682: Global Shot

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 56m
December 28th, 2014
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Executive Producers: Grand Duke of Belgium and France Sir Steven Pelsmaekers, Sir Mark Dytham Baron of Tokyo, Eric Finkenbiner

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Kirk of the Happy Valley, Claudia Gerber

Cover Artist: MartinJJ

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Peerage map updated by Sir AJ Rystad http://itm.im/peerage
TODAY
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Missed not having a live show Thursday, to mock the elite$!
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St. Pete businesses embrace bitcoin despite troubles, BitPay banks on bowl exposure - Tampa Bay Business Journal
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 10:38
Dec 11, 2014, 2:26pm EST Updated: Dec 12, 2014, 2:57pm EST
Enlarge Photo
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg
More than 100 St. Petersburg businesses will accept bitcoin as payment by the time the Bitcoin St. Petersburg college football bowl game takes place later this month.
Representatives from BitPay Inc., the lead bowl sponsor, have worked since June to explain to business owners the benefits of the controversial digital currency, according to a BitPay statement released Thursday.
Benefits include no transaction fees and chargebacks, which are what credit card providers charge retailers to make good on bad transactions, according to the statement.
The following businesses were named bitcoin acceptors. Global bitcoin business directories Coinmap and AirBitz will list the businesses by bowl game week.
Green Bench BrewingCraftsman House and GallerySt. Petersburg Museum of HistoryThe Ale and the WitchAcropolis Greek TavernaGenaro Coffee CompanyHotel ZamoraFerg's Sports BarBitPay, based in Atlanta, processes bitcoin payments and has raised more than $32 million from the likes of Index Ventures, Founders Fund and Richard Branson of Virgin.
The biggest challenge has been walking businesses through the process of getting bitcoins, Wargo said.
"The best case scenario is we get 15,000 to 20,000 who attended fitted with wallets and do a transaction that day," Wargo said. "That's my ideal world."
While Wargo believes recent publicized hackings at major retailers and financial institutions will help boost the idea bitcoin is just as safe as traditional payments, bitcoin has its own history of trouble, said economics professor Mark D. Soskin, who teaches at University of Central Florida. UCF will play North Carolina State at the bowl game.
The bowl game will get BitPay small but easy exposure, Soskin said. He will watch the ratings, attendance numbers and BitPay's marketing strategies to see if the company will fare well in the race to commercialize bitcoin first.
Like Facebook for social networks and Kodak for film, the first major presence in a new industry gets to make the rules and set barriers for companies following suit, Soskin said.
"To be too early or too late is the worst," he said. "Timing is everything. They must wait for the critical economic complements."
Wade Tyler Millward is a reporter for the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
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Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''690, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1708^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". America.gov. January 16, 2003.
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SONY
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Biggest PR Hoax ever!
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Self Censorship sez Obama WTF with Bin Laden pics?
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North Korea Trolls Obama: Compares US President To "A Monkey In A Tropical Jungle" | Zero Hedge
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 03:49
While it is certain that in a few weeks, not even America's staunchest "patriots" will remember The Interview, one thing is certain: the trolling comedy that has been unleashed by North Korea in response to Obama's own "proportional response" will live in infamy for a long time. Case in point, North Korea's full official statement following the re-release of the The Interview, which hit select theaters on Christmas day, just as initially scheduled despite the endless drama, as well as countless streaming distribution services (which at a rental price of $5.99 promptly made it the most pirated movie of 2014, despite an epic marketing campaign that essentially made it unpatriotic for Americans not to see the movie).
So the movie came and went, but not before for some inexplicable reason, "an unknown" power decided to escalate matters further and following the FBI's and Obama's threat for a "proportional response", killed North Korea's internet for hours, because surely that will teach those evil North Korean hackers to never again mess with one of the world's most powerful transnational corporations, and halt future dissemination of emails revealing Sony Pictures' execs as a bunch of coddled racists. Or, as the administration called it, a "matter of national security."
To be sure, North Korea did not keep quiet through this entire farce, and while it made it very clear that it had nothing to do with the Sony hack, it did demand a full UN-backed investigation, a proposal quickly shot down by none other than the US which always demands full "transparency" of all actions except when actions are its own, or when the resulting transparency would shine an unwanted light on the hypocrisy behind US national interests. Furthermore, in its first statements regarding The Interview, North Korea was actually quite cordial, and said nothing offensive regarding Obama.
All that changed overnight when in its first official statement since its Internet went dark - something which if indeed North Korea did not hack Sony, as it claims, would be seen as a clear act of war if it were to happen to any other "developed" country - North Korea finally lost it and decided that the time to troll the US president has finally arrived, when, as the TV anchor says beginning 1:10 minutes in the clip blow, "Obama always goes reckless in speech and action like a monkey in a tropical jungle."
Clearly, North Korea has had enough, and as the Former British ambassador to North Korea John Everard said, "they have calculated there is nothing to be gained from trying to be nice to him." That, and it also shows that not even deep technological backwaters, countries which barely have night-time lighting let alone supercomputers needed to bypass state of the art firewalls, have no fear, or respect, of the current iteration of the world's most powerful man.
What is perhaps even more disturbing is that while replete with the usual propaganda, the North Korean statement actually made some valid points. From the statement:
"We'd like to ask if somebody made a film concerning terror, and if somebody intends to instigate terror to do harm, can Obama talk about freedom of expression and value of modern civilization. We take this opportunity to clearly announce once again: the hacking attack on Sony Pictures has nothing to do with us. We make it clear that our target is not such individual corporations as Sony Picture but the US imperialist brigands who left grudge on our entire nation. If the US intends to insist that we are the hacking attackers they must present evidence now. Actually the big United States shamelessly began to obstruct the internet operations of major media of the DPRK like hide and seek of innocent children. We have already warned them not to act in the way of shaking fist after being hit by somebody. Of course, we do not expect our warning would work on the brigands because it is the United State that makes truth recognized by all people falsehood, triggers a war of aggression, and unhesitatingly intervenes in the internal affairs of a sovereign state if it is to satisfy their aggressive ambitions."
The trolling continued: "If the US persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite (North Korea's) repeated warnings, the US should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows."
The full trolling statement below:
So what was the immediate response to the North Korean statement comparing Obama to a monkey, and the US to a schoolyard bully? Well, as reported earlier, "someone" managed to take down not only the communist country's internet but all its cell phone service.
And while Obama has yet to respond to North Korea's latest escalation in trolling, if not hacking, the president did take the time to provide some propaganda of his own, not surprisingly on a very contextual topic, and one very near and dear to Obama's heart: race. In fact his statement to NPR, as reported by The Hill, was no less laughable: "President Obama believes that the United States is less racially divided than when he took office in 2009. Asked in an NPR interview set to air starting Monday whether the nation is more racially divided than six years ago, Obama said "No."
"I actually think that it's probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided," Obama told "Morning Edition" host Steve Inskeep. Excerpts of the interview were released before broadcast by NPR.
And while there is Obama's version of reality, where his favorite TV channel, ESPN, apparently does not cover events like Ferguson or the slaying of NYPD cops, for everyone else things are different: a majority of Americans, 53 percent, believe that race relations have worsened under America's first black president, compared to 36 percent who say they have stayed the same and 9 percent who say they have improved, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll released earlier this month.
The NPR interview took place Dec. 18, a day after People magazine published remarks by the president and first lady Michelle Obama saying that they themselves had experienced racial prejudice.
"I think people forget that we've lived in the White House for six years," the first lady said. "Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs," she added.
"There's no black male my age, who's a professional, who hasn't come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn't hand them their car keys," the president said.
Perhaps, or perhaps this is merely another example of "reckless speech and action" just like North Korea alleged, all designed to stoke, not sooth, racial conflict and hatred in America.
At the end of the day the only real question is whose propaganda is more convincing (or at least more amusing):
His.
Or his:
Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 4.7(18 votes)
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Anonymous Announces Vengeance On North Korea For Sony Hack With #OpRIPNK
Tue, 23 Dec 2014 14:07
The infamous hacker collective Anonymous has announced that they'll be responding to North Korea for the Sony hack. The hackers known as #GOP, or Guardians of Peace, who are believed to be a North Korean group, have been compared to Anonymous, and Anon has expressed agreement with them on some matters. However, now that Sony has pulled The Interview from theaters in response to the hacking and threats, Anon has turned their eyes on North Korea in a less agreeable light.
Thursday evening into Friday morning, one of Anonymous' many Twitter accounts offered responses to the Sony hack, and the decision to pull the movie, hinting that Anonymous would be offering the movie to the world themselves.
Anonymous then touched on the bigger picture: allowing another country's dictator (or those who support him) to make decisions about free speech in America doesn't set a great precedent. They're not alone in saying this. According to CNBC, Obama called Sony's reaction to the hack a mistake on Friday. Much of Hollywood has made similar statements, saying that North Korea shouldn't decide what's shown in American theaters, and that Sony is giving in to terrorism.
Anon then went on to promise the movie to the world for Christmas (and to clarify their position on the Sony hack).
Several theaters had discussed showing Team America, which also includes a less-than-favorable portrayal of North Korea's Kim Jong Un, in place of The Interview, but according to NPR, Paramount Pictures nixed that too. Anonymous cited this as part of a pattern, suggesting that it might go further still.
All of this led up to the final statement: Anonymous would respond to the Sony hack and to North Korea.
In the past, Anonymous has taken systems offline: the Westboro Baptist Church website, police departments, and others.
Anonymous hasn't stated explicitly what it aims to do to North Korea over the Sony hack, but past efforts from the hacker collective suggest that Kim Jong Un might find official computer systems nonfunctional in days to come.
Sony works for third day to restore PlayStation after attack | Reuters
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 03:38
TweetShare thisEmailPrintPedestrians are reflected in a logo of Sony Corp outside its showroom in Tokyo July 16, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Yuya Shino
BOSTON (Reuters) - Sony Corp worked for a third day on Saturday to restore services to its PlayStation network as the FBI said it was looking into the disruption, which began on Christmas Day.
"We are aware of the reports and are investigating the Sony PlayStation matter," Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said via email. She did not elaborate.
Meanwhile Sony said on Saturday that the attack had prevented some people who received consoles for Christmas from using their new machines on the PlayStation network, which lets gamers compete with people around the world via the Internet.
"If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log onto the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console," Sony executive Catherine Jensen said on the company's U.S. PlayStation blog.
Some customers posted complaints about the outage on the blog. "Three days without PSN. That's absurd," said one of them.
"We understand your frustration," Jensen responded early Saturday afternoon. "Our engineers are working to restore service as quickly as possible!"
Later in the day she said the company had restored access for some users and would keep bringing more back online. Sony declined to say how many of PSN's 56 millions users had been affected by the attack.
The blog said the problems were the result of "high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online game play," which is widely known as a distributed denial-of-service attack.
It was Sony's second recent high-profile encounter with hackers after an unprecedented attack on its Hollywood studio, which the U.S. government attributed to North Korea and linked to the release of the low-brow comedy "The Interview."
A hacker activist group known as Lizard Squad said it was responsible for the PSN outage as well as delays on Microsoft's Corp's Xbox network; Microsoft quickly fixed the problem.
The group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, including ones on PSN in early December and August.
The August attack coincided with a bomb scare in which Lizard Squad tweeted to American Airlines that it heard explosives were on board a Dallas-to-San Diego flight carrying an executive with Sony Online Entertainment.
Sony has been the victim of some of the most notorious cyberattacks in history. Besides the breach at its Hollywood studio, hackers stole data belonging to 77 million PlayStation Network users in 2011.
(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Stephen Powell and Steve Orlofsky)
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F-Russia
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Soros as Kiev's Central Banker and Ridiculous US Laws | New Eastern Outlook
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 15:30
If it comes to pass, and it cannot unfortunately be ruled out, recent media rumors say that naturalized US billionaire hedge fund speculator and philosopher, George Soros, a very weary-looking 84-year-old who continues to try to weaken the Russian economy as he did back in 1998, might become the head of the Ukrainian National Bank in Kiev. Soros as head of any central bank in my view is putting the old fox to guard the hen-house. That would complete a quartet of foreign technocrats that clearly would do no good to the shattered real economy of Ukraine nor to peace in the world.
So far it is a report carried only by APA, the Azeri press agency in Baku. They cite a report carried Ukraine's Channel 112. That report cited sources in the Ukraine parliament, the Verkhovna Rada and people around Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko.
Billionaire speculator Soros is no stranger to Ukraine. In a personal interview with US TV propaganda channel CNN. Soros declared, ''I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent of Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now.'' That interview was made after the US State Department February 21, 2014 coup d'Etat.
Soros, via his network of ''tax free charitable'' foundations has worked with US Government-funded NGOs such as USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (now doing work formerly assigned to the CIA), the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Freedom House, and the Albert Einstein Institute for training in ''nonviolence as a weapon of warfare.''
Whether the good Mr. Soros will bring his financial alchemy to Kiev and try to earn the new Finance Minister billions of euros for their strained budget is not at all clear. There is reportedly a list of five candidates including Soros. It reportedly includes former IMF head Dominique Straus-Kahn and at least one person from the US Federal Reserve.
Ukraine: Washington's New Colony
The naming of Soros or another foreign banker to head the central bank of Ukraine at this point would fit nicely into what emerges as Washington's strategy to simply run the country''into the ground at that'--by proxies. Earlier this month, US State Department favorite Ukraine President Petr Poroschenko engaged in constitutionally dubious manipulations, holding a secret ceremony hours before a Ukraine Parliament vote, to make three now Kiev government ministers from foreign countries into Ukrainian citizens.
The three were Finance Minister Natalia A. Jaresko, a then-US citizen who worked for the US State Department in Ukraine and recently as investment banker for funds of USAID. As Economics Minister sits a Lithuanian investment banker who managed a Swedish investment fund for Ukraine, Aivras Abromavicius. And the new Health Minister is US-tied national of neighboring Georgia, Alexander Kvitashvili whose wife reportedly worked with the CIA.
And New US Sanctions'...
The US President Obama just signed into law a new round of economic sanctions against Russia. The US President on December 18 signed into law HR 5859, euphemistically titled, Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 113th Congress. A more honest title would be, An Act of 2014 to Provoke War with Russia.
The new law calls for ''economic sanctions, diplomacy, assistance for the people of Ukraine, and the provision of military capabilities to the Government of Ukraine that will enhance the ability of that Government to defend itself and to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unlawful actions by the Government of the Russian Federation.''
The new US law gives the US President a dangerous new weapon. If he deems Gazprom, the Russian state gas giant that supplies much of the EU as well as Ukraine, is ''withholding'' significant natural gas from NATO countries, or from Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova, he can order draconian new sanctions on Gazprom, something carefully avoided by Washington until now. That means all the CIA or neo-cons running US State Department Ukraine policy need do is convince Kiev to claim Russia is withholding gas or refuse to pay Gazprom, a sword of Damocles over the Russian gas supplier.
Then the new US law, HR 5859, SEC. 9. SUPPORT FOR RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS, specifies that the Secretary of State shall, ''directly or through non-governmental or international organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the National Endowment for Democracy, and related organizations''(1) improve democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts in the Russian Federation; strengthen democratic institutions and political and civil society organizations in the Russian Federation; (3) expand uncensored Internet access in the Russian Federation'...''
This remarkable part of the new law gives open support to a new attempt at a CIA-State Department Color Revolution to topple Putin, using the US Congress and Soros Foundation-financed National Endowment for Democracy, the same cast of suspects who ran the Euro-Maidan Color Revolution a year ago in Kiev. If it reads like a brazen attempt to trample Russian sovereignty and impose a Washington version of ''democracy'' in another country, one might ask, what bloody right do Washington Congressmen and Presidents have to impose anything on anyone, let alone its own citizens?
To underscore the absurdity of Washington neo-cons and their moral arrogance in deciding where and how they can impose ''democracy,'' some in the Russian Duma, with characteristic Russian droll humor, apparently made a tit-for-tat mirror image of HR5859. Imagine, as a normal American citizen, how you would feel if the following were to become operational:
United States of America Freedom Support Act of 2014
Sixth Duma of the Russian Federation
AT THE TWENTY-FIRST SESSION
An Act:
To provide assistance for the democratic development of the United States of America and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Representatives of the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Russian Federation assembled in the Federation Assembly'...
Sec. 9. SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS.
(a) In General.''The Minister of Foreign Affairs, directly or through nongovernmental or international organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the EURASIA HERITAGE FOUNDATION, and related organizations'--
(1) improve democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts in the United States;
(2) strengthen democratic institutions and political and civil society organizations in the United States;
(3) expand free and unmonitored Internet access in the United States; and
(4) expand free and unfettered access to independent media of all kinds in the United States, including through increasing Russian Government-supported broadcasting activities.
The Russian spoof merely underscores how ridiculous US foreign policy has become. Little wonder that the USA today enjoys so little respect around the world. Its elected politicians are simply ridiculous.
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
Ukraine National Debt Hits Record High As World Bank Gives Them Another Loan
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 01:48
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Ukraine's state debt in November hits record high of over UAH 1 tln
Ukraine's total (direct and guaranteed) state debt in November, in dollar equivalent fell by 5%, or $3.66 billion, to $69.34 billion, mostly due to the hryvnia's devaluation, the Ukrainian Finance Ministry reported on its website.
According to the report, in hryvnia, the aggregate state debt last month grew by 9.8%, or by UAH 92.57 billion, to a record high of UAH 1.379 trillion.
The correlation of state debt denominated in U.S. dollars and hryvnia gives an estimate forex rate of UAH 14.97 per $1 as of the end of November against UAH 12.951 per $1 as of the end of October and UAH 7.993 per $1 as of end of 2013
In January-November the aggregate state debt decreased in dollar equivalent by 5.2%, or $3.77 billion, but in hryvnia it grew by 77.6% or by UAH 453.53 billion.
Total domestic debt in November shrank by 10.8%, or by $3.58 billion, to $29.58 billion, whereas total foreign debt fell by 0.2%, or $80 million to $39.76 billion, the Foreign Ministry said.
Since the beginning of the year, total domestic state debt fell by 16.8%, or $5.96 billion, whereas foreign debt grew by 5.8%, or $2.19 billion.
As reported, Ukraine's public debt in 2013 in U.S. dollar terms grew by 13%, or $8.434 billion, and in relation to GDP '' from 37.4% of GDP to 40.9% of GDP.
According to government estimates, the fall of real GDP in Ukraine in 2014 will be 7%, however, due to the acceleration of inflation to 25.3%, nominal GDP will increase to UAH 1.525 trillion.
The International Monetary Fund in the updated Stand-By Arrangement forecasts the increase in Ukraine's gross public debt in this year from 40.9% of GDP to 67.6% of GDP due to the devaluation of the national currency and the need for further government support for Naftogaz Ukrainy and banks.
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World Bank Finances Expansion of Power Transmission in UkraineFriday, 26 December 2014
The FINANCIAL '' The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a US$378.425 million loan for the Second Power Transmission Project to improve the reliability of the power transmission system and support the implementation of the Wholesale Electricity Market in Ukraine. With this new project, the Bank is stepping up its support for the country's energy sector reforms, according to the World Bank Group.
The new investment will support efforts to develop plans for renewable power integration, applying smart grid solutions at power transmission. It will also support the implementation of the Wholesale Electricity Market and Balancing Market mechanisms and enhance electricity market competitiveness by aligning the Ukrainian network with the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity. This will help to strengthen not only national, but also regional energy security.
The new project will help the national energy company Ukrenergo to design and implement high-priority transmission system rehabilitation measures and upgrades, increasing the system's reliability. It aims to make substations more efficient through reducing the number of outages, while strengthening electricity market performance. This will be done across the Central and Northern power systems, the country's two major regional networks, covering almost one-third of Ukrainians who will get more stable electricity supplies, according to the World Bank Group.
The project includes a US$48.425 million loan provided by the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), which will be used to assist Ukrenergo in the design and installation of the next generation of modern communications, grid management, and control systems, which will enable large-scale integration of wind and solar energy resources and improve management and operation of the transmission network.
In addition, the project provides US$2.5 million of institutional support to Ukraine's Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry for the implementation of energy sector reforms in line with its commitments within the Energy Community and the EU Association Agreement, according to the World Bank Group.
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FRACKING-The CIA-engineered oil glut to bring down Putin and Maduro | Intrepid Report.com
Tue, 23 Dec 2014 16:24
John Brennan's long familiarity with Saudi Arabia, owing to the time he spent there as the CIA station chief in Riyadh in the 1990s and his knowledge of Saudi oil operations, has paid off. WMR has learned that Brennan's agents inside Saudi Aramco convinced the firm's management and the Saudi Oil Ministry to begin fracking operations to stimulate production in Saudi Arabia's oldest oil fields.
By pumping salt water into older wells, some at a depth of 3 to 6 thousand feet, an inordinate amount of pressure was built up. The CIA's oil industry implants knew what would occur when the fracking operations began. Due to the dangerously high water pressure, the Saudis were forced continuously pump oil until the pressure became equalized. That process is continuing. If the Saudis ceased pumping oil, they would permanently lose the wells to salt water contamination. In the current ''pump it or lose it'' situation, the Saudis are forced to pump at a rate that may take up to 5 years before they can slow down production rates.
The net result of the CIA-inspired fracking operations, which the Saudis were warned not to pursue by petroleum engineers working for some foreign-based firms like Schlumberger, is that there will be an oil supply glut for the next 5 years. The glut will be followed by a reduction in Saudi oil production unless new oil fields are brought on line. There is now a major push by U.S. and Canadian oil companies to bring the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States to offset the expected sharp rise in oil prices in five years.
The CIA operation to frack Middle Eastern oil fields was not only limited to Saudi Arabia. WMR has learned from oil industry sources that similar fracking caused overproduction problems in Kuwait and Iraq.
The result of the sudden decline in oil prices has resulted in heavy damage to the economies of the CIA-targeted countries of Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. Brennan and his economic warfare operatives banked on the Saudi overproduction to harm the economies of all three countries and the CIA has not been disappointed. The CIA figures that the governments of Vladimir Putin in Russia, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran, and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela will have long since collapsed and been replaced by pro-Western regimes within 5 years.
Already, from his base in Switzerland, exiled Russian tax evader billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky has called for Putin's overthrow and even his assassination. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration have taken cues from the CIA to impose devastating economic sanctions on both Russia and Venezuela. Similar congressional legislation to increase sanctions on Iran is pending.
Russia has been harmed the most by the CIA's Saudi oil production scheme. The Russian ruble fell 56 percent in value against the U.S. dollar while Russian interest rates climbed to 17 percent. The price of shares of Russia's largest lending bank, Sberbank, fell 18 percent. Although the Russian economic collapse has resulted in financial ripples around the world, with Austrian and French banks losing their stock values and the value of the Polish zloty and Hungarian forint falling against the dollar, the Obama administration says that there will be no easing on economic sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine. Obama has put the investments of American holders of Russian bonds in dire jeopardy.
The Pacific Investment Management Company's (PEBIX) Emerging Markets Bond Fund, which holds over $800 million in Russian bonds, has lost almost 8 percent in value in the past few weeks.
Russian Central Bank Vice Chairman Sergei Shvetsov said, ''What is happening is a nightmare that we could not even have imagined a year ago.''
Meanwhile, basic staples in Venezuela, including cooking oil, rice, and corn flour, are becoming hard to obtain. The U.S. dollar has jumped 1,700 percent in value against the Venezuelan bolivar on the black market. The CIA is using the financial collapse to push for an undemocratic overthrow of the Venezuelan government.
Iran, which has been under punitive Western economic sanctions for a number of years over its nuclear power program, is probably best able to weather the storm. Iran has built up a rather impressive domestic food production, telecommunications, and oil industry infrastructure to survive the sanctions. However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appears very aware of the Saudi role in the conspiracy to drive down oil prices.
Rouhani recently said, ''The main reason for [the oil price plunge] is [a] political conspiracy by certain countries against the interest of the region and the Islamic world and it is only in the interest of some other countries . . . Iran and people of the region will not forget such conspiracies, or in other words, treachery against the interests of the Muslim world.''
Brennan's and the CIA's industrial sabotage of the Saudi and other Middle East oil industries will continue to have far-reaching effects on the world economy. Oil industry insiders fear that the CIA has unleashed something that may deal a devastating blow to the global economy.
Previously published in theWayne Madsen Report.
Copyright (C) 2014WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of theWayne Madsen Report (subscription required).
SALT WATER FRACKING-Saudi Oil Minister Will Not Cut Oil Production
Wed, 24 Dec 2014 14:17
REUTERS/Heinz-Peter BaderSaudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi.
Saudi Arabia convinced its fellow OPEC members that it was not in the group's interest to cut oil output however far prices may fall, the kingdom's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said in an interview with the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES).
OPEC met Nov. 27 and declined to cut production despite a slide in prices, marking a shift in strategy toward defending market share rather than supporting prices.
"As a policy for OPEC, and I convinced OPEC of this, even Mr al-Badri (the OPEC secretary general) is now convinced, it is not in the interest of OPEC producers to cut their production, whatever the price is," Naimi was quoted by MEES as saying.
"Whether it goes down to $20, $40, $50, $60, it is irrelevant," he said.
He said the world "may not" see oil back at $100 a barrel, formerly Saudi Arabia's preferred level for prices, again.
Market reactionOil fell towards $60 a barrel on Monday, reversing gains after Saudi Arabia indicated it could increase its output.
Monday's edition of the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper quoted the kingdom's oil minister Naimi as saying Saudi Arabia is prepared to increase output and gain market share by meeting the demands of any new customers.
On Sunday he said lower crude prices would help demand by stimulating the economy.
Brent fell 72 cents to $60.66 by 1415 GMT. It is down more than 46 percent from the year's peak in June above $115 per barrel. U.S. crude was down 84 cents at $56.29 a barrel.
"We are going down because you have some OPEC ministers who come every day making statements trying to drive the market down, said Olivier Jakob, an oil analyst at Petromatrix Oil in Zug, Switzerland.
"They come every day to convey the message that they are not doing anything to restrict supplies and that they basically want oil prices to move lower to reduce production in the U.S."
OPEC's decision not to reduce production at a meeting in November sped up the decline in already falling oil prices. Prospects for a cut in the near future look remote.
While analysts said Brent would likely remain above $60 a barrel this year, they said further large jumps in price were unlikely.
Analysts said the price drop would have only a gradual impact on the outlook for production.
"Given the lead time in permit approval and rig construction ahead of oil production, a sizeable negative U.S. supply response given the price drop is unlikely to take place until late 2015, which places further downward pressure on oil prices in the first six months of next year," National Australia Bank said in a note.
It said it expected Brent and U.S. crude to average $68 and $64 per barrel respectively in 2015.
Analysts also said they expected relatively low price volatility for the rest of the year as traders begin to wind down their 2014 positions.
(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore and Ahmed Aboulenein in London; editing by Jason Neely, David Evans, and Jane Merriman)
This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2014. Follow Reuters on Twitter.
William Engdahl - Russia US Sanctions and Stupid CIA Oil Wars -FRACKING
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:57
The recent headlines talk of a dramatic collapse of the Russian Ruble against the dollar and euro. World oil prices today hover around $57 dollars a barrel. Late August they were over $100. OPEC ministers refuse to act to stabilize prices. The Russian rouble is forced to halt trading in mid-December. Then the US Congress votes yet a new round of economic sanctions against Russia which await President Obama's signature. When we examine all of this more closely it reveals the strategic great confusion of western elites, especially American Oligarchs frantically trying to find ways to hold their grip on global power.
I sometimes use the very descriptive adjective ''stupid'' to speak about the actions of people we are accustomed to think of as anything but stupid. Malevolent, evil, satanic even, you say, but not stupid. Yet more and more I find the description stupid the most appropriate. It is in fact their stupidity in being incapable, in their addiction to power, of seeing the larger global consequences of their tactics or strategies.
If we define intelligence as the ability to grasp the interconnectedness of everything in our universe, then we can call stupid those who, despite their vast resources and access to the best minds, are incapable of considering anything outside their tunnel vision narrow world.
Cold War worked from 1946-1990 to stabilize their imperial grip on global power over Western Europe, the Third World, Japan and Asia. The end of that Cold War has seen the dramatic erosion of our power as new upstarts like China and Russia and even Iran assert their sovereign rights in the world, we can imagine their thinking: ''Well, then let's go back to what worked then. Let's start a new Cold War or even, step by step, a new unconventional global war to retain our American Century, our Project for a New American Century,'' as Dick Cheney and friends call it.
They now try a rerun of their 1986 Saudi oil price collapse strategy to topple Putin, Maduro in Venezuela and Iran according to informed reports from reliable Washington researcher Wayne Madsen.
In 1986, Vice President George H.W. Bush, father of George W., together with Secretary of State George Schultz and others convinced Riyadh, as John Kerry did in his September 2014 meeting with Saudi King Abdullah, to run a ''reverse oil shock'' that had the effect of toppling the over-stretched Soviet Union. It worked in 1986, why not in 2014? Is the thinking of some in Washington.
CIA role and oil price suicide
According to Madsen, who is a former NSA employee with good connections in different factions of Washington intelligence community, it was CIA chief John Brennan and CIA operatives inside the Saudi Aramco state oil company who devised a diabolical strategy of getting the Saudis, along with Kuwait, to flood the world markets with crude and let Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup do the rest of the dirty work with leveraged derivative short futures on crude.
While I cannot confirm Madsen's assertion that the Saudi flooding perforce will necessarily last another five years after which Saudi production will collapse because the US CIA convinced Aramco against the advice of oil engineers at Schlumberger and other foreign oil services companies not to use salt water injection, that Brennan, who by some who know him has been described as a ''knuckle dragger,'' was poised to implement the Saudi strategy as an anti-Putin move is entirely plausible.
Only one problem. The brilliant strategy is ultimately stupid because it is collapsing the US domestic oil industry and hundreds of billions of dollars of planned energy investment globally along with lowering Russian oil dollar revenues and the ruble.
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''
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GERMAN Elites do NOT want war with Russia
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 02:56
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China Steps In as World's New Bank - Bloomberg View
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 02:38
Thanks to China, Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund, Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank and Takehiko Nakao of the Asian Development Bank may no longer have much meaningful work to do.
Beijing's move to bail out Russia, on top of its recent aid for Venezuela and Argentina, signals the death of the post-war Bretton Woods world. It's also marks the beginning of the end for America's linchpin role in the global economy and Japan's influence in Asia.
What is China's new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank if not an ADB killer? If Japan, ADB's main benefactor, won't share the presidency with Asian peers, Beijing will just use its deep pockets to overpower it. Lagarde's and Kim's shops also are looking at a future in which crisis-wracked governments call Beijing before Washington.
China stepping up its role as lender of last resort upends an economic development game that's been decades in the making. The IMF, World Bank and ADB are bloated, change-adverse institutions. When Ukraine received a $17 billion IMF-led bailout this year it was about shoring up a geopolitically important economy, not geopolitical blackmail.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's government doesn't care about upgrading economies, the health of tax regimes or central bank reserves. It cares about loyalty. The quid pro quo: For our generous assistance we expect your full support on everything from Taiwan to territorial disputes to deadening the West's pesky focus on human rights.
This may sound hyperbolic; Russia, Argentina and Venezuela are already at odds with the U.S. and its allies. But what about Europe? In 2011 and 2012, it looked to Beijing to save euro bond markets through massive purchases. Expect more of this dynamic in 2015 should fresh turmoil hit the euro zone, at which time Beijing will expect European leaders to pull their diplomatic punches. What happens if the Federal Reserve's tapering slams economies from India to Indonesia and governments look to China for help? Why would Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam bother with the IMF's conditions when China writes big checks with few strings attached?
Beijing's $24 billion currency swap program to help Russia is a sign of things to come. Russia, it's often said, is too nuclear to fail. As Moscow weathers the worst crisis since the 1998 default, it's tempting to view China as a good global citizen. But Beijing is just enabling President Vladimir Putin, who's now under zero pressure to diversify his economy away from oil. The same goes for China's $2.3 billion currency swap with Argentina and its $4 billion loan to Venezuela. In the Chinese century, bad behavior has its rewards.
If ever there were a time for President Barack Obama to accelerate his "pivot" to Asia it's now. There's plenty to worry about as China tosses money at rogue governments like Sudan and Zimbabwe. But there's also lots at stake for Asia's budding democracies. The so-called Washington consensus on economic policies isn't perfect, but is Beijing's model of autocratic state capitalism with scant press freedom really a better option? With China becoming Asia's sugar daddy, the temptation in, say, Myanmar might be to avoid the difficult process of creating credible institutions to oversee the economy.
There could be a silver lining to China lavishing its nearly $4 trillion of currency reserves on crisis-plagued nations: It might force the IMF, World Bank and ADB to raise their games. Competition, as Lagarde, Kim and Nakao would agree, is a good thing. But more likely, China's largess will encourage bad policy habits and impede development in ways that leave the global economy worse off.
To contact the author on this story:William Pesek at wpesek@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor on this story:Mary Duenwald at mduenwald@bloomberg.net
The Ruble Crisis, Russia, And China: If You Take The King's Shilling, You Do The King's Bidding
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 02:39
Russia's currency crisis, for the moment at least, appears to be quieting down. Equities have been rallying for the past week, and the ruble has recouped some of its most dramatic losses against both the Dollar and Euro. It's hard to tell whether this is a dead cat bounce or a seriously ill cat bounce, but it at least appears possible that Russia could emerge from the recent volatility in its currency without turning into a Mad-Max style wasteland. Things haven't fallen apart, at least yet.
But what if things once again take a turn for the worse and Russia needs some kind of external assistance? What would happen then? Well, one of the few things that almost everyone agrees on is that, should Russia require it, no bailout will be forthcoming from the International Monetary Fund. This isn't because Russia's finances are particularly bad, recall that the IMFIMF has thrown quite a lot of money into a far more parlous economic situation in Ukraine, but because Russia has blatantly flouted a number of Western foreign policy demands. The IMF is, at the end of the day, still a Western-led institution, and it isn't going to do any favors for a Kremlin that has gone on an anti-Western binge. Depending on one's personal views that might be fair or unfair, but it's just about the least surprising thing in the world.
So if the IMF is out of the running who would step up to the plate? Well, the Russians have convinced themselves that the IMF's disdain is irrelevant because their friends the Chinese would ride to the rescue. And, lo and behold, China is actually starting to play a much more active role in aiding countries in financial distress. As reported by BloombergBloomberg, China has not only signaled its willingness to expand a $24 billion currency swap program it had earlier concluded with Russia, it has also given several billion dollars of aid to Venezuela and Argentina two countries that, for various reasons, have been locked out of the capital markets.
I'm amazed that a bunch of self-described realists like the Russian government would take Chinese proclamations about partnership at face value. The Chinese government, of course, is completely and totally unsentimental in its approach to foreign trade negotiations, particularly when it comes to natural resources. China cares little about any notions of anti-Western brotherhood. It cares a lot more about securing access to oil, gas, and agricultural products at the lowest possible price.
The real question, then, isn't ''will China give Russia money'' it is ''what are the conditions that the Chinese government will attach to a potential bailout?'' Based on the way they negotiated over natural gas, one should expect an extremely tough approach. The Chinese understand that the supply of international lenders is a limited one, and that with the IMF out of the running the Russians are essentially out of other options. Any deal between the two sides would reflect this simple reality.
Do the costs of cutting a deal with the Chinese outweigh the benefits? It's not clear, and it's ultimately up to the Russians to decide. But there's no way to get something for nothing, particularly when your entire economy is suffering from a systematic crisis of confidence. You often hear about the ''onerous'' conditions that the IMF attaches to its aid packages, and it is true that IMF bailouts come with all sorts of strings attached to them. But the Chinese aren't in the business of running a charity. Beijing would also expect to get substantial concessions in return for any financial aid it extends to Moscow. The nature of these concessions would, of course, be very different from the IMF's (there would be a lot less emphasis on ''democratic good governance'' and a lot more emphasis on ''money'') but I'd be shocked if they were any more forgiving or generous.
Despite what you often read in the media Russia isn't ''isolated.'' A quick glimpse of Putin's recent travel schedule (he's taken official trips to India, Turkey, and China) is all that it takes to demonstrate that Russia still conducts serious business with many of the world's largest and most populous countries. But Russia's options aren't limitless: it can choose not to do business with the West, but it has to do business with someone. Should the Russians accept a bailout from China, they'll very quickly learn that Westerners aren't the only ones with demands.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkAdomanis or on Facebook
Russian Payment Card To Materialize Mid-Month | PYMNTS.com
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:04
Russia's National System Of Payment Cards (NSPC) will materialize and start accepting payments in mid-December, according to a report Monday (Dec. 8) in a prominent Russian business newspaper, the Vedomosti.
Sputniknews reported that eight Russian banks, all of which sanctioned by the U.S., United Nations or Western allies, will be the first to test the new electronic funds transfer service. Alfa-Bank, the Ural Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Gazprombank, and Rosbank will implement the system, along with four others, the story said.
The Director General of NSPC, Vladimir Komlev, was quoted saying that those specific banks were ''chosen due to their location, their volume of money transfers, and the technology platform they operate on.'' That's important, he said, because ''there are logistical differences between operating the system within Moscow and doing so in other Russian regions.''
''The NSPC will become fully operational in the first quarter of 2015. It will first handle operations with bank cards which make use of the international payment systems,'' the Sputniknews story said. ''From 2015, all Visa and Mastercard transactions will be processed via the NSPC. The system is slated to issue its own cards starting from December of next year.''
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E.U. Asks Russia To Go Ahead With South Stream'...'...Told Ya
Thu, 25 Dec 2014 00:37
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SOFIA, December 19. /TASS/. Bulgaria will issue all the required permissions required for starting the construction of the South Stream pipeline and keep working on the project, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said after talks with the leaders of European countries on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels on Friday.
''I have received the full support and understanding of the European Council. Bulgaria should not be held responsible and pay the fines for the project's termination,'' the BNGES news agency quotes Borisov as saying.
The Bulgarian prime minister went to Brussels to discuss with his counterparts further action regarding the South Stream project, abandoned by Russia.
''The answer to my question about South Stream was unequivocal '-- go ahead with implementing the inter-governmental agreements in order to avoid litigations and penalties and fines that may follow, the way it happened to the Belene nuclear power plant project. From this moment on all other liabilities are the liabilities of the European Union,'' Borisov said. ''Our country is obliged to stand by its obligations to prepare for construction work, in particular, for the seabed stretch of the pipeline and issue the required permissions,'' Borisov said, adding he would now be waiting for a reaction from Gazprom.
''If Gazprom terminates the project despite the permissions issued by Bulgaria, it will be its fault, not Bulgaria's,'' Borisov said.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and head of Bulgaria's Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, according to the Bulgarian Energy Ministry's statement, are to hold telephone negotiations over South Stream later on Friday. It is expected that the two ministers may agree on a date of their personal meeting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 1 said that ''in the current situation Russia would not implement the South Stream project. Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller declared that the South Stream project was no longer relevant.
''The project is closed. Period,'' Miller told the media about Russian-Turkish summit talks on the alternative to South Stream.
The South Stream gas carrier, originally estimated at '‚¬15.5 billion, was expected to bring an annual 67 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe.
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MH370 was 'shot down by the US military', former airline CEO claims
Tue, 23 Dec 2014 08:32
Marc Dugain, who headed Proteus Airlines and is an established author, speculated that the Americans may have targeted the aircraft because they feared a September 11-style attack on a military base in the Indian Ocean.
In an article for French magazine Paris Match, he claimed that the Boeing 777 crashed nowhere near where international search teams have been combing the ocean for wreckage, but near an American military base in the British territory of Diego Garcia.
''It's an extremely powerful military base. It's surprising that the Americans have lost all trace of this aircraft. Without getting into conspiracy theories, it is a possibility that the Americans stopped this plane,'' he told France Inter, according to a translation by The Local.
Mr Dugain asked how ''in our technological world'' a 63 metre-long object could disappear without a trace, suggesting there must have been a deliberate effort to hide evidence.
The atoll, almost 3,000 miles north-west of Australia, has been used as a significant US military base since the 1970s and is currently home to 1,700 military personnel.
Read more: 13 theories on what happened to MH370Passengers died of suffocation, report findsMissing jet 'to be declared lost' at the end of 2014Many conspiracy theories about Diego Garcia have been aired since the disappearance of MH370 but the US government has repeatedly denied that the plane came anywhere near it.
Mr Dugain cited witnesses in the Maldives as evidence, who reportedly told him they had seen a ''huge plane flying at a really low altitude'' towards the island bearing the Malaysia Airlines colours.
A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, searches for MH370 in the Indian Ocean Shortly after the aircraft's disappearance on 8 March, with 239 people from 15 countries on board, local media in the Maldives reported that an object believed to be a fire extinguisher from the plane had washed up on a beach in Baarah. The find was never confirmed.
Mr Dugain argued that the MH370 may have been remotely hijacked by hackers and steered towards Diego Garcia, which is far from its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
To explain the absence of electronic communication as the plane disappeared from radar, he said a fire could have forced the crew to turn off all devices, without damaging the plane's exterior.
A woman writes a message of support and hope for passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 The official report on MH370 said its passengers most probably died from suffocation as the cabin ran out of oxygen, leaving it to continue on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel and plunged into the ocean.
No new evidence from within the Boeing 777 has emerged, leaving the Australian Transport Safety Board to compare the flight with previous disasters to draw their conclusion.
Mr Dugain claimed he had been warned by a British intelligence officer of taking ''risks'' by looking into the fate of MH370.
''Someone knows,'' he added.
The head of Emirates, the world's largest international airline, is among those who have echoed Mr Dugain's questions about the availability of evidence.
Sir Tim Clark revealed his doubts in October, saying he did not believe ''that the information held by some is on the table'', and that his electronic engineers believe that even with communication systems switched off, the plane would still be traceable.
Countless conspiracy theories have been floated in the nine months since MH370's disappearance, with several claiming it was shot down either deliberately or by mistake during military exercises.
Others claim it may have flown in the ''shadow'' of another plane to conceal itself or was downed in a pilot suicide, life insurance scam or botched hijacking.
Read more: Flight records from Diego Garcia 'lost'GOvernment accused of involvement in CIA cover-upThe Diego Garcia islanders evicted for US air base
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US seeks to overthrow Venezuela government: official - Yahoo News
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 00:07
HomeMailSearchNewsSportsFinanceWeatherGamesAnswersScreenFlickrMobileMoreCelebrityMoviesMusicTVGroupsHealthStyleBeautyFoodParentingDIYTechShoppingTravelAutosHomesUpgrade to the new Firefox >>Sign InMailHelpAccount InfoHelpSuggestions
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Who Really Owns The North Pole?
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 23:42
If Denmark gets its wish, Queen Margrethe II may soon have jurisdiction over Santa Claus.
What was once ignored as an autonomous frozen wasteland is now considered prime real estate, and the reason why is simple. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an estimated 22% of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas lies underneath the Arctic seabed.
How can a tiny country wedged between Scandinavia and Europe proper lay claim to Santa's domain? The answer is Greenland. Having been claimed by Denmark''Norway for centuries, Greenland became a Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. However, in 2008, Greenlanders voted in favor of the Self-Government Act, which transferred more power from the Danish royal government to the local Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, in effect since June 21, 2009, Greenland can gradually assume responsibility for autonomy.
Citing scientific data showing Greenland sits atop a continental shelf connected to a ridge beneath the Arctic Circle, Copenhagen claims the existence of a direct land link to the North means that the Norway can lay claim to the area.
Not to be outmaneuvered, Moscow also recently released scientific research showing that the Russian continental shelf also extends further below the pole. Russia's natural resources minister said Moscow would seek to expand its Arctic borders by 1.2 million square kilometers through the United Nations.
Denmark and Russia are not alone, however. The United States, Canada, and Norway have also laid claim to all or part of the Arctic region.
If Denmark hopes to gain control of the Arctic, they will have to act fast. Russia has already embarked upon a rapid militarization of its Arctic coast. With current and future plans to expand cold-water ports, airfields, and numerous air-defense radar stations, Moscow seems intent to exert its own style of control over at least some of the disputed area.
Any final territorial agreement will likely take years and will include significant negotiations.
British Petroleum To Be 20% Owner Of Russia's Taas-Yuriakh Neftegazodobycha
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:27
British energy company BP will acquire 20 percent of the shares of a key subsidiary of the Russian oil company Rosneft for $700-800 million, Kommersant newspaper reported Wednesday.
The parties have concluded a preliminary agreement regarding Rosneft's subsidiary Taas-Yuriakh Neftegazodobycha, the Russian news outlet reported, adding that the deal is to be finalized in the beginning of 2015.
The Rosneft's subsidiary is developing the Srednebotuobinsk oil field, one of the largest in East Siberia with estimated reserves of 135 million tons, according to the newspaper. This, as well as other oil fields in Eastern Siberia, is crucially important for Russian oil industry due to increasing exports to China, and the depletion of oil resources in West Siberia.
Taas-Yuriakh Neftegazodobycha is a relatively new project for Rosneft. The first 35 percent stake was bought from Russian state-owned Sberbank in 2012. In 2013 Rosneft acquired the rest of the shares of Taas-Yuriakh Neftegazodobycha from several investment funds and became 100 percent owner of the company.Rosneft has been searching for a strategic partner for Srednebotuobinsk oil field since 2013. In September 2013, Rosneft offered 30 percent of its shares of Taas-Yuriakh Neftegazodobycha to the Chinese energy company CNPC, but the parties could not agree on a price, Kommersant reported.
Rosneft is one of the leaders in Russia's petroleum industry. Currently, the company's main shareholder (69.5 percent) is state-owned Rosneftegaz. British multinational energy giant BP owns another 19.75 percent, while the remaining 10.75 percent is publicly traded.
Copyright 2014. sputniknews.com
McDonald's Bids For Food Contract in Russia'...'...Amidst Expansion
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:03
The Moscow Times Oct. 13 2014
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Aaron Toth / FlickrEast Balt has been working with McDonald's since 1967 and has 19 bakeries in 13 countries, including '-- since 2009 '-- Russia.
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East Balt Bakery, the U.S. maker of McDonald's hamburger buns, is planning to quadruple investment in its factory in Russia's Alabuga special economic zone to 752 million rubles ($18.6 million), despite Russia's recent crackdown on the U.S. fast-food chain, Kommersant reported.
East Balt also plans to expand its factory from 0.5 to 2 hectares by July 2016.
East Balt's expansion in Alabuga, a business-friendly industrial area about a thousand kilometers east of Moscow in Tatarstan, will go up beside a slated ''Food Town'' for McDonald's suppliers. The ''Food Town,'' which will have its own distribution center, will include areas for lettuce grown by Russian firm Belaya Dacha and disposable packaging made by Finnish company Huhtamaki.
This grouping of companies that work closely with McDonalds ''will help the group expand beyond the Urals,'' Alabuga deputy general director Renat Halimov told the newspaper.
McDonald's expansion into Siberia has been in the works since 2012, and includes the creation of 45 new fast-food restaurants.
McDonald's has recently faced problems in Russia in what many see as growing anti-Western sentiment. Twelve fast-food branches have been closed by sanitation inspectors, and investigations began last week into McDonald's charitable foundation, Ronald McDonald House, over alleged money-laundering and account manipulation. Despite these difficulties, plans for expansion into Siberia have not changed, the company told Kommersant.
East Balt Bakery has been working in Russia since 2009. The company has been working with McDonald's since 1967 and has 19 bakeries in 13 countries.
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SnowJob
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NSA Drops Christmas Eve Surprise
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:26
The National Security Agency on Christmas Eve day released twelve years of internal oversight reports documenting abusive and improper practices by agency employees. The heavily redacted reports to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board found that NSA employees repeatedly engaged in unauthorized surveillance of communications by American citizens, failed to follow legal guidelines regarding the retention of private information, and shared data with unauthorized recipients.
While the NSA has come under public pressure for openness since high-profile revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the release of the heavily redacted internal reports at 1:30PM on Christmas Eve demonstrates limits to the agency's attempts to demonstrate transparency. Releasing bad news right before a holiday weekend, often called a ''Christmas Eve surprise,'' is a common tactic for trying to minimize press coverage.
The reports, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, offer few revelations, but contain accounts of internal behavior embarrassing to the agency. In one instance an NSA employee ''searched her spouse's personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting'', a practice which previous reports have indicated was common enough to warrant the name ''LOVEINT''.
Many of the reports appear to deal with instances of human error rather than malicious misuse of agency resources. Nonetheless, many of these errors are potentially serious, including entries suggesting that unminimized U.S. telephone numbers were mistakenly disseminated to unauthorized parties and that military personnel were given unauthorized access to raw traffic databases collected under the Foreign Intelligence Services Act.
There are also accounts of simple bumbling by NSA employees, including the apparently common mistake of targeting their own communications for surveillance. In one unintentionally amusing passage, an NSA analyst is said to have ''targeted his personal cellphone,'' because he ''mistakenly thought it would be acceptable to [redacted].'' Another common example is the practice of NSA analysts accidentally designating their own communications as being those of a foreign intelligence target.
Even in their redacted form the reports give insight into the level of power individual agency employees have in ordering surveillance, and the intentional and unintentional abuses that can take place in an environment of minimal oversight. Though NSA officials have repeatedly suggested that the agency has rigorous safeguards in place to prevent individual employees from abusing their powers of surveillance, the agency's own confidential internal reporting appears to contradict this.
''The government conducts sweeping surveillance under this authority -'-- surveillance that increasingly puts Americans' data in the hands of the NSA'', Patrick Toomey of the ACLU's National Security Project said in comments to Bloomberg News. ''Despite that fact, this spying is conducted almost entirely in secret and without legislative or judicial oversight.''
Photo: Alan Brandt/AP
NSA Intelligence Oversight Board Reports - NSA/CSS
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 22:28
Executive Summary
Following a classification review, the National Security Agency (NSA) is releasing in redacted form NSA reports to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB). The release includes quarterly reports submitted from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2013. The materials also include four annual reports (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) which are consolidations of the relevant quarterly reports.
Executive Order 12333, as amended, requires Intelligence Community elements to report to the IOB, in a manner consistent with Executive Order 13462, as amended, intelligence activities they have reason to believe may be unlawful or contrary to Executive Order or Presidential Directive. These reports are also provided to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In general, each NSA report contains similar categories of information, including an overview of recent oversight activities conducted by NSA's Office of the Inspector General and the Office of the General Counsel; signals intelligence activities affecting certain protected categories; and descriptions of specific incidents which may have been unlawful or contrary to applicable policies. The vast majority of compliance incidents involve unintentional technical or human error. In the very few cases that involve the intentional misuse of a signals intelligence system, a thorough investigation is completed, the results are reported to the IOB and the Department of Justice as required, and appropriate disciplinary or administrative action is taken (a publicly available letter from NSA's Inspector General to Senator Charles E. Grassley on September 11, 2013, discussed twelve instances of intentional misuse that occurred between January 1, 2003 and September 11, 2013).
NSA goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and regulations. As conveyed in the released materials, an array of technical and human-based checks attempt to identify and correct errors, some amount of which occur naturally in any large, complex system. Nevertheless, as the IOB reports make clear, NSA takes even unintentional errors seriously and institutes corrective action, typically involving at a minimum a combination of training and technical measures designed to prevent recurrences. Data incorrectly acquired is almost always deleted, referred to as the ''purge'' process.
The released reports demonstrate that NSA has multi-layered protections in place for signals intelligence information. These protections apply across the full spectrum of the signals intelligence process. At the targeting stage, NSA collects only those communications that it is authorized by law to collect in response to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence requirements. After foreign intelligence or counterintelligence information is acquired, it must be analyzed to remove or mask certain protected categories of information, including U.S. person information, unless specific exceptions apply. This process is referred to as ''minimization.'' Without appropriate minimization, NSA intelligence reporting generally cannot be distributed to other agencies'--''disseminated,'' in intelligence parlance'--even if the other agency requires the information. Reports generated as a result of this process are subject to further constraints on access and handling.
NSA accounts for all identified errors and violations, no matter how slight, in its oversight reporting process. Internally, a wide range of NSA offices currently exercise oversight authority, including the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of the Director of Compliance, the Office of Civil Liberties and Privacy, and compliance offices embedded within NSA's mission elements. Externally, errors are reported to a variety of departments and offices across all three branches of government, depending on the nature of the authority involved. The quarterly reports released today are provided to the Department of Defense Senior Intelligence Oversight Official (DOD SIOO) (formerly the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight (ATSD(IO)), which plays an important role in ensuring NSA operates within the law.
Certain errors in NSA's oversight reports refer to terms that carry specific meaning in the highly regulated domain of signals intelligence. For example, improper ''querying'' of signals intelligence databases may violate NSA's authorities and regulations. Querying refers to the process of searching NSA's signals intelligence systems. The process of constructing and executing queries is tightly regulated and subject to rigorous technical and human audit controls. Analysts must follow a host of detailed rules when searching for foreign intelligence information. Though the precise contours of the rules vary somewhat across different authorities, they share common hallmarks. Queries may be conducted only for a permissible foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose by an analyst with appropriate training and need for the information. And queries must be tightly constructed: overly broad queries are prohibited, as showcased in the released reports. For instance, a query for ''improvised explosive devices'' would likely be prohibited as overly broad and result in a reportable incident'--even if the analyst required the information for her job. Results returned from improper queries may be deleted, and the analyst who submitted the query may be subject to additional training or administrative action as appropriate.
These materials show, over a sustained period of time, the depth and rigor of NSA's commitment to compliance. By emphasizing accountability across all levels of the enterprise, and transparently reporting errors and violations to outside oversight authorities, NSA protects privacy and civil liberties while safeguarding the nation and our allies.
NSA waited until Christmas Eve to reveal its embarrassing self-audit
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 17:25
In an extremely conspicuous move, the NSA chose Christmas Eve to release an internal review of the times the agency caught employees spying on Americans.
The report is a collection of documents, heavily redacted, arranged by quarter, and ranging from the end of 2001 to the end of 2012. They largely catalog individual instances where a National Security Agency employee illegally or mistakenly used the agency's powerful technology to search an American or a foreigner in the U.S. without a warrant, was caught, reprimanded, and the information deleted.
It's been more than a year and a half since former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden leaked agency documents to journalists'--the public has learned of its astounding technological power, like tapping into raw Internet data or collecting the phone calls of entire countries. But so far, the agency has insisted that it doesn't actually collect the content of Americans' communications without a warrant or court order, which would be illegal. That's distinct from metadata, like call times, of Americans' phone calls, which, as Snowden revealed, the agency has collected for years. Though inadvertent collection of Americans' information does occasionally happen, the NSA has long stated, it takes immediate steps to delete the information and reprimand the agent responsible.
One bit of apparently new information in this report is that in the panicked week after 9/11'--which would indeed prompt the NSA to acquire unprecedented legal authorization'--a false rumor swept the agency that it was about to declare a sort of temporary martial law. Agents could wantonly look at much more information than they were authorized to, as the rumor went:
There were [REDACTED NUMBER] of incidents involving the use of improper retrieval strategies against the [LONG REDACTION] raw traffic files this quarter. Several of the incidents occurred in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks when rumors were rife that the rules governing SIGNIT collection were going to be suspended. The NSA General Counsel subsequently made an Agency-wide appearance on 17 September on NSA's secure television network to inform the workforce that the rumors were not true; he emphasized that the rules had not been suspended or changed.The number of people illegally targeted is, of course, redacted in that document.
Despite largely lacking specifics, the documents do show that the NSA's practice of mistakenly targeting an American target, realizing the error, and having to delete what it found has been a consistent problem for over a decade. The most recent document, which details the final quarter of 2012, detailed a range of instances where agents were found to have illegally spied on Americans, though again, specifics have been redacted.
On [REDACTED NUMBER] occasions during the fourth quarter, analysts performed overly broad or poorly constructed database queries that potentially selected or returned information about USPs. These queries used [LONG REDACTION] that produced imprecise results. On [REDACTED NUMBER] of those occasions, the queries returned results, which were deleted or aged off, as required, and no reports were issued. Analysts who performed these queries were counseled by their management."The NSA's timing is conspicuous, as most news agencies run on a skeleton crew on Christmas Eve and Day. It echoes the Director of National Intelligence's habit of, every three months, waiting until a Friday afternoon to announce that its legal authorization for continuing that phone metadata program has been renewed.
The agency did reiterate its stance that it's tough on finding out misuse of its systems. ''NSA takes even unintentional errors seriously and institutes corrective action, typically involving at a minimum a combination of training and technical measures designed to prevent recurrences. Data incorrectly acquired is almost always deleted, referred to as the 'purge' process,'' it says in its release.
According to Bloomberg, the report is due to the agency's legal obligation to answer an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, though the NSA doesn't mention that as a reason.
Illustration by Jason Reed
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Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-Consortium for Homeland Security Technology
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 15:30
Notice is hereby given that, on December 1, 2014, pursuant to Section 6(a) of the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993, 15 U.S.C. 4301et seq. (''the Act''), Consortium for Homeland Security Technology (''Consortium'') has filed written notifications simultaneously with the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission disclosing (1) the identities of the parties to the venture and (2) the nature and objectives of the venture. The notifications were filed for the purpose of invoking the Act's provisions limiting the recovery of antitrust plaintiffs to actual damages under specified circumstances.
Pursuant to Section 6(b) of the Act, the identities of the parties to the venture are: Consortium for Homeland Security Technology, Washington, DC; Chesapeake Cartridge Corporation, Blacksburg, VA; D&S Consultants, Inc., Eatontown, NJ; Interoptek, Inc., Huntsville, AL; Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA; OGSystems, LLC, Chantilly, VA; Protonex Technology Corporation, Southborough, MA; R3 Strategic Support Group, Inc., Coronado, CA; REK Associates, LLC, South Riding, VA; RMCU, LLC, Franklin, NC; Shoulder 2 Shoulder, Inc., Bluemont, VA; STIMULUS Engineering Services, Inc., Odon, IN; Tiburon Associates, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI; and UXB International, Blacksburg, VA.
The general area of Consortium's planned activity is to (a) enter into an Other Transaction Agreement (''OT Agreement'') with the U.S. Government (''Government'') for the funding of certain research, development, testing and evaluation of prototypes to be conducted as a collaboration between the Government and Consortium Members, to enhance the capabilities of the Government and its departments and agencies in the fields of border and maritime security; chemical and biological defense; cyber security; explosives countermeasures; first response; and resilient systems; (b) participate in the establishment of sound technical and programmatic performance goals based on the needs and requirements of the Government's Technology Objectives and create programs and secure funding for the Technology Objectives; (c) provide a unified voice to effectively articulate the global and strategically important role homeland security-enabling technologies play in current and future national security objectives; and (d) maximize the utilization of the Government's and Members' capabilities to effectively develop critical technologies which can be transitioned and commercialized.
Patricia A. Brink,
Director of Civil Enforcement, Antitrust Division.
[FR Doc. 2014-30042 Filed 12-22-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P
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U.S. Cyber Command investment ensures hackers targeting America face retribution - Washington Times
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 00:02
In the shadows of the Sony hacking incident and North Korea's massive Internet outage, the Pentagon has quietly built a multibillion-dollar cyberwarfare capability and trained its commanders to integrate these weapons into their battlefield plans.
U.S. Cyber Command was officially stood up in 2010, based at Fort Meade in the Maryland suburbs of the nation's capital, consolidating intelligence and cyberwarfare capabilities of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines under one house. Soon, billions of dollars were being invested in the concept that cyberattackers targeting America should be prepared to sustain their own damage.
Little has been discussed in public about U.S. Cyber Command's specific capabilities since, though budget documents detail a growing commitment to this form of warfare. The Pentagon's cyberwarfare budget has grown from $3.9 billion in 2013 to $4.7 billion in 2014 and an estimated $5.1 billion in 2015.
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The first commander of U.S. Cyber Command, then-Army Gen. Keith Alexander, gave Congress in 2013 one of its first public overviews of how quickly an offensive cyberwarfare mindset was spreading across the Pentagon. In military parlance, it means ''normalizing'' cyberoperations into the daily routine.
''We have no alternative but to do so because every world event, crisis and trend now has a cyber-aspect to it, and decisions we make in cyberspace will routinely affect our physical or conventional activities and capabilities as well,'' Gen. Alexander told lawmakers.
''Normalizing cyber requires improving our tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as our policies and organizations. It also means building cybercapabilities into doctrine, plans and training '-- and building that system in such a way that our Combatant Commanders can think, plan and integrate cybercapabilities as they would capabilities in the air, land and sea domains,'' he said.
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Beyond Gen. Alexander's broad descriptions, a few hints have emerged about the specific capabilities of the military to conduct offensive attacks in cyberspace.
The New York Times' David Sanger reported in a June 2012 article that remains unchallenged that the U.S. was the primary developer of the Stuxnet computer worm that struck Iran's nuclear computers, causing significant damage to centrifuges.
Later that summer, Marine Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills bluntly told a conference in Baltimore that commanders under his control in Afghanistan routinely used cyberwarfare tactics to attack and disable al Qaeda and Taliban enemies.
''I can tell you that as a commander in Afghanistan in the year 2010, I was able to use my cyberoperations against my adversary with great impact,'' Gen. Mills was quoted at the time as saying. ''I was able to get inside his nets, infect his command and control, and in fact defend myself against his almost constant incursions to get inside my wire, to affect my operations.''
While the military is developing the capability, the political and policy realm is struggling with the right parlance.
While the U.S. government remained mum Monday on whether it was behind Pyongyang's downed Internet service, it offered a clear and confident message that the Pentagon is equipped to conduct such offensive operations in cyberspace.
Army Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the Defense Department constantly prepares to counter cyberthreats. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf described the U.S. retaliation against North Korea for the Sony hack this way: ''Some will be seen. Some may not be seen.''
One of the government's former top cybersecurity specialists said the Pentagon's capabilities to attack in cyberspace are essential to deterrence, and that most Americans, including policymakers, need to be better educated about the devastating damage our enemies may try to inflict in a digitally connected world.
''I really see this issue as in line with weapons of mass destruction, a nuclear-type attack,'' said Shawn Henry, a former chief of FBI cybercrimes who now heads the technology firm Crowd Strike that helps corporate clients fight cyberthreats.
Story Continues '†'
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Caliphate!
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Iraq's Air Force | Chris Weigant
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 05:04
In all the pontificating on what now should be done (and what should have been done previously) in Iraq, one subject oddly never seems to be on the table. I find this a bit strange, because it really should be a subject worthy of debate -- if only to add to the finger-pointing about what could have been done to avoid the current situation. From hawks to isolationists, though, nobody seems to ever bring up the possibility of Iraqis performing their own airstrikes. To put this another way: Where is the Iraqi Air Force?
What really made this strange, while listening to all the different points of view bandied about on the weekend political chatfests, is that there were even new Iraqi propaganda videos to provoke the debate, and yet in all the commentary they were barely even mentioned. The choices discussed were mostly: American boots on the ground (or not), and American airstrikes (piloted or by drone). Other subjects discussed were: Iran's military help inside Iraq, the capabilities of ISIL, what the Sunni and Shi'ite militias were doing, and what America should also do (or not do) in Syria. Not discussed were the Iraqi propaganda videos, and what they might mean or not mean.
Iraq released two or three of these videos over the weekend, which all purport to show the same thing: a target being hit (and obliterated) by a precision munition dropped or fired from the air. These videos have been a common sight in warfare ever since the first Bush's war in Iraq, but as I mentioned they are impossible to now verify. Were those targets really what the Iraqis said they were? Did they really target ISIL fighters who were killed? Were these videos really shot by the Iraqis, or were they old footage from either training exercises or just recycled from some past conflict? Were the videos even shot in Iraq? There are plenty of questions which remain unanswered about the veracity of the videos, in other words. That's fine -- it means that whatever conclusions can be drawn should be couched in "if the videos are true" language. But it doesn't mean we should just ignore or brush off what the videos might mean. Because they raise an important question.
Where is the Iraqi Air Force? What does the Iraqi Air Force consist of? How many attack helicopters and attack fighters does it have in flyable condition? Most importantly, how many trained pilots does it have who can fly combat missions?
So far, the answer seems to be that the Iraqi Air Force is mostly theoretical. They have placed orders for dozens of planes and helicopters, but probably only have a few they can now use. ABC reported recently that they had just run out of Hellfire missiles, and that they only had two modified planes that could deploy them. But the much more important question is how many capable pilots they have -- because airplanes and helicopters may be quickly delivered, but pilots need to be trained.
This is where a round of finger-pointing might need to take place. If there are only a handful of Iraqi pilots who have been adequately trained, the next question becomes why there are so few, after so long? Iraq was always going to need at least a defensive air force. That's pretty obvious. The plan to get American troops out of Iraq has always been to "get them to stand up, so we can stand down." That meant training not only footsoldiers, but also whatever naval and air forces the country also needed to defend itself and the integrity of its borders.
How long does it take to train an air traffic controller? How long does it take to teach someone to fly? How long does it take to turn an ordinary pilot into a jet fighter pilot or an attack helicopter pilot? How long does this all take, even with necessary remedial training in other basic subjects? How long did America train Iraqis to take their country back?
America spent, by most estimates, between $1 and $2 trillion in Iraq. That's "one million million dollars." Why was none of this earmarked (as in other foreign policy deals) to be turned right around and spent on American planes and helicopters from military contractors? Why don't the Iraqis have a fleet of at least a couple dozen older fighters and bombers by now?
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not making the argument here that everything would be hunky-dory in Iraq right now if they did have a more advanced air force. Syria has air power, which has given it a definite edge in its fight with its own rebels -- but not a decisive edge (the rebels still exist; indeed, this is where all the ISIL fighters now in Iraq just came from). Air power doesn't always win the war, in other words. But it might come in handy when attempting to counter a blitzkrieg advance by the opposition.
It should at least be a topic for conversation, as we all try to figure out what the best course of action in Iraq now is. If Iraq has dozens of qualified pilots and is just waiting for aircraft to be delivered, that is a solvable problem. Crank the factories up, borrow a few odd planes from here and there that can be hastily repainted and quickly delivered, and the problem is solved for the short-term. Likewise for missiles and guided bombs.
If Iraq doesn't have dozens of pilots, well, that's a serious problem of shortsightedness. Why doesn't it? It's been three or four years since America started disengaging militarily in Iraq, and three or four years seems adequate to train just about anyone to be a fighter pilot. Was this shortsightedness on the part of the Iraqis? On the part of the Pentagon? On the part of President Obama, or President Bush? Or Maliki, for that matter? There might be plenty of finger-pointing to go around, as with just about everything about Iraq.
As to the videos released this weekend, they are propaganda and thus are intended to send a particular message. The videos sent the most obvious message to Iraqi citizens: "Iraq's military is strong, and we can perform airstrikes." But might they not be sending a similar message to the outside world? The message to America might be: "The Iraqi Air Force could make a difference, if you'd quickly send us some missiles and all those planes and choppers we ordered." This message might be disbelieved or debunked (or perhaps strongly advocated, by others), but so far it has largely just been ignored.
This seems a bit strange -- the absolute silence on this issue from just about everyone concerned. When it comes to ground forces, we debate the viability (and desirability) of the Iraqi army, the Sunni militias, the homegrown Shi'ite militias, and the Iranians on the ground. But when it comes to air power, the only choices even discussed are American airstrikes versus nothing. The finer points of American air power are discussed -- drones versus piloted aircraft, having special forces and intelligence on the ground for targeting -- but never once does anyone bring up the concept of "why aren't the Iraqis doing their own airstrikes?" Or even "hey, did you see those videos -- what do you think about them?"
It seems like at least a partial answer to future military strategy for Iraq would be to sell them planes, sell them fighters, and train them to fly. We can bicker over why that hasn't adequately happened yet, but we should at the very least be trying to factor it in to future equations. So far, though, from the politicians to the media, I haven't heard anyone even bring it up yet. Where are the voices crying for the Iraqi Air Force to "stand up" in the midst of all the hand-wringing over the possibility of American airstrikes?
Chris Weigant blogs at:
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Al Qaeda Claims New Butt Bomb
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:07
Al Qaeda claims to have come up with the perfect recipe for a deadly bomb, it's just too embarrassed to tell its legions of devoted followers where they are supposed to place it: inside their rectal cavity. It's a modern dilemma for a would-be retro-caliphate.
Five years after the so-called ''underwear bomber'' tried to blow up a plane by hiding explosives in his underpants, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP as it's known, is taking another look at bombs hidden in places of an intimate nature, or what the terrorist group modestly calls the ''hidden bomb.'' A twenty-two page spread in the latest issue of AQAP's flagship Inspire magazine gives step-by-step instructions on how to build a bomb designed to be hidden inside or near the rectal cavity '-- except the writer balks at talking about the last, most critical (and intimate) step: where to actually put the bomb.
Instead, the magazine merely alludes to placing ''the bomb where the [airport] employee do [sic] not reach and have no right to touch or pat, like 'Umar Farouq did.''
Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national who had joined AQAP while studying in Yemen, tried unsuccessfully to blow up a U.S.-bound airline on Christmas Day 2009. Abdumutallab had hidden in his underwear chemical explosives, which he planned to detonate using a syringe. His plan was foiled, a top TSA official later revealed, because the bomber had not changed his underwear for two weeks, thus degrading the explosives. (Inspire reassures followers that even if they fail like the original underwear bomber they will still have succeeded.)
Except this time around, however, the Inspire article obliquely references the need to go where Abdulmutallab was perhaps unwilling to go, and place the bomb directly inside the terrorist's body. The magazine cites the example of Abdullah al-Asiri, an AQAP member who died in 2009 trying to kill a senior Saudi government official; al-Asiri reportedly hid the bomb in his rectal cavity.
Rectal bombs are a touchy subject and Al Qaeda members aren't the only ones afraid of talking about it. U.S. news organizations also struggled in trying to describe the al-Asiri attack with the New York Times writing that the ''bomb had been hidden internally'' (though the newspaper also referred to it later in the article as a ''rectal bomb'') and the Associated Press merely says the bomb was ''inside'' Al-Asiri's body (some accounts claimed it was strapped to al-Asiri's legs).
The jihadist magazine claims to have been conducting recent experiments to identify easy-to-find materials for its rectal bomb (eggs, vinegar and nail polish are involved), and includes specific techniques for avoiding explosive detection screenings. ''An [airport] employee pats most of the parts of the body EXCEPT some parts,'' the article says.
The magazine points to several major U.S., British and French airlines that should be targeted with its new rectal bomb, and gives advice on which flights to book and where to sit on the airplane. In addition to civilian airlines, Inspire says butt bombers should consider assassination '-- ''American economy high profile personalities,'' like Ben Bernanke and Bill Gates.
A spokesman for AQAP told The Intercept that AQAP sees the ''hidden bomb'' as a way of refocusing the terrorist organization's attention on external attacks at a time when the group is facing an extended U.S. drone campaign, as well as an internal threats in Yemen from the government army and a rising Houti insurgency. The new bomb, the spokesman said, is to show that these threats ''didn't divert AQAP away from its main goal to target America.''
The article notes that AQAP waited for several years before providing the butt bomb-making details, but has now ''decided to release it as a part of a complete program for the Lone Mujahid.''
While avoiding the practicalities of placing a bomb inside one's posterior, the magazine does offer some helpful advice to the would-be lone Mujahid butt bomber once seated 0n the plane: ''Relax, do not become tense.''
- Casey L. Coombs contributed reporting from Sanaa.
Photo: Inspire magazine
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Origins of DAESH
Thu, 25 Dec 2014 14:21
Published 22 December 2014Lieutenant General James Terry, the general who leads U.S. operations against Islamic State in Iraq, said U.S. partners in the war against the jihadist group had asked that American officials use the name DAESH, the acronym for the group's name in Arabic (al-Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa'al Sham), rather than the group's other monikers '' ISIS, ISIL, and Islamic State '-- because they worried these other names would legitimize the group's ambitions. Secretary of state John Kerry has already modified his terminology in recent weeks, using DAESH sixteen times and ISIL only twice during remarks to NATO officials in Belgium.
Lieutenant General James Terry, the general who leads U.S. operations against Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, appears to have informally rebranded the jihadists group with the name ''DAESH.'' It is not truly a rebranding, since DAESH is the acronym for the group's name in Arabic (al-Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa'al Sham), and the group is called DAESH throughout the Middle East (including Israel) and North Africa.
The Guardianreports that U.S. allies in the war against ISIS had asked Terry not use the group's other monikers because they worried this would legitimize the group's ambitions.
In a press conference last Thursday General Terry used DAESH almost exclusively to refer to the group, although the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community primarily use ''ISIL'''-- which stands ''the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'' '' and will continue to do so.
The acronym ''ISIS'' is erroneous, the result of a misunderstanding. When the group's exploits began to capture the headlines in early spring, a few journalists thought the last ''S'' in the group's name stood for ''Syria,'' as in ''Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.''
That last ''S,'' however, stands for ''Sham'': ''Sham'' in traditional Arabic and Islamic literature is usually defined as an area to the East of the Mediterranean Sea, West of the Euphrates River, North of the Arabian Desert, and South of the Taurus Mountains. The classical Arabic name for Syria is Sham '' but the reference is not to the current political unit called Syria, but to ''Greater Syria'' '' or rather, to the idea of a greater Syria, because such greater Syria never existed '-- which includes the current-day Syria and Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Israel, an area scholars refer to as the Levant.
This is why, in late Spring, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community began to refer to the groups as ''ISIL'' '' and this is why U.S. officials refer to the group as ISIL.
Terry said Arab partners in the region had asked him not to use the terms Islamic State, ISIL, or ISIS.
The Guardian notes that Secretary of state John Kerry has also modified his terminology in recent weeks, using DAESH sixteen times and ISILonly twice during remarks to NATO officials in Belgium. Retired general John Allen, the U.S. envoy who coordinates the coalition against ISIS, also prefers DAESH. French president Francois Hollande has used DAESH interchangeably with the group's other names.
People in the Middle East, North Africa, and many Muslims around the world use DAESH, and many do so to indicate that they oppose the group and its interpretation of Islam. This is especially the case, according to the AP, since the group, when it changed its name in September to ''the Islamic State,'' ''threatened to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym DAESH '... saying it shows defiance and disrespect.''
Ian Black, the Guardian's middle east editor, discussed the history of the word DAESH in a September article, noting that the group's violent practices have given rise to a new word: ''in the plural form '-- 'daw'aish' '-- it means bigots who impose their views on others.''
The group has changed its name several times. It was founded in 1999 as Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, became al-Qaeda in Iraq, then the Islamic State in Iraq under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (English acronym: ISIL; Arabic acronym: DAESH), and finally, in September, the Islamic State.
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Agenda 21
Heavy Snowfall in France and Britain:One Dead, Thousands Trapped by Weather / Sputnik International
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 03:40
Europe03:17 28.12.2014(updated 05:54 28.12.2014)
95320
MOSCOW, December 28 (Sputnik) '-- Around 15,000 cars of skiers trying to make their way to and from the French Alps resorts were stuck due to heavy snow, the Telegraph reports, citing local media. Thousands of people were trapped in their cars, chalets and airports as a result of an abundant snowfall in the Savoie region in southeastern France.The snow and freezing rain also lead to the death of a 27-year-old man whose car skidded off the road into a ravine in the Belledonne mountain range.
At Chamb(C)ry airport, 2,063 people were unable to leave the site '-- the majority of them British.
Two bus crashes were reported on the road to La Plagne, causing six-mile traffic jams, according to ski company Adventures in the Alps.
Local authorities said they had activated an emergency plan to re-house stranded holidaymakers, unable to reach the vacation hotspots. The Ministry said 20 emergency shelters were being opened with 12 of them across the Savoie region '-- among them Albertville, Bourg Saint-Maurice, Mo>>tiers, and Chamb(C)ry.
In other parts of France storms reaching 100 mph led to the temporary closure of Calais and suspension of cross channel car ferries.
A heavy snowfall in UK had led to closing roads and airports and bringing chaos to large parts of the country.
Sleet and snowfall hit the north of England, the Midlands and Scotland, with the Met Office weather and climate service warning on Saturday that nearly all of Britain had been covered by ice.
Both Liverpool's John Lennon Airport and Leeds Bradford International in Yorkshire closed while their runways were cleared of snow.
The forecasters have announced a yellow 'Be Aware' warning for all of the country, with the exception of the Western Isles, from 10:00 p.m. GMT on Friday until noon on Saturday.
1000 Nederlanders gestrand op weg naar wintersport | Binnenland | de Volkskrant
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 03:25
In de Franse Alpen zijn talloze toeristen op weg naar de skigebieden gestrand door het winterweer. Alleen al in het zuidoostelijke departement Savoie, met populaire oorden als La Plagne, Val Thorens en Val d'Isere, konden 15.000 auto's niet verder. RTL Nieuws meldt op basis van de ANWB dat zo'n 1000 Nederlanders die op weg waren naar de sneeuw zijn gestrand. Zij konden hun bestemming niet bereiken.
Nederlandse wintersporters waren niet alleen onderweg naar Frankrijk, maar ook om andere wintersportlanden als Oostenrijk, Duitsland en Zwitserland. Wintersporters die zijn gestrand in Savoie worden in de nacht van zaterdag op zondag opgevangen in sporthallen, schrijft de regionale krant Le Dauphin(C) Lib(C)r(C).
Veel wegen zijn afgesloten door de hevige sneeuwval. Bijkomend probleem is dat hotels en pensions grotendeels volgeboekt zijn. Noodopvang vindt plaats in gymzalen, sporthallen, maar ook in tentoonstellingsruimtes. Vrijwilligers van het Rode Kruis assisteren hierbij. Niet iedereen gebruik van het aanbod. Sommigen toeristen zijn omgedraaid en hopen in grote plaatsen als Lyon en Grenoble onderdak te vinden.
MatrassenHet is niet bekend hoeveel Nederlanders in de Savoie worden opgevangen. Tegenover de NOS zegt een van de gedupeerde vakantiegangers dat in de sporthal waar hij is opgevangen er enkel matrassen worden neergelegd voor kinderen en bejaarden. 'De rest moet op de grond slapen.' Het is niet bekend of hij zondagmorgen zijn weg naar skioord Le Corbier kan vervolgen. Met de vele sneeuw die er is gevallen, neemt ook het risico op lawines toe.
Hookers & Blow
PressTV - Sex, drugs move UK to fifth place on global wealth league
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 03:08
Prostitution and the Illegal drug trade have pushed the UK past France in the global wealth league, a fresh analysis shows.
Britain jumped France and became the world's fifth-largest economy, all with the help of its multi-billion pound sex and illegal drug industries, said the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
France refuses to comply with recent European Union regulations which add prostitution and illegal drugs to new pan-European accounting standards, because it does not deem them "voluntary commercial activities''.
A director of, France's statistics office, INSEE, referred to using drugs as a "dependency" that does not include "free will". Eric Dubois said prostitution resulted from "Mafia networks and trafficking illegal immigrants".
According to official figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this year, the sex trade added around £5.7 billion to the UK's economy in 2013 while illegal drugs added £6.62 billion.
SRK/AS/MHB
Illegal Sex And Drugs Pay Off For Britain : The Two-Way : NPR
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 02:41
London's busy red-light area. Lewis Whyld/PA Photos /Landovhide caption
itoggle caption Lewis Whyld/PA Photos /LandovLondon's busy red-light area.
Lewis Whyld/PA Photos /LandovNormally we wouldn't give much thought to the fact that Britain has surpassed France as the world's fifth-largest economy. But this story caught our attention: It was the way in which Britain snagged the higher spot.
The amount that Britains spend on prostitutes and illegal drugs has boosted the country in the rankings, according to the independent forecasting group, the Centre for Economics and Business Research. As a result of the new calculations '-- it is the first year the U.K. has included the figures '-- Britain's GDP rose to $2.82 trillion in 2014, up from $2.53 trillion the previous year.
France currently does not include the economic benefits of sex work and drug dealing in its calculations. If it did, it might have held on to its coveted 5th place standing, the Centre's report noted.
Britain decided to include the seedy side of its economic growth after the European Union changed accounting rules last September. Accountants, however, stress that it's mostly smoke and mirrors.
Eric Dubois, director of France's statistics office, the INSEE, told the Telegraph newspaper that such commercial activities were not voluntary, and therefore it will not comply with the new EU rules. He said that prostitution was the result of "Mafia networks and trafficking illegal immigrants."
Ottomania
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Turkey issues Fethullah Gulen arrest warrant
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:59
19 December 2014Last updated at 15:17 ET A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for the influential cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Mr Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in the US, is accused of establishing and running an "armed terrorist group".
He was once an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but has now been accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government - a claim the cleric strongly denies.
The US is thought to be unlikely to act on any extradition request.
The move comes amid a national crackdown on perceived supporters of the cleric.
Over 20 journalists working for media outlets thought to be sympathetic to the Gulen movement were arrested last weekend.
Eight of them were freed on Friday on the orders of a court in Istanbul. Those released include Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper.
Four others, including a TV station boss, remain in custody.
According to the BBC's Mark Lowen in Istanbul, it was expected that the authorities would go after Mr Gulen after having targeted those linked to him.
While the US and Turkey have an extradition agreement, the warrant is considered to be largely symbolic - and unlikely to be acted upon.
The relationship between Washington and Ankara has grown fractious, though they remain allies.
Mr Erdogan has faced criticism from international leaders and his opponents, who accuse him of authoritarianism and undermining free press.
Many abroad believe that the charges against Mr Gulen are politically motivated.
The wealthy cleric, who operates an international network of schools and businesses, has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.
According to media reports, the prosecutor filing the arrest warrant accused Mr Gulen of leading an armed terrorist group - a charge that carries up to 15 years in prison.
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Israel To Export Gas to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:56
SOURCE: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4605531,00.html
SEE ALSO: Israel and Russia Relations Moving Closer
SEE ALSO: Israel Seeks More U.S. Gas Partners
SEE ALSO: Germany To Spend $143 Million On Constructing Warships For Israel
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US official: Israel will export gas to Egypt, Jordan, TurkeyBloomberg report quotes US special energy envoy to Mideast saying Israel's gas could help overcome diplomatic tensions between Israel and Arab nations.
12.19.14
Israel will export natural gas to Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, a top US official told Bloomberg, claiming political obstacles preventing the export deals will be overcome.
''We have a remarkable situation where the self-interest of each of the parties is remarkably similar in the energy sphere,'' Bloomberg quoted Amos Hochstein as saying. Hochstein, the US State Department's special envoy for international energy affairs in the region, gave an interview at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv University.
Despite the massive gas find, Israel and its corporate partners in the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields are still struggling to finalize export deals with regional partners. A looming deal with Jordan is said to be near closed, but despite the potential, some of the future clients cite Israel's polices toward Palestinians as cause for delay.
But Hochstein says this will be overcome and new energy ties in Mideast will help alleviate at least some of those diplomatic tensions, Bloomberg reported.
''Energy won't be a leader of the political process, but it can be a key incentive to move the geopolitical positions in a more positive direction,'' he was quoted as saying said.
''There are a number of stumbling blocks on the way to a commercial deal, but I also see a lot of interest,'' Hochstein said. ''There are political implications and impediments, and if they can be overcome, this can be a great win-win for Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and the rest of the region,'' Bloomberg reported.
Hochstein was quoted as saying said Israel must to set out clearer policies to attract international actors to develop its gas sector, a veiled reference to an Israeli decision to increased royalties levied on oil and gas producers, a move which also capped the amount of fuel that can be exported. The decision came after a public outcry and a subsequent government committee.
''If there is regulatory certainty and legal certainty which leads to contract sanctity, you will see more interest here,'' Hochstein said.
According to the report, Hochstein helped broker the deals signed this year between Noble Energy, the US company partnering with Israeli firms in the field's development, and Jordan's Arab Potash Co.
The US envoy also ''coordinated and supported'' talks on signing of a letter of intent last September between Noble and its Israeli partners to provide the Jordan with gas over 15 years.
According to the report, Noble and its local partners also signed non-binding letters of intent with Egypt, but the 6.25 trillion cubic deal is still pending Egyptian government approval. According to Bloomberg, energy deals with Israel are a contentious issue in Egypt, which ceased gas shipments in 2012 after multiple bombing attacks on a Sinai pipeline.
The report further cited a proposed undersea pipeline said to be under discussion by Israeli and Turkish firms, also said to be facing political opposition. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has said he'll oppose the project if Israel does not change its policies and pay retribution as well as apologize for the deaths which took place on the 2010 Mavi Maramara flotilla to Gaza.
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Nicuragua Canal email
Hi Guys,
Again here from Nicaragua we have some info on the Canal.
It looks like it will be going forward. They did a groundbreaking on Monday. You can read more about how they kept press away at the following link. They told the foreign press that they would be picked up from their hotel and the bus never came. They also held the event 5 hours early just to be sure. WANG - Mr. Canal developer, was there and made statements about how the land that will be taken from Nicaraguans will be paid for based upon "Market Principles" - that is not how it is stated in the Nicaraguan law which permits the canal.
Local protests were few but had a bit of bloodshed. See attached article at least for the pictures.
Environmental studies, land assessments, and engineering plans are scheduled to be completed, or brushed aside, by mid 2015 at which point construction is scheduled to begin.
This canal will be a game changer in world trade - says Wang.
Other interesting aspects of the canal include:
- Lake Nicaragua will change from fresh water to salt water
- the canal will include a golf course resort, and 3 other resorts along its path.
Conflicts between Nicaraguans and Chinese in Nicaragua have already begun and the general attitude toward the Chinese individuals here is... well, not positive.
About the ground breaking
About the bloody protests
- Colin
Wang Jing: there's 'no turning back' on Nicaragua canal | Nicaragua Dispatch
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 22:32
For a project that's being billed as the ''biggest infrastructure project in the history of humanity,'' Monday's groundbreaking of the great Chinese canal in Nicaragua was a pretty hum-drum affair.
First of all, it wasn't really a canal groundbreaking '-- just the start of construction on a lonely access road. But mostly, it was an opportunity for Sandinista politicians and Chinese canal planners to put on hardhats and pose next to a dump truck, which is something they promised to do before Christmas.
Map showing the golf and tourism developments that HKND wants to build along canal route.
The only real excitement of the day was provided by anti-canal protesters who blocked highways and burned tires in Rivas and Nueva Guinea. The Sandinistas tried to manufacture some excitement of their own by sending identically dressed loyalists into the streets of Managua to wave flags and repeat the first lady's talking points about God blessing the canal (#DiosBendigaElCanal). But it wasn't a very convincing show.
Read more on canal here.
International journalists who came to Nicaragua seeking answers about the $50 billion canal project were left scratching their heads. Foreign press invited to Nicaragua to cover the groundbreaking weren't allowed to cover the event. International journalists were told to wait in a Managua hotel for a van that would bring them to the inaugural ceremony, but their ride never showed up. Event organizers turned off their cellphones and journalists who went to the venue on their own were turned back by Sandinista police.
HKND chairman Wang Jing publicly apologized for the incident and held a press conference for foreign press today. But most of the big questions are still unanswered, such as who's paying for the canal, and whether the Chinese government is ultimately involved '-- something Wang denies.
Here's a quick rundown of the highlights and lowlights of yesterday's canal thing, in chronological order, mas o menos.
Notes from Rivas ''groundbreaking''The Rivas groundbreaking was scheduled to start at 4 p.m., but started five hours early, without prior notice. Around 11 a.m., state TV interrupted its normally scheduled daytime garbage for a surprise live broadcast of the groundbreaking event from Rivas. The event, which lasted less than 20 minutes, was probably done quickly and quietly to avoid protesters. It was the first time in Nicaragua's recorded history that a government event started early.Wang Jing, Laureano Ortega, and other Sandinista functionaries arrived in Rivas by helicopter. They smiled and gripped each other's arms earnestly. Then they put on hardhats and smiled some more in front of a row of dump trucks.On Facebook, Nicaraguans noted that the trucks already had alcaldia license plates, suggesting that maybe they weren't new gifts at all, despite the cute gift-wrapping.Jairo Cajina/CCC
Wang Jing modestly called the canal project the ''most important in the history of humanity'' '-- a point that was emphasized with a flutter of confetti. The Chinese businessman said, ''I invite more Nicaraguans to participate in this historic process,'' but didn't elaborate on how.
Wang Jing referred to Nicaragua as ''our country,'' suggesting he already feels at home here.Vice President Omar Halleslevens said a few words on behalf of the Sandinista government, mostly in praise of Ortega and Murillo. Halleslevens had to pause every few sentences so his words could be translated into Mandarin.In the front row were a bunch of unidentified worker/henchmen types looking hot in long-sleeve orange suits and yellow canal company hardhats. The men weren't introduced, so it's not clear if they are future canal workers, henchmen extras from Dr. Evil's island, or prisoners out on a work release program.The confetti really was a nice touch '-- it kept it fun.Notes from Ortega's evening canal thangOrtega's afternoon event was supposed to start at 4 p.m., but started after 8 (now that's more like it!). It was held in the cozy confines of the Casa de los Pueblos, the former presidential palace paid for by Taiwan.Rosario Murillo warmed up the crowd with some words about stuff. She said it was ''the beginning of the beginning of the beginning,'' and that's when my eyes glazed over. I tuned in intermittently to catch phrases like ''peace, love and progress,'' ''value and glory,'' ''dignity and fraternity,'' and numerous mentions of the Virgin Mary, who's reportedly tickled about the idea of a Chinese canal in Nicaragua.Murillo said that the spirits of Augusto Sandino, Ruben Dario and Carlos Fonseca were present, but didn't channel their voices. At one point I think she said, ''dreams, dreams, dreams, toward the horizon, that are horizontal,'' but that could have been my mind in the heat.Daniel Ortega sat next to his wife, his face showing the exhausted patience of a man who has heard it all before. Next to him was COSEP president Jose Adan Aguirre, who stole furtive glances at his cellphone, and Wang Jing, who stared off into the middle distance, literally lost in translation.Murillo eventually stopped making noise and introduced the chairman of HKND as ''Hermano Wang Jing.''Looking serious and pudgy, but not seriously pudgy, Wang talked about how the canal was the fulfillment of a centuries' old dream, and one that will change the model of world trade. ''This canal will bring a more brilliant and happy future to Nicaragua,'' Wang said angrily (well, maybe not angrily, but it sounded that way to me; then again, I don't understand Mandarin).Interestingly, Wang acknowledged that the project has a lot of skeptics and that there have been a lot of problems and concerns with the canal so far. ''Over the past two years we have had difficulties in all aspects'' of the project, he said through a translator. He said the canal will be the ''biggest and most complicated project in the world'' and the ''biggest infrastructure project in the history of humanity.''Wang said the scope of the project will make it a global game changer. ''This new route for the 21st century will contribute significantly to a new era in world development from China,'' he said, again raising more questions about the role of the Chinese government in the Nicaragua canal project.Wang announced the timetable for construction in 2015. In short, land acquisition, environmental impact studies and design work in the first half of the year, and real construction starts at the end of the year.Wang defended all the Chinese who have flocked to Nicaragua in recent months. ''The Chinese who are here are here to build a better future and a more brilliant country,'' Wang said. ''We will respect all the rights of the Nicaraguans.''Wang said land indemnification will be based on ''market principals,'' (which is not what the canal law says). He said no land will be expropriated without a ''satisfactory agreement'' with landowners. ''No tricks or lies,'' he said.Wang said there is ''no turning back; we will finish this historic project.'' And in doing so, he promised Nicaragua will ''leave behind poverty and backwardness.''Ortega tried to make a case for the idea that the Chinese canal project is somehow a realization of the dreams of Sandino and Simon Bolivar. On several occasions Ortega referred to the project as the ''Supreme Dream of Bolivar'' '-- the same name given to the failed Venezuelan oil refinery in Le"n that never happened.Ortega tried, somewhat quaintly, to justify the canal with a twisted anti-imperialist logic, saying the canal would ''belong to Nicaragua, its people, America and the world.'' (Law 840 clearly states that's not the case; Wang Jing and HKND will own the canal for the next 50 years).The canal, Ortega said, ''will open more possibilities to totally eradicate extreme poverty and poverty. And that's our objective as Nicaraguans.'' Nicaragua, Ortega said, will present the canal project to the world at next April's Summit of the Americas in Panama.
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China Steps In as World's New Bank - Bloomberg View
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 02:38
Thanks to China, Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund, Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank and Takehiko Nakao of the Asian Development Bank may no longer have much meaningful work to do.
Beijing's move to bail out Russia, on top of its recent aid for Venezuela and Argentina, signals the death of the post-war Bretton Woods world. It's also marks the beginning of the end for America's linchpin role in the global economy and Japan's influence in Asia.
What is China's new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank if not an ADB killer? If Japan, ADB's main benefactor, won't share the presidency with Asian peers, Beijing will just use its deep pockets to overpower it. Lagarde's and Kim's shops also are looking at a future in which crisis-wracked governments call Beijing before Washington.
China stepping up its role as lender of last resort upends an economic development game that's been decades in the making. The IMF, World Bank and ADB are bloated, change-adverse institutions. When Ukraine received a $17 billion IMF-led bailout this year it was about shoring up a geopolitically important economy, not geopolitical blackmail.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's government doesn't care about upgrading economies, the health of tax regimes or central bank reserves. It cares about loyalty. The quid pro quo: For our generous assistance we expect your full support on everything from Taiwan to territorial disputes to deadening the West's pesky focus on human rights.
This may sound hyperbolic; Russia, Argentina and Venezuela are already at odds with the U.S. and its allies. But what about Europe? In 2011 and 2012, it looked to Beijing to save euro bond markets through massive purchases. Expect more of this dynamic in 2015 should fresh turmoil hit the euro zone, at which time Beijing will expect European leaders to pull their diplomatic punches. What happens if the Federal Reserve's tapering slams economies from India to Indonesia and governments look to China for help? Why would Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam bother with the IMF's conditions when China writes big checks with few strings attached?
Beijing's $24 billion currency swap program to help Russia is a sign of things to come. Russia, it's often said, is too nuclear to fail. As Moscow weathers the worst crisis since the 1998 default, it's tempting to view China as a good global citizen. But Beijing is just enabling President Vladimir Putin, who's now under zero pressure to diversify his economy away from oil. The same goes for China's $2.3 billion currency swap with Argentina and its $4 billion loan to Venezuela. In the Chinese century, bad behavior has its rewards.
If ever there were a time for President Barack Obama to accelerate his "pivot" to Asia it's now. There's plenty to worry about as China tosses money at rogue governments like Sudan and Zimbabwe. But there's also lots at stake for Asia's budding democracies. The so-called Washington consensus on economic policies isn't perfect, but is Beijing's model of autocratic state capitalism with scant press freedom really a better option? With China becoming Asia's sugar daddy, the temptation in, say, Myanmar might be to avoid the difficult process of creating credible institutions to oversee the economy.
There could be a silver lining to China lavishing its nearly $4 trillion of currency reserves on crisis-plagued nations: It might force the IMF, World Bank and ADB to raise their games. Competition, as Lagarde, Kim and Nakao would agree, is a good thing. But more likely, China's largess will encourage bad policy habits and impede development in ways that leave the global economy worse off.
To contact the author on this story:William Pesek at wpesek@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor on this story:Mary Duenwald at mduenwald@bloomberg.net
The Ruble Crisis, Russia, And China: If You Take The King's Shilling, You Do The King's Bidding
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 02:39
Russia's currency crisis, for the moment at least, appears to be quieting down. Equities have been rallying for the past week, and the ruble has recouped some of its most dramatic losses against both the Dollar and Euro. It's hard to tell whether this is a dead cat bounce or a seriously ill cat bounce, but it at least appears possible that Russia could emerge from the recent volatility in its currency without turning into a Mad-Max style wasteland. Things haven't fallen apart, at least yet.
But what if things once again take a turn for the worse and Russia needs some kind of external assistance? What would happen then? Well, one of the few things that almost everyone agrees on is that, should Russia require it, no bailout will be forthcoming from the International Monetary Fund. This isn't because Russia's finances are particularly bad, recall that the IMFIMF has thrown quite a lot of money into a far more parlous economic situation in Ukraine, but because Russia has blatantly flouted a number of Western foreign policy demands. The IMF is, at the end of the day, still a Western-led institution, and it isn't going to do any favors for a Kremlin that has gone on an anti-Western binge. Depending on one's personal views that might be fair or unfair, but it's just about the least surprising thing in the world.
So if the IMF is out of the running who would step up to the plate? Well, the Russians have convinced themselves that the IMF's disdain is irrelevant because their friends the Chinese would ride to the rescue. And, lo and behold, China is actually starting to play a much more active role in aiding countries in financial distress. As reported by BloombergBloomberg, China has not only signaled its willingness to expand a $24 billion currency swap program it had earlier concluded with Russia, it has also given several billion dollars of aid to Venezuela and Argentina two countries that, for various reasons, have been locked out of the capital markets.
I'm amazed that a bunch of self-described realists like the Russian government would take Chinese proclamations about partnership at face value. The Chinese government, of course, is completely and totally unsentimental in its approach to foreign trade negotiations, particularly when it comes to natural resources. China cares little about any notions of anti-Western brotherhood. It cares a lot more about securing access to oil, gas, and agricultural products at the lowest possible price.
The real question, then, isn't ''will China give Russia money'' it is ''what are the conditions that the Chinese government will attach to a potential bailout?'' Based on the way they negotiated over natural gas, one should expect an extremely tough approach. The Chinese understand that the supply of international lenders is a limited one, and that with the IMF out of the running the Russians are essentially out of other options. Any deal between the two sides would reflect this simple reality.
Do the costs of cutting a deal with the Chinese outweigh the benefits? It's not clear, and it's ultimately up to the Russians to decide. But there's no way to get something for nothing, particularly when your entire economy is suffering from a systematic crisis of confidence. You often hear about the ''onerous'' conditions that the IMF attaches to its aid packages, and it is true that IMF bailouts come with all sorts of strings attached to them. But the Chinese aren't in the business of running a charity. Beijing would also expect to get substantial concessions in return for any financial aid it extends to Moscow. The nature of these concessions would, of course, be very different from the IMF's (there would be a lot less emphasis on ''democratic good governance'' and a lot more emphasis on ''money'') but I'd be shocked if they were any more forgiving or generous.
Despite what you often read in the media Russia isn't ''isolated.'' A quick glimpse of Putin's recent travel schedule (he's taken official trips to India, Turkey, and China) is all that it takes to demonstrate that Russia still conducts serious business with many of the world's largest and most populous countries. But Russia's options aren't limitless: it can choose not to do business with the West, but it has to do business with someone. Should the Russians accept a bailout from China, they'll very quickly learn that Westerners aren't the only ones with demands.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkAdomanis or on Facebook
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French Government Sells 50% Stake of Toulouse Airport to Chinese Consortium
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:55
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France to sell half-share in Toulouse airport to China
Friday 05 December 2014
An Airbus at Toulouse airport on 4 December 2014Reuters/Regis Duvignau
The French government announced on Thursday that it has decided to sell a 49.99 per cent stake in Toulouse airport to a Chinese consortium, made up of Chinese state-owned group Shandong Hi-Speed Group and Hong Kong-based investment firm Friedmann Pacific Asset Management.
''The airport is not being privatised,'' French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told regional daily La D(C)pªche du Midi in reply to unease sparked by the announcement. ''The state along with local authorities will still be majority owners with 50.01 per cent stake.''
The sale of a 308-million-euro stake in the company that manages Toulouse airport is part of the government's efforts to reduce the French debt.
But politicians from left and right have expressed concern.
Interactive map of France
''Airports must remain public,'' said Marie-Noelle Lienemann, an MP from President Fran§ois Hollande's Socialist Party.
''Macron thinks he is in Greece where the government sold ports to the Chinese to reduce deficits which continued to increase,'' she added.
''Our own irresponsibility in handling the debt has brought us to this,'' commented centre-right MP Chantal Jouanno.
The part-privatisation of Toulouse airport '' a major French airport '' is part of a sell-off of stakes in publicly owned assets by which the Socialist government hopes to earn more than four billion euros to reduce the French deficit.
''We are selling off the country's general interests,'' said Jean-Louis Chauzy head of the regional council, pointing out that European aerospace company Airbus tests and assembles planes on 100 hectares of Toulouse airport.
The Chinese consortium, Symbiose, has promised to take into account the long-term interests of Airbus.
It aims to increase Toulouse traffic from 7.5 million passengers in 2013 to 18 million in 2030.
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ISND
Youngsters 'airbrushing reality' on social media to make lives seem more interesting can suffer paranoia, sadness and shame when they fail to live up to online image | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 02:55
New survey says two-thirds of social-media users lie to 'airbrush reality'Psychologists say some are in danger of succumbing to 'digital amnesia'This involves rewriting own memory to believe incorrect version of eventsStudy says habit of showing off on social media erodes personal identityBy Barney Calman for The Mail on Sunday
Published: 17:15 EST, 27 December 2014 | Updated: 17:20 EST, 27 December 2014
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To judge by their posts on Facebook, they are having the time of their lives. But almost two-thirds of social-media users lie to 'airbrush reality' and make their lives seem more interesting than they are, according to a revealing new survey.
The findings have led psychologists to warn that some may succumb to 'digital amnesia', believing their own versions of events and forgetting what really happened.
By lying on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, users may 'rewrite' their memories. Nearly half of respondents claimed to feel paranoia, sadness and shame as a result of not being able to live up to their online image.
Revelation: Almost two-thirds of social-media users lie to 'airbrush reality' and make their lives seem more interesting than they are, according to a revealing new survey
Our habit of showing off on social media is resulting in a dangerous erosion of our personal identity, according to Dr Richard Sherry, clinical psychologist and founding member of the Society for Neuropsychoanalysis. He says: 'Our need to document and share our lives is part of our nature and beneficial '' but the strengths and drawbacks of social media need to be understood better by society.
'Recent studies show that memories are actually modified and less accurate whenever we ''retrieve'' them from our minds, to the point of entirely changing their nature over time. Being competitive is normal. However, the dark side of this social conformity is when we negate what authentically feels to be ''us'' to the degree that we no longer recognise the experience, our voice, the memory or the view of ourselves.
'When this starts to happen, feelings of guilt and distaste towards ourselves can create psychological problems, including anxiety. This can exacerbate certain personality traits which can become unhelpful, if not outright destructive.'
Danger: The findings have led psychologists to warn that some may succumb to 'digital amnesia', believing their own versions of events and forgetting what really happened
The new survey, commissioned by social networking site Pencourage, found that 68 per cent 'embellish, exaggerate or outright lie when documenting events on social media'.
One in ten admit their subsequent recollections of the events they wrote about have already been distorted. The youngest are at most risk, with 16 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds admitting their memories have 'absolutely' been compromised.
A previous Pencourage survey showed the most common issues people lied about were what they were doing at the time, such as pretending they were out when they were home alone, their relationships, holidays and success of their careers.
Reasons for this included 'fear of appearing boring' and jealousy of others' more exciting posts.
The only study ever undertaken into the impact of social media on memory was published earlier this year in the Psychonomics Bulletin And Review, and concluded that the use of social networks such as Twitter are unequivocally 'damaging to autobiographical memory'.
This has disturbing implications, Dr Sherry says. 'Many studies have demonstrated that even the simple act of imagining a childhood event increases a person's confidence that the event happened to them in the past.
'Researchers have demonstrated how readily false memories can form through the simple use of language. Even the phrasing of a narrative can shape how we later remember it.'
Pencourage.com is a social networking site where users post anonymously. The site already hosts more than 65,000 diaries.
Founder Peter Clayton says: 'If our memories are like hard drives, we're slowly wiping them through the scattered way we currently document our experiences.
'We knew there was a real need for a safe space to preserve and share the true chronicles and lessons of our lives, the ones we actually live and should protect.'
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Ebola
Authorizations of Emergency Use of In Vitro Diagnostic Devices for Detection of Ebola Zaire Virus; Availability
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 18:24
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing the issuance of two Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) (the Authorizations) for two in vitro diagnostic devices for detection of the Ebola Zaire virus. FDA is issuing these Authorizations under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act), as requested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Authorizations contain, among other things, conditions on the emergency use of the authorized in vitro diagnostic devices. The Authorizations follow the September 22, 2006, determination by then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Michael Chertoff, that the Ebola virus presents a material threat against the U.S. population sufficient to affect national security. On the basis of such determination, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared on August 5, 2014, that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection of Ebola virus subject to the terms of any authorization issued under the FD&C Act. The Authorizations, which include an explanation of the reasons for issuance, are reprinted in this document.
The Authorizations are effective as of October 10, 2014.
Submit written requests for single copies of the EUAs to the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 1, Rm. 4338, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request or include a fax number to which the Authorizations may be sent. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the Authorizations.
Luciana Borio, Assistant Commissioner for Counterterrorism Policy, Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, and Acting Deputy Chief Scientist, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 1, Rm. 4340, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-8510 (this is not a toll free number).
Section 564 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 360bbb-3) as amended by the Project BioShield Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-276) and the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Pub. L. 113-5) allows FDA to strengthen the public health protections against biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological agents. Among other things, section 564 of the FD&C Act allows FDA to authorize the use of an unapproved medical product or an unapproved use of an approved medical product in certain situations. With this EUA authority, FDA can help assure that medical countermeasures may be used in emergencies to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions caused by biological, chemical, nuclear, or radiological agents when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Section 564(b)(1) of the FD&C Act provides that, before an EUA may be issued, the Secretary of HHS must declare that circumstances exist justifying the authorization based on one of the following grounds: (1) A determination by the Secretary of Homeland Security that there is a domestic emergency, or a significant potential for a domestic emergency, involving a heightened risk of attack with a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents; (2) a determination by the Secretary of Defense that there is a military emergency, or a significant potential for a military emergency, involving a heightened risk to U.S. military forces of attack with a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents; (3) a determination by the Secretary of HHS that there is a public health emergency, or a significant potential for a public health emergency, that affects, or has a significant potential to affect, national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens living abroad, and that involves a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents, or a disease or condition that may be attributable to such agent or agents; or (4) the identification of a material threat by the Secretary of Homeland Security under section 319F-2 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6b) sufficient to affect national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens living abroad.
Once the Secretary of HHS has declared that circumstances exist justifying an authorization under section 564 of the FD&C Act, FDA may authorize the emergency use of a drug, device, or biological product if the Agency concludes that the statutory criteria are satisfied. Under section 564(h)(1) of the FD&C Act, FDA is required to publish in the Federal Register a notice of each authorization, and each termination or revocation of an authorization, and an explanation of the reasons for the action. Section 564 of the FD&C Act permits FDA to authorize the introduction into interstate commerce of a drug, device, or biological product intended for use when the Secretary of HHS has declared that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use. Products appropriate for emergency use may include products and uses that are not approved, cleared, or licensed under sections 505, 510(k), or 515 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 355, 360(k), and 360e) or section 351 of the PHS Act (42 U.S.C. 262). FDA may issue an EUA only if, after consultation with the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and the Director of the CDC (to the extent feasible and appropriate given the applicable circumstances), FDA [1] concludes: (1) That an agent referred to in a declaration of emergency or threat can cause a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; (2) that, based on the totality of scientific evidence available to FDA, including data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, if available, it is reasonable to believe that: (A) The product may be effective in diagnosing, treating, or preventing (i) such disease or condition; or (ii) a serious or life-threatening disease or condition caused by a product authorized under section 564, approved or cleared under the FD&C Act, or licensed under section 351 of the PHS Act, for diagnosing, treating, or preventing such a disease or condition caused by such an agent; and (B) the known and potential benefits of the product, when used to diagnose, prevent, or treat such disease or condition, outweigh the known and potential risks of the product, taking into consideration the material threat posed by the agent or agents identified in a declaration under section 564(b)(1)(D) of the FD&C Act, if applicable; (3) that there is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating such disease or condition; and (4) that such other criteria as may be prescribed by regulation are satisfied.
No other criteria for issuance have been prescribed by regulation under section 564(c)(4) of the FD&C Act. Because the statute is self-executing, regulations or guidance are not required for FDA to implement the EUA authority.
On September 22, 2006, then-Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, determined that the Ebola virus presents a material threat against the U.S. population sufficient to affect national security. [2] On August 5, 2014, under section 564(b)(1) of the FD&C Act, and on the basis of such determination, the Secretary of HHS declared that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection of Ebola virus, subject to the terms of any authorization issued under section 564 of the FD&C Act. Notice of the declaration of the Secretary was published in the Federal Register on August 12, 2014 (79 FR 47141). On October 8, 2014, CDC submitted complete requests for, and on October 10, 2014, FDA issued, an EUA for the CDC Ebola Virus VP40 Real-time RT-PCR Assay and an EUA for the CDC Ebola Virus NP Real-time RT-PCR Assay, subject to the terms of these authorizations.
An electronic version of this document and the full text of the Authorizations are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.
Having concluded that the criteria for issuance of the Authorizations under section 564(c) of the FD&C Act are met, FDA has authorized the emergency use of two CDC in vitro diagnostic devices for detection of the Ebola Zaire virus subject to the terms of the Authorizations. The Authorizations in their entirety (not including the authorized versions of the fact sheets and other written materials) follow and provide explanations of the reasons for their issuance, as required by section 564(h)(1) of the FD&C Act.
BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
Dated: December 18, 2014.
Leslie Kux,
Associate Commissioner for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2014-30108 Filed 12-23-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4164-01-C
Feds Give $43 Million To Fast Track Development Of Ebola Vaccines
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 23:55
Dec 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded contracts worth a total of about $43 million to NewLink Genetics Corp and GlaxoSmithKline Plc for faster development of two Ebola vaccines.
Under a $30 million contract, NewLink's unit BioProtection Systems Corp will conduct clinical trials to determine the lowest dose at which its vaccine generates an effective immune response, the HHS said. (http://1.usa.gov/1xJcwHi)
NewLink is developing the vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV-GP, with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc, which bought worldwide commercial rights for it in November.
The contract includes an option for additional funding of $41 million.
The HHS said the contract with GSK was worth $12.9 million with an option to raise the amount by $16,000.
GSK will establish and validate the initial material to start the manufacturing of its vaccine, ChAd3 EBO-Z. The company will also raise its manufacturing capacity to millions of doses from thousands currently.
The death toll from Ebola in the three West Africa countries hardest hit by the epidemic has risen to 7,518 out of 19,340 confirmed cases recorded there to date, the World Health Organization said on Monday. (Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)
Trains Good Planes Bad (Whoo Hoo!)
BBC News - AirAsia flight QZ8501 from Indonesia to Singapore missing
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 04:50
27 December 2014Last updated at 23:26 ET An AirAsia flight travelling from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control, the company has said.
Indonesian media say more than 160 people were on board the Airbus A320-200.
The aircraft, flight number QZ8501, lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24 (00:24 GMT), AirAsia tweeted.
The company said that search and rescue operations were under way for the missing plane.
An official with the transport ministry, Hadi Mustofa, told local media the plane lost contact over the Java Sea, which lies between Surabaya and Singapore.
He said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.
AirAsia have given few other details.
"At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available," a company statement said.
War on Race
Executive Order -- Establishment of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:27
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 18, 2014
EXECUTIVE ORDER
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ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PRESIDENT'S
TASK FORCE ON 21ST CENTURY POLICING
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to identify the best means to provide an effective partnership between law enforcement and local communities that reduces crime and increases trust, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section1. Establishment. There is established a President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing (Task Force).
Sec. 2. Membership.
(a) The Task Force shall be composed of not more than eleven members appointed by the President. The members shall include distinguished individuals with relevant experience or subject-matter expertise in law enforcement, civil rights, and civil liberties.
(b) The President shall designate two members of the Task Force to serve as Co-Chairs.
Sec. 3. Mission.
(a) The Task Force shall, consistent with applicable law, identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to the President on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust.
(b) The Task Force shall be solely advisory and shall submit a report to the President by March 2, 2015.
Sec. 4. Administration.
(a) The Task Force shall hold public meetings and engage with Federal, State, tribal, and local officials, technical advisors, and nongovernmental organizations, among others, as necessary to carry out its mission.
(b) The Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services shall serve as Executive Director of the Task Force and shall, as directed by the Co-Chairs, convene regular meetings of the Task Force and supervise its work.
(c) In carrying out its mission, the Task Force shall be informed by, and shall strive to avoid duplicating, the efforts of other governmental entities.
(d) The Department of Justice shall provide administrative services, funds, facilities, staff, equipment, and other support services as may be necessary for the Task Force to carry out its mission to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(e) Members of the Task Force shall serve without any additional compensation for their work on the Task Force, but shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem, to the extent permitted by law for persons serving intermittently in the Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707).
Sec. 5. Termination. The Task Force shall terminate 30 days after the President requests a final report from the Task Force.
Sec. 6. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to a department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(c) Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.) (the "Act") may apply to the Task Force, any functions of the President under the Act, except for those in section 6 of the Act, shall be performed by the Attorney General. ¼¼¼¼¼¼
BARACK OBAMA
Drone Nation
France's Postal Service To Deliver Mail With Drones
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 01:49
''The take-off phases of flight, landing and return were all automated '... This test validates the approach and opens new perspectives that we could develop in the future,'' the company said.
''Even if it suffers engine or electrical failure, this drone is still able to keep going whatever the weather and return to its point of departure,'' Moustafa Kasbari, from Atechys told Le Parisien.
So far, successful autonomous test flights have only been conducted using a five-pound package at a range of 1,300 yards, with the drone returning to base.
These are carried out in Pourri¨res, Europe's biggest civilian drone test flight site spanning more than 160 acres and catering for drones weighing up to 330 pounds.
La Poste is not the only group interested in using drones to transport goods. In September, DHL, the logistics company owned by Deutsche Poste delivered medical supplies via a ''parcelcopter'' to the island of Juist, 7.5 miles off Germany's northern coast. DHL said this was the first time an unmanned aircraft had been authorised to deliver goods in Europe. It plans to run a regular service.
Amazon, Google and Facebook have all shown an interest in developing services using drones, but have come up against America's stringent air traffic rules.
In France, drones are banned from being flown over built up areas unless the pilot is less than 100m from the device and the drone is visible. However, there is more leeway for such deliveries in remote, unpopulated areas.
The French were appalled last month when unidentified individuals flew drones over a string of nuclear power plants without being caught.
For now, La Poste said its drone project was still in an ''exploratory'', if promising phase.
Ministry of Truth
U.S.-funded radio station says Azerbaijan office raided
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:33
Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:19am ESTWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Azerbaijani authorities raided and closed the bureau of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Friday in an apparent attempt to silence one of the country's last independent media outlets, the station said.
A senior official of the U.S. State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by reports that employees of the RFE/RL bureau in Baku were detained in their offices and questioned while the premises were searched by police.
"We call on the responsible authorities to respect Azerbaijan's international commitment to protecting media freedom," said the official, who declined to be identified.
RFL/RL, which made its name broadcasting into Russia and its communist allies during the Cold War and is funded by the U.S. Congress, said investigators and armed police had ordered employees into a room of the bureau while they ransacked a company safe and confiscated documents and official stamps.
A court order had stated that the search was part of an investigation of the station's Azerbaijani Service in connection with Azeri laws on foreign funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), RFL/RL said in a statement.
Nenad Pejic, editor-in-chief and co-CEO of RFE/RL, called the raid a "flagrant violation of every international commitment and standard Azerbaijan has pledged to uphold."
"The order comes from the top as retaliation for our reporting and as a thuggish effort to silence RFE/RL."
Pejic vowed RFE/RL would "continue our work to support Azeris' basic right of free access to information and to report the news to audiences that need it."
Rights advocates accuse veteran Azeri President Ilham Aliyev's government of muzzling dissent and jailing opponents, charges it denies. The West has courted the former Soviet republic as an alternative to Russia as a supplier of oil and gas.
Kenan Aliyev, director of REF/RL's Azerbaijani Service, said the raid was part of a campaign against independent media and NGOs that had included the arrest of Khadija Ismayilova, the host of a RFE/RL show.
Ismayilova, who has investigated government corruption, business dealings of the president's family, and human rights abuses in Azerbaijan, was detained this month on charges of inciting a person to attempt suicide after a former colleague at the radio station attempted to kill himself.
She has dismissed the accusations against her as "dirty and black" tactics. A social media campaign has been staged calling for her release.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Storey and Ken Wills)
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World's largest ship Pieter Schelte takes to the seas | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:07
The biggest vessel in the world has been built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in South KoreaSwiss company Allseas commissioned the building of the huge £1.9 billion ($3.1 billion) shipCalled Pieter Schelte, the vessel is almost as long as the Empire State Building and wide as Big Ben's Elizabeth towerThe vehicle will be used to pick up and move oil rigs from one place to another, such as to and from portBoth the legs and main structure of a rig can be carried on the ship and moved simultaneouslyIt can reach speeds of 14 knots (16.1 mph or 25.9 km/h) and hold a crew of 571 peopleAllseas says it will enter offshore operations next year - but an even bigger ship will be built by 2020By Jonathan O'Callaghan for MailOnline
Published: 11:19 EST, 20 October 2014 | Updated: 08:46 EST, 21 October 2014
The vessel that now holds the title of the world's biggest ship has taken to the seas for the first time.
Called Pieter Schelte, the behemoth can lift oil rigs right out of the water and move them to new destinations.
It measures a staggering 1,253ft (382 metres) long and 407ft (124 metres) wide, making it almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall and wider than the height of Big Ben.
Scroll down for video
The biggest vessel in the world has been built by Daewoo in South Korea. Swiss company Allseas commissioned the building of the huge $1.7bn ship. Both the legs and main structure of a rig can be moved simultaneously (shown in illustration)
The giant catamaran-shaped ship was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard in South Korea.
WORLD'S BIGGEST CRUISE SHIPLast week the world's largest cruise ship (above) arrived in the UK for the first time.
The £800m ($1.3bn) Oasis Of The Seas sailed into Southampton at 10am last Wednesday in dense fog, welcomed by a crowd of hundreds and helicopters circling overhead.
Weighing 225,282 tonnes, the 1,187ft (359 metres) ship is longer than London's The Shard is tall, and at 208ft (64 metres) wide, larger than the wingspan of a Boeing 747.
It cost £1.9 billion ($3.1 billion) to build and is powered by 11.2 megawatt engines connected to 13 Rolls Royce 5.5 megawatt thrusters, reports Gizmodo.
Topsides - the upper section of oil rigs - weighing up to 48,000 tons can be lifted by the behemoth, while it will also be able to lift jackets - the legs - of rigs weighing up to 25,000 tonnes.
The ship can then transport both the top and bottom sections of the oil rig simultaneously and take it back to port.
It can even raise and lower itself in the water by 82ft (25 metres) in order to cope with the huge weight demands of moving an oil rig.
Pieter Shelte, which will be operated by Swiss company Allseas, is expected to begin offshore operations next year.
It can reach speeds of 14 knots (16.1 mph or 25.9 km/h) and has space for a crew of 571 people.
Take a tour around the outside of the Pieter Schelte
Called Pieter Schelte (shown) it is almost as big as the Empire State Building. It will be used to pick up and move oil rigs from one place to another. It can reach speeds of 14 knots and hold a crew of 571 people. Allseas says it will enter offshore operations next year
When it enters operation it will also be the world's largest pipelaying ship and will be used to construct infrastructure under the sea.
Its pipelay capacity of 2,000 tonnes is double that of the previous record holder, another Allseas ship called Solitaire.
Pieter Shelte will only hold the title of the world's biggest ship for six years, though; by 2020 Allseas expects to have an even larger vessel in operation to install and move bigger oil rigs.
The Maersk Triple-E also built by Daewoo Shipbuilding still holds the record for the longest ship, though, at 1,312 feet (400 metres).
How it measures up: While Pieter Schelte will be the largest ship in the world, it will not quite be as long as some other vessels
It measures a staggering 1,253 feet (382 metres) long and 407ft (124 metres) wide, making it almost as long as the Empire State Building (right) is tall and wider than the height of Big Ben (left)
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Big Oil's $3 Billion Homage To A Nazi War Criminal
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:08
The world's largest ship, Pieter Schelte, at Table Bay on Dec. 18 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images/Getty Images)Ships don't come bigger than the Pieter Schelte. They don't come more controversial either. Built in Korea at a cost of nearly $3 billion, the gargantuan new ship is now sailing towards the Netherlands, where it will soon enter service in the European offshore oil industry.
A huge catamaran, it weighs 932,000 tons, a world record, and nearly 18 times the Titanic. It will lift offshore oil rigs weighing up to 48,000 tons, again a world record. So much for the technicalities '' but there is, ahem, a slight political problem: the ship's name.
Almost unbelievably, the ship has been named in honor of Pieter Schelte Beerema, a Dutch collaborator in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. An officer in the Waffen SS and a propagandist who allegedly denounced the Jews as ''parasitic,'' Beerema was sentenced to three years in prison after World War II. Although the sentence was later reduced (apparently because of evidence that, after a row with the Nazis, he had changed sides in 1943), he went on after release to flee to Venezuela, where he allegedly helped German war criminals escape Allied justice.
To put it mildly, Pieter Schelte hardly seems the most appropriate name for one of the world's greatest engineering feats. But some people disagree '' not least Beerema's son, Edward Beerema. As Edward happens to control the Swiss-based Allseas oil services company that owns the ship, his opinion matters.
The interesting thing is that Allseas seems to be getting away with this. The Dutch government even provided a subsidy for the project. Meanwhile, after a brief flurry of interest in 2008 when the original contract to build the Pieter Schelte was signed with Korea's Daewoo shipyard, the Dutch press has largely swept the controversy under the rug. The Korean press too has been quiet. (Even as the ship left Seoul in November, the event seems to have gone almost completely unrecorded '-- rather different from the publicityin Belfast for the launch of that city's most famous product: the Titanic.)
As for the ship's Big Oil customers, they too seem unfazed. In the North Sea alone, important potential customers would appear to include Marathon Oil, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell, none of whom has responded to requests for comment. Other key potential customers include Exxon Mobil, Statoil, and BHP. As for Allseas, a spokesman stated that the company has no plans to rename the ship and said that, as a matter of company policy, it does not provide information on future projects. A request to comment on whether Pieter Schelte Beerema had used the word ''parasitic'' in relation to Jews went unanswered.
If Shell whistleblower John Donovan is to be believed, the Pieter Schelte's first customer will be Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell. Assuming this is correct, Shell's embrace of the Pieter Schelte will provide lesser companies with useful cover. The fact is that as of 2013 Royal Dutch Shell had surpassed Exxon Mobil to become the West's largest oil company by revenues (though even Royal Dutch Shell these days trails behind two Chinese oil companies in the world league table). For more details on the Pieter Schelte, click here and here.
Pieter Schelte Heerema 1908-1981 Een Biografische Studie | Roland van Blokland - Academia.edu
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:11
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Germany Wants European Army - theTrumpet.com
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:04
Germany wants to be the ''driving force in Europe of a parliamentary controlled European army,'' German-Foreign-Policy.com reported December 8. It cited a position paper produced by military experts in the Bundestag. These experts want a European Union military academy and a permanent military headquarters.
But is having Germany in the driver's seat of a European army cause for concern?
Rainer Arnold, the Social Democratic Party's (spd) defense policy spokesman, presented the paper to the Bundestag. The authors in the paper recognize Germany as an international power house economically, but decry its laughable foreign and military policies. These policies, Arnold said, are ''urgently in need of improvement.''
The signs are there for all to see: This will be an EU army under strong German control. These spd demands come as Germany is independently building bilateral and multilateral projects with other European nations, particularly their militaries. Brigades from national armies are joining with the Bundeswehr and coming under the command of the German Army. ''Never before has a state renounced this elementary and integral part of its sovereignty,'' wrote Die Welt's political editor, Thorsten Jungholt. Dutch brigades joined the German Army on June 12.
On October 29, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen signed a declaration of intent on German-Polish cooperation with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak. This declaration of intent is not limited to training drills but provides for ''placing combat battalions under the other's command.'' After the agreement, von der Leyen's ministry declared the ''German-Polish cooperation is a trendsetting milestone for the development of European integrated military structures.''
Hans-Peter Bartels, the chairman of the German parliament's defense committee, left no doubt as to the final destination of all these additions. ''The hour has come, finally, for concrete steps towards a European army,'' Bartels told Die Welt.
The signs are there for all to see: This will be an EU army under strong German control.
''[T]he EU will need to assume more responsibility around the world.'''-- Deputy Director of swp Claudia Major Apart from integrating other nations' armies into theirs, the Germans also want to consolidate the defense industry. The German minister of the economy requested an EU armament industry based primarily in Germany'--but the main requirement is that the armament industry be independent of the United States.
The government-affiliated German Institute for International and Security Affairs (swp) believes that America's changing global role is a good reason for establishing an EU army. Claudia Major, deputy director of swp's ''Security Policy Research Group,'' wrote that the recent years have shown that national sovereignty is illusory. In a globalized world, major developments, like the financial crisis, do not stop at state borders and the only way to counteract the risks is through cooperation. Because of America's shift to Asia and Africa and a 2011 rebuking of its European allies to serve more in world affairs, ''the EU will need to assume more responsibility around the world.''
German Vice President of the European Parliament Alexander Graf Lambsdorff expressed, ''Only a European approach'' to military issues can keep the ''economic giant'' that is Germany from remaining ''a political dwarf, when it involves seriously defending western values and interests.'' German political leaders see the establishment of an EU army as Germany's means of exerting influence on the world.
The spd'--in conjunction with Germany's ruling parties'--''want to be the driving force in Europe of a parliamentary controlled European army,'' and it is ''pursuing this objective relentlessly,'' reported German-Foreign-Policy.com. Already we see the nucleus of a European army emerging with the German Bundeswehr agreements with Poland and the Netherlands. The German press stated the Bundeswehr is the ''trailblazer for a European army.''
(Click to watch) Germany's dream of a European super-army controlled from Berlin, and independent of America'--is now becoming reality'--and should startle Western policymakers. The last time Germany attempted to exert its influence upon the world, it did not go well. The Bible shows what will happen next.
Key of David presenter Gerald Flurry recently spoke about a coming European power on his ''Revelation 17:10'" program. To see where Germany's aspirations for an EU army are leading, read ''Under Construction.'' '–ª
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War on Chickens
Jumbogate
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:32
As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
This is an important of scandal of Benghazi AKA ANALGATE, Birthergate, the Boston Blow Job, the Sony Snow Job or Powellgate, but it is a reality of the Obama regime being in collusion again with conglomerates to pillage Americans and the world from the Warren Buffett illegal railroad monopoly to the first "stimulus" which dumped almost a trillion dollars to Obama donors of thee most shoddy road work in America now falling to pieces.
I have been shopping recently and noticed something most puzzling in the produce department. See the USDA has been set up to protect consumers, much like EPA and the FDA, so that you do not get supposedly pesticide in your bread or someone spitting snot in your chocolate.What is the reality which puzzled me recently is that eggs have shrunk.
To understand this, eggs are graded if you look at the box as MEDIUM, LARGE, EXTRA LARGE and JUMBO. There is a "small" listing, but those pullet eggs or young hen eggs are sent to manufacturers for powdered eggs and other products for instant foods.
The size of eggs are set as:
Jumbo 30 plus ounces which are laid by few breeds as the Marans of France. The Extra Large in 27 to 30 ounces laid by the Delawares, Orpingtons and Wyandottes. Large eggs in 24 to 27 ounces in the Minorcas, Polish or Dorking breeds. The mediums in 21 to 24 ounces in the Leghorns and Polish, and the small in 18 to 21 ounce eggs of the Hamburgs.
What has taken place though in this Obama Super Depression of only the Stock Market having illegal money dumps provided by Tim Geithner to give the illusion of "prosperity" only for corporate and investor rich, is these mega conglomerates are like Obama image toilet tissue in rolls cut down an inch but charging the same prices, is medium eggs are being marketed as large and large eggs are being scammed onto the public as jumbo.
Most of American poultry eggery is involved with the Highland 55 class of Leghorns in confinement for white eggs and the "sex link" chickens for brown eggs in the same confinement. The confinement are small wire cages where the chicken eats and drinks, as they lay eggs which roll into trays.Sex link chickens mean the hens are one color for easy sorting of sex and the males are another color.
This is the face of American agri business in the smarmy millionaires and billionaires exploiting livestock and hiring Mexicans who abuse to death those animals for cheap slave labor.
Americans are now an exploited people who are caged behind passports in the same way chickens are in cages, and meant to lay their egg for conglomerates in many cases poisoning the earth and poisoning consumers. The era of your purchasing family farm flour, eggs and meat is over in your grocery. It is all now these Obama conglomerates robbing you in high cream and turkey prices as they have taken over those markets now, and the USDA which is supposed to protect the public in grades of eggs and honest measures, have the same open border Mexican situation in their egg cases as no one is watching the Obama regime donors.
Americans are now being charged for large eggs what are medium eggs. That is a criminal act, and being engaged in by conglomerates, because the Obama regime is allowing them to get away with that crime.It does not matter that the reason might be this Obama super inflation and corporations scamming consumers in cheating them. What matters is honest weights and measures and why corporate American knows it can get away with robbing Americans.
For the reality of this the USDA is nothing but a revolving door for conglomerate stooges. This is the same case whether it be Wall Street having one of their own crooks in Tim Geithner pumping money into those trillion dollar accounts or the Greengate which had Obama dumping billions of dollars into his crony capitalists in money that just vanished. USDA is now overseeing the endangering of Americans and the robbing of those Americans by conglomerate agriculture.
Just a few years ago when it was George W. Bush and it was an agriculture dominated yet by family corporations or enough family farmers yet to offset the monopoly, then milk, eggs and sugar were consumer friendly in prices. Immediately as Obama took control from 1600 Penn Avenue, everything from gasoline to sugar spiked in robbing consumers. Now the case is cream and butter are skyrocketing in price, and it is conglomerates who employ these Mexicans who abuse animals.That is what is behind this Obama Jumbogate in the USDA is allowing these same conglomerates to market fraud sizes on eggs. What was once a large egg is now diminutive. No one save this blog brings this crime up, and soon enough consumers will be conditioned to thinking that these pullet eggs are large eggs as more money disappears from their over taxed pockets by this heinous regime.
Why is it that PETA and ELF have disappeared under image Obama? When was the last time that you saw a record drug bust by the DEA as they were under Ronald Reagan? Why is it that all those "watchdog" sites which were fringe only had space for stories for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush? Is it not amazing in the high crime era of Birther Hussein Obama Chin's image, that no stories appear and no crimes are exposed?
This is the reality in how blatant all of this is. Import Mexican and Chinese slave labor and rob Americans of jobs, and while doing it, illegally change the weights and measures for consumers, while gouging them across the board, all by USDA hired conglomerate stooges overseeing all of this crime.
This is JUMBOGATE and another high crime of this Obama regime which has only been broken by this Lame Cherry blog in exclusive matter and anti matter.
Nuff said.
agtG
Vaccine$
For posterity:National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program; List of Petitions Received
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:18
For information about requirements for filing petitions, and the Program in general, contact the Clerk, United States Court of Federal Claims, 717 Madison Place NW., Washington, DC 20005, (202) 357-6400. For information on HRSA's role in the Program, contact the Director, National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 11C-26, Rockville, MD 20857; (301) 443-6593.
The Program provides a system of no-fault compensation for certain individuals who have been injured by specified childhood vaccines. Subtitle 2 of Title XXI of the PHS Act, 42 U.S.C. 300aa-10 et seq., provides that those seeking compensation are to file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and to serve a copy of the petition on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is named as the respondent in each proceeding. The Secretary has delegated this responsibility under the Program to HRSA. The Court is directed by statute to appoint special masters who take evidence, conduct hearings as appropriate, and make initial decisions as to eligibility for and amount of compensation.
A petition may be filed with respect to injuries, disabilities, illnesses, conditions, and deaths resulting from vaccines described in the Vaccine Injury Table (the Table) set forth at Section 2114 of the PHS Act or as set forth at 42 CFR 100.3, as applicable. This Table lists for each covered childhood vaccine the conditions which may lead to compensation and, for each condition, the time period for occurrence of the first symptom or manifestation of onset or of significant aggravation after vaccine administration. Compensation may also be awarded for conditions not listed in the Table and for conditions that are manifested outside the time periods specified in the Table, but only if the petitioner shows that the condition was caused by one of the listed vaccines.
Section 2112(b)(2) of the PHS Act, 42 U.S.C. 300aa-12(b)(2), requires that ''[w]ithin 30 days after the Secretary receives service of any petition filed under section 2111 the Secretary shall publish notice of such petition in the Federal Register.'' Set forth below is a list of petitions received by HRSA on November 1, 2014, through November 30, 2014. This list provides the name of petitioner, city, and state of vaccination (if unknown then city and state of person or attorney filing claim), and case number. In cases where the Court has redacted the name of a petitioner and/or the case number, the list reflects such redaction.
Section 2112(b)(2) also provides that the special master ''shall afford all interested persons an opportunity to submit relevant, written information'' relating to the following:
1. The existence of evidence ''that there is not a preponderance of the evidence that the illness, disability, injury, condition, or death described in the petition is due to factors unrelated to the administration of the vaccine described in the petition,'' and
2. Any allegation in a petition that the petitioner either:
(a) ''Sustained, or had significantly aggravated, any illness, disability, injury, or condition not set forth in the Vaccine Injury Table but which was caused by'' one of the vaccines referred to in the Table, or
(b) ''Sustained, or had significantly aggravated, any illness, disability, injury, or condition set forth in the Vaccine Injury Table the first symptom or manifestation of the onset or significant aggravation of which did not occur within the time period set forth in the Table but which was caused by a vaccine'' referred to in the Table.
In accordance with Section 2112(b)(2), all interested persons may submit written information relevant to the issues described above in the case of the petitions listed below. Any person choosing to do so should file an original and three (3) copies of the information with the Clerk of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims at the address listed above (under the heading FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), with a copy to HRSA addressed to Director, Division of Injury Compensation Programs, Healthcare Systems Bureau, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 11C-26, Rockville, MD 20857. The Court's caption (Petitioner's Name v. Secretary of Health and Human Services) and the docket number assigned to the petition should be used as the caption for the written submission. Chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code, related to paperwork reduction, does not apply to information required for purposes of carrying out the Program.
1. Candi Gonzalez on behalf of Marley Alecia-Sapphire Morales, Linwood, New Jersey, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1072V.
2. Rosemary West, Walnut Creek, California, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1073V.
3. Michael Smith, Kalispell, Montana, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1074V.
4. Karen Comeiro, Boston, Massachusetts, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1075V.
5. Louis Mansolillo, Providence, Rhode Island, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1080V.
6. Donald Weiss, Rossford, Ohio, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1081V.
7. Lynn Henderson, Lafayette, Indiana, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1082V.
8. Marilyn Witbrodt, Palm Harbor, Florida, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1086V.
9. Martha Scrantom, Hillsborough, North Carolina, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1087V.
10. Stephanie Stout on behalf of Z. S., Louisville, Kentucky, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1088V.
11. Howard McCosh, Provo, Utah, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1089V.
12. Virgil Kim, Bothell, Washington, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1090V.
13. Natalee Hessell, Troy, Michigan, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1091V.
14. Jasmine Morgan on behalf of C. S., Deceased, Roanoke, Virginia, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1094V.
15. Kristen Walter, Mt. Holly, New Jersey, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1095V.
16. Milford B. Reiman, Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1096V.
17. Janice Steinkamp, Lincoln, Nebraska, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1097V.
18. Jeffrey Edgar, Marblehead, Massachusetts, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1098V.
19. Nicholas J. Xanthopoulos, St. Paul, Minnesota, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1101V.
20. Kayla Nichols and Jason Nichols on behalf of Noah Nichols, Phoenix, Arizona, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1103V.
21. Kristina Ries on behalf of Nickolas Ries, Deceased, Phoenix, Arizona, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1104V.
22. Noemi Frette on behalf of N. F., Scottsdale, Arizona, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1105V.
23. Kathi Aho, St. Cloud, Minnesota, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1106V.
24. Matthew Smith and Michelle Smith on behalf of M. S., Chicago, Illinois, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1107V.
25. Suzanne Fuhri on behalf of Thomas Fic, Chicago, Illinois, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1108V.
26. Purvi Desai-Leyva, Albany, New York, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1109V.
27. Olga Molina, San Antonio, Texas, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1110V.
28. Eula Jane Matthews, Cleburne, Texas, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1111V.
29. Ashley Puroll on behalf of P. H., Muskegon, Michigan, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1112V.
30. Paul Judge, Glen Rock, New Jersey, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1113V.
31. Antoinette McCormick, College Station, Texas, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1114V.
32. Daniel E. McKinney, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1116V.
33. Robin McCarthy-Stancavage on behalf of A. S., Severna Park, Maryland, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1117V.
34. Cornell Yellen, Souderton, Pennsylvania, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1118V.
35. Eva Cruz and Omar Lopez Jiminez on behalf of L. J. L., Deceased, Las Vegas, Nevada, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1119V.
36. Elmer D. McKercher, Duluth, Minnesota, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1124V.
37. Barbara Goforth, Farmville, Virginia, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1128V.
38. Teresa Bray, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1131V.
39. Judith Rosenfield, Sherman Oaks, California, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1132V.
40. Jose Guadalupe Garcia, II, Pasadena, Texas, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1136V.
41. Robert Handeyside, Saginaw, Michigan, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1137V.
42. Marlie Dulaurier, M.D., Columbus, Ohio, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1138V.
43. Larry Thompson, Lynchburg, Virginia, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1139V.
44. Richard Greenslade, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1140V.
45. Navid Nourani, Tempe, Arizona, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1142V.
46. Andrew Funk, Tempe, Arizona, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1143V.
47. Duke Duquette, Uxbridge, Massachusetts, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1144V.
48. Candace Johnson, Portland, Oregon, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1145V.
49. Thalia Monsha Stallworth Lewis on behalf of Alton Jerome Lewis, Deceased, Birmingham, Alabama, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1147V.
50. Billy Whitchurch, Dallas, Texas, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1148V.
51. Andrea Gasaway, Dallas, Tennessee, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1149V.
52. Barbara Budgake, Rahway, New Jersey, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1150V.
53. Douglas A. Dinunzio, Charlotte, North Carolina, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1151V.
54. Imogene B. Fowler, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1152V.
55. Mary Daniels, Boston, Massachusetts, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1153V.
56. Amy Junker, Frederick, Maryland, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1155V.
57. Paula Pasquinelli, Carnegie, Pennsylvania, Court of Federal Claims No: 14-1156V.
[FR Doc. 2014-30402 Filed 12-24-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4165-15-P
NA-Tech News
US hotels petition the FCC for permission to jam WiFi in their hotels
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 01:53
Please check the sidebar rules and FAQs before posting!Reddit's very own ham radio club. All topics relating to the hobby are welcome here, from purchasing and building equipment, to operating techniques and activities, and everything in between.
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New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs - WSJ
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 16:52
Chrisy Bossie built a $100,000-a-year gemstone e-commerce business by sharing information about her products on her company's Facebook page several times a week.
''Steals in the Shop! I have a TON of new 36-inch-long necklaces, most priced at $15, available in amethyst, lapis, watermelon tourmaline, turquoise.... Shop them all here,'' she wrote in a recent marketing post on a Facebook page for Earthegy, the business she runs from her home in rural Kent Store, Va. She also included photos and links to the products, hoping...
Haiti
Haitian president appoints new interim prime minister | Caribbean News Now
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 00:05
By Joseph Guyler C. DelvaPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- Haitian President Michel Martelly has appointed Florence Duperval Guillaume as prime minister to replace Laurent Lamothe, who resigned over a week ago, in a move to help solve a political crisis threatening the Caribbean country's stability and ongoing progress.
Guillaume, who served as Lamothe's minister of health, will lead the government for a period of time not exceeding 30 days, before the appointment by Martelly of a new prime minister who will submit his or her government program for Parliament's approval, as provided by the current constitution.Guillaume has the reputation of being very hardworking and competent as health minister and was praised by many for the work accomplished at her department over the past three years, but the task of running the whole government, even for a short period of time, will be much more challenging.
Martelly has engaged in a series of political talks with opposition parties and other sectors in order to find a consensus on the appointment of a new government that will integrate even more opponents to the cabinet.
All those initiatives have been taken in hopes of appeasing radical political rivals who demand a sweeping change in the executive branch, which includes the early departure of Martelly, the country's democratically elected leader.
Armageddon
$4.20 Per Pound: Price of Ground Beef Climbs to Another Record | CNS News
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:20
(CNSNews.com) '' The average price of a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high -- $4.201 per pound -- in the United States in November, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In August 2014, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time, hitting $4.013, according to the BLS. In September, the average price jumped to $4.096 per pound, and in October, the average price climbed to $4.154 per pound. In November, the average price hit the highest price ever recorded -- $4.201 per pound.
A year ago, in November 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.477 per pound. Since then, the average price has increased 20.8 percent in one year.
Five years ago, in November 2009, the average price of a pound of ground beef was $2.062, according to the BLS. The price has since climbed by $2.139 per pound, or 103.7 percent.
The overall Consumer Price Index measures the relative change in the prices of a basket of goods and services relative to a basis of 100. Subordinate indexes measure the relative change in price for individual goods or services or categories of goods and services.
The price index for seasonally adjusted, uncooked ground beef hit an all-time high of 296.616 in November, up 1.4 percent from October when it was 292.588. In 1947, the earliest year in this index, it was 26.5.
''The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) declined 0.3 percent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis,'' states BLS. ''Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.3 percent before seasonal adjustment.''
''The food index rose 0.2 percent in November after increasing 0.1 percent in October,'' states BLS. ''The index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased 0.6 percent in November after declining in October. The index for beef and veal rose 0.8 percent, its tenth consecutive increase.''
[wold]
KOCH BROTHERS!
A look at the biggest donors of the 2014 election
Tue, 23 Dec 2014 19:45
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- Big-dollar donors helped inject hundreds of millions into the 2014 midterm federal elections. A look at some of the biggest donors of the election cycle:
TOP DEMOCRATS
'-- Tom Steyer, a retired San Francisco hedge fund billionaire who sought to make climate change an issue in 2014 via his group, NextGen Climate Action. He gave a total of almost $74 million to his super PAC and others.
'-- Michael Bloomberg, a former Republican-turned-independent who served three terms as mayor of New York City before returning to the media company that carries his name. Bloomberg gave at least $20 million.
'-- Fred Eychaner, founder of Chicago-based alternative-newspaper publisher Newsweb Corp. and a major fundraiser for Democrats. Eychaner gave almost $8 million this cycle to help liberal groups that report their fundraising.
'-- George Soros, a liberal billionaire investor and long-time Democratic patron who is among Republicans' favorite subjects for criticism. Soros gave less than $4 million to help Democrats.
'-- James and Marilyn Simons, a New York-based couple who have given away large parts of their billion-dollar fortune. James Simons is founder and chairman of investment firm Renaissance Technologies and Marilyn Simons is an economist who chairs the family's science foundation. They gave Democrats more than $3 million this cycle.
TOP REPUBLICANS
'-- Paul Singer, a New York hedge fund billionaire who is among the most reliable donors to establishment-minded Republicans. Singer gave more than $9 million this cycle to outside groups that disclose their donors.
'-- Robert Mercer, another Renaissance Technologies executive and a leader whom James Simons recruited from IBM to join the investment firm. Mercer is a frequent donor to outside groups and gave more than $8 million.
'-- Joe Ricketts, the founder and top executive of Omaha, Nebraska-based TD Ameritrade and driving force behind the non-profit Ending Spending Fund and its affiliated super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund. Ricketts gave almost $7 million to outside groups that disclose their donors.
'-- Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands casinos and the biggest patron of Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid. Along with his physician wife Miriam Adelson, the casino giant with an estimated self-worth of $29 billion gave $5 million to political groups this campaign.
'-- Richard Uihlein, the founder of Wisconsin packing-material giant Uline and a supporter of outside groups that are among the GOP's most conservative. Uihlein gave more than $4 million.
____
Source: A Center for Responsive Politics review of Federal Election Commission reports filed through Nov. 16.
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-BBC News - Doctor urges crackdown on disorderly drunks at A&E
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 15:38
Police should crack down on binge drinking to stop hospital staff being distracted by disorderly drunks, a leading doctor has said.
Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said the "softer approach" used for anti-social drunkenness did not seem to be working.
Police could instead increase arrests, convictions and fines, he suggested.
Police Federation chair Steve White said the police force did not have the resources for such an approach.
Eleanor Garnier reports.
VIDEO-Traffic chaos continues in French Alps, snow chains made compulsory | euronews, world news
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 15:37
Traffic remained heavy in the French Alps on Sunday after a night which saw 15,000 people stranded by snow and forced to seek emergency shelter.
Many cars were not equipped with snow chains despite official warnings; the authorities have since declared them compulsory on certain routes.
One young man died when his car left the main road and fell 200 metres down a mountainside.
More than eighty emergency shelters were crammed full overnight, while the authorities said they had no idea how many people had spent the night in their cars.
''I think it's been more than 10 years since we have triggered an emergency plan like this, so it is a little bit unusual. And it's really the number (of people)'... I don't think I have the figures, but it's really extraordinary,'' said Lydie, a volunteer at a shelter known as 'La Pierre du Roy'.
At Chamb(C)ry airport more than 2,000 mainly British tourists were unable to fly home from ski holidays due to the weather.
Drivers heading towards ski resorts were turned back on two motorways.
Four departments remained on alert for snow and ice '' the Ain, Is¨re, Savoie and Haute-Savoie '' as more snow was forecast in the region.
VIDEO-State Department Briefing | Video | C-SPAN.org
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 04:38
December 22, 2014Spokesman Marie Harf briefed reporters and responded to their questions on a variety of foreign affairs topics.'‚She said North Korea'... read more
Spokesman Marie Harf briefed reporters and responded to their questions on a variety of foreign affairs topics.'‚She said North Korea should admit culpability and compensate Sony Pictures for the recent cyber attack although she said there was no evidence that any other country was involved.'‚
The briefing was held in the Loy Henderson Room as the regular briefing room was being renovated. close
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People in this videoMarie HarfDeputy SpokespersonDepartment of StateHosting OrganizationRelated VideoDecember 23, 2014State Department BriefingMarie Harf briefed reporters and responded to questions on a variety of international issues.'‚Topics included the'...
October 21, 2014State Department Daily BriefingMarie Harf briefed reporters and responded to questions on a variety of international issues, including North'...
December 22, 2014Open PhonesTelephone lines were open for viewer calls on whether the U.S. should respond more aggressively to North Korea'...
December 18, 2014State Department Daily BriefimgJen Psaki briefed reporters and responded to their questions on a variety of international topics, including the'...
Clips from This Video
VIDEO-BBC News - France Alps: Snow strands motorists in Savoy
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 03:52
27 December 2014Last updated at 17:58 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Snow and ice has caused major delays for holiday traffic going to and from ski resorts
Snow and ice in the French Alps have stranded 15,000 vehicles, snarling up holiday traffic to and from ski resorts, French media report.
The country declared an orange weather alert, its second-highest, as local authorities scrambled to put up motorists for the night.
One man died when his vehicle slid into a ravine in the Isere region.
The government asked drivers to "exercise the utmost caution" and avoid travel if possible.
Three people died in other snow-related incidents across France earlier this week, according to French daily Le Monde.
Snowy conditions in the French Alps are expected to persist into Sunday, followed by freezing weather next week when Paris should see its first frosts in more than a year, French weather forecasters say.
Local gyms and community halls were opened up as shelters in the Savoy region on Saturday.
Motorists seeking accommodation "stormed" the Chambery exhibition centre, according to a live page (in French) on the website of Le Dauphine Libere newspaper.
Eleven hoursBritish driver Gavin Rigby told BBC News he had taken 11 hours to drive between Val d'Isere and Bourg Saint Maurice - a journey which would normally take 30 minutes.
Mr Rigby, who is returning to the UK with his family from a skiing holiday, said they had received no help from the French authorities, and had had to rely on other motorists for information.
He felt most sorry for the drivers who had, unlike himself, set out without snow chains.
"The police should have got people to fit chains this morning after half a metre [20 in] of snow fell last night," he said, as he prepared to travel on through the night.
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Writer and journalist Rachel Johnson, whose car is stuck in snow outside Geneva, Switzerland, described conditions
Strong winds caused damage elsewhere in France, shutting the port of Calais, where an anti-migrant fence was partially toppled.
Closer to Paris, the celebrated gardens of Versailles were closed to the public because of gales.
Heavy snow caused disruption to roads in Germany too, causing a 25km (16-mile) traffic jam on the A8 motorway near Stuttgart.
In the UK, the Met Office issued warnings of ice across the country and snow in some areas. Hundreds of homes were without power in parts of England, including nearly 500 in the East Midlands and nearly 300 in Devon.
VIDEO - Boxing Day brawl breaks out in Georgian parliament
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 03:42
VIDEO: Boxing Day brawl breaks out in Georgian parliamentSkip to main content
A fist fight erupted today between ruling and opposition lawmakers in the Georgian parliament The brawl broke out when an argument over the composition of Georgian delegations in international institutions turned violent. The catalyst for the fight was when opposition member Akaki Bobokhidze's swore in an address to ruling coalition MPs. Insults and swear words were traded in reply and then blows, as a mass brawl developed. A fight erupted between ruling and opposition lawmakers in the Georgian parliament on Friday. Some MPs went so far as to tear off microphones from desks they were seating at and use them as weapons to hit opponents. The Georgian parliament is located in Kutaisi, the country's second-largest city and 137 miles west of the capital Tbilisi. This is not the first time have gotten physical with each other.
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VIDEO-Ukraine: Mass prisoner exchange following peace talks | euronews, world news
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 12:06
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met some of the freed prisoners, who were exchanged with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, at a military airport near Kyiv.
There have been conflicting reports of the total number of prisoners released. Russian state media said the total figure stands at 370, 222 by Kyiv and 145 by the pro-Russian rebels.
The exchange comes following peace talks between Ukraine, Russia, the separatists and the OSCE on Wednesday.
A third round of negotiations due to take place on Friday in Minsk were cancelled.
Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine
''As the president and as an ordinary citizen my heart is full of joy. As promised you'll be able to celebrate New Year with your families and military friends. That's what we've been waiting for so long. Thank you very much.Long live Ukraine. Long live the heroes,'' said the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, .
Meanwhile, Ukraine has frozen bus and rail links with Crimea.
In recent days, the southern region, which was annexed by Russia in March, has also experienced electricity black outs.
In a separate development, the world's two largest debit and credit card companies, Visa and Mastercard, have said their bank cards won't work in Crimea following fresh sanctions imposed by the United States.
More than 4,700 people have been killed in the conflict in Ukraine since violence broke out in April.
VIDEO- North Korea questions at State Dept. briefing, December 22, 2014 - YouTube
Sat, 27 Dec 2014 00:09
VIDEO-Was FBI wrong on North Korea? - CBS News
Wed, 24 Dec 2014 14:09
LOS ANGELES -- Cybersecurity experts are questioning the FBI's claim that North Korea is responsible for the hack that crippled Sony Pictures. Kurt Stammberger, a senior vice president with cybersecurity firm Norse, told CBS News his company has data that doubts some of the FBI's findings.
PlayVideo
CBS Evening NewsHow the FBI traced Sony hack to North KoreaThis is the first time the United States has accused a foreign government of a cyber attack against a corporation. National security corresponden...
"Sony was not just hacked, this is a company that was essentially nuked from the inside," said Stammberger.
Kurt Stammberger, a senior vice president with cybersecurity firm Norse
CBS News
While Norse is not involved in the Sony case, it has done its own investigation.
"We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history," said Stammberger.
He says Norse data is pointing towards a woman who calls herself "Lena" and claims to be connected with the so-called "Guardians of Peace" hacking group. Norse believes it's identified this woman as someone who worked at Sony in Los Angeles for ten years until leaving the company this past May.
PlayVideo
CBS This MorningFormer Anonymous hacker doubts North Korea behind Sony attackAs the U.S. comes closer to publicly blaming North Korea for the Sony cyberattack, former Anonymous hacker Hector Monsegur is raising doubts. He ...
"This woman was in precisely the right position and had the deep technical background she would need to locate the specific servers that were compromised," Stammberger told me.
Other experts in cybersecurity and private intelligence are also questioning the FBI's claim that North Korea is solely to blame for the Sony hack.
"There are certainly North Korean fingerprints on this but when we run all those leads to ground they turn out to be decoys or red herrings," said Stammberger.
For instance while the malware used to attack Sony has been used by North Korea before, it is also used by hackers around the world every day.
It's worth noting that the original demand of the hackers was for money from Sony in exchange for not releasing embarrassing information. There was no mention of the movie "The Interview," which will see a limited theatrical release on Christmas Day. The FBI is still continuing its investigation into the Sony hack.
(C) 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-How did Cuban spy in U.S. get wife pregnant? - CNN.com
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:14
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Gerardo Hernandez was the head of the spy ring known as the Wasp NetworkSince 2001, he was being held in a U.S. prison; he was released in a prisoner swapHavana has been abuzz since his wife in Cuba showed up pregnant during news coverageHavana, Cuba (CNN) -- It might be the most bizarre of the closely guarded secrets from last week's historic agreement between the United States and Cuba: How did the leader of a Cuban spy ring serving life in a California federal prison manage to impregnate his wife 2,245 miles away in Havana?
As part of the most significant diplomatic breakthrough between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years, a prisoner swap was made. To uphold its part of the bargain, the U.S. released three Cuban spies, including Gerardo Hernandez, the head of the spy ring known as the Wasp Network.
Hernandez had an ear-to-ear smile Wednesday as he arrived at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. State TV showed Hernandez as he was greeted by President Raul Castro and then embraced and kissed his wife, Adriana Perez.
Cubans watching the nonstop coverage of the prisoner swap were shocked when the cameras zeroed in on Hernandez hugging Perez. She was obviously in the late stages of a pregnancy that had no easy explanation.
Not only had Hernandez been serving a double life sentence, but his wife also worked for Cuba's intelligence services and was banned by U.S. officials from visiting her husband in prison, according to the Cuban government.
Rumors swirl in sultry Havana
The subject became the immediate hot topic in Havana where rumors swirled fast about the baby's paternity and whether the Cuban government could have somehow arranged a clandestine conjugal visit under the nose of U.S. authorities.
The couple appeared at another event on Saturday, where together with the other freed spies, Castro and the communist island's top political and military officials showered them with applause.
A beaming Hernandez stood by Perez, whose round stomach was clearly visible for viewers of the live broadcast
As the couple left the celebration, Hernandez hinted at the secret surrounding the pregnancy.
"Everyone's asking, and we have had a lot of fun with the comments and speculations. The reality is it had to be kept quiet," Hernandez told the government-run television channel. "We can't give a lot of details, because we don't want to hurt people who meant well."
He said his wife's pregnancy was a direct result of the high-level talks.
"One of the first things accomplished by this process was this," Hernandez said, gesturing to his Perez's stomach. "I had to do it by 'remote control,' but everything turned out well."
Two sources involved with the diplomatic talks, when questioned by CNN, uncloaked the mystery: During the negotiations, Hernandez's sperm was collected and sent to Cuba, where Perez was artificially inseminated.
The U.S. Justice Department confirmed the story, without going into the details.
"We can confirm the United States facilitated Mrs. Hernandez's request to have a baby with her husband," spokesman Brian Fallon said.
What the U.S. would gain
Why would the U.S. government do this? The artificial insemination was made possible in exchange for better conditions for Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor imprisoned in Cuba. Gross was released last week as part of the prisoner swap.
"In light of Mr. Hernandez's two life sentences," Fallon said, "the request was passed along by Senator [Patrick] Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions for Mr. Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba."
The discretion on both sides makes sense.
For 18 months, officials from both countries refused to admit that they were even holding high-level talks.
Officials communicated via back channels, knowing that any leak about the talks could doom the talks.
Impregnating Perez involved cutting through bureaucratic red tape at multiple U.S. government agencies.
As Perez began to show, officials from both countries fretted over how they would explain her pregnancy and what to do if the baby arrived before the talks succeeded.
2001 conviction
Hernandez was convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to commit murder for his role in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down that left four Cuban-Americans dead after Cuban Air Force MIGs blew up the two civilian planes as they flew toward Havana to distribute anti-government leaflets. He received two life sentences.
Cuban authorities said Hernandez and the other operatives were trying to prevent terrorist attacks from being carried out on their homeland by violent Miami exiles.
That the U.S. government helped a man convicted of plotting the murder of four Cuban-Americans and spying on the exile community in Miami will likely further rankle many of the same Cuban-Americans who were already furious that Washington is restoring diplomatic relations with Havana.
But Tim Reiser, an aide to Leahy who worked to broker the landmark agreement with Cuba, said helping Hernandez conceive a child led to better treatment for Gross by Cuban authorities and was an important concession to help reach a historic deal.
"The expectation was that this man would die in prison. This was her only chance of having a child," Rieser told CNN.
Gerardo Hernandez said he and his wife are expecting their baby daughter to arrive in two weeks and they will name her Gema.
CNN's Evan Perez contributed to this report.

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