NYTimes: U.S. Links North Korea to Sony Hacking
WASHINGTON — American intelligence officials have concluded that the North Korean government was “centrally involved” in the recent attacks on Sony Pictures’s computers, a determination reached just as Sony on Wednesday canceled its release of the comedy, which is based on a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.
Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was still debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism campaign. Sony’s decision to cancel release of “The Interview” amounted to a capitulation to the threats sent out by hackers this week that they would launch attacks, perhaps on theaters themselves, if the movie was released.
Threats about 911 style attacks are ACT OF WAR, not terrorist threat
Americans should all demand to see the film in theatre after signing a waiver
Hey man, everyone's been spoiling the end of the movie with exploding head.
My Suggestions to Don: And kim Jung un should complete a blunt with Seth Rogan
North Korea-Based Thriller With Gore Verbinski And Steve Carell Canceled | Deadline
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:34
EXCLUSIVE: The chilling effect of the Sony Pictures hack and terrorist threats against The Interview are reverberating. New Regency has scrapped another project that was to be set in North Korea. The untitled thriller, set up in October, was being developed by director Gore Verbinski as a star vehicle for Foxcatcher star Steve Carell. The paranoid thriller written by Steve Conrad was going to start production in March. Insiders tell me that under the current circumstances, it just makes no sense to move forward. The location won't be transplanted. Fox declined to distribute it, per a spokesman.
Regency has other movies with Verbinski as part of a multiyear, multipicture deal, and they will focus on them. He moves on to A Cure For Wellness, an elevated horror film written by Revolutionary Road scribe Justin Haythe, and Passengers. There also is a large-scale action comedy scripted by Conrad. The plan was to make three films in quick succession. Now they will make two that way.
RelatedSony Hack: A Timeline, So Far
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Texas Theater to Show 'Team America' In Place of 'The Interview' - The Hollywood Reporter
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:59
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Kevin Mitnick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 03:27
Kevin David Mitnick (born August 6, 1963) is an American computer security consultant, author and hacker. In 1999, he was convicted of various computer and communications-related crimes. At the time of his arrest, he was the most-wanted computer criminal in the United States. He now runs a security firm named Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC that helps test a company's security strengths, weaknesses, and potential loopholes, and is the Chief Hacking Officer of security awareness training company KnowBe4.
Mitnick is an active advisory board member at Zimperium, a mobile defense firm that develops a mobile intrusion prevention system.
Life and careerEarly lifeMitnick grew up in Los Angeles and attended James Monroe High School. He was enrolled at Los Angeles Pierce College and USC. For a time, he worked as a receptionist for Stephen S. Wise Temple.
Computer hackingAt age 15, Mitnick used social engineering and dumpster diving to bypass the punch card system used in the Los Angeles bus system. After a friendly bus driver told him where he could buy his own ticket punch, he could ride any bus in the greater LA area using unused transfer slips he found in the trash. Social engineering later became his primary method of obtaining information, including user-names and passwords and modem phone numbers.
Mitnick first gained unauthorized access to a computer network in 1979, at 16, when a friend gave him the phone number for the Ark, the computer system Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) used for developing their RSTS/E operating system software. He broke into DEC's computer network and copied their software, a crime he was charged with and convicted of in 1988. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Near the end of his supervised release, Mitnick hacked into Pacific Bell voice mail computers. After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Mitnick fled, becoming a fugitive for two and a half years.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mitnick gained unauthorized access to dozens of computer networks while he was a fugitive. He used cloned cellular phones to hide his location and, among other things, copied valuable proprietary software from some of the country's largest cellular telephone and computer companies. Mitnick also intercepted and stole computer passwords, altered computer networks, and broke into and read private e-mail. Mitnick was apprehended on February 15, 1995, in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was found with cloned cellular phones, more than 100 clone cellular phone codes, and multiple pieces of false identification.
Arrest, conviction, and incarcerationAfter a well-publicized pursuit, the FBI arrested Mitnick on February 15, 1995, at his apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, on federal offenses related to a 2½-year period of computer hacking which included computer and wire fraud.
Mitnick was charged with wire fraud (14 counts), possession of unauthorized access devices (8 counts), interception of wire or electronic communications, unauthorized access to a federal computer, and causing damage to a computer.
In 1999, Mitnick pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud, two counts of computer fraud and one count of illegally intercepting a wire communication, as part of a plea agreement before the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison plus 22 months for violating the terms of his 1989 supervised release sentence for computer fraud. He admitted to violating the terms of supervised release by hacking into PacBell voicemail and other systems and to associating with known computer hackers, in this case co-defendant Lewis De Payne.
Mitnick served five years in prison'--four and a half years pre-trial and eight months in solitary confinement'--because, according to Mitnick, law enforcement officials convinced a judge that he had the ability to "start a nuclear war by whistling into a pay phone", meaning that law enforcement told the judge that he could somehow dial into the NORAD modem via a payphone from prison and communicate with the modem by whistling to launch nuclear missiles. He was released on January 21, 2000. During his supervised release, which ended on January 21, 2003, he was initially forbidden to use any communications technology other than a landline telephone. Mitnick fought this decision in court, eventually winning a ruling in his favor, allowing him to access the Internet. Under the plea deal, Mitnick was also prohibited from profiting from films or books based on his criminal activity for seven years, under a special judicial Son of Sam law variation. Mitnick now runs Mitnick Security Consulting LLC, a computer security consultancy.
In December, 2002 an FCC Judge ruled that Mitnick was sufficiently rehabilitated to possess a federally issued amateur radio license.
ControversyMitnick's criminal activities, arrest, and trial, along with the associated journalism, were all controversial. Though Mitnick has been convicted of copying software unlawfully, his supporters argue that his punishment was excessive. In his 2002 book, The Art of Deception, Mitnick states that he compromised computers solely by using passwords and codes that he gained by social engineering. He claims he did not use software programs or hacking tools for cracking passwords or otherwise exploiting computer or phone security.
Two books explored the allegations: John Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura's Takedown, and Jonathan Littman's The Fugitive Game. Littman made four main allegations:
Journalistic impropriety by Markoff, who had covered the case for the New York Times, based on rumor and government claims, while never interviewing Mitnick himself;Overzealous prosecution of Mitnick by the government;Mainstream media over-hyping Mitnick's actual crimes;Shimomura's involvement in the matter being unclear or of dubious legality.Further controversy came over the release of the movie based on the book by John Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura, with Littman alleging that portions of the film were taken from his book without permission. In addition, a number of media outlets reported on the unavailability of Kosher meals at the prison where he was incarcerated.
The case against Mitnick tested the new laws that had been enacted for dealing with computer crime, and it raised public awareness of security involving networked computers. The controversy remains, however, and the Mitnick story is often cited today as an example of the influence that mainstream newspapers can have on the law enforcement personnel.
Supporters of Mitnick have asserted that many of the charges against him were fraudulent and not based on actual losses.
ConsultingSince 2000, Kevin has been a paid security consultant, public speaker and author. He does security consulting for Fortune 500 companies, performs penetration testing services for the world's largest companies and teaches Social Engineering classes to dozens of companies and government agencies. He is the author of a dozen books that have been translated into many languages, including The Art of Deception, The Art of Intrusion, and Ghost in the Wires.
In 2000, Skeet Ulrich and Russell Wong portrayed Kevin Mitnick and Tsutomu Shimomura in the movie Track Down (known as Take Down outside the USA), which was based on the book Takedown by John Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura. The DVD was released in September 2004. A documentary named Freedom Downtime was produced by 2600: The Hacker Quarterly in response to Takedown.
Mitnick is the co-author, with William L. Simon, of two computer security books and his autobiography:
On August 18, 2011, Mitnick appeared on The Colbert Report to talk about his new book. On August 23, Mitnick was interviewed on Coast to Coast AM during the episode "Hacking & Technology". On August 24, he appeared on the TWiT.tv network's Triangulation episode.
On September 12, 2011, Mitnick answered readers' questions on the technology news site Slashdot. This was the second time he was interviewed on Slashdot, the first time being in February 2003.
Pop culture referencesVideo gamesMitnick is referenced in one of the in-game emails of the videogame Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
In the Rockstar video game Grand Theft Auto III, on the in-game Chatterbox radio station, a paranoid caller yells "FREE KEVIN" before he is cut off by the DJ.
In the Rockstar video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, on the in-game WCTR radio station, the same paranoid caller says he could "launch a nuclear attack by whistling into a phone", a clear reference to the charges thrown against Mitnick prior to incarceration.
In the 2004 video game Vampire: The Masquerade '' Bloodlines a character named Mitnick provides optional hacking-related quests.
In the Telltale GameSam & Max Save the World, Max makes an off-hand comment, "Why can't we find an obscure criminal... like Kevin Mitnick!"
Graphic novelsThe 2012 graphic novel Wizzywig by Ed Piskor is a close allusion to the story of Mitnick, with the main character's name replaced with Kevin Phenicle. The novel parallels the entire story of Mitnick under the codename "Boingthump", from his early days of phone phreaking, to his exploits in hacking into companies, through to his eventual arrest and "Free Kevin" campaign, with many of the details of Mitnick's story kept intact.
Kevin at DEFCON 2014At the 2014 annual Las Vegas hackers convention DEF CON, Kevin Mitnick asserted that he could steal anyone's identity in 3 minutes. He defended this assertion by discovering online the Social Security number of a single volunteer from the DEF CON audience.
TVIn "2ÏR", the eleventh episode of the second season of TV series Person of Interest, Mitnick is mentioned by a computer teacher.
In the sixth episode of the second season of the anime Black Lagoon, the Lagoon company's resident hacker, Benny, claims after cracking a code, "I'm as great as Kevin Mitnick".
See alsoReferences^ abchttp://law.jrank.org/pages/3791/Kevin-Mitnick-Case-1999.html^http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/Pre_96/February95/89.txt.html^http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/Pre_96/February95/89.txt.html^"Kevin Mitnick sentenced to nearly four years in prison; computer hacker ordered to pay restitution to victim companies whose systems were compromised" (Press release). United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California. August 9, 1999. ^http://blogs.computerworld.com/security/20712/interview-worlds-most-famous-hacker-kevin-mitnick-mobile-security-zimperium^http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/20/zimperium-raises-8m-for-mobile-security-that-turns-the-tables-on-attackers^ abcMitnick, Kevin (2011). Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-03770-2. ^http://bigthink.com/think-tank/hacker-for-the-hell-of-it-the-adventures-of-kevin-mitnick^Greene, Thomas C. (January 13, 2003). "Chapter One: Kevin Mitnick's story". The Register. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. ^Colbert Report^Painter, Christopher M.E. (March 2001). "Supervised Release and Probation Restrictions in Hacker Cases". United States Attorneys' USA Bulletin (Executive Office for United States Attorneys) 49 (2). [dead link]^"Fugitive computer hacker arrested in North Carolina" (Press release). United States Department of Justice. February 15, 1995. Archived from the original on June 29, 2012. ^http://fas.org/irp/news/1997/cac70627_1.html^http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1361372399901410^Mills, Elinor (July 20, 2008). "Social Engineering 101: Mitnick and other hackers show how it's done". CNET News. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. ^"Famed hacker to Snowden: Watch out". CNN. ^"F.C.C. Lets Convicted Hacker Go Back on Net" (Press release). New York Times. December 27, 2002. ^no conviction for forged documents - http://articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/27/business/fi-21393^"Life Not Kosher for Mitnick". Wired. August 18, 1999. Archived from the original on September 18, 2012. ^Randolph, Donald C. "About Kevin's Case". Free Kevin Mitnick. Archived from the original on April 24, 2006. ^"Defense consolidated motion for sanctions and for reconsideration of motion for discovery and application for expert fees based upon new facts". Free Kevin Mitnick. June 7, 1999. Archived from the original on December 22, 2005. ^Skeet Ulrich, Russell Wong (2004). Track Down (DVD). Dimension Studios. ^Mitnick, Kevin; Simon, William L. (October 2003). The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security. Wiley Books. ISBN 978-0-7645-4280-0. ^Mitnick, Kevin; Simon, William L. (December 27, 2005). The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders & Deceivers. Wiley Books. ISBN 978-0-7645-6959-3. ^Mitnick, Kevin; Simon, William L. (2011). Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-03770-9. ^"Kevin Mitnick '' The Colbert Report". The Colbert Report. video clip: Comedy Central. August 18, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011. ^"Hacking & Technology". Coast To Coast AM With George Noory. August 23, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011. ^"Triangulation #21". TWiT. August 24, 2011. Archived from the original on September 18, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011. ^timothy (September 12, 2011). "Kevin Mitnick Answers". Slashdot (Geeknet Inc.). Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011. ^Roblimo (February 5, 2011). "Kevin Mitnick Answers". Slashdot (Geeknet Inc.). Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011. ^http://www.forbes.com/sites/ehrlichfu/2014/08/15/renowned-security-expert-kevin-mitnick-can-steal-your-identity-in-3-minutes/^Kevin Mitnick (3 January 2013). "Cool! Someone uploaded the piece of Person of Interest that mentions me. Very cool :-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNLk7qoqVzo&feature=youtube_gdata_player ...". Kevin Mitnick at Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved 13 February 2014. BibliographyBooksKevin Mitnick and William L. Simon, Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker, 2011, Hardback ISBN 978-0-316-03770-9Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon, The Art Of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind The Exploits Of Hackers, Intruders, And Deceivers, 2005, Hardback ISBN 0-471-78266-1Kevin Mitnick, The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, 2002, Paperback ISBN 0-471-23712-4Jeff Goodell, The Cyberthief and the Samurai: The True Story of Kevin Mitnick-And the Man Who Hunted Him Down, 1996, ISBN 978-0-440-22205-7Tsutomu Shimomura, Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America's Most Wanted Computer Outlaw-By the Man Who Did It, 1996, ISBN 0-7868-8913-6Jonathan Littman, The Fugitive Game: Online with Kevin Mitnick, 1996, ISBN 0-316-52858-7Katie Hafner and John Markoff, CYBERPUNK '' Outlaws and Hackers On The Computer Frontier, 1995, ISBN 1-872180-94-9Articleshttp://www.forbes.com/sites/ehrlichfu/2014/08/15/renowned-security-expert-kevin-mitnick-can-steal-your-identity-in-3-minutes/
External linksPersondataNameMitnick, KevinAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican computer criminalDate of birthAugust 06, 1963Place of birthLos AngelesDate of deathPlace of death
Despite public U.S. expressions of doubt, North Korean links to Sony Pictures hack are strong - Flash//CRITIC Cyber Threat News. | Flash//CRITIC Cyber Threat News.
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:50
N. Korean hackers linked to Sony cyber attack
As a senior FBI official voiced doubts last week about North Korean government involvement in the cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, U.S. intelligence and security agencies increasingly are convinced Pyongyang or those sympathetic to the regime of Kim Jong Un carried out the highly sophisticated cyber strike. Publicly, the FBI played down the damaging attacks against a major U.S. corporation. FBI Assistant Director Joe Demarest told a Senate hearing and in other public remarks that there is no conclusive evidence linking the attacks to Pyongyang's cyber attackers.The comments by Demarest were typical of the federal government response to threats and attacks under President Obama, whose administration systematically has sought to play down or ignore various threats and incidents by states like North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. The response is part of the left-liberal foreign and national security policies aimed at seeking closer ties to adversaries '-- often at the expense of America's friends and allies. Additionally, the official vagueness in playing down the identification of North Korean agents or surrogates in the Sony networks attacks appears designed to reduce pressure on the administration to take action in response. The administration is under increasing demands from the private sector for government to develop policies and to take effective countermeasures against what is becoming a strategic threat to U.S. economic interests and ultimately national security. The White House has said it has adopted a passive approach to cyber attacks and has sought to deal with them through diplomacy and discussions in international forums. At Fort Meade, Md., analysts at the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command internally have concluded the cyber attack against Sony almost certainly is North Korean in origin, based on forensics and motive, according to defense sources. A group called the Guardians of Peace has claimed responsibility. Analysis of the malicious software used in the cyber attacks shows clearly that sophisticated code was used. And the main evidence linking the malware to North Korea was the discovery of Korean language embedded within it. Additionally, the attacker's software relied on internal Internet Protocol addresses and user credentials obtained from Sony employees that demonstrated lengthy pre-strike reconnaissance of Sony networks. As for motive, the studio's role in producing the forthcoming comedy ''The Interview'' is another indicator. The movie storyline involves a plot by the CIA to use two journalists to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea has said release of the film would be tantamount to an act of war. The film is scheduled for release Dec. 25. The attacks were carried out two weeks ago and have produced a financial and corporate nightmare for the movie company. Computer networks were penetrated and 100 terabytes of data stolen, including unreleased films, personal information of actors and movie executives, and emails on sensitive discussions. Some storage media was destroyed. The stolen files were posted online and news outlets have been reporting regularly on salacious revelations from the pilfered data. Financial losses for the company could be as high as $100 million, according to private analysts. Authorities and security analysts, the group that claimed responsibility, the Guardians of Peace, is a cover name for what analysts call a ''false flag'' operation '' an intelligence terms that provides plausible deniability for the Pyongyang regime. A North Korean government spokesman said Dec. 7 that the Pyongyang regime was not behind the hacking attack. However, state-run North Korean media quoted a spokesman as saying that the country had ''a great number of supporters and sympathizers'' around the world, including what it termed ''champions of peace'' '' language similar to the name of the group Guardians of Peace. Additionally, the Sony hack was very similar to the cyber attacks carried out against South Korean media outlets. For example, between April and June of 2012 a hacker authorities identified as ''IsOne'' struck the networks of the JoongAng Ilbo, a conservative South Korean daily. Using advanced reconnaissance prior to the attack, the cyber attack destroyed the newspaper's production system, along with the databases for articles and photographs. Large numbers of files obtained in the hack were posted on a South Korean message board. Authorities in South Korea identified the IP address used by the hacker as belonging to the Korea Post and TelecommunicationsCorporation, an entity under the North Korean Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. The company had leased the IP address from a Chinese company. ''The Guardians Of Peace are people who love Glorious Leader and have computers,'' said one security analyst, noting that the only people who have access to computers linked to the Internet in North Korea are government-affiliated specialists. The malicious software used to wipe drives of data is called Destroyer by some analysts and WIPALL by others, and it was customized for the attack on Sony based on careful mapping of the company's network. The stolen files were posted on Pastebin. Seven proxy servers used in the attack were traced to Thailand, Poland, Italy, Cyprus, Bolivia, Singapore and the United States, another sign of state-level sophistication. Advanced cyber attacks are capable of routing their attacks through servers around the world in order to make it difficult to identify the source. The FBI issued a warning to industry after the Sony attack warning that the wiper software can overwrite an infected networks master boot record and all data files, making the threat especially nefarious. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers told reporters that he believes North Korea is the likely culprit.''I would argue as a former FBI agent that, when a nation state says that 'This group '... did this on behalf of the North Korean people '... and we appreciate it,' as we would say in the FBI: that is a clue,'' Rogers said. A security report by Hewlett-Packard published in August said North Korean cyber attacks follow distinct patterns like those used in the Sony attack: Careful reconnaissance, the use of destructive wiper malware and theft of data. ''The majority of the incidents attributed to North Korean actors consistently used wiper malware,'' the report said, noting that the groups that claim responsibility for North Korean-linked attacks are relatively unknown. ''These factors seem to indicate that a single group may have been responsible for several attacks over time, using different group names as a false flag,'' the report said. '' Bill GertzDec. 13, 2014
CNN: U.S. to Name North Korea as Source of Sony Hack - The Hollywood Reporter
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:47
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Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:39
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BBC News - New York premiere of Sony film The Interview cancelled
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:59
Filmgoers in LA had some concerns but police said there was no cause for alarm
The New York premiere of The Interview, a comedy about the assassination of North Korea's president, has been cancelled amid threats from hackers.
A spokesman for the cinema chain due to host the screening said it had been shelved.
Hackers targeting Sony Pictures had threatened to attack US cinemas showing the studio's film.
They belong to the same group which has released emails and data stolen from Sony.
Calling themselves Guardians of Peace, the hackers mentioned the 9/11 attacks in a recent warning, claiming "the world will be full of fear".
"Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time," the hacker group wrote in a message on Tuesday.
"If your house is nearby, you'd better leave," they add. "Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment."
The Department of Homeland Security said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot" against cinemas, but noted it was still analysing messages from the group.
A spokesman for Landmark, the cinema chain due to host the New York premiere, confirmed the showing had been cancelled but gave no reason, Reuters news agency reported.
Executives from Sony had previously said they would not object if cinemas chose not to show The Interview.
Carmike Cinemas, which operates 278 venues across the country, has cancelled planned screenings, according to several news outlets.
Others have backed the movie. "If they play it, we'll show it," said Tom Stephenson, CEO of Look Cinemas.
"Sony has a right to make the movie, we have a right to play it and censorship in general is a bad thing."
The film's stars, James Franco and Seth Rogen, have also pulled out of several media appearances including appearances on the chat shows Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Guardians of Peace have also released a new trove of Sony company data, calling it a "Christmas gift".
A cache of company emails, social security numbers and salary details had already been released.
On Tuesday, two former Sony Pictures employees sued the California company for not providing adequate security to prevent the computer breach.
The studio earlier attempted to limit the damage by contacting some US news outlets to block the publication of the emails.
Some of the emails released have contained embarrassing exchanges about some of Hollywood's biggest stars, among them Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Variety, the New York Times and the Hollywood Reporter were informed the studio "does not consent to your possession... dissemination, publication... or making any use of the stolen information".
North Korea has denied involvement in the attack, but has described it as a "righteous deed" that may have been carried out by its "supporters and sympathisers".
According to Variety's Andrew Wallenstein, however, publishing the stolen data is "problematic but necessary" because it "is in the public domain" and "unavoidable".
Seth Rogen and James Franco Cancel All Media Appearances for 'The Interview' | Variety
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 21:47
''The Interview'' stars Seth Rogen and James Franco have canceled all upcoming media appearances following the latest threats made against theaters showing the movie, Variety has confirmed.
The duo has withdrawn from previously scheduled press appearances, including Rogen's Thursday appearance on ''Late Night with Seth Meyers'' and an interview with both of them on ''The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'' on Wednesday, leading up to ''The Interview's'' Christmas Day release. They were also booked for an appearance on Buzzfeed Brews in New York on Tuesday.
According to insiders, Rogen and Franco are still scheduled to appear at Thursday's New York special screening of ''The Interview.'' The two were at the Los Angeles premiere last week, but didn't do press interviews.
The Sony cyber attack, which has been ongoing since Nov. 24, escalated to new levels on Tuesday, when a hacker group calling itself The Guardians of Peace threatened a 9/11-like attack on theaters showing ''The Interview.''
''The world will be full of fear,'' the message from hackers reads. ''Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you'd better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.''
There's been suspicions that North Korea is behind the attack because of the nature of the plot of ''The Interview,'' in which Rogen and Franco play characters embarking on a mission to assassinate Kim Jong-un. North Korea has denied involved in the attacks, but called the hack a ''righteous deed.''
Buzzfeed first reported the news.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more
Sony Hackers Release Latest Batch of Data Tied to "Christmas Gift" - The Hollywood Reporter
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:04
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Sony Hack Should Be Considered An Act Of War - Business Insider
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:43
The most devastating cyberattack ever on a US-based company wasn't an act of war, according to established guidelines of cyberwarfare.
NATO's Tallinn Manual defines an act of cyberwar that permits a military response as "a cyber operation, whether offensive or defensive, that is reasonably expected to cause injury or death to persons or damage or destruction to objects."
The world after the Sony Pictures hack may require a new perspective.
Dave Aitel,a former NSA research scientist and CEO of the cybersecurity firmImmunity, argues that whilethe attack "doesn't meet the threshold for a response by our military," it should still be viewed as an act of war.
"We need to change the way we think about cyberattacks," Aitel told Business Insider in an email. "In many cases, these aren't 'crimes' '-- they're acts of war. A non-kinetic attack (i.e., destructive malware, destructive computer network attack) that causes just as much damage as a kinetic attack (i.e., a missile or bomb) should be viewed at the same level of urgency and need for US government/military response."
Aitel, one of the preeminent experts on cybersecurity, said "there should at least be firm diplomatic repercussions for these types of attacks. After all, what would we have done if they'd blown up the buildings at Sony Pictures but not caused any casualties? That is the context these attacks need to be put in."
He argues that if the US believes North Korea directed the attack '-- which he does '-- then it is critical that policymakers formulate offensive and defensive responses carefully.
"We're obviously not going to bomb North Korea, but could we launch a cyberattack against their institutions? Could we shut down their Internet access?" Aitel wrote. "From a technical standpoint, we could do all of those things, but it would likely lead to an escalation by both sides."
REUTERS/KCNANorth Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Dec. 8, 2014.
Many of the offensive options are problematic given "the technical complexities involved, legislative challenges, or the international escalation they will generate," Aitel said.
Nevertheless, one proactive move the US should consider, according to Aitel, is "declaring certain cyberattacks terrorist acts and the groups behind them terrorists," which would "set in motion a wider range of legal authority, US government/military resources, and international options."
The new legal framework "would also make it harder for hacker networks to operate in key international areas, as it would require a greater level of cooperation from US allies, EU members, NATO, G20, etc.," in addition to making it easier "for the US government to target the funding of not only the hacker networks, but any companies or organizations that aid them, even in incidentally or unknowingly."
Since 9/11, the US has officially considered acts of terrorism to be acts of war. Aitel's suggestion is to update this understanding so that it includes what would be "cyberterrorists" committing cyber acts of war, like the one that hit Sony.
"Frankly, we need to start talking about what role and responsibility the US government should have in securing US companies from cyberattacks," Aitel said.
One way to bolster US cyber defenses, according to Aitel, would be for the government to provide companies "with the option to have their web hosting and security provided by the federal government itself."
And even though turning over the "IT keys" to the government would be an unpopular idea '-- especially after the revelations by Edward Snowden '-- Aitel calls it "the most effective model the cybersecurity industry would have to protect against state-sponsored attacks like the one that hit Sony or the millions of cyber-espionage attacks that occur yearly against other key US entities."That's because a critical attack on a US-based company would be treated, legally and politically, as an attack on the US itself.
"In this scenario, the full resources and capabilities of the US government's intelligence, law enforcement and military apparatuses would be leveraged to protect US companies from overseas attacks," Aitel said. "The US government doesn't want to share classified information with companies directly; but it could use this information to protect them. Hosting providers like Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace, Google, etc., would basically become the new defense contractor."
An Unprecedented AttackThe Sony hack is "the firstmajor attack on a US company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to make computer networks unable to operate."
An estimated 11 terabytes of information was taken, revealing information including scripts, unreleased movies, actor compensation, and off-the-cuff conversations among high-level Sony executives.
ImgurA screenshot of the message left by hackers of Sony.
The attack's political motives, along with Sony's public humiliation, raise the specter of an entirely new phenomena: hacks that combine "national rivalry, hacker ideology, performance art, ritual humiliation and data combustion, culminating in complete corporate chaos," as John Gapper explained in the Financial Times.
The malware used reportedly bore traces of Korean language packs and resembled software deployed during previous attacks against South Korean targets. This reinforces the idea that North Korea or its supporters hacked Sony as retribution for the release of "The Interview," a film in which James Franco and Seth Rogen play talk-show hosts sent into the country to assassinate Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.
"It is extremely likely that North Korea is pretending to be an 'Anonymous'-like group, which is what nation-states tend to do to obfuscate their role in an attack," Aitel said, adding that analysis by the FBI and the US intelligence community to identify the source of attacks "is not based on court of law facts, but intelligence they've collected over a number of years."
Further, it makes complete sense for North Korea to use proxies.
"If North Korea was to come out and state that it was them, they would be able to sued in international court," Aitel explained, "but because they know the US isn't going to burn its sources and methods, as long as they pretend to be an Anonymous-like group they can maintain a veneer of innocence. This is also something Iran does, with #OpIsrael Anonymous campaigns and the Syrian Electronic Army. These are both operated out of Tehran."
Sony posts rare quarterly profit, 5000 layoffs still coming | Electronista
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 04:10
Company does not expect to turn a profit on the yearElectronics manufacturer Sony has posted its first profit in some time. The company reported sales of 1.8 trillion yen ($17.9 billion), an increase of 5.8 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous fiscal year, primarily from contributions made by the PlayStation 4. As a result, Sony ended its first quarter pulling down a profit of $265 million.
Highlights from Sony include a 101 percent year-on-year sales increase in the company's Games and Network Services division. The company reports that, for the first time, gains from increased sales from the PlayStation 4 more than offset the declining sales of the PlayStation 3. One-fifth of the company's profits came from the sale of Sony's shares of game foundry Square Enix.
The company reports a continued decrease in sales of mobile communications (smartphones), its semi-conductor business, as well as imaging products including digital cameras. Some losses were offset by streamlining and reorganization efforts, with the company taking a blow from its exit from the PC business.
Sony is expecting the continued decline of mobile to keep the company from turning a profit for the year. Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida postulates that "it is possible the [mobile division] review might result in an impairment charge against various assets in the mobile communications segment."
Further streamlining of the company is expected. More than 5,000 positions within the company are about to be axed, as well as the spin-off of the company's television business.
"We have topped our targets (in the first quarter), but if you look at our past, we have made our targets in most first quarters but then haven't been able to meet our full-year targets," said Yoshida. "I want to see how the rest of the year goes."
By Electronista Staff
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Sony Pictures lays off employees in technology group ...www.latimes.com/.../la-et-ct-sony-pictures-lays-off-e...Jan 22, 2014 -Sony Pictures Entertainment has laid off an undisclosed number of people from its ... Essential California reading: Quakes, fires and drought ... Singer, Sony Pictures' chief digital strategy officer, who spearheaded the studio's ...Sony Music Entertainment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Music_EntertainmentIn 2004, SME and Bertelsmann Music Group merged as Sony BMG Music .... With Sony being one of the developers behind the compact disc digital music media ..... massive cover-up of the past months, CBS fired its records division president, ...[PDF]HVL-F58AM Operating Instructions - Sonyhttps://docs.sony.com/release/HVLF58AM.pdfTo reduce fire or shock hazard, do not expose the unit to rain or moisture. Tape over ... digital device, pursuant to Part 15 of the FCC Rules. These limits are ...Sony aims to become 'One', will fire 10000 workers and ...thenextweb.com/.../sony-aims-to-become-one-will-fire-10...Apr 12, 2012 -Sony aims to become 'One', will fire 10,000 workers and spend $926m on ... of Sony's core businesses (gaming, digital imaging and mobile) and turning ... for the Sony Group overall, in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015.GoodeReader - The definitive News Outlet on eBook, e ...Chronicling the rise of e-Readers, eBooks, Digital Publishing and the Future of Publishing. ... in the first nine months of 2014, and another 21% used the Kindle Fire. ..... The publisher Hachette Book Group, home to some of the world's bestselling .... Sony Digital Paper DPT-S1; Sony PRS-300; Sony PRS-350; Sony PRS-650 ...Sony DSLR-A350 Review: Full Review - Flashwww.imaging-resource.com 'º ... 'º Sony Cameras 'º Sony AlphaSony DSLR-A350: What struck me most about my Sony A350 shots, ... In Fill- Flash mode, the flash fires with every exposure, regardless of lighting conditions. ... You can only control the power to a single flash or group of flash units though: It's not .... Print the flash page for the Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 digital camera review ...UK Indie Recovers From London Riots One Year Later - Spinwww.spin.com/articles/uk-indie-recovers-london-riots-one-year-later/Aug 8, 2012 - PIAS Entertainment Group, which distributes more than 150 indie labels ... The fire had a "multi-million pound" impact, Sony Digital Audio Disc ...[PDF]Di622 Mark II - Nissin Japanwww.nissindigital.com/files/en_di622m2_rev0211.1.0(A4%20size).pdffor Sony digital SLR cameras. INSTRUCTION ... Do not fire the flash direct to the eye at short distance. It may damage the eye. ... D F Ch 1 Group A. Pilot. Sync.
Foreign Bankers Rape Ukraine
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:48
If it were not for the fact that the lives of some 45 million people are at stake, Ukrainian national politics could be laughed off as a very sick joke. Any pretenses that the October national elections would bring a semblance of genuine democracy of the sort thousands of ordinary Ukrainians demonstrated for on Maidan Square just one year ago vanished with the announcement by Victoria Nuland's darling Prime Minister, ''Yat'' Yatsenyuk, of his new cabinet.
The US-picked Ukraine President, billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko called ''snap'' elections at the end of August for October 26. He did so to make sure genuine opposition to his regime of murderers, gangsters and in some cases outright Nazis would be able to push an unprepared genuine opposition out of the Verkhovna Rada or Parliament. Because the parliament had significant opposition parties to the US-engineered February 22 coup d'etat, they had blocked many key pieces of legislation that the Western vultures were demanding, from changing key land ownership laws to privatization of precious state assets. By law, the old parliament would have sat until its five year term ended in October, 2017. That was clearly too long for State Department neo-con Ukraine puppet-mistress Victoria Nuland and her backers in Washington.
Now, with a new parliament that is controlled by the Petro Poroshenko bloc as largest party and the boyish-looking former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is also new Prime Minister as head of the second largest party, the way was clear to get on with the rape of Ukraine. What shocked some is the blatant foreign takeover that followed, like a Wall Street vulture fund raid on a distressed debtor country of the Third World.
The ridiculous charade
Yatsenyuk, former finance minister in a previous criminal regime, and a suspected senior member of the US-intelligence-friendly ''Church of Scientology,'' has named three complete foreigners as cabinet ministers in key economic posts. And in an extraordinary act, the three have been made instant Ukrainian citizens by Poroshenko in a ridiculous ceremony. Ukraine is looking more and more like the US-occupied Philippines after the Spanish-American War of 1898 when General Arthur MacArthur, father of the mentally-dis-ordered Douglas, was Washington's dictator on the spot.
The new Ukrainian Finance Minister, the one who will control the money and decides where it goes, is one Natalia A. Jaresko. She speaks fluent Ukrainian. Only problem'--she is an American citizen, a US State Department veteran who is also a US investment banker. Now, the Ukrainian Constitution, prudently enough, stipulates that government ministers be Ukrainian. How then does our sweet Natalia come in?
The President of Ukraine, another Victoria Nuland favorite, the ''Chocolate King'' corrupt oligarch billionaire, Petro Poroshenko, made her a Ukrainian citizen in a bizarre ceremony the same day just hours before the parliament declared her Finance Minister.
In justifying his astonishing move, Poroshenko declared, ''There are absolutely extraordinary challenges facing Ukraine'...All this requires innovative solutions in the government'...These decisions mean searching for candidates for the new government not only in Ukraine but also abroad.''
Forget your earlier silly schoolbook notions about how a democracy and a nation function. This is the age of no nation state, of private capital taking over the world for sake of profit. Looting ¼ber alles is the motto. The nation of Ukraine is being put on the auction bloc to be privatized anyway, so it makes sense that the auctioneers at the US State Department head-hunt the ones to do the inside job of preparing that auction wherever they find the willing executioners. And because what the privatizers have planned, it is easier to believe a non-Ukrainian would let the country be raped easier than a native Ukrainian, even corrupt natives.
In her acceptance speech Jaresko declared, ''The new team aims to change the country, to improve its transparency and to eliminate corruption. The members of the team are ready to deal with the challenges Ukraine faces today. This is a government of professionals and technocrats, and we intend to work. I've been living in Ukraine for 22 years and until this day I was the head of a large company that controlled three investment funds.,'' she told Ukrainian television news service TSN.
What Jaresko did not say was that she had been sent to Ukraine 22 years before as a member of the US State Department.
Jaresko's qualifications for the job fit the requirements of a vulture fund rapist banker. She was founder and CEO of Horizon Capital Associates, LLC. Her Horizon Capital is ''a private equity and venture capital firm specializing in early stage, buyouts, growth capital, and expansion opportunities. It prefers to invest in financial services, fast moving consumer goods, retail, and industrial goods sectors. It typically invests in mid-cap companies based in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova,'' according to Business Week. They were founded in 1995 and have offices in Kiev. Jaresko is also at the same time CEO of a private equity fund WNISEF.
WNISEF or Western NIS Enterprise Fund is a $150 million private equity fund, active in Ukraine and Moldova investing in small and medium-sized companies. Since its inception, ''WNISEF has invested approximately $168 million in 118 companies in the region in a range of industries with a concentration on fast moving consumer goods, construction materials, packaging, retail, and financial services. WNISEF is managed by Horizon Capital Associates, LLC. WNISEF was established by the US Congress and funded by the US government via US Agency for International Development (USAID).''
Before she founded Horizon and WNISEF, the Harvard-trained Jaresko worked for the US State Department in the IMF-steered looting of the country that began just after the US-inspired collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. From 1992-1995 she was Chief of the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Kiev. When US-backed Viktor Yushchenko was installed via Washington's ''Orange Revolution'' as President in 2004, Jaresko served on his Foreign Investors Advisory Council.
US State Department deputy spokeswoman, former CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf has already denied Washington had any hand in her appointment. Of course she would never lie.
Another foreign banker as Economy Minister
Apparently not satisfied that only one investment banker as Finance Minister would suffice, Nuland's Washington friends have installed Aivaras Abromavicius, a Lithuanian investment banker, to be Economy Minister. According to the official US Government propaganda site, Radio Free Europe'--the old CIA Cold War propaganda news service still exists, with its old name as kind of a sick joke'--Abromavicius, born in Vilnius, Lithuania, has worked in Kyiv since 2008 as partner and fund manager at the East Capital asset management group. East Capital reportedly has invested almost $100 million in 2012 in Ukrainian projects. It would be interesting to know whose money. Abromavicius describes himself as a Ukrainian patriot (sic!), and has pledged ''radical measures.''
East Capital is a Sweden-based ''frontier markets'' fund active in 25 emerging market countries. The founder of Abromavicius' East Capital is Peter Elam H¥kansson according to their website. Before that H¥kansson held leading positions with the Swedish Wallenberg family's Enskilda Securities.
And a Georgian Health Minister
Rounding out the bizarre new Cabinet of Yatsenyuk is Alexander Kvitashvili, a Georgian. Kvitashvili was health minister in Georgia between 2008 and 2010, under then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, like Yushchenko, another US-installed corrupt puppet President from the US-financed Rose Revolution of 2003. Kvitashvili studied and worked in the United States before becoming Georgia's health minister.
According to Radio Free Europe, ''Yatsenyuk has tasked Kvitashvili with introducing sweeping reforms to tackle rampant corruption among health authorities.'' However, the designated corruption-fighter has one handicap: he does not speak the Ukrainian language. That doesn't matter apparently, as he has stated that he has a ''deep respect for Ukraine and its people.'' More than that, a corruption-fighting health minister in Ukraine these days apparently doesn't need.
Rape of an entire country, just as rape of a small child, is murder. It is a form of murder of the soul and ultimately of the child. Forty five million Ukrainians do not deserve such treatment any more than an innocent four-year-old child does.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''
Who Are Ukraine's New Foreign-Born Ministers?
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:28
Three foreigners -- Natalie Jaresko, Aivaras Abromavicius, and Aleksandr Kvitashvili -- were approved as ministers by Ukraine's parliament on December 2.
President Petro Poroshenko said their appointment, which has raised some eyebrows in Ukraine, was part of an effort to find "innovative solutions in the government" due to the "extraordinary challenges facing Ukraine."
Poroshenko naturalized all three hours before their confirmation by parliament.
All have given up their citizenships to comply with Ukraine's constitutional ban on dual citizenship.=
Natalie Jaresko, United States -- Finance Minister
Jaresko, who has Ukrainian roots, has lived in the country for more than two decades.
She moved to Kyiv in 1992, just months after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, to head the economic department of the newly opened U.S. embassy.
Prior to her relocation, she held various economic positions in the U.S. State Department.
She holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor of science degree in accounting from DePaul University in Chicago.
In 1995, she left the U.S. Embassy to work for the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), an equity fund financed by the U.S. government, where she rose to the position of chief executive officer.
She established her own fund, Horizon Capital, in 2004.
During the Orange Revolution, Jaresko made no secret of her sympathies for the pro-Western uprising. She went on serve on then-President Viktor Yushchenko's Foreign Investors Advisory Council.
With the United States facing accusations of political meddling in Ukraine, Jaresko's new role has raised eyebrows.
U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf has already denied Washington had any hand in her appointment.
Jaresko says the new cabinet of ministers intends to "change the country, improve transparency and eliminate corruption."
Speaking to parliament on December 2, she declared her readiness to "take on challenges."
Jaresko faces a tough job warding off economic collapse, battling corruption, and reforming Ukraine's economy as the country continues to fight an armed insurgency in the east.
Aivaras Abromavicius, Lithuania -- Economy Minister
Like Jaresko, Abromavicius is no newcomer to Ukraine.
Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, the investment banker has lived in Kyiv since 2008 and has a Ukrainian wife.
He is a partner and fund manager at the East Capital asset management group.
The group is a major player in Ukraine, where it invested almost $100 million in 2012.
Abromavicius describes himself as a Ukrainian patriot and has pledged "radical measures" to overhaul the country's battered economy.
He claims he hasn't yet discussed his ministerial salary, which he said he expected to be "very small."
He has voiced hope that his "efforts and experience will help Ukraine reach a totally different level of economic development, bring transparency and openness to government's work."
Aleksandr Kvitashvili, Georgia -- Health Minister
Kvitashvili served as health minister in his native Georgia between 2008 and 2010, under then-President Mikheil Saakashvili.
He holds a bachelor's degree in history from Tbilisi State University and a master's degree from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in New York.
After graduating in 1993, he did a brief stint working in the United States at the Atlanta Medical Center as an administrative and finance officer.
He returned to Georgia the same year to work for the United Nations Development Program.
He has since held positions at a number of healthcare-related organizations, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the Curatio International Foundation, the East/West Institute in New York, and the Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS organization.
Kvitashvili was rector of Tbilisi State University between 2010 and 2013.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has tasked Kvitashvili with introducing sweeping reforms to tackle rampant corruption among health authorities.
Despite his recent arrival in Ukraine, Kvitashvili, who does not speak Ukrainian, professes "deep respect for Ukraine and its people."
"I've been working on reforms in Ukraine for the past three months, but my love [for] this country has a much longer history," he said on December 2.
'Denemarken claimt de Noordpool'
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 02:23
Denemarken gaat vandaag bij de Verenigde Naties het eigendom opeisen van het totale noordpoolgebied. Dat heeft de Deense krant Politiken gemeld. Denemarken zou het eerste land zijn dat de Noordpool volledig claimt.
Politiken schrijft dat het om 895.000 vierkante kilometer zeebodem gaat, een gebied meer dan twintig keer zo groot als Denemarken zelf. Onder de Noordpool zijn veel grondstoffen te winnen. Verschillende landen maken aanspraak op het gebied, waaronder Rusland en Canada.
De VN hebben een speciale commissie opgericht die onderzoekt welk land de zeggenschap over het noordpoolgebied moet krijgen. Groenland valt al onder Denemarken.
Vladimir Putin's Eurasian Economic Union gets ready to take on the world | World news | The Guardian
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:32
Leaders of former Soviet states gather for a regional summit in Minsk, Belarus. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty
Until the last moment Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, held out for 7 October, to coincide with Vladimir Putin's birthday. But in the end the parliament in Minsk ratified the treaty on Eurasian Economic Union on 9 October, the day before its first three members '' Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan '' were due to meet.
It would be simplistic to reduce the nascent EEU to a toy in the hands of the Russian president. When it comes into force, on 1 January 2015, it will be the most advanced organisation for regional cooperation the former Soviet bloc has seen, an achievement preceded by many false starts.
In fact, the EEU already exists. It has a headquarters '' a glass building near Paveletsky railway station in Moscow '' and officials who would not look out of place in Brussels. Its member states have already lifted some internal customs barriers and harmonised others for the outside world. So much for the practical side, what analyst Nicu Popescu describes in an article for the European Union Institute of Security Studies as the ''real'' EEU, a trading alliance slated to guarantee free circulation of goods, services and assets, but not hydrocarbons.
The other Eurasian Union is ''imaginary'', the brainchild of Putin, first mentioned in October 2011. As he sees it, this organisation will be the equal of the EU and other major regional entities, a powerful bloc that will matter on the world stage. Its official formation is also intended to show the world that Russia has fully recovered, while crowning Putin's efforts to pull together the states making up the post-Soviet sphere of influence. Those who deride the scheme see it as an attempt to restore the empire.
This dream foundered last November in Kiev, when the Maidan protests started. They carried away President Viktor Yanukovych, guilty in the eyes of the demonstrators of refusing an association agreement with the EU. Ukraine, with its population of 45 million, was supposed to play a key role in the EEU, on account of its economic clout and the place it occupies in the Russian imagination and worldview. ''Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire,'' the former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in The Grand Chessboard, in 1997.
Ukraine had to be punished, for wanting to move closer to Europe but also for refusing to join the EEU, after Yanukovych's demise. Moscow started by restricting trade with its neighbour, then annexed part of its territory (Crimea) and finally fomented war in its eastern extremity. Russia has also put pressure on Moldova and Georgia, both of which have so far shunned the EEU.
expandRussian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Both Belarus and Kazakhstan demanded subsidies in the form of gas or cash to join the EEU.Photograph: Dmitry Astakhov/APBelarus and Kazakhstan have often voiced their concern at the treatment meted out to Ukraine. They have worked to limit the political weight of the Union too. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev lobbied hard to get the word ''economic'' in the title and both states demanded a high price '' gas or cash '' for joining.
Although Putin is determined to push the EEU perimeter as far as possible, it is not yet clear what real economic benefit countries will gain from membership. Apart from Belarus and Uzbekistan, all former Soviet states have stronger commercial links with either the EU or China than with Russia.
Since the first customs measures were introduced in 2010, only Belarus has benefited. Enlargement to include poorer states such as Armenia, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan would make the balance of the EEU even more precarious.
But what counts for Putin is the image of Russia restored and the bolstered notion of a president embodying a conservative bulwark against western decadence. As Popescu puts it, the Russian president is prepared ''to spend a few billion a year on a foreign policy project that, in his opinion, brings geopolitical benefits to his country, as well as domestic political benefits''.
So who else may join? Armenia, which has Russian troops on the ground and is counting on Moscow's support in its conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, has announced plans to join shortly. The president of Kyrgyzstan, tipped to be next on the list, has displayed only lukewarm enthusiasm, a stance he made clear in December 2013: ''Ukraine has a choice, but unfortunately we don't have much of an alternative.''
Moscow's bear hug inspires fear and it has little in the way of soft power or other attractions to compensate. At an institutional level the EEU resembles the EU, but its workings are likely to be much more top-down, hinging on the power and domination of Moscow. ''There is no concept of building a community in the EEU,'' says Thomas Gomart, an analyst at France's International Relations Institute, ''but given trends in the EU, the Russians think their model is more viable.''
Members: Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus
Prospective member: Armenia
Possible members: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
Wooed: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan
Population: 173 million (Russia, including Crimea, 146 million; Kazakhstan, 17 million; Belarus, 10 million)
Total GDP: $2.4 trillion
Share of world gas reserves: 20%
Share of world oil reserves: 15%
This article appeared inGuardian Weekly, which incorporates material from Le Monde
Eurasian Economic Union - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:31
The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), also known as the Eurasian Union (EAU), is a political and economic union of 5 member states located primarily in northern Eurasia. It was established by a treaty signed on 29 May 2014 between the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. A treaty to enlarge the EEU to Armenia was signed on 9 October 2014.Kyrgyzstan signed a roadmap for its accession and a treaty to include the country into the union is to be signed on 23 December 2014. The Union will officially go into effect on 1 January 2015.
The Eurasian Economic Union would create a single economic market of 171 million people and a gross domestic product of 3 trillion U.S. dollars. The EEU is often called the Eurasian Union, although its treaties focus mainly on economic integration. The union operates through supranational and intergovernmental institutions. The supranational institutions are the Eurasian Commission (the executive body), the Court of the EEU (the judicial body) and the Eurasian Development Bank. National governments are usually represented by Eurasian Commission's Council.
The EEU traces its origins from the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Eurasian Economic Community formed in 1991 and 2000 respectively. In 1994, President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, first suggested the idea of creating a regional trading bloc during a speech at Moscow State University. Numerous treaties were subsequently signed to establish the trading bloc gradually. Many politicians, philosophers and political scientists have since called for further integration towards a political, military and cultural union. However, modern-day Kazakhstan has insisted the union stay purely economic as it seeks to keep its independence and sovereignty intact.
HistoryProposalAfter the end of the Cold War and the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia and the Central Asian republics were weakened economically and faced declines in GDP growth. Post-Soviet states underwent economic reforms and privatization. The process of Eurasian integration began immediately after the break-up of the Soviet Union to salvage economic ties with Post-Soviet states through the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States on 8 December 1991 by the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.
In 1994, during a speech at Moscow State UniversityPresident of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, suggested the idea of creating a regional trading bloc in order to connect and profit from the growing economies of Europe and East Asia. The idea was quickly seen as a way to bolster trade, boost investments in the region, and serve as a counterweight to Western integration unions.
Founding Treaties (1990s)During the 1990s, the Eurasian integration process was slow, possibly due to the economic crisis experienced after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the size of the countries involved (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan cover an area of about 20 million km2). As a result, numerous treaties have been signed by member states to establish the regional trading bloc gradually.
In 1995, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and later acceding states Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan signed the first agreements on the establishment of a Customs Union. Its purpose was to gradually lead the way toward the creation of open borders without passport controls between member states.
In 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan signed the Treaty on Increased Integration in the Economic and Humanitarian Fields to begin economic integration between countries to allow for the creation of common markets for goods, services, capitals, labor, and developing single transport, energy, and information systems.
In 1999, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan signed the Treaty on the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space by clarifying the goals and policies the states would undertake in order to form the Eurasian Customs Union and the Single Economic Space.
To promote further economic convergence and more cooperation, in 2000 Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan established the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) which Uzbekistan joined in 2006. The treaty established a common market for its member states. The Eurasian Economic Community was modeled on the European Economic Community. The two had a comparable population size of 171 million and 169 million, respectively. 2003 saw the second Treaty on the Single Economic Space by Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia where the groundwork was laid to continue the integration process towards the creation of a broader, integrated single market. Efforts by these countries were also increased in 2006 to further the creation of the Eurasian Customs Union.
Customs Union and Single market (2010 - 2012)The Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia came into existence on January 1, 2010. The Customs Union's priorities were the elimination of intra-bloc tariffs, establishing a common external tariff policy and the elimination of non-tariff barriers. It was launched as a first step towards forming a broader single market inspired by the European Union, though not aiming at a political integration (thus, more similar to UNASUR, NAFTA or ASEAN), with the objective of forming an alliance between former Soviet states. The member states planned to continue with economic integration and were set to remove all customs borders between each other after July 2011.
In 2011, the then-Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, announced his support for Nursultan Nazarbayev's idea for the creation of a Eurasian Economic Union. On 18 November 2011, the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia signed an agreement, setting a target of establishing the Eurasian Economic Union by 2015. The member states put together a joint commission on fostering closer economic ties.
On 1 January 2012, the three states established the Single Economic Space which ensures the effective functioning of a single market for goods, services, capital and labor, and to establish coherent industrial, transport, energy and agricultural policies. The agreement included a roadmap for future integration and established the Eurasian Economic Commission (modeled on the European Commission). The Eurasian Economic Commission serves as the regulatory agency for the Eurasian Customs Union, the Single Economic Space and the Eurasian Economic Union.
Eurasian Economic UnionThe signing ceremony of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 29 May 2014)On 29 May 2014, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia signed the treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, which comes into effect on 1 January 2015. The presidents of Armenia and Kyrgyzstan were also present at the signing ceremony. Russian president Vladimir Putin stated, "Today we have created a powerful, attractive center of economic development, a big regional market that unites more than 170 million people." Kazakh politicians emphasized the Eurasian Economic Union was not intended to be a political bloc, but a purely economic union. Bakytzhan Sagintayev, the first deputy prime minister of Kazakhstan and lead negotiator, said, "We are not creating a political organization; we are forming a purely economic union." He further stated "it is a pragmatic means to get benefits. We don't meddle into what Russia is doing politically, and they cannot tell us what foreign policy to pursue." By October, the treaty had received parliamentary approval from all three states. On 9 October 2014, a treaty to enlarge the EEU to Armenia was signed. Kyrgyzstan signed a roadmap for its accession and plans to sign a treaty on 23 December 2014 which will make it a full member of the Eurasian Union.
Structural evolutionTreaties and development stages of Eurasian Economic UnionSignedDocument1995Treaty on the Customs Union betweenBelarus and RussiaTreaty on the Customs Union betweenKazakhstan and Russia
1996Agreement on Increased Integration in the Economic and Humanitarian FieldsBelarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan1999Treaty on the Customs Union and the Single Economic SpaceBelarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan(Agreement to complete the formation of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space)
2000Treaty on the establishment the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC)Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan2003Treaty on forming the Single Economic SpaceBelarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine2007Treaty on the Commission of the Customs UnionBelarus, Kazakhstan, RussiaTreaty on the Establishment of the Integrated Customs Territory and Ðreation of the Customs UnionBelarus, Kazakhstan, Russia
2010Establishment of the Customs UnionBelarus, Kazakhstan, Russia2011Treaty on the Eurasian Economic CommissionBelarus, Kazakhstan, RussiaThe decision of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on the entry of international agreements into force forming the legal base of the Customs Union and Single Economic SpaceBelarus, Kazakhstan, Russia
Declaration on Eurasian Economic IntegrationBelarus, Kazakhstan, Russia
2012Establishment of the Single Economic SpaceBelarus, Kazakhstan, RussiaEurasian Economic Commission started functioning
2015Establishment of the Eurasian Economic UnionThe agreement on the Eurasian Economic Union
GeographyThe Eurasian Economic Union is located at the eastern end of Europe, bounded by the Arctic in the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east and East Asia, the Middle East and part of Central Asia to the south. It lies between latitudes 39° and 82°N and longitudes 19°E and 169°W. The union extends across much of northern Eurasia. Its member states cover an area of over 20,000,000 square kilometers, approximately 15% of the world's land surface.
The Eastern European Plain encompasses Belarus and most of European Russia. The plain is mostly mountain-free and comprises several plateaus. Russia's northernmost regions are tundra. The Russian Tundra is located on the coastline with the Arctic and is known for its total darkness in the winter. Taiga reaches Russia's southern borders in Siberia and accounts for 60% of the country. Towards the Ural Mountains and in northern Kazakhstan, the climate is mostly temperate. South-West Russia and Kazakhstan are mostly steppe. The Kazakh steppe covers one-third of Kazakhstan and is the world's largest dry steppe region. Armenia is mostly mountainous and its climate is continental. The landlocked country shares no direct border with other members states. It is located in the Caucasus region in the Armenian Highlands.
A large amount of lakes and rivers are found in the Eurasian Economic Union. Major lakes include Ladoga and Onega, two of the largest lakes in Europe. The largest and most prominent of the union's bodies of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the world's deepest, purest, oldest and most capacious fresh water lake. The Baikal lake alone contains over one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water. Russia is second only to Brazil in volume of the total renewable water resources. Of the union's numerous rivers, the Volga is the most famous, not only because it is the longest in Europe, but also because of its major role in history. In Siberia the Ob, Yenisey, Lena and Amur are among the longest rivers in the world.
The Eurasian Economic Union's highest peak is the Khan Tengri in the Tian Shan mountains, Kazakhstan, 7,010 m above sea level. The lowest point in the Eurasian Economic Union is the Karagiye Depression in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan's Caspian shore includes some of the lowest elevations on Earth. According to a 2005 estimate by the United Nations, forests cover 40% of Belarus. 11,000 lakes and many water streams are found in the country. Russia is known for its extensive mineral and energy resources, the largest reserves in the world, making it the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas.
According to estimates, the Eurasian Economic Union's population of 170,000,000 people is mostly urbanized, with Russia and Belarus having over 70% of their population living in urban areas. In Armenia over 64% of the population lives in urban areas. Kazakhstan's urban population comprises 54% of the country's total population.
Member states Members of the Eurasian Union
Other candidate states
The treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Union was formally signed by three states which were part of the former Soviet Union: Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. An agreement to enlarge the EEU to Armenia was later signed, with Kyrgyzstan planning to sign an accession agreement on December 23.
Armenia announced its decision to join the Eurasian Customs Union in September 2013. PresidentSerj Sargsyan announced the decision after talks with his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The treaty enlarging the EEU to Armenia was signed on October 9, 2014. Armenia is the only country of the EEU that has no common border with the other member states of the union. Georgia guaranteed a free transit corridor for exporting its goods to the Eurasian Economic Union, Armenian deputy economy minister Emil Tarasyan said.
EnlargementRussian PresidentVladimir Putin has stated that his goal was to enlarge the Customs Union to all Post-Soviet states, excluding the three BalticEU member states. According to The Guardian newspaper, Putin's plan is for the Eurasian Union to grow into a "powerful, supra-national union" of sovereign states like the European Union, uniting economies, legal systems, customs services, and military capabilities to form a bridge between Europe and Asia and rival the EU, the US, China, and India by 2015.
Tajikistan is interested in joining. It is recognized as potential candidate and membership negotiations are ongoing.
Several candidates in Kyrgyzstan's 2011 presidential election endorsed the concept. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov announced on August 11, 2014 that Russia would provide USD$500 million to speed up Kyrgyzstan's integration into the Eurasian Economic Union.
It took Europe 40 years to move from the European Coal and Steel Community to the full European Union. The establishment of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space is proceeding at a much faster pace because we could draw on the experience of the EU and other regional associations. We see their strengths and weaknesses. And this is our obvious advantage since it means we are in a position to avoid mistakes and unnecessary bureaucratic superstructures.
'-- Vladimir Putin, "A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making", Izvestia, 3 October 2011Uzbekistan remains hesitant to join the Economic Union, with Uzbek officials making opposing claims on the prospect of integration. The country prefers not to pursue economic and political integration as of now. Russian officials have stated that integration with the country would be slow and analysts state that as Russian influence and trade increases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan it may persuade Uzbekistan to join in the future.
Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia have been offered by both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union to join their integration unions. All three countries opted for the European Union by signing association agreements on March 21, 2014. However break-away regions of Moldova (Transnistria), Ukraine (Republic of Donetsk) and Georgia (South Ossetia and Abkhazia) have expressed a desire to join the Eurasian Customs Union and integrate into the Eurasian Economic Union.
Ukraine submitted an application to participate in the Eurasian Economic Union as an observer in August 2013. Russian pressure for Ukraine to join the Eurasian Economic Union instead of the European Union was a key factor in the Euromaidan protests that ended Viktor Yanukovych's rule as president of Ukraine and led to the Crimean Crisis. Its membership was seen by some analysts as the key to the success of the union as Ukraine has the second largest economy of any of the 15 former republics of the Soviet Union. With high tensions between Russia and Ukraine in the wake of the crisis, Ukraine decided to pursue integration with the EU.
Georgia's Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said in September 2013 he was studying the possibility of acceding to the Union, although he later clarified that Georgia's main strategy was still to integrate into the European Union. Russia's Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev included Georgia as a prospective member in statements made in August 2013.
Politics and governanceThe Eurasian Economic Union has sought to base its model on the European Union.
Important decisions for the Eurasian Economic Union are addressed by the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, which is composed of the Heads of State of the Member States. The Supreme Council determines the strategy, direction and prospects of integration and takes decisions aimed at achieving the goals of the union.
The Eurasian Economic Commission carries out its work in compliance with the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and the international agreements that provide the legal and regulatory framework of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space.
Eurasian Economic CommissionThe agreement signed by Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarus' president Alexander Lukashenko established the Eurasian Commission, the supranational governing body of the Eurasian Economic Space, which started work on 1 January 2012. The Eurasian Commission was modeled on the European Commission. Its headquarters are in Moscow. The commission monitors subordinate branches and advisory bodies. In 2015, its departments will be greatly expanded, and the number of international employees will increase from 150 to 1,200.
The Eurasian Commission can take decisions on not only the customs policy of the union but also on the macro-economy, the competition regulations, the energy policy and the fiscal policy of the Eurasian Economic Union. It has strict anti-corruption laws.
The Eurasian Economic Commission consists of two bodies:
CouncilThe council is composed of the Vice Prime Ministers of the member states. The council of the Commission oversees the integration processes in the Union, and is responsible for the overall management of the Eurasian Commission. It monitors the commission by approving the draft budget of the union, the maximum number of personnel, and the qualification requirements for the commission's employees. The council convenes once every quarter.
It also considers issues of customs cooperation, trade and development of Eurasian integration. The council regularly holds discussions on the important aspects of the EEU and meets with business representatives of the Member States.
BoardThe board is composed of 9 commissioners, one of which is the Chairman of the board. Each member state provides 3 commissioners to the Board of the Eurasian Commission who carry out the operational management and oversee the everyday work of the Eurasian Commission. All 9 commissioners are appointed by the Supreme Eurasian Council for a four year renewable term. The commissioners also receive the status of federal ministers in their respective countries.
The board of the Commission is the executive body of the Commission. It convenes once every week at least, and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Eurasian Economic Union. It has a wide range of activities, including monitoring the implementation of treaties, submitting annual progress reports and making recommendations. The board of the commission also assists member states in the settlement of disputes, and carries out the draft of the union's budget. Part of its activities include being the intermediary between the departments of the commission and the heads of state of the member states.
A number of departments are headed by the commissioners. The lower rank staff is composed of 84% Russian officials, 10% Kazakhs and 6% Belarusians, proportional to the populations of the member states. The departments enable the Board of the Eurasian Commission is eligible to make decisions not only with regard to customs policies but in such areas as macroeconomics, regulation of economic competition, energy policy and financial policy. The Commission departments are also involved in government procurement and labor migration control.
BudgetThe expenses of the infrastructure and accommodation of commission workers are financed by Russia, while in general the commission budget is financed by all three countries and dependent on taxation shares received from the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.
Eurasian Development BankIts mission is to facilitate the development of market economies, economic growth and the expansion of trade its member states through investments. The bank's objectives also include financing projects that support Eurasian integration.
The Bank has provided financing totaling more than US $4,5 billion to investment projects in its member states.
The Chairman of the Management Board is elected for four years and may be re-elected for only one additional term of office.
The Eurasian Development Bank releases numerous journals, reports and studies which include the analysis of regional economic integration, namely market integration and economic convergence. The first aspect is evaluated on the basis of six indices that measure integration in the fields of trade, labour migration, electrical power engineering, agriculture, education and investments. The second aspect is evaluated on regional integration in the fields of macroeconomics, monetary policy, fiscal policy and financial policy. It then oversees and promotes projects to deepen integration in post-soviet states. The Eurasian Integration Yearbook, a yearly publication, highlights and publishes papers on a wide spectrum of key regional integration issues.
Eurasian Inter-Parliamentary AssemblyIn 2012, the creation of a Eurasian parliament was under consideration. However, it was considered too premature, and member states have instead considered creating an Inter-Parliamentary Assembly for the Eurasian Economic Union whose role is to facilitate interaction between the parliaments of the member states and work on harmonization of national laws and legal codes of the member states.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has upheld the idea of creating a parliament for the union.
Court of the Eurasian Economic UnionIn 2015, the new court will replace the Court of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC Court). It will be in charge of dispute resolution and the interpretation of the legal order within the Eurasian Economic Union. Its headquarters will be in Minsk. According to the second annex to the treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, the court is composed of two judges from each member state, appointed by the Supreme Eurasian Council. Their term of office is 9 years.
EconomyFormation and overviewThe Treaty on Increased integration in the Economic and Humanitarian Fields signed in 1996 laid the first foundation for economic convergence. The treaty ensured the creation of a permanent executive organ to oversee integration. It served as the blueprint for the future common market for goods, services, capital and labor. The treaty provided the basic framework for the Single Economic Space, which came into existence in 2012. The Single Economic Space established a single market across the territory of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. The three countries represent a market of some 171 million people and a combined GDP of around $2.3 trillion.
Russia has the 8th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the 6th largest by purchasing power parity. Since the turn of the century, member states have experienced economic growth with GDP averaging 6% to 8% growth between 2000 and 2007, rising again in 2010 after the Financial crisis of 2007''08. Since the establishment of the Eurasian Customs Union in 2010, trade between member states rose sharply. In 2011 mutual trade was USD 63.1 billion, 33.9% more than in 2010. In 2012, mutual trade was USD 67.9 billion and combined exports reached USD 593.7 billion, while imports were USD 340.9 billion. The first integration stage primarily enhanced trade among member states, bolstered economies and created a legal and institutional foundation for the member states. The second stage includes the free movements of goods, people, services and capital.
The Eurasian Economic Union is designed to reach a number of macroeconomic objectives such as reducing commodity prices by reducing the cost of transportation of raw materials, increasing return on new technologies and products due to the increased market volume, and promoting "healthy" competition in the common market. It is also designed to lower food prices, increase employment in industries and increase production capacity.
The Eurasian Union is considered as a major player in the world's energy sector, raw materials, arms industry and agricultural production. In 2013 Russia was the 3rd most successful country in the world in attracting capital from abroad. The significant potential for developing infrastructure has led the member states and its partners to create links by constructing roads, railways, electric power grids and fibre-optic cables.
Internal marketThe core objective of the Single Economic Space was the development of a single market and achieving the "four freedoms". The free movements of goods, capital, services and people within the single market comes into effect on January 1, 2015 (the day the Eurasian Economic Union is established). The free movement of people means that citizens can move freely between member states to live, work, study or retire in another country. Citizens of the member states of the union may travel to other member states on an internal passport. Although Russia also admits access to citizens of other CIS states without a passport, it is expected that after 2015 only citizens of the Customs Union will have this privilege. Member states have a common external tariff on all goods entering the market and unified methods of valuing imported goods since the creation of the Eurasian Customs Union on January 1, 2010. Objectives include joint coordination in the area of energy, industry, agriculture and transport.
Roughly 75% of Belarusian goods are exported, about half of which go to other member states. Trade within the union primarily consists of Belarusian machinery and agricultural products which are exported to Russia. Low gas prices from Russian energy producers are guaranteed to member states or countries wishing to join the union.
CompetitionThe Eurasian Economic Commission operates a competition policy to ensure equal competitive conditions in the commodity markets of the Single Economic Space. It also aims at harmonization and improvement of legislation of each of the three countries in regard to competition policy. The commission serves as the competition regulator for the single market and is also responsible of antitrust issues. Special regulations limits state intervention in the economy.
Monetary unionThe increased use of the national currencies of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and the creation of a single payment system can raise about a transition to a single currency for the union.
'-- Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Director of Financial Policy Department of the Eurasian Economic Commission, August 3, 2014The idea of the new joint currency was proposed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. When discussing the Eurasian Economic Union, Vladimir Putin said the Eurasian Economic Union would include closer coordination of economic and monetary policy, including the use of a common currency in the future. Although the creation of a monetary union was not envisaged in the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, called for the introduction of a common currency for the Eurasian Economic Union. Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma's CIS committee backed Medvedev's proposal to start discussions on the creation of a monetary union. Slutsky said it could be introduced shortly after 2015, when the union's structure becomes clear. Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, circulated the idea of creating a "new euro" for the Eurasian economic bloc. In April 2014, discussions to introduce a single currency resumed.
Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, stated on 24 July 2014 that the Eurasian Economic Union will have a common currency unit in a span of five to ten years.
EnergyThe Eurasian Economic Union is seen as an energy superpower, producing about 20.7% of the world's natural gas, and 14.6% of the world's oil and gas condensate in 2012, making it the world's top producer in both domains. It also produces 9% of the world's electrical energy and 5.9% of the world's coal, making it the third and fourth producer in the world respectively. In Kazakhstan, energy is the leading economic sector. The country holds about 4 billion tons of proven recoverable oil reserves and 2,000 cubic kilometers (480 cu mi) of gas. Kazakhstan is the world's 17th oil exporter and the world's 23rd natural gas exporter. Russia has the world's largest natural gas reserves, the 8th largest oil reserves, and the second largest coal reserves.
Russia is the world's leading natural gas exporter and second largest natural gas producer, while also the largest oil exporter and the largest oil producer.
By 2019, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia intend to create a common electricity market as well as a single hydrocarbons market by 2025. "With the creation of a single hydrocarbons market, we will have a deeper coordination that will allow us to be more competitive both in terms of pricing and in terms of getting high value added products in this very interesting and important market" stated Eurasian Commissioner Akhmetov.
InfrastructureThe major economic centers are Moscow, Minsk and Astana. The distance between Moscow and Minsk is 717 kilometers, and the distance between Moscow and Astana is 2700 kilometers, making infrastructure a key challenge for the integration of member states. Major infrastructure projects began during the 2000s in order to modernize and connect the regional bloc to other markets, facilitating both integration and trade in the region. In 2007 Moscow announced it will invest 1 trillion USD by 2020 to modernize the country's infrastructure.
Kazakhstan ranks favorably in terms of miles of road per inhabitant as other developed countries in the world have much less roadway per inhabitant.
Railways have been the primary way of linking countries in the Eurasian Economic Union since the 19th century. It has always been the main way of transport in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union up until today. The union ranks 2nd in the world in terms of railway trackage (about 7.8% of the world's share), however it is still looking to improve cross-border trade within the union.
The Eurasian Development Bank has pledged to help in the construction of facilities to produce new generation freights cars and freight containers in Tikhvin, Russia and in Osipovichi, Belarus to respond to the increasing demand for rail transport. Projects have also been launched in Kazakhstan, as the landlocked country is highly dependent on railways for trade.
The most renowned railway in the union is the Trans-Siberian Railway, which links the Russian Far East to Moscow. The Southern route also travels via Kazakhstan.
The Trans-Asian Railway and the Asian Highway Network are cooperative projects among countries in Asia and Europe which have helped to improve highway and railway systems across the region. 6 of the 8 major Asian highways go through the Eurasian Economic Union (the AH3, AH4, AH5, AH6, AH7 and the AH8). The highways connect the EEU to many countries including Finland, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Laos, Thailand, Burma and China. AH6 goes through Russia's Trans-Siberian Highway which is over 11,000 kilometers long. The Trans-Siberian Highway is one of the longest national highways in the world along with the Trans-Canada Highway and Australia's Highway 1.
A major railway, known as the Eurasian Land Bridge allows goods to be transported from China and the EEU to Europe. An expansion of the original railway line named the New Eurasian Land Bridge provides an uninterrupted rail link between China and the EEU. Talks with China, India and Burma are ongoing to expand the railway network. In June 2014, it was announced that Russia, North Korea and South Korea would cooperate to expand the Eurasian Land Bridge to connect the peninsula. Advantages of exporting products by rail through the EEU are reduced shipping times and reduced costs. The railways also have the potential for expansion, with the future creation of high-speed railway lines being considered.
Single Eurasian SkyThe Single Eurasian Sky program, administered by the Eurasian Economic Commission, outlines the creation of a single market for air services and a single air traffic zone.The single air traffic zone would make it easier for airlines to draw up new flight paths, thereby increasing the number of flights flying through the region. Eurasian Commissioner, Daniyal Akhmetov, said that it would be created on a step-by-step basis. In June 2014, Belarusian Airline Belavia stated that it was ready to move towards the development of the single Eurasian sky. The terms and conditions of operation in the common aviation market have not yet to been agreed on. However the project is likely to be modeled on the European Union's Single European Sky. The project will reportedly help turn the airspace of the Eurasian Union into a popular transit hub between Europe and Southeast Asia. "We should understand that currently, the aviation companies of Kazakhstan and Belarus are not able to compete with Russia's aviation companies. Therefore, the program will envisage a phasing, creating a competitive environment and so on" Eurasian Commissioner Akhmetov said.
AgricultureThe Eurasian Economic Union is the top producer of sugar beet and sunflower, producing 18.6% of the world's sugar beet and 22.7% of the world's sunflowers in 2012, as well as a top producer of rye, barley, buckwheat, oats and sunflower seed. It is also a large producer of potatoes, wheat and grain (and grain legumes).
Part of the competences of the Eurasian Economic Commission are agriculture subsidies. It is responsible for the coordination of agricultural policy-making between member states and ensuring collective food security. The Eurasian Development Bank finances projects to further integration and develop agriculture. It has disbursed approximately US$470 million for projects between 2008 and 2013.
Projected economic impactMember states remain optimistic of the union and key partners in the region, China, Iran, Turkey remain interested in it. Belief is that the Eurasian Economic Union has significant potential over the next two decades, with experts predicting a 25 percent growth in the member states' GDP by 2030, which equates to over US$600bn. The agreement will give member state citizens access to employment and education across the union. It will also entail collaborative policies in many sectors including agriculture, energy, technology and transportation. These collaborative policies are particularly interesting for countries in Asia seeking access to energy, trade routes in central Asia and Siberia, and agricultural goods.
Former president Dmitry Medvedev of Russia stated that both the positive and negative experiences of the European Union will be taken into account and argued that the Eurasian Union will avoid the problems of economic gaps and disparity between countries, such as found in the eurozone, since the member countries have a comparable level of economic development, as well as common history and values.
The European Union and the United States as well as other western countries remain critical of the Eurasian Economic Union, with analysts stating that without modernization and real economic reforms, the union will have little impact. The popular magazine The Economist stated that the advantages of joining the union remain unclear and further remarked "The agreement was vague, with technical details left unresolved, making it a political show rather than an economic one". Outlets have also stated that without Ukraine, the Eurasian Economic Union has lost a key member state necessary to the success of the union. Bloomberg's business magazine, Businessweek has affirmed that joining Putin's Eurasian Union looks like a bad deal, including for Russia. The union "won't really register on the radar of the global economy," said an analyst at the EU's Institute for Security Studies in Paris.
Vladimir Putin stated in November 2011 that the Eurasian Economic Union would build upon the "best values of the Soviet Union"; however, critics claimed that the drive towards integration aims to restore the "Soviet Empire".
Free trade agreementsRussia's economic development minister stated that the Turkish economic minister, Nihat Zeybekci, put forward an initiative for closer cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union, including the formation of a free trade zone between the union and Turkey.
Vietnamese PresidentTruong Tan Sang stated in July 2012 that Vietnam may join the Customs Union: "if there is a political will from our country's authorities, as well as Belarusian and Kazakh partners, we will soon be able to start this process". The Customs Union completed a free trade agreement (FTA) feasibility study for Vietnam in November 2012 and Russian Prime MinisterDmitry Medvedev stated in November 2012 that negotiations over the FTA will begin in early 2013. Vietnamese officials estimated in September 2012 that negotiations could take two years. Trade between Vietnam and the Customs Union in 2011 was 2.24 billion USD.
As announced by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich on 9 December 2013, Israel is considering signing a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union Customs Union.
Russian PresidentVladimir Putin stated at a July 2014 meeting of ambassadors and permanent representatives of the Russian Federation that he was ready to discuss a free trade area between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union.
Pivot to AsiaRussiaThe European Council of Foreign Relations and analysts suggest the Eurasian Union includes strategic interests as well as economic interests for its member states, especially Russia. Some experts see the union as a way to curtail the loss of Russian influence in Central Asia. Russian politicians have voiced their concerns over Russia's long southern borders and the challenges it may pose. By creating a regional trading bloc to keep its neighbors in Central Asia stable, Russia hopes to find securing its own borders easier. In order to link both Europe and East Asia, Russia also seeks to develop its eastern regions to increase its access to Asian markets. Russia's Far East has gained even more importance due to its proximity to alternative markets since the European Union and United States imposed sanctions on Russia following the crisis in Ukraine.
China's rise as a major trading partner has been cited as a potential reason for Russia's loss of control over Central Asian economies. The union is seen as a way to counterbalance China's growing trade in Central Asia and the European Union's Eastern Partnership.
As the trading bloc seeks to profit from the growing economies of East Asia, Russia has made steps to develop its eastern territories (Siberia and the Russian Far East). However the development of the Russian Far East may face difficulties due to Russia's traditional orientation towards Europe and the region's backward infrastructure and underdeveloped economy. In 2012 Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Russia to ''catch the Chinese wind in the sails of the Russian economy''. During the same year, a Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East was established and the country hosted a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in its eastern city of Vladivostok. The country also began striking deals and undertook massive efforts to improve infrastructure in its eastern territories. Russia's pivot to Asia included the important task of creating of a Eurasian trading bloc. The countries seek to increase their competitiveness by sustaining domestic development and defending their interests in the region.
An estimated 76% of Russia's exports depend on resources extracted (or manufactured) in Siberia. In order to transport goods from East Asia to Europe, they must be transported through Siberia by rail. Hence, the region plays an important role in trade, however it remains less developed than Russia's western regions and modernization plans are ongoing. In 2013 the Russian government announced it would spend 450 billion roubles (USD$14 billion) for the modernization of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Trans-Siberian railway the country's ''strategically vital transport artery''. In July 2013 he stated ''Rail freight traffic to our Far East ports has increased by 55 percent over the last 5 years and now comes to around 110 million tons a year''. Projects to upgrade stations at the border with Mongolia, China and North Korea were also undertaken the same year.
KazakhstanNeighboring country Kazakhstan has replicated Russia's attempt to access East Asian markets. On September 2013, the presidents of China and Kazakhstan signed commercial deals and launched China's ''New Silk Road''. On 20 May 2014, both presidents announced they would link Kazakhstan's railways to the Pacific Ocean by opening a new terminal in the Chinese port city of Lianyungang. China also signed agreements to make further investments in Kazakhstan's energy sector. Both countries announced they would put aside US$1 billion to modernise an oil refinery in Shymkent and a further USD$150 million to open a new oil and gas plant near Almaty. The president of Kazakhstan also held talks with the heads of Chinese corporations and agreed to cooperate in the areas of aircraft production, telecommunication and mining.
The members of the union agreed to step up talks with Vietnam on creating a free trade zone, to strengthen cooperation with China, including in information exchange on goods and services, and to set up expert groups to develop preferential trade regimes with Israel and India.
DemographicsThe combined population of all member states was forecast to be 171,116,970 in 2014.
RankMember statePop.MoscowSaint Petersburg1MoscowRussia11,514,300MinskAlmaty2Saint PetersburgRussia5,227,5673MinskBelarus1,834,2004AlmatyKazakhstan1,507,7375NovosibirskRussia1,473,7376YekaterinburgRussia1,350,1367Nizhny NovgorodRussia1,250,2528SamaraRussia1,164,9009OmskRussia1,153,97110KazanRussia1,143,600The Eurasian Economic Union has 17 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, the largest being Moscow. The most densely populated areas are the capital cities of member states, and European Russia. Siberia is the region with the least inhabitants. In Russia about 160 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples live within its borders.Kazakhstan and Belarus are home to sizable ethnic Russian minorities. Though the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union's populations are comparatively large, its density is low because of the enormous size of Russia and Kazakhstan. The Eurasian Economic Union's average birth rate in 2010 was roughly 12.5 births per 1000 people, higher than the European Union, which has an average of 9.90 births per 1000 people.
Foreign affairsThe Eurasian Economic Union mainly uses its arms Industry,raw materials, gas and oil reserves, and railways as its key assets for trade with foreign countries.
Economic partnersThe Eurasian Economic Union must negotiate as a whole to sign free trade agreements with other countries. Key players for the Eurasian Economic Union are the European Union, Turkey, Iran, China and the Korean peninsula. The EEU has sought to increase its trade with partners in the Middle East and East Asia, in order to profit from the growing trade between Europe and Asia.
Tensions with the European Union in 2014 have increased both unions to pressure post-soviet states to join their integration unions. Both sides have accused the other of carving spheres of influence. Members of the union, especially Russia have tried to diversify their trade by signing economic agreements with China,Iran and Turkey. Trade with North and South Korea has also risen.
A rising China has been increasingly interested in Central Asia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Analysts see the union as a potential way China could facilitate its investments in the region. Historically, China held close economic ties with many countries throughout Eurasia. Under the Han Dynasty, its trade routes extended to the Roman Empire. The Economy of the Han Dynasty and other subsequent dynasties exchanged numerous goods with countries throughout Europe and Asia. Both China and the union have stated they would benefit from recreating trade routes modeled on the historic Silk Road.
Railways transport goods from China to the European Union through Kazakhstan and Russia. The country has pushed for the construction of more railway lines to connect Berlin to east China to reduce shipping time. It proposed major high-speed railway lines going towards Europe via Russia and Kazakhstan and another through the Middle East via Tajikistan, a potential future member for the union.China has signed numerous energy deals with Russia and Kazakhstan, as it tries to move from coal to less pollutant alternatives.
Iran has sought to diversify its economy as well, seeing the EEU and China as key economic partners. Relations between Russia and Iran have increased as both countries are under U.S. sanctions and are seeking new trade partners. Both countries signed a historic US$20 billion energy deal.
Kazakhstan seeks to enhance its ties with Turkey, a key player in the region. In July 2014, Turkey announced closer economic ties with the EEU, including a possible free trade agreement in the near future.
Armenia and Nagorno-KarabakhIn September 2013 Armenia announced its intentions of joining the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. The region of Nagorno-Karabakh however is disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Tensions have risen in the Caucasus region on July 30, 2014 due to clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers.
Experts estimate that with an accession of Armenia, the internationally unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic would not be integrated into the Eurasian Union. Armenia is a permanent political, military and economic ally of Russia, whereas Azerbaijan holds close ties with the west. The Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev expressed concern in 2013 that no reliable customs border between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh could be drawn. However, Nazarbayev expressed that he holds all the existing disagreements preventing Armenia's integration into Eurasian Economic Union are surmountable. The Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee in the Armenian Parliament, Artak Zakarian, announced on 14 May 2014 that Armenia will build no customs border including the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and KyrgyzstanWhen Russia's Gazprom bought the gas network of neighboring country, Kyrgyzstan, pledging "a stable gas supply", Uzbekistan subsequently cut off its gas exports to Kyrgyzstan's south stating that it had no contracts to sell gas to Gazprom. The cut off happened as Uzbek president, Islam Karimov protested Russia's growing presence in the region. The shut-off has left hundreds of thousands in south Kyrgyzstan without gas. The president of Kyrgyzstan has since promised to build a new gas pipeline to the country's south, bypassing Uzbekistan. Negotiations to solve the crisis are ongoing. Nevertheless, Kyrgyzstan's president announced the country would pursue integration and continue on its path to join the Eurasian Economic Union.
Previously, Tajikistan was on track to become a potential member of the union, having signed the treaty on the Eurasian Customs Union and the Single Economic Space. However, due to border disputes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the integration process in Tajikistan country has stalled. Both countries exchanged fire in December 2013 and August 2014, resulting in casualties.
International responseThe emphasis of the Eurasian Union is on economic integration, but this extends into the political and even security realms. For instance, the use of a single currency and a bureaucracy to manage the economic space would by design translate into Russian domination.
'-- Wikileaks, Eurasian Union Proposal Key Aspect of Putin's Expected Presidency, 19 March 2013Tensions between the EEU and the European Union (EU) occurred as both have sought to deepen their ties with several former Soviet republics. The EU signed free trade agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, however separatists in all three countries back closer ties with Russia. Russia pressured Ukraine not to sign or ratify a free trade agreement with the EU, and supported separatists in Eastern Ukraine after their annexation of the Crimean peninsula. In response, some member states of the European Union have sought to find alternatives to Russian gas, while others have voiced their support for the construction of the South Stream pipeline which circumvents Ukraine. Analysts believe Russia backs the Eurasia Economic Union in order to limit western influence in the region.
Western analysts generally see the Eurasian Economic Union as a way to reunite many of the former Soviet republics. For example, Washington Post author Abigail Hauslohner wrote the treaty was intended "to further bolster [Russia]'s ties to former Soviet republics." The United States expressed its opposition to the Eurasian Union, claiming it is "an attempt" to re-establish a USSR-type union among the former Soviet republics. In December 2012, former Secretary of StateHillary Clinton claimed "It's not going to be called that [Soviet Union]. It's going to be called customs union, it will be called the Eurasian Union and all of that, but let's make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it".
Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev called it "a hard-won achievement," and "a blessing for our people." However, not all Kazakh citizens were happy about the agreement; dozens of people protesting the agreement were arrested in the nation's capital after it was signed.
India, Israel, New Zealand, Turkey, and Vietnam were among the countries that quickly expressed a desire to form trade agreements with the new Eurasian Economic Union after the treaty was signed.
Existing integration projectsEuler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational organisations in the Post-Soviet space.v ' d ' eThe Eurasian Economic Community customs union has already brought partial economic integration between the three states, and the Eurasian Economic Union is said to be a continuation of this customs union. However, the impact of that agreement is unclear '' trade between the three states actually fell 13% during the agreement's first year.
A number of other regional organisations also provide the basis for further integration: the Union State of Russia and Belarus; the Eurasian Economic Community of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan; the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan; and the Commonwealth of Independent States comprising most of the post-Soviet countries.
See alsoReferences^ ab"Countries by Area". http://nationsonline.org/. Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^"GDP, PPP (current international $)". http://data.worldbank.org/. Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^"Discussion of the draft EEU Treaty was the key topic of the EEC Council's regular session". eurasiancommission.org. Eurasian Economic Commission. 17 April 2014. ^ abcTasch, Barbara (May 29, 2014). "Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus Sign Treaty Creating Huge Economic Bloc". times.com. Time Magazine. Retrieved August 19, 2014. ^ abcdeDruzhinin, Aleksei (10 October 2014). "Armenia Joins Eurasian Economic Union". http://en.ria.ru/ (RIA Novosti). Retrieved 10 October 2014. Leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union signed an agreement on Friday on Armenia's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty. ^Klimentyev, Michael (9 October 2014). "Armenia Joining Eurasian Economic Union to Open New Perspectives for Economy: Ministry". http://en.ria.ru/ (RIA NOVOSTI). Retrieved 10 October 2014. 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Retrieved 31 August 2014. ^Babushkin, Alexey (13 November 2013). "Uzbek Official Pours Cold Water on Customs Union Membership". http://en.ria.ru/ (RIA NOVOSTI). Retrieved 31 August 2014. ^Schmidt, Simon (1 July 2014). "Uzbekistan prefers regime security over economic integration". www.opendemocracy.net (Open Democracy). Retrieved 31 August 2014. ^Torikian, Aren (21 August 2014). "Armenia and the EEU: A Social and Economic Assessment". http://www.armenianweekly.com/ (The Armenian Weekly). Retrieved 31 August 2014. Azerbaijan has also withdrawn any interest in the deal, as have Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. ^"EaEU: A Soviet Union substitute?". uznews.net (Uzbekistan News). 30 May 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014. The experts believe that Uzbekistan does not currently intend to blindly follow its former Soviet friends. ^B. Assanbayev, Mukhit (October 2013). 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TRAMES (Estonian Academy Publishers) (1): 12''13. Retrieved 4 September 2014. The Single Economic Space, which in the near future will be transformed into the Eurasian Union, has strategic aims as well as economic ones. Marlene Laruelle and Sebastien Peyrouse, both share this opinion about the diminution of Russia's influence on Central Asian countries. However, the Kremlin continues to conduct an active policy aimed at maintaining effective tools to influence the Central Asia region. ^Trenin, Dmitri V.; Malashenko, Alesksei V.; Lieven, Anatol (February 29, 2004). "4". Russia's Restless Frontier: The Chechnya Factor in Post-Soviet Russia. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. p. 120. Retrieved 4 September 2014. ^ abAlexander Gabuev (May 2014). Liik, Kadri, ed. "Russia's Pivot to Asia: The development of the Russian Far East". 35 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9JA, United Kingdom: European Council on Foreign Relations. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-910118-03-0. Retrieved 4 September 2014. This Asian vector of Russian domestic and foreign policy is now becoming even more important as the European Union and the United States impose sanctions on Russia. The Russian Far East, with its proximity to Asia, could become the new backbone of the Russian economy ^ abTimofei Bordachev (May 2014). Liik, Kadri, ed. "Russia's Pivot to Asia: Eurasian Russia in the twenty-first century". 35 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9JA, United Kingdom: European Council on Foreign Relations. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-910118-03-0. Retrieved 4 September 2014. In the first months of 2014 the work of the recently created Ministry for the Development of the Far East was significantly reinvigorated. Some governmental agencies were relocated from Moscow to Vladivostok and some major companies have been advised to follow with their main offices. But Russia's ''pivot'' is still held back by its backward infrastructure, its corruption, its underdeveloped economy, its demographic problems, and above all its archaic Eurocentric economic thinking. ^Vladimir, Putin (27 February 2012). "Russia and the changing world". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 4 September 2014. First of all, I am convinced that China's economic growth is by no means a threat, but a challenge that carries colossal potential for business cooperation - a chance to catch the Chinese wind in the sails of our economy. We should seek to more actively form new cooperative ties, combining the technological and productive capabilities of our two countries and tapping China's potential - judiciously, of course - in order to develop the economy of Siberia and the Russian Far East. ^Vladislav Inozemtsev (May 2014). Liik, Kadri, ed. "Russia's Pivot to Asia: Russia turns east: Eurasian integration, regional development, and the West as East". 35 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9JA, United Kingdom: European Council on Foreign Relations. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-910118-03-0. Retrieved 4 September 2014. He said the creation by 2015 of a Eurasian Economic Union was the most important task facing Russia in its ''near abroad''. ^Alexander Gabuev (May 2014). Liik, Kadri, ed. "Russia's Pivot to Asia: The development of the Russian Far East". 35 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9JA, United Kingdom: European Council on Foreign Relations. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-910118-03-0. Retrieved 4 September 2014. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in Vladivostok in September 2012 cost the state 680 billion roubles (over $22 billion) '' one-third of which came from the federal budget, with the rest put up by state companies such as Gazprom. In 2012 the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East was created and in 2013 long-time Putin ally Yury Trutnev was appointed to oversee the development of the region in the joint role of deputy prime minister and presidential envoy to the region. In 2013 the government also allocated 300 billion roubles ($10 billion)[...] ^Ernesto, Gallo (4 June 2014). "Kazakhstan's "Pivot to China"?". Policy Brief (The Institute for Security and Development Policy) (154). Retrieved 4 September 2014. ^Samofalova, Olga (2 June 2014). "Historic agreement makes Eurasian Union a reality". Russia Beyond the Headlines. Retrieved 4 September 2014. ^Cities with over 1 million populationRosstat^Cities with population between 500,000 and 1 millionRosstat^"Population census 2009". ^"Largest Cities of Eurasia in the last millenium". ^Ethnic groups in Russia, 2002 census, Demoscope Weekly. Retrieved 5 February 2009.^Top List TIV Tables-SIPRI. Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.^Richard M. Levine and Glenn J. Wallace. "The Mineral Industries of the Commonwealth of Independent States". 2005 Minerals Yearbook. U.S. Geological Survey (December 2007). This article incorporates text from this U.S. government source, which is in the public domain.^"Countries and regions: Russia". http://ec.europa.eu/. European Commission. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Russian raw materials companies in the lead". http://voiceofrussia.com. Voice of Russia. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Kazakhstan plans to become a logistics hub between Asia and Europe". http://www.railwaypro.com/. Railway Pro. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Strategy of Russian Railways". http://eng.rzd.ru/. Russian Railways. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^Jeanne, Park (14 March 2014). "The European Union's Eastern Partnership". COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS. Retrieved 19 August 2014. ^Bodner, Matthew (17 February 2014). "Lavrov Has Harsh Words for EU". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 19 August 2014. ^TOMLINSON, SIMON (21 May 2014). "China signs $400billion deal to prop up Russia's economy as it becomes isolated Vladimir Putin's new best friend". Retrieved 19 August 2014. ^LeVine, Steve (14 January 2014). "Why Russia might be crazy enough to buy Iranian oil and undermine nuclear talks". QUARTZ. Retrieved 19 August 2014. ^Kotsev, Victor (19 May 2014). "As EU Looks For Alternatives To Russian Gas, Turkey Vacillates Between East And West". International Business Times (IBTIMES). Retrieved 19 August 2014. ^"President of Russian Railways attends opening of transshipment terminal in North Korean port Rajin". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^Kirk, Donald. "S. Korean Dream Line: Rail Link Via N.Korean Eco Zone To Russia". forbes.com. Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"Russia-Korean Visa Exemption Program to Stimulate Bilateral Trade by 40%". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"Trans Korean Rail Back on the Agenda -- from "Pusan to Europe via Russia"". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^Casey, Michel (4 June 2014). "How Significant Is the Eurasian Economic Union?". http://thediplomat.com/. The Diplomat. Retrieved 19 August 2014. ^"Why China is unfazed by Russia's creation of a Eurasian Union". http://www.worldreview.info/. World Review. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"China's 'New Silk Road' Vision Revealed". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"China Establishing New Silk Roads". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"China considers high-speed 'silk railroad' to Europe". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^Romanowski, MichaÅ (3 July 2014). "Central Asia's Energy Rush: The region's major powers are in a tussle to control its rich energy sources". http://thediplomat.com/ (The Diplomat). Retrieved 30 August 2014. ^ZHUMATOV, SHAMIL (7 September 2013). "China, Kazakhstan to ink deals worth $30 billion on Saturday". http://uk.reuters.com/ (Astana, Kazakhstan: Reuters). Retrieved 30 August 2014. ^"Vladimir Putin signs historic $20bn oil deal with Iran to bypass Western sanctions". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"Russia and Iran strike oil agreement". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"Turkey Proposes Free Trade Zone with Eurasian Union". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^ ab"Giorgi Lomsadze: Will Karabakh "Join" Russia's Customs Union?". eurasianet.org. Retrieved 10 December 2013. ^"ARMENIA BLAMES AZERBAIJAN FOR DEADLY INCIDENT". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"Kazakhstan holds disagreements on the way to EAWU for surmountable". news.belta.by. Retrieved 29 April 2014. ^"Armenia Rules Out Tariffs on Karabakh". asbarez.com. Retrieved 14 May 2014. ^ abc"Power failure - Not all goes smoothly for Russia in its backyard". http://www.economist.com/ (The Economist). 26 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^Sergey, Guyeev (29 May 2014). "Kyrgyzstan Aims to Join Eurasian Economic Union by Year-End '' President". http://en.ria.ru/ (RIA Novosti). Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^ ab"A plan to export electricity looks cursed". http://www.economist.com/ (The Economist). 26 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^"Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan border guards engage in shootout again". http://en.itar-tass.com/ (Itar Tass). 26 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^"Two killed in border skirmish between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan". reuters.com (Reuters). Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^"Eurasian Union Proposal Key Aspect of Putin's Expected Presidency". Wikileaks.ch. Wikileaks. 6 Octobre 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2014. ^"Guide to the EU deals with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^"Lithuania ratifies Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova agreements with EU". Retrieved 7 August 2014. ^ abClinton fears efforts to 're-Sovietize' in Europe - Associated Press, 6 December 2012^Vladimir Radyuhin (May 29, 2014). "Putin's answer to EU '' Eurasian Union". The Hindu. Retrieved June 1, 2014. External links
THE RUNDOWN-SOUTHSTREAM-Putin Cancels South Stream: Game Changer! | Real Jew News
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:25
Russia Articles, Putin Articles
Putin Cancels South Stream:Game Changer!By Brother Nathanael KapnerDecember 14, 2014(C)
Support The Brother Nathanael Foundation!
Or Send Your Contribution To:The Brother Nathanael Foundation, PO Box 1242, Frisco CO 80443E-mail: email@example.com___________________________________
THE MORE THINGS Putin changes, the more things don't stay the same.First there was Crimea. When the Jew Nuland (originally Nudelman) handed out cookies in Kiev, she handed Crimea to Putin on a geopolitical platter.
And now that Jewmerica's colony known as the EU overplayed its hand in the South Stream project, it handed overeconomic prosperity to Turkey.
Who wins? Jewmerica! (in the short run.) Russia and Turkey! (both short and long run.)
Who loses? The South Stream transit countries: Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Austria'...ALL for the sake of the JEWS who hate Orthodox Christian Russia.
On December 1, 2014, Putin announced during a visit to Turkey that Russia would abandon South Stream which would have bypassed Ukraine, guilty of siphoning gas in the past in its perpetual dodging to pay its bills that led to European supply cuts.
Instead, Putin indicated that Europe's gas demand would be fulfilled by Turkey with a new hub on the Turkish-Greek border.
Due to the demands of EU's Third Energy Package, (Gazprom being forbidden to own both the gas and the pipeline), insisted upon after Russia lined up all the agreements'--and preparatory work had commenced'--South Stream was torpedoed.
Russia argued back that the EU ignored the fact that the inter-governmental agreements on the pipeline had been concluded in 2008, a year before the Third Energy Package was concocted, and, in defiance of international legal practices, applied it retroactively.
The EU wouldn't budge and Putin cancelled out.
The economic losses borne by Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Austria are devastating:
Loss of transit fees, loss of investment returns, and loss of construction and ongoing participation, all of which translates into a huge economic undoing. (So much for the Jew York Times calling the cancellation a ''defeat'' for Russia.)
''It's bad news for us,'' Serbia's prime minister Aleksandar Vucic admitted.
''Our sovereignty is under attack,'' Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban lamented.
Indeed, Putin put it bluntly himself: ''Bulgaria was deprived of the opportunity to act as a sovereign country.''
SCREECHES & SCREAMS
ON JUNE 3, 2014, the EU, obviously under pressure from economic sanctions-happy Jewmerica, flatly told Bulgaria to stop work on South Stream.
This was despite the fact that Russia and Bulgaria signed South Stream documents during an official ceremony in 2010.
The Bulgarian government'--a minority coalition of Socialists and a party of ethnic Turks'--immediately and justifiably refused.
On the same day Brussels, blackmailing the poorest country in the EU, cut tens of millions of euros in regional-development funds slated for Bulgaria.
The EU threatened to freeze more funds, which stoked a row inside the coalition between the party of ethnic Turks and its Socialist allies, South Stream's strongest backers.
Enter John McCain, who hates diplomacy almost as much as he hates Putin, stepped out of the freezer of the one-sided New Cold War and visited Sofia on June 8 on a ''working visit,'' READ: ''shakedown.''
McCain also met with Atlanticist and Judeophileextraordinaire Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, along with Russian-leaning Socialist Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski.
Ready to start a war, cold or hot, with Russia on European soil, insane McCain muscled Oresharski over proceeding with South Stream, insisting that there should be ''less Russian involvement'' in the project.
McCain's visit snowballed into the collapse of the Bulgarian government forcing early elections of an EU-friendly parliament in October 2014. Good job McCain. You managed to destabilize yet another Christian country!
Russia and Bulgaria have both historical ties (liberation of Bulgaria in 1878) and cultural ties (80% of Bulgarians are Orthodox Christians.) The South Stream project added the economic realm to these enduring ties.
If Bulgaria had risen up on the wings of her own ancient nobility and flown in the face of Brussels to honor their 4 year old contract made with their traditional ally, Russia, there would have been no shortage of Balkan and East European friends from within Orthodox Civilization and elsewhere in the world, and Bulgaria would have won.
Such was not to be, and the impoverished Bulgarian people, (dependent on Russia for 99% of its gas), are the ones who will continue to suffer.
It is the flaming and fawningJudeophile Plevneliev, the last man standing in the wake of Bulgaria's government's electoral reshuffling to one more acceptable to Brussels, who handed Bulgaria's national sovereignty over its section of South Stream to Brussels on a platter:
''The European Commission has frozen the project at the moment,'' the slimy Plevneliev said in October, adding that a ''correct dialogue'' with the EU could give Bulgaria a ''green light'' to resuming its construction.
Treason by any other phrase would sound the same. Right before the EU-orchestrated new elections, Plevneliev went on a Russia-bashing (lying) campaign: ''Gas is not an energy weapon. We want a Russia that observes its contracts,'' implying that Russia (not Bulgaria and its EU masters) were to blame for the South Stream crisis.
Plevneliev has also been busy promoting and aggrandizing the relationship between Jews and Bulgaria to American Jewry and the State of Israel.
Plevneliev's recent sponsorship of a ''Hanukkah Festival'' in Bulgaria underlines his treason against 80% of his constituency population who are Orthodox Christians.
WHEN NULAND UNWITTINGLY HANDED CRIMEAover to Putin, she launched the most momentous geopolitical coup in the history of Jewish global control.
With Russia now commanding (lease free) the Black Sea region and enjoying a warm water port to the Mediterranean Middle East, Putin is now positioned to be a global force that frightens International Jewry out of its wits.
No one understands this better than Turkey and its prime minister, Recep Erdogan.
Right smack in the midst of anti-Russian sanctions, anti-Russian propaganda, anti-Russian political alignments, and pro-Nato proselytism, what does Nato-member Turkey do? It makes a ground-breaking gas deal with Russia'...right under Nato's nose! Touche!
Erdogan and Turkey's political regime understand that the Black Sea region is now a strategic environment of which Russia is dominant.
This is why Russia avoids war at all costs. The longer it can make allies and alliances (China, Iran, India, Syria, Turkey (the list keeps on growing/where's the so-called ''isolation'' the Jew York Times keeps barking about?) in a peaceful scenario, the stronger it grows.
THIS PAST FRIDAY, (December 12, 2014), countries in the Black Sea region agreed to expand economic cooperation with each other, and with partners around the world.
Moldova will soon take over the rotating presidency of BSEC, uniting the countries surrounding the Black Sea - Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.
And given the Russia-Turkey gas agreement, how could Turkey continue to pursue antagonistic policies and simultaneously maximize the benefits of its economic cooperation with Russia?
Bravo Vladimir! You trumped Jewmerica and its clones once again!
Hungarian PM Blasts Brussels for Ruining South Stream Project / Sputnik International
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:16
(C) East News/ Mikhail Metzel/AP/XMIM101
MOSCOW, December 5 (Sputnik), Ekaterina Blinova '-- Viktor Orban, Hungary's Prime Minister blasted Brussels for ruining the Russia-led South Stream gas pipeline project."The EU has worked ceaselessly to undermine this program," Viktor Orban said in an interview with public radio MR1 on Friday.
He also warned the nation on Friday sovereignty of Hungary was under attack, Hungarian online journal Portfolio.hu reported.
In his biweekly interview with MR1 radio station, Orban said a country could be independent financially, in terms of trade freedom and energy security. Hungary had high hopes for the South Stream project that would secure energy supplies from Russia by circumventing Ukraine.
But in a surprise decision, Russian President Vladimir Putin scrapped the $40-billion project to bring gas to central and southern Europe under the Black Sea, prompting the Orban administration to lash out at Brussels over its pressure on the prospective transit countries to drop South Stream.According to Portfolio.hu, this was not the first instance of the European Union trying to put controls on Hungary. Budapest had already been in debates with EU institutions over different initiatives, such as its utility tariff reductions, which are contested by Brussels.
Orban also referred to a recent row with the United States over US Sen. John McCain's controversial remark in which he likened the Hungarian prime minister to "a neo-fascist dictator". This caused Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto to summon US charge d'affaires Andre Goodfriend on Wednesday.
Relations between Budapest and Washington have soured recently after the United States handed out visa bans to six Hungarian government officials over alleged corruption.
Orban's warning came amid accusations from Western-backed opposition that the Hungarian government was cozying up to Russia at a time when EU and US trust for Moscow was at its lowest due to the Ukraine crisis.
We Pay for Conflict Between Great Powers: Serbia PM on South Stream Cancellation
Moscow has cancelled the South Stream project, which was developed in order to provide European consumers with Russian natural gas across the Black Sea, amid to the stiff opposition from the EU.
For a long time, Viktor Orban has been supporting the lucrative deal with Russia, withstanding fierce criticism from his European counterparts in the process, and refusing to join the EU anti-Russian sanctions policy.
The cancellation of the $40 billion South Stream project has dealt a heavy blow to European natural gas users. Although it will not affect Orban's "grip on power" it has become a disappointment for the 51-year-old politician.
On December 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was unable to continue with the South Stream gas pipeline project under the current conditions. The president cited the European Commission's position on the project and Bulgaria's failure to grant permission to proceed with the pipeline's construction as the major reasons behind the decision.
TASS: World - Serbian PM: termination of South Stream is bad news
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:15
BELGRADE, December 7. /TASS/. Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic called ''bad news'' the information about Russia's refusal from construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, Serbian RTS television reported on Sunday.
The prime minister said Serbia ''has been investing in this project for seven years, but has to pay the price for collision of the big ones (countries).'' Vucic said he wanted to discuss the topic with Russia's President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials as he returns from the UN Security Council's session in New York.
On Saturday evening, Serbia's Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Antic while commenting on the news about Moscow's intentions to terminate the project due to the position of the European Union, said the Serbian side as yet did not receive any notification from Gazprom about whatever changes in the project of the South Stream's construction. He said the statement of the Russian president about the termination of the project is taken in Serbia ''as a signal, first of all, to members of the European Union, on who depends construction of the gas pipeline.''
Antic stressed implementation of the project required ''agreement on the Brussels-Moscow line'' and expressed hope ''all open questions will be settled by means of negotiations, and both sides will reach an agreement.''
''Of course, this project is exclusively important for the energy security of this country, and on it depends also employment of a major part of our construction sector, but, unfortunately, we are unable to influence what happens to the gas pipeline,'' the minister said.
South Stream Pipeline May Not Be Dead Yet
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:11
The European Commission's new energy chief says that Russia could revive the South Stream natural-gas pipeline project if it follows EU rules.
In an interview with RFE/RL on December 5, Maros Sefcovic said that the EU was willing to discuss the project to pump gas under the Black Sea to Europe, but that Russia must abide by EU energy rules and drop a complaint over the issue in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Russian President Vladimir Putin abruptly announced on December 1 that Russia was abandoning South Stream and blamed the EU, saying European opposition to the project had forced the Kremlin's hand.
The EU rejects that accusation.
Sefcovic said that "we are ready to discuss the project with the Russian side. But of course I think the understanding should be clear: They have to withdraw the case from WTO and they should be ready to show the EU law would be applied in this project."
Related: Scrapping South Stream Underscores Russia's Weakness
Brussels has insisted that state-controlled Russian gas exporter Gazprom abide by rules set out in the EU's "third energy package," which requires the separation of companies' generation and sale operations from their transmission networks -- something the South Stream project does not fulfill.
Russia has asked the WTO to review the EU energy rules, which Putin has called discriminatory.
Sefcovic suggested that was not the case.
"If you want to build such a pipeline and a project of this magnitude you have to respect EU rules, he said.'' And you have to respect the rules which are followed by all energy companies in Europe. If any European company would like to build a pipeline in Russia it would be absolutely natural and we expect that they would respect Russian law."
South Stream would reduce Russia's reliance on Ukraine as a transit nation for its supplies to the EU, which gets about one-third of the gas it uses from Russia -- half of that via Ukraine.
Russia and the EU have been wrangling for years over the "third energy package" amid Western accusations that Moscow uses its energy riches as a geopolitical instrument.
Putin's announcement came after months of severely strained relations between Moscow and Brussels over the crisis in Ukraine.
Talks on South Stream's legality had been frozen after Russia annexed Crimea in March, and Moscow's support for separatists in an armed conflict that has killed thousands in eastern Ukraine has added to the tension.
Sefcovic said that the EU will now focus on boosting interconnectors between EU member states to reach energy-poor areas in the Baltic region and Southeastern Europe, and on helping finance the energy sector in Ukraine.
He said that compared to "building a new pipeline like the South Stream, through very complicated undersea routes," modernizing Ukraine's gas system would be "much more affordable and clearly that is one of the priorities of the EU -- how to help Ukraine to modernize the system."
He said Ukraine was "losing a lot of money" because of the low efficiency of its energy system.
"That is one of the priority area[s] where Europe wants to help with expertise, with advice, with best practices but also financing these reforms," Sefcovic said.
A major task for Sefcovic in his new role will be to help Moscow and Kyiv forge a new deal for Russian supplies of gas to Ukraine and transit across Ukraine to Europe.
Russia stopped delivering gas for Ukrainian consumption in June, citing Ukrainian debt for previous supplies and demanding prepayments for further deliveries.
Related: How Energy Secure Are The EU And UK?
Under Sefkovic's predecessor, Ukraine, Russia, and the EU signed a "winter package" deal on October 30 that was designed to ensure that Ukraine makes some payments for gas to Russia and that Russia keeps gas flowing through the winter.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said on December 5 that Kyiv was in the process of making a $378 million prepayment for Russian natural-gas deliveries and that the funds would be transferred by the end of the day.
The prepayment is for delivery of 1 billion cubic meters of gas to Ukraine during the month of December.
The agreement reached on October 30 is only valid through March, making it necessary for a so-called "summer package" to be negotiated.
"I hope can we can go over this winter without some kind of super-dramatic scenarios," Sefcovic said.
He said it was "quite clear, especially in my meetings with the Ukrainian President [Petro] Poroshenko and Ukrainian Prime Minister [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk that we have to think very hard already in January, February and look into the ways how we can discuss the relationship in this area for the post-March period."
"I think we will do our best to again play the role of honest broker, of moderator, to make sure that I would say the same atmosphere and constructive deal is found also for the post-March period."
By Rikard Jozwiak
Source - www.rferl.org
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
Energy: Third package for Electricity & Gas markets - European Commission
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:09
On 19 September 2007, the European Commission (EC) adopted the third package of legislative proposals for electricity and gas markets. A competitive and integrated energy market allows European consumers to choose between different suppliers and all suppliers, irrespective of their size, to access the market.
Hungary, Russia sign deals for nuclear plant expansion | Reuters
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:02
Tue Dec 9, 2014 1:04pm GMT
(Adds detail, comments)
By Marton Dunai
BUDAPEST Dec 9 (Reuters) - Hungary and Russia will start work next year on expanding the central European country's sole nuclear power plant with two 1,200 megawatt blocks, which are expected to come online in 2025 and 2026, a Hungarian government commissioner said on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban agreed a construction-and-finance deal to build the new nuclear capacity in February, part of Hungary's closer ties with Moscow that have unnerved Western partners.
On Tuesday Hungary signed three implementation agreements with Russian Rosatom affiliate Atomenergoproekt on the planned expansion, the commissioner responsible for the project, Attila Aszodi, told a news conference.
The agreements dealt with the construction, future operation as well as fuel supply and waste management aspects of the new power blocks, he said.
Aszodi added the project would stay within the total budget of 12.5 billion euros ($15.5 billion) with room to spare. The 10 billion euros of Russian financing would cover a maximum of 80 percent of the costs.
He said the recent weakness of the Russian economy had no impact on the project, with ample assurances in the contract to carry out the expansion in full.
"The Russian partners have made it clear that the resources necessary for the programme are in place, and the current economic situation does not affect the project," Aszodi said. "The funds for next year's tasks are in (Russia's) 2015 budget."
After initial engineering and regulatory work, Rosatom could start actual construction in 2018, Aszodi said, adding that the two blocks will take about six years to build.
Asked whether the European Commission might object to any part of the project, including potential state aid issues, he said it had been co-ordinated with the Commission and expected no problems.
"We showed our calculations and our deductions to the Commission and we are convinced there is no illegal state aid in this system," Aszodi said. "We received a favourable interstate loan, which will be used to build the plant."
"Thereafter the plant can work under market conditions, and the expected prices will enable it to sell the electricity so the project's profitability is ensured at an appropriate rate."
The opposition green liberal party LMP, the only opponent of nuclear power in Hungary, said on Tuesday that sticking with the Russian project was a mistake. The party has previously criticised the deal as untransparent, and said it is risky to depend on Russia for energy. ($1 = 0.8097 euros) (Reporting by Marton Dunai and Gergely Szakacs, editing by David Evans)
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Russia Signed Nuclear Agreements With'....Ukraine, Turkey (Existing), Finland, South Africa, India, Algeria, Argentina, Vietnam, Bulgaria (Existing), Belarus (Existing), Iran and U.S. | New World Order G20
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:02
Russia has signed a contract with Ukraine to deliver fuel for Ukraine's nuclear energy facilities, according to Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom head Sergei Kirienko.
MOSCOW, November 21 (Sputnik) '' Russia has signed a contract with Ukraine to deliver nuclear fuel for the country's nuclear energy plants in 2015, the head of Russian nuclear agency Rosatom said Friday.
''A contract for 2015 has been signed to deliver fuel for Ukraine's nuclear energy facilities,'' Sergei Kirienko said in a speech before a student assembly in Moscow.
The head of the Russian nuclear agency stressed that supplies of nuclear fuel to Ukraine had not been held up even once and shipments have been delivered to Ukraine as scheduled.
In September, Ukraine gave the green light to its nuclear power plants to receive supplies of upgraded nuclear fuel from the US company Westinghouse, a move criticized by Rosatom as a political one.
The conflict in Ukraine soured its relations with Russia, including cooperation on nuclear energy.
Following the row, Kirienko said in April that Rosatom was not against competitive rivalry with other fuel producers, but disapproved of putting the country's nuclear security at stake.
Ukraine's switch from Russian to American nuclear fuel for some of its power plants raised security concern after the fuel sourced from Westinghouse had dangerously malfunctioned at power plants in the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
Previously, a Czech nuclear power plant operating Soviet-designed reactors experienced depressurization with the Westinghouse fuel, leading to its suspension of cooperation with the company in 2006.
ANKARA '' Reuters
Turkey has entered exclusive preliminary talks with U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Company, part of Japan's Toshiba group, on building the country's third nuclear power plant, Westinghouse said.
The talks will continue for six months and will be conducted by Turkish state-owned electricity generation company E'AS, Turkish energy officials said Nov. 25.
The project involves development and construction as well as all live-cycle activities including operations, nuclear fuel, maintenance, engineering, plant services and decommissioning, Westinghouse said in a statement.
Turkey currently has projects for two nuclear plants, which are expected to cost $20 billion and $22 billion respectively. In 2011, Russian company Rosatom was contracted to build and operate a 4,800 megawatt (MW) nuclear power plant in the southern province of Mersin.
In 2013, a consortium of Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Itochu Corp. and France's GDF Suez agreed to build a nuclear plant with a capacity of about 4,500 MW in the Black Sea town of Sinop.
Finnish energy ties with Russia deepen despite Ukraine crisisBy Jussi Rosendahl and Nerijus Adomaitis
HELSINKI/OSLO, Oct 6 (Reuters) '' Despite European Union calls for member states to curb ties with Russia over its aggression toward Ukraine, Finland looks set for closer links with Moscow in energy.
A fraught project with French-German consortium Areva-Siemens has helped prompt Finnish nuclear consortium Fennovoima to look to Russia's Rosatom for a planned reactor while Finland also aims to begin power exports to Russia next year.
The projects come at a time when the European Union has called on EU member states to suspend planned energy agreements with Russia due to its aggression toward Ukraine.
Prime Minister Alexander Stubb acknowledges the country must walk a fine line with Moscow but has rejected criticism from political opponents who say his office is soft on Russia.
''We must oppose the 'divide and rule' games that Russia is constantly playing with the EU,'' he said last week when meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
At the same time, Stubb said Finland's long border and trade ties with Russia meant it must take a ''very pragmatic and common-sense approach in all of our Russia policies''.
Angered by the government's backing of the Rosatom nuclear project, the Green Party quit the ruling coalition last month.
Green Party leader Ville Niinisto accused the government of 'Finlandisation', a charged term used during the Cold War to describe the former Soviet Union's strong influence on Finnish politics.
Parliament is set to hold a first debate on the nuclear project on Oct. 14, with the final vote expected in early December.
It would involve Fennovoima building a 1,200-megawatt nuclear reactor at Pyhajoki in northern Finland sourced from Rosatom, which will also take a stake in a project expected to cost 4-6 billion euros.
The government has tried to soothe concerns and Rosatom has said Moscow will not use nuclear power as a political weapon.
There is also a commercial back story to the Rosatom deal, following a decade-long delay and huge cost overruns on another nuclear project in Finland, the Olkiluoto 3 plant being built by Areva-Siemens.
The International Chamber of Commerce's arbitration court is currently processing a dispute in which Areva-Siemens are seeking 2.7 billion euros in compensation from Finnish consortium TVO. The latter, which involves Finnish firms including utility Fortum, UPM-Kymmene and Stora Enso, has submitted a counter claim of 1.8 billion euros.
''It is one of the biggest conflicts in the history of the construction sector,'' Areva Chief Operating Officer Philippe Knoche said in February.
Still, some analysts question the timing of the move to Rosatom given frosty relations between the European and Russia over Ukraine. Japan's Toshiba also sought to supply Fennovoima.
''The Fennovoima decision increases long-term economic interdependence between Finland and Russia at a time when there is no sound basis to predict the EU's relationship with Russia in the future,'' said Antto Vihma, senior analyst at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
POWER DEAL, LNG U-TURN
And the nuclear project is not the only sign of Finland increasing its ties with Moscow in energy.
Finland aims to strike a deal with Russia to export electricity through a connector cable from next January, during the same winter months in which much of Europe is most worried about a possible disruption to Russian gas supplies over the crisis in Ukraine.
Top Finnish utility Fortum has also said it is sticking to plans to invest 4.2 billion euros ($5.26 billion) in Russia by the end of 2015.
''Business continues as usual'... one can say that Russia is one of Fortum's home markets,'' said spokeswoman Helena Aatinen.
Russian operations accounted for 22 percent of Fortum's sales in the year to June and 15 percent of its profits.
Finland has also cast a vote of confidence in its natural gas ties with Russia, last week indefinitely postponing a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal that could have allowed it to diversify away from its complete dependence on piped Russian supply.
In contrast, Poland and Lithuania have invested heavily in LNG import terminals to allow them to take shipped imports from Qatar and Norway.
Yet like other EU countries, Finland has not escaped the impact of sanctions imposed on Russia. Its economy is struggling, and the government recently cut its economic forecasts for 2014 and 2015 due to the impact from the Ukraine crisis.
Moscow's response to EU sanctions have hurt Finnish exports to Russia including food and the weakened Russian rouble has also hit Finnish revenues, including Fortum's, in Russia.
Russia, South Africa sign $10 bn nuclear power dealPublished time: September 22, 2014
A general view of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station (AFP Photo / Rodger Bosch)
Russia's state-owned nuclear company Rosatom has signed a historic partnership agreement with South Africa to build a large-scale nuclear power plant in the African state and develop collaboration in other areas of nuclear industry.
The deal was signed on the sidelines of the 58th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna on Monday.
''The Agreement lays the foundation for the large-scale nuclear power plant (NPP) procurement and development program of South Africa based on the construction in RSA of new nuclear power plants with Russian VVER reactors with total installed capacity of up to 9,6 GW (up to 8 NPP units),'' said a joint statement published on Rosatom's webpage.
Besides the nuclear power plant construction, the two countries agreed to develop comprehensive collaboration in other areas of nuclear power industry '' including the construction of a Russian technology-based multipurpose research reactor and assistance in the development of South African nuclear infrastructure.
Moreover, under the agreement Russia is to welcome South African nuclear specialists in its universities.
''I am convinced in cooperation with Russia, South Africa will gain all necessary competencies for the implementation of this large-scale national nuclear energy development program. ROSATOM sees to create in South Africa a full-scale nuclear cluster of a world leader's level '' from the front-end of nuclear fuel cycle up to engineering and power equipment manufacturing,'' said ROSATOM's director general, Sergey Kirienko.
He added that the new project will contribute to the creation of thousands of new jobs and place a considerable order to local industrial enterprises worth at least $10 billion.
''I am sure that cooperation with Russia will allow us to implement our ambitious plans for the creation by 2030 of 9,6 GW of new nuclear capacities based on modern and safe technologies,'' said South Africa's minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
Koeberg nuclear power station near Cape Town is currently the continent's only commercial nuclear power station. The 1,800-megawatt nuclear facility is owned and operated by the country's only national electricity supplier, Eskom.
Russia's Rosatom currently has 29 projects for the construction of nuclear power plants, including 19 foreign commissions in India, China, Turkey, Vietnam, Finland, Hungary and others.
Rosatom to build 2 units at Bushehr nuclear power plantNovember 14, 2014Anna Kuchma, RIR
Under the major deal signed between Russia and Iran, another four units will be built on other sites. Analysts believe the deal will boost economic development in both countries.
Academician Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President for Nuclear Energy and President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (l), and State Corporation Rosatom General Director Sergei Kiriyenko during ceremony of signing an agreement. Source: Press Photo
Russian state corporation Rosatom and Iran signed a contract for the construction of two more units at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, as well as the construction of units at other sites in Iran. Experts already call it the biggest foreign project of the Russian state corporation. Its realization will boost the economic development of both countries.
The contract includes the construction of two nuclear units of Bushehr NPP, to be possibly followed by another four. The parties also agreed to build another four units on other sites that have not yet been determined.
The price of the contract hasn't been disclosed, but similar projects abroad were previously estimated at $10 billion.
The entire project of constructing nuclear power units in Iran, including the supplies of equipment and nuclear fuel will be under the supervision of IAEA, and will fully comply with the commitment to non-proliferation of nuclear materials, just as it was during the construction of the first power unit of the Bushehr NPP, Rosatom said in a press note.
Throughout the entire life cycle of eight new power units the nuclear fuel for the plant will be manufactured by the Russian side. The spent nuclear fuel will be returned to Russia for reprocessing and storage. As part of expanding the construction of Russian-designed nuclear power units in Iran, partners plan to look into the economic feasibility and the possibility to locally produce nuclear fuel elements that would be used in these power units.
''It is the largest nuclear contract among foreign ones. Iran's oil and gas make the country solvent, and with the earned money it will buy our technology and equipment,'' Deputy Director of the Institute of Energy Matters Bulat Nigmatullin told Vzglyad. ''The agreement will enable the Russian power industry to fill up the manufacturing capacity of its nuclear power plants. Considering that Iran is afraid of the western embargo, it will buy all the major equipment in Russia,''
Iran, in turn, gets the possibility to diversify its energy policy. ''Even before the Islamic Revolution, the development of nuclear power has been a priority matter. There was a proposal to build 20 nuclear units,'' senior researcher at Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oriental Studies Vladimir Sazhin told Vzglyad.
According to Sazhin, the growth of nuclear energy facilities would enable Iran to export more oil and gas, significantly increasing the country's incomes. Moreover, it would create the much needed jobs in Tehran.
Russia and Algeria Sign Nuclear DealPosted by: Kayou TerratSeptember 4, 2014
Russia and Algeria signed on Wednesday, September 3, in Algiers, a new agreement on cooperation in the field of civil nuclear engineering. The partnership is intended to promote research and nuclear operations in Algeria, which could lead in the medium term to the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Algeria.
The Algerians have for quite some time expressed the desire to develop their nuclear capabilities and their ambitions seem to be confirmed with the signing of this new collaboration with Russia. The agreement as stated by the Algerian Energy Minister, Yousef Yousfi, should address both ''the production of electricity from nuclear energy and the use of this energy for peaceful purposes, including medicine, agriculture and water resources''.
Cooperation under this Agreement will cover research and development in the field of nuclear engineering and technology, construction, operation and maintenance of nuclear reactors for electricity generation and desalination of seawater, and also the joint exploration and exploitation of uranium deposits in Algeria.
The Algerian Minister of Energy had previously announced the government's intention to build the first nuclear power plant in the country by 2025 to cope with high electricity demand and offset higher costs of the energy production program and the development of renewable energy.
Algeria has reserves of uranium on its territory of around 29,000 tons, an amount sufficient to supply two nuclear power plants with a capacity of 1000 MW over a period of 60 years.
Putin signs nuclear energy deal with ArgentinaBy Alexei Anishchuk and Richard Lough
BUENOS AIRESSat Jul 12, 2014 5:19pm EDT
1 of 2. Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (R) shakes hands with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires July 12, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Enrique Marcarian
(Reuters) '' Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a nuclear energy cooperation deal with Argentina on Saturday on a trip to bolster trade ties and strengthen Russia's influence in Latin America.
Putin's energy minister, Alexander Novak, told reporters in the Argentine capital that the Russian state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, had made an offer to tender for the construction of two new nuclear power units in Argentina.
Novak said Rosatom could offer ''comfortable'' financial terms to Latin America's No. 3 economy, which has struggled to advance its nuclear energy program and lure foreign investors deterred by a raft of punishing capital and import controls.
''Rosatom is actively working here'... and has already handed over its technical and commercial offer to our (Argentine) colleagues,'' Novak told reporters after talks between Putin and his Argentine counterpart, President Cristina Fernandez.
''There will be a tender this fall. Rosatom'... is also ready to provide comfortable financial conditions (to Argentina).''
Fernandez said a Russian delegation would visit the so-called Vaca Muerta shale fields in the south of the country, adding that she hoped relations between the two countries would deepen further.
The Vaca Muerta field is thought to be one of the biggest shale reserves in the Western Hemisphere and could double Argentina's energy output within a decade. But it is in the early stage of development.
Putin made an unannounced stopover in Nicaragua after meeting Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana on Friday, the Kremlin said. He travels next to Brazil for bilateral talks and a summit of the emerging BRICS economies '' Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa '' on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Putin's visit comes as Argentina stares down the barrel of another debt crisis. The government has until July 30 to settle with ''holdout'' investors suing the government for full repayment of sovereign bonds on which Argentina defaulted in 2002.
Failure to do so risks prolonging Argentina's banishment from global capital markets at a time it needs financing to exploit huge shale gas and oil resources, develop its power grid and build new roads and ports to bolster grains exports.
Argentine officials and the New York hedge funds it has battled for years met separately with a court-appointed mediator on Friday, but the two sides appeared no closer to a deal.
Argentina portrays the holdouts as vultures who are willing to cripple the country's economy for the sake of profit.
Fernandez said on Saturday a lack of global regulation on capital flows had ''practically turned the world into a casino''.
Putin has called Argentina one of Russia's most strategically important allies in Latin America. The Russian leader, who is under pressure from the West to help restrain pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, told reporters in Buenos Aires that the two nations ''cooperated in all areas''.
Argentina abstained in March in a U.N. vote calling on member states not to recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea. Russia has been supportive of Argentina's claim over the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory lying off Argentina's coast.
''Argentina often has its own opinion '... but it is always one of its own, and is a sovereign one, which is utterly important and cannot be often seen in the modern world. And we highly appreciate that,'' Putin said.
Vietnam upgrades reactor choice21 November 2014
Vietnamese officials have chosen Rosatom's AES-2006 design for the country's first nuclear power plant at Ninh Thuan, increasing the planned capacity of the four unit plant by about 800 MWe. A second plant should follow based on a partnership with Japan.
The choice of Russian technology for Ninh Thuan 1 at Phuoc Dinh has now been made, and Atomproekt based in Saint Petersburg will supply its version of the AES-2006 plant for at least the first two units. This design produces 1200 MWe for transmission over the grid and its replacement of the VVER-1000 units previously planned would add about 800 MWe to Ninh Thuan's future generating capacity across four units.
The reactors are to be built over 2017-23 as a turnkey project. Russia's Ministry of Finance is prepared to finance at least 85% of this first plant, to supply the nuclear fuel and take back the used fuel for the life of the plant. These details were explained to delegates at the Atomex Asia conference organised by Rosatom on 19-20 November in Ho Chi Minh City.
To support the operation of the future plant some 344 undergraduate and graduate students from Vietnam are currently studying in Russia, and 150 engineers are working at Russia's Rostov nuclear power plant where two VVER-1000s are in operation and two new ones are at late stages of construction.
Rosatom and Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (Vinatom) are jointly setting up a Centre for Nuclear Energy Science & Technology (CNEST) which will become the main coordinating body for nuclear research and development in Vietnam, including the Dong Nai Research Centre in the south and the Institute of Nuclear Technology connected with Hanoi University of Science & Technology in the north. An early project is to build a new 15 MWt research reactor for operation from October 2018, though the site is not yet decided. It will be used for training staff for the nuclear power program and access will be offered to other countries in southeast Asia. CNEST will also be responsible for the existing Da Lat research reactor, which was commissioned in 1984.
Separately a Nuclear Industry Information Centre has been established for the public at the Hanoi University of Science & Technology. This is based on others set up by Rosatom in 20 Russian cities as well as cities in Bangladesh and Turkey.
Second plantThe Ninh Thuan 2 plant at Vinh Hai, on Cam Ranh Bay about 20 kilometres northeast of Phouc Dinh, is to be developed under a partnership with Japan and consideration of possible technology options is ongoing.
The International Nuclear Energy Development of Japan Co. (JINED), will work with Electricity Vietnam on the project, which will also involve financing and insurance of up to 85% of the total cost. JINED is a consortium of Japan's METI, nine utilities (led by Chubu, Kansai & Tepco) and three manufacturers (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Toshiba and Hitachi). The intergovernmental agreement took effect from January 2012 and Japan has committed to train about 1000 staff for Ninh Thuan 2.
Bulgaria signs nuclear deal with WestinghouseBy Tsvetelia Tsolova
SOFIAFri Aug 1, 2014
(Reuters) '' Bulgaria, one of five EU states that depend totally on Russia for nuclear fuel, and Westinghouse Electric Company signed a shareholder agreement on Friday paving the way for construction of a new nuclear reactor estimated to cost $5 billion.
The deal, which still requires the approval of Bulgaria's next government, will help the Balkan country reduce its energy dependence on Russia at a time of increased tensions between Moscow and the European Union over Ukraine.
Bulgaria currently operates two Soviet-made 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors at the Kozloduy site on the River Danube.
Westinghouse, the world's largest nuclear fuel producer and part of Japan's Toshiba group, will take a 30 percent stake in Kozloduy NPP '' New Build, which will construct the new units at the Kozloduy site.
''The agreement is signed. However, it will only enter into force if approved by the next government,'' said Ivan Genov, chief executive of Kozloduy nuclear plant.
Bulgaria's Socialist-led government resigned last week, paving the way for an interim cabinet to take over for two months ahead of a snap election in October. The main center-right opposition GERB party is tipped to win the election.
RELIANCE ON RUSSIA
The deal, once approved, will allow Bulgaria to start talks on the financing and construction of one Westinghouse AP-1000 nuclear reactor at a total estimated cost of about $5 billion.In a separate statement, Westinghouse said it will provide all of the plant equipment, design engineering and fuel and will open a tender next year for the construction of the unit, which should come online by 2023.Bulgaria, along with the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia, are all home to nuclear reactors that are 100 percent dependent on Russian nuclear fuel.
Apart from nuclear, Bulgaria meets almost all of its gas needs with Russian imports and its only oil refinery is controlled by Russia's LUKOIL.
The EU this week for the first time agreed economic sanctions against Russia, marking the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
The sanctions avoid physical energy supplies, although they target technology for future oil projects. The EU is redoubling its efforts to reduce reliance on Russian energy supplies.
Bulgaria is one of the few European nations to build new nuclear plants in the wake of Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster as it seeks to keep a lid on electricity costs while cutting carbon emissions in its energy sector.
Genov said the new reactor would be largely financed by loans from credit export agencies, but the financing is yet to be agreed. He said Kozloduy will be able to repay the loans by selling the electricity on the local and regional market.
Dismissing criticism that the deal was concluded at the last minute by a government leaving office, Westinghouse said the agreement had been signed after consultations with all Bulgarian political parties.
Cost of BelNPP project within $11bn26 November 2014
OSTROVETS, 26 November (BelTA) '' The cost of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (BelNPP) will not exceed $11 billion, Deputy Director General of the BelNPP Andrei Barkun told reporters on 26 November, BelTA has learned.
''The governments of Belarus and Russia concluded an agreement on providing a loan to build the BelNPP. The cost of the contract is preliminary. I can say that the cost of the Belarusian nuclear power plant will not exceed $11 billion,'' the Deputy Director General said. Some 12.5% of the works have been performed and financed. Andrei Barkun stated that the devaluation of the Russian ruble will not affect the project. ''In line with the agreement, the loan will be provided in dollars, therefore we are not particularly worried about the exchange rate of the Russian ruble,'' he said.
The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built 18km away from the town of Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast. The BelNPP will have two power-generating units with the total output capacity of up to 2,400MW (21,200MW). The Russian merged company OAO NIAEP '' ZAO ASE is the general designer and the general contractor of the project. The AES-2006 design developed by the Saint Petersburg-based R&D company Atomenergoproject was chosen for building Belarus' first nuclear power plant. The first power-generating unit of the nuclear power plant is scheduled for launch in 2018, the second one in 2020.
Russia and Iran Sign Nuclear Construction Deal
Published 12 November 2014
Russia signed a deal on Tuesday to build two new nuclear-reactor units in Iran, possibly to be followed by six more.
The head of the Russian state nuclear giant Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko, and the chief of the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, signed a series of documents, promoting the links in the field of peaceful application of atomic energy between the countries.
Among the documents was a contract to add two more units with pressurized water reactors to the Bushehr plant in Iran, constructed by Moscow in 2011.
Another agreement signed Tuesday provides for possibly building another two units at Bushehr sometime in the future, as well as four more at an undetermined location, Rosatom said.
''This is a turning point in relations between Russia and Iran,'' said Ali Akbar Salehi, according to the Tass news agency. ''These friendly actions, taken by Russia will be well-remembered.''
Sergei Kiriyenko said ''the building of eight reactor blocks in Iran is a big project expanding our cooperation for decades to come.''
No schedule was given for any of the planned construction.
Rosatom said that all the plants will be operated under safeguards mandated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, as the first unit of the Bushehr has been. It also will fully comply with the non-proliferation regime.
The nuclear fuel will be produced in Russia and shipped back there for reprocessing after use. The purpose of this arrangement is to eliminate suspicions that any of the nuclear material could be diverted for a weapons program.
Russia's construction of Iran's only operating nuclear power reactor at Bushehr went on for decades amid tensions over Iran's suspected weapons ambitions. Rosatom turned over operational control of the plant to Iran in 2013.
Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said the deals signed Tuesday are part of Russia's longer-term cooperation with Tehran.
''We are continuing the cooperation with Iran in the civilian nuclear sphere, in building new reactors to generate electricity,'' he said.
U.S. Said to Join Russia in Blocking Nuclear Safety MovesBy Jonathan Tirone2014-10-23
The U.S. and Russia are joining forces to block a European plan to raise the protection of nuclear reactors against natural disasters after the meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant, diplomats say.
Envoys from both countries are trying to derail a Swiss-led initiative that would force nuclear operators to invest more on safety, undermining attempts to harmonize global safety regulation, according to eight European and U.S. diplomats who attended meetings in Vienna last week. All asked not to be named in line with rules kept by the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the legal body overseeing the talks.
Even as relations between Russia and the U.S. have sunk to a post-Cold War low over the crisis in Ukraine, the two powers have come together to press their shared interest in resisting more stringent safety guidelines, said the diplomats. The U.S. is the world's biggest nuclear-power generator, while Russia exports more reactors than anyone else.
''Switzerland, as the initiator of the proposal, will continue to collaborate with all delegations and do everything to find a solution that is acceptable to all of us,'' Georg Schwarz, deputy director general of the Swiss nuclear-safety regulator, ENSI, said in an e-mailed reply to questions.
The U.S.-Russia collaboration reflects a nuclear-safety convention whose secrecy is laid bare in documents obtained by Bloomberg News under a Freedom of Information Act request.
It also underscores the high stakes for an industry trying to bounce back after the Fukushima accident. European attempts to impose higher safety standards would make nuclear power more costly just as plant operators come under price pressure from cheaper natural gas.
Prompted by the March 2011 Fukushima incident, European regulators are seeking to rewrite international standards to ensure nuclear operators not only prevent accidents but mitigate consequences if they occur, by installing costly new structures built to survive natural disasters. The meltdown caused by a tsunami forced 160,000 people to flee radioactive contamination and led to the shutdown of all of Japan's nuclear plants.
The European attempt became public in April during the previous Convention on Nuclear Safety meeting in Vienna. Switzerland consulted with engineers, regulators and diplomats from more than 50 countries before proposing the new rules. The stricter requirements were in line with a European Union directive issued three months later that required nuclear operators to bolster infrastructure at existing plants.
U.S. regulators aren't requiring the same stringent modifications, according to Edwin Lyman of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group. European utilities pay as much as five times more to fit out plants to withstand earthquakes and floods as a result, he said.
Electricite de France SA is spending about 10 billion euros ($13 billion) on additional safety features for its 59 reactors, according to its regulator, the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire. U.S. utilities will spend about $3 billion on portable generators and cooling reserves for about 100 reactors, FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) President Pete Sena said in July 31 testimony to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
French costs are higher because operators have to build a ''hardened core'' around their reactors that will be able to contain fallout if an accident occurs, its regulatory chief, Jean-Christophe Niel, said in July testimony to the NRC in Rockville, Maryland. Engineers are designing reinforced bunkers for back-up power and installing emergency cooling systems to contain a meltdown. The country is also reinforcing the concrete bases of its oldest reactors and creating elite teams of emergency responders.
At last week's meeting, convened at the International Atomic Energy Agency's headquarters, Russian envoy Oleg Postnikov offered praise for his American counterpart, Eliot Kang, after the U.S. argued against the European initiative, people who attended the meeting said. U.S. officials confirmed that their delegation fell into an uneasy alliance with Russia.
The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the record. Russian diplomats accredited to the IAEA didn't respond to written requests and phone calls seeking comment.
Created in response to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown in Ukraine, the convention has struggled to broaden safety standards. The group's own secrecy has often undermined its intents. One former French envoy, Jean-Pierre Clausner, said that the opacity of the organization was ''shocking,'' according to the documents obtained under the Freedom of Information request.
''The whole process needs to be reviewed and significant changes should be introduced if the contracting parties are willing to maintain the usefulness of the convention,'' Clausner wrote in 2005, the first year that the body allowed notes taken from its meeting to be preserved.
While nuclear meltdowns are considered cross-border incidents because of the radioactive fallout that can result, no international authority exists to compel countries to adopt safety standards. Instead, regulators from around the world routinely review each other's practices to figure out which works best. Laggards face peer criticism that can make them look bad in forums like the convention.
At the convention's 2008 meeting '-- the last before Fukushima '-- Japan was criticized by peers for being slow to overhaul a reporting system that had been caught using ''falsified inspection data,'' the documents show. Participants also urged Japan, then the world's third-largest nuclear-power generator, to review how safe its reactors were against earthquakes.
Countries like China and India, where companies are building new reactors to cover growing electricity demand, have given some support to the European initiative, according to the diplomats. The safety-upgrade costs to new reactors aren't as burdensome as retrofitting existing infrastructure, they said.
The U.S. said that the Europeans bushwhacked their delegation earlier this year by calling a vote to consider the safety amendment. The country's nuclear industry would suffer if the European measure were to be adopted because it would create an international perception that the U.S. took safety less seriously.
''The nuclear industry in the U.S. is under great pressure from lower natural gas prices,'' said Lyman from Vienna, where he is attending an IAEA meeting. ''At the same time, the potential for capital upgrades to deal with post-Fukushima requirements was a worry that it could push them over the edge.''
Argentina's IAEA envoy, Rafael Mariano Grossi, will convene the next safety meeting Feb. 9 to 13, when countries will decide on the Swiss measure.
The biggest challenge for the U.S. and Russia may not be convincing enough countries to vote against the measure, according to an official who organized last week's talks. Their real test, he said, will be to come up with something better.
The Real Outcome of Global Warming Talks in Lima: A Future for Coal | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 03:57
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
U.S. climate change negotiator Todd Stern explains the laborious proceedings in Lima, Peru. (C) Carlos Garcia Granthon
''There will be coal burning.'' Negotiators from around the world produced a four-page climate-change accord (pdf) after some sleep-deprived haggling over the weekend in Lima, Peru, but the agreement could be summed up in those five words.
For the first time, all nations agreed that all nations must have a plan to curb greenhouse gases. That includes not just reducing pollution (''mitigation'' in the jargon), but also ''adaptation'' (preparing for the climate changes already in the works), ''finance'' (money for the poor), ''technology development'' (better ways to get energy or reduce pollution), ''capacity building'' (helping poor countries develop) and ''transparency'' (ensuring nobody cheats).
At the same time, global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, with 2013 marking another record year for pollution, as evidenced by the constant hum of diesel generators in Lima that helped keep the heated negotiations cooler, among other energy needs. The single largest source of climate changing pollution continues to be burning coal, whether in wealthy nations like the U.S. or developing economies like China.
The shift of a single word'--from a ''shall'' to a ''may'''--means the world will very likely continue to burn lots of coal. Instead of being required to provide ''quantifiable information'' about their greenhouse-gas emissions, countries may choose whether or not to include those statistics in their pledges instead, known in the jargon as ''intended nationally determined contributions.'' These pledges or INDCs are promises that come in a variety of flavors '' not just strict pollution cuts like those from the E.U. nations, but also softer targets, such as reducing the amount of energy used to produce a single widget in India while producing more widgets overall (a so-called ''carbon intensity'' goal).
China and India led the charge against any monitoring or verification of such pledges. Worse, the Chinese and Indian negotiators do not appear to want INDCs to be comparable with each other. In other words, the pledges ''may'' prove mutually inscrutable.
In fact, that is already the case. For example, the E.U. has pledged to go 40 percent below 1990 pollution levels by 2030 while the U.S. will strive to go as much as 28 percent below 2005 levels in the same period. Let's do the math to put this in comparable terms:
' U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 1990: 6.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent' U.S. emissions in 2005: 7.3 billion metric tons CO2-e' U.S. emissions target for 2030: 5.2 billion metric tons CO2-e
That means the U.S. will'--at best'--cut greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, or not even half as ambitious as the European target. And China has only pledged to reach a maximum level of pollution ''around 2030,'' but without any commitment to an estimate of how high that peak might be.
No wonder all the negotiators in Lima were able to agree to note ''the significant gap'' between what has been promised and what is needed ''consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius.''
To be consistent, the world would have to become a whole lot more ambitious fast, and that means emulating (and then surpassing) China, which has also promised a massive build out of dams, nuclear power plants, wind farms and solar energy to help reduce its coal burning. Such energy transitions have proven to be slow in the past so if any country wants to continue to burn coal and keep climate change in check, then no coal-burning power plant can be built without some form of CO2 capture and control (the gas can be buried or put to use), anywhere in the world. That is certainly not the reality today, with just a handful of carbon capture and storage projects in existence, but negotiations continue as to how the countries of the world can band together to promote such a shift to less-polluting economies.
Coal remains the fastest growing energy source in the world, according to the International Energy Agency, though the rate of that growth has begun to slow. China alone burned nearly 200 million metric tons more of the dirty black rock in 2013 than in 2012'--more growth than the rest of the world combined'--and China now burns more than half of all the coal that gets burned around the world. Coal is the main reason China has become the world's largest polluter as well as repeatedly enshrouded in choking smog. Because health and environmental impacts are not included in its price, coal remains cheap and India has even begun to follow the same path as China, suggesting that coal burning in that country will continue to grow as well.
Reductions in other areas'--sustainable city-planning, energy efficiency, better farming practices and less clearing of forests'--and in other greenhouse gases, such as methane or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), can buy time to get coal burning under control. Cities, provinces and states have begun to act where nations are slow. Quebec is cutting pollution while Canada as a whole spews more, and the city of Melbourne is aiming for carbon neutrality within a nation, Australia, that repealed its carbon tax in July and promptly began burning more coal.
As it stands, however faulty, climate pledges to date are enough to begin to restrain global warming'--if honored. China, the E.U. and the U.S. have already announced their targets, and what other polluters promise to do matters. Chile, Mexico, Peru and others pledged to replant some 20 million hectares of land to begin sucking CO2 out of the sky through good old photosynthesis. And pledges that have been hinted at could bring the world halfway to total global emissions of below 45 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2030, or roughly the amount deemed necessary to hold warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. Important countries to watch on that front include Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan and Russia.
Even if strong pledges are made in 2015 there is so far nothing to prevent any of these countries from doing what Canada did under the Kyoto Protocol: failing to keep its promise. The only punishment appears to be shame. Promises are one thing, but one form of verification will be very easy to monitor: how much coal gets burned using the atmosphere as a dump.
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.
Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation - Brook - 2014 - Conservation Biology - Wiley Online Library
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:03
Over the last few centuries, civilization has become a vast and ceaselessly expanding consumer of energy, delivered primarily by fossil fuels (>80%)'--coal, oil, and natural gas. The latest compiled data from 2011 show that approximately 550 exajoules (1 EJ = 1018 J) of primary energy were consumed by the global economy in that year (IEA 2013). Yet given the mounting threat of greenhouse gas-induced climate change and the chronic health impacts and energy-security problems associated with a reliance on burning fossil fuels, it is imperative that we seek substitute forms of energy supply in coming decades (Kharecha & Hansen 2013). In 2011, for global electricity generation (80 EJ of final energy in 2011), hydroelectric dams supplied the largest nonfossil component (15.8%), followed by nuclear (11.7%), wind (2.0%), biomass (1.9%), and solar power (0.3%) (IEA 2013). The transportation, mechanized agricultural, and industrial sector demands remain, for now, almost completely satisfied by fossil fuels.
Forecasts point to a difficult transition (IPCC 2011). Energy use is set to continue to rise, driven largely by burgeoning demand for low-cost electricity in the developing world (Clarke et al. 2007). Moreover, extraction of a vast resource of environmentally damaging unconventional fossil fuels has begun (e.g., shale gas, tar sands, coal-seam gas) (Wigley 2011). Socioeconomic and technical momentum will make this trend toward cheap and readily available new fossil energy difficult to discourage and will require articulation of a well-planned, cost-competitive, and evidence-based alternative strategy (Mackay 2008; Nicholson 2012). If this energy future is to be relatively benign to nature, the costs and benefits of all competing energy forms will need to be carefully traded-off (Blees 2008). We argue that conservation professionals have a key role to play in this policy arena.
For the least direct harm to biodiversity, the best energy options are those that use the least amount of land and fresh water (in production or mining), minimize pollution (e.g., carbon dioxide, aerosols, heavy metals, and toxic chemicals), restrict habitat fragmentation, and have a low risk of accidents that have large and lasting regional impacts on natural areas (e.g., oil spills, dam-burst floods, radioactive fallout). Yet the indirect effects of energy production are also critical. Conservation-friendly energy sources must also be cost-effective, reliable, and accessible relative to more environmentally damaging methods if they are to displace them.
We reviewed the links between energy supply and biodiversity conservation, considered the potential and problems of some of the most widely touted nonfossil-fuel alternatives (renewable and nuclear), and devised a basic framework that can be used to rank and balance energy options objectively. Our goal was not to be overly prescriptive; rather, we sought to show why and how conservation scientists could engage most effectively in the energy-policy debate and so yield the best outcomes for global biodiversity.
Intertwining of Biodiversity and Industrial EnergyConservation biologists readily acknowledge that 2 of the principal drivers of terrestrial biodiversity extinctions are habitat degradation and loss'--mainly via agricultural expansion, logging, urbanization, and pollution (Brook et al. 2008). Climate disruption, and its synergies with other extinction drivers, will also continue to worsen over centuries and so strongly influence future species distributions (Bellard et al. 2012). Thus, it follows that anything humanity can do to mitigate climate warming, energy-related pollution, and land-use changes that negatively affect species will ultimately benefit biodiversity. Given that energy production from fossil fuels'--for electricity, transportation, and industrial processes'--is the principal source of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions, biodiversity conservation is intrinsically intertwined with how we source our energy (Wiens et al. 2011).
Cutting emissions is, however, only one aspect of the complex relationship between energy and biodiversity. For example, hydroelectricity dams are largely emissions-free after construction, but they can wreak havoc on local biodiversity through flooding and by obstructing migration (Dudgeon 2006). Globally, around 60% of the world's rivers were considered regulated in 2001; over 40,000 large dams (>100 have walls higher than 150 m) and their resulting reservoirs cover 500,000 km2 (McAllister et al. 2001). Other renewable energy sources are also land hungry (Wiens et al. 2011). Biofuels and wind energy in particular require land area per unit energy produced similar to hydroelectric dams (photovoltaic solar requires about 9 times less area per unit energy) (Supporting Information) (Pimentel & Pimentel 2007). Given that protected areas alone will be insufficient to safeguard biodiversity (Laurance et al. 2012), the conflict for space between energy production and habitat will remain one of the key future conservation issues to resolve.
The demand for cropland production has been increasing by around 3.4 million ha/year, partly to keep pace with world's growing human population and consumption patterns (FAOSTAT 2009), which means that the additional burden of biofuel production could see increasingly larger areas commandeered for agriculture. For example, Stickler et al. (2007) estimate that 746 million ha of tropical forest are suitable for biofuel production (palm, soy, sugarcane) and if converted could provide 63% of global transportation fuel demand by 2030, releasing 443 Pg (1 Pg = 1015 g) of CO2 (Wiens et al. 2011). Land clearing for biofuel production also increases emissions from forest clearance (Mason Earles et al. 2012), removing the sequestration services of high-carbon-density forests and soils and increasing opportunity costs for conservation by raising land prices (Luyssaert et al. 2008). Indeed, the conversion of forests and peatlands to agriculture is responsible for about 15% of total human carbon emissions (Wiens et al. 2011).
Slowing the conversion and fragmentation of primary forests and other relatively unscathed natural areas for energy production, while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, is therefore a primary target for conservation science. It follows that land-use intensification for food (and possibly biofuel) production could minimize conflicts between human needs and biodiversity conservation if one or more cheap, abundant, and low-emissions energy sources were available to replace fossil fuels and so provide the majority of human needs. Highly intensified (and thus land-sparing) forms of agriculture, such as greenhouses, vertical farms, and hydroponic facilities, require substantial inputs of artificial energy, synthetized nutrients, and desalinated water, which must be supplied by clean-energy sources to be considered sustainable and low impact.
Business as Usual and Alternative Energy FuturesThe forecasting reported in the IEA (2013) World Energy Outlook projects an ongoing dominance of coal, oil, and gas for at least the next 5 decades, and only minor mitigation policies have been implemented to date. This business-as-usual (BAU) with new-policies scenario (implementing already announced national energy plans) described by the International Energy Agency assumes ongoing energy-demand growth, due to increasing human population and affluence (Bradshaw & Brook 2014), with the greatest expansion coming from Asia and developing nations. Concomitant with this scenario is an enormous rise in greenhouse-gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC 2013) predicts global warming of 2.6''4.8 °C by 2081''2100 under the most emissions-intensive energy scenario (RCP8.5).
What might an alternative and more biodiversity-friendly future scenario look like? Although an almost infinite variety of future energy mixes is possible, most are implausible on the grounds of cost, technological maturity, capacity to operate at large scales, reliability, social acceptance, and the pragmatic need to manage infrastructure transitions incrementally (Smil 2010). For illustrative purposes, we refer to 2 alternative energy production scenarios that differ substantially from the BAU scenario but nevertheless have credibility (i.e., deemed plausible in the peer-reviewed literature): a high renewable-energy mix that excludes nuclear power and assumes massive gains in energy efficiency that leads to a lower overall demand (Greenpeace 2012) and an energy mix with a large nuclear-energy contribution, smaller contributions from a mix of renewables and fossil fuels, and carbon capture and storage (Brook 2012). The proportional energy breakdowns (in terms of electricity generation) and resulting greenhouse-gas emissions for these 3 scenarios are shown in Fig. 1. All 3 scenarios assume ongoing and substantial improvements in end-use efficiency.
Figure 1. Comparison of energy-mix scenarios. (a) Global electricity production by source (expressed as proportions that sum to 1) and greenhouse-gas emissions by source in 2011 and (b''d) electricity use and greenhouse-gas emissions by source for 3 future scenarios: (b) a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario for the year 2035 from World Energy Outlook (2013), (c) the renewables-focused Energy [R]evolution scenario from Greenpeace (for 2050), and (d) the near-total decarbonization scenario (for 2060) from Brook (2012). In (a) total primary energy is 547 EJ (exajoules) and the electricity component of total primary energy is 22113 TWh (terawatt hours). This is forecast to rise to 77,000 TWh of electricity in 2060 in (c), so scenarios (a) and (b) were rescaled proportionally to meet this generation target. Emissions are expressed in megatonnes carbon-dioxide equivalents (Mt) and as a proportion of each type of fossil-fuel contribution; absolute emissions are in Fig. 2. 'Other' is geothermal, wave, and tidal energy production.
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We standardized the most biodiversity-relevant impacts of these scenarios to the same total global electricity demand for valid cross-scenario comparison (Fig. 2) and plotted land area occupied by production infrastructure (power plants, wind and solar farms, hydroelectric dams, etc.) and mining for fuel (but not for construction materials); resultant greenhouse-gas emissions generated from energy production only; estimates of the amount of climate warming by mid-century (IPCC 2013) based on the midpoint forecast of the closest-matching representative concentration pathways (RCP8.5 for the BAU scenario and RCP2.6 for the 2 alternatives); and the annualized system cost of the 3 scenarios. Given the impossibility of integrating all potential effects of energy production on biodiversity, we used land displacement as a surrogate of broad-scale impacts on habitat. We ignored the difficult-to-quantify embodied greenhouse-gas emissions from the full life cycle of an energy-production facility. We used estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration of the 2018 levelized cost of electricity of different sources (price per unit of electricity delivered integrated over the whole life cycle of the production plant). The levelized cost includes capital, fuel, operations and maintenance, grid management, and waste disposal and management.
Figure 2. Land area converted for energy production (hatched and white bars), annualized cost of total electricity generation (above bars, US$ trillions, T$), greenhouse-gas emissions (black bars), and forecast increase in late 21st century global temperature (above bars) associated with 3 future energy-mix scenarios, standardized for comparison to meet the same total energy demand of 77,000 terawatt hours (based on large-scale electrification to cover stationary electricity, transportation, industrial and agricultural energy sectors): (a) business-as-usual (BAU), high fossil-fuel dependence (based on the World Energy Outlook [IEA 2013]); (b) high renewables, excluding nuclear (Greenpeace 2012); and (c) high nuclear, medium renewables (Brook 2012). See Fig. 1 for energy mixes. Scenarios and details of input values and underpinning calculations are in Supporting Information.
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Depending on the preference given to the various criteria in Fig. 2, any of the 3 scenarios might be considered the best, although a scenario with low land use and carbon footprint that is also economically competitive arguably achieves the most balanced and realistic outcome for biodiversity conservation. To understand these trade-offs, it is necessary to focus on the individual components of these energy mixes.
Energy-Source CompromisesGiven that there is currently no ideal commercialized energy source'--one that is simultaneously low-cost, low-impact, zero-carbon emissions, nonpolluting, completely safe, found everywhere, and always available on demand'--we are left to weigh various environmental and socioeconomic compromises. In the energy-analysis literature, this is formally done using a multicriteria decision-making analysis (MCDMA) framework, as described in Hong et al. (2013b). This method can be used for comparative integrated assessments across a range of quantitative and qualitative metrics with varying units or scales. It can also incorporate preferences by assigning different a priori weightings to indicator criteria.
In the MCDMA, we assigned ranks across alternative energy sources to various sustainability indicators (e.g., volume of greenhouse gases emitted, expense, land use) and summed across all indicators. Weightings were then used to bias the results of the rankings objectively in favor of different a priori positions (e.g., a focus on economic competitiveness or an emphasis on biodiversity benefits such as small land and carbon footprints). The integrated result was strongest for nuclear energy, with wind also competing well, whereas traditional combustion sources of energy such as biomass and coal were ranked as least sustainable (Table 1). The sustainability indicators we used in this illustrative MCDMA are only a subset of all possible factors (which might also include direct impacts on wildlife, freshwater consumption, use of rare embodied materials, specific chemical or aerosol outputs), but these are sufficient to show the trade-offs inherent in energy options and do not lead to a single, obviously best choice.
Table 1. Per terawatt hour (TWh) data for key sustainability and economic''environmental impact indicators associated with 7 electricity generation options and relative ranksa of the energy source CoalNatural gasNuclearBiomassHydroWind (onshore)Solar (PV)Indicator (per TWh)valuerankvaluerankvaluerankvaluerankvaluerankvaluerankvaluerankGHG emissions (t CO2)b1,001,0007469,000616,000318,00044,000112,000246,0005Electricity cost ($US)c100.1465.61108.45111690.3386.62144.37DispatchabilitydA1A1A1B4B4C6C6Land use (km2)e188.8.131.52575064655.74Safety (fatalities)f1617450.0411261.440.1520.443Solid waste (t)58,6007NA1NA19,1706NA1NA1NA1Radiotoxic wastegmid6low3high7low3trace1trace1trace1Weighted Rankh 6.0 2.0 1.3 6.7 3.3 2.3 5.3Nuclear Energy in FocusAn outcome of the MCDMA that might surprise many is how well nuclear energy emerged from these overall ranked-and-weighted comparisons. Given the hostility toward nuclear fission by most environmental NGOs (e.g., Greenpeace's energy plan described in the previous section rejects outright any use of nuclear), we decided to focus more deeply here on the pros and cons of this particularly contentious energy option. For completeness, in the Supporting Information we also provide a more detailed contrast among other best performers arising from the MCDMA'--natural gas, wind, and solar.
Nuclear-power advocates have fought an enduring battle to present this energy source as clean, safe, and sustainable. Today, a mix of lingering myths and half-truths continue to influence people's thinking on nuclear power (Blees 2008), whereas proponents of other low-carbon energy-production types typically do not admit to the difficulties of large-scale use of these technologies (Trainer 2012). Common qualms about nuclear energy are that uranium supplies will soon run out, long-lived radioactive waste needs isolation for 100,000 years, large amounts of greenhouse gases are produced over the full nuclear cycle, development is too slow and costly, and large-scale deployment increases the risk of nuclear war. Crises such as the one at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant (a 1960s vintage reactor) in Japan in 2011, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, amplified people's concerns (Hong et al. 2013b). Yet, given the urgency of the global environmental challenges we must deal with in the coming decades, closing off our option on nuclear energy may be dangerously shortsighted.
In 2010, nuclear energy was used to generate commercial electricity in 31 countries, provided 74% of total supply in France, and contributed 2,628 terawatt hours (TWh; IEA 2013). Based on life-cycle emissions intensities for nuclear (20 t CO2-e TWh''1) and coal (>1,000 t CO2-e TWh''1) power, this is an effective saving of at least 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, as well as avoidance of a toxic brew of heavy metals, black carbon, sulfates, and numerous other aerosols (Kharecha & Hansen 2013). Foregoing nuclear power therefore means overlooking an already large global contributor to low-carbon electricity, especially given its use as a direct substitute for coal. Currently, only hydroelectricity displaces more fossil-fuel energy than nuclear power (3,490 TWh), but it is geographically dependent on the distribution of waterways.
Nuclear power is deployed commercially in countries whose joint energy intensity is such that they collectively constitute 80% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. If one adds to this tally those nations that are actively planning nuclear deployment or already have scientific or medical research reactors, this figure rises to over 90% (Brook & Lowe 2010). As a consequence, displacement of fossil fuels by an expanding nuclear-energy sector would not lead to a large increase in the number of countries with access to nuclear resources and expertise. Nuclear weapons proliferation is a complex political issue, with or without commercial nuclear power plants, and is under strong international oversight (Blees 2008).
Today, over 70 so-called generation III reactors are under construction, including 29 in energy-hungry China (www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Nuclear-Power-in-the-World-Today), attesting to its price competitiveness with other energy sources in the appropriate economic and regulatory environments (Nicholson et al. 2011). In terms of future costs and build times, the standardized, compact, passive-safety blueprints of next-generation nuclear power plants (generation IV small modular reactors)'--designed to be built in assembly-line factories and shipped as complete units to a site'--have the potential to be transformative in an industry that has, in the past, been plagued by regulatory ratcheting and legal challenges against one-off designs (Cohen 1990). France, which built 59 large reactors in 22 years (1978 to 1999) to alleviate its oil dependence, using generation II standardized designs, is a real-world illustration of what can be achieved quickly with nuclear deployment under favorable sociopolitical circumstances (Mackay 2008). To date, there have been no accidents or deaths at any of the French plants, despite nuclear power providing >75% of the nation's electricity supply for decades.
In terms of accidents and hazardous waste, to demand zero incidents and no waste is to ask the impossible of any energy technology, given the possibility of beyond-design-basis events, and this position ignores the trade-off involved in fixing other major environmental problems with extremely high probabilities attached (see next section). Further, based on a hard-nosed assessment of fatalities per unit of energy generated, nuclear power has historically ranked relatively well (Table 1). Yet, there are technological solutions for improved nuclear safety and waste management that hold great promise. For instance, although government reports and the media hardly ever mention so-called fast reactors, these have the potential to provide vast amounts of clean, reliable electricity, as well as heat for industrial processes and desalination. A technology developed between 1964 and 1994 at the U.S. Government's Argonne and Idaho National Laboratories, the integral fast reactor (IFR), uses over 99% of the nuclear fuel, leaves only a small amount of waste that decays to below background levels of radiation within 300 years (see Fig. 3 fuel-cycle diagram), shuts itself down automatically, and cools itself indefinitely if the control systems fail or the operators abandon the facility (Hannum 1997). The IFR technology in particular also counters one of the principal concerns regarding nuclear expansion'--the proliferation of nuclear weapons'--because its electrorefining-based fuel-recycling system cannot separate weapons-grade fissile material (Till & Chang 2011). The production of such material requires either specialist uranium-enrichment facilities or dedicated short-cycle reactors associated with large (highly visible) aqueous chemical processing infrastructure'--neither of which are required for the IFR's pyroprocessing-based, closed-fuel cycle (Blees 2008) (Fig. 3). As an added benefit, the large-scale deployment of fast reactor technology would result in all of the nuclear-waste and depleted-uranium stockpiles generated over the last 50 years being consumed as fuel (Fig. 3).
Figure 3. Open and closed nuclear fuel cycles. Today's typical open fuel cycle (top) follows these steps: yellowcake ore is mined; uranium is extracted, enriched, and fabricated into oxide fuel rods; fuel rods are run through a water-cooled-and-moderated generation III thermal nuclear reactor to generate electricity for approximately 18 months; and used fuel (with radioactive actinides and fission products) is cooled, stored, and eventually disposed of in a deep, long-term underground geological repository. A closed fuel cycle (bottom) greatly improves sustainability and lessen environmental impacts of nuclear fission by converting the used thermal-reactor fuel (and depleted uranium left over from enrichment) into metal fuel and then recycling this repeatedly through a liquid-metal-cooled fast neutron reactor. Over many cycles, this allows extraction of about 150 times more energy from the uranium and results in a far more compact waste stream with a radiotoxic lifespan of a few centuries, instead of hundreds of millennia (abbreviations: U, uranium; Pu, plutonium; MA, minor actinides; Î>>, radiotoxic half-life).
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The IFR, and other generation IV designs that use thorium (Hargraves 2012), offer a realistic future for nuclear power as a major source of sustainable, carbon-free energy for global civilization; there are sufficient fuel resources to last for millions of years (Lightfoot et al. 2006). At present, uranium remains cheap and policies for treating actinide wastes (e.g., direct geological disposal vs. recycling) are in limbo in most countries. However, if nuclear power were to be deployed on a large scale, such recycling would become essential.
For many countries'--including most high energy-consuming nations in East Asia and Western Europe with little spare land and already high population densities'--the options for massive expansion of renewable energy alternatives are heavily constrained (Trainer 2010; Hong et al. 2013a). But making a case for a major role for nuclear fission in a future sustainable energy mix does not mean arguing against energy efficiency and renewable options. Under the right circumstances, these alternatives might also make important contributions (Mackay 2008; Nicholson 2012). Ideally, all low-carbon energy options should be free to compete on a fair and level playing field against a range of sustainability criteria, as exemplified in Table 1, so as to maximize displacement of fossil fuels (one of the key goals for effective biodiversity conservation). Ultimately, as the urgency of climate-change mitigation and land sparing mounts and requirements for sustainable growth in developing economies and replacement of ageing infrastructure in the developed world come to the fore, pragmatic decisions on the viability of all types of nonfossil-fuel energy technologies will have to be made on a nonprejudicial basis.
Energy Trade-Offs and the Big Conservation PictureThe alternative energy futures we contrasted'--namely those rejecting or embracing nuclear power to replace the bulk of today's reliance on fossil fuels'--are only 2 possible pathways among many different plausible permutations. Our goal was not to promulgate any particular energy mix; rather, we used concrete examples to demonstrate that conservation biologists should apply similar, objective approaches to rank all the relevant criteria before supporting or rejecting a particular technology. Lest faith triumph over evidence, rejecting any given energy source requires finding an alternative and considering the full spectrum of its environmental and societal implications.
From a biodiversity-centric standpoint, conservation professionals also need to consider carefully the energy sources they will support in terms of how many species they are willing to lose. In other words, conservation professionals should be asking themselves what minimum criteria should be met for the choice of global energy supply in terms of biodiversity persistence (e.g., considering just how bad climate disruption will get and how much more land area will be cleared) and what is their maximum tolerance for failure to achieve those goals (Brook & Bradshaw 2012). Can we afford to play Russian roulette with biodiversity because of preconceived notions and ideals?
Idealized notions of a preferred energy supply without a sound assessment of risk (i.e., a probabilistic analysis of how likely we are to avoid a BAU scenario and its ensuing problems) are exactly the sorts of obstacles we encounter daily when attempting to convince society why it should value and protect biodiversity. Just as our discipline has matured from measuring how human endeavor harms biodiversity to one attempting to answer questions pertaining more to the implications of its loss and what we can do to restrict it, so too must we develop our scientific appraisal of world energy production.
A pertinent piece of information (Fig. 4) suffices to illustrate the relative impacts of 4 types of energy supply and dispatchable storage (as distinguished from instantaneous power generation): the average developed-nation human will use about 6.4 million kWh of energy (not just electricity) over his or her lifetime. This is equivalent to the energy stored in a 780 g (40.7 cm3) golf-ball-sized lump of uranium; 56 20,000-L tanker trucks of compressed natural gas; about 3,200 t (4,000 m3, or about 800 elephant equivalents) of coal; or, if the storage capacity required for electricity generated from renewables is considered, a 86,000 t elevator-shaft-dimensioned battery over 13 km high (Fig. 4). The size of the battery is equivalent to 16 of the elevator shafts built to service the world's tallest building (the Burj Khalifa super skyscraper in Dubai) stacked on top of one another. These energy-density comparisons for storage are telling and increase in importance when considering the additional components of emissions (e.g., burning 800 elephants worth of coal would release approximately 12,000 t of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) and land use (e.g., mining required for materials to construct the massive NiMH battery required to store intermittent wind or solar energy).
Figure 4. Comparative energy density of fuels: (a) uranium, (b) compressed natural gas (CNG), (c) coal, and (d) nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) chemical batteries (standard type used in electric vehicles) required to supply or store approximately 220 kWh of electricity equivalent per day for 80 years (enough to service all lifetime needs for lighting, heat, transport, food production, manufacturing, etc. of a developed-world citizen. Total electrical energy embodied is calculated as 6.4 million kWh. Mass-to-volume relationship is uranium = 780 g or 40.7 cm3 (golf-ball sized); compressed natural gas = 56 20,000-L tanker trucks; coal = 3,200 t or 4,000 m3 (approximately 800 elephant equivalents); NiMH battery = 86,000 t (elevator-sized battery as tall as the service shaft for 16 Burj Khalifa sized super skyscrapers). Supporting data and underpinning calculations are in the Supporting Information.
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Future of Energy ProductionFossil fuels have supplied most of society's energy demand since the Industrial Revolution. Yet with the mounting problems of climate change, pollution, security, and dwindling supplies, we now face the need for a near-total transformation of the world's energy systems. We have provided a short critical overview of the challenges and trade-offs in'--and potential solutions for'--completely decarbonizing our energy supplies while meeting the growing need for increased prosperity in the developing world. Of the limited options available, next-generation nuclear power and related technologies, based on modular systems with full fuel recycling and inherent safety, hold substantial yet largely unrecognized prospects for being a principal cure for our fossil-fuel addiction, yet nuclear power still has an undeservedly poor reputation in the environmental community. Solving the energy problem has broader implications: it will not only help mitigate climate change, it will also avoid destructive use of natural and agricultural landscapes for biofuels and diffuse energy generation and thus allow societies to reduce their environmental footprint by sparing land and resources for biodiversity conservation.
Based on an objective and transparent analysis of our sustainable energy choices, we have come to the evidence-based conclusion that nuclear energy is a good option for biodiversity conservation (and society in general) and that other alternatives to fossil fuels should be subjected to the same cost''benefit analyses (in terms of biodiversity and climate outcomes, as well as sociopolitical imperatives) before accepting or dismissing them. We conclude that large-scale nuclear power'--as a route to an electrified, oil-, gas- and coal-free economy'--offers a positive way forward because it provides a low-risk pathway to eliminating the fossil-fuel dependencies, global energy poverty, and wealth imbalances that rank among the major forces driving today's biodiversity crisis. At the very least, nuclear power needs to be considered seriously, alongside renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power, in any robust sustainable energy mix for the future.
WH to healthcare providers: Prepare for climate impacts | TheHill
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:57
The White House wants healthcare providers to get serious about bulking up their defenses against climate change.
In a best-practice guide for healthcare providers and policymakers released on Monday, the administration advises them on how to best improve their ''climate readiness.''
The guide is one piece of a larger initiative at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched by President Obama last year, and provides information to healthcare facilities on how to prepare of extreme weather events the administration says is tied to climate change.
The guidelines released by the White House on Monday include commitments from leading healthcare providers across the country to bulk up climate resilience at facilities and of operations.''HHS recognizes climate change as one of the top public health challenges of our time,'' the White House said.
''Climate change related health threats such as heat waves, droughts, and worsened air pollution are anticipated to put additional strain on our health care system through associated illnesses and exacerbation of chronic conditions like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,'' the fact sheet adds.
The administration adds that the healthcare sector accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. economy, making climate related impacts on it a ''public health and an economic threat.''
The guide offers tips on how to develop and maintain data on climate hazards, understanding regulations, retrofitting infrastructure to make it more durable, prioritizing resilience measures, and strengthening natural buffers to floods, storms and other events.
On top of the best practice guide, HHS is working on providing a set of online tools for healthcare facilities to use.
Helping local and state communities better prepare for climate change has been a key piece of the president's second-term agenda, but has come under heavy fire from Republicans.
A number of Obama's climate change policies are on the GOP's hit list when the party takes the majority in the Senate next year.
How plumber's truck from Texas ended up in hands of Islamic fighters in Syria | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 04:32
Mark Oberholtzer, of Texas City, Texas, sold his truck to a dealership three years agoHis truck with the name of his company - Mark-1 Plumbing - is seen in a propaganda photo released online by Islamist group Ansar al-DeenThe truck has been outfitted with an anti-aircraft gun and is fighting on the front lines in SyriaThe logo features Oberholtzer's phone number and he says he's now getting death threats By MailOnline Reporter
Published: 18:34 EST, 16 December 2014 | Updated: 22:26 EST, 16 December 2014
Mark Oberholtzer isn't an Islamic fighter in Syria. He's never been to Syria. And the plumber from Texas City, Texas, says he certainly would never willingly aid fundamentalist rebels.
So it's hard for him to understand how his Ford F-250 pickup truck - including his logo for Mark-1 Plumbing and his phone number - wound up in a propaganda picture sent out by the extremist Ansar al-Deen Front from the front lines of the war in Syria.
Mr Oberholtzer says he's been getting hundreds of phone calls and faxes since the Ansar al-Deen Front tweeted a picture of his old truck with an anti-aircraft gun in the back, according to the Galveston County Daily News.
How'd it get there? This truck, once owned by Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City, Texas, is seen here in an Islamist propaganda photo
'A few of the people are really ugly,' he told the newspaper.
Some threatened his life.
Mr Oberholtzer says he has hired a lawyer and wants to make Twitter remove the posting, CBS News reports.
Mark Oberholtzer says he has no idea how Islamists and Syria got hold of his truck after he sold it
He says he sold the truck to an AutoNation dealership three years ago.
In the past when he sold his work trucks, he always removed the logo first. The last time he got rid of a vehicle he didn't.
Mr Oberholtzer, who has worked as a plumber for the past 32-years, assumed AutoNation would remove the decal before selling the truck.
Apparently it didn't.
It's still entirely unknown how the truck made its way into the possession of Islamist fighters in Syria.
A spokesman for AutoNation told KHOU 11 News that the truck went to auction, and probably different owners over and over, before ending up in the hands of Islamic terrorists.
Oberholtzer wants the death threats and the phone to stop ringing.
'We have a secretary here, she's scared to death. We all have families. We don't want no problems,' said Oberholtzer.
CBS News reports that the band of Ansar al-Deen seen in the photo mostly hail from Chechnya in Russia.
While most fighters are Islamic extremists, the group has not reportedly allied itself with ISIS in Syria.
ISIS: The terror group has expanded how and why it recruits new members and is specifically targeting sympathizers abroad
And while it is not known how fighters with ISIS came to own a Texan plumbers truck, the terror group is trying to expand how it recruits fighters to its ranks.
The extremist organization also has been targeting its sophisticated propaganda to entice potential wives and professionals such as doctors, accountants and engineers in its efforts to build a new society.
Among those it has lured were three teenage girls from Colorado, who set out for Syria this fall after swapping Twitter messages about marriage and religion with IS recruiters, and a young woman who sought to fight there - or failing that, to use her nursing skills. It's a diverse pool of recruits whose motives perplex Western governments seeking to combat the flow.
The group 'is issuing a bit of a siren song through social media, trying to attract people to their so-called caliphate,' FBI Director James Comey told reporters. 'And among the people they're trying to attract are young women to be brides for these jihadis.'
The group conscripts children for battle, recruits Westerners for acts of jihad and releases videotapes of beheadings. But it also uses propaganda with a humanitarian appeal, such as photos of bombed-out Syrian villages coupled with pleas for help. Video images of smiling children being given treats and enjoying stuffed animals paint a family-friendly portrait that suggests roles within the proto-state for wives and mothers.
Justice Department officials say people aiding the Islamic State understand what they're getting into and risk prosecution, whether or not they venture to Syria and even if they don't plan to take up arms themselves. Prosecutors have criminally charged more than 15 people in connection with supporting Islamic militant groups.
Advance: Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province in June
A Rochester, New York, food store owner stands accused of trying to arrange for others to travel to Syria and of plotting to kill members of the U.S. military. An Illinois man, allegedly determined to join militants, left behind a letter saying he was disgusted by Western society. And prosecutors say a North Carolina man asked Allah online for martyrdom.
Most charges are brought under a statute that makes it illegal to provide 'material support' - including money, training or a false identity - to a designated terrorist group. Defense lawyers argued the law is overly broad and ensnares the misguided as often as it sweeps up the dangerous. Courts, however, have accepted an expansive interpretation of the law.
'We need to make clear that if you want to go over there and join a terrorist group, you're likely to end up instead in jail,' Carlin said.
Justice Department officials say they're also trying strategies other than prosecution, including trying to identify potential recruits before they go.
FBI agents in Colorado met repeatedly with Shannon Conley, a 19-year-old nurse's aide who had converted to Islam, hoping to dissuade her from traveling to Syria to marry a militant suitor she met online. Agents suggested she try humanitarian work instead of jihad, but she told them that if she couldn't fight, she would use her skills as a nurse's aide to help militant fighters, according to court documents.
Conley pleaded guilty in September and faces sentencing next month. Her lawyer, Robert Pepin, has said she was 'led terribly astray' while pursuing her religion and was 'saved' by her arrest.
Perhaps no case better shows the penetration of the recruitment campaign than that of the three Colorado girls, all from East African immigrant families, who were radicalized online and headed for Syria in October.
The self-styled 'caliphate' declared by the Islamic State group bridging Iraq and Syria is starting to show signs of strain
A review of the girls' social media use, which included thousands of Twitter messages and postings on other sites, by the SITE Intelligence Group shows they were in contact with online jihadists from around the world and were deeply interested in marriage and the role of women. As recruiters interacted with the girls, their typical teenage banter about friends and school became replaced with discussions of religion, paradise and death, the review showed.
Six months before they went overseas, one girl wrote that she wanted to get married as soon as possible and her friends wished her well, telling her they hoped she got an 'amazing husband because you do not deserve anything else!'
One female recruiter told prospects to expect to marry quickly and expect to live a domestic life, as it is 'completely impossible for women to participate in battle,' according to SITE. Women are expected to marry the fighters and bear their children, she explained. Another recruiter told a 16-year-old girl who inquired about joining that 'everyone is welcome,' according to the report.
U.S. officials say even comparatively benign motives for supporting the Islamic State are troubling. 'I'm not sure we've seen someone who's gone over there who's not attracted to the jihadi cause,' Carlin said.
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ISIS Launch Scorpion Bombs to Spread Panic in Iraq
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:12
Islamic State militants are launching bombs containing live scorpions as the latest terror weapon in Iraq.
Canisters of the creatures are being blasted into towns and villages, according to a British military expert who has just returned from the country.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, ex-head of chemical and biological weapons for the Army and Nato, said: "It's madness. IS have improvised devices to launch them.
"They promote the fact that they are doing it and it creates panic.
"Scorpions are robust -- even if they are launched a couple of miles, when the canister breaks thousands are flung out and start crawling all around.
"Some scorpions are very poisonous but the main thing is creating fear."
He said the 2ft bombs were not causing mass casualties but had a massive "psychological impact".
Mr de Bretton-Gordon -- of Avon Protection Systems -- returned from Baghdad last week, where he was advising security forces.
Senior Iraqi officials reported the beasts were being used to target civilian areas in the north of the country.
The weapon harks back to the scorpions stuffed into pots and launched by Iraqis thousands of years ago -- in 198 AD.
They were defending themselves against the Roman invasion.
The Lindt Cafe ''ISIS''' Siege: Australia's Bush-league 9/11 | American Everyman
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:19
by Scott Creighton
UPDATE:Reddit says ''these guys are heroes''
You should copy this video: the guy is definitely not a Muslim looking type individual. He looks like ex-military and he's apparently talking into a mic mounted on his lapel or shoulder (like the military and police use)
UPDATE: The name of the ''mastermind'' of this great chocolate revolt has been released and he is apparently a sleazeball who's been helping Australia demonize Muslims for a while. There he is, Man Haron Monis.
Apparently Man Patsy has been in trouble with the law several times, the last episode being where he helped his current girlfriend murder and burn his ex-wife. Somehow, miraculously, he got out on bail for that one.
On 15 November 2013, Haron was charged by NSW Police with being an accessory before and after the fact to the murder of Noleen Hayson Pal, allegedly stabbed and set alight in a Werrington apartment stairwell on 21 April 2013. His partner Amirah Droudis, was formally charged with Pal's murder. Pal was Haron's ex-wife.
On 12 December 2013, Haron and Amirah were given bail at Penrith Local Court. Magistrate Darryl Pearce said there wew significant flaws in the Crown's case against the pair. ''It is a weak case''' he said.
To make matters even more interesting, Man Patsy was charged just a few months ago for sexual assault and denied bail initially. Once again, somehow he's roaming the streets. (or is he?)
UPDATE: Talk about scripted bullshit. Man Patsy is letting the hostages send out Facebook updates which Di$info Jone$ and Paul Joseph Watson publish unquestioningly as authentic:
And there you have it! Australia is ''under attack'' from ''ISIS''.
This guy is sleazeball who ran a spiritual healing scam in Sydney'... and he's ''ISIS''? He's an Iranian expat who ran from the country because the Shah lost control and he's supposed to be ''ISIS''?
You ever notice that everything is cross-marketing these days? I saw a Geico commercial the other day with a Helzberg Diamond ad stuck in it. You can't watch an episode of South Park anymore without having to endure an onslaught of product placements from Rockstar energy drinks to whatever restaurant they cut a deal with.
And God knows you can't watch an entire NFL game without being pilloried if you don't ''LOVE THE TROOPS!!!''. Yesterday's absolutely disgusting staged reunion at the Colt's Lucas Oil Field between a woman serving overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan and her children is a prime example.Watching that poor woman have to run across the field during a timeout to hold her daughters she hadn't seen for 9 months made me sick to my stomach.
Last year the Colts gave the family of soldier a NEW CAR!!!! like Oprah gives 'em away. A few in the crowd dutifully clapped. No one seemed offended that a soldier's pay is so low his family has too ride a bus while a punter working for AN OIL COMPANY has so much money he can buy someone a new car like it was nothing.
You like the NFL? Well, you have to LOVE the WARS as well buddy! That's cross marketing.
And with that in mind, I present to you the The Lindt Cafe ''ISIS''' Siege.
This one is still playing down under in Sydney (and see this) Apparently, one guy with a gun can hold the entire city of 4 million plus people at bay just so long as he:
claims to be an ebil Moooslimclaims to have planted bombs somewhere in their precious financial districtHere's what I know so far:
One guy is armed and has been holding hostages inside a Lindt Cafe in Sydney since yesterday morning.
He immediately released 3 men, at least one of whom works for the Lindt corporation (possibly all of them are management at the store)
He then released 2 more, both women, and both wearing Lindt aprons. So it appears he politely let the employees of the Great Satan Corporate target go free while keeping a number of customers who just happened to be in the store at the time.
Let me say that again'... he let the Great Satan's employees go and kept the customers. yeah'...
So here we are at Christmas and the ebil Moooslims have attacked once again but this time, everyone will have Lindt Chocolat on their minds as the trip through the malls and see what? That's right, Lindt Chocolat products piled up everywhere.
Gee, I wonder if this will help sales.
The store just happens to be across the street from Channel 7's studios in Sydney. They can look right out of their 4th floor window and ''report'' the action. They claim that the remaining hostages are being forced to stand up against windows and some are having to hold a stupid little black and white rag with an Islamic prayer written on it. Apparently you can buy off the internet for about 20 bucks all day long.
Channel 7 said they watched one woman forced to stand in the window ''for two hours'' straight. Oh the humanity.
Didn't the torture report mention something about the CIA making people stand for 180 hours straight? Didn't the torture report mention the fact that 28 or MORE of those detainees were ''mistakes'' and had done nothing wrong like that woman in the window?
Two hours, huh?
Police claim that the ''terrorist'' has demanded an authentic ''ISIS''' flag in exchange for one of the hostages. I guess they ran out of Lindt employees.
I'm not sure how the rest of this will pan out. More than likely the patsy terrorist will be found shot in the head and more money will be allocated to fight the Global War of Terrorism on behalf of British and U.S. interests.
Call it an educated guess.
And Swiss interests for that matter. (Lindt = Switzerland and Bank for International Settlements = Switzerland)
Lindt will also probably see a huge jump in holiday sales this season, cus let's face it'... until now, who really remembered what Lindt was aside from those cheap little 35 cent chocolate treats you can grab at the cash register?
Oh, thought you might like this. It's a photo from this link I previously posted (and see this)
The Twitter world is bubbling with random hate for Muslims and love for Lindt and it's all brought to you by the latest ''ISIS' Crisis''
Now that's cross marketing.
Filed under: Lindt Cafe "ISIS'" Siege, Scott Creighton
DRILL-Martin Place cafe siege, Sydney: Why it's a terrorist target
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:18
City heart ... The Lindt cafe is in Sydney's financial district, just south of major landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.Source: News Corp Australia
The latest live news coverage and commentary from Australia's No. 1 media company. Stream 1
A SYDNEY court heard details of an alleged terror plot to be carried out in Martin Place in the wake of terror raids in Sydney and Melbourne in September this year.
The plot involved abducting a random Australian, executing them by beheading in a public place, possibly Martin Place in Sydney's CBD, and filming the act and posting it on social media.
Terror target ... the siege is taking place on one of Sydney's busiest streets, across from the Channel Seven studios.Source: Supplied
Martin Place has long been Sydney's business hub, and a home to banks and finance companies. Closed to traffic, it runs from bustling George Street uphill to NSW Parliament House on Macquarie Street.
The train line out to Kings Cross and Bondi Junction runs beneath the street, with Martin Place station situated towards the eastern end of the mall.
SIEGE: Terror on Martin Place
EARLIER: Man arrested in early morning raid
LONE WOLVES: Martin Place would be terror target
Nightmare scenario ... police at an armed siege at the Lindt cafe. Picture : Richard DobsonSource: News Corp Australia
The street is often visited by tourists, especially this month with the erection of a large Christmas tree at its western end.
The Lindt cafe on the corner on Philip Street is directly opposite the Channel Seven studios, from which the network broadcasts its high-rating AM shows Sunrise and The Morning Show.
Hostage scene ... an aerial shot of the Lindt Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place.Source: Supplied
Channel 7's Martin Place studio staff unwittingly became siege central, with The Morning Show's Larry Emdur and Kylie Gillies cutting from regular programming to broadcast the chilling vision live.
City shut down ... the first report of the incident was at 9.44am.Source: News Corp Australia
Seven News' senior reporter Chris Reason was brought in to add commentary, while the rest of the Sydney news and current affairs staff were ordered to evacuate the building by NSW Police.
At 10.30am, the seriousness of the ISIS threat forced the remaining TV production staff to leave the premises, throwing to the network's Melbourne news crew, anchored by Nick Etchells and Laurel Irving.
TV executive producer Max Uechtriz tweeted confirmation of the terror scenario, with hostages forced to hold up the sinister black flag of the Islamic terror group.
Mobilised ... the bomb squad on scene at Martin Place. Picture: Richard DobsonSource: News Corp Australia
Based on news staff eyewitness accounts, at least two suspects were identified walking around inside the cafe, one wearing an ISIS-tagged headband.
The Lindt cafe is a luxe space in a marble building, with high ceilings, gold trimmed furnishings and wall-to-wall chocolate displays.
Large bins of Lindt balls, in the colours of Christmas, have been placed just as you walk into the store.
Peter Kassig 'killed by gunshot before he was decapitated' - Telegraph
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 23:57
The research has already revealed that the video was shot with the aid of a sophisticated film editing software package known as Avid, which costs around £200,000 and is used in Hollywood to digitally alter real-life footage for special effects.
The analysis, which is due to be published in full this week, has been conducted by Quilliam, the British anti-extremist think-tank, in conjunction with the US-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). The two organisations enlisted the help of surgeons and video experts, whose identities have been kept secret for security reasons.
Charlie Winter, a researcher at Quilliam, told The Telegraph: "We have had a senior face and neck surgeon independently look at some of the screenshots we took. His initial assessment was that a contusion (a bruise)
above Mr Kassig's left eye was a gunshot wound. Closer analysis of the wound reinforced that initial assessment, leading him to believe that the wound was probably the cause of death, rather than beheading."
Mr Winter added that a forensic digital analyst had also examined the footage of Mr Kassig's head, and concluded that the way the neck had been severed appeared to be "too clean to be from a straightforward beheading".
The digital analyst had also detected what he believed were discrepancies in the footage itself, suggesting it had been edited to make it appear as if Jihadi John was standing in the desert with Mr Kassig's head at his feet. In particular, the shadows cast by the sun do not appear consistent.
"The analyst categorically believes that the shadows were added, and added poorly," Mr Winter said.
The footage showing Mr Kassig's death comes as a separate segment of a longer propaganda video which shows a mass execution of Syrian army officers by Isil fighters. All are unmasked except for Jihadi John.
Research on the video already released by Quilliam and TRAC suggests that he may have had a body double in sections of the footage.
The degree to which the footage of Jihadi John has been edited or superimposed will fuel speculation that Isil may be exaggerating his role in the hostage murders for propaganda purposes. Some reports have claimed that he may even have been already killed or badly wounded during a US airstrike in the western Iraqi city of Qaim last month. However, Mr Winter said: "It would be jumping to conclusions to assume that he has been killed or injured simply because some of the recent footage of him may have been edited."
Islamic State Extremists Train Five-Year-Olds For Combat in Syria: UN
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:16
Middle East03:02 16.12.2014(updated 03:39 16.12.2014)
UNITED NATIONS, December 16 (Sputnik) '' Hundreds of children, some as young as five years old, are being trained for combat in a military camp in Ar-Raqqah, Syria, by Islamic State (IS) militants, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has told the Security Council.
According to Amos, some 350 children undergo training at the IS camp in Ar-Raqqah and "reports of children killed or public executed, crucified, beheaded and stoned to death, particularly by ISIL [IS], have increased in recent months".
"Recently, Kurdish refugees from Kobani [in northern Syria] reported the capture of young girls by ISIL for sexual purposes," Amos added, speaking to the UN Security Council Monday.
According to the UN humanitarian chief, girls in Syria are forced to marry IS militants or are sold into sexual slavery.
"Parents are terrified of their unmarried daughters being forced to marry ISIL fighters in areas under their control. Women captured as slaves by ISIL have been sold in markets in Ar-Raqqa. Some are sold to individual men, others are kept in ISIL rest houses and rape multiple rapes by fighters returning from the battlefield," Amos told the UN Security Council.
IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012, having also ceased vast areas in Iraq.
The radical Sunni group is known for its extreme violence against civilians, as well as journalist abductions and executions.
A UN commission has accused IS of war crimes and crimes against humanity for such brutal tactics as killing, enslavement, rape and sexual slavery.
SAUDI ARABIA PLAYS A DOUBLE GAME, AS MANY SAUDI PRINCES FINANCE ISIS!
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 23:12
Chuck Hagel described ISIS as being as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group'... they are tremendously well funded, he said. More than with any other militant group, the focus of the international community's attention is on the finances of ISIS, the revenue it earns from oil, taxation, extortion and looting.Saudi Arabia plays a double game, as many Saudi princes finance ISIS!Islam is a lie, Muhammad a criminal, the Koran is poison. This is the new slogan on the flag of Saudi Arabia modified to declare truth and liberation.The US-led coalition has directed a considerable portion of its air strike effort against the oil refineries and smuggling routes believed to be the mainstay of the group's financial survival in the belief that disrupting funding sources will ultimately precipitate its demise.The importance of financing in conflict is as old as conflict itself. The Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero observed that the sinews of war are a limitless supply of money.Saudi Arabia is a vast criminal enterprise masquerading as a state. Saudi Arabia remains one of the top five executioners in the world. The death penalty is still applied to a wide range of non-lethal crimes such as adultery, armed robbery, apostasy, drug smuggling, kidnapping, rape, witchcraft, and sorcery. Since 2009, appeals by the growing human rights movement in the country have been met with harsh measures such as arbitrary arrests, detention without charge or trial, unfair trials, and travel bans.More recently, during the Cold War, states sponsored political violence by funding and supporting proxies. However, the end of the Cold War, and the use of UN Security Council resolutions against countries such as Libya and Sudan, saw a dramatic decline in state-sponsored terrorism.The Arab Spring will eventually come to Saudi Arabia. Despite generally good relations, Occident remains concerned about human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia and global terrorism of the Royal House of Saudi Arabia. Principal human rights issues include abuse of prisoners and incommunicado detention; prohibitions or severe restrictions on freedom of speech, press, peaceful assembly and association, and religion; denial of the right of citizens to change their government; systematic discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities; and suppression of workers' rights. While organizations such as Hezbollah continue to operate with state backing, post-Cold War terrorist organizations have mostly been unable to rely on state sponsorship, thus needing to source their own financing.Skilful financial management is at the heart of the success of any terrorist or insurgent organisation - it represents their lifeblood but is also one of their most significant vulnerabilities.If an Arab Spring uprising completely disrupted Saudi oil production,Occident and the global economy would face a massive economic and strategic crisis. Russia and Iran as oil-producing states would likely exploit the crisis to increase their power around the world while undermining Occidental influence, especially in the Middle East. To guard against the economic and strategic dangers, Occident should prepare emergency measures before such a crisis. Releasing strategic petroleum reserves in coordination with other countries, tapping the North American energy resources, and reducing domestic energy consumption would limit the impact of the crisis and facilitate recovery. However, it is also in the U.S. interest to use its influence and resources to assist allies and friends during the crisis.Securing and maintaining reliable funding is the key to moving from fringe radical group to recognized terrorist organization, from a hand-to-mouth existence to a more planned and organized model. Successful groups are often defined as much by their skills as financial managers as they are by their military expertise and ability to recruit fighters.In general, terrorist groups can draw on financing from two primary sources. Internally, funds are generated by taxation of people, businesses and transport routes; proceeds from kidnap and ransom; and profits from trade. External funding is provided by donors sympathetic to the cause, be they wealthy supporters (often from Gulf state countries, sometimes referred to as the "Golden Chain") or members of the diaspora community.SAUDI ARABIA IS THE MAJOR FINANCIAL SOURCE OF TERRORISMSaudi Arabia is a disgusting terrorist country that financed the 9/11 attack. As has been documented repeatedly, Saudi Arabia is the major financial source of suicide bombers, religious incitements, extremist schools, and terrorist mosques throughout the world. Petrodollars finance many terrorist groups, such as Hamas, ISIS, Mujahedin Khalq, al-Qaeda, and Fatah al-Islam. As the Saudi ruling family's ally and protector, the U.S. government and other institutions cannot be silent while Saudi institutions continue to promote its deadly ideology, Wahhabism. As the protector of the Royal House of Saudi Arabia, Uncle Sam has a responsibility to make it clear to the Saudis that religious incitements are not only a threat to Occidental democratic institutions, but also to the international community as well.Donations are also sometimes transferred between like-minded terrorist groups. For example, the Nigerian group Boko Haram reportedly received $250,000 from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in 2012.In a letter from 2005, al-Qaeda's former deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called upon al-Qaeda in Iraq to transfer $100,000 (£63,700) because many of its own funding lines had been cut.Whilst donations can provide a source of initial seed-funding, they are vulnerable to disruption by the authorities and the supply is unreliable.To establish financial independence, terrorist groups need to move from primarily external funding to internal, self-generated funding that is more difficult for the international community to disrupt.Al-Shabab in Somalia is a good case in point. While the group receives some limited funding from external sources, it has developed a highly effective charcoal export business which generates up to $80m a year, according to the UN.Al-Shabab has also mastered another funding tool - business, personal and transport tax. Like ISIS, al-Shabab controls territory and population, operating a form of quasi-government in the areas under its control - raising taxes and offering some services, particularly security and justice, in return.IS promises services and food supplies to Muslims in areas it controls.The control of territory also allows lucrative businesses, such as the growing of opium poppies in Afghanistan, to flourish.Over $7bn has been spent on fighting the drugs trade in the country yet despite 13 years of a Nato-led effort, poppy cultivation is at an all-time high, with the Taliban exploiting Afghanistan's position as the supplier of over 90% of global opium output to earn up to $150m a year.Obama has called upon the international community to adopt strong measures, at national and international levels, to curtail the recruitment of IS fighters. What is not mentioned in the media reports is that the heads of State and heads of government who have endorsed America's campaign against the Islamic State, advised by their respective secret services, are fully aware that US intelligence is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State, which is part of a vast network of US supported jihadist terrorist entities.Lest we forget, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, have been financing and training the ISIS terrorists on behalf of the United States. Israel is harboring the Islamic State in the Golan Heights, NATO in liaison with the Turkish high command has since March 2011 been involved in coordinating the recruitment of the jihadist fighters dispatched to Syria. Moreover, the ISIS brigades in both Syria and Iraq are integrated by Western special forces and military advisers.While international diplomacy is often based on deception, US foreign policy lies are no longer credible. What we are witnessing is a total breakdown of established diplomatic practice. The Forbidden Truth is that the Islamic State is an instrument of Washington, a US intelligence asset. ISIS is not an independent entity, nor is it an outside enemy which threatens global security, as conveyed by the Western media. While everybody knows this, the big lie prevails. The Lie becomes the Truth.The United Nations Security Council resolution calls upon member states to suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting, equipping and financing of foreign terrorist fighters. Specifically, the resolution points to the particular and urgent need to implement this resolution with respect to those foreign terrorist fighters who are associated with ISIS, ANF Al-Nusrah Front, and other cells, affiliates, splinter groups or derivatives of Al-Qaida. But are these not precisely the opposition freedom fighters trained and recruited by the Western military alliance in their quest to unseat the government of Bashar Al Assad?ISIS are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors. The endgame is to transform countries into territories.Political leaders present at the UN Security Council session applauded the US counter-terrorism initiative. Hollande pointed to the fact that terrorism has taken on another dimension, and it wants to conquer territory now.Several US allies including Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar which are currently involved in supporting ISIS and Al Nusrah are now involved in the US sponsored air raids allegedly targeted against the ISIS inside Syria.Turkey and Jordan have borders with Syria. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have borders with Iraq. The direct military involvement of these countries points to a scenario of escalation and sectarian warfare extending from the Mediterranean to Central Asia.In this regard, Turkey has already announced that it will be involved in ground operations inside Syria and Iraq. DavutoÄlu announced that his government will intervene militarily in both Iraq and Syria.What is at stake is a no fly zone in disguise, a justification to bomb Iraq and Syria under a counter-terrorism mandate, largely targeting economic infrastructure as well as the civilian population. The political architects of the Islamic State including Obama, Cameron and their counterparts in France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, et al, are now waging a military campaign against the Islamic State, which they themselves created. Boots on the ground are also contemplated. US will send some 13,000 troops to Iraq.The leaders of western countries are either utterly ignorant and stupid, or totally corrupt and complicit. The Terrorists R US. Moreover, they seem totally unaware of the broad implications of their actions.War propaganda is a criminal act under Nuremberg: Crime against the Peace. By upholding the lies and fabrications of US foreign policy, the mainstream media is complicit in war crimes.George W. Bush stated in 2001 you are either with us or with the terrorists. The forbidden truth is that the US is involved in a diabolical undertaking: it has created an Islamic terror network with a view to destroying sovereign countries and now it is waging a war against its own terror network. Without media propaganda, this military agenda under the guise of counter-terrorism would fall flat, collapse like a deck of cards.The US president and his indefectible British ally R the Terrorists, they are the state sponsors of terrorism, with a view to waging a war of conquest. The United Nations is complicit in this undertaking.The most critical issue for the United States is to create a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. Operationally, it might not be possible to engage all adversaries simultaneously, but conceptually, it is essential to think in terms of a coherent center of gravity of operations. It is increasingly clear that that center is the Black Sea.There are currently two active theaters of military action with broad potential significance. One is Ukraine. The other is in the Syria-Iraq region, where the forces of the Islamic State have launched an offensive designed at a minimum to control regions in both countries '-- and at most dominate the area between the Levant and Iran. In most senses there is no connection between these two theaters.Russia has an ongoing problem in the high Caucasus and there are reports of Chechen advisers working with the Islamic State. In this sense, the Russians are far from comfortable with what is happening in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, anything that diverts U.S. attention from Ukraine is beneficial to the Russians. For its part, the Islamic State must oppose Russia in the long run. Its immediate problem, however, is U.S. power, so anything that distracts the United States is beneficial to the Islamic State.America is not going to use its military power on large scale. It plans to achieve its goals at the expense of regional allies. Turkey and Romania are two key relationships.The Islamic State is painted as a US enemy that America wages a fierce fight against. In reality the Islamic State is a valuable ally of the United States, the country which is pursuing the goal of converting the Middle East into a large hotbed hit by chaos to spread on Russia, China and other regions of the United States' choice.The Islamic State is too special to openly talk about as a strategic ally. American public opinion would not reconcile with the fact that the US government and special services rub shoulders with thugs. That's why the Islamic State is declared war on. The America's actions are painted as a real crusade. But all this empty talk aside, the operation conducted against the Islamic State closely resembles the strange war waged between UK-French forces and Germany in 1939-1940.On September 23 the first strike was delivered against the radicals' positions in Syria. An air phase is absolutely not enough. The United States has been involved in Iraq for more than ten years. It just cannot watch the advance of militants without lifting a finger. If it does it would surely lose the face. Air bombing is the least thing it can do to pretend it defends Iraq from terrorists.The combination of air power with special operations forces will not lead to elimination of the Islamic State or divisions inside the group. President Obama has said the United States would not have boots on the ground, it means somebody else will have to send ground forces. Iran appears to be a natural ally. But if it will become a warring party and act in the US interests, it would be logical to link such an involvement with other controversial matters affecting the US-Iranian relations. The nuclear program and lifting sanctions top the list of burning issues. No matter all the atrocities committed by the Islamic State, the Obama administration finds the Islamic State at least a lesser evil than Iran. At most it can treat it as an ally behind the scenes.With the US watching the situation evolve in Ukraine and Iraq-Syria, the Islamic State may gradually move to the Northern Caucasus making come to surface the underground forces there and opening a new front. The Islamic States has already declared Russia as its main enemy. One of the group's leaders '' Omar al Shishani - is an ethnic Chechen. Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of Pravy Sector, called on the Caucasus Emirate to join together in the fight against Russia.The Islamic State has long been in the making: in the think tanks and military planning offices of Israel. The plan to have a group like ISIL rend apart the Arab nation-states of the Middle East is enshrined in two Israeli policies: A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties written in 1982 by former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon and A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, largely written American neo-conservative war hawk Richard Perle for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and issued in 1996. The latter report included contributions from Perle's fellow Israeli agents-of-influence who have migrated in and out of sensitive United States government positions: Douglas Feith and David and Meyrav Wurmser.The group of neocons hired by Netanyahu, known as the Study Group on A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, have dominated U.S. Middle Eastern policy for over two decades and it was this group that was responsible for the disastrous U.S. policies that led to the occupation of Iraq and involvement in radical Islamic rebellions in Libya and Syria.The policy-making boiler shops that assisted in the foundation of ISIL in Syria and Iraq to implement the Yinon and Clean Break plans are located within the greater Washington, DC area within such pro-Israeli non-profit organizations as the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS).The Clean Break policy was long in the making for Netanyahu, who first floated the concept of a Greater Israel or Eretz Israel dominating its Arab neighbors through fratricidal civil wars at the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism convened by The Jonathan Institute on July 2, 1979. The Jonathan Institute is named after Netanyahu's Israeli commando brother, Jonathan Netanyahu, killed in the 1976 Israeli raid on Entebbe Airport in Uganda in order to free hostages aboard a hijacked Air France jetliner. British intelligence documents later revealed that Netanyahu died in a false flag operation designed by Mossad to create a wave of sympathy for Israel in France and other countries.The Yinon Plan, like the Clean Break crafted by Netanyahu's neocon American Jewish brain trust, called for scrapping the entire Palestinian peace process and effectively annexing and absorbing the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and Gaza. Recent Israeli proposals to forcibly resettle Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank in Egypt's Sinai Desert under quasi-Israeli suzerainty indicates that Israel continues to have designs on a Gaza Strip forcibly depopulated of its Palestinian residents.The Yinon Plan, which was published in the Kivunim Journal for Judaism and Zionism, foresaw the breakup of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Arabia into ethnic- and sectarian-based mini-states that would be at war with one another. These included at the very least a Sunni state, a Shi'a state, and a Kurdish state in Iraq.The Yinon Plan states: Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, at least three states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. The entire Arabian Peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia.The appearance of ISIL on the scene, with its logistical, military, financial, and intelligence support from Israel, fulfills the plans of both Yinon and Netanyahu. Israel now stands ready to capitalize on the mayhem created by ISIL. In some respects, Netanyahu has modified the Yinon and Clean Break plans. ISIL is intent on establishing a single Sunni caliphate over all of Iraq and Syria while subjecting the Kurds, Shi'as, and other minorities to forced conversions to the Wahhabist Sunni sect or, otherwise, execution.There are also reports that ISIL is forcibly transferring child refugees from Syria and Iraq to West Bank settlements to increase the Israeli population. The idea that Israeli settlers, many of whom openly support ISIL by waving its flags on the West Bank and in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, are forcibly Judaizing Syrian and Iraqi Christians, Shi'as, Sunnis, Alawites, Druze, and Yazidis for future lives as West Bank Israeli citizens, rivals the worst ethno-demographic policies of the Nazi Third Reich.There have been reports from Iraq's Anbar province, from where ISIL forces are sweeping towards Baghdad, that Israeli commandos have been witnessed handing over weapons to ISIL forces. In addition, at least one French Jewish teen was reported to have flown to Syria to join ISIL forces battling against the government of President Bashar al Assad. Israeli Defense Force troops have been witnessed exfiltrating ISIL and allied Jabhat al Nusra forces from Syria to the Israeli-held Golan Heights for medical and logistical assistance. Israeli war planes have bombed Syrian government forces while they were locked in battle with ISIL and Al Nusra forces.Illegal Israeli settlers from the West Bank have promoted ISIL at rallies held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The right-wing Israelis, who serve as core supporters of the Netanyahu government, have worn black ISIL t-shirts which blasphemously display the seal of the Prophet Mohammed and waved the black ISIL flag bearing the same seal.Iranian intelligence has determined that there has been coordination of anti-Iraqi government operations between ISIL and the Iranian terrorist group Mohajedin-e-Khalq (MEK), which is strongly supported by such notorious American neocons as Richard Perle and Rudolph Giuliani. Reports that ISIL units have crossed the border into Iran are coupled with reports of heightened MEK activity along the Iraqi-Iranian border. There is little doubt that Israel is coordinating the cross-border activities of both ISIL and the MEK inside Iran. There are also reports that ISIL and the MEK have held informal talks in France with the knowledge of Prime Minister Manuel Valls who is supposedly overseeing French military air operations against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Valls's wife, Anne Gravoin, is a well-known supporter of Israel. She is of Moldovan Jewish descent.Although ISIL receives much of its funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Gulf emirates, its ideological mentor remains Israel. No Israeli politician or military leader has suggested ISIL poses any threat to the Jewish state. Apprentices seldom threaten their masters. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an investor in the Rupert Murdoch's neocon and fanatical pro-Israel News Corporation, has indicated that there exists an alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Kuwait. This unholy alliance that is using ISIL as its vanguard is also seeking to redraw the borders of the Middle East pursuant to the Yinon and Clean Break plans. This true axis of evil threatens Iran and Egypt in the short term and, in the long run, Russia and China.
Maajid Nawaz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 02:04
Maajid Nawaz (Urdu: Ù
Ø§Ø¬Ø¯ ÙÙØ§Ø²', born 1978) is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn and co-founder and chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank. Himself a former member of the Islamist revolutionary group Hizb ut-Tahrir, he was arrested in December 2001 in Egypt and was imprisoned there until 2006. He resigned from Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2007, and co-founded Quilliam with former activists from radical Islamist organisations, including Ed Husain.
BiographyEarly yearsNawaz cites racism whilst growing up, whether from classmates,C18 gangs or the police, and feeling divided between his Pakistani and British identities as important factors in his struggle to find his own identity. When Nawaz's brother, Osman, was recruited into Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) by Nasim Ghani (later the UK leader of HT), Osman subsequently persuaded Nawaz to attend HT meetings held in Southend homes. Nawaz cites seeing videos at these meetings, showing how "European Muslims were being massacred" in Bosnia, as being the catalyst which persuaded him to become involved with HT.
Determined to go to London "to be where the action was", Nawaz persuaded his parents to let him attend a design course in Barking College, East London. In London he was put in contact with one of Ghani's prot(C)g(C)s, Ed Husain, who persuaded Nawaz to transfer to Newham College of Further Education where there were more Muslim students. He subsequently studied law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
Hizb ut-Tahrir yearsWhile a student at Newham and then at SOAS, Maajid very quickly became a national speaker and international recruiter for Hizb ut-Tahrir, traveling first to Pakistan and then to Denmark to export the party's ideology and set up cells from London. As part of his university degree, Nawaz spent a compulsory year abroad in Egypt. He was arrested and interrogated in Alexandria for belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was banned in Egypt. He was then transferred to al-Gihaz, the Cairo headquarters of Aman al-Dawlah (the Egyptian state security service). Though, like most foreign prisoners, he was not himself tortured, he was interrogated with the threat of torture and witnessed other prisoners being tortured. He was then transferred with fellow foreign prisoners, including Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst, to Mazrah Tora. There he was put on trial. During his trial, Maajid Nawaz was adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience. Nisbet, Pankhurst and Nawaz were each sentenced to five years imprisonment.
Disenchantment and leaving Hizb ut-TahrirWhile imprisoned in Mazrah Tora Nawaz spoke at length with the Muslim Brotherhood leadership such as Mohammed Badie, who in his youth personally smuggled Qutb's Milestones out from prison, and their spokesman Dr. Essam el-Erian. He also befriended Dr. Sa'ad al-Din Ibrahim and the imprisoned runner-up to Egypt's 2006 presidential elections, liberal head of the Tomorrow Party Ayman Nour. Throughout this time, Nawaz continued his studies, sitting with graduates of Cairo's Al-Azhar University and Dar al-'Ulum. He specialized in the Arabic language whilst studying historical Muslim scholastics, sources of Islamic jurisprudence, Hadith historiography and the art of Qur'an recitation. He also committed half of the Qur'an to memory.
The reason for Nawaz's departure from Hizb ut-Tahrir was due to profound doubts. As he describes in his own words: "My journey from prison was not an easy one to make. After all, there were many reasons for why I should not leave, and very few for why I should. The one reason that I could not ignore, the one reason that grew deep inside me till it consumed me with guilt was the realisation that I was abusing my faith for a mere political project. After learning through my studies in prison that Islamism was not the religion of Islam, but rather a modern political ideology, I no longer felt guilty simply for criticising a political system inspired by 7th century norms."
Return to UK and founding QuilliamNawaz left HT in 2007 and completed his studies at SOAS, graduating with a B.A. (Hons). He later obtained a M.Sc. in Political Theory from the London School of Economics.
Since his departure from Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Maajid Nawaz has been active in the Quilliam Foundation. He also writes regularly for UK and international newspapers and speaks at a variety of forums worldwide to spread a more moderate view of Islam and to speak out against the dangers of extremism. On July 11, 2008, he addressed US Senate Homeland Security and Government and Affairs Committee on the subject of Islamist extremism. In January 2009, he attended the Doha Debates alongside other Muslims to debate the threat of political Islam to the West. He presented the Lent Talks on BBC Radio 4 on 10 March 2010.
Nawaz has met with heads of state including both George W. Bush and Tony Blair. He has co-founded an activist group in Pakistan, Khudi, using his knowledge of recruitment tactics in order to combat extremism. He has said that he wants to persuade Muslims that the "narrative" used to recruit them (that Muslims will only be safe in a Khilafeh, or Caliphate, and the West and non-Muslim states are determined to crush them) is false. However, in January 2014, the Central Executive of Khudi stated that, as Nawaz had decided to stand for election in the UK, "it was mutually agreed that his new role would be incompatible with the vision and objectives of Khudi".
Nawaz's meeting with Tommy Robinson, then leader of the English Defence League, during the filming of a BBC documentary in 2013 led directly to Robinson and the co-leader of EDL, Kevin Carroll, having talks with Quilliam. These resulted in both Robinson and Carroll leaving the EDL on 8 October 2013.
Autobiography RadicalIn July 2012, WH Allen published Nawaz's memoir Radical in the UK. The US version, Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism was published by Lyons Press in October 2013 with a preface for U.S. readers and an updated epilogue.
The book recounts Nawaz's life from his teenage years listening to American hip-hop and learning about the radical Islamist movement spreading throughout Europe and Asia in the 1990s through to the founding of Quilliam.
Liberal Democrat candidateNawaz was selected in July 2013 to stand as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the marginal north London constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn.
In January 2014, after an appearance on The Big Questions TV series, Nawaz tweeted about the individual Jesus and Mo cartoon, including a reproduction of the artwork. which was briefly banned by the authorities at the London School of Economics in late 2013. Of the cartoons (Jesus: "Hey"; Muhammad: "How ya doing?") which he reproduced he typed: "This is not offensive & I'm sure God is greater than to feel threatened by it." As a result, Nawaz received death threats from Islamist activists.George Galloway, the Respect MP, called on Muslims, via a tweet, not to vote for the Liberal Democrats while Nawaz is one of their candidates. By 24 January 2014, a petition to Nick Clegg (reportedly organised by the Liberal Democrat activist Mohammed Shafiq) demanding that Nawaz should be removed as the party's parliamentary candidate had received 20,000 signatures. Petition organisers though have denied a connection to Shafiq and have condemned the incitement to murder.
On 26 January, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, defended Nawaz's right to free expression and said that the death threats are "unacceptable".
In June, Nawaz's stance on this issue led to the National Secular Society accepting him as an honorary associate.
Personal lifeAt the age of 21, he married Rabia, then a fellow activist within the Hizb-ut-Tahrir community and a biology student. On Maajid's decision to leave Hizb-ut-Tahrir, they separated and are now divorced. In 2013 Nawaz announced his engagement to his American fianc(C)e Rachel, who has now joined him in London.
SourcesReferences^http://www.libdems.org.uk/maajid_nawaz^UK vote could create cross-border dynasty, "Al Jazeera", 15 January 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/uk-vote-could-create-cross-border-dynasty-2014113112342206325.html^Maajid Nawaz (Quilliam) http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/about/staff/maajid-nawaz/^Nawaz (2012): pp. 34-36.^Nawaz (2012): pp. 3-4, 56-59.^Nawaz (2012): pp. 59-65.^ abcdefgh"Women-Without-Borders - News". Women-Without-Borders. 2008-04-12. Retrieved 2012-03-18. ^Nawaz (2012): pp. 30-52.^Nawaz (2012): pp. 80-91.^Nawaz (2012): pp. 96-101.^Nawaz (2012): p. 107.^Nawaz (2012): p. 109.^Extremist calls time. "London - TV - Extremist calls time". BBC. Retrieved 2012-03-18. ^ abCasciani, Dominic (2006-03-03). "UK | Freed Britons attack government". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-03-18. ^Nawaz (2012): p. 224.^ abNawaz (2012): p. 241.^Nawaz (2012): pp. 250-57.^"Amnesty International - Library - Egypt: Opening of trial of three Britons and 23 Egyptians raises unfair trial and torture concerns". Mafhoum.com. Retrieved 2012-03-18. ^Nawaz (2012): p. 257.^Nawaz (2012): pp. 262-63.^Nawaz (2012): pp. 266-67; 284-85^Nawaz (2012): pp. 285-86.^Nawaz (2012): p. 287.^"Why Leave the Radicals?". Quilliamfoundation.org. Retrieved 2012-03-18. ^Nawaz (2012): pp. 323-5.^Nawaz (2012): p. 331.^http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/^"Events". Washingtoninstitute.org. Retrieved 2012-03-18. ^Charlotte Higgins (12 August 2012). "Reformed Islamist extremist spreads virtues of democracy through Pakistan". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2013. ^"Central Executive Committee Update". Khudi Pakistan. Retrieved 15 February 2014. ^Malik, Shiv (11 October 2013). "Ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson says sorry for causing fear to Muslims". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2013. ^Rowland Hill, Matt (18 October 2013). "Who is the real Tommy Robinson?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2013. ^"EDL leader Tommy Robinson quits group". BBC News. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. ^Siddique, Haroon (8 October 2013). "Tommy Robinson quits EDL saying it has become 'too extreme'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2013. ^Osley, Richard (25 July 2013). "Lib Dems hope Maajid Nawaz can boost their election hopes in Hampstead and Kilburn". Camden New Journal. ^ abNick Cohen "The Liberal Democrats face a true test of liberty", The Observer, 25 January 2014^ abKeith Perry "Lib Dem candidate receives death threats for tweeting Prophet Mohammed cartoon"Daily Telegraph 21 January 2014^Jessica Elgot "George Galloway And Muslim Activists Round On Lib Dem Candidate Maajid Nawaz", The Huffington Post, 21 January 2014^ abJonathan Brown and Ian Johnston "Nick Clegg attacks death threats against Maajid Nawaz - Lib Dem candidate who tweeted a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus greeting each other", The Independent, 26 January 2014^National Secular Society "New Honorary Associates", National Secular Society Bulletin Summer 2014, June 2014^Cosmo Landesman (1 September 2013). "Maajid Nawaz: a tortured jihadist blossoms into Clegg's darling". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 24 October 2013. See alsoExternal linksPersondataNameNawaz, MaajidAlternative namesShort descriptionBritish activistDate of birth1978Place of birthSouthend on Sea, Essex, EnglandDate of deathPlace of death
George W. Bush cancels Switzerland visit over fears of arrest on torture charges | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:01
Updated: 15:57 EST, 6 February 2011
Change of plan: George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Geneva for a charity gala over fears he could be arrested on torture charges
Former U.S. President George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Switzerland over fears he could have been arrested on torture charges.
Mr Bush was due to be the keynote speaker at a Jewish charity gala in Geneva on February 12.
But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the country.
Criminal complaints against Mr Bush alleging torture have been lodged in Geneva, court officials said.
Human rights groups said they had intended to submit a 2,500-page case against him in the Swiss city tomorrow for alleged mistreatment of suspected militants at Guantanamo Bay.
Left-wing groups have also called for a protest on the day of his visit, leading organisers at Keren Hayesod's annual dinner to cancel Mr Bush's participation on security grounds.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch and International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said the cancellation was linked to growing moves told him accountable for the use of torture, including waterboarding.
He had admitted in his memoirs and TV interviews to ordering the use of the interrogation technique which simulates drowning.
Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, said: 'He's avoiding the handcuffs.'
Protest: Mr Bush was due to be keynote speaker at Keren Hayesod's annual charity dinner, but organisers pulled out over security concerns
The action in Switzerland showed Mr Bush had reason to fear legal complaints against him if he travelled to countries that have ratified an international treaty banning torture, he said.
Mr Brody is a U.S.-trained lawyer who specialises in pursuing war crimes, including Chile's late dictator Augusto Pinochet and Chad's ousted president Hissene Habre.
Admission: Mr Bush defended the use of waterboarding in his memoir 'Decision Points' as key at avoiding a repeat of the September 11 attacks
Habre has been charged by Belgium with crimes against humanity and torture and is currently exiled in Senegal.
He said: 'President Bush has admitted ordering waterboarding which everyone considers to be a form of torture under international law.
'Under the Convention on Torture, authorities would have been obliged to open an investigation and either prosecute or extradite George Bush.'
Swiss judicial officials have said that the former president would still enjoy a certain diplomatic immunity as a former head of state.
Dominique Baettig, a member of the Swiss parliament from the People's Party, wrote to the Swiss federal government last week calling for his arrest if he came to the neutral country.
In his 'Decision Points' memoirs, Mr Bush strongly defended the use of waterboarding as key to preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks on the U.S.
Most human rights experts consider the practice a form of torture, banned by the Convention on Torture.
Switzerland and the U.S. are among 147 countries that have ratified the 1987 treaty.
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Exclusive: Psychologist Not Named In Torture Report Confirms His Role in CIA Interrogation Program | VICE News
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 20:02
Watch the VICE News interview with James Mitchell here.
A retired Air Force psychologist widely considered the architect of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program confirmed to VICE News today what has been an open secret for the past decade '-- that he was under contract to the agency after 9/11 and that he was "part" of the program.
Dr. James Mitchell has been identified in dozens of news reports and investigations conducted by Congress and human rights groups as being the central figure who devised the CIA's controversial enhanced interrogation techniques used on high-value detainees, which included waterboarding. But Mitchell has never been able to confirm the specific role he played in the top-secret program '-- and whether the allegations about him were accurate '-- because he signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA that prohibited him from discussing it. The CIA has also never confirmed his role in the program or declassified any aspect of his involvement.
On Tuesday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a scathing 525-page summary on the history of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. The declassified summary, part of a larger 6,700-page report that remains classified, concluded, "Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program."
Mitchell is one of the psychologists. He is identified in the report with the pseudonym Grayson Swigert. The report said "CIA Headquarters chose the most coercive interrogation option, which was proposed and supported by CIA contractor SWIGERT."
A day after the Senate released its study, VICE News released The Architect, a documentary on Mitchell. In the interview, which took place prior to the release of the Senate report and marks the first time Mitchell spoke on-camera to a news organization after 9/11, he was confronted with questions about his role in the enhanced interrogation program. But he declined to give answers due to the non-disclosure agreement.
'Being an [Air Force] psychologist taught me about the sorts of mental states associated with interrogations. We got an opportunity to see a variety of people attempting to withhold actionable intelligence.'
"You know I'd really like to respond to those questions, but I can't," Mitchell told VICE News. "I can't even confirm or deny or anything. I have a non-disclosure agreement that covers some of my activities. Until I'm released from that I can't answer those kinds questions, although I'd'... love to be able to clarify some of the things that people are saying, because a lot of what people are saying is inaccurate."
After the release of the Senate report and VICE News' interview with him, Mitchell was bombarded with media inquiries and was the subject of dozens of news reports. Late Wednesday, he was informed by the CIA that he could now confirm that he was under contract to the agency and "that I was part of the enhanced interrogation program," Mitchell told us. "I haven't been given permission to say anything else."
What $300 million bought the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Read more here.
He says he is eager to discuss specific aspects of the program in order to "set the record straight." But he needs prior approval from the CIA to answer specific questions. According to the Senate report, Mitchell is the interrogator who personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The Senate report says that in June 2003, Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the other retired Air Force psychologist who was part of the program and who is identified in the report by the pseudonym Hammond Dunbar, traveled to one of the CIA's black sites "to interrogate KSM, as well as to assess KSM's 'psychological stability' and 'resistance posture.' As described later in this summary, the contractors had earlier subjected KSM to the waterboard and other CIA enhanced interrogation techniques."
The Senate Intelligence Committee's executive summary also says that the company Mitchell formed after 9/11 specifically to provide interrogation services to the CIA was well-paid for its efforts, to the tune of $81 million.
Mitchell told VICE News he could not discuss specific details about his contract, which was terminated in 2009, until he receives approval from the agency.
Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein singled out Mitchell and Jessen '-- though not by name '-- in an introduction to the study and in a Senate floor speech she delivered hours after the report was released in which she said they tortured detainees and broke the law.
"CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of US law, treaty obligations, and our values," Feinstein wrote in the introduction to the executive summary.
Mitchell was harshly critical of the report. He told VICE News it was "biased," and said the "truth about the enhanced interrogation program lies somewhere in the Democrats' report and the CIA and Republican response" to the Intelligence Committee.
The CIA immediately fired back at the Senate's 'cherry-picked' torture report. Read more here.
The Senate committee's executive summary examined the treatment of 20 CIA captives and the value of the intelligence they provided after they were subjected to "enhanced interrogation" techniques. The summary includes previously undisclosed details about sexual threats detainees endured during interrogation sessions, including one in which an interrogator threatened to sodomize al Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaydah '-- the first captive who was waterboarded '-- with a broomstick. The CIA also threatened to murder detainees and their families, the Senate's executive summary says.
"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to 'rectal rehydration' or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity," according to the summary. "The CIA placed detainees in ice water 'baths.' The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because 'we can never let the world know what I have done to you.' CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families '-- to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to 'cut [a detainee's] mother's throat.'"
The report goes on to say that neither Mitchell nor Jessen had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al Qaeda, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.
Mitchell disputed the assertion. He told VICE News he has decades of experience in interrogations and in dealing with the "types of people" who withhold "actionable intelligence."
"Being a psychologist taught me about mental states, working as long as I did in Air Force survival school," he told us. "Thirteen years, something like 14,000 hours inside the lab, taught me about the sort of mental states that are associated with interrogations'.... We got an opportunity to see a variety of people '-- all kinds of races, all kinds of intelligence, all kinds of backgrounds '-- attempting to withhold actionable intelligence."
Kaj Larsen and Brooke Worknehcontributed to this report.
Follow Jason Leopold on Twitter: @JasonLeopold
You'll Never Guess Where This FBI Agent Left a Secret Interrogation Manual | Mother Jones
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:59
In a lapse that national security experts call baffling, a high-ranking FBI agent filed a sensitive internal manual detailing the bureau's secret interrogation procedures with the Library of Congress, where anyone with a library card can read it.
For years, the American Civil Liberties Union fought a legal battle to force the FBI to release a range of documents concerning FBI guidelines, including this one, which covers the practices agents are supposed to employ when questioning suspects. Through all this, unbeknownst to the ACLU and the FBI, the manual sat in a government archive open to the public. When the FBI finally relented and provided the ACLU a version of the interrogation guidebook last year, it was heavily redacted; entire pages were blacked out. But the version available at the Library of Congress, which a Mother Jones reporter reviewed last week, contains no redactions.
The 70-plus-page manual ended up in the Library of Congress, thanks to its author, an FBI official who made an unexplainable mistake. This FBI supervisory special agent, who once worked as a unit chief in the FBI's counterterrorism division, registered a copyright for the manual in 2010 and deposited a copy with the US Copyright Office, where members of the public can inspect it upon request. What's particularly strange about this episode is that government documents cannot be copyrighted.
"A document that has not been released does not even need a copyright," says Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists. "Who is going to plagiarize from it? Even if you wanted to, you couldn't violate the copyright because you don't have the document. It isn't available."
"The whole thing is a comedy of errors," he adds. "It sounds like gross incompetence and ignorance."
Julian Sanchez, a fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute who has studied copyright policy, was harsher: "Do they not cover this in orientation? [Sensitive] documents should not be placed in public repositories'--and, by the way, aren't copyrightable. How do you even get a clearance without knowing this stuff?"
The FBI agent who registered for the copyright did so under his own name'--effectively claiming the rights for himself, not the FBI. An FBI spokesman told Mother Jones the bureau has been made aware of the matter but "cannot provide any further information at this time regarding this subject."
The version of the interrogation manual the agent deposited with the copyright office is dated August 18, 2008, but it wasn't filed until January 2010. The redacted version released to the ACLU is dated February 23, 2011.
Because the two versions are similar, a side-by-side comparison allows a reader to deduce what was redacted in the later version. The copyright office does not allow readers to take pictures or notes, but during a brief inspection, a few redactions stood out.
The ACLU has previously criticized the interrogation manual for endorsing the isolation of detainees and including favorable references to the KUBARK manual, a 1963 CIA interrogation guidebook that encouraged torture methods, including electric shocks. The group has also expressed concern that the manual adopts aspects of the Reid Technique, a common law enforcement interview method that has been known to produce false confessions. A redacted sentence in the manual says the document is intended for use by the FBI's "clean" teams'--investigators who collect information intended for use in federal prosecutions. That raises the question of whether teams collecting information that's not for use in federal courts would have to follow the manual's (already permissive) guidelines at all.
Another section, blacked out in the version provided to the ACLU, encourages FBI agents to stage a "date-stamped full-body picture" of a detainee, complete with a bottle of water, for use in refuting abuse allegations at trial.
Yet the most eyebrow-raising thing about the unredacted version may be that it was available for public consumption for years. The inadvertent release of sensitive information "is not supposed to happen but it does," Aftergood says. "Security screwups are not very uncommon. But this is a first."
Image credit: Report: elnavegante/Shutterstock; FBI seal: Federal Bureau of Investigation/Wikimedia Commons; Chain: Picsfive/Shutterstock; Lock: Marc Dietrich/Shutterstock
New Document Shows FBI Interrogation Advice Draws on CIA Torture Manuals | MyFDL
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:59
Federal Bureau of Investigation Seal
A 2010 FBI interrogation ''primer'' (PDF), apparently a fifth version of earlier FBI manuals dealing with ''Cross-cultural, Rapport-based'' ''intelligence-oriented interrogations in overseas environments,'' repeatedly draws upon advice from two CIA torture manuals, the 1963 KUBARK Counter-intelligence Manual and the 1983 Human Exploitation Resource Manual.
According to the National Security Archive, the KUBARK manual ''includes a detailed section on 'The Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources,' with concrete assessments on employing 'Threats and Fear,' 'Pain,' and 'Debility.' '' Even so, the manual is on the FBI's ''Recommended Reading'' list for agents conducting overseas interrogations.
The 1983 Human Exploitation manual, which has been connected with atrocities by Latin American governments, drew upon both KUBARK and U.S. Army Intelligence manuals, describing the interrogator as someone '''able to manipulate the subject's environment'... to create unpleasant or intolerable situations, to disrupt patterns of time, space, and sensory perception.'''
The FBI document quotes the 1983 manual twice. While not referenced by name in the body of the document, the source is noted in the footnotes. One such quote from the 1983 torture document describes ''the principle of generating pressure inside the source without the application of outside force.''
''This is accomplished by manipulating [the prisoner] psychologically until his resistance is sapped and his urge to yield is fortified,'' the Human Exploitation Resource manual states, and FBI agents are so advised. The quote is in bold in the FBI instructions and reproduced as such here.
Meanwhile, the KUBARK manual is repeatedly mentioned in the body of the FBI work. ''There are two purposes of screening according to the KUBARK Manual,'' the ''primer'' states. According to the FBI, the ''wise Interrogator'' will follow ''KUBARK Manual guidance.''
According to an ACLU blog posting, the FBI document was ''written by an FBI Section Chief within the counterterrorism division.''
The rehabilitation of the KUBARK document began with an essay by U.S. interrogation consultant Colonel (ret.) Steven Kleinman. The essay was published in an Intelligence Science Board (ISB) December 2006 monograph, Educing Information. Kleinman noted KUBARK's ''disturbing legacy,'' but added he felt the manual contained ''the potential for lessons learned that could be derived from a highly controversial document.''
The FBI ''rapport-based'' manual repeatedly references another ISB document. Written in 2009, Intelligence Interviewing: Teaching Papers and Case Studies, includes in its two case studies a long discussion of a case of years-long isolation of a very senior North Vietnamese military official. While the interrogator in charge, Frank Snepp, said the treatment of this official ultimately disillusioned him about what the U.S. was trying to achieve in Vietnam, the ISB authors found Snepp had been successful in establishing ''some operational accord'' with the prisoner.
In his essay, Kleinman seriously played down the nature of the CIA's manual, which had drawn upon years of MKULTRA research into use of drugs, sensory deprivation and the induction of fear and debility in interrogation subjects.
''Although criticized for its discussion of coercion, the KUBARK manual does not portray coercive methods as a necessary '-- or even viable '-- means of effectively educing information,'' Kleinman wrote.
But in fact the CIA manual devotes fully a fifth of its instructions to coercive interrogation techniques, or torture, including isolation, ''deprivation of sensory stimuli,'' induction of physical weakness, use of ''fear and threats,'' hypnosis, and ''narcosis'', i.e., use of drugs (including use of drugs as a placebo to fool prisoners).
Kleinman is the Director for Strategic Research for The Soufan Group, an organization named after ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan, and includes ex-FBI interrogators on its list of experts. It would seem that unwittingly Kleinman's focus on what was of use to the legal interrogator in the KUBARK manual did not stop some FBI officials from allowing certain forms of coercive interrogation, i.e., reliance on use of isolation and manipulation of human emotional needs to get information and confessions. At times this is taken to extremes that amount to torture.
Kleinman himself is on the record as opposing all coercive interrogation methods. The 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee investigation into detainee abuse described then-Col. Kleinman's efforts to stop torture occurring at a JSOC interrogation facility in Iraq. The criticism of his KUBARK essay is not meant to imply that he supports in any way the kinds of coercive techniques described therein.
[Update, 8/6/12: Furthermore, it is worth noting, and after hearing critique regarding the first version of this article from Mr. Kleinman himself, that in his essay on the CIA manual, Kleinman specifically says "long-term isolation" causes "profound emotional, psychological, and physical discomfort, and that such abuse would therefore fail to measure up to the standards for the treatment of prisoners as set forth in international accords and U.S. Federal statutes" (p. 138)]
FBI Uses Isolation to Achieve ''Rapport''
The FBI manual also argues for the use of isolation to achieve rapport by leveraging the isolation or solitary confinement of a detainee. Kevin Gosztola highlighted this aspect of the FBI ''primer'' in an August 2 article at Firedoglake's The Dissenter blog.
What both Gosztola and the ACLU miss in their otherwise important commentary about the coercive isolation technique (even the CIA's KUBARK manual recognizes isolation is a coercive technique, i.e., torture) is how the FBI intends to leverage the effects of isolation to achieve effects under their ''rapport'' paradigm. This psychological aspect of the use of isolation has not been generally publicized.
''The need for affiliation is one of the advantages the Interrogator has if a subject has been isolated from fellow detainees, '' the FBI ''primer'' states.
In this matter, the FBI is following in the footsteps of the CITF doctrine it followed in DoD interrogations under an October 2003 directive that stated, ''The use of isolation facilities will not be employed as an interrogation tactic; however, on a case-by-case basis it can be used as an incentive.'' Perversely, the use of isolation under this directive was supposed to be ''approved'' by the detainee.
The KUBARK manual describes the anxieties, emotional discomfort and psychological regression that follow from enforced isolation, and how the interrogator exploits this situation (italics added for emphasis):
''As the interrogator becomes linked in the subject's mind with the reward of lessened anxiety, human contact, and meaningful activity, and thus with providing relief for growing discomfort, the questioner assumes a benevolent role'....
''At the same time, the calculated provision of stimuli during interrogation tends to make the regressed subject view the interrogator as a father figure. The result, normally, is a strengthening of the subject's tendencies toward compliance.''
The Appendix M Torture Virus Spreads to FBI Doctrine
Writing in an August 2 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, ACLU Director Laura Murphy and Legislative Counsel Devon Chaffee make the important connection between FBI policy on using isolation and current Department of Defense interrogation policy.
As official interrogation doctrine of the Obama administration, Army Field Manual FM 2-22.3 (AFM), Human Intelligence Collector Operations made use of isolation part of their ''Separation'' technique, as described in its Appendix M.
Murphy and Chaffee write:
''By recommending that FBI agents ask the U.S. military to isolate detainees in its custody, the FBI primer appears to be encouraging the application of Appendix M of the Army's interrogation manual'--a controversial, restricted appendix that allows detainee isolation only in certain circumstances not involving prisoners of war. The FBI primer states that in a Department of Defense facility 'a formal request from the FBI must be made to isolate the detainee' and that this request 'must be approved by the first O-6 in the chain of command.' Appendix M of the military's interrogation manual (which requires O-7 level approval) permits the use of isolation'--as well as the placement of goggles, blindfolds, and earmuffs on the detainee'--to 'foster a feeling of futility.' Experienced interrogators and human rights groups, however, have called for Appendix M to be revoked, questioning the technique's effectiveness and highlighting the risk that its use will lead to serious human rights abuses.''
The abusive techniques of Appendix M, which also includes sleep deprivation and allowed environmental manipulations, along with the AFM's allowance for use of fear techniques and even use of drugs, were approved in a 2006 Office of Legal Counsel memorandum for the files (PDF) by torture memo author Steven Bradbury.
Although President Obama, with the advice of Attorney General Eric Holder, revoked the 2002, 2005 and a few other OLC Bush-era torture memos, the administration never revoked the memo on Appendix M.
Use of isolation was something the FBI adopted early on, and its use was in evidence even in the early days at Guantanamo, where FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan was in charge of the interrogation of Mohamed Al Qahtani. While Al Qahtani's interrogation was later the subject of an escalation of use of torture techniques by the military, which was itself a matter of some protest within DoD and FBI circles, while the FBI was in charge, Soufan had Al Qahtani placed in harsh isolation.
Soufan went so far as to remove Al Qahtani from the usual cellblock and built a special cell for him alone, meant to duplicate the hard isolation conditions Jose Padilla had been placed into in a Charleston, South Carolina Navy brig. When Soufan, NCIS Chief Psychologist Mark Gelles, and others protested use of other techniques of physical and psychological torture on Al Qahtani, their alternate proposal was to put the already near-psychotic and ailing prisoner in months more intense isolation.
The use of isolation to break prisoners has a long history. When two former prisoners in the USSR gulags, writing under the pen names F. Beck and W. Godin, published their account of Soviet torture in 1951 in a book entitled Russian Purge and the Extraction of Confession, they described the use of isolation at the start of their detention by the Stalin secret police:
''When a man was arrested he was completely isolated from the outside world'....
''Each prisoner was carefully isolated from fellow prisoners who knew him. Consultation with defense counsel was unheard of, and in the overwhelming majority of cases no defense of any kind was permitted.'' (pp. 40-41)
American sociologist Albert Biderman studied the effects of coercive interrogation on prisoners. His famous ''chart of coercion'' was taught to interrogators at Guantanamo. With its emphasis on isolation to deprive the prisoner of all social report and the will to resist, it could be a blueprint for modern FBI interrogation, minus Biderman's emphasis on induction of debility.
For instance, Biderman's chart describes demonstrating interrogator ''omnipotence'' and the use of threats and degradation of the prisoner. The FBI manual explicitly allows AFM ''techniques'' that play exactly on this, including ''Emotional Fear Up,'' ''Emotional Pride and Ego Down,'' ''Emotional Futility,'' and ''The All Seeing Eye or We Know All.''
Changes in Procedures for Law Enforcement Interviews Overseas
Unremarked by the ACLU or other commentators is the FBI manual's Annex B, ''Conducting Custodial Law Enforcement Interviews Overseas.'' The first FBI concern is evidence tainted by torture (though they don't use the word ''torture'' anywhere in the document, at least in its redacted form).
The FBI counterterrorism Section Chief notes, drily, ''Given the extensive media coverage of interrogation activities at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram and other facilities the threshold is particularly high for establishing that any statement you obtained overseas was not coerced in some way.''
Three sentences in the document are then redacted, and the text continues, ''The assumption of the court may be that you used prior knowledge of the subject's statements to obtain a statement which you are asserting is admissible even if you did not confront the subject with information he previously provided. Always keep in mind that you may one day be on the stand swearing that you had no knowledge of the subjects previous statements during intelligence interviews.'' [Bold emphasis in original]
A second concern is the videotaping of interrogations. Recognizing that DoD routinely videotapes all interrogations, the FBI manual infers that the government may destroy or has destroyed such interrogation recordings.
''This creates a tremendous suppression hearing issue,'' the FBI notes, ''because the defense will become aware that the U.S Government (USG) taped the interview but the tape cannot be provided to the defense if a copy was not retained. The obvious accusation will be that the tape was destroyed to hide the fact that the confession was coerced. Seek out information on the videotaping policy for any facility you work in and document it.''
A third concern is the reading of rights to a subject held by a DoD or a foreign power, while emphasizing that the FBI agent has ''no control'' over such detainees and how they are held. While it requires the agents to document the subject's condition, the manual does not forbid agents from interrogating subjects held in tortuous or cruel, degrading or inhuman conditions. In fact, the FBI manual's section about ''Recommended practices'' regarding agents in such situations is entirely redacted.
A further distortion of normal FBI functioning concerns the advice of rights given to interrogation subjects held by DoD or another state. The FBI uses a ''modified advice of rights'' form in such cases, which begins with standard wording regarding the right to remain silent, to have an attorney present.
The ''modified'' rights form continues:
''If you cannot afford lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish.
''Our ability to provide you with counsel at this time, however, may be limited by the decisions of local authorities or the availability of an American or qualified attorney.''
The ''modified'' form concludes the same as the FBI standard form, informing the individual that even if they talk without an attorney present, they ''have the right to stop answering at any time.''
The modification of procedure is necessary because, as the FBI manual states, ''there is no way that a detainee in DOD or foreign custody will be allowed access to an American defense attorney'...''
The FBI is often contrasted with the military and the CIA in regards to its use of abusive procedures during interrogation. While eschewing ''enhanced interrogation'' techniques that amount to torture, such as waterboarding, close confinement, and stress positions, the FBI relies instead on psychological manipulations of ''rapport'' building procedures, while using the harsh pressure of isolation and sensory deprivation to break down the prisoner psychologically.
Isolation itself is a form of sensory deprivation, and is described as such in the KUBARK manual.
This form of psychological torture is added to standard police techniques, and in particular a form of interrogation procedure known as the Reid Technique. The FBI manual references several times the 1963 work on this technique, Criminal interrogation and confessions.
A 2009 study of this kind of interrogation technique in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology found ''innocent people are sometimes induced to confess to crimes they did not commit as a function of certain dispositional vulnerabilities or the use of overly persuasive interrogation tactics.''
These are exactly the tactics the FBI uses, though they are then supercharged via use of isolation of a prisoner, which, as the FBI itself notes, ''advantages'' the interrogator by playing off the human need for ''affiliation'' or communication with others. Modern psychological and neuroscience investigators understand that this ''need'' is hard-wired in the brain, and deprivation of such social stimulation is a direct attack on the nervous system of the individual.
The failure to hold anyone accountable for the use of torture by U.S. officials, including accountability for those who planned and sanctioned such torture, meant that forms of torture were institutionalized in U.S. policy documents, such as the Army Field Manual.
The declassification of this FBI interrogation manual has allowed us to understand that such institutionalization has extended as well to the Department of Justice and the FBI.
[This article has been altered to reflect feedback from Col. Steven Kleinman received after the story was first published.]
Cross-posted at Invictus
TAKE CARE CLAUSE-Article Two of the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:28
Article Two of the United States Constitution creates the executive branch of the government, consisting of the President, the Vice President, and other executive officers and staffers appointed by the President, including the Cabinet. Pursuant to Article Two, the executive power of the federal government is vested in the President.
Section 1: President and Vice PresidentClause 1: Executive PowerThe executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows
Clause one is a "vesting clause," similar to other clauses in Articles One and Three, but it vests the power to execute the instructions of Congress, which has the exclusive power to make laws; "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."
The head of the Executive Branch is the President of the United States. The President and the Vice President are elected every four years.
Clause 2: Method of choosing electorsEach State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
Under the U.S. Constitution the President and Vice President are chosen by Electors, under a constitutional grant of authority delegated to the legislatures of the several states and the District of Columbia (see Bush v. Gore). The constitution reserves the choice of the precise manner for creating Electors to the will of the state legislatures. It does not define or delimit what process a state legislature may use to create its state college of Electors. In practice, the state legislatures have generally chosen to create Electors through an indirect popular vote, since the 1820s.
In an indirect popular vote, it is the names of the electors who are on the ballot to be elected. Typically, their names are aligned under the name of the candidate for President and Vice President, that they, the Elector, have pledged they will support. It is fully understood by the voters and the Electors themselves that they are the representative "stand-ins" for the individuals to whom they have pledged to cast their electoral college ballots to be President and Vice President. In some states, in past years, this pledge was informal, and Electors could still legally cast their electoral ballot for whomever they chose. More recently, state legislatures (exercising their constitutional authority to do so) have mandated in law that Electors shall cast their electoral college ballot for the Presidential Candidate to whom they are pledged. The constitutionality of such mandates is uncertain.
Each state chooses as many Electors as it has Representatives and Senators representing it in Congress. Under the Twenty-third Amendment, the District of Columbia may choose no more electors than the state with the lowest number of electoral votes. No Senators, Representatives or federal officers may become Electors.
Clause 3: ElectorsThe Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse [sic] by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse [sic] the President. But in chusing [sic] the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse [sic] from them by Ballot the Vice President.
(Note: This procedure was changed by the Twelfth Amendment in 1804.)
In modern practice, each state chooses its electors in popular elections. Once chosen, the electors meet in their respective states to cast ballots for the President and Vice President. Originally, each elector cast two votes for President; at least one of the individuals voted for had to be from a state different from the elector's. The individual with the majority of votes became President, and the runner-up became Vice President. In case of a tie, the House of Representatives could choose one of the tied candidates; if no person received a majority, then the House could again choose one of the five with the greatest number of votes. When the House voted, each state delegation cast one vote, and the vote of a majority of states was necessary to choose a President. If second-place candidates were tied, then the Senate broke the tie. A quorum of two-thirds applied in both Houses: at least one member from each of two-thirds of the states in the House of Representatives, and at least two-thirds of the Senators in the Senate. This procedure was followed in 1801 after the electoral vote produced a tie, and nearly resulted in a deadlock in the House.
The Twelfth Amendment introduced a number of important changes to the procedure. Now, Electors do not cast two votes for President; rather, they cast one vote for President and another for Vice President. In case no Presidential candidate receives a majority, the House chooses from the top three (not five, as with Vice Presidential candidates). The Amendment also requires the Senate to choose the Vice President from those with the two highest figures if no Vice Presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes (rather than only if there's a tie for second for President). It also stipulates that to be the Vice President, a person must be qualified to be the President.
Clause 4: Election dayThe Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
Congress sets a national Election Day. Currently, Electors are chosen on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, in the year before the President's term is to expire. The Electors cast their votes on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December of that year. Thereafter, the votes are opened and counted by the Vice President, as President of the Senate, in a joint session of Congress.
Clause 5: Qualifications for officeSection 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution sets forth the eligibility requirements for serving as president of the United States:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
By the time of their inauguration, the President and Vice President must be:
natural born citizensat least 35 years oldinhabitants of the United States for at least fourteen years.Eligibility for holding the office of President and Vice-President were modified by subsequent amendments:
The Twelfth Amendment (1804) requires the Vice-President must meet all of the qualifications of being a President.The Twenty-second Amendment (1951) prevents a President from being elected more than twice.Clause 6: Vacancy and disabilityIn Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
The wording of this clause caused much controversy at the time it was first used. When William Henry Harrison died in office, a debate arose over whether the Vice President would become President, or if he would just inherit the powers, thus becoming an Acting President. Harrison's Vice President, John Tyler, believed that he had the right to become President. However, many Senators argued that he only had the right to assume the powers of the presidency long enough to call for a new election. Because the wording of the clause is so vague, it was impossible for either side to prove its point. Tyler ended up taking the Oath of Office and became President, setting a precedent that is followed to this day. Tyler's precedent made it possible for Vice Presidents Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson to ascend to the presidency (Gerald Ford took office after the passage of the Twenty-fifth Amendment).
John Tyler's precedent established that if the President's office becomes vacant due to death, resignation or disqualification, the Vice President becomes President. The Congress may provide for a line of succession beyond the Vice President. The Presidential Succession Act establishes the order as: the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore of the Senate and then the fifteen Cabinet Secretaries in order of that Department's establishment.
The Twenty-fifth Amendment explicitly states that when the Presidency is vacant, then the Vice President becomes President. This provision applied at the time Gerald Ford succeeded to the Presidency. In case of a Vice Presidential vacancy, the Amendment permits the President to appoint, with the approval of both Houses of Congress, a new Vice President. Furthermore, the Amendment provides that the President, or the Vice President and Cabinet, can declare the President unable to discharge his duties, in which case the Vice President becomes Acting President. If the declaration is done by the Vice President and Cabinet, the Amendment permits the President to take control back, unless the Vice President and Cabinet challenge the President and two-thirds of both Houses vote to sustain the findings of the Vice President and Cabinet. If the declaration is done by the President, he may take control back without risk of being overridden by the Congress.
Clause 7: SalaryThe President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
The President's salary, currently $400,000 a year, must remain constant throughout the President's term. The President may not receive other compensation from either the federal or any state government.
Clause 8: Oath or affirmationBefore he enters the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:'--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
According to the Joint Congressional Committee on Presidential Inaugurations, George Washington added the words "So help me God" during his first inaugural, though this has been disputed. There are no contemporaneous sources for this fact, and no eyewitness sources to Washington's first inaugural mention the phrase at all'--including those that transcribed what he said for his oath.
Also, the President-elect's name is typically added after the "I", for example, "I, George Washington, do...." Normally, the Chief Justice of the United States administers the oath. It is sometimes asserted that the oath bestows upon the President the power to do whatever is necessary to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution." Andrew Jackson, while vetoing an Act for the renewal of the charter of the national bank, implied that the President could refuse to execute statutes that he felt were unconstitutional. In suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, President Abraham Lincoln claimed that he acted according to the oath. His action was challenged in court and overturned by the U.S. Circuit Court in Maryland (led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney) in Ex Parte Merryman, 17 F. Cas. 144 (C.C.D. Md. 1861). Lincoln ignored Taney's order. Finally, Andrew Johnson's counsel referred to the theory during his impeachment trial. Otherwise, few have seriously asserted that the oath augments the President's powers.
The Vice President also has an oath of office, but it is not mandated by the Constitution and is prescribed by statute. Currently, the Vice Presidential oath is the same as that for Members of Congress.
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.Section 2: Presidential powersIn the landmark decision Nixon v. General Services AdministrationJusticeWilliam Rehnquist, afterwards the Chief Justice, declared in his dissent the need to "fully describe the preeminent position that the President of the United States occupies with respect to our Republic. Suffice it to say that the President is made the sole repository of the executive powers of the United States, and the powers entrusted to him as well as the duties imposed upon him are awesome indeed."
Clause 1: Command of military; Opinions of cabinet secretaries; PardonsThe President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
The Constitution vests the President with Executive Power. That power reaches its zenith when wielded to protect national security. And federal courts in the United States must pay proper deference to the Executive in assessing the threats that face the nation. The President is the military's commander-in-chief; however Article One gives Congress and not the President the exclusive right to declare war. Nevertheless, the power of the president to initiate hostilities has been subject to question. According to historian Thomas Woods, "Ever since the Korean War, Article II, Section 2 [...] has been interpreted 'The president has the power to initiate hostilities without consulting Congress' [....]But what the framers actually meant by that clause was that once war has been declared, it was the President's responsibility as commander-in-chief to direct the war. Alexander Hamilton spoke in such terms when he said that the president, although lacking the power to declare war, would have ''the direction of war when authorized or begun.'' The president acting alone was authorized only to repel sudden attacks (hence the decision to withhold from him only the power to ''declare'' war, not to ''make'' war, which was thought to be a necessary emergency power in case of foreign attack).  Since World War II, every major military action has been technically a U.S. military operation or a U.N. "police action", which are deemed legally legitimate by Congress, and various United Nations Resolutions because of decisions such as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or the The Resolution of The Congress Providing Authorization for Use of Force In Iraq.
The President may require the "principal officer" of any executive department to tender his advice in writing. Thus, implicitly, the Constitution creates a Cabinet that includes the principal officers of the various departments.
The President, furthermore, may grant pardon or reprieves, except in cases of impeachment. Originally, as ruled by the Supreme Court in United States v. Wilson (1833), the pardon could be rejected by the convict. In Biddle v. Perovich 274 U.S.480 (1927), the Supreme Court reversed the doctrine, ruling that "[a] pardon in our days is not a private act of grace from an individual happening to possess power. It is a part of the Constitutional scheme. When granted it is the determination of the ultimate authority that the public welfare will be better served by inflicting less than what the judgment fixed."
Clause 2: Advice and Consent ClauseThe President exercises the powers in the Advice and Consent Clause with the advice and consent of the Senate.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
TreatiesMain article: Treaty ClauseThe President may enter the United States into treaties, but they are not effective until ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. In Article II however, the Constitution is not very explicit about the termination of treaties. The first abrogation of a treaty occurred in 1798, when Congress passed a law terminating a 1778 Treaty of Alliance with France. In the nineteenth century, several Presidents terminated treaties after Congress passed resolutions requesting the same. In 1854, however, President Franklin Pierce terminated a treaty with Denmark with the consent of the Senate alone. A Senate committee ruled that it was correct procedure for the President to terminate treaties after being authorized by the Senate alone, and not the entire Congress. President Pierce's successors, however, returned to the former procedure of obtaining authorization from both Houses. Some Presidents have claimed to themselves the exclusive power of terminating treaties. Abraham Lincoln, for instance, terminated a treaty without prior Congressional authorization, but Congress retroactively approved his decision at a later point. The first unambiguous case of a President terminating a treaty without authorization, granted prior to or after the termination, occurred when Jimmy Carter terminated a treaty with the Republic of China. For the first time, judicial determination was sought, but the effort proved futile: the Supreme Court could not find a majority agreeing on any particular principle, and therefore instructed the trial court to dismiss the case.
AppointmentsThe President may also appoint judges, ambassadors, consuls, ministers and other officers with the advice and consent of the Senate. By law, however, Congress may allow the President, heads of executive departments, or the courts to appoint inferior officials.
The Senate has a long-standing practice of permitting motions to reconsider previous decisions. In 1931, the Senate granted advice and consent to the President on the appointment of a member of the Federal Power Commission. The officer in question was sworn in, but the Senate, under the guise of a motion to reconsider, rescinded the advice and consent. In the writ of quo warranto proceedings that followed, the Supreme Court ruled that the Senate was not permitted to rescind advice and consent after the officer had been installed.
After the Senate grants advice and consent, however, the President is under no compulsion to commission the officer. It has not been settled whether the President has the prerogative to withhold a commission after having signed it. This issue played a large part in the famous court case Marbury v. Madison.
At times the President has asserted the power to remove individuals from office. Congress has often explicitly limited the President's power to remove; during the Reconstruction Era, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, purportedly preventing Andrew Johnson from removing, without the advice and consent of the Senate, anyone appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. President Johnson ignored the Act, and was later impeached and acquitted. The constitutionality of the Act was not immediately settled. In Myers v. United States, 272 U.S.52 (1926), the Supreme Court held that Congress could not limit the President's power to remove an executive officer (the Postmaster General), but in Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S.602 (1935) it upheld Congress's authority to restrict the President's power to remove officers of the Federal Trade Commission, an "administrative body [that] cannot in any proper sense be characterized as an arm or eye of the executive."
Congress may repeal the legislation that authorizes the appointment of an executive officer. But it "cannot reserve for itself the power of an officer charged with the execution of the laws except by impeachment." Congress has from time to time changed the number of justices in the Supreme Court.
Clause 3: Recess appointmentsThe President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
During recesses of the Senate, the President may appoint officers, but their commissions expire at the conclusion of the Senate's next session.
Section 3: Presidential responsibilitiesHe shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
Clause 1: State of the UnionThe President must give the Congress information on the "State of the Union" "from time to time." This is called the State of the Union Clause. Originally, Presidents personally delivered annual addresses to Congress. Thomas Jefferson, who felt that the procedure resembled the Speech from the Throne delivered by British monarchs, chose instead to send written messages to Congress for reading by clerks. Jefferson's procedure was followed by future Presidents until Woodrow Wilson reverted to the former procedure of personally addressing Congress, which has continued to this day[update].
Kesavan and Sidak explain the purpose of the State of the Union clause:
"The State of the Union Clause imposes an executive duty on the President. That duty must be discharged periodically. The President's assessment of the State of the Union must be publicized to Congress, and thus to the nation. The publication of the President's assessment conveys information to Congress- information uniquely gleaned from the President's perspective in his various roles as Commander-in-Chief, chief law enforcer, negotiator with foreign powers, and the like-that shall aid the legislature in public deliberation on matters that may justify the enactment of legislation because of their national importance."Clause 2: Making recommendations to CongressThe president has the power and duty to recommend, for the consideration of Congress, such measures which the president deems as "necessary and expedient". At his inaugurationGeorge Washington declared in his Inaugural Address: "By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President "to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."" This is the Recommendation Clause.'
Kesavan and Sidak explain the purpose of the Recommendation clause:
"The Recommendation Clause also imposes an executive duty on the President. His recommendations respect the equal dignity of Congress and thus embody the anti-royalty sentiment that ignited the American Revolution and subsequently stripped the trappings of monarchy away from the new chief executive. Through his recommendations to Congress, the President speaks collectively for the People as they petition Government for a redress of grievances, and thus his recommendations embody popular sovereignty. The President tailors his recommendations so that their natural implication is the enactment of new legislation, rather than some other action that Congress might undertake. Finally, the President shall have executive discretion to recommend measures of his choosing."Sidak explained that there is a connection between the Recommendation clause and the Petition Clause of the first amendment: "Through his performance of the duty to recommend measures to Congress, the President functions as the agent of a diffuse electorate who seek the redress of grievances. To muzzle the President, therefore, is to diminish the effectiveness of this right expressly reserved to the people under the first amendment.":2119, note 7 Kesavan and Sidak also cited a Professor Bybee who stated in this context: "The Recommendation Clause empowers the President to represent the people before Congress, by recommending measures for the reform of government, for the general welfare, or for the redress of grievances. The Right of Petition Clause prevents Congress from abridging the right of the people to petition for a redress of grievances.":43
The Recommendation clause imposes a duty, but its performance rests solely with the President. Congress possesses no power to compel the President to recommend, as he alone is the "judge" of what is "necessary and expedient." Unlike the Necessary and Proper Clause of Article I, which limits Congress's discretion to carrying out only its delegated powers, the phrase "necessary and expedient" implies a wider range of discretion for the President. Because this is a political question, there has been little judicial involvement with the President's actions under the clause as long as Presidents have not tried to extend their legislative powers. In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), the Supreme Court noted that the Recommendations Clause serves as a reminder that the President cannot make law by himself: "The power to recommend legislation, granted to the President, serves only to emphasize that it is his function to recommend and that it is the function of the Congress to legislate." The Court made a similar point in striking down the line-item veto in Clinton v. City of New York (1998). When President William Jefferson Clinton attempted to shield the records of the President's Task Force on Health Care Reform as essential to his functions under the Recommendations Clause, a federal circuit court rejected the argument and noted in Ass'n of American Physicians & Surgeons v. Clinton (1993): "[T]he Recommendation Clause is less an obligation than a right. The President has the undisputed authority to recommend legislation, but he need not exercise that authority with respect to any particular subject or, for that matter, any subject."
The President may call extraordinary sessions of one or both Houses of Congress. If the two Houses cannot agree on a date for adjournment, the President may adjourn both Houses to such a time as befits the circumstances. The last time this power was exercised was in 1948, when President Harry S Truman called a special session of Congress. That was the twenty-seventh time in American history that a president convened such a session.
Clause 4: Receiving foreign representativesThe President receives all foreign Ambassadors. This clause of the Constitution has been interpreted to imply that the President can be granted broad power over all matters of foreign policy by Congress.
Clause 5: Caring for the faithful execution of the lawThe President must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." This clause in the Constitution imposes a duty on the President to take due care while executing laws and is called the Take Care Clause, also known as the Faithful Execution Clause or Faithfully Executed Clause. This clause is meant to ensure that a law is faithfully executed by the President, even if he disagrees with the purpose of that law. By virtue of his executive power, the President may execute the law and control the law execution of others. Under the Take Care Clause, however, the President must exercise his law-execution power to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." Addressing the North Carolina ratifying convention, William Maclaine declared that the Faithful Execution Clause was "one of the [Constitution's] best provisions." If the President "takes care to see the laws faithfully executed, it will be more than is done in any government on the continent; for I will venture to say that our government, and those of the other states, are, with respect to the execution of the laws, in many respects mere ciphers." President George Washington interpreted this clause as imposing on him a unique duty to ensure the execution of federal law. Discussing a tax rebellion, Washington observed, "it is my duty to see the Laws executed: to permit them to be trampled upon with impunity would be repugnant to [that duty.]"
According to former United States Assistant Attorney GeneralWalter E. Dellinger III, the Supreme Court and the Attorneys General have long interpreted the Take Care Clause to mean that the President has no inherent constitutional authority to suspend the enforcement of the laws, particularly of statutes. The Take Care Clause demands that the President obey the law, the Supreme Court said in Humphrey's Executor v. United States, and repudiates any notion that he may dispense with the law's execution. In Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997), the Supreme Court explained how the President executes the law: "The Constitution does not leave to speculation who is to administer the laws enacted by Congress; the President, it says, "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," Art. II, §3, personally and through officers whom he appoints (save for such inferior officers as Congress may authorize to be appointed by the "Courts of Law" or by "the Heads of Departments" who with other presidential appointees), Art. II, §2."
The President may not prevent a member of the executive branch from performing a ministerial duty lawfully imposed upon him by Congress. (See Marbury v. Madison (1803); and Kendall v. United States ex rel. Stokes (1838)). Nor may the President take an action not authorized either by the Constitution or by a lawful statute. (See Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)). Finally, the President may not refuse to enforce a constitutional law, or "cancel" certain appropriations, for that would amount to an extra-constitutional veto or suspension power.
The President, while having to enforce the law, also possesses wide discretion in deciding how and even when to enforce laws. He also has a range of interpretive discretion in deciding the meaning of laws he must execute. When an appropriation provides discretion, the President can gauge when and how appropriated moneys can be spent most efficiently.
Some Presidents have claimed the authority under this clause to impound money appropriated by Congress. President Jefferson, for example, delayed the expenditure of money appropriated for the purchase of gunboats for over a year. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his successors sometimes refused outright to expend appropriated money. The Supreme Court, however, has held that impoundments without Congressional authorization are unconstitutional.
It has been asserted that the President's responsibility in the "faithful" execution of the laws entitles him to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Article One provides that the privilege may not be suspended save during times of rebellion or invasion, but it does not specify who may suspend the privilege. The Supreme Court ruled that Congress may suspend the privilege if it deems it necessary. During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the privilege, but, owing to the vehement opposition he faced, obtained congressional authorization for the same. Since then, the privilege of the writ has only been suspended upon the express authorization of Congress.
In Mississippi v. Johnson, 71 U.S.475 (1867), the Supreme Court ruled that the judiciary may not restrain the President in the execution of laws. In that case the Supreme Court refused to entertain a request for an injunction preventing President Andrew Johnson from executing the Reconstruction Acts, which were claimed to be unconstitutional. The Court found that "[t]he Congress is the legislative department of the government; the President is the executive department. Neither can be restrained in its action by the judicial department; though the acts of both, when performed, are, in proper cases, subject to its cognizance." Thus, the courts cannot bar the passage of a law by Congress, though it may strike down such a law as unconstitutional. A similar construction applies to the executive branch.
Clause 6: Officers' commissionsThe President commissions "all the Officers of the United States." These include officers in both military and foreign service. (Under Article I, Section 8, the States have authority for "the Appointment of the Officers . . . of the [State] Militia . . ..")
The presidential authority to commission officers had a large impact on the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison, where outgoing Federalist President John Adams feverishly signed many commissions to the judiciary on his final day in office, hoping to, as incoming Democratic-Republican President Thomas Jefferson put it, "[retire] into the judiciary as a stronghold." However, in his haste, Adams' Secretary of State neglected to have all the commissions delivered. Incoming President Jefferson was enraged with Adams, and ordered his Secretary of State, James Madison, to refrain from delivering the remaining commissions. William Marbury took the matter to the Supreme Court, where the famous Marbury was decided.
Section 4: ImpeachmentThe President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and Misdemeanors.
The Constitution also allows for involuntary removal from office. The President, Vice-President, Cabinet Secretaries, and other executive officers, as well as judges, may be impeached by the House of Representatives and tried in the Senate.
Any official convicted by impeachment is immediately removed from office. The Senate may also choose to bar the removed official from holding any federal office in the future. No other punishments may be inflicted pursuant to the impeachment proceeding, but the convicted party remains liable to trial and punishment in the courts for civil and criminal charges.
References^The U.S. Constitution With Declaration of Independence, US Government Printing Office^"Joint Congressional Committee on Presidential Inaugurations". Retrieved November 10, 2006. ^5 U.S.C. § 3331^Cf: Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579,637 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring) ("When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization from Congress," his actions are "supported by the strongest of presumptions and the widest latitude of judicial interpretation, and the burden of persuasion ... rest[s] heavily upon any who might attack it.").^Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, 797 (2008) ("[M]ost federal judges [do not] begin the day with briefings that describe new and serious threats to our Nation and its people.").^Woods, Thomas (July 7, 2005) Presidential War Powers, LewRockwell.com^Woods, Thomas (2013). "Presidential War Powers: The Constitutional Answer". Liberty Classrooom. Retrieved September 6, 2013. ^Biddle, at 486^United States Senate. "Treaties". senate.gov. ^United States Library of Congress (February 15, 2011). "Primary Documents in American History Treaty of Alliance with France". loc.gov. ^John H. Haswell, University of Minnesota; United States Department of State (2010). Treaties and Conventions Concluded Between the United States of America Since July 4, 1776. google.books.com. pp. 1,232. ^Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S.996 (1979)^Bowsher v. Synar, 478 U.S.714 (1986)^ abcdefVasan Kesavan and J. Gregory Sidak (2002). "The Legislator-In-Chief". William and Mary Law Review44 (1). Retrieved June 28, 2012. ^ abSidak, Gregory (August 1989). "The Recommendation Clause". Georgetown Law Journal77 (6): 2079''2135. Retrieved June 29, 2012. ^ abcKesavan, Vasan. "The Heritage Guide to the Constitution: Recommendations Clause". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved October 27, 2012. ^U.S. Senate Turnip Day Session (January 5, 2011).^United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S.304 (1936), characterized the President as the "sole organ of the nation in its external relations," an interpretation criticized by Louis Fisher of the Library of Congress.^"Article II, Section 3, U.S. Constitution". law.cornell.edu. Legal Information Institute. 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2012. ^ ab"Take Care Clause Law & Legal Definition". USLegal.com. Retrieved July 5, 2012. ^ abcdefgTake Care Clause. "Take Care Clause". The Heritage Guide to the Constitution. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved October 12, 2012. ^Prepared by Devotion Garner. Updated by Cheryl Nyberg. "Popular Names of Constitutional Provisions". Gallagher Library of the University of Washington School of Law. Retrieved November 23, 2013. ^"Chapter 12-The Presidency Flashcards". Flashcard Machine. January 16, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. ^Walter E. Dellinger III (September 7, 1995). "CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITATIONS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PARTICIPATION IN BINDING ARBITRATION". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved July 5, 2012. ^Kinkopf, Neil (September''October 2005). "FURIOUS GEORGE - The belligerence of the Bush Administration in pursuing expansive power has a long Republican pedigree". Legal Affairs - The magazine at the intersection of Law and Life. Retrieved July 5, 2012. ^Sai Prakash. "Take Care Clause". The Heritage Guide to the Constitution. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved August 27, 2012. ^Johnson, at 500^An example of this is Alcee Hastings who was removed from a federal judgeship, but was not barred from serving in another federal office. He was later elected to, and currently serves in, the House of Representatives.^Cf. Ritter v. United States, 677 F.2d 957 (2d. Cir. 19) 84 Ct. Cl. 293, 300 (Ct. Cl. 1936) ("While the Senate in one sense acts as a court on the trial of an impeachment, it is essentially a political body and in its actions is influenced by the views of its members on the public welfare."); STAFF OF H. COMM. ON THE JUDICIARY, 93D CONG., CONSTITUTIONAL GROUNDS FOR PRESIDENTIAL IMPEACHMENT 24 (Comm. Print 1974) ("The purpose of impeachment is not personal punishment; its function is primarily to maintain constitutional government.") (citation omitted), reprinted in 3 LEWIS DESCHLER, DESCHLER'S PRECEDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, H.R. DOC. NO. 94''661 ch. 14, app. at 2269 (1977).External links
Matt Drudge says spending bill passed because NSA has 'dirt' on John Boehner | WashingtonExaminer.com
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 22:29
Matt Drudge of the influential Drudge Report news aggregation site expressed discontent over a federal spending bill that passed with votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the House. (AP Photos)
Matt Drudge of the influential Drudge Report news aggregation site expressed discontent over a federal spending bill that passed with votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the House.
The $1.1 trillion spending bill that runs through September 2015 is now up for a vote in the Democratically-led Senate. Many conservatives, including Drudge, are upset that the bill funds both Obamacare and President Obama's immigration executive orders.
"Obama got EVERYTHING," Drudge tweeted Friday. "NSA dirt on Boehner must be incredible. Chicago wins."
Despite opposition on the left led by Sen, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and on the right by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx., the bill is expected to pass the Senate.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
The Russian composer Mikhail Zhukov turned the book into an opera The Gadfly (ÐÐ²Ð¾Ð´, 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: 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.
WHAT IS UBER?
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 DUTCH BAN
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 INDIAN BAN
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."
VIDEO-Putin: West wants to chain the Russian bear, no way they'll stuff it - YouTube
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:54
VIDEO-North Korea probably not behind Sony Pictures hack, says cyber security expert - video | Technology | The Guardian
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:38
Caroline Baylon, a research associate in cyber security at Chatham House, discusses why the North Korean government was probably not behind the hack of Sony Pictures. The company has now cancelled the Christmas release of a film at the centre of the hacking scandal, The Interview, after terrorist threats to cinemagoers and a decision by major movie theatre groups to cancel screenings in the US
VIDEO-JohnSimpson BBC181214 Interview with Putin - YouTube
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:17
'¶VIDEO- Team America: World Police (6/10) Movie CLIP - I'm So Ronery (2004) HD - YouTube
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:52
VIDEO-JUST ASK SHANE: Why are Military Helicopters Flying Around Hanfo - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:50
RICHLAND, WA - We got a handful of emails and Facebook messages Monday night from viewers who heard helicopters flying over their homes. Paul asks, "What's up with all the military helicopters that were flying around in the West Richland and Hanford areas last night?"Well, after a string of seven or eight phone calls, I finally found out that U.S. Army Rangers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are conducting a military training exercise near the HAMMER training facility north of Richland. The exercises include Chinook helicopters, and the training is designed to test the Rangers' combat skills in a simulated urban environment.
These training exercises will continue through Friday, so don't be surprised if you hear the helicopters again over the next few nights. The Rangers will be using simulated munitions and some small explosives, which may cause some loud noises. The U.S. Army says they want to thank the community for their support during the exercises, and their understanding for any inconvenience the training may cause.
Remember, if you've got a question about something going on in our community... send it my way. You can reach me in the newsroom at (509) 737-6738, or send me an email at JustAskShane@nbcrightnow.com.
VIDEO-The Intelligence Community, LLC
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:41
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VIDEO: FPI Fellow David Adesnik Discussed the Implications of Russia's Ruble Collapse on CNBC's Squawk Box
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:49
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness.Read More
VIDEO-Russia writes off 90% of Cuba's debt ahead of Putin's 'big tour' to L. America '-- RT Business
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:14
Published time: July 11, 2014 08:51Edited time: July 12, 2014 13:52Russia has written down $32 billion of Cuba's Soviet era debt. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law ahead of his official visit to Latin America, with Havana as his first stop.
The agreement was first signed in October 2013 and draws a line under a twenty-year dispute.
Cuba is now required to pay back $3.2 billion over the next 10 years.
The first payment from Cuba is expected in October, and the money will be transferred to an account of the Russian lender Vnesheconombank opened at the National Bank of Cuba.
The agreement was signed into a law on Friday ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's official visit to Latin America, where Cuba comes the first.
Cash-strapped Cuba has been feverishly trying to restructure its debt to jump start its economy and attract investment. Three years ago it restructured $6 billion it owes to China, and in 2012 Japan forgave about $1.4 billion.
Mexico recently forgave $478 million of Cuban debt, and Havana agreed to pay back $146 million over 10 years.
Cuba's total debt was officially estimated at $13.6 billion in 2012 which is described as ''active''. Other debt collected prior to its default in 1980s is referred to as ''passive''.
Cuba remains a strong ally of Russia, with trade between the two countries at about $200 million last year.
After the Soviet Union broke up Russia became the legal successor to Cuba's loans. Cuba in turn rejected this, saying that the debt was in a currency that no longer existed, and was to a country that had vanished.
The next stop following Havana will be Buenos Aires. Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been very supportive of Moscow in its stand-off with the West, and regrets that trade with Russia hasn't been better. The two leaders aim to increase the annual $1.8 billion turnover, but its energy deals where both hope to gain a lot. A fifth of Argentina's power is provided using Russian technology, and a new multibillion dollar nuclear power plant which is expected to be built by Russia's state-owned energy firm Rosatom will certainly increase that.
Last, but certainly not least, is Brazil. Not only will Putin be lucky enough to witness the World Cup final from the stands - and go through a symbolic handover of the Mundial from Brazil to Russia - he has a lot to discuss with Dilma Rouseff.
Brazil is Russia's key trading partner in Latin America and the two leaders share a common view on US wiretapping scandals - President Rouseff was one of the world leaders whose phone was hacked by the NSA. So a joint information security project will be on the agenda.
Here Putin will also meet a dozen Latin America presidents in hope of striking new partnerships.
The tour will culminate with the BRICS summit, where the final bricks of a joint development bank will be laid. The new financial body that'll focus on infrastructure projects will have a $100 billion budget, and could represent a solid attempt by developing economies to become less dependent on loans from such international organizations as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The BRICS countries are also expected to sign an additional $100 billion fund to steady the currency markets, a buffer that'll provide for quick currency to compensate for massive capital outflows. Russia's finance minister has already dubbed the body as a ''mini ''IMF.''
Russia will also propose to set up a BRICS energy association that will include a fuel reserve, as well as an institute for energy policy.
VIDEO-Black choppers rattle Dallas skyline in urban training drills '-- RT USA
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:52
Published time: December 17, 2014 09:44Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
Dallas residents have taken to social media to express alarm over a swarm of black helicopters that have descended upon their neighborhoods, part of a US Special Forces drill to prepare for future engagement in urban areas.
Beginning Monday morning, Dallas residents went online to report a surreal spectacle that seems more consistent with conspiracy-theory lore than reality: Black helicopters with their lights switched off buzzing the rooftops of this Texas city of 1.2 million people.
READ MORE:Drone-only: US Army builds $33mn UAV airport in Texas
Unbeknown to many residents, the sinister-looking sight was the initial phase of US Special Operations Forces training in ''realistic urban sites'' scheduled to run for the next two weeks.
According to local news reports, the training missions may move beyond Dallas.
''North Texas police departments are letting the forces conduct urban training across the region over a two-week span,'' The Dallas Morning News reported.
#specops helicopter/urban warfare training in Uptown #Dallas... 10:39 PM on a Monday and at least 4 helos off Turtle Creek. Wow.
A video posted by Adam Rizzieri (@theadamrizz) on Dec 12, 2014 at 4:04pm PST
Meanwhile, the Dallas police department issued a statement on behalf of the Special Forces requesting that the public ''remain clear of these areas while training is conducted'' to ensure the ''safety of the public and trainees.''
These types of military missions are becoming increasingly familiar sites in cities across the United States, oftentimes without any prior public notice or explanation.
Los Angeles was also the staging ground for an urban-combat training drill. Yesterday, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit wrapped up two weeks of training involving some 2,400 marines and sailors.
In the course of the urban warfare training, ''residents could see as many as six military helicopters buzzing over the downtown area,'' CBS reported last week.
In May, residents of Florence, Kentucky, reported seeing "black ops" helicopters flying over parts of the town, also operating without lights, according to 700 WLW radio.
VIDEO-Siege victim Tori Johnson shot dead at close range after hostages fled - 9news.com.au
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:08
Lindt cafe victim Tori Johnson was shot dead in the final act of the Sydney siege, killed by Man Haron Monis as other hostages fled.
Hostages held at gunpoint in a Sydney cafe for more than 16 hours were told they would be "dead in the morning", prompting them to smash a lock off a door and run for their lives.
Sources have told 9NEWS Monis fired one shot from a sawn-off shotgun. Mr Johnson was shot in the head.
AAP reported the gunman screamed at police: "look what you've made me do".
Police are still trying to determine how fellow victim Katrina Dawson died, and are waiting for ballistic tests.
More than 70 police officers are being interviewed to determine the circumstances of the final stand.
The timeline was revealed as authorities came under increasing pressure to explain how Monis, a man with a long criminal history and links to extremism fell off watch lists and was granted bail.
THE REVIEW: Abbott questions why gunman had access to gun
THE HOSTAGES: Husband of shot woman thanks siege 'heroes' for saving Marcia
THE ACTIVIST: Russell Brand slams Abbott's use of word 'terror'
THE SINGER: Wes Carr writes and records song after siege
Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson
THE POLICE: Commissioner tried to keep gunman in jail
(C) ninemsn 2014
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VIDEO-Texas plumber's old truck appears in jihadist propaganda - NY Daily News
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:31
A Texas plumber has been bombarded with threats after his old pickup truck was featured in a jihadist propaganda picture posted online.
Mark Oberholtzer says he has "no idea" how his former Ford F-250 made it over to Syria '-- where it's now apparently being used by the Islamic extremist brigade Ansar al-Deen Front, reports CBS News.
The Texas City tradesman said he'd received "thousands" of calls and faxes since the image, which shows an anti-aircraft gun on the vehicle's bed, started circulating on Twitter on Monday.
"A few of the people are really ugly," he told The Galveston Daily News.
The truck is easily identifiable '-- as it still has his "Mark 1 Plumbing" decal on the door and contact details clearly visible on the side.
Oberholtzer said he'd traded it to an AutoNation Ford dealership in October 2013, and that he'd accidentally forgot to remove the decals.
"They were supposed to have done it and it looks like they didn't do it. How it ended up in Syria, I'll never know," he told CBS.
"To think something we would use to pull trailers, now is being used for terror, it's crazy. Never in my lifetime would think something like that," his son Jeff added to KHOU.
An AutoNation spokesman said the truck immediately went to auction and "likely traded owners over and over" before winding up in the hands of terrorists.
Jeff Oberholtzer said he wanted to make it clear that his family and company wasn't aiding and abetting terrorists.
"We had no intentions or no idea that this would even happen," he told KHOU.
"We have a secretary here, she's scared to death. We all have families. We don't want no problems," he added.
His father, who's run the successful business for 32 years, added: "I just want this to go away, to tell you the truth."
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VIDEO-Jesse Jackson Compares Himself, Sharpton to MLK in Response to Race Baiting Charge
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:28
"I will tell you there are people who have appeared on this show before, who every time we discuss the leaders of the black movement in this country, they take your name and they put it in the same sentence as Al Sharpton and they say the two of you, people have said this on our show, are race baiting and you are not doing it properly, and you are not serving the needs of the black community," host Ed Berliner said.
Jackson replied, "You know Dr. King was accused of being a race baiter as he fought the forces of the south, as he fought George Wallace," adding, "they called him a communist at the same time."
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO-Russia Defends Ruble With Biggest Rate Rise Since 1998 - Bloomberg
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 22:21
Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Richard Haass, president at Council on Foreign Relations, and Bloomberg's Henry Meyer and Hans Nichols discuss the fallout from the ruble reversing the biggest gain in 16 years against the U.S. dollar following a rate hike to 17 percent by the Russian Central Bank and whether or not the Russian economy is heading for a repeat of the default of 1998. They speak on ''Bloomberg Surveillance.''
Russia took its biggest step yet to shore up the ruble and defuse the currency crisis threatening its stricken economy.
In a surprise announcement just before 1 a.m. in Moscow, the Russian central bank said it would raise its key interest rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent, effective today. The move was the largest single increase since 1998, when Russian rates soared past 100 percent and the government defaulted on debt.
The ruble lost 2.5 percent to 66.0985 against the dollar as of 12:53 p.m., reversing an early gain prompted by the news.
The announcement, as well as its timing, underscored the financial straits in which Russia now finds itself. If sustained, the new higher rates would squeeze an economy that is already being hurt by sanctions led by the U.S. and European Union, and by a collapse in oil prices. Some analysts said they doubted the economy could withstand such high rates for long.
''This move symbolizes the surrender of economic growth for the sake of preserving the financial system,'' said Ian Hague, founding partner at New York-based Firebird Management LLC, which oversees about $1.1 billion, including Russian stocks. ''It's the right move to make, and it wasn't easy to make it.''
Photographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./BloombergPedestrians walk past an illuminated electronic neon sign displaying US dollar and Euro exchange rates outside a foreign exchange bureau in Moscow, Russia. Close
Pedestrians walk past an illuminated electronic neon sign displaying US dollar and Euro... Read More
OpenPhotographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./BloombergPedestrians walk past an illuminated electronic neon sign displaying US dollar and Euro exchange rates outside a foreign exchange bureau in Moscow, Russia.
'Ruble Zone'The ruble, which has depreciated 50 percent this year against the dollar, is the worst performer among more than 170 currencies tracked by Bloomberg. It gained almost 11 percent today, before weakening to a record.
''In order to limit the negative effects of such depreciation of the national currency on the Russian economy, we decided to increase the key rate,'' Russian central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said on state TV channel Rossiya 24. ''We really must learn to live in the ruble zone, rely to a large extent on our own sources of financing.''
So far this year, Russia has spent $80 billion of its foreign-exchange reserves in an unsuccessful attempt to prop up the ruble, which tumbled past 66 against the dollar for the first time. The currency's collapse has evoked the turmoil of the 1998 Russian crisis, an event that reverberated through financial markets around the world.
Emergency GatheringThe Russian central bank announced the increase -- the sixth this year -- after policy makers gathered for an unscheduled meeting.
''This decision is aimed at limiting substantially increased ruble depreciation risks and inflation risks,'' the central bank said in the statement. President Vladimir Putin, whose annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March prompted the U.S. and its allies to strike back with sanctions, this month called for ''harsh'' measures to deter currency speculators.
Photographer: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty ImagesPedestrians walk along a board listing foreign currency rates against the Russian ruble outside an exchange office in central Moscow on Dec. 12, 2014. Close
Pedestrians walk along a board listing foreign currency rates against the Russian ruble... Read More
OpenPhotographer: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty ImagesPedestrians walk along a board listing foreign currency rates against the Russian ruble outside an exchange office in central Moscow on Dec. 12, 2014.
''While such drastic tightening measures will inflict more pain on the economy, we have been arguing for a while that it is not about preventing recession, but full-scale financial turmoil caused by the precipitous ruble fall,'' said Piotr Matys, a currency strategist at Rabobank International in London.
Brent, the grade of oil traders look at for pricing Russia's main export blend, lost as much as 3.3 percent to $59.02 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, trading below $60 a barrel for the first time since July 2009.
Losing SteamRussia derives about 50 percent of its budget revenue from oil and natural gas taxes. As much as a quarter of gross domestic product is linked to the energy industry, Moody's Investors Service estimated in a Dec. 9 report.
The economy may shrink 4.5 percent to 4.7 percent next year, the most since 2009, if oil averages $60 a barrel under a ''stress scenario,'' the central bank said yesterday. Net capital outflow may reach $134 billion this year, more than double last year's total.
Others were more optimistic, saying the action was big enough to arrest the ruble's record decline. ''The central bank is trying to stop the avalanche, and such a massive hike may be sufficient,'' said Slava Breusov, an analyst at Alliance Bernstein in New York. ''No one seems to be thinking what it will do to the economy, as the priority is to stop the ruble plunge.''
To contact the reporters on this story: Olga Tanas in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org; Anna Andrianova in Moscow at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at firstname.lastname@example.org Torrey Clark
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VIDEO-Parts of Paris crawl to a halt as taxi drivers protest against UberPOP | euronews, world news
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 21:08
"We're against UberPOP. We won't let them do this to us, so car-sharing companies beware!"
Parts of Paris crawled to a near halt on Monday (December 15) as French taxi drivers launched 'Operation Snail'.
Some roads around the French capital and its airports were congested to protest against what the licenced taxi drivers label 'unfair competition' from companies such as Uber.
They claim their strictly regulated services are suffering as a result of mobile apps such as UberPOP '' advertised as a car-pooling branch of the company.
''We find services like that unfair. We're against UberPOP, we won't let them do this to us, so car-sharing companies beware!'' said one taxi driver.
''We pay huge amounts in tax and we're paying the licence, too, which costs some money. We pay for expensive insurance, so it's not normal that they do whatever they please!'' added another.
On Friday (December 12), the Paris Commercial Court rejected a request to impose an emergency ban on this type of service.
However, just ahead of Monday's protest, the Interior Ministry announced that such car-sharing enterprises, which use mobile phone applications to connect non-licenced drivers to passengers for a fee will be banned from January 1 2015.
Uber's French branch is currently appealing a 100,000-euro fine for alleged fraudulent business practices. A court found UberPOP was incorrectly advertised as a car-sharing operation, instead of a paid transportation service.
VIDEO-Why lone wolf attacks are hard to stop - LoneWolf Sager - YouTube
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:07
VIDEO- Krampus: A Christmas Tale by Scott McKenzie - YouTube
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 05:25
VIDEO-Night Vision Goggles for Dillon Hillier | Indiegogo
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 05:07
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VIDEO- John C Dvorak's greatest hits - YouTube
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:45
VIDEO-Sky high radiation readings across the U.S. - EnviroReporter.com
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:41
Government and private radiation stations pick up coast to coast climb surpassing summer surge
News and Analysis
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RadNet radiation monitors have detected renewed surges in atmospheric readings of dangerous beta radiation across the country. Over a dozen metropolitan test sites have registered four-month highs in EnviroReporter.com's most recent comprehensive assessment.
These figures, compiled from government graphs and organized at RadNet Air Monitoring, show even greater radiation levels than the already high detection exposed in the August 7 article U.S. air radiation surges higher.
Beta radiation-impacted cities in this fall included San Diego, Bakersfield, Phoenix, Amarillo, Montgomery and Madison. Some of these RadNet sites recorded beta readings literally going off the chart at 1,000 total beta counts per minute (CPM).
Though Los Angeles' beta station hasn't worked in over a year, EnviroReporter.com tracks beta emissions through dust analysis from HEPA filter machines located in its Santa Monica offices. The latest period's beta radiation detections were over eight times the same sources readings in late summer.
Some of the highest registering cities also were markedly higher than the same site readings shown on RadNet in 2013. Compared to its November 27, 2013 reading, Tuscon's 460 CPM reading on the same date a year later was over 10 times more elevated. Phoenix's November 28 reading of 735 CPM was over 21 times higher than exactly a year ago.
San Diego, which has inexplicably seen its airborne beta analyses skyrocket over the last year, hit 650 CPM October 1. That huge measurement, in a town with normal background around 20 CPM, was 60 times higher on the same date in 2014 than in 2013.
These alarming levels come as the heaviest travel days of the year have millions of Americans flying through air that they have no idea may be impacted by dangerous levels of radiation. No information exists in any airport in the United States that alerts travelers to the danger.
Often the readings can be staggering as first reported in 2012 and 2013. A vast majority of the five million people who flew over the Thanksgiving holiday did not have breathing masks as simple as common N-95 air filter model to protect themselves.
''These readings seem astronomically high,'' said one EnviroReporter.comcommenter in response to our November 23 Nationwide Radiation Report. ''What could be the cause of such a surge in radioactivity? I find it hard to believe that it is all from Fukushima unless something there has changed dramatically, such as a collapse of one of the pools used to store and cool spent fuel rods. Any ideas? This could have a very severe impact on our health and the health of our environment. I'm very concerned.''
The latest figures are certainly fuel for concern. But getting a good idea of how severe the problem is has been hampered by RadNet's spotty performance record. Just 39 out of 124 beta monitors were functioning as of November 23. That number has plunged to 31 as of December 2. That means just 25 percent of America's front line detection defense against man-made radiation actually functions. Taxpayer dollars are being wasted on a system that defies other government contracted networks for most bungled results.
While the EPA has repeatedly shown that it has discounted the effects of airborne radiation, such as EnviroReporter.com reported in EPA Nukes Radiation Rules in July 2013, it does not diminish the toxicity of the radiation involved.
Increasing airborne beta radiation can potentially include the man-made radionuclides cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium 239/240. Astronomical amounts of these isotopes have escaped the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan since March 11, 2011 when an earthquake and resultant tsunami destroyed the plant. This precipitated triple nuclear reactor meltdowns which remain out of control as the plant owners admitted in late November.
These isotopes, in very small amounts, can cause blood and bone diseases including leukemia. One millionth of an ounce of plutonium 239/240 will cause fatal lung cancer in humans.
Knowing how much radiation is in the air compared to normal background numbers is key to protecting the public from these tasteless and invisible poisons. EnviroReporter.com and others, including experts and manufacturers, consider 100 CPM to be an alarm trigger. Many American cities surpassed this threshold with measurements many multiples of anything that could be regarded as negligible.
Radiation levels that exceed three times background concentrations are considered a tripwire for concern as well, with 100 CPM approximately equating this level. The California Highway Patrol deems anything above this threshold as a potential hazardous material situation necessitating appropriate HazMat protocols.
In addition, a private citizen-sourced radiation network has identified at least one hot spot in St. Charles, Illinois. Information supplied EnviroReporter.com from Australian environmental activist Alan Manson shows extremely elevated readings in St. Charles, Illinois.
NETC graph courtesy of Alan Manson showing huge St. Charles, Illinois radiation spikes in November 2014.
''I have been accessing certain radiation monitoring sites across the USA through the http://netc.com website for a while now, and have noted that one site west of Chicago IL (St. Charles) is regularly producing extreme readings every 24 hours as shown in the chart below,'' Manson said in an email to EnviroReporter.com November 28. ''Below is the latest chart from St. Charles that should be of extreme concern to anyone living in the Chicago area. It concerns me that the authorities and the media are silent regarding this dangerous situation.''''At St. Charles IL, a peak reading of 7,298 was recorded during November,'' Manson wrote subsequently. ''Of greater concern at this site, regular emissions have been detected over the past 5 days, which commence around 1 am and last for approximately 6 hours.''
Breaking down the latest EPA Radnet numbers may also be a cause for extreme concern because they show just how hot the nation's air is. Yet the very existence of this information, with fully 75 percent of it missing, may be in jeopardy soon enough with a Republican-controlled Congress likely eager to cut any program that might put the powerful nuclear industrial complex in the hot seat.
Hot Zones for the Holidays
Since EnviroReporter.com's last major accounting of radiation readings across the United States, October 1, 2014, new beta radiation extremes in the air were reached around the United States.
Montgomery, Alabama hit a four-month high reaching 400 counts per minute October 17 while Anchorage, Alaska also pegged a four month high reaching 100 CPM November 1. That is the first time the port city on the Pacific has reached that dubious milestone since EnviroReporter.com began tracking its beta radiation totals in 2013. Over 350 miles away, Fairbanks hit its own new highpoint smashing through the previous one of 190 CPM September 28, topping 245 CPM October 31.
Phoenix, Arizona blew through its previous 210 CPM four-month high radiating over 735 CPM November 28. Tuscon, Arizona nearly topped 450 CPM October 31 which was over 25% higher than its last period high. Then on November 27, the beta blasted over the 700 CPM mark in a city that just ranks 55 out 100 in air quality nationwide yet is a magnet for seniors and snowbirds looking for clean and dry desert air. What they getting is hot air, even in the autumn.
Little Rock, Arkansas rocketed to 450 CPM October 27, exceeding past records, before its graph gave out November 26. Fort Smith, Arkansas calmed down a bit to 'just' 300 CPM October 27 and hit 250 CPM December 1.
California's once robust beta monitoring stations are increasingly failing. Anaheim's beta graph started working August 7 then went dead completely August 15. It sputtered to life again November 27 topping out at 160 CPM before dying November 29.
Fresno smashed through previous highs hitting 970 CPM November 11 making it one of the hottest places in the Glowdon State. Not to be outdone, Bakersfield to the south has gone off the charts '' in excess of 1,000 CPM '' half a dozen times in early to mid-November. The home of Buck Owens hit a high, but sour, note December 1 with a whopping 950 counts per minute.
Riverside, California's graph gave out September 15 after repeatedly slamming through the 'Oh NO!' threshold of 250 CPM and has stayed out. Adjacent San Bernardino County hit a four month high October 18 notching about 335 CPM. San Diego remains extremely active hitting 580 CPM September 20 and then 650 CPM October 1. Its graph died November 26.
Not all of California's radiation news was bad. An October to November EnviroReporter.com radiation testing foray to Death Valley National Park found rain November 1 that was merely 50 percent above background. That is in stark contrast to rains in late 2013 in Stovepipe Wells, Badwater and Furnace Creek which came in up to 31 times background as reported in Boreas Storm Packs Radioactive Punch.
Albuquerque, New Mexico also hit a four-month high October 19 with a sizzling 590 CPM and topped 550 CPM November 22. Southwestern air from Arizona to the Texas Panhandle has been exceedingly high in comparison to the rest of the country.
Raleigh, North Carolina hit 170 CPM July 24 and cut out and still hasn't come back on, a real loss in the South. We do have Radiation Station Harrisburg North Carolina for occasional rain radiation tests including one November 17 which showed hot rain radiating at 9.9 times background.
Amarillo, Texas blew through 1,000 CPM October 21 then died November 1 which is truly a shame since it has been the most inexplicably active beta graph in the nation, certainly a dubious honor. Meanwhile, Dallas topped 400 CPM October 15, a four-month high with nearby Ft. Worth almost reaching 250 CPM November 20.
Madison, Wisconsin hit a four-month high September 30 charting an astounding 555 CPM. The Midwest metropolitan went over 450 CPM November 26.
No matter the source, or sources, of these monumental radiation readings across the U.S., they are levels that could pose a danger to the nation, especially if ignored. Concerned citizens must know by now that the only source for radiation protection they can find now '' that they can count on '' is their own.
VIDEO: Russian same-sex couple's fight
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:22
A same-sex wedding has caused a backlash in Russia, where same-sex marriage is still not permitted.
Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova married last month in St Petersburg and are now facing prejudice and opposition.
The wedding was legally possible, because Irina's official documents still record her sex as male. The couple plan to fight to preserve their marriage, even when Irina completes her gender change.
Sarah Rainsford went to meet them.
VIDEO-President Obama's Joke Calling Troops 'Santa in Fatigues' Silences Audience
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:09
President Obama said, "We are free and safe and secure over here because you are willing to serve over there," adding "You never stop serving, you never stop giving, you guys are like Santa in fatigues. Although I bet one of those C-130's is a little more efficient then Santa's sleigh."
Follow Pam Key On Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO-BBC News - Russia's gay community in fear as homophobic attacks increase
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:07
15 December 2014Last updated at 20:49 ET By Sarah RainsfordBBC News, St PetersburgThis year's QueerFest in St Petersburg was the most controversial in the festival's history.
At the opening show, a crowd turned up to intimidate and shout insults, spraying coloured antiseptic from syringes, in a kind of cleansing.
There were sudden bomb scares and protests, and venues cancelled events at the last minute. Anti-gay activists plastered places with stickers: "Say no to Sodom."
"The atmosphere now is scary, we feel that it's dangerous," one of the organisers, Polina Andrianova, told the BBC, describing the harassment as the worst since the LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) festival began six years ago.
Her experience is one of those recorded in a new report by the US-based group Human Rights Watch, which documents a rise in homophobic rhetoric, actions and violence in Russia. It blames a law passed last year banning the promotion of "non-traditional lifestyles" among minors.
"All people understand from this law is that something is wrong with gay people. That they are dangerous for children, and information about them is harmful," Ms Andrianova argues.
Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova talk about their recent wedding
"It reinforces the view of gay people as second-class citizens and it gives a green light to more violence and more aggression," she says.
It's why there is extra security now at Coming Out, the LGBT support group where Polina works. A stark sign beside the new, reinforced metal door warns visitors that security cameras have been installed.
Anti-gay provocateurs have infiltrated discussion sessions here in the past and disrupted them.
Another group recorded over 300 homophobic attacks this year, a more than tenfold rise.
"We were just having coffee, harming no-one, when men in masks broke-in," Ivan Surok says of one incident, last November. At least one of the attackers was wielding a pellet gun and shot a man in the eye, blinding him; a girl was wounded in her back.
No-one has yet been prosecuted, part of what Human Rights Watch calls a culture of "widespread impunity". In the cases it documented between 2012 and 2014 only three were brought to court and two led to convictions.
Since the attack he witnessed, Ivan has carried a pepper spray for protection but no longer feels safe.
"Homophobes feel like they have a legal basis for their hatred now," Ivan says of the gay propaganda law. "They feel they can beat someone for being gay and they're protected."
The law - an amendment to child protection legislation - was introduced in several regions before being adopted nationwide.
Its chief sponsor in Russia's second city is Vitaly Milonov, a local deputy whose office at the palatial City Hall is filled with religious paraphernalia. Russian icons cover the walls and shelves beside a black flag bearing a skull and cross-bones. Another black banner proclaims "Orthodoxy or Death" in Greek.
Mr Milonov justifies the law with reference to Russia's traditional, Christian values. He insists that homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals an enemy within, backed by a perverted West.
Homophobic attacks, he claims, are fabricated.
But Vitaly Milonov is no political extremist - he represents the United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin.
"I want to protect my kids and my family from this dirt going from the homosexuals," the politician told the BBC.
"They can do whatever they want in their homes, in the special 'garbage' places called gay night clubs. They can kill themselves with their viruses as fast as possible. But they're not allowed to do it in the streets. Because it is not polite and it's uncomfortable for people."
Such is the mood of intolerance that even a giant model iPhone was removed from the streets of St Petersburg after Apple boss Tim Cook revealed he was gay. A few trailing cables are all that remain at the spot the statue once occupied, in the yard of an IT university.
Vitaly Milonov claims he got rid of his own iPhone 6 following Tim Cook's announcement, because it was "smelling with gay stuff", although he still has a Mac laptop on his desk.
Human Rights Watch calls for an end to such hate-speech and for a new message of tolerance from Russia's authorities. It urges the government to repeal the anti-gay law.
"It's like the law has ignited fear," says Alexey Zalensky, who's worried that LGBT people in Russia, already nervous about revealing their sexuality, are now retreating into the closet.
Many couples are even scared to hold hands in public now, he says.
"They say we are sick, and need to be healed," he explains, softly. "I feel that's the position supported by the government and I don't know how to live with it."
Rising intolerance is emboldening some activists to fight harder for their rights. But there is an overwhelming sense that such a fight is futile. LGBT support groups say people are increasingly asking their advice on how to emigrate.
Both Alexey and Ivan are among them.
They're joining the growing wave of Russians who no longer believe they can be themselves in their own country, and be safe.
VIDEO- "I no longer love blue skies": Drone strike victims testify before Congress - YouTube
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 02:02
VIDEO-The Speech That Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States | Miles Mogulescu
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:36
Early Friday evening Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the Senate floor and gave a plain-spoken, barn-burning speech that could make history and put her into serious contention to be the next President of the United States.
There are only a handful of political speeches that have such historic impact. Barack Obama's keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention comes readily to mind. It's what catapulted an obscure Illinois state Senator into the national limelight and put him on the path to becoming President.
Warren's Senate speech was different, but just as electrifying.
Obama's rhetoric was lofty, high-minded, and general, with a feel-good unifying message that there's no blue America or red America but only the United States of America.
Warren's rhetoric is more down to earth, substantive, and frankly, angrier, unafraid of calling out by name the institutions--the big banks and Citigroup in particular--which tanked the economy, cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes, were bailed out with half a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, and then used their fortunes to buy Congress and make it more likely they'll be bailed out again. Moreover, she was unafraid to take on the President of her own party, and the numerous members of his administration drawn from Citigroup and other big banks through the endless revolving door between Washington and Wall Street.
Here's the heart of Warren's speech:
Democrats don't like Wall Street bailouts. 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...
So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi[group]. I agree with you Dodd-Frankisn'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 upto get tougher, not to create more bailout opportunities. If we're going to open up Dodd-Frank, let's open it up so that once and for all we end too big to fail and I mean really end it, not just say that we did.
Instead of passing laws that create new bailout opportunities for too big to fail banks, let's pass...something...that would help break up these giant banks.
A century ago Teddy Roosevelt was America's Trust-Buster. He went after the giant trustsand monopolies in this country, and a lot of people talk about how those trust deserved to be broken up because they had too much economic power. But Teddy Roosevelt said we should break them up because they had too much political power. Teddy Roosevelt said break them up because all that concentrated power threatens the very foundations up our democratic system.
And now we're watching as Congress passes yet another provision that was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient of bailout money in the history of this country. And its attached to a bill that needs to pass or else we entire federal government will grind to a halt.
Think about that kind of power. If a financial institution has become so big and so powerfulthat it can hold the entire country hostage. That alone is reason enough to break them up.
Enough is enough.
Enough is enough with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position and the kindof cronyism that we have seen in the executive branch. Enough is enough with Citigroup passing 11th hour deregulatory provisions that nobody takes ownership over but everybody will come to regret. Enough is enough
Washington already works really well for the billionaires and the big corporations and the lawyers and the lobbyists.
But what about the families who lost their homes or their jobs or their retirement savings the last time Citigroup bet big on derivatives and lost? What about the families who are living paycheck to paycheck and saw their tax dollars go to bail out Citi just 6 years ago?
We were sent here to fight for those families. It is time, it is past time, for Washington to start working for them!
Please take less than 10 minutes of your time to watch the speech below. Like Obama's 2004 Convention speech, it was an historic speech, a potentially game changing speech. It catapulted Warren from a potential nuisance to Hillary Clinton's coronation as the Democratic nominee to someone who could foreseeably win the nomination and even the Presidency.
It transformed the conventional wisdom about American politics that the main divide is between left, right, and center, when it is really between pro-corporate and anti-corporate. Her declaration that neither Democrats nor Republicans (meaning the voters, not the Washington politicians) don't like bank bailouts rings loud and true. Tea party supporters don't like bailouts and crony capitalism any more that progressives do.
The conventional wisdom is that to win white working and middle class voters, politicians need to move towards the center, meaning towards a more corporate approach. But in a world of growing inequality, stagnating wages, and a fading belief that with hard work your children can have a better life than you had, that may no longer be true.
Hillary Clinton represents the old politics of the status quo and accommodation to Wall Street's power. Her husband's Treasury Secretary was former Goldman Sachs exec Robert Rubin. After leading Pres. Clinton's effort to dismantle the half-century old Glass-Steagel prohibition on government-insured commercial banks engaging in risky speculative bets which enabled the creation of financial megaliths like Citigroup, he went on to earn $126 million as a senior executive for Citigroup and brokered Citigroup's ½ Trillion Dollar bailout. His prot(C)g(C), Timothy Geithner became Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary where he opposed breaking up the big banks who had cratered the economy.
Elizabeth Warren represents a new politics in which, by challenging the power of the oligarchy, she has the potential of reclaiming the white working class for Democrats and uniting them with the coalition of professionals, single women, gays and minorities who elected Obama. She is the first major national politician in decades who is willing to openly challenge the power of the Wall Street oligarchy, in the manner of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who declared, "They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred."
With the increasingly dominant power of big money in politics, could Warren defeat Clinton, Inc. and then go on to defeat what is likely to be the near unanimous support of the Wall Street and corporate elite for her Republican opponent? It's hard to say. But the nation is in too much trouble to settle for a Democratic or Republican candidate of the corporatist status quo. If there's any hope, it's that once in a while the power of organized people can defeat the power of organized money. Elizabeth Warren represents that hope and it's the only thing worth hoping for.
Watch Warren's 9:43 second speech below. If you're fed up with the power of Wall Street and the big banks, it will inspire you. And even if you aren't, watch it for its importance as a model of historically transformative political rhetoric.
VIDEO-OZTERROR-LONE RANGERS-'Lone Wolf' Likely in Sydney Siege - WSJ
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:56
SpeakeasyIn Memoriam: The Artists We Lost in 2014
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WorldPLAYSydney Gunman Identified as Self-Styled Sheikh, and More
OZTERROR-Man Haron Monis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:32
Man Haron Monis is an Australian Muslim cleric originally from Iran.
Haron was born Manteghi Bourjerdi in Iran where his liberal interpretation of Islam led to the detention of his wife and children. Bourjerdi fled Iran to Australia in 1996, claiming to be a refugee, and changed his name to Man Haron Monis, assuming the title of Sheikh Haron.
On 16 December 2014, Haron was identified in media reports as the person who took hostages in a siege at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney.
"Hate mail" campaignHaron, together with his colleague Amirah Droudis, undertook a campaign protesting the presence of Australian troops in Afghanistan, by writing letters to the families of soldiers killed there, in which he called the soldiers murderers, and urged the soldiers' families to petition the government to remove its troops from Afghanistan. According to Justice Heydon of the High Court, the letters compared "the (deceased soldier) son to a pig and to a dirty animal. It calls the son's body 'contaminated'. It refers to it as 'the dirty body of a pig'. It describes Hitler as not inferior to the son in moral merit". Haron was arrested on charges of "using a postal or similar service to menace, harass or cause offence".
On 10 November 2009 Haron appeared in court and claimed through his lawyers to be a peace activist. He later chained himself to the courthouse in protest over the charges. Haron was subsequently barred by the courts from expanding his protest to include letters to UK soldiers' families.
In December 2011, Haron appeared before the Court of Criminal Appeal in Sydney arguing that the charges against him were invalid because they infringed on his implied constitutional freedom of political communication, but the three-judge panel unanimously dismissed his case.
Upon further appeal to the High Court of Australia, the six-judge panel split 3-3 over the issue. Although the High Court of Australia normally comprises seven judges, one seat was vacant and as yet unfilled at the time Haron's case appeared before the court. Failing to achieve a majority vote in Haron's favour, the lower court's unanimous decision was left to stand.
Murder caseOn 15 November 2013, Haron was charged by NSW Police with being an accessory before and after the fact to the murder of Noleen Hayson Pal, allegedly stabbed and set alight in a Werrington apartment stairwell on 21 April 2013. His partner Amirah Droudis, was formally charged with Pal's murder. Pal was Haron's ex-wife.
On 12 December 2013, Haron and Amirah were given bail at Penrith Local Court. Magistrate Darryl Pearce said there were significant flaws in the Crown's case against the pair. "It is a weak case'" he said. Prosecutor Brian Royce said Monis' claims the Iranian Secret Police and ASIO were trying to frame him for the murder was fanciful. Magistrate Pearce said all theories needed to be examined.
On 22 January 2014, Haron told magistrate Joan Baptie that he was representing himself and proceeded to talk about documents ASIO has on him that he wanted to see. He told the court he has been charged in connection to the murder of his ex-wife because ASIO is conspiring against him to have him jailed. But Magistrate Baptie told him she cannot order ASIO to release documents about him. Haron stood outside the Parramatta Local Court wearing chains and holding a sign claiming he has been tortured in jail. He said: "This is not a criminal case. This is a political case."
Sexual assault caseOn 14 March 2014, Haron was arrested and charged with sexually and indecently assaulting a young woman who went to his consultancy in Wentworthville, New South Wales, for "spiritual healing", after seeing an advertisement in a local newspaper. Haron claimed he was an expert in "astrology, numerology, meditation and black magic" services.
ReferencesExternal linksPersondataNameHaron, SheikhAlternative namesMan Haron MonisShort descriptionAustralian clericDate of birth1964Place of birthIranDate of deathPlace of death
OZTERROR-Sheikh Haron's Fatwa |Australian Muslim cleric, Islamic website to explain about Allah, Shariah law and Jihad
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:31
Click Here To Watch Video Of Animal Sex
"If we have no happy birthday, let's have a HappyDeathday" Birthday message from Sheikh Haron to the Queen
Warning Australian Muslims: For letter dated 14 November 2007 we haven't received any response from the government yet. This means teaching the Holy Quran may be illegal under Australian law! See page Our Articles
29 Rajab 1430
Wednesday , July 22 , 200906:37 MECCA TIME , 03:37 GMT
Click here to read in Arabic
Join the Army of Islam for Jihad against oppression, we need your HELP!
We are not going to do anything against the law, and we request you that upon your contact do not make any comment which is against the law of Australia and the law of your country of residence! All of our communication facilities are monitored by the Australian Government. If you make any illegal or irresponsible comment, the Government of your country will be notified! When you fill the form on the page "contact", please make sure you write the correct phone number and email address. Sometimes we prefer to contact your residence rather than sending email or calling you, so please write your address if you can. Any private conversation will be only face to face in person. In some countries we do not have any soldiers to contact you in person, so you need to have patience till one of our soldiers travels to meet you! We remind those non-Muslims who are willing to convert to Islam that converting is not against the law. Also we remind those Muslims who wish to join us in the Army of Islam that such an act is not against the law, in fact every Muslim is a soldier of God and is supposed to commit Jihad against evil and to be in war on oppression. So we welcome you to contact us with peace of mind.
Sheikh Haron's Website
Message of Mufti Sheikh Haron about the martyrdom of our Muslim Brother
Coming Soon on Page "Messages"
Martyr Mikaeel (Michael) Jackson
To know one of the reasons that:
A prostitute is more respectful than the Queen Elizabeth II
Click here (PDF)
If our fair defence against your unfair attack is called terrorism,
We are proud to be called TERRORISTS
Sheikh Haron Website on You Tube
Click here to read about "Our Policy" in Arabic_______________________________________________________________________
Can we describe Imam Bin Laden in Australia?
The reply letter from the Australian Attorney-General has been received dated 31 January 2008 however the reply is not clear enough. Sheikh Haron has sent another letter to the Department of the Attorney-General dated 7 April 2008 and he has requested the Australian Government to make it more clear. Many Muslims have already described Imam Osama Bin Laden privately but not in public. Soldier Sister Amirah, a convert Australian Muslim girl, was the first Australian person (after David Hicks) who has publicly described the positive points of the look and personality of Imam Osama Bin Laden. If you like to watch her video on YouTube about Imam Bin Laden please click here. _________________________________________________
Come on, let's happily suicide together!
The phrase above is one of the comments of the DVDs and CDs which a non-Muslim company has imported to Australia. This DVD clearly incites and encourages people to be "happy" with suicide, and as a result increasing the potential suicide attackers in the Australian society. It directly and clearly encourages people to be able to suicide with "happiness". Nearly one year these terrorist disks have been available in many shops around Australia and AFP (Australian Frame Up Police) was quiet about it!Scandal of Permitted Suicide bombing for Non-Muslims in AustraliaFirst time was revealed by Sheikh Haron!
If a Muslim would import such a disk to Australia, would AFP remain quiet?!We condemn inciting suicide. We also condemn the religious descrimination in AFPRead more details in the letter of Sheikh Haron to Attorney-General dated 2 July 2008 on Page: "Media Releases" in the section of Non-Muslim terrorism.
Please pay attention to an important message for doctors, supported by Australian Government:
If you want to kill people, why not use the tools of your own trade like a plague or a disease or something? Why go into an area which you're clearly unqualified in?(Australian TV, Channel 7, Sunrise 4 July 2007)Details on page "Media Releases"
The Australian Muslim Cleric, Sheikh Haron, is the same Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi who has formally changed his name and that's why some people were confused who was Sheikh Haron? The Islamic website of this Australian Muslim cleric is a site generally about spirituality and particularly about Allah, Islam, Shariah law and Jihad.
VIDEO-OZTERROR- today and tonight - YouTube
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:29
VIDEO-OZTERROR- Escaped from Australian prison! - YouTube
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:29
VIDEO-"Ferguson, MO" by Mike Molaro - YouTube
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:13
VIDEO-Former CIA deputy director on what it will take to stop ISIS terror group - Videos - CBS News
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:07
August 21, 2014, 7:05 AM|President Obama condemned ISIS on Wednesday for murdering James Foley and defended the latest U.S moves in Iraq. CBS News senior security analyst and former CIA deputy director Mike Morell joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss how difficult it is to find and rescue hostages like Foley.
VIDEO: FPI Board Member Dan Senor Discusses the CIA Interrogation Report on Meet the Press
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 03:01
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness.Read More