684: Polymorphic Analysis

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 43m
January 4th, 2015
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Executive Producers: John White

Associate Executive Producers: intelliARMOR LLC, Baronettes Monica of Pembina River Valley, Big Ass Blond

Cover Artist: pewdiepie

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
Suggest a new chapter
TODAY
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Team Taylor
Unfortunately you are right, no boobs and a flat ass :-(
The boobs is ok, but that flat butt is a problem
NA Tourettes Club
Quite a number of responses
Many people are now becoming aware of their own tics.
We're startiing a movement!
Responded to a semi-troll on twitter
JCD always blocks!
Surprising how you''ve blocked
And some people are able to get you unblocked
Through ME!
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Presidential Proclamation -- National Mentoring Month, 2015
Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:31
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 31, 2014
NATIONAL MENTORING MONTH, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
In a Nation of limitless possibility, every child deserves the chance to unlock his or her potential. When young Americans have the support they need to make the most of themselves, they can achieve their dreams and strengthen our country, which has always moved forward by extending ladders of opportunity to the next generation. Every day, mentors play a vital role in this national mission by helping to broaden the horizons for our daughters and sons. This month, we celebrate these individuals who make it their cause to bring out the best in our young people, and we salute their spirit of service.
Mentors and caring adults serve as essential sources of inspiration, lifting up young people and positioning them to build the America of tomorrow. That is why my Administration continues to expand opportunities for mentoring and support the individuals who enable our future leaders. We are working with businesses to increase apprenticeship programs and connect groups traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math fields with role models in STEM careers. First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative is encouraging campus groups and college students to connect with high schoolers and other near-peers who do not always see themselves completing higher education. Earlier this year, I also launched My Brother's Keeper, an initiative that recognizes our responsibility to reach every young person regardless of who they are or where they come from.
Every American shares in the obligation to widen the circle of opportunity for our young people. Our neighbors' children are our children -- and our country must show them we care about and value their boundless potential. At the White House, the First Lady and I started mentoring initiatives, pairing local students with accomplished and caring professionals, and I am proud that members of my Administration are leading by example. To find ways to give back in your local community and participate in these critical, life-changing moments, I encourage all Americans to visit www.Serve.gov/Mentor.
The sense of dedication displayed by all those who invest their time and energy in mentoring reminds us that if we work together, we can ensure there are no limits to what young Americans can achieve. During National Mentoring Month, we honor all those who give of themselves to guide our young people, and we renew our commitment to realizing a future of opportunity for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2015 as National Mentoring Month. I call upon public officials, business and community leaders, educators, and Americans across the country to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2015
Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:32
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 31, 2014
NATIONAL SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING PREVENTION MONTH, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
For more than two centuries, the United States has worked to advance the cause of freedom. Stained from a history of slavery and shaped by ancestors brought to this country in chains, today, America shines as a beacon of hope to people everywhere who cherish liberty and opportunity. Still, our society remains imperfect, and our Nation has more work to do to uphold these values. At home and around the globe, we must continue to fight for human dignity and the inalienable rights of every person.
Today, millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking. This modern-day slavery occurs in countries throughout the world and in communities across our Nation. These victims face a cruelty that has no place in a civilized world: children are made to be soldiers, teenage girls are beaten and forced into prostitution, and migrants are exploited and compelled to work for little or no pay. It is a crime that can take many forms, and one that tears at our social fabric, debases our common humanity, and violates what we stand for as a country and a people.
Founded on the principles of justice and fairness, the United States continues to be a leader in the global movement to end modern-day slavery. We are working to combat human trafficking, prosecute the perpetrators, and help victims recover and rebuild their lives. We have launched national initiatives to help healthcare workers, airline flight crews, and other professionals better identify and provide assistance to victims of trafficking. We are strengthening protections and supporting the development of new tools to prevent and respond to this crime, and increasing access to services that help survivors become self-sufficient. We are also working with our international partners and faith-based organizations to bolster counter-trafficking efforts in countries across the globe.
As we fight to eliminate trafficking, we draw strength from the courage and resolve of generations past -- and in the triumphs of the great abolitionists that came before us, we see the promise of our Nation: that even in the face of impossible odds, those who love their country can change it. Every citizen can take action by speaking up and insisting that the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and the products they buy are made free of forced labor. Business and non-profit leaders can ensure their supply chains do not exploit individuals in bondage. And the United States Government will continue to address the underlying forces that push so many into the conditions of modern-day slavery in the first place.
During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we stand with the survivors, advocates, and organizations dedicated to building a world where our people and our children are not for sale. Together, let us recommit to a society where our sense of justice tells us that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, where every person can forge a life equal to their talents and worthy of their dreams.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2015 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Stalking Awareness Month, 2015
Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:31
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 31, 2014
NATIONAL STALKING AWARENESS MONTH, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
In every State across our Nation, stalking is a crime. It is unacceptable behavior that violates the most basic principles of respect and decency, infringing on our fundamental right to feel safe and secure. At some point in their lives, 1 in 6 American women will be stalked. This abuse creates distress and takes a profound toll on its victims and our communities. This month, we extend our support to all those who have experienced stalking, and we renew our commitment to shine a light on this injustice.
Stalking is a pattern of unwanted contact -- which can include text messages, emails, and phone calls -- that causes an individual to fear for their safety or the safety of loved ones. While young women are disproportionately at risk, anyone can be a victim, including children and men. Individuals who are stalked often know the perpetrator, but stalkers can also be acquaintances or strangers. Stalking is a serious offense with significant consequences. It is often detrimental to the physical and emotional well-being of the victim, and some are forced to move or change jobs. This behavior often escalates over time, and is sometimes followed by sexual assault or homicide.
Addressing this hidden crime is part of my Administration's comprehensive strategy to combat violence against women, and stalking is one of the four areas addressed by the Violence Against Women Act. When I proudly signed the reauthorization of this historic law, we bolstered many of its provisions, including expanding safeguards against cyberstalking and protections for immigrants who have been victims of stalking. Across the Federal Government, we are building strong partnerships with those working to break the cycle of this abuse, and we remain dedicated to ending violence against women and men in all its forms.
Our homes, schools, offices, and neighborhoods should be places where Americans feel secure and confident. During National Stalking Awareness Month, we join with the advocates, families, professionals, and survivors to amplify their refrain: If you are a victim of stalking, you are not alone. Together, let us continue to raise awareness of this violence and recommit to being part of the solution.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2015 as National Stalking Awareness Month. I call upon all Americans to recognize the signs of stalking, acknowledge stalking as a serious crime, and urge those affected not to be afraid to speak out or ask for help. Let us also resolve to support victims and survivors, and to create communities that are secure and supportive for all Americans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thisthirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
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Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''690, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1708^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". America.gov. January 16, 2003.
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SONY
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KOMID
Exports related to ballistic missile technology
In April 2009 the United Nations named the Korea Mining and
Development Trading Corporation (aka KOMID) as North Korea's primary
arms dealer and main exporter of equipment related to ballistic missiles
and conventional weapons. The UN lists KOMID as based in Central
District Pyongyang.[91]
However it also has offices in Beijing and sales offices worldwide
which facilitate weapons sales and seek new customers for North Korean
weapons.[92]
KOMID has sold missile technology to Iran[93] and has done deals for missile related technology with the Taiwanese.[94] KOMID representatives were also involved in a North Korean deal to mass-produce Kornet anti-tank guided missiles for Syria[95]
and KOMID has also been responsible for the sale of equipment,
including missile technologies, gunboats, and multiple rocket
artilleries, worth a total of over $100 million, to Africa, South
America, and the Middle East.[96]
North Korea's military has also used the company Hap Heng to sell
weapons overseas. Hap Heng was based in Macau in the 1990s to handle
sales of weapons and missile and nuclear technology to nations such as
Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan's medium-range ballistic missile, the
Ghauri, is considered to be a copy of North Korea's Rodong 1. Even in
1999, intelligence sources said North Korea had sold missile components
to Iran.[97] Listed directors of Hap Heng include Kim Song in and Ko Myong Hun.[98] Ko Myong Hun is now a listed diplomat in Beijing[99] and may be involved in the work of KOMID.[100]
A UN sanctions committee report stated that North Korea operates an
international smuggling network for nuclear and ballistic missile
technology, including to Burma, Syria, and Iran.[101]
Export partners
Many countries have bought North Korean ballistic missiles or
received assistance from North Korea to establish local missile
production.
Pakistan
North Korean entities continued to provide assistance to Pakistan's
ballistic missile program during the first half of 1999 in return for
nuclear weapons technology.[5] Such assistance is critical for Islamabad's
efforts to produce ballistic missiles. In April 1998, Pakistan
flight-tested the Ghauri MRBM, which is based on North Korea's Nodong
missile. Also in April 1998, the United States imposed sanctions against
Pakistani and North Korean entities for their role in transferring
Missile Technology Control Regime Category I ballistic missile-related
technology.[102]
Egypt
Egypt has received technologies and assistance for making both the Hwasong-5
and Hwasong-6, and may have as well provided guidance systems or
information on longer-range missiles to North Korea from its Condor
program.
Iran
Iran was one of the first countries to buy North Korean missiles. Iran has established local production for the Hwasong-5 (Shahab-1), Hwasong-6 (Shahab-2) and the Rodong-1 (Shahab-3). Also possesses some 19 land-based BM25 Musudan missiles, according to a leaked, classified U.S. State Department cable,[103]
although Iran has never displayed the missiles causing some U.S.
intelligence officials to doubt the missiles were transferred to Iran.[72]
Libya
Libya during the reign of Muammar Gaddafi had been known to receive technological assistance, blueprints and missile parts from North Korea.[104]
Syria
Syria originally obtained the SCUD-B from North Korea. North Korea may have assisted Syria in development of the SCUD-C and/or the SCUD-D.
As of 2013, Syria relies on foreign assistance from multiple countries,
including North Korea, for advanced missile components and
technologies.[105]
United Arab Emirates
25 Hwasong-5s purchased from North Korea in 1989. The Military of the United Arab Emirates were not satisfied with the quality of the missiles, and they were kept in storage.[106]
Vietnam
Acquired Hwasong-5/6 missiles in 1998.
Yemen
Known to have bought Hwasong-5 missiles from the DPRK in the 1990s—a total of 15 missiles, 15 TELs with 15 HE warheads.[107]
Letter -- Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to North Korea
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:25
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 02, 2015
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order (the "order") with respect to North Korea that expands the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13466 of June 26, 2008, expanded in scope in Executive Order 13551 of August 30, 2010, and relied upon for additional steps in Executive Order 13570 of April 18, 2011. The order takes additional steps to address North Korea's continued actions that threaten the United States and others.
In 2008, upon terminating the exercise of certain authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act (TWEA) with respect to North Korea, the President issued Executive Order 13466 and declared a national emergency pursuant to IEEPA to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the existence and risk of the proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula. Executive Order 13466 continued certain restrictions on North Korea and North Korean nationals that had been in place under TWEA.
In 2010, I issued Executive Order 13551. In that order, I determined that the Government of North Korea's continued provocative actions destabilized the Korean peninsula and imperiled U.S. Armed Forces, allies, and trading partners in the region and warranted the imposition of additional sanctions, and I expanded the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13466. In Executive Order 13551, I ordered blocked the property and interests in property of three North Korean entities and one individual listed in the Annex to that order and provided criteria under which the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may designate additional persons whose property and interests in property shall be blocked.
In 2011, I issued Executive Order 13570 to further address the national emergency with respect to North Korea and to strengthen the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874. That Executive Order prohibited the direct or indirect importation of goods, services, and technology from North Korea.
I have now determined that that the provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies of the Government of North Korea, including its destructive, coercive cyber-related actions during November and December 2014, actions in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094, and commission of serious human rights abuses, constitute a continuing threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
The order is not targeted at the people of North Korea, but rather is aimed at the Government of North Korea and its activities that threaten the United States and others. The order leaves in place all existing sanctions imposed under Executive Orders 13466, 13551, and 13570. It provides criteria for blocking the property and interests in property of any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
to be an agency, instrumentality, or controlled entity of the Government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea;
to be an official of the Government of North Korea;
to be an official of the Workers' Party of Korea;
to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the Government of North Korea or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order; or to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of North Korea or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order.
In addition, the order suspends entry into the United States of any alien determined to meet one or more of the above criteria.
I have delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury the authority, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the order. All executive agencies are directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of the order.
I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order I have issued.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA
Executive Order -- Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to North Korea
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:24
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 02, 2015
EXECUTIVE ORDER
- - - - - - -
IMPOSING ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO NORTH KOREA
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code; and in view of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1718 of October 14, 2006, UNSCR 1874 of June 12, 2009, UNSCR 2087 of January 22, 2013, and UNSCR 2094 of March 7, 2013,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies of the Government of North Korea, including its destructive, coercive cyber-related actions during November and December 2014, actions in violation of UNSCRs 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094, and commission of serious human rights abuses, constitute a continuing threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and hereby expand the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13466 of June 26, 2008, expanded in scope in Executive Order 13551 of August 30, 2010, and relied upon for additional steps in Executive Order 13570 of April 18, 2011. To address this threat and to take further steps with respect to this national emergency, I hereby order:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(i) to be an agency, instrumentality, or controlled entity of the Government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea;
(ii) to be an official of the Government of North Korea;
(iii) to be an official of the Workers' Party of Korea;
(iv) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the Government of North Korea or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(v) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of North Korea or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
(b) The prohibitions in this order apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.
Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13466, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 3. The prohibitions in this order include but are not limited to:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 4. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in section 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).
Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;
(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States; and
(d) the term "Government of North Korea" means the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities.
Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13466, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 9. 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.
BARACK OBAMA
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DVDs of 'The Interview' will be airdropped on North Korea
Thu, 01 Jan 2015 21:52
Sony's once-forbiddenThe Interview is now seemingly ubiquitous, but there's one place where you can't get it: North Korea, the country that inspired the movie (and allegedly, the hacking campaign) in the first place. If defector and activist Park Sang-hak has his way, though, North Koreans will see that movie whether or not their government approves. Park plans to use balloons to airdrop 100,000 copies of the comedy (both on DVD and USB drives) in the country starting in late January. In theory, North Koreans will have second thoughts about Kim Jong-un's rule once they see him as less than perfect -- and if you've seen the movie, you know how eagerly it knocks Kim off his pedestal.
It's an ambitious plan that's bound to irk the North Korean regime. However, the challenge isn't so much getting the balloons to their targets as it is finding Northerners who can watch The Interview at all. Few in the isolated nation even own computers or DVD players, and those that do are likely to be either afraid of getting caught or pampered government workers who'd rather not rock the boat. Besides, more than a few people would argue that the flick isn't a ringing endorsement for the democratic way of life. All the same, it's fun to think that some Northerners will soon have a relatively easy way to watch a movie their leadership has been railing against for weeks.
[Image credit: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images]
Via:Ars Technica
Source:AP (ABC News)
Tags:defector, defectors, humanrightsfoundation, internet, movie, movies, northkorea, parksang-hak, parksanghak, protest, sony, sonypictures, theinterview
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Company Overview - KOMID International Private company
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:04
Business Type:Trading Company, Agent, Distributor/Wholesaler, Business Service (Transportation, finance, travel, Ads, etc), OtherKomid is located in Ukraine, but Israel company, specialized in Rounded diamonds, Oil, Steal, etc. . . We are Trade and Marketing co...Komid is located in Ukraine, but Israel company, specialized in Rounded diamonds, Oil, Steal, etc. . . We are Trade and Marketing company and working with customers (importers and exporters) more than 10 countries of the word.
Obama Sanctions North Korea Over Sony, but the Target is KOMID '' LewRockwell.com
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:04
http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/obama-sanctions-north-korea-over-sony-but-the-target-is-komid/
No one in the U.S. government knows for sure that North Korea hacked into Sony. We cannot believe the FBI on this on their word alone. If they do know, they're not providing a smoking gun, are they?
From what I have read by experts, it's far more likely that disgruntled ex-employees who knew the Sony system are responsible. That's my current belief. For North Korea to have done this makes no sense and doesn't comport with its style.
Even if the North Korean government is responsible, what sense does it make for the U.S. government to impose sanctions on North Korea over the hacking of a Japanese company? Since when does the U.S. police computer hacking of private companies on an international scale? The U.S. and Israel are actively involved in attacking computers and developing new code to attack specific installations. STUXNET and DUQU are two examples. This is why the new sanctions cannot be rationalized by Obama as the policing of computer attacks.
Senator McCain thinks North Korea is responsible. He called the attack on Sony an act of war. But this is a truly extreme and ridiculous statement by a man who has lost all perspective, balance and judgmental capacity. Obama is not acting on that lamentably sorry excuse for rational thought.
Obama knows that North Korea didn't hack Sony and he knows that he doesn't have evidence to prove it. Obama is using the Sony hack as a pretext, which you can tell by looking at the targets of the sanctions. Only one of these is even possibly connected to hacking. Most all of them have to do with ballistic missiles, defense research, and hard weapons materials.
Obama's sanctions are against KOMID which is the Korea Mining and Development Trading Corporation. This is ''North Korea's primary arms dealer and main exporter of equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons,'' according to a Wikipedia source.
2:49 pm on January 2, 2015Email Michael S. RozeffThe Best of Michael S. Rozeff
Japan, South Korea, U.S. eye agreement to share info on North Korea | Missile ThreatMissile Threat
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:12
Japan, South Korea and the United States are in the final stage of talks to sign a memorandum of understanding on sharing and safeguarding sensitive information on defense matters such as North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, diplomatic sources said Monday.
The memorandum, which would help bolster trilateral cooperation in countering threats posed by Pyongyang, comes after Tokyo and Seoul put off signing a bilateral agreement on sharing sensitive information in 2012 due to opposition in South Korea.
Japan sees such an arrangement as helpful for dealing quickly with situations such as the launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea, the sources said.
Tokyo and Seoul have each signed a General Security of Military Information Agreement with the United States to facilitate exchanges of sensitive information on military affairs.
In May, the three nations' defense chiefs agreed on the importance of creating a framework for sharing information.
The countries have continued since held working-level talks on reaching a memorandum of understanding, which does not have legal binding force or obligations, the sources said.
Still, opposition in South Korea against bolstering security cooperation with Tokyo could scupper the deal, the sources said.
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N. Korea to mass-produce Syria-provided missile+
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:09
SEOUL, June 2 (Kyodo) '-- North Korea has apparently agreed to mass-produce a small, Russian-designed missile that it recently obtained from Syria, according to a Western diplomatic source.
The missile in question is the Kornet anti-tank guided missile developed by KBP Instrument Design Bureau, a Russian government-backed defense contractor based in Tula, Russia, said the source, who closely monitors Syrian-North Korean affairs.
The source, citing information received from people closely associated with the matter, said the Syrian-North Korean agreement indicates that North Korea is making efforts to earn foreign currency not only through nuclear and ballistic missiles but through upgrading and mass-production of conventional weapons.
Japan and the United States suspect that North Korea has obtained funds for development of weapons of mass destruction through transactions in small conventional weapons.
The two countries have pressed the U.N. Security Council to incorporate a complete ban on weapons exports in sanctions to be taken in response to the North's second underground nuclear test conducted last week.
The source said four members of North Korea's Korea Mining Development Trading Corp. (KOMID) joined a delegation from the North's Information Committee that traveled to the Middle East in mid-March.
In Syria, the KOMID members met with several senior officials of the Scientific Studies Research Center, a Syrian government body in charge of procurement, research, development and production for military needs and for production of non-conventional weapons and missiles to deliver them, the source said.
In the talks, the North Korean officials agreed to develop copies of the Kornet missile by reverse engineering and to provide them to Syria, the source said, adding that Syria's military authorities authorized the deal.
Syria sent eight Kornet missiles to North Korea for research purposes by freighter. North Korea may develop an advanced version of the missile, the source said.
KOMID, which is North Korea's key firm involved in arms transactions, is suspected of exporting not only conventional weapons but also ballistic missile-related equipment.
In response to North Korea's long-range ballistic missile launch in April, a U.N. sanctions committee designated three entities as being subject to an asset freeze due to suspected activities related to nuclear weapons and missile development. KOMID is one of the three.
Syria's Scientific Studies Research Center is suspected of being involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction and missiles.
South Korean intelligence officials said they have confirmed that North Korea possesses outdated anti-tank guided missiles developed by KPB. South Korea has yet to confirm the Kornet missile is in the North's possession.
The Kornet anti-tank guided missile is said to be capable of penetrating 1,200 millimeters of armor. Its export version is called the Kornet-E.
In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. forces did not know that Iraq possessed the Kornet missile and as a result suffered greater damage than expected, according to media reports.
Lebanese Hezbollah militants were reported to have used the Kornet missile against Israeli forces in 2006 in southern Lebanon. Syria is suspected of providing the missile to Hezbollah after Russia denied its sale.
Meanwhile, South Korean media reports say that North Korea earned about $100 million through the sale of missile technologies, gunboats and multiple rocket artilleries to the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America in 2008.
According to a U.S. congressional report, North Korea exported $1 billion worth of conventional weapons between 2000 and 2007, ranking 11th among the world's weapons-exporting countries. The top 10 consist of the five veto-wielding countries on the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia --and five other countries -- Germany, Israel, Sweden, Ukraine and Italy.
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council | From Pyongyang with love
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:08
Nov 1 2010
Allon LeeIt may not be widely understood, nor fashionable to acknowledge, but former US President George W. Bush was actually not wide of the mark in his assessment that Iran and North Korea form key vertices of an ''Axis of Evil.''
Of course, these two countries both revel in using bellicose language, continually test medium and long range missiles, play cat and mouse games with the International Atomic Energy Authority inspectors and maintain covert nuclear weapons programs. However, it is not always appreciated and understood that North Korea and Iran also enjoy a deep and long standing partnership of mutual convenience.
Both regimes operate under the shadow of sanctions because of their nuclear weapons programs. Unsurprisingly, they use the cover of talks and negotiations with the rest of the world to buy time and further each other's nuclear weapons and missile development programs.
By definition the secrecy of the regimes and their relationship limits the clarity of both foreign intelligence services assessments and open source material on the two countries. Notwithstanding this, there are certainly telltale signs of significant cooperation and cross pollination through satellite imagery, defector testimonies, identified international transactions, and the bravado of parades displaying military hardware.
This information seems sufficient to conclude that North Korean cooperation is a linchpin in Iran's development of ballistic missiles, without which progress would be retarded a very great deal. On Iran's nuclear push, the evidence is less conclusive, but North Korean assistance seems likely to be very significant to Iran's nuclear progress to date.
What is less well publicised but of great significance is the involvement of Syria and Hezbollah in this high-stakes doubles game, which is also facilitated by China.
North Korea and the Middle East
As with all its other transactions, North Korea generally takes a completely mercenary position toward arms, missiles, and WMD technology sales. As former US CIA director Michael Hayden once noted, ''North Korea asks only two things of its customers: first, can they pay, and second, can they keep a secret.'' Or as current US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates put it, ''Everything they make, they seem willing to sell.''
Pyongyang has generally found the Middle East to be a very lucrative market, with Iran its most important customer. However, experts note while the hard currency North Korea earns from Iran is doubtless welcome, there appears to be more to the relationship, with the countries jointly working together to press ahead with improving missile technology.
The major catalyst for North Korea's involvement in the Middle East was, according to International Crisis Group Korea expert Daniel Pinkston, Egypt's gift to Pyongyang of Soviet made Scud-B missiles as thanks for sending air force pilots to Cairo during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
That same year Iran '' then a Western ally '' and North Korea established diplomatic ties.
Pinkston writes that the consensus is that North Korea reverse-engineered the Scud-Bs and, certainly by 1984, produced its own tactical ballistic missile called ''Hwasong-5'' with a range of 320 km.
Pinkston maintains that North Korea must have received foreign assistance in that endeavour. North Korea reportedly benefited from Russian expertise by recruiting 160 Russian scientists to its missile program in the 1980s.
This is when Iran enters the picture.
In 1985, during the Iran-Iraq war, the former reportedly paid Pyongyang for 90 to 100 Hwasong-5 missiles.
The US$500 million deal also set up a mechanism for R&D funding into missile development by North Korea, in exchange for assistance in establishing a domestic Iranian missile production line.
In Iran, this eventually led to the Hwasong-5 being manufactured as the Shahab-1.
Pinkston writes that it is believed Iran provided North Korea with wreckage of Iraq's al-Hussein missile, which was a modified Scud-B, and this is believed to have established the basis for the development of the Hwasong-6, with a 500km range.
In December 1992, North Korean officials travelled to Iran to sign a new US$500 million deal to jointly develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Five months later Iranian officials made the reverse journey to observe the launch of the Nodong missile at the rocket launching site in Musudan-ri.
The test convinced Pakistan to purchase the Nodong missile from North Korea.
The Nodong technology and schematics were exported to Iran in 1997.
Orders were also placed by Iraq and Libya for the Nodong, but no missiles were ever delivered in the end.
More recently, in December 2005, Iran acquired the Musudan missile and, according to Pinkston, was rumoured to have tested the missile for Pyongyang in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1695, which bans all cooperation with North Korea with respect to ballistic missile production.
Although one should not underestimate the expertise of the North Koreans in missile technology, experts say theirs is very much a scavenger-based program, relying extensively over the years on Russian and Chinese know-how, and imported Japanese technology.
Dr. Christina Lin '' a former US Defence Department official writing in a seminal May 2010 report for the Global Research in International Affairs organisation (GLORIA) '' noted that on April 5, 2009, North Korea launched a satellite into orbit using a Taepodong 2 rocket, which was preceded two months earlier by Iran doing the same on a similar Safir-2 rocket.
Iranians were believed to be in North Korea in an advisory role in the lead up to the April 5 launch date.
In February 2010, Iran unveiled its ''Simorgh'' rocket which it claimed could carry a 100 kg satellite 500 km into orbit. Experts noted that the first stage of the Simorgh is similar to the North Korean Unha-2.
In March 2010, IHS Jane's reported that a satellite detected a new rocket-launch pad in the Iranian city of Semnan. Jane's claimed the platforms seen on the new gantry tower are similar to North Korean gantry and drainage pits.
According to Lin, the two countries are working on an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the Holy Grail of missiles, which is a reliable delivery system to which a nuclear warhead can be fitted boasting a range of 5,000 to 6,000 km.
In early October, North Korea publicly unveiled its new ''Musudan'' intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) at a military parade for the first time. Its reported range of 2,500 to 3,000 km would represent a significant step toward achieving ICBMs.
Ominously, at the same parade experts spotted a distinctive Nodong missile sporting what was described as an ''Iranian-style triconic nosecone,'' which was probably ''a separating re-entry vehicle.'' Arms control expert Joshua Pollack said that this innovation might explain reportedly much improved accuracy in recent Nodong tests and the ''new technology might well be a joint development of the two countries' [Iran and North Korea's] missile programs.'' He also speculated that such a separating re-entry vehicle might be an important part of the ICBM-building project.
Meanwhile, results from North Korea's October 2006 underground nuclear weapon test were reportedly offered to Iran and, the UK Daily Telegraph reported in January 2007 that North Korea was preparing an underground facility in Iran for its own future nuclear test.
Syria, North Korea and Iran
As a junior member of the Iranian sphere of influence in the Middle East, Syria has enjoyed and contributed to the fruits of the strategic partnership between Teheran and Pyongyang.
Commenting on Lin's report, GLORIA analyst Jonathan Spyer noted that three North Korean scientists were believed to have been killed in an explosion at a Syrian chemical plant in July 2007.
In Sept. 2008, Israel allegedly bombed a purported site at al-Kibar in Syria believed to be a North Korean designed plant for processing nuclear fuel.
The site was allegedly built with North Korean and Iranian expertise and funded by Iran and reportedly bore all the hallmarks of the North Korean nuclear plant at Yongbyon.
Reports say the intention was that Iran would receive processed plutonium from the Syrian plant, which would have guaranteed Iran a steady supply and enabled it to maintain a charade, if needed, that it had stopped processing nuclear fuel even while producing nuclear weapons.
Nor are these the only exports of major nuclear technology to the Middle East to have been identified. It was revealed in 2005 that the North Koreans had allegedly earlier shipped containers of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) '' feed material for centrifuges '' to rogue nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan in Pakistan, who then reshipped them to Libya.
Tunnel Vision
In addition to assisting Syria, Iran's Lebanese prot(C)g(C)s in Hezbollah allegedly received considerable North Korean assistance in underground tunnel building during 2003-04.
As the true power behind the Iranian regime, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps acted as matchmaker and go-between for North Korea and Hezbollah.
North Korean training for Hezbollah fighters dates back to the late-1980s, but it was Israel's withdrawal from its south Lebanon security buffer zone in 2000 which allowed the partnership to flourish.
North Korea honed its technique across its shared border with South Korea. Lin documents that one tunnel uncovered by South Korea was capable of handling 30,000 armed troops an hour.
Following the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, Israel and the UN discovered Hezbollah tunnels leading to underground facilities replete with medical facilities, food storage, electricity, arms dumps, ventilation and running water that matched those found by South Korea.
North Korea expert Dr. Bruce Bechtol recently wrote that South Korea scholar Moon Chung-in claimed short-range missiles fired on Israel during the 2006 war contained North Korean parts. The missiles were assembled in Iran and transported to Hezbollah via Syria.
Bechtol also noted that there are claims made by Syrian opposition groups of chemical warfare agents from North Korea ending up in Hezbollah's arsenal.
China, Iran and North Korea
According to Dr. Lin, the point at which China refuses to supply certain weapons technologies and expertise is the opening for North Korea to ''fill in the gap as an isolated regime that is by and large impervious to international pressure''.
The role of China in supporting both Iran and North Korea is both vital and subtle.
China has at times played the roles of both spoiler for Western moves to counter Iran's nuclear weapons program through targeted economic sanctions and economic big daddy to Iran.
In 2009, China replaced the EU as Iran's main trading partner.
Despite supporting a new UN Security Council Resolution imposing expanded economic sanctions against Iran in June 2010, China refused to follow Western countries by adopting unilateral sanctions and, indeed, is already making deals with Teheran in contravention of the new Western sanctions regimes.
These sanctions breaking efforts include initialling contracts worth billions of dollars or pursuing substantive negotiations in Iran's oil and gas industry, petrochemical plants, and pipelines.
The rationale for China's foreign policy is varied.
Firstly, China's geopolitical ambition is to meet its energy needs independent of what it sees as US dominance.
The proximity between Iran and China '' Pakistan is sandwiched between the two '' means they can rely on overland routes for their energy needs, be it oil or gas supplies.
A partnership with Iran bypasses the US' oil-producing allies in the Middle East and US oversight of what are known as ''sea lanes of communications'' for oil supplies.
Against this backdrop, Iran's anti-US posture has enabled China to happily take advantage of the Islamic Republic's need for weapons, foreign investment and hi-tech technologies.
As some commentators have cynically noted, while the US expends its blood and treasure on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, China is busy securing its own economic future and dominance.
The Chinese and North Korean partnership enjoys the same modus operandi as the Iranian relationship.
In 1982, China and North Korea were believed to have supplied Iran with 40% of its weapons procurement, a figure that rose to 70% five years later.
In May 2009, respected analysts Dan Blumenthal and Robert Kagan predicted that China would never find true congruence with the West on North Korea.
To Beijing, North Korea is also a vital buffer zone between China and US troops stationed in South Korea, allowing China to maintain pressure on Taiwan.
''While China fears a collapsed North that would flood its struggling Northeast with refugees, it also fears a unified, democratic, prosperous Korea allied with the United States. China wants a puppet state in North Korea, which is why, far from joining in sanctions, it steadily increases its economic investment there,'' Blumenthal and Kagan wrote in the Washington Post.
In March 2010, evidence emerged that China assisted Iran's nuclear enrichment program via a Taiwan front company by procuring pressure transducers that are vital to enrichment processes for weapons grade uranium. Iran had previously tried to purchase the transducers in Europe and Canada. It is possible over 100 transducers were sent to Iran.
Regardless of whether the transducers were intended for Iran's nuclear weapons program, their sale to Iran is forbidden under the UN sanctions regime imposed on Iran.
Containment measures
The response by the US to Iran and North Korea differ to the extent of the nature of their threats.
In North Korea's case '' which the West largely sees as being run by a dictatorship concerned only with its own survival and subservient to its patron China, the threat level is considered of a different order of magnitude to the Iranian menace.
A recent monograph published by the US Army War College authored by noted North Korea experts Paul Rexton Kan, Bechtol, and Robert M. Collins argued that the weakness of the effort to contain North Korea's pariah activities is largely focused on sanctions against the country's nuclear program and arms smuggling.
The trio prescribed an approach that also targets North Korea's extensive criminal activity, from which it generates vital hard currency.
North Korea is a world player in weapons trading, money laundering, counterfeiting currency and cigarettes, as well as drugs smuggling, they argue. There is strong evidence the North Koreans have taught Iran these dark arts, too.
''Sanctions can create pain for the regime, but they will not force an end to the country's criminal schemes. Sanctions were aimed at gaining North Korean concessions at the nuclear negotiating table,'' they wrote.
Kan, Bechtol and Collins recommended:
Expand United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1874. Following North Korea's long-range ballistic missile test and underground nuclear test in 2009, the UN Security Council issued sanctions that targeted not only North Korean financial institutions, but key individuals associated with nuclear, ballistic missile, and other WMD-related programs or activities. This can and should be expanded to include front companies and individuals engaged in counterfeiting, drug trafficking, money laundering, and other illicit activities that support the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) regime and pose a threat to the national security of nations in the region and elsewhere.
Lin sees China as the linchpin to mitigating the threat from North Korea and Iran in its capacity as main economic partner of both countries and its veto power at the UN.
In June 2009, the US Department of Treasury targeted North Korea's missile proliferation network by designating Hong Kong Electronics. Hong Kong Electronics, located in Iran, was designated for providing support to North Korea's Tanchon Commerical Bank and Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID). Komid is believed to have been responsible for overseeing the Hezbollah tunnelling.
The act of designation effectively freezes the company's assets and its supporters, prohibiting US persons from engaging in any transactions with them.
Both companies were also designated by the United Nations Security Council under Resolution 1718.
According to a US Treasury press release, between 2007 and 2009, Hong Kong Electronics had transferred millions of dollars of proliferation-related funds on behalf of Tanchon and KOMID. Hong Kong Electronics also facilitated the movement of money from Iran to North Korea on behalf of KOMID. Tanchon, a commercial bank based in Pyongyang, is the financial arm for KOMID '' North Korea's premier arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.
Tanchon has also been involved in financing ballistic missile sales from KOMID to Iran's Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), which is the Iranian organisation responsible for developing liquid-fuelled missiles. SHIG has been designated by the US government and sanctioned by the United Nations under UN Security Council Resolution 1737.
Since 2005, Tanchon has maintained an active relationship with various branches of Iran's Bank Sepah, an entity designated by the US and sanctioned by the United Nations under UNSCR 1747, for providing financial services to Iran's missile program. The US believes that the Tanchon-Bank Sepah relationship has been used for North Korea-Iran proliferation-related transactions.
''North Korea uses front companies like Hong Kong Electronics and a range of other deceptive practices to obscure the true nature of its financial dealings, making it nearly impossible for responsible banks and governments to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate North Korean transactions,'' noted Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Ultimately the difficulty of challenging and pushing back the threat posed by the North Korean-Iranian WMD partnership is best characterised by Spyer:
North Korea and Iran play a similar role in their respective regions of opposition and subversion toward the US and its allies. A cynic might add that the tendency of both regimes to indulge in the faking up of sheer lies is a further point of commonality between them.
These firm foundations mean that '' short of action taken to disturb it '' the friendship between the Kim Jong-il dictatorship in North Korea and the Iran-led 'resistance bloc' in the Middle East is likely to flourish and continue to mutually benefit both partners in the years ahead.
North Korea defiant in face of US, China pressure
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 02:16
North Korea kicked out at rival South Korea on Friday, even as China and the United States sought to pressure the isolated state into backing away from a threatened nuclear test.
In the latest in a series of bellicose warnings from Pyongyang sparked by a tightening of UN sanctions, the North's top body for inter-Korean affairs threatened the South with unspecified "physical counter-measures".
"Sanctions amount to a declaration of war against us," the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Fatherland said in a statement.
"If the South Korean puppet regime of traitors directly participates in the so-called UN 'sanctions', strong physical countermeasures would be taken," it added.
The warning, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, came a day after North Korea's top military body threatened to conduct a third nuclear test and boost its ability to strike the United States.
The current upsurge in tensions has its roots in Pyongyang's defiant decision to push ahead with a long-range rocket launch on December 12 -- insisting it was a peaceful mission to place a satellite in orbit.
The rest of the world saw it as a banned ballistic missile test and on Tuesday the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that expanded the number of North Korean entities on an international blacklist.
The United States, supported by Japan and South Korea, spearheaded the UN resolution.
Pyongyang reacted furiously, vowing to boost its nuclear arsenal and to conduct a third nuclear test and even longer-range rocket launches in an "all-out action" against its "sworn US enemy".
In Washington on Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney criticised the North Korean threat as "needlessly provocative" and stressed that any test would be a "significant violation" of UN Security Council resolutions.
"Further provocations would only increase Pyongyang's isolation, and its continued focus on its nuclear and missile programme is doing nothing to help the North Korean people," Carney told reporters.
Outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States was "fully prepared" for a test from Pyongyang.
"But I hope... they determine that in the end, it is better to become a part of the international family," Panetta said.
In addition to the UN measures, the United States added names to its own blacklist that freezes any US-based assets of designated individuals and groups and makes it a crime for anyone in the United States to assist them.
The UN resolution was notable for receiving the backing of North Korea's sole major ally, China, which had shielded Pyongyang from stronger sanctions demanded by Washington.
In an unusually frank warning on Friday, China's state-run media indicated that Beijing would decrease aid to Pyongyang if it goes ahead with a nuclear test.
"If North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance," the Global Times, which is close to China's ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial.
"China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's trouble there," it added.
As North Korea's main economic lifeline, China is seen as the only country with any genuine leverage over the impoverished, isolated and nuclear-armed state.
Pyongyang has long played on Chinese fears of the consequences of North Korea's collapse to defy Beijing's efforts to rein in its nuclear weapons programme.
Mushrooming trade with China has helped North Korea mitigate the impact of UN sanctions already imposed after Pyongyang's previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
The Global Times editorial expressed official displeasure at a lack of North Korean understanding of Beijing's role in softening the sanctions outlined in Tuesday's UN resolution.
"It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's effort," the newspaper said.
burs/gh/jah
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Your Friendly North Korean Network Observer by nknetobserver
Thu, 01 Jan 2015 16:11
IntroductionOn 17 December 2011, Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea. Two days later, on 19 December 2011, I started my first scan of North Korean Internet space. I was curious to see if their new leader would result in change on their Internet. That was three years ago. I've been keeping an eye on that network now and again.
Ever been curious about what North Korea's Internet looks like? People seem to be interested in that country's use of computers on the Internet more these days for some reason...
Back up a second, how does North Korea get Internet, anyway?North Korea's Internet access is as unique as many other things about the country are. The country is said to have a fairly large internal domestic internet disconnected from the rest of the world. Most citizens with access to computers are only allowed to access this network, not the global computer network the rest of us connect to. But North Korea isn't completely cut off from the world, select people in North Korea, including government officials, visitors, journalists and other select people, have access to the same network the rest of us do.
Since only a small portion of the country has access to this network, North Korea has an extremely small presence on the Internet. All traffic in and out of North Korea, from computers inside the country to computers anywhere else on the globe, goes through a very limited set of connections. Generally, on a physical level, North Korean access to the Internet has been through a connection on the border with China, or through satellite links.
All IP addresses come in blocks and those blocks come in two flavors: allocated or assigned. Generally, allocated IP addresses are given to a network directly and are under complete control of that network. North Korea's direct IP allocation consists of 1024 IP addresses, which is where most of their Internet-visible network exists today, these are the addresses I scanned.
The allocated North Korean network range is 175.45.176.0/22:
inetnum: 175.45.176.0 - 175.45.179.255netname: STAR-KPdescr: Ryugyong-dongdescr: Potong-gang Districtcountry: KPstatus: ALLOCATED PORTABLEmnt-by: APNIC-HMmnt-lower: MAINT-STAR-KPmnt-routes: MAINT-STAR-KPchanged: 20091221source: APNICNorth Korea also has two more blocks that are assigned to it, which means that another network has ultimate control over the addresses, but North Korea's computers are allowed to use them:
210.52.109.0/24 '-- this block is assigned to North Korea through China Unicom and was their original source of IP addresses before they were allocated their first block:inetnum: 210.52.109.0 - 210.52.109.255netname: KPTCcountry: CNdescr: Customer of CNCstatus: ASSIGNED NON-PORTABLEchanged: 20040803mnt-by: MAINT-CN-ZM28source: APNIC77.94.35.0/24 '-- this block is assigned to North Korea by SatGate, a Russian Satellite company, and is the only block of known North Korea IPs under the European RIPE Registry as opposed to APNIC, the registry for the Asian Pacific region:inetnum: 77.94.35.0 - 77.94.35.255netname: SATGATE-FILESTREAMdescr: Korean networkcountry: KPadmin-c: AVA205-RIPEadmin-c: EVE7-RIPEtech-c: PPU4-RIPEtech-c: ANM47-RIPEstatus: ASSIGNED PAmnt-by: SATGATE-MNTsource: RIPE
As you can see on the coverage map for SatGate, service to North Korea isn't likely coming from SatGate's known satellite beams. Instead, while the IP address allocation is coming through SatGate, the Internet service itself is likely coming through IntelSat. There's a number of IntelSat Satellites which could be providing service. IntelSat 22 has a good coverage pattern of the area:
But a bunch of their other satellites also provide coverage to parts of the Korean Peninsula with varying degrees of strength.
Most of the data we have, particularly the data gathered by the excellent Dyn Research (ne(C) Renesys), seems to indicate that almost all North Korean traffic routes through China Unicom. The satellite connection is just a backup.
Anyway, long story short. My port scans focus solely on the 1024 IP addresses allocated to North Korea directly. This also appears to be the addresses the North Korean Internet services are actively using.
MethodsI've been doing some scans for a while. Unfortunately not all of them completed, for various reasons. I've included the ones that got a good section of the IP space. Three of them (March 2012, June 2014 & September 2014) are complete scans of the block. The rest are partial scans, usually hitting 80% of the block or so, before the log was truncated. All my scans were generated using the following commands with the well-known nmap port scanner:
nmap -p1-65535 -sV -O 175.45.176.0/22 -T4 > nk.scan &nmap -p1-65535 -sV -O 175.45.176.0/22 -T4 -Pn > nkall.scan &Essentially, I scanned every port on every IP address, asking nmap to do its best with service detection and OS detection.
Raw DataFeel free to browse through the scan logs. You can find them here. Share what you find.
There's also a filtered.scan file in each directory which has some basic filtering away of non-essential information. Feel free to browse through that instead of the raw logs.
Some things I've noticedOne of the things I was most interested in is trying to determine whether or not the number of visible computers on the Internet increased in North Korea after the power transition from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un. The answer there is that for the most part, it hasn't increased much in terms of number of directly visible hosts, but if you look at the scans, you get the impression they're using it more.
InfrastructureYou can also tell a bit about what North Korea's infrastructure looks like and how they run things. First off, most of North Korea's infrastructure runs on Linux. This probably isn't a huge surprise, since we know North Korea has their own Linux distro, Red Star OS, so it's easy to guess they might be fans. Luckily, Apache tends to report the flavor of Linux. And indeed, starting in scans this year, you see that some of their public facing web servers are running RedStar:
Nmap scan report for naenara.com.kp (175.45.176.67)PORT STATE SERVICE VERSION80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.2.15 ((RedStar 3.0) DAV/2 PHP/5.3.3 mod_ssl/2.2.15 OpenSSL/1.0.0-fips)The latest scan includes three RedStar machines. Interestingly, the Red Hat machines they had running in earlier scans disappeared about this time, so it might be they deployed Red Star OS to replace their Red Hat machines.
They also use CentOS (4 in the latest scan, more than RedStar), a number of machines that don't report the flavor used and one machine which merely reports (Unix).
North Korea generally wants your new software stacks to get off their lawn. They haven't embraced the Web 2.X rails chop shop style web development popular in some other countries. Instead their webservers have active modules or services for JSP, PHP, Perl and Python. Their choice of server software is similar: Apache for HTTP (web), BIND for DNS and Cisco equipment at the border. For SMTP (email), they expose a bunch of different services, from Cisco PIX smptd running on their routers, to sendmail on a machine. Their mailservers sometimes expose Cyrus on POP3's port. Oh, they're also into Icecast for their streaming media servers, though it's unclear whether they're still using the same thing now. They've also had some Windows machines running IIS, (up until about 2013 or so) so they've got a more diverse infrastructure environment going on than just Linux machines everywhere.
For the most part, their infrastructure hasn't changed a whole bunch over the period I've been scanning them. Though North Korea does seem to bring up an increasing number of sites running on the various webservers they have on their slice of the Internet.
One of their routers appear to be configurable remotely, which is one of those things likely to catch eyes:
Nmap scan report for 175.45.178.129Not shown: 65523 closed portsPORT STATE SERVICE VERSION22/tcp open ssh Cisco SSH 1.25 (protocol 1.99)23/tcp open telnet Cisco router telnetd80/tcp open http Cisco IOS http config443/tcp open ssl/http Cisco IOS http configSo that's a quick view of some of the visible infrastructure-y parts of their network. I just grabbed the highlights, leaning towards the more current scans. There's a bunch of different services running, browse through the full scans for more.
Client MachinesMore interesting is the computers that show up on their network, even for brief periods of time. It seems that while most computers in North Korea are kept behind the edge infrastructure, some computer does show up right on the public Internet.
Apples apples everywhere, but not a bite to eatIn a 20 March 2012 scan, I saw MacBook Air that reported itself as 4,1 model which means it was a "Late 2008" model. It's got a pretty unusual networking footprint, not something you see out of the box:
map scan report for 175.45.177.38Host is up (0.35s latency).Not shown: 65521 closed portsPORT STATE SERVICE VERSION22/tcp open ssh OpenSSH 5.6 (protocol 2.0)88/tcp open kerberos-sec Microsoft Windows kerberos-sec135/tcp filtered msrpc136/tcp filtered profile137/tcp filtered netbios-ns138/tcp filtered netbios-dgm139/tcp filtered netbios-ssn445/tcp filtered microsoft-ds548/tcp open afp?593/tcp filtered http-rpc-epmap3689/tcp open rendezvous?4444/tcp filtered krb5244488/tcp open unknown5900/tcp open vnc Apple remote desktop vnc1 service unrecognized despite returning data. If you know the service/version, please submit the following fingerprint at http://www.insecure.org/cgi-bin/servicefp-submit.cgi :SF-Port548-TCP:V=5.50%I=7%D=3/20%Time=4F687DAA%P=x86_64-redhat-linux-gnu%rSF:(SSLSessionReq,223,"\x01\x03\0\0Q\xec\xff\xff\0\0\x02\x13\0\0\0\0\x000\SF:0>\0b\0\0\x9f\xfb\x1badministrator\xd5s\x20MacBook\x20Air\0\x9b\0\xab\0SF:\xff\x01p\x01\x8f\rMacBookAir4,1\x05\x06AFP3\.4\x06AFP3\.3\x06AFP3\.2\xSF:06AFP3\.1\x06AFPX03\x06\tDHCAST128\x04DHX2\x06Recon1\rClient\x20Krb\x20SF:v2\x03GSS\x0fNo\x20User\x20Authent\x15\+\xc3\xd9\xf9Q\[\xc7\xa1\x02\xa7SF:D\x88D\xb2\(\x05\x08\x02\xaf-\xb1&\x02\$\x14\x07\xfe\x80\0\0\0\0\0\0\x0SF:2\0\0\xff\xfe\0\r\x06\x02\$\x14\x07\xfe\x80\0\0\0\0\0\0b\xc5G\xff\xfe\xSF:03\[f\x02\$\x14\x07\xfd\0e\x87R\xd7!\xa4b\xc5G\xff\xfe\x03\[f\x02\$\x0fSF:\x04175\.45\.177\.38\x01oafpserver/LKDC:SHA1\.AA6C3E197C870B839764D57E8SF:9AF4A940C95B060@LKDC:SHA1\.AA6C3E197C870B839764D57E89AF4A940C95B060\0\xSF:1dadministrator\xe2\x80\x99s\x20MacBook\x20Air\0\0\0\x80`~\x06\x06\+\x0My guess is this means the MacBook was running RECON Suite which is apparently some sort of enterprise system management software. I'm not too familiar with it.
Bottom line: there are MacBooks in North Korea. This one might be some journalist's machine, which seems like a likely explanation. Though there are really more services running on it than one would think would be a good idea. VNC? On public North Korean IP space? You sure that's a good idea?
VirtualizationLest you think that North Korea is completely backwards and can't get keep up with new technologies, let's set something straight right now. They've totally got VMware:
Nmap scan report for 175.45.178.134Not shown: 65534 filtered portsPORT STATE SERVICE VERSION912/tcp open vmware-auth VMware Authentication Daemon 1.0 (Uses VNC, SOAP)Warning: OSScan results may be unreliable because we could not find at least 1 open and 1 closed portDevice type: general purpose|phoneRunning: Microsoft Windows 2008|Phone|Vista|7OS CPE: cpe:/o:microsoft:windows_server_2008::beta3 cpe:/o:microsoft:windows cpe:/o:microsoft:windows_vista::- cpe:/o:microsoft:windows_vista::sp1 cpe:/o:microsoft:windows_7OS details: Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Beta 3, Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5, Microsoft Windows Vista SP0 or SP1, Windows Server 2008 SP1, or Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, or Windows Server 2008This looks like your standard Windows machine running in a VM. I didn't see evidence of these on the network until September 2014 or so. Which means exposing virtual machines on the public Internet may be a newer thing for them. But even so, they've probably been playing with it inside their internal network for awhile now.
Farewell!Enjoy the scans, have fun, let folks know if you see anything interesting.
Credits, Sources, etc.Your friendly North Korean network observer: nknetobserverExcellent routing analysis: Renesys (now Dyn Research)Other analysis of North Korea's network space: HP Security ResearchSatGate coverage map: http://satgate.net/images/new_maps/map_index.jpgIntelSat coverage maps: http://exnetapps.intelsat.com/flash/coverage-maps/index.html
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Treasury Imposes Sanctions Against the Government of The Democratic People's Republic Of Korea
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 09:07
Action Targets the Government of North Korea in Response to Recent Provocations
WASHINGTON '' In response to the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment and the threats against movie theaters and moviegoers, President Obama today signed an Executive Order (E.O.) authorizing the imposition of sanctions against the Government of North Korea and the Workers' Party of Korea. This step reflects the ongoing commitment of the United States to hold North Korea accountable for its destabilizing, destructive and repressive actions, particularly its efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech.
Pursuant to the authorities of this new E.O., Treasury today has designated three entities and 10 individuals for being agencies or officials of the North Korean government.
''Today's actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilizing conduct. Even as the FBI continues its investigation into the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, these steps underscore that we will employ a broad set of tools to defend U.S. businesses and citizens, and to respond to attempts to undermine our values or threaten the national security of the United States,'' said Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew. ''The actions taken today under the authority of the President's new Executive Order will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives. We will continue to use this broad and powerful tool to expose the activities of North Korean government officials and entities."
Targeting the Government of North Korea and the Workers' Party of Korea
The E.O. signed today escalates financial pressure on the Government of North Korea, including its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities, by authorizing targeted sanctions that would deny designated persons access to the U.S. financial system and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions or dealings with it.
The E.O. authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to apply sanctions against officials of the Government of North Korea and the Workers' Party of Korea, and persons determined to be owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, or to have provided material support for the Government of North Korea, Workers' Party of Korea, or any other person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the Order.
Designations under the New E.O.
The following three entities are designated under the E.O. signed by the President today for being controlled entities of the Government of North Korea:
· Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB):RGB is North Korea's primary intelligence organization and is involved, inter alia, in a range of activities to include conventional arms trade proscribed by numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions. RGB was previously listed in the annex to E.O. 13551 on August 30, 2010. RGB is responsible for collecting strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence for the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces. Many of North Korea's major cyber operations run through RGB.
· Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID): KOMID is North Korea's primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons. KOMID, a North Korean state-owned entity, was previously listed in the annex to E.O. 13382 on July 1, 2005 for its role in North Korea's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It was also sanctioned by the United Nations in April 2009. KOMID has offices in multiple countries around the world and facilitates weapons sales for the North Korean government.
· Korea Tangun Trading Corporation is subordinate to the Second Academy of Natural Sciences and is primarily responsible for the procurement of commodities and technologies to support North Korea's defense research and development programs, including materials that are controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or the Australia Group. Tangun Trading Corporation was designated by the Department of State pursuant to E.O. 13382 in September 2009 and was designated by the United Nations in 2009. The identifier information for this designated entity is also being updated to include several aliases it uses to operate internationally. The new aliases for Korea Tangun Trading Corporation include Ryung Seng Trading Corporation, Ryungseng Trading Corporation, and Ryungsong Trading Corporation.
The following 10 individuals are designated under the E.O. signed by the President today for their status as officials of the North Korean government:
· KilJongHunandKimKwangYon are officials of the North Korean government andrepresentthesouthernAfricaninterestsof KOMID. KilJongHunis KOMID's RepresentativeinNamibia and anofficialoftheNorthKoreangovernment.
· JangSongCholisaKOMIDrepresentativeinRussia and an official of the North Korean government. He is working with individuals in Sudan who are procuring materials from him.
· YuKwangHoisanofficialoftheNorth Korean government.
· KimYongChol is a KOMIDRepresentativeinIran and an official of the North Korean Government.
· JangYongSon is aKOMIDRepresentative in Iran and an official of the North Korean government.
· KimKyuistheKOMIDExternalAffairsOfficerandanofficialoftheNorthKorean government.
· RyuJinandKangRyongareKOMIDofficialsoperatinginSyriaandareofficialsoftheNorth Korean government.
· KimKwangChunisaKorea Tangun Trading Corporation representative inShenyang,China andanofficialoftheNorthKorean government.
For identifier information on the individuals and entities designated today, please clickhere.
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U.S. Spies Say They Tracked 'Sony Hackers' For Years - The Daily Beast
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 09:02
Gotcha?01.02.15
American spies have detailed dossiers on the North Koreans who the U.S. says were behind the Sony attack. But the still-secret evidence likely won't convince skeptics.
The FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies for years have been tracking the hackers who they believe to be behind the cyber attack on Sony, according to current and former American officials. And during that long pursuit, U.S. agencies accumulated still-classified information that helps tie the hackers to the recent Sony intrusion.
The Obama administration announced a round of sanctions against North Korea Friday, and explicitly said the measures were in retaliation for the ''destructive and coercive cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.''
But investigators pinned the Sony attack on North Korea in early December, not long after the FBI began investigating the breach and almost three weeks before President Obama publicly pointed the finger at the Hermit Kingdom in a December 19 news conference, according to two individuals with knowledge of the case. The Obama administration waited to go public not because officials weren't confident in the intelligence, but because the White House was weighing the significant policy decision of whether to publicly tie a nation-state to a specific cyber attack on U.S. soil for the first time.
Ever since the Obama administration made its public case against North Korea for the Sony hack, a slew of independent cybersecurity experts have been skeptical of the government's public case against Pyongyang, calling it flimsy and circumstantial. But sources familiar with the investigation say that the most damning evidence against the Sony hackers was obtained in a secret, and years earlier, during previous intelligence-gathering efforts. The notion that the FBI was basing its claims of North Korean culpability solely off evidence from the Sony hack is ''completely untrue. They're also using evidence that they've been collecting for years,'' said one person privy to some details of the investigation.
If there are misgivings within the administration about holding North Korea publicly to account, they weren't on display on Friday. The White House and the Treasury Department announced a round of sanctions against three North Korean organizations, among them the country's intelligence bureau, and ten individuals, including government officials and others who work for a North Korea's main weapons dealer.
The sanctioned individuals weren't involved in the Sony attack, administration officials said. But the decision to punish them and by extension the North Korean regime came after the White House decided the Sony hack ''crossed a threshold,'' as one senior administration official put it, going beyond cyber espionage or harassing attacks on Web sites and into the realm of destruction and coercion. The intruders had deleted large amounts of data from Sony's networks, and threatened to attack movie theatres that showed Sony's North Korean satire, The Interview.
''What are their work hours? What code do they use? What sort of comments are in the code? When you add all that up, it's a pretty comprehensive set of indicators.''
The White House was judging the Sony attack against previous North Korean aggression, underscoring that officials are relying on an historical record of hacking behavior. Investigators have also been privately sharing some of their findings with private cyber security companies that also have invested several years in monitoring North Korean hacker groups, officials said, in an effort to help vet their case and bolster their claims.
U.S. investigators still aren't saying precisely what information definitively links the North Koreans to the Sony attack and others. And to date, the FBI has disclosed only circumstantial evidence, including Internet addresses and patterns of malware used in the Sony attack that were seen in other attacks attributed to North Korea, which many cyber security experts have dismissed as insufficient and speculative.
But two former intelligence officials, who aren't involved in the investigation, said that the conclusions in the Sony attack are almost certainly based on other information besides malware analysis or the Internet addresses used in the attack.
Among the catalog of data used for attributing cyber attacks to a particular actor are intercepted communications among the hackers themselves. ''It could be a kind of battle damage assessment from the hackers to their higher-ups,'' said one former official, referring to reports from the frontline hackers about the effects of their campaign against Sony. ''There's a lot of this kind of feedback in [an incident] like this. And it's not difficult to intercept that.''
A second former U.S. official said that intelligence agencies monitor particular ''behaviors'' exhibited by members of a hacking group in order to help identify them. ''What are their work hours? What code do they use? What sort of comments are in the code?'' the official said. ''When you add all that up, it's a pretty comprehensive set of indicators.''
The Defense Department also maintains a set of dossiers of known hackers operating overseas, including in China, which is both the source of pervasive cyber espionage against U.S. and has served as a home based for some of North Korea's best-known cyber attack cells.
The two former officials said that North Korea has long been a high-priority target for U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the NSA and the CIA, which has its own cyber sleuthing units and would be called upon to help investigate the Sony attack. The FBI has publicly credited unnamed U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as the private sector, with helping it attribute the Sony hack to North Korea.
The role of private investigators has stirred controversy in the investigation. Last week, the Norse Corp. released findings that it said showed at least six individuals, including one disgruntled ex-Sony employee, were behind the attack, and not North Korea. The FBI met with Norse employees in the company's offices in St. Louis, but officials subsequently dismissed the findings and said they weren't based on information that the government has obtained but not released. An executive with Norse declined to comment on Friday.
That explanation will hardly satisfy skeptics who have pointed out, correctly, that hackers routinely use Internet addresses and malware signatures employed by other groups to mask their own identities or to pin the blame on others. And other information in recent days has pointed to possible assistance that the North Koreans may have had from outside the country. On Monday, an anonymous official told Reuters that government investigators now think North Korea may have ''contracted out'' the Sony hack to other individuals. Another set of hackers that goes by the name the Lizard Squad told the Washington Post that they helped with the Sony hack. And a Twitter account claiming to represent the Guardians of Peace, the group that has claimed responsibility for the attack, says they are not Korean.
But a senior administration official said on Friday, ''We remain very confident in the attribution,'' and noted that a number of other private experts had agreed.
One cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, whose senior executives include former top cyber investigators from the FBI, has said it's been tracking the group it believes was behind the Sony attack since 2006. The group, which CrowdStrike dubbed Silent Chollima, was responsible for a ''major destructive attack'' in July 2009, when it hit more than 30 Websites in the United States and South Korea with a large-scaled denial of service attack. The Web sites included those of the White House and the Pentagon, CrowdStrike's co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch wrote in a blog post in December.
CrowdStrike says it tracked another attack in which Silent Chollima used a ''wiper'' malware to erase data from thousands of computers in South Korea. A wiper program was also used in the Sony attack. Of course, such malicious code is now publicly available, and could be used by almost anyone. But this gang kept up similar attacks, over and over. ''For the next five years, Silent Chollima actors repeatedly launched similar data destructive attacks against South Korean businesses and government organizations,'' Alperovitch wrote. ''These attacks had distinct similarities with the malware used against Sony.''
When Obama finally pointed the finger at North Korea in December, he promised a response to the Sony hack and left no doubt that he wanted victims of cyber attacks to stand up to threats. The sanctions announced Friday represent ''the first aspect of our response'' for those attacks, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
His statement seemed to imply that the United States wasn't behind a full-scale Internet outage in North Korea last month. Pressed on the question during a briefing with reporters, a senior administration official would neither confirm nor deny U.S. involvement, but pointed to at least one alternative theory that's been discussed publicly: the North Koreans may have taken down their small number of Internet connections as a precaution against what they presumed would be some kind of cyber response by the United States.
Instead, it appears that the Obama administration has opted to punish North Korea financially. In naming publicly ten individuals whom officials say are involved in various illegal activity, including illicit weapons sales, the administration is putting North Korean elites on notice that they can track their activities and take actions to stop them.
U.S. suspects North Korea had help attacking Sony Pictures: source
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 09:02
Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:44pm ESTBy Mark Hosenball and Jim Finkle
WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. investigators believe that North Korea likely hired hackers from outside the country to help with last month's massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures, an official close to the investigation said on Monday.
As North Korea lacks the capability to conduct some elements of the sophisticated campaign by itself, the official said, U.S. investigators are looking at the possibility that Pyongyang "contracted out" some of the cyber work. The official was not authorized to speak on the record about the investigation.
The attack on Sony Pictures is regarded to be the most destructive against a company on U.S. soil because the hackers not only stole huge quantities of data, but also wiped hard drives and brought down much of the studio's network for more than a week.
While U.S. officials investigate whether North Korea enlisted help from outside contractors, the FBI stood by its previous statement that Pyongyang was the prime author of the attack against the Sony Corp unit.
"The FBI has concluded the Government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment," the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement to Reuters.
North Korea has denied that it was behind the Sony attack and has vowed to hit back against any U.S. retaliation.
The people who claimed responsibility for the hack have said on Internet postings that they were incensed by the Sony Pictures film "The Interview," a comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Because of the hackers' threats, major U.S. cinema chains refused to show the film. Last week, Sony struck deals with some 320 independent theaters to distribute "The Interview" and also made the film available online.
BLAMING NORTH KOREA
Some private security experts have begun to question whether Pyongyang was behind the Sony cyberattack at all.
For instance, consulting firm Taia Global said the results of a linguistic analysis of communications from the suspected hackers suggest they were more likely from Russia than North Korea. Cybersecurity firm Norse said it suspects a Sony insider might have helped launch the attack.
"I think the government acted prematurely in announcing unequivocally that it was North Korea before the investigation was complete," said Mark Rasch, a former federal cybercrimes prosecutor. "There are many theories about who did it and how they did it. The government has to be pursuing all of them."
The FBI said its determination that North Korea was behind the hack was based on information from a variety of sources, including intelligence sources, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, foreign partners and the private sector.
"There is no credible information to indicate that any other individual is responsible for this cyber incident," the agency said.
Kevin Mandia, whose security firm was hired by Sony to investigate the attack, said the only way to know who the culprits are is to trace the network traffic from the infected machines back to the hackers' machines. Only the government and Internet service providers have that kind of visibility, he added.
"I don't have the data that they have to come up with that conclusion," Mandia, chief operating officer of FireEye Inc, said in a video interview with Reuters.
"Every attack loops through numerous machines," he said. "You have to peel that onion all the way back. It isn't an easy thing to do."
Mandia, who has supervised investigations into some of the world's biggest cyberattacks, said the Sony case was unprecedented.
"Nobody expected when somebody breaks in to absolutely destroy all your data, or try to anyway, and that's just something that no one else has seen," he said.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Warren Strobel)
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Packet Equality
NYTimes: Web Freedom Is Seen as a Growing Global Issue
Wake up people! Its the network, not the web or the apps
Congress wants to legislate net neutrality. Here's what that might look like. - The Washington Post
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:13
Republicans in Congress appear likely to introduce legislation next month aimed at preventing Internet providers from speeding up some Web sites over others, in hopes of changing the tone of a critical debate over the future of the Web, according to industry officials familiar with the plans.
The industry-backed proposal would preempt efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to draw up new rules for Internet providers. While key details of the proposed bill are still being hammered out, the legislation would attempt to end a debate over the FCC's power to regulate net neutrality, or the idea that broadband companies should treat all Internet traffic equally, said the people familiar with the plan who declined to be named because the talks were private.
The industry officials said they are discussing details of the proposal with several Republican lawmakers, whom they declined to name. The officials also said the proposal is being backed by several large telecommunications companies, which they also declined to name.
One important piece of the proposed legislation would establish a new way for the FCC to regulate broadband providers by creating a separate provision of the Communications Act known as "Title X," the people said. Title X would enshrine elements of the tough net neutrality principles called for by President Obama last month. For example, it would give FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler the authority to prevent broadband companies from blocking or slowing traffic to Web sites, or charging content companies such as Netflix for faster access to their subscribers '-- a tactic known as "paid prioritization."
But those new powers would come with a trade-off, the people said. In exchange for Title X, the FCC would refrain from regulating net neutrality using Title II of the Communications Act '-- a step favored by many advocates of aggressive regulation, including the president, they said.
FCC officials declined to comment for this story.
Broadband providers have strongly opposed aggressive net neutrality rules, arguing it would stymie the industry's growth. But in recent months some industry officials have said they were open to the same net neutrality principles advocated by Obama, highlighting a sliver of potential common ground between Internet providers and net neutrality advocates. In a blog post last month, Comcast said it opposed blocking or slowing traffic to Web sites, along with paid prioritization. AT&T made similar arguments in June.
"We oppose the concept of fast lanes and slow lanes on the Internet," wrote Jim Cicconi, an AT&T policy executive, in a blog post.
The Internet service providers' statements offer a potential opening for a legislative compromise, one that seeks to clarify the FCC's authority to preserve net neutrality while avoiding a showdown over Title II.
"Consensus on this issue is really not that far apart," said an industry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing. "There's common understanding that rules are needed to protect consumers."
While Republican aides to both the Senate and House commerce committees declined to comment on the industry's proposal, the timing of the push is consistent with statements by top GOP lawmakers on the issue. Earlier this month, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, said he was "very interested" in drafting legislation to address net neutrality. Congress would need to act "fairly soon next year" if it wants to find a legislative fix, according to a Thune spokeswoman. Any such legislation would have to move through Thune's committee.
The FCC is widely expected to unveil its net neutrality proposal in February or March, leaving little time for lawmakers to introduce a bill. By unveiling their legislation before Wheeler's draft rules, Republicans could draw momentum away from the agency, where pressure has been mounting lately for stronger action, the industry officials said.
If Wheeler struck first with proposed rules with aggressive net neutrality rules, many Democrats would likely find it harder to support a Republican alternative. On Thursday, Democrats led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) sent a bicameral letter to Wheeler demanding that he act more swiftly to adopt new rules.
"We urge you to act without delay to finalize rules that keep the Internet free and open for business," the letter read.
Other Democrats signaled this week that any legislation on net neutrality would have to satisfy several key requirements. For example, the bill could not curtail the FCC's existing powers under the Communications Act, said David Grossman, Eshoo's senior tech policy adviser, at a Washington conference Tuesday. In addition to incorporating Obama's principles about blocking or slowing traffic, the legislation would also have to apply to wireless carriers, Grossman added. Aside from a few provisions, wireless carriers have been largely exempted from the FCC's previous net neutrality rules.
Republicans may find it difficult to attract enough conservative support for a net neutrality bill that updates the FCC's powers. Many of the most outspoken critics of the agency, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), ardently oppose any new regulations on Internet providers.
But with enough bipartisan support, Republicans could quickly move a bill to Obama's desk. Whether the president signs it could hinge on whether he could claim it as a political victory, policy analysts say. If the bill is seen as not aggressive enough, Obama will likely veto the legislation, observers said. Cast as a compromise giving the FCC wide latitude over net neutrality, the bill could pass '-- particularly if industry officials offer not to sue the FCC over its proposed rules, analysts have said.
Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
Get ready: The FCC says it will vote on net neutrality in February - The Washington Post
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:13
Federal regulators looking to place restrictions on Internet providers will introduce and vote on new proposed net neutrality rules in February, Federal Communications Commission officials said Friday.
President Obama's top telecom regulator, Tom Wheeler, told fellow FCC commissioners before the Christmas holiday that he intends to circulate a draft proposal internally next month with an eye toward approving the measure weeks later, said one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agency's deliberations are ongoing. The rules are meant to keep broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast from speeding up or slowing down some Web sites compared to others.
FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart declined to comment on Wheeler's communications with his colleagues, but confirmed the February timetable, which ends weeks of speculation as to when the FCC would make its next move.
It's still unclear what rules Wheeler has in mind for Internet providers. Analysts and officials close to the agency say that momentum has been building recently for far more aggressive regulations than Wheeler had initially proposed. Advocates of strong net neutrality, including President Obama, have urged the FCC to begin regulating Internet service providers using the same law it uses to oversee telephone companies '-- Title II of the Communications Act. Industry advocates have resisted that call, saying the FCC should continue to lightly regulate Internet providers under Title I of the act.
Many policy experts widely assumed the new rules would be introduced in the early part of the year after the FCC missed its initial December target. The agency is scheduled to hold its monthly meeting on Feb. 26.
The timing indicates Wheeler does not see the need for more public input on the benefits and drawbacks of using Title II, as earlier reports suggested. It also implies the FCC will not be able to avoid a showdown with Congress over net neutrality. Republican lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation this month to preempt any FCC rule on the subject.
Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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Brian Gay Crusader nalysis of Leelah Alcorn suicide
I'm sure you've heard about the suicide of Leelah Alcorn which has made national news and taken over social media.
First and foremost, it is important to note that the sensationalized reporting on suicides that has been done for the last 5 years goes against every journalistic ethical standard and not surprisingly suicides have increased in that same period. There are some great resources and standards for reporting suicides:
http://dartcenter.org/content/covering-suicide
http://dartcenter.org/content/covering-suicide-0
http://www.poynter.org/uncategorized/18183/reporting-on-suicide/
http://www.floridasuicideprevention.org/media.htm
http://journalismethics.info/ethics_in_news/suicide.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copycat_suicide#Journalism_codes
However no one in the media is following any of these standards and their reporting is completely unethical to say the least.
The reasons for someone's suicide can never been accurately or properly presented by the media or solely based on a note posted on the internet; suicides are far more complicated and when one deeply investigates the reasons he or she might be able to draw some conclusions but will never fully understand the complete picture of real motivations. When the loudest voices on Twitter and those with agendas immerse themselves in the story of a suicide, their skewed viewpoints and own motivations create an artificial narrative that is based on nothing; they almost always have never interacted with the person that they are using as a martyr for to advance their own agendas and the person who committed suicide never has their real reasons revealed and their true story shared. However what it does do is increase the number of suicides by delusionally causing those considering ending their life to believe that they too will get their "I'll show them moment." It's a dangerous road that the media and unconnected people should avoid traveling.
A suicide note posted publicly on the Internet alone does not factually frame the context of the writer's life or reasons for taking that life. Every human is incredibly complicated individually and strangers acting as if they completely understand the specific reasons that a stranger took their own life is wildly reckless. However, in the case of Leelah Alcorn 99.9% of the outraged voices were completely unaware of Leelah Alcorn until they got wind of the suicide not. They act as if based on reading that note they are experts, like they were friends, like they have a fucking clue about the many complicated reasons that lead someone to end their life.
When these things happen, it is basically an out of control mob on social media who before reading a single suicide note had no idea that a person called Leelah Alcorn existed and after reading one note are making declarations, demands and just generally outraged. The loudest voices simply want to use Leelah Alcorn to advance their own selfish agendas and taking advantage of an opportunity to do so.
Now to focus on the suicide of Leelah Alcorn suicide. I believe the child's own words make it clear that the reasons for taking one's own life are far more complicated than the Twitterverse and the media are portraying.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn't actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
and
I'm never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I'm never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I'm never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I'm never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I'm never going to find a man who loves me. I'm never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There's no winning. There's no way out. I'm sad enough already, I don't need my life to get any worse.
and, when it comes to sensationalizing suicides, such as Leelah Alcorn's is being sensationalized, her own suicide note contains the most dangerous phrase in it because it triggers others who are contemplating suicide to act:
My death needs to mean something.
What is most upsetting is that there were other options for Leelah Alcorn; a little research would have led her to Cincinnati Children's Hospital which has a program which provides support and medical care at a special transgender clinic. The program combines doctors and social workers to help individuals and families in terms of support, counseling and transitioning. The program works hard to help parents understand their child. Dr Lee Ann Conrad is the head of the clinic; her contact info is public and Leelah could have called ir emailed her directly.
The simplest Google search would have led her to the Cincinnati Trans* Community Group/Heartland Trans* Wellness Group which provides Professional consultation on LGBTQPIA needs in counseling, health and human services, education, and non-profit and corporate administration; Area-specific trans* and queer focused social and physical wellness resources; Gender identity and sexuality specific social and support programs.
A little Googling would have also led Leelah to Crossport, a not-for-profit* social support organization serving transgender individuals in the Greater Cincinnati and surrounding area, including partners, families, friends, and other allies.Guided by the values of acceptance and compassion, we strive for mutual understanding and equal treatment.We also serve as an educational resource for the transgender community and an outreach to the general public.
Then there is TransOhio which clearly lists all of the support groups throughout the State.
The Alcorn's lived just outside of Cincinnati and the Church they attended is in Cincinnati; it would not have been difficult for the child to sneak out or whatnot to attend one of the countless resources listed above and actually connect with a support structure that could educate her on the various options for someone in her shoes and allow her to feel accepted by people like her.
The fact that she didn't explore those options is quite telling to me; there are no excuses for taking your own life without exploring the options and resources available to her. One can say 'oh, her parents would be enraged if she did that'; well it would be worth it considering that she'd likely still be alive if she did go down that road. It's pathetic that she didn't make an effort to connect with any one of those options I found in 10 minutes of research.
I have a serious issue with the way she killed herself because she was the epitome of selfish by throwing herself in front of a truck and not having any concern about the trauma and possible injury she could inflict on the driver; it is selfish to take one's own life but the damage that she inflicted on the poor driver of that truck is unforgivable (and being completely ignored across the board).
I have a lot of questions about Leelah Alcorn but would love to learn your feedback about what I've written here.
In 2010 the media completely ignored key information in the Tyler Clementi suicide and railroaded his roommate essentially accusing him of being the reason Tyler threw himself off the George Washington Bridge (which was bullshit to say the least as anyone who has viewed the images from the webcam shows Tyler did and Tyler's own writings about his mother disowning him when he came out which was weeks before his suicide).
This culture of vultures using the carcasses of those who killed themselves to advance their own agendas is sick, twisted and needs to stop.
All my best,
Brian
Daily Mail Story that shows medication was involved
Carla says in the interview that she had
never even heard her daughter use the name Leelah before, seeing it for
the first time when her suicide note was posted on Tumblr after
her death, and claims that her daughter had 'quit talking about' being
transgender recently, this as she was put on medication to treat
depression.
Leelah Alcorn's mom REFUSES to honor teen's identity after death | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 15:26
Carla Alcorn has spoken for the first time since the death of her transgender daughter Leelah, saying she 'does not support' her identityThe 17-year-old, born as Joshua, killed herself after walking in front of 18-wheeler on December 28, writing of her parents' 'cruelty' in suicide note Carla, of King Mills, Ohio, also refuses to acknowledge her daughter's gender identity in the interview, using male pronouns Now, one human rights group is trying to honor Leelah by asking that transgender conversion therapy be banned in the United StatesLeelah also spoke of her pain and the 'abuse' she suffered from her parents in a post on Reddit just two months agoThat post seems to be a cry for help, as she wrote 'Please help me, I don't know what I should do and I can't take much more of this'By Chris Spargo for MailOnline
Published: 21:19 EST, 1 January 2015 | Updated: 10:04 EST, 2 January 2015
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The mother of a transgender teen who killed herself over the holiday season is speaking out, and making it clear she did not and does not approve of what she believes was her daughter's choice to be transgender.
Carla Alcorn of Kings Mills, Ohio said in an interview that she and her husband did not 'support' their daughter Leelah Alcorn, while also refusing to acknowledge her daughter's sex, using male pronouns and referring to her as 'him,' 'he' and 'son' throughout the interview.
However they insist they loved their child unconditionally and are devastated by the tragic suicide.
This just days after Leelah walked in front of a tractor trailer and ended her life, writing in her heartbreaking suicide note that because she was transgender, 'The life I would've lived isn't worth living in.'
Even more upsetting is the fact that she also shares how hopeful she once was in her letter, writing; 'When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness.'
Tragedy: Leelah Alcorn (above) took her own life on December 28 citing
Speaking out: In an interview, Leelah's mother Carla Alcorn (left) revealed that she did not support her transgender daughter, while the girl's father Don has remained silent
Speaking with CNN on Wednesday, Carla said of her transgender daughter; 'We don't support that, religiously.'
She then added; 'But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.'
Carla and her husband Doug are devout Christians, and have other children, Leelah's siblings, who Carla says are trying to cope with the family's loss as she also deals with the fact that some think she and her husband are 'horrible people.'
Carla also took time to explain the motivation behind some of the decisions she and her husband made during Leelah's life, saying 'we didn't have the money for anything like that' when asked why they did not allow the teenager to have transition surgery, and citing their daughter's viewing of 'inappropriate' material as the reason for banning her from social media.
She did not reveal what that 'inappropriate material' was in her interview.
It is a very different story from the one Leelah tells in her suicide note, saying that it was after she had decided to come out as transgender at school that her parents punished her.
'So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends,' wrote Leelah.
'This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I'm surprised I didn't kill myself.'
Smiling: Leelah shows off her license in a photo that was shared by her father on Twitter
Remembering: A drawing of Leelah made after her tragic death
Carla says in the interview that she had never even heard her daughter use the name Leelah before, seeing it for the first time when her suicide note was posted on Tumblr after her death, and claims that her daughter had 'quit talking about' being transgender recently, this as she was put on medication to treat depression.
At another point she also says Leelah was an 'amazing musician and artist.'
Even more amazing however may be the call to action the 17-year-old gave at the end of her suicide note, and her hope that the tragedy of her death may result in changes to the mistreatment received by many transgender persons around the country and perhaps even the world.
'As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don't give a s**t which one,' she wrote.
'The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was, they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something.'
She then added; 'My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year.'
That dying wish is already being addressed by the Transgender Human Rights Institute, who have started a petition on Change.org to 'call upon the President of the United State- Barack Obama, and the Leadership of the House and Senate to immediately seek a pathway for banning the practice known as 'transgender conversion therapy.'
Leelah's parents forced her into conversion therapy, and also had her see Christian therapists, an experience she describes as them 'telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.'
Leelah's Alcorn Law, as it is being called, already has close to 200,000 signatures.
Her message is also being carried out by two of the biggest women in the transgender community, Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, with Cox promoting the teen's desire that her death mean something across social media, and Mock revealing she had a similarly difficult upbringing.
Leelah's suffering was not just documented in her suicide letter either, with the young girl also sharing her story as she looked for support and help on Reddit just two months ago from the 'abuse' she was suffering as a result of her parents refusal to accept her for who she was.
'As soon as I found out what transgender meant, I came out to my mom' she wrote.
'She reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn't make mistakes, that I am wrong, and it felt awful.'
It then ends with a cry for help that many no doubt wish they saw or took more seriously; 'Please help me, I don't know what I should do and I can't take much more of this. I don't know if my problem is serious enough that I can contact authorities for help and even if it is I don't know how much that'll damage or help my current situation.'
Now all she is asking is that people address the problems facing transgender persons, and 'fix it.'
LEELAH'S SUICIDE LETTERIf you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don't be sad, it's for the better. The life I would've lived isn't worth living in'... because I'm transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy's body, and I've felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally 'boyish' things to try to fit in.
When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn't make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don't tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don't ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won't do anything but make them hate them self. That's exactly what it did to me.
My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.
When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn't receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.
I formed a sort of a 'f*** you' attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that's obviously not what I wanted.
So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I'm surprised I didn't kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent's disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn't actually give a s**t about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like s**t because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I've had enough. I'm never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I'm never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I'm never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I'm never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I'm never going to find a man who loves me. I'm never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There's no winning. There's no way out. I'm sad enough already, I don't need my life to get any worse. People say 'it gets better' but that isn't true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.
That's the gist of it, that's why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that's not a good enough reason for you, it's good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don't give a s**t which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was, they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say 'that's f***ed up' and fix it. Fix society. Please.
Goodbye,
(Leelah) Josh Alcorn
For confidential support call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Transgender Lifeline on +187 756 588 60. For support in the UK, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch, or click here. The story and struggles of young transgendered people (related)
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New And Disturbing Details Emerge About Leelah Alcorn's Life From Posts She Made To Reddit - The New Civil Rights Movement
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 06:30
17-year old Ohio transgender teen Leelah Alcorn took her life last weekend. Her Tumblr posts were tragic, but her Reddit posts pose serious questions about how she was treated.
Change the conversation, change the worldShare thisBy now, many people across the nation have heard about the life '' and death by suicide '' of Leelah Alcorn.
She was 17 and grew up in a tiny Ohio town with ultra-conservative Christian parents whom she accuses of having denied her some very basic necessities, like access to friends.
LOOK: Leelah Alcorn's Mother: 'We Loved Him Unconditionally' But 'Don't Support That, Religiously'
Leelah's suicide note, published via delayed posting on Tumblr, exposes how her Christian parents treated her, and her apology note confirms how she felt '' or what she wanted the world to see '' about her parents, but several posts on the social media site Reddit offer even more insight and very concerning details about her life.
Alcorn on Tumblr complained that her parents only let her see Christian therapists who told her she "should look to God for help."
"I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression," she wrote on Tumblr. On Reddit, in a post she titled, "I'm sure someone on here can convince me not to kill myself," she wrote she was taking what is a powerful (and popular, albeit older) anti-depressant.
"I've been on prozac for about a year, and my dosages have been going up every couple months or so," she wrote one month ago. "I'm currently taking 60 mg every morning."
The FDA states antidepressants, including Prozac, may increase the risk of suicide in children and adolescents. Also, the popular website Drugs.com suggests the maximum dosage for people 18 and younger is 20 mg. per day in most, though not all cases. Leelah wrote she was taking 60 mg. (Full disclosure: this is not a medical statement or advice, nor are we medical doctors.)
Also revealing were statements Leelah made in a Reddit post two months ago, when she asked, "Is this considered abuse?"
She wrote her parents "never physically hurt" her, "but they always talked to me in a very derogatory tone."
They would say things like "You'll never be a real girl" or "What're you going to do, fuck boys?" or "God's going to send you straight to hell". These all made me feel awful about myself, I was christian at the time so I thought that God hated me and that I didn't deserve to be alive. I cut myself at least once every couple days, and I was constantly thinking about suicide.
That statement might call into question Leelah's mother's claim that CNN reported:
Her child came to her only once to talk about being transgender, Carla Alcorn insisted.
Then there's this:
Eventually I lied to them and told them I was straight and that I was a boy, and then the derogatory speech and neglect started to fade.
She told Reddit (which is consistent with what she wrote in her suicide note) her parents took harsh measures when she came out:
They took me out of public school, took away my phone and computer, and wouldn't let me on social media websites, so I was out of contact with any of my friends. I was like this for 5 months, completely and utterly alone. I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone outside of church and I wasn't allowed to be with any of my friends, I just had to stay in my house and be quiet.
And on Reddit she added:
I've gone out with my friends 3 times in the last year, because every time my parents cancel last minute and make me do something else. It's like they want me to have enough social interaction so I won't forget how to interact with humans, but they don't want me to actually have healthy relationships with people.
Dan Savage has called for Leelah's parents and her therapists to be prosecuted.
Image via Tumblr
For more on Leelah Alcorn:
Leelah Alcorn's Mother: 'We Loved Him Unconditionally' But 'Don't Support That, Religiously'
Dan Savage: Parents Of Trans Teen Leelah Alcorn 'Threw Her In Front Of That Truck'
'Fix Society': 17 Year Old Transgender Teen Leaves Suicide Note Blaming Her Christian Parents
Reporting On Suicide | Poynter.
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 06:26
by Cindi Deutschman-RuizPublishedNov. 11, 20039:07 amUpdatedMar. 2, 20113:16 pm
Suicide is a leading cause of death, substantially more prevalent than homicide. About 30,000 people kill themselves in this country yearly and half a million more wind up in the emergency room following a suicide attempt.
Does media coverage of suicide reflect these realities? Generally not. Instead, coverage tends to focus on a rash of suicides at a university; a study that finds evidence of family tendencies toward suicide; or the prominent, successful doctors, actors, writers, or business people who kill themselves.
And in some cases, we create written or unwritten rules not to cover suicide out of fear of inspiring copycats. Copycat suicides are a real problem, but suicide experts generally agree that it's not a question of whether media should cover suicide, but how we do so.
Gauging from the news, it would be easy to conclude that suicide is rare, rather than a widespread and ongoing public health problem. As journalists, we're fond of criticizing ourselves for over-covering homicide. Why do we fail to address our under-coverage of suicide?
In 1999, former Surgeon General David Satcher issued a ''Call to Action to Prevent Suicide.'' It was part of his unprecedented effort to draw attention to mental illness and its impact on our country.
Have we looked at whether and how that Call to Action has been heeded across the country? Have we considered funding and the lack thereof for suicide prevention programs? Have we drawn the connections between depression and suicide? Have we looked at the fact that elderly men are more likely than any other demographic group to complete suicide? Have we considered the implications of the fact that an average of 25 suicide attempts are made for every suicide that is completed?
As journalists, we're fond of criticizing ourselves for over-covering homicide. Why do we fail to address our under-coverage of suicide?It seems to me suicide needs to be covered in the context of mental illness, stigma, and lack of parity in health insurance. Why?
Mental illness is almost always present in a case of suicide. To report on suicide without discussing the role of mental illness is like reporting on a tornado without mentioning the underlying weather conditions. Tornados don't whip up out of nowhere, and neither does suicide.
As for stigma '-- many of us still view mental illness as a sign of personal weakness, rather than as a brain disorder, which the best current science indicates that it is.
And this may be part of the reason for the well-documented and widespread lack of parity between insurance coverage of ''physical'' and ''mental'' illness. Despite the fact that mental illness is treatable, many people face obstacles every step of the way: doctors who don't accept their insurance, insurers who severely restrict mental health care, medication they may not be able to afford, etc.
With those issues in mind, here are some basic principles to consider, culled from a variety of media guides on covering suicide, especially ''Preventing Suicide: A Resource for Media Professionals,'' put out by the World Health Organization:
Suicide is never the result of a single incident. So when the media focus mainly on a bad review received by a renowned chef in Europe prior to his suicide, we overlook a serious depression he had for a long time before his death '-- and squander an opportunity to talk about depression and its potential role in suicide. Blaming the media, or anybody else, for a suicide is not likely to be of much use.Details of the method or the location a suicide victim uses may lead to copycat suicides. So in coverage of a suicide at an urban university, a reporter's specific information about the victim diving to her death out of an apartment window just sensationalizes the incident. A reporter should not risk providing another person considering suicide with the details of how it can be achieved.It's vital to use statistics and mental health information very carefully. When a newspaper reporter notes that in addition to suicide being a leading cause of death among youth, schizophrenia also often emerges at this time of life, she is offering accurate information, but misleading readers. Schizophrenia is a devastating illness, and people with schizophrenia sometimes commit suicide, but with no indication of schizophrenia in a particular case, why mention it? It's probably more helpful to note that mental illness (particularly depression) is generally associated with suicide, and that mental illness is treatable.Suicide coverage is an opportunity to provide the public with information and resources that could save lives. Journalists often fail to do this, despite the obvious potential to do good. People who commit suicide do not do so suddenly, even if it might appear so at first glance. There are warning signs, and I think any coverage of suicide should incorporate them.With regard to resources, many states have suicide prevention programs (but in the roughly half of states that don't, it might be instructive to consider why not). Many other resources also exist (see sidebar at right).
Al Tompkins has provided resources and ideas on coverage of suicide several times in his Morning Meeting column (some examples: 7/16/02, 7/30/02, 10/14/02, and 10/7/03).
It's important to avoid romanticizing suicide or suggesting it's been used to ''solve'' a problem. When a newspaper report about a murder-suicide quotes unidentified family members saying the couple may have engaged in an ''act of mercy'' based on their failing health, the question is: Could that be taken by other seriously ill or dying people as a rationale for them to commit suicide?
Journalists face any number of difficult decisions when covering suicide. As in the case just mentioned, family members may be able to shed some light on the motivations that drove their loved ones to kill themselves. However, such speculation may imply a simple explanation, which in turn may suggest a logical reason.
What's wrong with this?
It erases the line that separates motivation from rationality, making suicide seem like an understandable, if not unavoidable, culmination of a person's experience. Suicide is not a rational act. It is an act of desperation, carried out after a monumental struggle.
Suicide is not a rational act. It is an act of desperation, carried out after a monumental struggle.I realize it is not universally believed that suicide is wrong in all cases. Certainly, many people say that a person experiencing great pain in the end stages of terminal illness should be allowed to die sooner rather than later. And it could be argued that Do Not Resuscitate orders fall into the category of suicide. Dealing with these issues in some cases may be vital. But the vast number of suicides are not carried out by terminally ill people.
Earlier I mentioned not incorporating into reports specific information about how a person commits suicide. This is probably the one thing suicide experts warn against that journalists do in almost every case. It makes perfect sense '-- we are trained to seek out and include detail. But consider: Do we need detail of this kind, or does it just serve prurient interest in the guise of journalistic curiosity?
Rather than focus on the details of a completed suicide, it might be more instructive and more helpful to discuss the effects of a suicide attempt '-- physical ramifications, regrets, and how that person's life has proceeded after his or her survival.
I don't advocate that we tape media guides on suicide to our walls and mindlessly follow every stricture listed. There may be cases in which NOT following the guidelines is appropriate.
Let's say a bridge in town has become a focal point for suicide. In that instance, it's possible that not covering this development might prevent policy makers, law enforcement, or even ''ordinary'' citizens from putting an important prevention program into place.
Also '-- at the risk of assigning blame '-- I do think it's our responsibility to hold health insurers, agencies, and ourselves (as citizens, taxpayers, voters, etc.) accountable in cases where clear indications of suicidal behavior were ignored or mishandled.
And most importantly, we need to recognize that suicide is not an episodic story, but a chronic public health problem with individual and societal implications.
EuroLand
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Greek survey gives leftists 3.1-point lead over conservatives
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:31
ATHENSSat Jan 3, 2015 3:41pm EST
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's radical leftist Syriza party led the ruling conservatives by 3.1 percentage points in an opinion poll conducted after it became clear that a snap election would be called, the pollster Rass said on Saturday.
The survey for Sunday's Eleftheros Typos newspaper was conducted on Dec. 29 to 30, after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed to have his candidate elected president by parliament.
The poll put support for Syriza at 30.4 percent against 27.3 percent for the conservatives of Samaras's New Democracy party, if an election were held now, a slight narrowing from a 3.4 point lead in a previous Rass poll last month. The election has been set for Jan. 25.
In the latest survey, the KKE communist party was third on 4.8 percent, followed by the center-left To Potami with 4.7 percent, and the far-right Golden Dawn with 3.8 percent. The Socialist party Pasok, which rules in coalition with New Democracy, polled just 3.5 percent.
Syriza has led New Democracy in opinion polls for months, but its lead has narrowed in recent weeks.
In the poll, 74.2 percent agreed that Greece must stay in the euro zone "at all costs", and 24.1 percent disagreed.
The survey was conducted on a sample of 1,002 Greeks.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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German Authorities Ready for Greece's Exit From Euro Zone: Reports / Sputnik International
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:10
Politics00:48 04.01.2015(updated 08:09 04.01.2015)
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(C) REUTERS/ Alkis Konstantinidis/Files
MOSCOW, January 4 (Sputnik) '-- German authorities are ready for Greece to exit the euro zone, if such necessity occurs, Spiegel Online magazine reported Saturday, citing the sources in government.German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble believe that euro zone will cope with Grecce's exit, while previously the federal government had an opposite view. The fact that the euro zone has made a significant progress since the peak of the financial crisis in 2012, could be a possible reason behind politicians' change of opinion, according to the magazine.
Spiegel noted that the German government considers the exit of Greece from the euro zone inevitable if Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the opposition party Syriza, wins the upcoming elections, as in case of his victory, the Greek government will backtrack on the austerity measures, halt the interest payments and repayment of the national debt.
(C) AP Photo/ Thanassis Stavrakis
Spiegel has quoted a high-ranking expert on currency issues as saying that although it is currently unclear how an EU member can leave the euro zone, remaining in the European Union, lawyers would be able to make it clear.
The Greek parliament is to be dissolved after failing to elect the country's president in a third round of voting. According to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the snap elections will be held on January 25. The opposition party Syriza, which promised to reconsider country's agreements with foreign creditors, could win the election, according to the polls.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble earlier stated that any new Greek government will have to pay the debts and "if Greece chooses a different course, it will find itself in a difficult situation."
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Competing Views: Grexit Would Be "Lehman Squared" vs. No Problem; Where to Point the Finger When it Blows
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:09
There's an amusing pair of headlines back-to-back today on what a Greek exit from the Eurozone might mean.
One view is catastrophic, the others is along the lines of no problem. Let's start with the catastrophe.
Economic historian Barry Eichengreen says Greek Euro Exit Would be 'Lehman Brothers Squared.
A decision by a new Greek government to leave the eurozone would set off devastating turmoil in financial markets even worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, a leading international economist warned Saturday.
A Greek exit would likely spark runs on Greek banks and the country's stock market and end with the imposition of severe capital controls, said , an economic historian at the University of California at Berkeley. He spoke as part of a panel discussion on the euro crisis at the American Economic Association's annual meeting.
The exit would also spill into other countries as investors speculate about which might be next to leave the currency union, he said.
''In the short run, it would be Lehman Brothers squared,'' Eichengreen warned.
Martin Feldstein [professor of economics at Harvard University], a longtime critic of the euro project, said all the attempts to return Europe to healthy growth have failed.
''I think there may be no way to end to euro crisis,'' Feldstein said.
The options being discussed to stem the crisis, including launch of full scale quantitative easing by the European Central Bank, ''are in my judgment not likely to be any more successful,'' Feldstein said.
The best way to ensure the euro's survival would be for each individual eurozone member state to enact its own tax policies to spur demand, including cutting the value-added tax for the next five years to increase consumer spending, Feldstein said.
He predicted that European politicians would ''swallow hard once again'' and make the compromises necessary to keep Greece in the currency union.
''While holding the eurozone together will be costly and difficult and painful for the politicians, breaking it up will be even more costly and more difficult,'' he said.
Limited Contagion ThesisYahoo!Finance reports Germany Believes Eurozone Could Cope with Greece Exit.
The German government believes that the euro zone would now be able to cope with a Greece exit if that proved to be necessary, Der Spiegel news magazine reported on Saturday, citing unnamed government sources.
Both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble believe the euro zone has implemented enough reforms since the height of the regional crisis in 2012 to make a potential Greece exit manageable, Der Spiegel reported.
"The danger of contagion is limited because Portugal and Ireland are considered rehabilitated," the weekly news magazine quoted one government source saying.
In addition, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone's bailout fund, is an "effective" rescue mechanism and was now available, another source added. Major banks would be protected by the banking union.
According to the report, the German government considers a Greece exit almost unavoidable if the leftwing Syriza opposition party led by Alexis Tsipras wins an election set for Jan. 25.
Competing Views on Funding NeedsBefore taking a side in the above debate, let's take a look at competing views on Greek funding needs. Please consider a snip from SYRIZA Makes Fresh Pledge to Defend Greek Capitalism.
Analysts at Bank of America Merill Lynch, ''think Tsipras will face a budget black hole of at least 28 billion euros in the first two years of his government, with nowhere to borrow from and 17 billion euros of repayments to make in the first year.''
In contrast, the Wall Street Journal reports Greece Expects Primary Budget Surplus for 2015.Greece's 2015 budget, submitted by the government to parliament on Friday, aims to meet the fiscal demands of the country's creditors but comes without the prior approval of its troika of international inspectors.
According to the budget, Greece will achieve a primary budget surplus'--before taking into account debt payments'--of '‚¬3.3 billion ($4.1 billion), equal to 3% of gross domestic product, next year, which is in line with the country's bailout program.
Overall, the government will record only a minor budget deficit of '‚¬338 million'--equivalent to just 0.2% of gross domestic product'--next year, in effect marking the first balanced budget Greece has produced in four decades.
Despite surpassing its budget targets for three years running, Greece is at loggerheads with the troika'--made up of representatives from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank'--over further fiscal measures the country must take, as well as a number of promised overhauls.
Primary Account Surplus or Not?Does Greece have a '‚¬28 billion black hole or a surplus?
Both can technically be true. The '‚¬28 black hole counts interest on debt including the '‚¬245 bailout package. The primary surplus theory ignores interest on the debt.
If the Troika suspends the bailout, then Greece will have no choice but to default. Of course, that points to the absurdity of the alleged bailout setup in the first place.
Even if the interest rate on the bailout was 0%, at '‚¬3 surplus every year, it would take Greece 81 years to pay back that debt!
Economic Reality
There is no realistic way Greece can ever pay back '‚¬245 billion, so it won't.
With that thought, let's return to the first question. Would a Greece exit be "Lehman Squared" or would it have little effect?
Actually, no matter what happens with Greece, the entire eurozone setup is unstable. Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal all are in impossible payback setups. Even if Syriza loses the next election, sooner or later Greece, Spain, Italy, or possibly even France will exit the eurozone.
The "limited contagion" view is complete nonsense. The eurozone debt problem is going to explode, and whether or not it becomes "Lehman Squared" depends on the response.
My view is the longer the ECB and EU attempt to hold this mess together with no debt writedowns, the bigger the catastrophe.
Greece will not cause a catastrophe, but the EU/ECB handling of a Greece exit is highly likely to do just that.
Eventually, Will Come a Time
As I said in my November 23, 2011 post Eventually, Will Come a Time When ....
Eventually, there will come a time when a populist office-seeker will stand before the voters, hold up a copy of the EU treaty and (correctly) declare all the "bail out" debt foisted on their country to be null and void. That person will be elected.
Le Pen may be too early, and France may not be that country, but the time will come.
Greece, Finland, Germany, Belgium, and even France are possibilities. All it will take, is for one charismatic person, timing social mood correctly, to say precisely one right thing at exactly the right time. It will happen.
PossibilitiesGreece: Alexis Tsipras - Syriza (Radical Left)France: Marine Le Pen - Front National (Radical Right)Italy: Beppe Grillo - M5S Five Star Movement (Radical Left)Spain: Pablo Iglesias Turri"n - Podemos (Radical Left) Where to Point the Finger When it BlowsThe pot is simmering and is likely to boil over at any time. When it does boil over, Greece will not really be to blame, even if Alexis Tsipras wins the election and carries out his threats.
Rather, be prepared to point the finger at the EU, ECB, and IMF for their collective insistence that Greece, Spain, Italy, etc. repay debt that cannot and will not be paid back.
By the way, there is a small chance Tsipras wins the election and Greece exits the eurozone with limited initial fallout. If so, the major problem will come when Spain or Italy does the same thing.
Mike "Mish" Shedlockhttp://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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Italy's second 'ghost ship' rescue prompts EU pledge on migrants
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:07
By Alessandro De Luca
CORIGLIANO CALABRO, ItalySat Jan 3, 2015 7:05pm EST
CORIGLIANO CALABRO, Italy (Reuters) - A cargo ship abandoned by its crew with 359 Syrian refugees on board was towed ashore in Italy on Saturday in the second such rescue this week, prompting calls for stronger European Union action in the face of new tactics by human traffickers.
The Ezadeen, a Sierra-Leone-flagged vessel that had set sail from Turkey, docked in the southern Italian port of Corigliano Calabro. The passengers, including 62 minors, were in good condition and were being transferred to immigration centers and foster homes across Italy, coastguard and police officials said.
The decrepit vessel, licensed only to carry livestock, was strewn with steel containers, broken chairs, piles of garbage bags, empty gasoline tanks and scattered clothes and belongings.
On Wednesday, about 800 mostly Syrian migrants were rescued from another 'ghost ship', the Moldovan-flagged Blue Sky M. It too was abandoned at sea, highlighting a new ploy by traffickers who make money by promising refugees a transfer to Europe.
Civil war in Syria swelled the number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean last year, with some 160,000 seaborne migrants arriving in Italy as of the end of November. Thousands of others drowned.
Most used to cross in small boats. But in recent months smugglers have increasingly used cargo ships to ferry large groups from ports in Turkey or Egypt, according to Italian and United Nations officials.
"Smugglers are finding new routes to Europe and are employing new methods in order to exploit desperate people," said Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration. "These events underscore the need for decisive and coordinated EU-wide action."
He said the European Union was preparing a new migration plan to be presented "in due course", and which would make the fight against smugglers a priority.
HIGH COST
But efforts have been hampered by the sheer weight of migrant numbers, the cost of sea patrols and arguments within the EU over how to share the burden.
Italy recently phased out its expensive Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) search-and-rescue operation on the Mediterranean. It was replaced by a smaller EU joint mission, but Italian politicians and U.N. officials say further efforts are needed.
"Europe needs to wake up and make trafficking a priority," said Sergio Divina, a politician from the anti-immigration Northern League party.
The latest cases highlight the use of 'flags of convenience' for trafficking at sea. The head of Sierra Leone's Maritime Administration told Reuters that the African nation was planning to carry out a review of all vessels registered there.
Alhaji Wuror Jalloh said his country had suspended the license of the Ezadeen, which had been registered in 2010 to German owners "just to carry livestock and not to transport human beings."
The rescue began on Friday when a coast guard helicopter spotted the ship drifting in rough seas about 40 miles from Italy's southern coast. The helicopter landed on the ship and officials began navigating it to land.
A police official, Paola Fabris, said Italian authorities believed the crew abandoned the ship using lifeboats after setting the vessel on autopilot. Prosecutors impounded it on arrival as part of their investigation.
(Reporting and writing by Alessandra Galloni in Rome and Umaru Fofana in Freetown)
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'Smokkelaars spookschip verdienden 2 miljoen euro'
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:46
Mensensmokkelaars die de afgelopen week honderden vluchtelingen hebben achtergelaten op het schip Ezadeen, hebben daar ruim 2 miljoen euro aan verdiend. Dat heeft de Italiaanse politie gezegd, volgens de BBC. Het schip dat onder de vlag van Sierra Leone voer, dreef donderdag en vrijdag stuurloos rond op de Middellandse Zee.
Gisteren werd de Ezadeen door een IJslands schip naar de haven van de Italiaanse plaats Corigliano Calabro gesleept. Aan boord bleken 359 vluchtelingen te zijn, voornamelijk mensen uit Syri die hoopten op een beter leven in Europa. Ze vertelden de Italiaanse politie dat ze omgerekend 3000 tot 7000 euro hadden betaald voor hun reis.
Volgens de politie zouden de smokkelaars de vluchtelingen in het ruim van het schip hebben opgesloten waarna ze het schip op volle zee verlieten in een reddingsboot. Daar werd het donderdag ontdekt.
Volgens politiechef Luigi Liguori trekt het gebruik van de vrachtschepen rijkere vluchtelingen aan. 'Ze dragen betere kleding en zijn beter georganiseerd. Ze zijn ook minder wanhopig dan de migranten die we meestal zien.'
SpookschepenEerder in de week gebeurde hetzelfde op een schip met zo'n achthonderd migranten. Volgens Frontex, de EU-missie die de zeegrenzen van de unie in de Middellandse Zee bewaakt, zijn de 'spookschepen' een nieuwe vorm van wreedheid.
De migranten worden blootgesteld aan extra risico's, terwijl de mensensmokkelaars minder risico lopen te worden opgepakt in de buurt van de kust.
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MIC
Blackwater Lobbyist Will Manage the House Intelligence Committee |
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 14:43
After lobbyist-run SuperPACs and big money efforts dominated the last election, legislators are now appointing lobbyists to literally manage the day-to-day affairs of Congress. For the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees government intelligence operations and agencies, the changing of the guard means a lobbyist for Academi, the defense contractor formerly known as Blackwater, is now in charge.
Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the incoming chairman of the Intelligence Committee when the House reconvenes in January, announced that Jeff Shockey will be the new Staff Director of the committee. As a paid representative of Academi, Shockey and his firm have earned $80,000 this year peddling influence on behalf of Academi.
In previous years, the House Intelligence Committee has investigated Blackwater over secret contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. As Staff Director, the highest position on a committee for a staff member, Shockey will oversee the agencies that do business with his former employer.
Shockey also represents a number of other companies with business before defense agencies: General Dynamics, Koch Industries, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance, Innovative Defense Technologies and Boeing.
The role reversal, for lobbyists to take brief stints in Congress after an election, has become a normalized. In a previous investigation for The Nation, we found that some corporate firms offer employment contracts with special bonuses for their staff to return to government jobs, ensuring the paycut the receive for passing through the revolving door to become public servants doesn't have to alter their K Street lifestyle.
Other committees are also hiring lobbyists. Congessman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Darrell Issa's (R-CA) replacement as chair of the Oversight Committee, just hired Podesta Group lobbyist Sean McLaughlin as his new Staff Director. McLaughlin's client list includes the Business Roundtable, a trade association for corporate CEOs of large firms. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) also hired a new chief of staff, Mark Isakowitz, who represents BP.
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U.S. commander worried by falling UK defense spending
Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:12
Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:07pm ESTBy Adrian Croft
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A top U.S. commander voiced concern on Tuesday that Britain's military spending could fall below a NATO target and said the country's army did not have enough money for its needs.
The comments by Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, reflect U.S. concern over the declining military capabilities of Britain, one of America's staunchest allies, at a time when Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine have caused Europe's worst crisis since the Cold War.
Hodges said almost all of the United States European partners failed to meet NATO's target of spending at least two percent of their economic output on defense.
Only four of the 28 NATO allies spent two percent or more of GDP on defense in 2013 - Britain, the United States, Estonia and Greece.
"The UK, I am worried, if its plans continue, will drop below the two percent," Hodges told Reuters in a telephone interview from Wiesbaden in Germany.
Britain, led by army chief Gen. Nick Carter, had done an exceptional job in "making the best use of available resources to provide a land force that the UK needs, both on its own, as well as part of the alliance or to conduct coalition operations, but there is not enough resources for what they need," he said.
Britain has cut defense spending by around 8 percent in real terms over the last four years to help reduce a record budget deficit, shrinking the size of the armed forces by around one sixth and axing Harrier jets and Nimrod reconnaissance planes.
British finance minister George Osborne has promised further spending reductions if the Conservatives win an election next May. Analysts say that could mean further defense cuts.
In London, a British Ministry of Defence spokesman declined to comment specifically on Hodges' remarks, but said: "On current plans, defense spending will be above two percent both this year and next."
NATO leaders agreed at a summit in Wales in September to aim to move toward the two percent of GDP target within a decade. Allies that currently met the goal would aim to continue to do so, the leaders said.
(Additional reporting by William James)
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Oliver Stone on Ukraine Protests: "The Truth Is Not Being Aired in the West" - The Hollywood Reporter
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Prohibition Against Certain Flights Within the Damascus (OSTT) Flight Information Region (FIR)
Tue, 30 Dec 2014 18:00
This final rule is effective on December 30, 2014, and remains in effect through December 30, 2016.
For technical questions about this action, contact Will Gonzalez, Air Transportation Division, AFS-220, Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: 202-267-8166; email: will.gonzalez@faa.gov.
For legal questions concerning this action, contact: Robert Frenzel, Office of the Chief Counsel, AGC-200, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-7638.
Section 553(b)(3)(B) of title 5, U.S. Code, authorizes agencies to dispense with notice and comment procedures for rules when the agency for ''good cause'' finds that those procedures are ''impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.'' In this instance, the FAA finds that notice and public comment to this immediately adopted final rule, as well as any delay in the effective date of this rule, are contrary to the public interest due to the immediate need to address the potential hazard to civil aviation that exists in the OSTT FIR, as described in the Background section of this final rule.
The FAA is responsible for the safety of flight in the United States and for the safety of U.S. civil operators, U.S.-registered civil aircraft, and U.S.-certificated airmen throughout the world. The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in title 49 of the U.S. Code. Subtitle I, section 106(f), describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII of title 49, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. Section 40101(d)(1) provides that the Administrator shall consider in the public interest, among other matters, assigning, maintaining, and enhancing safety and security as the highest priorities in air commerce. Section 40105(b)(1)(A) requires the Administrator to exercise his authority consistently with the obligations of the U.S. Government under international agreements.
This SFAR is promulgated under the authority described in Title 49, Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, section 44701, General requirements. Under that section, the FAA is charged broadly with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing, among other things, regulations and minimum standards for practices, methods, and procedures that the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce and national security. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it prohibits certain flight operations in the OSTT FIR due to the potential hazard to persons and aircraft engaged in such flight operations that is described in the ''Background'' section of this final rule.
I. Overview of Immediately Adopted Final Rule Back to TopThis action prohibits certain flight operations in the OSTT FIR, by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of a U.S. airman certificate, except when such persons are operating a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except when such operators are foreign air carriers. The FAA previously prohibited such flight operations in FDC NOTAM 4/4936, which was issued on August 18, 2014. This action incorporates that prohibition into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The FAA finds this action necessary to address a potential hazard to persons and aircraft engaged in such flight operations, as described below.
Due to the ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment in Syria, the FAA has serious concerns regarding potential hazards to U.S. civil flight operations in the OSTT FIR. A number of armed extremist groups are known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons that have the capability to threaten civil aircraft. These groups have successfully shot down Syrian military aircraft and have previously warned civil air carriers against providing service to Syria. Due to the presence of these weapons, threats made by the extremist groups, and ongoing fighting throughout Syria involving various forms of weaponry used by various groups, as well as military fighter aircraft used by the Syrian Air Force, the FAA believes there is a significant threat to U.S. civil aviation operating in the OSTT FIR at any altitude.
On August 18, 2014, in response to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Syria, the FAA issued FDC NOTAM 4/4936, which prohibited flight operations in the OSTT FIR by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of a U.S. airman certificate, except when such persons are operating a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except when such operators are foreign air carriers. In addition, on September 23, 2014, the President announced that U.S. and allied forces had begun airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria and that U.S. forces had also conducted airstrikes to disrupt plotting against the U.S. and its allies by the Khorasan Group. These airstrikes represent a further hazard to U.S. civil aviation operations in the OSTT FIR. This rulemaking incorporates the flight prohibition contained in FDC NOTAM 4/4936 into the CFR.
The FAA will continue to actively evaluate the situation to determine to what extent U.S. civil operators may be able to safely operate in the OSTT FIR. Amendments to this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, may be appropriate if the risk to aviation safety and security changes. Thus, the FAA may amend or rescind this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, as necessary prior to its expiration date.
Because the circumstances described herein warrant immediate action by the FAA, I find that notice and public comment under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) are impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Further, I find that good cause exists under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) for making this rule effective immediately upon publication. I also find that this action is fully consistent with the obligations under 49 U.S.C. 40105 to ensure that I exercise my duties consistently with the obligations of the United States under international agreements.
Approval Based on Authorization Request of an Agency of the United States GovernmentIf a department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. Government determines that it has a critical need to engage any person covered under this final rule, including any U.S. air carrier or U.S. commercial operator, to conduct a charter to transport civilian or military passengers or cargo, that department, agency, or instrumentality may request the FAA to approve persons covered under this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, to conduct such operations. An approval request must be made to the FAA in a letter signed by an appropriate senior official of the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. Government. The letter must be sent to the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety (AVS-1), Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591. Electronic submissions are acceptable, and the requesting entity may request that the FAA notify it electronically as to whether the approval request is granted. If a requestor wishes to make an electronic submission to the FAA, the requestor should contact the Air Transportation Division, Flight Standards Service, at (202) 267-8166, to obtain the appropriate email address. A single letter may request approval from the FAA for multiple persons covered under this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609 and/or for multiple flight operations. To the extent known, the letter must identify the person(s) expected to be covered under this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609 and on whose behalf the U.S. Government department, agency, or instrumentality is seeking FAA approval to conduct operations in the OSTT FIR. The letter must describe'--
The proposed operation(s), including the nature of the mission being supported;The service to be provided by the person(s) covered by this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609;To the extent known, the specific locations in the OSTT FIR where the proposed operation(s) will be conducted; andThe method by which the department, agency, or instrumentality will provide, or how the operator will otherwise obtain, current threat information and an explanation of how the operator will integrate this information into all phases of its proposed operations (e.g., pre-mission planning and briefing, in-flight, and post-flight).The request for approval must also include a list of operators with whom the U.S. Government department, agency, or instrumentality requesting FAA approval has a current contract(s), grant(s), or cooperative agreement(s) (or its prime contractor has a subcontract(s)) for specific flight operations in the OSTT FIR. Additionally, such operators may be identified to the FAA at any time after the FAA approval is issued. Updated lists should be sent to the email address to be obtained from the Air Transportation Division, (202) 267-8166.
If an approval request includes classified information, requestors may contact Aviation Safety Inspector Will Gonzalez for instructions on submitting it to the FAA. His contact information is listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this final rule.
FAA approval of an operation under this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, does not relieve persons subject to this SFAR of their responsibility to comply with all applicable FAA rules and regulations. Operators of civil aircraft must comply with the conditions of their certificates and Operations Specifications (OpSpecs). Operators must also comply with all rules and regulations of other U.S. Government departments or agencies that may apply to the proposed operations, including, but not limited to, the Transportation Security Regulations issued by the Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security.
Approval ConditionsIf the FAA approves the request, the FAA's Aviation Safety Organization (AVS) will send an approval letter to the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality informing it that the FAA's approval is subject to all of the following:
(1) Any approval will stipulate those procedures and conditions that limit, to the greatest degree possible, the risk to the operator, while still allowing the operator to achieve its operational objectives.
(2) Any approval will indicate that the operation is not eligible for coverage under any premium war risk insurance policy issued by the FAA under chapter 443 of title 49, U.S. Code. [1] Each such policy excludes coverage for any aircraft operations that are intentionally conducted into or within geographic areas prohibited by an SFAR, such as this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609. The exclusion specified in the policy will remain in effect as long as this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, remains in effect, notwithstanding the issuance of any approval under, or exemption from, this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609 (the chapter 443 premium war risk insurance policy refers to such approval as a ''waiver'' and such exemption as an ''exclusion'').
(3) Before any approval takes effect, the operator must submit to the FAA a written release of the U.S. Government (including, but not limited to, the United States of America, as Insurer) from all damages, claims, and liabilities, including without limitation legal fees and expenses, and the operator's agreement to indemnify the U.S. Government (including, but not limited to, the United States of America, as Insurer) with respect to any and all third-party damages, claims, and liabilities, including without limitation legal fees and expenses, relating to any event arising from or related to the approved operations in the OSTT FIR. The release and agreement to indemnify do not preclude an operator from raising a claim under an applicable non-premium war risk insurance policy issued by the FAA under chapter 443.
(4) Other conditions that the FAA may specify, including those that may be imposed in OpSpecs.
If the proposed operation or operations is or are approved, the FAA will issue OpSpecs to the certificate holder authorizing the operation or operations, and will notify the department, agency, or instrumentality that requested FAA approval of civil flight operations to be conducted by one or more persons described in paragraph (a) of this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, of any additional conditions beyond those contained in the approval letter. The requesting department, agency, or instrumentality must have a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement (or its prime contractor must have a subcontract) with the person(s) described in paragraph (a) of this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, on whose behalf the department, agency, or instrumentality requests FAA approval.
Request for ExemptionsAny operation not conducted under the approval process set forth above must be conducted under an exemption from this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609. A request by any person covered under this SFAR for an exemption must comply with 14 CFR part 11, and will require exceptional circumstances beyond those contemplated by the approval process set forth above. In addition to the information required by 14 CFR 11.81, the requestor must describe in its submission to the FAA, at a minimum'--
The proposed operation(s), including the nature of the operation;The service to be provided by the person(s) covered by this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609;The specific locations in the OSTT FIR where the proposed operation(s) will be conducted; andThe method by which the operator will obtain current threat information, and an explanation of how the operator will integrate this information into all phases of its proposed operations (e.g., the pre-mission planning and briefing, in-flight, and post-flight phases).Additionally the release and agreement to indemnify, as referred to above, will be required as a condition of any exemption issued under this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609. The FAA recognizes that operations that may be affected by this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, may be planned for the governments of other countries with the support of the U.S. Government. While these operations will not be permitted through the approval process, the FAA will process exemption requests for such operations on an expedited basis and prior to processing any private exemption requests.
III. Regulatory Evaluation, Regulatory Flexibility Determination, International Trade Impact Assessment, and Unfunded Mandates Assessment Back to TopChanges to Federal regulations must undergo several economic analyses. First, Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (96), as codified in 5 U.S.C. 601et seq., requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (96, as amended, 19 U.S.C. Chapter 13), prohibits agencies from setting standards that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. In developing U.S. standards, the Trade Agreements Act requires agencies to consider international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-4), requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with a base year of 1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA's analysis of the economic impacts of this final rule.
Department of Transportation (DOT) Order 2100.5 prescribes policies and procedures for simplification, analysis, and review of regulations. If the expected cost is so minimal that a proposed or final rule does not warrant a full evaluation, this order permits that a statement to that effect and the basis for it to be included in the preamble if a full regulatory evaluation of the cost and benefits is not prepared. Such a determination has been made for this final rule. The reasoning for this determination follows.
This SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, prohibits flight operations by persons described in paragraph (a) in the OSTT FIR due to the significant hazards to civil aviation described in the Background section of this preamble. This regulation incorporates the prohibition on flight operations originally issued by the FAA in FDC NOTAM 4/4936 into the CFR. The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prohibits, except as otherwise authorized, the exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any services to Syria. See31 CFR 542.207. Consequently, the FAA assumes that, immediately prior to the issuance of FDC NOTAM 4/4936 on August 18, 2014, there were few, if any, persons who would be subject to paragraph (a) of SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, flying into and out of Syria. OFAC's Syrian Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR part 542) do not prohibit overflights of Syria. The FAA surveyed U.S. operators of large transport category airplanes (four part 121 operators and two part 125M operators) who had previously reported conducting regular overflights in the OSTT FIR. All six operators recently reported that they had voluntarily ended their OSTT FIR overflights in March 2011 due to the onset of hostilities in Syria. Thus, these six operators ceased their operations in the OSTT FIR before the FAA issued FDC NOTAM 4/4936 on August 18, 2014. Approximately 15 ''on-demand'' large carriers (part 121 and part 121/135) previously indicated that they had performed overflights in the OSTT FIR and about 75 small ''on-demand'' operators (parts 135, 125, 125M, and 91K) previously indicated that they had flown into and out of Syria or conducted overflights in the OSTT FIR. However, because of the OFAC sanctions and the ongoing conflict, the FAA believes that few, if any, of these small operators were operating in the OSTT FIR immediately prior to the issuance of FDC NOTAM 4/4936 on August 18, 2014. Accordingly, the incremental costs of this rule are minimal.
In conducting these analyses, FAA has determined this final rule is a ''significant regulatory action,'' as defined in section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, because it raises novel policy issues contemplated under that Executive Order. The rule is also ''significant'' as defined in DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures. The final rule, if adopted, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, will not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade, and will not impose an unfunded mandate on state, local, or tribal governments, or on the private sector.
A. Regulatory Flexibility AnalysisThe Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (96, ''RFA''), 5 U.S.C. 601et seq., establishes ''as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions.
Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. If the agency determines that it will, the agency must prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis as described in the RFA. However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, RFA § 605(b) provides that the head of the agency may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis will not be required. The certification must include a statement providing the factual basis for this determination, and the reasoning should be clear.
As noted above, because of OFAC sanctions and the ongoing conflict, as well as the voluntary cessation of operations by large transport category carriers, the FAA believes that few, if any, small U.S. operators operated in the OSTT FIR prior to the issuance of FDC NOTAM 4/4936. The FAA believes all operators who are small entities do not intend to land or overfly Syria while this rule is in effect. Therefore, as provided in § 605(b), the head of the FAA certifies that this rulemaking will not result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
B. International Trade Impact AssessmentThe Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (96. 19 U.S.C. Chapter 13), as amended, prohibits Federal agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related activities that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. Pursuant to this Act, the establishment of standards is not considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not operate in a manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also requires consideration of international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has assessed the potential effect of this final rule and determined that its purpose is to protect the safety of U.S. civil aviation from a potential hazard outside the U.S. Therefore, the rule is in compliance with the Trade Agreements Act, as amended.
C. Unfunded Mandates AssessmentTitle II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more (in 1995 dollars) in any one year by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector; such a mandate is deemed to be a ''significant regulatory action.'' The FAA currently uses an inflation-adjusted value of $151.0 million in lieu of $100 million. This final rule does not contain such a mandate; therefore, the requirements of Title II of the Act do not appl y.
D. Paperwork Reduction ActThe Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13, 44 U.S.C. 3501et seq.) requires that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. The FAA has determined that there is no new requirement for information collection associated with this immediately adopted final rule.
E. International Compatibility and CooperationIn keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the ''Chicago Convention''), it is FAA policy to conform to International Civil Aviation (''ICAO'') Standards and Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has determined that there are no ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices that correspond to this proposed regulation.
F. Environmental AnalysisFAA Order 1050.1E identifies FAA actions that are categorically excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (''NEPA'') (91, 42 U.S.C. Chapter 55) in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has determined this rulemaking action qualifies for the categorical exclusion identified in paragraph 312(f) of FAA Order 1050.1E, ''Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,'' and involves no extraordinary circumstances.
The FAA has reviewed the implementation of the proposed SFAR and determined it is categorically excluded from further environmental review according to FAA Order 1050.1E, ''Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,'' paragraph 312(f). The FAA has examined possible extraordinary circumstances and determined that no such circumstances exist. After careful and thorough consideration of the proposed action, the FAA finds that the proposed Federal action does not require preparation of an EA or EIS in accordance with the requirements of NEPA, Council on Environmental Quality regulations, and FAA Order 1050.1E.
A. Executive Order 13132, ''Federalism''The FAA has analyzed this immediately adopted final rule under the principles and criteria of Executive Order 13132, ''Federalism.'' The agency has determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, or the relationship between the Federal Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, and, therefore, does not have Federalism implications.
B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or UseThe FAA analyzed this immediately adopted final rule under Executive Order 13211, ''Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use'' (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that it is not a ''significant energy action'' under the executive order, and it is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy.
C. Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory CooperationExecutive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation, (77 FR 26413, May 4, 2012) promotes international regulatory cooperation to meet shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues and to reduce, eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements. The FAA has analyzed this action under the policies and agency responsibilities of Executive Order 13609, and has determined that this action would have no effect on international regulatory cooperation.
A. Rulemaking DocumentsAn electronic copy of a rulemaking document may be obtained by using the Internet'--
1. Search the Federal Document Management System (FDMS) Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
2. Visit the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page: http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/; or
3. Access the Government Printing Office's Web page: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/.
Copies may also be obtained by sending a request (identified by notice, amendment, or docket number of this rulemaking) to the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680.
B. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness ActThe Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) (Public Law 104-121) (set forth as a note to 5 U.S.C. 601), as amended, requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this document may contact its local FAA official, or the person listed under the ''For Further Information Contact'' section at the beginning of the preamble. You can find out more about SBREFA on the Internet at: http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.
In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends chapter I of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:
begin regulatory text
1.The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows:
Authority:49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 1155, 40101, 40103, 40105, 40113, 40120, 44101, 44111, 44701, 44704, 44709, 44711, 44712, 44715, 44716, 44717, 44722, 46306, 46315, 46316, 46504, 46506-46507, 47122, 47508, 47528-47531, 47534, articles 12 and 29 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (61 Stat. 1180), (126 Stat. 11).
2.In part 91, Subpart M, add new § 91.1609, to read as follows:
§ 91.1609 Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 114'--Prohibition Against Certain Flights in the Damascus (OSTT) Flight Information Region (FIR).(a) Applicability. This rule applies to the following persons:
(1) All U.S. air carriers and U.S. commercial operators;
(2) All persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except such persons operating U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and
(3) All operators of aircraft registered in the United States, except where the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air carrier.
(b) Flight prohibition. No person may conduct flight operations in the Damascus (OSTT) Flight Information Region (FIR), except as provided in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section.
(c) Permitted operations. This section does not prohibit persons described in paragraph (a) of this section from conducting flight operations in the Damascus (OSTT) FIR, provided that such flight operations are conducted under a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement with a department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. government (or under a subcontract between the prime contractor of the department, agency, or instrumentality, and the person described in paragraph (a)), with FAA approval, or under an exemption issued by the FAA. The FAA will process requests for approval or exemption in a timely manner, with the order of preference being: first, for those operations in support of U.S. government-sponsored activities; second, for those operations in support of government-sponsored activities of a foreign country with the support of a U.S. government department, agency, or instrumentality; and third, for all other operations.
(d) Emergency situations. In an emergency that requires immediate decision and action for the safety of the flight, the pilot in command of an aircraft may deviate from this section to the extent required by that emergency. Except for U.S. air carriers and commercial operators that are subject to the requirements of parts 119, 121, 125, or 135 of this chapter, each person who deviates from this section must, within ten (10) days of the deviation, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays, submit to the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) a complete report of the operations of the aircraft involved in the deviation, including a description of the deviation and the reasons for it.
(e) Expiration. This SFAR will remain in effect until December 30, 2016. The FAA may amend, rescind, or extend this SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, as necessary.
end regulatory text
Issued under authority provided by 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 40101(d)(1), 40105(b)(1)(A), and 44701(a)(5), in Washington, DC, on December 19, 2014.
Michael P. Huerta,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2014-30377 Filed 12-29-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
1. If and when, in connection with an operator's contract with a department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. Government, an operation is covered by a non-premium war risk insurance policy issued by FAA under 49 U.S.C. 44305, coverage under that operator's FAA premium war risk insurance policy is suspended as a condition contained in that premium policy.
Back to Context
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Russian Company Proposes to Build Lunar Base / Sputnik International
Fri, 02 Jan 2015 13:45
Science18:39 31.12.2014(updated 19:17 31.12.2014)
305716628
(C) Sputnik/ MO Russian Federation Press service
MOSCOW, December 31 (Sputnik) '-- A privately owned Russian company called Lin Industrial has announced that it is capable of constructing a lunar base.The projected cost of constructing a first-stage lunar outpost, followed by a second-stage facility (manned by 2 and 4 crewmembers respectively) is about $9.3 billion, according to the company's chief designer.
The construction would require 13 heavy carrier rocket launches, and a total 37 launches over a period of five years to maintain the base, according to the company's representatives.
The company experts propose Malapert Mountain, located near the moon's south pole, as a construction site for the base. According to them, it would take about 10 years to build and deploy the base.
Lev Zeleny, director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, remarked that the project signifies a renewal of interest in lunar exploration. He pointed out, however, that it is still too early to consider building a full-fledged settlement on the Moon.
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Russia's Best-Selling Car No Longer a Lada for the First Time since the 1970s
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:39
For the first time since the 1970s, the best-selling car in Russia during any month is not a Lada. The No.1-selling car in the country last month was the Kia Rio, which outsold the Lada Granta 10,834 to 10,520, giving the Korean automaker the top-selling car in Russia for November.AvtoVAZ, the Russian carmaker that owns the Lada brand, said this happened because of supplier problems and not declining demand. ''In November we had some problems with several suppliers. We had to stop the production on the Granta/Kalina line for a couple of days. Less production means fewer sales, logically,'' an AvtoVAZ spokesman told AutoNews Europe, adding that the supplier problems have been resolved.Despite losing the title of the best-selling car in November, Lada's overall dominance of the Russian market is not in danger. Lada sold 351,992 vehicles in the first 11 months of this year, while second-placed Kia sold 175,491 cars.
The Lada Granta's No.1 position overall in 2014 is also safe, with 139,405 Grantas sold after 11 months, ahead of the No. 2-ranked Hyundai Solaris (105,142) and the third-placed Rio (84,350).
The Kia Solaris and Rio are built in St. Petersburg, while the Granta is made in Togliatti, a town located about 1,000 km (621 miles) southeast of Moscow. The plant also builds models for Renault, Nissan and Datsun, as Renault and Nissan took control of Lada parent company AvtoVAZ earlier this year.
PHOTOS
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Agenda 21
How A San Diego Scientist Helped Shape The Pope's Climate Change Plans | KPBS
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 14:44
Credit: Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Above: "Ram" Ramanathan meets Pope Francis during a Vatican meeting on climate change, May 2014.
Aired 12/30/14 on KPBS News.
Climate change will be high on the Catholic Church's agenda in the coming year, and a San Diego scientist played a role in convincing Pope Francis to take up the issue.
Climate change will be high on the Catholic Church's agenda in the coming year, and a San Diego scientist played a role in convincing Pope Francis to take up the issue.
In 2015, the pope will reportedly issue an edict calling on the world's estimated 1.2 billion Catholics to take action on climate change. He'll also visit regions devastated by recent natural disasters, and will attempt to influence United Nations' climate talks taking place in Paris late next year.
The church is prioritizing climate change just months after the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Veerabhadran "Ram" Ramanathan organized a Vatican meeting on the issue.
Ramanathan said the discussion, which spanned four days in May, was encouraging.
"The Vatican agreed that we need a massive mobilization of public opinion about the seriousness of the issue, and why it's our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet," he said.
Ramanathan is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He believes religious leaders are now in a better position than scientists to inspire action.
"Science has done its part," said Ramanathan, citing the consensus among researchers that human activity is warming the planet.
Ramanathan understands the pope's position could stir controversy with more politically conservative Catholics. But he said, "People need to hear '-- when they go to temples, churches, or synagogues '-- that this is not some scientific conspiracy. This is something that is happening."
NOAAgate: how 'ocean acidification' could turn out to be the biggest con since Michael Mann's Hockey Stick - Breitbart
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:15
Christmas has come a couple of days early for climate sceptics, in what may well prove to be one of the biggest blows to the Global Warming religion since Climategate.
This time the pillar of green faith which has been rudely dismantled by sceptical investigators is an alleged phenomenon known as ''ocean acidification.''
For years this has been touted by environmentalists as possibly the greatest threat to the planet after ''global warming.''
According to Jane Lubchenko, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it is ''climate change's equally evil twin'' because of the disastrous consequences it may have for everything from the navigational systems of spawning salmon to the health of coral reefs.
Ocean acidification is said to be caused when excess atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the sea, reducing its pH levels to make it more acidic.
But, as Watts Up With That reports new evidence unearthed by an inquisitive graduate student suggests that ''ocean acidification'' may be a scientific fraud to rank with the great ''man-made-global warming'' scare.
At the centre of the scandal is NOAA, the US federal scientific agency which measures and researches changes in the oceans and atmosphere, and which maintains one of the temperature datasets used to measure ''global warming.''
One of NOAA's departments '' the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) '' also happens to be one of the mainstays of the alarmist narrative about ''ocean acidification.''
A 2004 paper by two of PMEL's senior oceanographers '' Dr Richard Feely and Dr Christopher Sabine '' is often cited in support of ''ocean acidification'' theory and is reproduced, in simplified form, at NOAA's website. It also formed part of testimony that Feely gave to Congress in 2010, again to the effect that increasing atmospheric CO2 is causing a reduction in seawater pH.
It warns:
''The impacts of ocean acidification on shelled organisms and other animals could negatively affect marine food webs, and, when combined with other climatic changes, could substantially alter the number, variety, and health of ocean wildlife. As humans continue to send more and more carbon dioxide into the oceans, the impacts on marine ecosystems will be direct and profound.''
and:
''The message is clear: excessive carbon dioxide poses a threat to the health of our oceans.''
However, it now seems that the paper's certainty is at best misplaced, at worst outright dishonest. Not unlike Michael Mann's discredited Hockey Stick graph it appears to depend on cherry-picked data and misleading projections in defiance of real-world evidence.
The alleged fraud was uncovered by Mike Wallace, a hydrologist with nearly 30 years' experience now working towards his PhD at the University of New Mexico. While studying a chart produced by Feely and Sabine, apparently showing a strong correlation between rising atmospheric CO2 levels and falling oceanic pH levels, Wallace noticed that some key information had been omitted.
Mysteriously, the chart only began in 1988. But Wallace knew for a fact that there were oceanic pH measurements dating back to at least 100 years earlier and was puzzled that this solid data had been ignored, in favour of computer modelled projections.
When Wallace emailed his query to Feely and Sabine, however, he found them less than helpful.
Sabine replied that it was inappropriate for Wallace to impugn the ''motives or quality of our science'' and warned that if he continued in this manner ''you will not last long in your career.'' Having provided Wallace with a few links '' all of which turned out to be useless '' he concluded his email by saying ''I hope you will refrain from contacting me again.''
This response, again, calls to mind the behaviour of Michael Mann in response to queries from Steve McIntyre about where to find the raw data for his Hockey Stick. Mann was similarly obfuscatory, rude and dismissive.
Undeterred, Wallace eventually got hold of the instrumental records which Feely and Sabine had chosen to exclude from their graph of doom and plotted a time series chart of his own, covering the period from 1910 to the present.
His results were surprising. What they suggest is that global acidification is a figment of Feely's and Sabine's imagination: there has been NO reduction in oceanic pH levels in the last century.
Wallace says: ''Oceanic acidification may seem like a minor issue to some but, besides being wrong, it is a crucial leg to the entire narrative of 'human-influenced climate change'.''
He adds: ''In whose professional world is it acceptable to omit the majority of the data and also not disclose the omission to any other soul or Congressional body?''
For the background to the story, read Marita Noon's full account at http://energymakesamericagreat.org/current-energy-commentary
Trains Good Planes Bad (whoo hoo)
Indonesia to investigate all local AirAsia flight schedules - The Malaysian Insider
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 15:04
Published: 3 January 2015
PT Indonesia AirAsia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko (right) is seen here with AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes on Sunday in Surabaya after flight QZ8501 was declared missing. The airline is being probed for discrepancies over approved schedules by the local authority. '' Reuters pic, January 3, 2015.Indonesia's transport ministry will investigate all Indonesia AirAsia flight schedules from Monday, a government official told Reuters today, as part of a government probe into case of flight QZ8501 that crashed.
"We are going to investigate all AirAsia flight schedules," Djoko Muratmodjo, acting general director for air navigation in the transport ministry said today. "Hopefully we can start on next Monday. We won't focus on licences, just schedules."
"It is possible AirAsia's license in Indonesia might be revoked," he said, stressing that was only one possibility.
Ships searching for the wreck of an AirAsia aircraft that crashed with 162 people on board have pinpointed two "big objects" on the sea floor, the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency said today.
A multi-national task force of ships, planes and helicopters have been scouring the northern Java Sea and coastline of southern Borneo to recover the bodies of victims and locate the wreck of Flight QZ8501 and its black box flight recorders.
The transport ministry yesterday temporarily suspended Indonesia AirAsia's Surabaya-Singapore flights because it had apparently operated the service beyond the scope of its licence, which permitted flights on four days of the week but not Sundays, when the crash occurred.
"We will also investigate the party that gave permission to AirAsia to fly on that day," Muratmodjo added.
Indonesia AirAsia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko told reporters the company would cooperate with the government investigation, but declined to elaborate. '' Reuters, January 3, 2015.
Russia Builds Moscow To Beijing High Speed Train - Business Insider
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:08
REUTERS/Stringer
Russia plans to build a new high speed railway, with trains that would speed from Moscow to Beijing in just 48 hours.
At the moment, it takes about seven days to commute between the two cities and the route requires changes.
According to Romanian website Glasul, the Kremlin has awarded the project to China Railway High-speed (CRH), a subsidiary of the state-controlled China Railway (CR), which is working in a joint-venture with the local firm Uralvagonzavod.
CR is famous in the train industry for operating the world's only magnetic levitation train in an urban area, the Shangai monorail.
Previously, Russia had commissioned a French firm, Alstom, for the first work on the rail line between Moscow and Kazan.
Alstom is one of the leading high speed train manufacturers in the world: in 2007 they set up a new record for conventional-wheeled high speed trains, speeding up at 574 km/h (357 mph). It alsooperates the urban tram line in Nottingham.
But since France did not deliver its order of Mistral ships in late November this year, it appears the Russian government took it personally and decided to switch that branch of the construction of the high speed railway to CRH, which is now in charge of the whole line, from Moscow to Beijing.
Here is a map showing the different branches:
The Moscow-to-Beijing direct route will measure about 7,000 km (4,340 miles), effectively three times further than the longest high speed railway in the world, the Beijing to Guangzhou train, which is also operated by CRH (in red, above).
Glasul reports that the new railway is a top priority for both the Chinese and Russian governments, having been discussed directly by the prime ministers of the two countries, Dmitri Medvedev and Li Keqiang, in recent bilateral meetings.
Glasul writes that other supporters include the German automobile corporations, Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes, which are all more than keen to speed up the shipping of their vehicles from China to Europe.
The new route will probably replace the mighty Trans-Siberian railway, connecting St. Petersburg to Vladivostok (the blue line in the map above).
Firstly, the old route doesn't go through Kazan, a city that in recent years has become more and more central to the Russian economy.
Secondly, and more importantly, it takes about 15 days to travel the Trans-Siberian route from start to finish, which compared to 48 hours for the new line, sounds like a heck of a long time.
Caliphate!
Report: US Fails in Attempted Rescues of Jordanian Pilot Held by ISIS -- News from Antiwar.com
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:19
According to multiple reports from different media outlets, US ground troops failed in at least one and by some accounts two attempted rescues of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, who last week was shot down over Syria and captured by ISIS.
US Special Forces were said to have been sent on two bids to rescue Kasaesbeh, who was believed to be held on the outskirts of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital.
This would explain reports that emerged yesterday of escalating US airstrikes in and around Raqqa, as they apparently tried to provide air cover for the helicopter gunships sent on the rescue missions.
At any rate, the troops had to abandon the mission when the helicopters came under heavy fire. Several buildings were destroyed, but while there were mentions of likely casualties, no figures have come out so far. The Pentagon has neither confirmed nor denied the operation.
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NA-Tech News
PLOS ONE: Identifiable Images of Bystanders Extracted from Corneal Reflections
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 14:14
Criminal investigations often use photographic evidence to identify suspects. Here we combined robust face perception and high-resolution photography to mine face photographs for hidden information. By zooming in on high-resolution face photographs, we were able to recover images of unseen bystanders from reflections in the subjects' eyes. To establish whether these bystanders could be identified from the reflection images, we presented them as stimuli in a face matching task (Experiment 1). Accuracy in the face matching task was well above chance (50%), despite the unpromising source of the stimuli. Participants who were unfamiliar with the bystanders' faces (n = 16) performed at 71% accuracy [t(15) = 7.64, p39 megapixel cameras routinely. However, as the current study emphasizes, the extracted face images need not be of high quality in order to be identifiable. For this reason, obtaining optimal viewers - those who are familiar with the faces concerned - may be more important than obtaining optimal images.
Supporting InformationMovie S1.
Animated zoom on the cornea of a high-resolution photographic subject. The zoom begins with a passport photo-style framing of the subject, and ends with a full face close-up of a bystander captured in the subject's corneal reflection. Successive movie frames represent a linear magnification of 6%. Each frame was resized to 720 pixels wide —540 pixels high using bicubic interpolation to reduce high spatial frequency noise. Contrast was enhanced separately for each frame using the Auto Contrast function in Adobe Photoshop to improve definition. The image sequence was then converted to movie format for viewing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083325.s001
(AVI)
AcknowledgmentsWe thank Stuart Campbell at the Photographic Unit at the University of Glasgow for high resolution photography, Llian Alys at the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA UK) for pointing out forensic applications, and an anonymous reviewer for inspiring Experiment 2. Original high-resolution photographs and performance data are available from the corresponding author.
Author ContributionsConceived and designed the experiments: RJ. Performed the experiments: CK RJ. Analyzed the data: CK RJ. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: RJ. Wrote the paper: RJ.
References1.Creer KE (1984) The forensic examination of photographic equipment and materials, Forens Sci Internat. 24: 263''272. doi: 10.1016/0379-0738(84)90160-92.Ricci LR, Smistek BS (2006) Photodocumentation in the investigation of child abuse. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice, United States.3.Laustsen CB (2008) The camera as a weapon. On Abu Ghraib and related matters. J Cultur Res 12: 123''142. doi: 10.1080/147975808023908484.Harmon LD, Julesz B (1973) Masking in visual recognition: Effects of two-dimensional filtered noise. Science 180: 1194''1197. doi: 10.1126/science.180.4091.11945.Harmon LD (1973) The recognition of faces. Sci Am 229: 70''83. doi: 10.1038/scientificamerican1173-706.Burton AM, Wilson S, Cowan M, Bruce V (1999) Face recognition in poor quality video: evidence from security surveillance. Psychol Sci 10: 243''248. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.001447.Yip A, Sinha P (2002) Role of color in face recognition. Perception 31: 995''1003. doi: 10.1068/p33768.Nishino K, Nayar S (2006) Corneal imaging system: Environment from eyes. Int J Comp Vis 70: 23''40. doi: 10.1007/s11263-006-6274-99.Johnson MK, Farid H (2007) Exposing digital forgeries through specular highlights on the eye. Lect Notes in Comp Sci 4567: 311''325. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-77370-2_2110.Trevisa J (1975) In: Seymour MC, et al.., editors. On the Properties of Things: John Trevisa's translation of ''Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum.'' Oxford: Clarendon. 184.11.Clutterbuck R, Johnston RA (2002) Exploring levels of face familiarity by using an indirect face-matching measure. Perception 31: 985''994. doi: 10.1068/p333512.Clutterbuck R, Johnston RA (2004) Matching as an index of face familiarity. Vis Cognit 11: 857''869. doi: 10.1080/1350628044400002113.Clutterbuck R, Johnston RA (2005) Demonstrating how unfamiliar faces become familiar using a face matching task. Eur J Cog Psychol 17: 97''116. doi: 10.1080/0954144034000043914.Megreya AM, Burton AM (2006) Unfamiliar faces are not faces: Evidence from a matching task. Mem Cognit 34: 865''876. doi: 10.3758/bf0319343315.Burton AM, White D, McNeill A (2010) The Glasgow face matching test. Behav Res Meth 42: 286''291. doi: 10.3758/brm.42.1.28616.Jenkins R, Burton AM (2011) Stable face representations. Phil Trans Roy Soc B 366: 1671''1684. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.037917.Ekman P (1993) Facial expression and emotion. Am Psychol 48: 384''392. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.48.4.38418.Calder AJ, Lawrence AD, Keane J, Scott SK, Owen AI, et al. (2002) Reading the mind from eye gaze. Neuropsychologia 40: 1129''1138. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(02)00008-819.Blakemore S, Decety J (2001) From the perception of action to the understanding of intention. Nat Rev Neuro 2: : 561''567.20.Trucco E, Verri A (1998) Introductory Techniques for 3-D Computer Vision. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.21.Torralba A, Freeman WT (2012) Accidental pinhole and pinspeck cameras: Revealing the scene outside the picture. Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2012 IEEE Conference on, 374''381.22.Hendy B (1998) The future of digital photography. Paper presented at PMA/DIMA conference, Sydney, Australia, 1998.23.Moore GE (1965) Cramming more components onto integrated circuits. Electronics 38: 114''117. doi: 10.1109/n-ssc.2006.4785860
Marketing With Morse Code | Radio Artisan
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:34
Code-is-not-dead prognosticators and hand-wringers will be happy to hear Asus is touting a new smartphone camera feature with Morse code. The smartphone feature has something to do with dual cameras and exceptional zoom capability but unfortunately appears to have no use of Morse code. But a tip of the hat to Asus marketing folks for using code!
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Morse code tips optical zoom feature for new Asus phone '-- Tech News and Analysis
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:34
Last month, Asus teased a new handset it plans to debut at next week's Consumer Electronics Show, providing the tagline ''see what others can't see'' in the video sneak peek. To my eyes, it looked as if the phone had two camera sensors on the back and I speculated that Asus would use the pair of cameras to offer improved zoom features over traditional digital zooming. Based on a new Asus teaser, it appears that's exactly what the company's new ZenPhone will offer.
Asus published another teaser video on Friday through its Google Plus page, using the same tagline. Only this time, there's a Morse code message in the video, which Asus says is ''a feature of one of our highlights at CES.'' Here's the short video spot:
It's pretty easy to translate Morse Code once you know it, but my skills are a little rusty so I used an online translation tool: Those dots and dashes in the Asus video spell out the words ''optical zoom.''
I don't yet know which hardware partner Asus is working with for this type of functionality but my best guess is Corephotonics. Last year, that company showed off a dual-lens sensor that takes both a near and far photo at the same time. The end result is a combined image that provides a clearer zoomed photo.
I hope Asus will debut the device at its CES press event next week, since I plan to be in the audience and I'd like to see how well this technology works. We can't easily add an optical zoom to our phones without adding some kind of bulkiness, so this type of feature could appeal to a wide smartphone audience.
PedoBear
Jeffrey Epstein profile: the billionaire paedophile with links to Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Robert Maxwell '' and Prince Andrew - Americas - World - The Independent
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:45
Over the years, the casually-dressed, globe-trotting financier, who was said to log more than 600 flying hours a year, has been linked with Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker and Manhattan-London society figure Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media titan Robert Maxwell.
Epstein reportedly flew Tucker and Spacey to Africa on his private jet as part of a charitable endeavour. Clinton, meanwhile, flew on multiple occasions in the same plane to Epstein's private Caribbean island, Little St James, between 2002 and 2005 as he developed his philanthropic post-presidential career. It would later be alleged in court that Epstein organised orgies on that same private island in the US Virgin Islands.
Prince Andrew was named in the 'sex slave case' related to banker Jeffrey Epstein Reports in the US media say many of the A-list names broke off any links with the former maths teacher after his arrest and conviction in 2008 of having sex with an underage girl whom he had solicited. His arrest followed an 11-month undercover investigation at a mansion in Florida's Palm Beach that Epstein owned.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to a single charge of soliciting prostitution and was handed a 18-month jail sentence. He served 13 months in jail and was obliged to register as a sex offender. A 2011 report in the New York Post said that he celebrated his release from jail and his return to a property he maintains in New York '' a 45,000-sq-foot eight-storey mansion on East 71st Street '' with Prince Andrew.
Bill Clinton flew on multiple occasions to Epstein's private Caribbean island between 2002 and 2005 as he developed his philanthropic post-presidential career ''I'm not a sexual predator, I'm an 'offender','' he told the newspaper at the time. ''It's the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.''
Epstein, 61, was born in Brooklyn, New York, where his father worked for the city's parks department. He attended Brooklyn's Lafayette High School and excelled at mathematics. This helped him secure job in his early 20s as a maths teacher at the exclusive Dalton School, a private college located on New York's Upper East Side.
Read more: Prince Andrew named in underage 'sex slave' lawsuitKey facts of Jeffrey Epstein 'sex slave' lawsuit
Among his pupils was the son of Bear Stearns chairman Ace Greenber. In 1976, after a few years teaching the children of the wealthy, he accepted a job offer from Mr Greenber that allowed him to oversee their money and left to become an options trader at Bear Stearns.
Epstein reportedly flew actor Kevin Spacey to Africa on his private jet as part of a charitable endeavour Four years later he was made a partner, but by 1982 he had left to set up his own boutique investment company, J Epstein and Co. He reportedly only accepted clients prepared to invest a minimum of $1bn, though many profiles of Epstein admit a lack of hard, verifiable facts about his business have added to the air of mystery. It is said, for instance, that Epstein forgoes alcohol and instead prefers Earl Grey tea and does yoga every day.
Among Epstein's early investment clients were Leslie Wexner, the Ohio-based businessman who is CEO of L Brands, the fashion and lifestyle group whose brands include Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. In 2013, Forbes magazine estimated the 77-year-old Mr Wexler's wealth to be $7.3bn.
Epstein reportedly flew actor Chris Tucker to Africa on his private jet as part of a charitable endeavour Epstein has always been interested in science, funding scientific projects and investments around the world. In 2000 he established the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which funds science research and education globally. He has reportedly donated $30m to Harvard University, money the Ivy League institution retained despite his conviction and registration as a sex offender.
Jeffrey Epstein has been also linked to the Manhattan-London society figure Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media titan Robert Maxwell Reports say the silver-coiffed Epstein has invested millions to research subjects such as evolution, cancer and HIV. His projects have linked him to many leading figures in the world of science and research including Gerald Edelman, Murray Gell-Mann and Stephen Hawking.
Prince Andrew named in US lawsuit over underage sex claims | UK news | The Guardian
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:44
Prince Andrew, whose close relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has long been a source of controversy. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
A woman who claims that an American investment banker loaned her to rich and powerful friends as an underage ''sex slave'' has alleged in a US court document that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual relations with Prince Andrew.
The accusation against the Duke of York is contained in a motion filed in a Florida court this week in connection with a long-running lawsuit brought by women who say they were exploited by Jeffrey Epstein, a multi-millionaire convicted of soliciting sex with an underage girl after a plea deal.
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expandPrince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein in New York.Photograph: Jae Donnelly/News SyndicationThe woman, who filed the motion anonymously, alleges that between 1999 and 2002 she was repeatedly sexually abused by Epstein who, she also alleges, loaned her out to rich and influential men around the world.
The document '' a motion to expand an ongoing lawsuit relating to prosecutors' handling of Epstein's case with two new plaintiffs '' alleges that the woman ''was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor'' in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein.
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expandJeffrey Epstein.Photograph: Sipa Press/RexThe prince is not a named party to the legal claim, which is directed against federal prosecutors. He has not had any opportunity to respond to the allegations in the legal claim.
The woman is said to have been 17 at the time, considered to be a minor in Florida.
In a 2011 Vanity Fair article, Prince Andrew denied any sexual contact with young women associated with Epstein.
Contacted on Thursday, Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the allegations contained in the court document. A palace spokesperson said the royal household would ''never comment on an ongoing legal matter''.
However following publication of this article on theguardian.com, Buckingham Palace issued the following statement: ''This relates to long-running and ongoing civil proceedings in the United States to which the Duke of York is not a party. As such we would not comment in detail. However, for the avoidance of doubt, any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.''
Another close associate of Epstein who is also accused in the lawsuit, Alan Dershowitz, told the Guardian that the woman's accusations against himself were ''totally false and made up''.
The Harvard law professor and esteemed criminal defence attorney who later advised Epstein on how to respond to the FBI's investigation is accused in the court motion of having sexual relations with the woman when she was a minor and of witnessing the abuse of other minors.
On Thursday he told the Guardian: ''There is no more strenuous denial than the one I am giving. I never met her. I don't know her. I have never had sex with an underage person.''
He added: ''This person has made this up out of cloth, maliciously and knowingly in order to extort money from Mr Epstein.''
Dershowitz, who has occasionally written op-ed articles for the Guardian, said he could not comment on the woman's allegations against Prince Andrew or any other men, but he said her claims against him were demonstrably false and challenged her to file criminal charges against him.
''It is a totally fabricated charge in every possible way,'' he said. ''It just never happened.''
He said he was considering taking legal action to have Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell, the lawyers who filed the motion, disbarred for ''knowingly filing '... a false, malicious and defamatory statement in a lawsuit''.
Edwards said: ''We have been informed of Mr Dershowitz's threats of legal action and bar proceedings '... we carefully investigate all of the allegations in our pleadings before presenting them.''
In a statement to the Guardian through her lawyers, the woman behind the allegations said she was being ''unjustly victimised again''.
''These types of aggressive attacks on me are exactly the reason why sexual abuse victims typically remain silent and the reason why I did for a long time,'' she said. ''That trend should change. I'm not going to be bullied back into silence.''
The Guardian is aware of the identity of the plaintiff behind the allegations, but is respecting her wish to bring the case anonymously.
Andrew's close relationship with Epstein '' he visited him in New York two years after the American's release from prison in 2009 '' has long been a source of controversy. The Daily Mail reported in 2011 that the prince had broken off contact with the banker.
The duke had previously been accused of meeting Epstein's young victims and possibly being aware of their sexual exploitation. However, this is the first time he has been named in a court document as a participant in any sexual activity with one of the young women allegedly trafficked by Epstein.
As the claim has only just been lodged, and as the duke is not a named party to it, he has not had the opportunity to formally file a defence or denial to the claims.
In 2006, the FBI opened an investigation into allegations that Epstein had been paying for sex with underage girls at his Palm Beach mansion for years. By the following year federal prosecutors said they had identified 40 young women who may have been illegally procured by Epstein.
In 2008, however, the federal inquiry was dropped after Epstein negotiated a deal with prosecutors in which he agreed to plead guilty to a relatively minor state charge relating to soliciting paid sex with a minor '' a 14-year-old girl. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence and is now a registered sex offender.
Many of his alleged victims have since reached out-of-court settlements with Epstein, who was once considered among the wealthiest investment bankers in the world.
However, two of Epstein's alleged victims, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, have brought a lawsuit arguing that federal prosecutors violated a victims' rights statute by failing to consult them over Epstein's secret deal.
The pair won a significant legal victory in July last year entitling them to see previously confidential documents from the plea bargain discussions between Epstein's lawyers and federal prosecutors.
The court document filed this week containing allegations against Andrew is a motion to allow two more alleged Epstein victims, referred to as Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4, to join the action.
Jane Doe 3 '' the woman who made the accusations against Andrew '' claims her contact with Epstein began when she was approached at the age of 15 by Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell and a close friend of Epstein.
The motion alleges that Maxwell ''was one of the main women whom Epstein used to procure under-aged girls for sexual activities''. With Maxwell's assistance, the document alleges, Epstein converted the girl into a ''sex slave'', repeatedly abusing her in his private jet or his lavish residences in New York, New Mexico, Florida and the US Virgin Islands.
''Epstein also sexually trafficked the then-minor Jane Doe, making her available for sex to politically connected and financially powerful people,'' the court document alleges. ''Epstein's purposes in 'lending' Jane Doe (along with other young girls) to such powerful people were to ingratiate himself with them for business, personal, political, and financial gain, as well as to obtain potential blackmail information.''
The motion alleges that Maxwell was ''a primary co-conspirator in his sexual abuse and sex trafficking scheme'' and that she also participated in the abuse.
The document goes on to allege: ''Perhaps even more important to her role in Epstein's sexual abuse ring, Maxwell had direct connections to other powerful individuals with whom she could connect Epstein. For instance, one such powerful individual Epstein forced Jane Doe #3 to have sexual relations with was a member of the British royal family, Prince Andrew (aka Duke of York).''
The document lists three locations where the woman alleges she was forced to have sexual relations with Andrew: Maxwell's London apartment, Epstein's private Caribbean island in what was allegedly ''an orgy with numerous other under-aged girls'', and an undisclosed location in New York.
Requests made to representatives of Ghislaine Maxwell for comment had not been returned at the time of publication, but she has previously strenuously denied any involvement in procuring young girls for Epstein or any of his associates. In 2011 a spokesperson for Maxwell said she had never been contacted by any law enforcement agency in connection with the allegations.
However a statement issued on behalf of Maxwell after the Guardian published details of the lawsuit on Friday said the claims were ''not new and have been fully responded to and shown to be untrue''. It added: ''Ghislaine Maxwell's original response to the lies and defamatory claims remains the same.''
The new motion alleges that Epstein instructed the girl ''to give the prince whatever he demanded'' and also instructed her to ''report back on the details of the sexual abuse''.
The woman's lawyers allege in their motion that, in addition to facilitating her alleged encounters with the prince and Dershowitz, Epstein trafficked her to ''many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders''.
Sandy Hoax
>> Mystery: Sandy Hook Victim Dies (again) in Pakistan Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 15:17
A large-scale attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, last month left 132 school children and 10 teachers dead.Among the alleged victims emerged the familiar face of Noah Pozner, one of the children supposedly killed in the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Photo of Noah Pozner, 6, one of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre.
Without explanation, Pozner's image has appeared in multiple photos and reports of the high-profile Army Public School shooting, reportedly carried out by 9 members of an elite Taliban terror group on December 16.
Here, and in several other photos, Peshawar residents seem genuinely convinced Pozner was a victim of their recent massacre, as his photo hangs directly beneath the microphone of a speaker's podium surrounded by mourners. / Image credit: APSACS Facebook
Despite his death over two years ago, Pozner also managed to be memorialized on a wall dedicated to the APSACS massacre victims, according to a photo taken by Agence-France Press.
Pozner makes an appearance as a victim of yet another school shooting. / Image credit: StraitTimes.com
Pozner's smiling face is also prominently displayed in a photo meme appearing on the website aworldatschool.org, who lists among its supporters the globalist NGO USAID and several United Nations sub-branches, and his photo is also tagged with the name ''Huzaifa Huxaifa'' on the ''Army Public School & College '' Boys Peshawar'' Facebook page.
A large poster-sized image of Pozner also appears on a memorial wall in Peshawar, and can be spotted in at least two BBC world news reports.
BBC reporter stands near Pozner's image at 0:09 in the video featured here.
Same image appears in another BBC report, this time at 0:45, here.
The BBC and its American counterpart ''CNN also played a central role in publicizing the Sandy Hook massacre,'' notes Florida Atlantic University Professor James Tracy. ''The emergence and apparent use of the well-known photo to memorialize the December 16 Taliban school attack victims calls into question the authenticity of both events.''
A journalist with Pakistan's Express Tribune spotted the image of Pozner early on:
As yet, no official explanation has emerged as to why Pozner's photo has been inserted among the APSCS victims, but the BBC speculates that internet ''recycling'' of images is to blame, as another photo featuring a bloody shoe was also misattributed to the same event.
Can the photo's misuse simply be brushed off as another bumbling Google image search mistake? Is it be willful subterfuge aimed at poking fun at those who question the validity of the Sandy Hook event?
Professor Tracy also notes the massacre enabled Pakistani authorities to pass some rather draconian legislation:
Pakistan's political and military leaders have seized upon the mid-December incident to force through drastic measures targeting political prisoners and anti-government militants. One day after the massacre event the Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cited the event as it lifted a six-year moratorium on capital punishment in a vow ''to eliminate terrorists in Pakistan irrespective of whether they targeted it or neighboring Afghanistan or India,'' McClatchey News reports. ''Officials said those 23 terrorists would be executed within days, and they're likely to be followed by dozens more hangings at prisons around the country.'' Pakistan presently has over 3,000 prisoners on death row. [4]
On December 26 Pakistan's politicians lifted formal constraints on the army to pursue a two year military campaign against ''Islamist terrorists.'' ''We owe it to our coming generations to eliminate this scourge of terror, for once and for all,'' army chief of staff General Raheel Shariftold advised political leaders gathered at the prime minster's residence. Almost immediately following the December 16 massacre, Shariftold advised ''unchallengeable powers for the military to pursue, detain and pass verdict on Islamist militants and their abettors.''[5]
Our Mission | A World At School
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 15:17
There are 58 million girls and boys around the world who do not go to school.With time running out until the end of 2015, progress has stalled on the task outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG2) to get all children into school and learning. We must ensure every child's basic right to go to school is realised.
With the number of out-of-school children on the rise, A World at School is magnifying the efforts of all organisations working to get all children into school and learning.
We are here to make education the number one priority.
We are an international campaign with a diverse team from several countries. We have offices in London, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
Launched in 2013, we are now a movement of hundreds of thousands of people from more than 250 civil society, teacher, faiths, youth, business, international and non-governmental organisations.
We have 500 youth ambassadors campaigning in more than 80 countries across the globe.
We believe education is the key to opportunity and the right of every child.
We make noise and champion the work done to accelerate progress in education.We share stories, highlight challenges and make the call for education an undeniable voice on the world stage.
We find ways to get things done. By identifying ways in which we can help more children go to school, we turn to our network to mobilise support.
We engage with governments. By ensuring the most recent data and policy recommendations are front and centre - and ready for action.
We champion progress, by keeping our network informed about the good news on the ground.
We form a relentless campaign that will not stop until every child is in school and learning.
We partner with youths and adults. Our Global Youth Ambassadors programme brings together hundreds of changemakers leading the campaign.
We work with all sectors, including business leaders, faiths organisations, NGOs and social justice campaigns.
We co-ordinate campaigns and forge collaborations where we see an opportunity to make progress for children. And we work with organisations focused on health, human rights, gender rights, child labour and more.
We showcase stories from our partners to give you the full picture about what is happening across the globe.
We target countries with most children out of school to make sure that education is a priority for the governments and that the voices of civil society are heard.
We use latest data and research to make sure our recommendations are the best way to ensure children are able to go to school and learn.
We turn up the pressure by holding everyone accountable to the global timeline. The international community set the goal of the end of 2015 and our #EducationCountdown campaign holds the global community accountable.
We are hugely grateful to the following organisations who have financially supported A World at School.
A World at School is an initiative from Theirworld, a UK charity founded in 2002 by Sarah Brown to make a difference to the lives of some of the UK's most vulnerable babies, children and young people. Theirworld launched A World at School in 2013 to ensure that every single child has the opportunity to thrive and learn. A World at School's co-founders are Sarah Brown, Justin van Fleet, Gretel Truong and Chernor Bah.
Since its founding, A World at School helped to convene the first ever youth takeover of the United Nations on "Malala Day" (July 12, 2013), and is partnering with international children's and teachers' organisations and NGOs to better mobilise education campaigns around the world and to ensure that the world's leaders - who can make the biggest difference - hear our voices together.
Theirworld will continue to support its other children's projects including the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory in the UK.
NWO
Israel may file war crimes suit, freeze $127mn in tax funds over Palestine's ICC push
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:07
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP Photo/Gil Cohen-Magen) and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
Israel may file its own war crimes suits to foreign courts against top Palestinian officials and freeze the transfer of monthly tax revenues to Palestine in response to its application to the International Criminal Court, Israeli official sources said.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, his Palestinian Authority and other senior officials may be sued by Israel in courts in the US and other countries, an Israeli official told AFP. However, he didn't specify where and when the legal proceedings against the Palestinian leadership would be launched.
Abbas should be prosecuted for his partnership in a Palestinian national consensus government with Hamas, which makes him an accomplice to the Islamist militant group's rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, the source declared.
''In recent days officials in Israel stressed that those who should be wary of legal proceedings are the heads of the PA (Palestinian Autonomy), who cooperate within the unity government with Hamas, a declared terrorist organization which like the Islamic State carries out war crimes '' it fires at civilians from within population centers,'' he said.
Israeli forces (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
The military wing of Palestinian Islamist organization, Hamas, has been fighting Israel for independence since late 1980s. It's considered a terrorist group by Tel-Aviv, as well as the countries like Australia, Canada, Egypt, Japan and the US.
IDF's war against Hamas this summer has cost the lives to 73 Israelis and around 2,200 Palestinian, who were mainly civilians.
The Palestinian national consensus government was formed in June after Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement signed a reconciliation agreement to end seven years of rival administrations in Gaza and the West Bank.
Another Israeli official told local Haaretz paper that Tel-Aviv will also punish Palestine for their International Criminal Court bid (ICC) by freezing the transfer of half a billion shekels (over $127 million) in monthly tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinians.
''The funds for the month of December were due to pass on Friday, but it was decided to half the transfer as part of the response to the Palestinian move,'' the source said.
The unnamed official stressed that the Jewish state will not only defend against the Palestinians in the international arena, but ''will also go on the offensive.''
Israel collects around two thirds of the taxes in Gaza and the West Bank before returning the majority of the sum to the Palestinians to run government and pay salaries.
AFP Photo/Said Khatib
The reported decision to freeze tax money was made after the Thursday's meeting of government and security officials chaired by Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu and dedicated to working out a response to Palestinian ICC application.
In a statement released after the meeting, the prime minister said that the Hague court should reject the ''hypocritical application by the Palestinian Authority'' because ''the Palestinian Authority is not a state.''
READ MORE:Palestinian Authority submits documents to UN to join International Criminal Court
On Friday, Palestine formally presented a request to the United Nations to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The move indicates a shift in strategy by Abbas and his government as they're trying to internationalize their push for statehood and distant itself from the stalled US-led peace negotiation process.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to review the Palestinian application and notify state members on the request within 60 days.
Source: RT
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Palestinian president signs up to join international criminal court | World news | The Guardian
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:06
Mahmoud Abbas has signed the Rome statute, the ICC's founding treaty. Photograph: Farouk Batiche/AFP/Getty Images
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, dramatically moved to join the international criminal court on Wednesday, setting Palestinians on a diplomatic collision course with Israel and Washington, and risking imposition of US sanctions.
Abbas signed the Rome statute governing the court and 19 other international agreements, potentially opening the way to Palestinians to pursue Israel for war crimes in the court of last resort based in The Hague.
It followed the rejection by the UN security council of a Jordanian-backed resolution on behalf of Palestine calling for the end to the Israeli occupation by 2017 and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.
Abbas's move came at the end of 24 hours of diplomatic tension when '' under pressure from other members of the Palestinian leadership '' he followed through on his long-threatened plan to join the ICC.
In response to Abbas's signing of the treaty Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, warned that it was Palestinians, not Israel, that should be concerned about the ICC.
''It is the Palestinian Authority '' which is in a unity government with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organisation that, like Isis, perpetrates war crimes '' that needs to be concerned about the international criminal court in the Hague,'' Netanyahu said, adding that Israel would take unspecified ''retaliatory steps''.
The US also condemned the move which it described as ''deeply troubling'' with State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke saying it was ''an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people''.
He added: ''Today's action is entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace. As we've said before, the United States continues to strongly oppose actions '' by both parties '' that undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace. Our position has not changed. Such actions only push the parties further apart.''
Acceding to the Rome treaty '' the first step in joining the court '' had been seen by many as the nuclear option in the recent Palestinian efforts to advance their case for statehood in international forums.
''They attack us and our land every day, to whom are we to complain? The security council let us down '' where are we to go?'' Abbas told a gathering of Palestinian leaders in remarks broadcast on official television.
''We want to refer to international institutions, and this is one we are referring to, and we'll complain to these people,'' he added, before signing the documents.
Abbas had been under heavy domestic pressure to take action against Israel following months of tension fuelled by the collapse of US-brokered peace talks, a 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, a spate of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets and Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to a key Muslim holy site in Jerusalem. Tuesday's defeat in the UN security council further raised pressure on Abbas to act. There was a palpable sense of fury in the Palestinian leadership over US and Israeli-led efforts that derailed the UN resolution that called for the ending of the Israeli occupation.
The resolution was opposed by the US and Israel and saw both the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, call the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, on the eve of the vote to persuade him to abstain.
''Even half an hour before the vote Nigeria indicated it was committed to voting for the resolution,'' one Palestinian source involved in the negotiations commented furiously. ''We knew that Rwanda, South Korea and Australia would not back it, but we believed Nigeria was on board.''
Britain, Rwanda, Lithuania and South Korea joined Nigeria in abstaining. Welcoming the UN vote, Netanyahu extended his special thanks to Nigeria and Rwanda. ''This is what tipped the scales,'' he said.
Signalling that the vote would not mark an end to the campaign to win a security council resolution, Palestinian and French officials indicated they would continue working to find a text to put to the UN, perhaps within weeks.
Before the vote the Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians could return again to the security council, which will have five new members starting on Thursday who are viewed as more sympathetic to their cause.
However, despite signalling a sharp defeat to the Arab-supported campaign to get security council backing for a moves towards a Palestinian state, the vote held minimal comfort for Israel, seeing two European countries '' France and Luxembourg '' support the resolution. The US also made clear it was not voting for the status quo in opposing the resolution.
''We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because '... peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table,'' the US ambassador Samantha Power said.
She criticised the decision to bring the draft resolution to a vote as a ''staged confrontation that will not bring the parties closer''. She added that the resolution was deeply unbalanced and did not take into account Israel's security concerns.
The ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since 1 July 2002, when the Rome statute came into force.
According to the ICC's official website the Rome treaty has been ratified by 122 states.
The court can pursue an individual only if crimes were committed on the territory of a state party '' one that has signed and ratified the Rome statute '' or by a citizen of such a state. Israel has signed but not ratified the treaty.
War on Weed
New marijuana trend sends smokers to burn units | Al Jazeera America
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 18:41
Next week, America Tonight examines Colorado's experiment to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in a special three-part series. Join Lori Jane Gliha for part one Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/6 PT.
For marijuana enthusiasts in Colorado, 420, a common nickname for pot, is old news. The new code number is 710. Flip the digits upside down and you get ''oil,'' a reference to oil-based cannabis concentrates. This wildly potent wax-like substance is one of the fastest growing segments of the marijuana industry.
The psychoactive component in pot is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The THC content of pot has been steadily rising for decades, from around 3.5 percent in 1985 to 13 percent today. But these new concentrates can reach a staggering 90 percent THC. The high from smoking them or "dabbing" is so intense, High Times magazine called it a "quantum leap forward" in getting stoned. Concentrates are worth more per gram than gold.
That dizzying concentration also means a higher risk of addiction. Cannabis isn't usually associated with physical dependency. But Denver's only burn unit is seeing a rising number of patients burned in dabbing-related explosions, and many of them appear to be in the throes of withdrawal.
Cured by THC
Also known as "dabs," ''honey,'' ''shatter,'' ''budder'' and ''wax,'' concentrates are made through different extraction methods. Colorado's retail marijuana industry can manufacture them safely by using expensive, commercially engineered equipment, but a rising number of amateur cooks are trying to make concentrates at home by watching how-to videos on YouTube. Home cooks typically use butane, a cheap and highly combustible solvent, and sometimes it explodes.
A variety of dabs for sale. They're consumed by heating a small amount on a hot surface, like a nail, and then inhaling the vapor. America Tonight
Since retail pot was legalized here a year ago, the number of explosions at home THC extraction labs has more than doubled to 32 statewide, according to Kevin Wong, an intelligence analyst at the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, who tracks the impact of marijuana legalization in a three-state area. And while a few cities like Denver have recently enacted ordinances against home THC extraction, in most places in the state it's still perfectly legal.
''The THC extraction labs are as dangerous, as explosive, as popular '' if not more so '' than meth labs now,'' said Wong.
Odorless and heavier than air, butane gas can linger along the floor and in corners of the home for long periods of time. Even a spark from static electricity is enough to cause an explosion.
''The volatile solvent is venting out into the atmosphere, usually inside a home because it's cold outside, that's where they have their laboratory,'' said Wong, ''And any source of ignition '' be it a cell phone, a computer, a pilot light '' that volatile gas will find it and it will ignite.''
The THC extraction labs are as dangerous, as explosive, as popular, if not more so than meth labs now.
Kenneth Wong
Rocky Mountain HIDTA
In Denver, the most severely injured burn victims end up at the University of Colorado Hospital, which runs the city's only burn unit. In the past year, the unit has seen 17 patients admitted for marijuana-related burns. Some cases involved burns to more than 70 percent of the body's surface area and required extensive skin grafting.
''I didn't know about extracting THC out of marijuana using organic solvents,'' said Gordon Lindberg, the burn unit's medical director. ''And I didn't know how easy it was. I mean butane, it's what you get in cigarette lighters.''
Lindberg quickly noticed that there was something different about some of his new burn patients. They were nauseous and vomiting, which isn't characteristic of the injury. Managing their pain, he said, was a nightmare.
An example of a dabbing-related burn to the palm of a hand. America Tonight
''The first few patients that came in, we were giving them the narcotics that we usually use, and giving them fentanyl and things like that for dressing care, and it just wasn't working,'' Lindberg said. ''And we were kind of scratching our heads, like, why are these patients having these high tolerances for narcotics?''
He also noticed that these patients weren't eating, a bad sign for burn victims who often require two to three times the normal intake of calories for their wounds to heal.
''For a burn, you have to eat enormous amounts of protein, because you have to replace all the skin that's been lost,'' Lindberg explained.
As a standard practice, the University of Colorado Hospital orders toxicology screenings for all burn patients because treatment needs can change depending on the substances in the body. Patients who have been drinking alcohol require more fluids; patients on cocaine require special consideration for the effects of treatment on the heart.
On a hunch, Lindberg decided to give the patients testing positive for marijuana Marinol, a synthetic THC medication developed for cancer patients.
''It seemed to really settle them right out. Their pain was a lot easier to manage, they didn't throw up a lot, they were able to keep calories in,'' Lindberg said. ''It was literally like a switch had been thrown. It was very, very, very hard to miss.''
His patients, it seemed, had been in withdrawal and needed THC to recover.
Addicted to pot
The scientific consensus is that marijuana can breed dependency, but the existence of marijuana withdrawal has long been a source of debate. A 2000 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV explained that the condition wasn't included because the clinical significance of withdrawal symptoms was "uncertain."
But studies of people and animals over the last 15 years have provided significant proof that quitting pot after a period of heavy use can result in reduced appetite, sleeplessness, anxiety, tremors, fever and abdominal pain. At the same time, the THC content of weed has continued to rise. Cannabis withdrawal disorder was included in the fifth edition of the DSM, published in 2013.
''What I worry about is how much marijuana people are taking now as a result of these laws,'' Lindberg said. ''When I was in college, we never had people falling off of balconies from overdosing on an edible. We never had people ending up in emergency rooms with frank psychosis from too much marijuana. We never had anybody withdrawing from it.''
Only recently accepted and relatively rare, cannabis withdrawal isn't mentioned much in the public health discussions over cannabis legalization. Issues like drugged driving, overdosing on edibles and the long-term risks of adolescent smoking have dominated the debate. But the rise of dabbing may change that, and Lindberg's burn unit has become an unintended laboratory for the public health repercussions of legal marijuana.
His marijuana-related burn patients have also given him another idea. Burn victims typically receive a powerful cocktail of narcotics to help cope with the pain and the side effects can be severe. But if Marinol can help relieve pain and cut down on the amount of narcotics needed for a patient in marijuana withdrawal, perhaps it could do the same for a typical burn patient too.
''If we give them a low dose of Marinol, would their narcotic requirements go down?'' he said. ''So we may be able to study it, as a pain medication.''
Elite$
U2's Bono Says He Might Never Play Guitar Again After Bike Accident - Us Weekly
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 08:56
Bono may be hanging up his guitar '-- for good. In honor of the New Year on Jan. 1, the U2 frontman penned a long, reflective blog post about 2014, in which he revealed he might never play the guitar again following his November bike accident and subsequent surgery.
PHOTOS: Celeb injuries
"Recovery has been more difficult than I thought...As I write this, it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again," he wrote in the post, an "A to Z" account of his year. "The band have reminded me that neither they nor Western civilization are depending on this."
It's a loss nevertheless. "I personally would very much miss fingering the frets of my green Irish falcon or my (RED) Gretsch," he continued. "Just for the pleasure, aside from writing tunes. But then does the Edge, or Jimmy Page, or any guitarist you know have a titanium elbow, as I do now? I'm all elbows, I am."
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As previously reported, the Irish rocker was injured while riding his bike in New York City's Central Park. He and the rest of U2 were scheduled to play a weeklong residency at The Tonight Show at the time, but they canceled to let Bono recover.
Recalling the accident in his blog post on Jan. 1, the 54-year-old said he "blanked out on impact" and is still a little fuzzy on the details. "[I] have no memory of how I ended up in New York Presbyterian with my humerus bone sticking through my leather jacket," he admitted. "Very punk rock as injuries go."
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Joking aside, Bono said that "the consequences of this freak accident are significant enough" that he's planning to remain out of the spotlight for some time to come. "As a result I have cancelled every public appearance and decided this missive is all the communication I can manage for the first half of 2015," he wrote, "beyond muttering and singing to myself of course."
Senate majority leader hospitalized after exercise accident
Fri, 02 Jan 2015 17:25
Fri Jan 2, 2015 11:38am ESTWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke his ribs and facial bones when a piece of exercise equipment malfunctioned during a workout at his Henderson, Nevada, home, his office said in a statement on Friday.
Reid, a Democrat, was taken to a hospital in Henderson by his security detail after being injured on Thursday. He was later transferred to the University Medical Center in nearby Las Vegas for further testing and was kept overnight as a precaution.
"A piece of equipment Senator Reid was using to exercise broke, causing him to fall and break a number of ribs and bones in his face," the statement from Reid's office said.
His doctors expect him to make a full recovery from the injuries and Reid, 75, plans to return to Washington this weekend, according to the statement, ahead of the convening of the 114th Congress on Tuesday.
Reid, a former amateur boxer, was elected to the Senate in 1986, became majority leader in 2007 and developed a reputation for fierce partisanship. He will surrender the majority leader position to Mitch McConnell after Republicans took control of the Senate in the November elections.
Reid was hospitalized in 2013 due to exhaustion, and in 2012 after sustaining minor injuries in a multicar crash in Las Vegas. He also suffered a mini-stroke in 2005.
(Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-Germany believes euro zone could handle Greek exit say reports | euronews, world news
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 14:59
German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes the eurozone could cope with a potential Greek exit, the magazine Der Spiegel has reported.
It says her government considers a Greek goodbye almost unavoidable if the left-wing Syriza opposition party, which wants to cancel austerity measures and a chunk of Greek debt, wins anelection set for January 25.
''The danger of contagion is limited because Portugal and Ireland are considered rehabilitated,'' the weekly news magazine quoted one government source as saying.
In addition, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone's bailout fund, is an ''effective'' rescue mechanism and was now available, another source added. Major banks would be protected by the banking union.
It is still unclear how a euro zone member country could leave the euro and still remain in the European Union, but Der Spiegel quoted a ''high-ranking currency expert'' as saying that ''resourceful lawyers'' would be able to clarify.
VIDEO-WATCH: Full Video Of President Obama's Interview With NPR : The Two-Way : NPR
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 14:48
Over the past few days, NPR has been airing chunks of Steve Inskeep's in-depth interview with President Obama.
There have been pieces that touched on foreign policy, Iran, race relations and a future political climate in which the GOP will control both houses of Congress.
There's a lot there, and Obama talks about all of those topics with much nuance. So, below we've embedded the full 43-minute interview.
Yes, it's an investment, but at the end of it, you'll have a better understanding of a president who '-- with much controversy and amid strong political division '-- has made moves on some fundamental issues, including health care and immigration.
We encourage you to watch:
VIDEO-BREAKING - ISIS Releases NEW Propaganda Video Hosted by Captive Journalist John Cantlie
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 08:15
A British photojournalist held captive by the Islamic State appeared in a new militant video on Saturday more than two years after he was kidnapped in Syria.
John Cantlie, 43, plays the role of TV correspondent in the video walking around Mosul in what appears to be an attempt by the militants to show that life is ''business as usual'' in the ISIS-controlled city in northern Iraq.
''This is not a city living in fear as Western media would have you believe,'' Cantlie says in the chilling video. ''This is a normal city going about its business.''
The SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist groups, says the roughly 8-minute video was produced by the Islamic State's foreign language division and distributed on Twitter and jihadi forums on Saturday.
The video is the eighth one that Cantlie appeared in an ISIS video, which are targeted toward western audiences and often cite specific claims made by western media in the weeks or months before they are released.
SEE ALSO: Muslim Tortures And Brutally Murders 10-Year-Old Daughter in The Name of Allah
What are your thoughts? Comment below.
VIDEO-Leelah Alcorn: Transgender Teen's Reported Suicide Note Makes Dramatic Appeal - ABC News
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 06:24
More ABC News Videos | ABC World NewsCopyA note reportedly left by an Ohio teen asking that her death expose the problems transgender people suffer has been cited by an Ohio official and has prompted police to investigate the death as a suicide and to determine if there was a link to the note.
Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach posted a long note on his Facebook page, a note that was reportedly left behind by Leelah Alcorn, who was born Joshua Alcorn. It reportedly had been scheduled to post on Tumblr after the teen died.
Alcorn, 17, according to police, died Sunday after being hit by a tractor trailer in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. Officers from the Ohio Highway Patrol told ABC News they are investigating the death as a suicide and looking into the note.
Calls to Alcorn's family by ABC News at their home were not immediately returned. According to WCPO-TV, Alcorn's mother Carla Alcorn posted that Alcorn was killed while out for a walk.
"My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning," wrote Carla Alcorn on Facebook, according to WCPO. "He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers."
lazerprincess/tumblr
PHOTO: Leelah Alcorn posted this photo on Tumblr with this caption: "I don't take many selfies because I hate how I look as a boy and I rarely get a chance to dress as a girl, so I'm only posting 5, but this year was a big year for me.
The note by Leelah Alcorn was originally posted on the teen's Tumblr page, reported to be run by Alcorn, according to both ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV in Cincinnati and Seelbach.
Seelbach told ABC News that as a gay elected representative, he felt it was important to draw attention to the story.
"Some very sad news to share," wrote Seelbach of Alcorn's death in a post. "It has come to light that this person likely committed suicide because she was transgender."
In the note, Alcorn details the difficulty she said she faced growing up.
"The life I would've lived isn't worth living in'... because I'm transgender," read a portion of the post. "I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy's body, and I've felt that way ever since I was 4," the note states.
lazerprincess/tumblr
PHOTO: Leelah Alcorn posted this photo on Tumblr with this caption: I'm seeing a bunch of people do a "6 selfies of 2014" thing, so I figured I'd do it!
The note reportedly written by Alcorn detailed her experience coming out as gay and wrote that her peers and school were receptive, but that her parents were not. She said she was taken to Christian therapists, who did not help her overcome her depression.
"After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn't make mistakes, that I am wrong," the note states.
VIDEO-Obama punishes N.Korea for cyberattack - CNN Video
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 05:43
Obama punishes N.Korea for cyberattack - CNN VideoU.S. Edition
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VIDEO-Bristol scientist says he's 'terrified' of technology developed to stop global warming | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:29
Dr Watson from Bristol University says we should be wary of interfering with nature on a planetary scale - known as geoengineeringIt involves changing our planet to counteract effects of climate changeProposals include injecting water into the atmosphere to block sunlightBut Dr Watson, a leading scientist investigating such methods, says he is 'terrified' of what the technology could do to EarthAnd it would also mean we have 'failed as planetary stewards'By Ben Spencer for the Daily Mail and Jonathan O'Callaghan for MailOnline
Published: 19:17 EST, 25 November 2014 | Updated: 05:00 EST, 26 November 2014
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A climate scientist has said he is 'terrified' of the futuristic technologies he is helping to develop in a bid to slow global warming.
British academics have spent £5.4 million ($8.5 million) in the last five years on taxpayer-funded 'geoengineering' projects to stop the effects of climate change.
Dr Matthew Watson, lead investigator of a £1.8million ($2.8 million) project to pump chemicals into the atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays, said using such technologies will become inevitable if humanity fails to stop global warming.
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Dr Watson from Bristol University said we should be wary of interfering with nature on a planetary scale - known as geoengineering. It involves changing our planet to counteract effects of climate change. Earth is shown here pictured from space
The Bristol University academic has already suffered a major setback, when much-trumpeted plans to send a huge balloon into the air to test his scheme was scrapped over a patenting dispute.
Yesterday he admitted that despite the millions already spent on research, scientists are still decades from seeing their dreams turn into reality.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS OF FIVE GEOENGINEERING STRATEGIES1. Afforestation: This technique would irrigate deserts, such as those in Australia and North Africa, to plant millions of trees that could absorb carbon dioxide.
Drawback: This vegetation would also draw in sunlight that the deserts currently reflect back into space, and so contribute to global warming.
2. Artificial ocean upwelling: Engineers would use long pipes to pump cold, nutrient-rich water upward to cool ocean-surface waters.
Drawback: If this process ever stopped it could cause oceans to rebalance their heat levels and rapidly change the climate.
3. Ocean alkalinisation: This involves heaping lime into the ocean to chemically increase the absorption of carbon dioxide.
Drawback: Study suggests it will have of little use in reducing global temperatures.
4. Ocean iron fertilisation: The method involves dumping iron into the oceans to improve the growth of photosynthetic organisms that can absorb carbon dioxide.
Drawback: Study suggests it will have of little use in reducing global temperatures.
5. Solar radiation management: This would reduce the amount of sunlight Earth receives, by shooting reflective sulphate-based aerosols into the atmosphere.
Drawback: Carbon dioxide would still build up in the atmosphere.
And he said they could indeed be dangerous.
The schemes could see rainfall patterns change, droughts spread across the world and the ozone layer damaged beyond repair.
'Personally, this stuff terrifies me,' he said.
'Whilst it is clear that temperatures could be reduced during deployment, the potential for misstep is considerable.
'By identifying risks, we hope to contribute to the evidence base around geoengineering that will determine whether deployment, in the face of the threat of climate change, has the capacity to do more good than harm.'
But he added that it would be 'unethical' not to try the technology.
'If we ever deploy these technologies it will be the closest indication yet that we've failed as planetary stewards.
'But there is a point at which not deploying some technologies would be unethical.
'It's a watershed for our relationship with the Earth and with nature. It fundamentally changes the way seven billion people are going to interact with the world, and I'm not sure the system is going to be controllable in the way we want.'
Three taxpayer-funded schemes will today publish the results of five years of research into geoengineering.
Each report will confirm that we are many years away from seeing any project work outside the laboratory.
One of the touted projects includes spraying low-level clouds with sea salt to make them reflective to the sun; another would pump aerosols or sulphur particles into the atmosphere to disperse sunlight; and others would see greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide sucked out of the air to reduce global warming.
The EU explains its 2030 climate change goals (related)
One of the proposals to geoengineer our planet involves Solar Radiation Management (SRM), pictured, which would involve releasing small particles into the stratosphere that reflect some of the incoming solar radition. This would then allow Earth to cool instead of continuing to warm like it is now
One of the biggest risks is disrupting the delicate balance of land and sea weather influences.
The scientists admit that each technology they investigated could lead to damaging changes in rainfall patterns, leading to floods where there had previously been little risk, and droughts elsewhere.
Another danger specifically linked to sulphur particles is the destruction of atmospheric ozone, a vital barrier to harmful solar radiation that can trigger skin cancer and have damaging effects on plants and animals.
Dr Watson said the day may come when the use of such technologies cannot be avoided.
'We are swimming, drowning, in a sea of ignorance. This terrifies me. But doing nothing is not an option.
'Unless we're very wrong about climate change or quickly change our ways, at some point we're going to have to 'go outside' [with these technologies],' he said.
Several proposals for geoengineering have been proposed, illustrated here, But Dr Watson said resorting to these measures amounted to us admitting we could no longer save the planet by managing our global emissions - and meant we had failed to look after Earth
He stressed that without drastic cuts in greenhouse emissions, global warming was on course to make the world 4°C (7.2°C) hotter by 2100.
'That's going to have a profound effect on the planet,' he added.
Professor Piers Forster from the University of Leeds, who has also investigated climate engineering projects, said: 'Our research shows that the devil is in the detail.
'Geoengineering will be much more expensive and challenging than previous estimates suggest and any benefits would be limited.'
Professor Steve Rayner of Oxford University, who has researched the legal and ethical ramifications of geoengineering, said: 'Mostly it is too soon to know what any of these technology ideas would look like in practice or what would be their true cost and benefit.
'But it's almost certain that geoengineering will be neither a magic bullet nor Pandora's Box.'
He said that each technology would have to be shown to be safe, effective and affordable before it was trialled - but added: 'They will probably be part of the tool box.'
'Unless we're very wrong about climate change or quickly change our ways, at some point we're going to have to "go outside,"' added Dr Watson. He stressed that without drastic cuts in greenhouse emissions (stock image shown), global warming was on course to make the world 4°C (7.2°F) hotter by 2100
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VIDEO-cantlie ISIS Update Video
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 22:55
VIDEO-Sodomy, the new jihadi training method? | World | News | Toronto Sun
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 01:13
OTTAWA - Being sodomized is acceptable in Islam if the goal is to carry out jihad, according to a cleric on a new video making the rounds online.
In a video posted on YouTube last month, and as reported by the New York-based think-tank Gatestone Institute more recently, cleric Abu al-Dema al-Qasab's instructions include details on how to carry out a successful suicide bombing mission by hiding explosives in the bomber's anus.
"However, to undertake this jihadi approach you must agree to be sodomized for a while to widen your anus so it can hold the explosives," al-Dema al-Qasab tells followers in the video.
There is no indication where or when the video was recorded, but appears by the screen to have been aired on Fadak TV, a Shia-based satellite television station. The background of al-Dema al-Qasab is also unknown.
Author Raymond Ibrahim, who wrote the article for Gatestone, denies claims the video is a hoax intended to insult Islam.
The Gatestone Institute's homepage indicates it specializes in international policy and the Middle East.
Sodomy is forbidden in Islam but according to al-Dema al-Qasab's video, everything is permissible if the objective is in the best interests of the jihad.
In 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, attempted to blow up a plane bound for Detroit by igniting a bomb planted in his underwear. That led to the introduction of body scanners at airports worldwide which can see through clothing.
The scanners, however, cannot see inside body cavities, and authorities expressed fear at the time that terrorists would likely try to evolve their attacks to avoid detection.

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