>> I DID.
VIDEO-Holder Has Plans for a Nationalized Police Force That Favors Minority Criminals | www.independentsentinel.com
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:39
The administration would like to use Ferguson as an excuse to put local police under tighter federal control. How far this will go is still unclear. The administration is lawless as we have seen in their handling of ICE and so many issues. We can expect whatever they come up with will include some degree of lawlessness.
The Obama administration blames white police officers for the disproportionate number of blacks in prisons. Their solution is to change the way law enforcement operates by controlling them with federal ''guidance.''
This administration is confusing normal black people with criminals. They confuse criminals who happen to be black for all black people.
At a community forum on Ferguson at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday night, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would soon bless us all with an update to federal rules on racial profiling.
Holder is actually using the unfortunate death of a young criminal in Ferguson to control the local police throughout the nation.
He pontificated that there will soon be new rules to ''codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing.''
''In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards '-- and robust safeguards '-- to help end racial profiling, once and for all,'' Holder said Monday evening at an event in Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church '-- the same house of worship where civil rights leader Martin Luther King preached prior to his death.
Since MLK Jr. is deceased, it's impossible for us to know how he'd feel about this but I do know he was a Republican, not a far-left loon.
Profiling has been an effective law enforcement tool. It's not used to pick on certain classes of people.
Holder hyperbolized about Ferguson claiming it signals concerns that are ''truly national in scope and that threaten the entire nation.''
The Obama administration threatens the entire nation.
He also suggested that the police look like an ''occupying force'':
''We are dealing with concerns that are truly national in scope and that threaten the entire nation. Broadly speaking, without mutual understanding between citizens '' whose rights must be respected '' and law enforcement officers '' who make tremendous and often-unheralded personal sacrifices every day to preserve public safety '' there can be no meaningful progress,'' Holder added. ''Our police officers cannot be seen as an occupying force disconnected from the communities they serve. Bonds that have been broken must be restored. Bonds that never existed must now be created.''
Tell you what, let's remove the ''occupying force'' and let the depressed neighborhoods go it alone.
Holder has assembled a cast of characters from law enforcement executives to community leaders from around the U.S. ''to examine the present state of policing'' and identify best practices and recommendations to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ will probably update the Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies that was adopted in June 2003 under President George W. Bush.
''The use of race as the basis for law enforcement decision-making clearly has a terrible cost, both to the individuals who suffer invidious discrimination and to the nation, whose goal of 'liberty and justice for all' recedes with every act of such discrimination,'' the DOJ said when that document was released more than a decade ago.
What does racial profiling actually mean? The police aren't profiling now. This will put police on the defensive and embolden minority criminals.
This is only the beginning.The administration will use Ferguson to implement their vision of what a police force should be.
Isn't he missing the point? He's blaming the police for the problem of crime in black precincts, most of which are black-on-black crimes caused by a drug-gang culture and absentee parents. It's not the fault of poverty or white people though the drugs and gangs can flourish when poverty is present. Poor education is the larger problem.
There is a problem between police and local black communities but much of it is because the minorities are committing crimes.
Only .1% of arrests by police result in a death at the hands of police. Young black men murder 14 times more than young white men even though they only represent 13% of the population. That's not the fault of the whites or the white police.
A sense of personal responsibility is being lost in all this. I don't doubt that some police need to be retrained, ousted, or put in jail but they are a minority. That's true of any career, in any job. However, the police serve and protect. They risk their lives every day to keep us safe. Eric Holder is protecting thugs at the expense of the police simply because the thugs he wants to protect are minorities. He doesn't think they're thugs. He actually thinks the police '' the white police '' are unfairly arresting and shooting minorities, most particularly blacks. He thinks this because he is a racialist.
Holder has railed against so-called inequities in the treatment of minorities in the criminal justice system. He has targeted sentences for nonviolent drug crimes that he says are overly harsh and disproportionately affect black defendants and has promoted alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders.
Last year, Holder's ''Smart on Crime'' initiative demanded federal prosecutors stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences '-- punishments that he said were contributing to overcrowded prisons.
The DOJ has also broadened the criteria for inmates seeking clemency and is looking to give early release to thousands.
Holder has initiated numerous investigations of local police agencies which has a chilling effect on the ability of these departments to do their job.
He is also studying racial bias in American cities.
What he is not exploring are the problems of gangs, drugs, and poor education. He is myopic on the issue of race. That is not to say there aren't problems that should be considered in conjunction with the social problems inherent in these areas. He is just not balanced. His views are one-sided and are actually harmful.
Holder is the worst law enforcement officer in the country and the most important. He hates law enforcement when they enforce the law against minorities.
Listen to the stats:
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
I guess Holder disagrees with Charles Barkley who sees the police as keeping these depressed neighborhoods from becoming the Wild Wild West.
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:56
DescriptionCreated by The Beacham Group, LLC, Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) is a uniquely comprehensive resource for the study of political violence of all kinds. In cooperation with a team of 2800 experts, TRAC gathers the best information for exploration of this topic by faculty, scholars, students, government and defense professionals, as well as the general public.
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Ideology, Targets and TacticsOnce you select any of these buttons, an alphabetical list of articles appears, much like a table of contents in a book. Select the ''More'' button at the bottom of the page to load the next 25 articles, or ''View As List'' to see the titles of articles in this category. You may filter by author or by groups. For example if you want to read articles that focus on Hamas' ideologies, select the ''filter by associated groups,'' scroll down to Hamas and select the ''Apply'' button.
Article PagesOnce you have selected an article you wish to read, you will be taken to the introductory page. (Every article is formatted the same way for intuitive navigation.) The Table of Contents (right column) highlights (bold) the chapter you are reading. You may either read page by page by selecting the ''Next'' button at the bottom of the page or jump directly to any chapter by selecting the chapter title within the Table of Contents. You may also select ''View All Associated Groups'' associated with each article. For example, all known groups who practice suicide bombings will show up in the article on Suicide Missions. Notice the ''Print'' and ''Cite the Page'' buttons for easy printing and referencing. For citations, hit the button and simply copy and paste into your bibliography. Within the Table of Contents are associated activities (current and archived news), and primary resource material associated with that topic.
Vulnerable RegionsWhen you select ''Vulnerable Regions,'' you are taken to a page with every country's flag. You can scroll through the countries (select ''Load More''). Or you can view a list of the countries by selecting "View as List". When you select the country you are researching, TRAC take you to a landing page listing specific vulnerable cities, threat assessments, associated articles, and every known terrorist group with areas of operation in that country. To the right of the page is an interactive geo-map that can zoom in or out of the region. Underneath the geo-map is a list of the most current news stories associated with that region. If additional news or articles have been archived, you may select the ''More'' button to see all the archived blogs, news stories, and incident reports for that region. Underneath the list of vulnerable cities (not yet linked to analyses) is the link for the detailed regional threat assessment. Selecting the ''Read More'' button takes you to the threat assessment analysis that includes counter measures and prognosis - completely crossed referenced to associated TRAC articles.
GroupsWhen you select the ''Groups'' button on the menu bar, you are taken to an alphabetical list of over 3,800 current and historical (20th century) terrorist groups. You may search for specific groups by selecting a letter of the alphabet (''Name Starts With'') or ''View as List''. However, viewing as summary allows the researcher to filter by multiple topics, vastly facilitating research needs. For example, if you wanted to find groups that use arson as a tactic in Greece, TRAC easily filters through the enormous list to show the viewer only the groups that fall under these two categories. At the side of the group's name are possible misspellings -- no more guessing if al Shabaab is the same group as Al Shabab or Hizbul Shabaab. TRAC also ranks the groups by their activity so that the most active groups appear in each list first. You can filter through many combinations to find groups that meet your criteria.
Individual Group PagesEach group page begins with an icon or flag of that group when available; otherwise there is an image of an incident or flag of the region where the group has operated. Below the image are possible alternative known spellings and aliases, as well as the status of the group and when it was first ''known to exist.'' Other data about the group are listed below. Select the highlighted article titles to link directly to a TRAC Analysis, Associate Groups, Internet Resources, and news feeds. The ''Associated Groups'' section at the bottom of the page is extremely useful for researching how groups are connected. Underneath the geo-map are hot links to the Vulnerable Region pages associated with that group. If there are current associated activities (news, blogs, and incident reports) or Primary Resources associated with the group, they will appear beneath the geo-map.
Chatter ControlTRAC is continually updated with the most current terrorism "news" of the day - sorted from newest to oldest. Chatter Control "news" comes for numerous sources: well known international news organizations, regional newspapers, blogs, think tank releases, terrorist group communiqu(C)s and under the radar commentary. As with group profiles Chatter Control is readily sortable by multiple categories under ''filter by associated articles'', allowing the researcher to pull from current and archival information by dates. TRAC does not evaluate or verify the contents of the news stories but endeavors to select the stories from ''reliable sources'' that are most relevant to studying terrorism.
ResourcesTRAC has assembled many types of outside resources for the researcher to further pursue topics from other perspectives. Hundreds of Universities, Think Tanks, and Databases worldwide are cataloged and readily sortable.
ConsortiumTRAC's consortium and forum are for professionals in the intelligence community to communicate with each other. Members of the Consortium can be filtered by the regions in which they operate or are specialists.
Publishing CenterTRAC's publishing center provides an opportunity for professionals to publish their material to a worldwide audience. TRAC's review board approves topics that are not part of the commissioned core group of articles - to allow for maximum coverage of the constantly fluid topic of terrorism.
File a Story / Contribute ContentIn the upper right corner of every page is ''File a Story''. TRAC encourages everyone on the ground in terrorism hotspots to report on current activities in their region. Select this button, file your story, and it will be sent to us for immediate posting. In the right column for every article and group page is a ''Submit Additions? button. You can suggest additions or corrections to existing material for our review board to evaluate. If you want to contribute a new article or group profile, contact Veryan Khan at [email protected] or go to ''Publishing Center'' ''Become a Contributor
DisclaimerGroups and individuals included in TRAC's database range from actual perpetrators of social or political violence to more passive groups that support or condone (perhaps unwittingly) such violence. The spectrum of violence represented by these groups is vast, from Jihadists who bomb train stations to financial institutions that transfer funds. Some groups that originally engaged in violence but have since become legitimate political parties are included to provide historical perspective. TRAC is in no way attempting to determine whether groups or individuals are terrorists -- only to convey reported information about their activities and official State status. While TRAC attempts to ensure the accuracy of its TRAC database, the entries in the database are from numerous different sources. Hence, TRAC cannot and does not warrant the accuracy of the entries in its database. The editors of TRAC may modify these entries at any time and welcome comments and suggested corrections or additions. Please write [email protected] or hit the "Add Additions" button on the page of the group profile about which you wish to comment.
Who's behind TRAC
ContributorsTRAC's consortium of 2,800 experts live in and report from terrorism hotspots worldwide, including Russia, Poland, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Serbia, Brussels, Sweden, Italy, Greece, United Kingdom, Canada, and United States. If you reside in a terrorism hotspot, or have a particular interest/expertise in political violence and would like to become a consortium member, contact Veryan Khan at [email protected]
The Beacham GroupThroughout TRAC's development, the Beacham Group sought the input and assessment of leading scholars to ensure its primary goal of helping researchers locate the most appropriate and efficient resources available, a publishing model that has been connecting people with authoritative information since 1985. Founded as Beacham Publishing, the company's acclaimed titles span the impact of climate change with Beacham's Guide to Endangered Species and Beacham's Guide to Environmental Issues to topical issues in literature to important societal concerns with The Encyclopedia of Social Change.
VIDEO-NYC Cops Are Blithely Firing A Potentially Deafening Sound Cannon At Peaceful Protesters: Gothamist
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:34
New York City police officers have lately taken to blasting protesters with 21st-century sound cannons, and as far as anyone can tell, the department doesn't have any policies governing when and how they get to do so.
Video taken on the night of December 4th during one of the marches protesting the failure to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner clearly shows police officers deploying one of its Long Range Acoustic Devices, or LRADs, against protesters near Columbus Circle. Today, lawyers representing some of those protesters have written to NYPD Commissioner Bratton, raising concerns with the NYPD's use of the device.
''This is not a precision tool,'' said Gideon Oliver, one of the lawyers who authored the letter. ''This is an area-of-effect weapon. When the police use it, it's not as if they're just targeting one person. It's indiscriminate like teargas.''
Oliver's letter asks for any written policies the department has for the use of the LRAD, but he said it also serves to put the department on notice. ''It's about making sure the commissioner knows about the incident that happened to our clients,'' he said. ''Also, there are ongoing protests'--there's a big protest Saturday. We wanted to make sure the commissioner knows we're watching how they're using this device.''
Asked whether his clients are considering a lawsuit, Oliver answered, "We're certainly looking at it.''
First popularized for military applications more than a decade ago, LRADs are powerful amplification systems that direct a focused cone of sound, enabling instructions and announcements to be communicated across great distances. But from early on, LRAD's have also been equipped with a ''powerful warning tone,'' as the manufacturer's website puts it, that allows for ''near instantaneous escalation across the force protection spectrum'' to ''shape the behavior of potential threats.''
To translate that from the obfuscatory jargon of people who sell tools for hurting people: The LRAD can be used as a crowd-control device, emitting a piercing noise so loud that it can really mess you up if you don't comply or disperse immediately.
Perhaps mindful of public discomfort with the prospect of cops with their fingers on the triggers of futuristic incapacitating sonic weapons, both the manufacturer and the police tend to emphasize the device's utility as a public address system, presenting it as little more than an extra-loud bullhorn.
The NYPD bought a pair in advance of the 2004 Republican National Convention, but reportedly only used it as an address system. Since then, LRADs have been a common sight at mass protests in NYC: police brandished a truck-mounted LRAD when Occupy Wall Street protesters marched on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2011, and there are reports that one was actually used during the eviction of Occupiers from Zuccotti Park a few months later.
More recently, journalist John Knefel spotted NYPD officers carrying the smaller, handheld LRAD 100x model during protests following the police killing of 16-year-old Kimani Gray in 2013. It's the 100x model that cops were using against protesters last week.
Keegan Stephan, an activist and frequent attendee of NYC-area protests, was in midtown last week when the LRAD was used. ''The scene was very bizarre,'' Stephan says. ''There was an arrest that was made near to me. Three officers were on this guy's back while cuffing him. It was very disturbing for me because it was reminiscent of what happened to Eric Garner.''
Stephan began taking pictures of the arrest, surprised that he wasn't being forced away from the scene by police. ''That already felt like this was eerie and strange,'' he says. ''But instead of getting shoved away, an officer deployed pepper spray across three of us who were there watching. Everybody was just terrified. People started running down 57th Street.''
It was in the midst of this chaos, with protesters already running away from police, that the cops started using the LRAD, alternating between making announcements to clear the roadway and using its pain-inducing crowd-dispersal alarm. Stephan retreated to the sidewalk, where he was outside of the cone where people took the full blast of the LRAD, and captured video.
Another protester, who shot this video, was caught in the LRAD's cone of sound. ''It's like being inches from a car alarm going off, except a car alarm goes off after maybe 10 seconds,'' he said. ''It was definitely one of the loudest noises I've ever heard, but I wouldn't say it was immediately pain inducing. But for the next six days, I was feeling pain. It was like an earache. Any loud noises made it worse.''
Last week wasn't Stephan's first exposure to the NYPD's LRADs. Disturbed by seeing one of the devices on the Brooklyn Bridge during the Occupy Wall Street march, he and another activist worked with the NYCLU to file a Freedom of Information Law request seeking all of the NYPD's materials on the LRADs.
The supposedly exhaustive response they got back in 2012 contained absolutely nothing detailing department rules on the use of LRADs. That's a problem, says Oliver. ''It tells us, we think, that as of late 2012 there were no written guidelines or policies." Here's an excerpt from the LRAD documents released by the NYPD:
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication; we'll update if we hear back from them.
What Stephan's Freedom of Information request did yield was 17 pages of press clippings, manufacturer's specs, and promotional materials, as well as a seven-page briefing by the NYPD's Disorder Control Unit on testing they'd conducted in a deserted Bronx parking lot.
According to that report, with the power turned up to maximum, police recorded sound levels of 110 decibels at 320 feet away: enough to cause hearing loss with sustained exposure, but no louder than a power saw. The police took no readings closer than 320 feet. ''Potential danger area. Not tested,'' reads a notation in the report.
Of course, as many of the videos taken during the march last week show, protesters were well within that football-field-long potential danger area when police officers used the LRAD. And while there's no way to know whether the LRAD was turned up to maximum volume, Oliver says it's hard to see how the cops could know that it was safe to use the LRAD at any loud volume so close to people, in the enclosed canyons of midtown.
Alex Vitale, a policing expert at Brooklyn College, is also concerned by the use of the LRAD last week. While there might be situations where police have a legitimate use for the device, such as dispersing a large and violent group, he says this wasn't such a situation.''LRADs should be used to avoid having to do a baton charge,'' Vitale says. ''This was used to scatter already scattered protesters.''
The problem, according to Vitale, is that we know very little about the safety of LRADs in crowd-control situations. ''Very few departments have them and even fewer have ever used them,'' he says. ''Usage for dispersal functions is very, very rare. So we don't really know a lot about how effective they are in practice.''
In 2009, Karen Piper, an academic researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, sued the city of Pittsburgh after she was exposed to an LRAD while observing an anti-globalization protest during the G-20 summit.
Piper said the LRAD made fluid leak out of her ear, and produced dizziness, nausea, and headaches. The city ultimately settled the suit for $72,000 and agreed to develop a policy for safe use of LRADs.
The only other major public discussion of LRAD policy came in Canada in 2010, when civil liberties advocates sought to prevent police from using their LRADs as weapons against protesters during the G-8 and G-20 summits. The resulting ministry report determined that ''simply put, new weapons such as the LRAD should not be employed without prior independent assessment and study.''
Vitale says the use of the LRAD seems to run contrary to the more hands-off, deescalatory ''Negotiated Management'' style of protest policing that Commissioner Bratton has generally adopted. The way the police used the LRAD last week'--using the public address function to make announcements at the same time that they employed the painful warning sound'--suggests to Vitale that this was not a well-thought out implementation.
''It just seemed like they didn't know what they were doing,'' he says. ''I'm just guessing that they've got a new toy and they were figuring out how to use it.''
The best thing, Vitale says, would be for the City Council's Public Safety Committee to hold hearings on the proper use of the device.
In the meantime, Stephan says the use of LRADs against demonstrators has the potential to frighten people away from exercising their right to assemble. ''The idea that the NYPD has a weapon that can cause permanent hearing damage and is willing to use it on peaceful demonstrators definitely has a chilling effect on people's First Amendment rights,'' Stephan says. ''It's going to make me want to leave or limit my involvement the minute I see that thing out. I don't want to be in that beam.''
Nick Pinto is a freelance writer living in New York.
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AUDIO-The Untold History of Women in Science and Technology | The White House
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:37
Share your own history.As Secretary Sally Jewell demonstrates in her own words above, you don't have to be a Nobel Prize winner to inspire someone to pursue a career in science and technology. There are millions more untold stories of women who have broken down barriers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math '-- and accounting for the rich history of women's contributions in these fields is going to take all of us telling them. Maybe it's a former teacher. Maybe it's your grandmother. Maybe it's you.
Then, help make history.When it comes to inspiring young women to pursue careers in STEM fields, research has already shown us what works: Providing early, hands-on experience and encouragement; sharing the stories of positive role models in these fields (like the women whose stories we share); and illustrating the broad impact of roles in these fields.
Tomorrow's Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, or team of ENIAC programmers could be waiting to be inspired to pursue a scientific career. What are you going to do to help make it happen? Make a commitment today. We'll share a sampling of your stories across White House channels to inspire others to step up in their communities.
VIDEO - Spain parliament passes bill restricting protests
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:21
Spanish students hold signs protesting against the government's austerity cuts and education reforms in Madrid on November 20, 2013.
The Spanish parliament has approved a highly contentious bill that puts major restrictions on citizens' right to protest.
The Public Security Law, which was passed in a 181-141 vote on Thursday, limits protests to authorized rallies only.
The law also makes all unauthorized gatherings punishable by fines of up to 600,000 euros ($745,000).
The measure has been fiercely criticized by opposition politicians and activist groups. Several lawmakers tied up their mouths in protest as the bill was debated in the parliament.
Opponents say the legislation violates the right to protest, limits freedom of expression and gives more power to police.
Spain has been hit by a wave of demonstrations and strikes over the past months against the government's austerity measures.
Grappling with deep economic recession, Spain has adopted harsh austerity measures as part of attempts to deal with the dire situation. The country has been witnessing daily protests in recent years since the country's economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking millions of jobs with it.
AUDIO-Drone operator made long-distance war from close to home | NCPR News
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:15
by David Sommerstein, in Canton, NY"Taylor" is a ten-year veteran drone sensor operator and trainer who didn't want to give her real name because she fears critics of the U.S. military's drone program will target her for protests. All photos courtesy Taylor.
Dec 09, 2014 '-- The United States ceremonially ended its combat role in Afghanistan yesterday,but unmanned United States aircraft (drones) still gather intelligence and bomb potential terrorists in various parts of the world. The Air National Guard in Syracuse and Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y., host parts of the United States drone program.
"Taylor" is a drone operator who has done her job for a decade. She is only 30 years old and has never been deployed outside of the United States. David Sommerstein visited Taylor at her suburban home.
* * *
She wore makeup and eyeliner, peach nail polish, and has dove tattoos on the inside of each wrist. Taylor did not want us to use her real name because some people are not very happy about what she does for a living. She fears they will target her for protests.
You can't talk to anybody else. Everything you're doing is classified.
Taylor grew up on a little farm in northern California. After high school, she was looking for a way out of town. ''I always wanted to be an F.B.I. profiler,'' Taylor said. ''So I joined the Air Force into the intelligence portion.''It was 2003, around the start of the Iraq war. She was assigned to what was then a small Air Force program'--only about 50 young men and women'--who learned to analyze images gathered by Predator drones and act on them. ''I had no idea what I was getting into. There was no press about them really. There was just what you heard word of mouth through the community.''
A military drone has two operators: a pilot who flies it by remote control, and a sensor operator who manipulates the cameras and missiles. Taylor trained as a sensor operator for six months, and just like that, she was running missions. ''It was intense,'' she said, ''because you're these 19 year-old kids who have never had any experience in war or anything like that, and you're getting trained how to blow things up and be responsible for million dollar equipment, flying over countries you've never even heard of. So I like to think I was pretty much scared out of my mind going through.''
I asked her if her instructors taught her how to shoulder that responsibility. She said she thinks they overdid it. ''It was a little overwhelming, worrying that you're going to mess something up. Messing something up could be blowing up the wrong house.''
She was not responsible for deciding who to blow up. Higher-ups watched and gave orders on who to follow, and when to pull the trigger. The stress was still immense. ''You would have people saying, 'alright, the President is watching what you're doing right now, so don't mess up.'''
A typical work day might involve snooping on insurgents in Nigeria, or bombing terrorists in Afghanistan.
Then, in a huge, post-modern disconnect, her shift ends, she walks out of the control station and she is in Nevada, ready to go home, or grocery shopping, or, as Taylor said, ''turn the beer light on''.
Mostly, she said, she and her colleagues would drink. ''You can't talk to anybody else. Everything you're doing is classified. Whether you just did something you're very proud of or whether you just did something that is leaving you walking around with the 'thousand yard stare', you can't talk to anyone, except for the people that you just did everything with'--your crew. So you bind together, you drink a lot, and that's pretty much how you deal with it.''
I wanted to know how Taylor's perception of war and security compare with the older generation, the fighter pilots who actually flew planes and dropped bombs from the sky. Taylor and I called an older acquaintance from the industry, Keven Gambold.
Gambold was a ''Top Gun'' kind of pilot. He ran missions over Kosovo and Iraq multiple times for England and the United States. He eventually transitioned to drones. He now owns a commercial drone consulting firm called Unmanned Experts. Gambold said in the 'old days' most of a fighter pilot's life was training. ''The fighter guys only go to work, real work,'' Gambold said, ''when there's a war on. They only go for a couple of months. And then they come back.''
What's changed so dramatically, he said, is what caused Taylor so much stress. Drone operators don't need to play war games because they are actually doing the real thing every day. It is perpetual war. ''It's a massive, massive turnabout,'' Gambold argued. ''That's a lot of pressure. You put people on the front lines for three years, working a shift system that is barking mad, and go, 'Yeah, that'll be fine. They won't have an alcohol problem.' I think it's pretty intense.'' The military knows this. Drone operators are tested for PSTD and other mental health issues.
One of Taylor's medals for flying overseas campaigns, even though she never left the United States.
Taylor looks at the next generation, the 19-year-old-recruits she helped train, and they worry her. She said they are extremely native to the world of first-person gaming, so she fears they are more desensitized to the gravity'--the life and death nature'--of this work. ''The way video games are so realistic now,'' Taylor said, ''you're running around shooting things, bombing things. You don't feel anything because it's just a game.''There has been widespread opposition to the kind of work done by Taylor. Critics protest that drones kill innocent civilians from Pakistan to Yemen. ''Now we have this label as baby killers or something, and it's not fair,'' Taylor said. ''I wish that people could understand the benefits of not having to send guys on the ground and putting them in harm's way.''
I asked Taylor if she thinks she has killed innocent people. She took a long, deep sigh, and stammered out military-speak about trusting the chain of command, but then she got to her real point. ''You're told these are bad guys, really bad guys. These guys are planning the next 9-11. So you want to think that you just saved thousands of people as opposed to 'I just killed five people'. But, I'll never know for sure.''
Taylor's medals and an American flag that flew over Iraq.
Taylor took me down into her basement where I saw toys and a racetrack strewn about the carpet. In a corner, an American flag and military medals are laid out on a table. Taylor is proud of her service to America. She signed up as part of the ''9-11 Generation'' '-- the millennials who wanted to get the bad guys who blew up the Twin Towers.When she had her son who plays with these toys on the floor, things changed. ''I think it brought a sense of humanity to what I had done,'' Taylor said. ''Maybe all that hate just melted away and you're left with this feeling left over. It's kind of a sadness. You're sad that these things have to happen.''
Taylor left the Air Force in 2009 and trained other sensor operators after that. She recently took a leave of absence because of health issues. She attributes some of those problems to a decade of living in a perpetual state of long-distance war. She is not sure what she will do next: maybe school, maybe playing the field for government jobs. She chuckled wryly and said, ''I don't know what I want to do when I grow up.''
David Sommerstein produced this profile of a drone operator for PRI's The World, for the seriesSafeMode: New Wars, New Warriors '' How technology is changing the meaning of securityon how technology is changing the meaning of security for the millennial generation.
VIDEO-Feminist 'All About That Bass' Parody 'Bitch In Business' Might Be Better Than The Original
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 05:41
While Meghan Trainor's hit "All About That Bass" celebrates body confidence, a new feminist parody takes more of an intellectual approach to equality.
Created by three Columbia Business School students, "Bitch In Business" puts a feminist manifesto to the tune of Trainor's "All About That Bass." The students, who are part of a group called the CBS Follies, describe the video as "a love letter to all the badass bitches who aren't afraid to be themselves in the business world."
The video itself is a bit sharper than Trainor's pastel-filled, hip-shaking video, and even includes a few slightly NSFW lines, such as: "You say 'Babies are for girls! Business is for boys!'/Try telling THAT to my stay-at-home fuck toy." Other amazing one-liners include, "Making these suits look good while I close the wage gap," and "Gettin' called bitch means I'm doing something right." Preach.
It's no secret that sexism is alive and well in the business world (along with many, many other industries). If a woman is viewed as too "abrasive" or too "pushy" she runs the risk of being labelled a bitch, but those same qualities in a man might brand him as a strong leader. Everyday sexism at its finest.
We still suggest you play this before any and every upcoming interview.
H/T Buzzfeed
Follow HuffPostWomen's board Map Of A Woman on Pinterest.


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