685: Schwack the Nose

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 44m
January 8th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Baron von Sizmark of Well Upper Canada, Sir Francis Sheehy, Anonymous,Jessica Flood

Associate Executive Producers: Eriks Harjo

Cover Artist: 20wattbulb


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PR-The Podcasts You Need to Listen to This Week | WIRED
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 05:39
SO MANY PODCASTS. My phone's about to cave in under the weight of all the shows I've downloaded but haven't listened to yet. Even so, we here at WIRED are always on the lookout for more. Got any great recommendations? Please leave 'em in the comments of this post, or just tweet them at me. In the meantime, here are three shows I've been loving lately.
Reply AllThe Internet is made up of a lot of stuff: ideas, memes, companies, and awesome weirdos. This podcast covers them all; launched in November as part of the Gimlet Media network, it's the strongest and most entertaining new show I've heard. Clocking in at a nice, brisk 20 minutes, the show examines stuff like the world of domain name speculators, an app that wants to be ''Instagram for doctors'' (medical professionals use it to share case photos with each other), and Larry Shippers'--the One Direction megafans/conspiracy theorists who believe 1D's Louis and Harry are in a secret romantic relationship. Listen here.
Call Chelsea PerettiFor the past couple of years, comedian, writer, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-star Peretti has masterminded this loose, funny, freeform call-in podcast. As Peretti's schedule has gotten busier, her show has become more sporadic, but recent episodes have been great. Her interactions with callers are mostly unscripted (and many of the callers are far from professional radio personalities), so the podcast comes off as part improv comedy, part old-school AM radio. It's sarcastic, silly, strange, and a lot of fun. Listen here.
Death, Sex & MoneyLongish conversation-based podcasts are my jam. For whatever reason, I find it therapeutic to listen to people talk about the trials, triumphs, mistakes, and decisions that have helped them move ahead. On her terrific WNYC show, Anna Sale interviews celebrities and regular folks alike about some of life's touchiest subjects, trading on her innate gift for getting people to open and up and share intimate details. Her guests' stories reveal personal joys and pains, and you always feel privy to a greater understanding of the survival tactics that help people persevere. Listen here.
Lets all change our twitter icons to a picture of the prophet mohammed
Its becoming pretty obvious that the only people being killed by DAESH are journalists!
ID found at shooting scene! WTF?
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.
Russia Wades Into The Paris Attack
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 13:22
With its own homegrown Islamist insurgency in the volatile North Caucasus region, Russia is no stranger to brazen terrorist attacks.
But while President Vladimir Putin promptly offered his condolences to those affected by Wednesday's shooting in Paris, other officials and commentators in Russia were quick to point out it actually has nothing to do with Russia.
''The tragedy in Paris shows that it's not Russia threatening Europe and its safety. This is a bluff,'' Alexei Pushkov, head of Russia's parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter. ''The real threat comes from adherents of terror. That's a fact.''
Officials in Moscow have resented the United States and much of Europe for months over those countries' criticism of the Kremlin's aggressive foreign policy.
The US and EU governments slapped several rounds of sanctions on the Kremlin after it annexed Crimea last March and stirred up an armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine shortly after.
But that has only boosted Russian defiance and stoked anti-Western sentiments, thanks mostly to state-controlled media.
Nowadays, Russians have grown used to catching what seems like unending flak from the West. That's why many Kremlin loyalists also searching for opportunities to criticize it '-- and the Paris attack appeared to be no exception for some.
Igor Korotchenko, a defense analyst and prominent pro-government commentator, said the shooting represented a failure of the French security services '-- as well as Europe's allegedly bad attitude toward its international partners.
''To a certain extent, if Europe will continue to engage in self-isolation and not work with Russia and the security services of other countries, it jeopardizes its own safety,'' he told the pro-Kremlin tabloid LifeNews.
Russia has also experienced its own share of controversy over the offense of religious sensibilities '-- though in a different, more politically charged form.
Putin's return to the presidency in 2012 was marked with the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and its promotion of conservative values.
Russia's liberal minority was outraged when authorities jailed members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot over a raucous performance in Moscow's main church.
That move was part of the official onslaught against the country's political opposition, which has now been all but crushed. But elements of the debate are still relevant today.
Georgy Mirsky, a prominent Russian expert on the Middle East, harshly condemned the attack. But he also believes caricatures of Muhammad have no place in the free press.
''There are certain things you cannot touch,'' he wrote in a blog for the Echo of Moscow radio station.
Pointing out that the Muslim population in Europe is growing, Mirsky added: ''If both sides argue, 'So why should we limit ourselves if there is freedom of speech,' then the prospects for coexistence will look very pale.''
This article originally appeared at GlobalPost. Copyright 2015. Follow GlobalPost on Twitter.
Paris Attack Smacks Of False Flag
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 16:16
Jewish Agenda Articles
Paris Attack Smacks Of False FlagBy Brother Nathanael KapnerJanuary 8, 2015(C)
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HOW MANY MOSSAD AGENTS does it take to pull off a false flag?Just enough to have a getaway car ready at a Kosher Restaurant two miles from the Charlie Hebdo scene in Paris.
The perpetrators' first car, a black Citroen, was abandoned at the restaurant while a grey Renault was provided for the murderers to flee in, reportedly ''carjacked'' as per the French police.
One look at how carefully the getaway car was parked in front of the Kosher Restaurant suggests that the attackers were in no hurry to escape since they knew that a safe haven and another car was ready for them for the second leg of their getaway.
Why the French police are claiming the Renault getaway vehicle was ''carjacked'' appears to cover the fact that the Renault was provided by, as this author sees it, Jewish accomplices, that is, Sayanim.
Many anomalies support this author's theory that the Charlie Hebdo attack was a Mossad false flag operation.
FIRST OF ALL, shouts of ''Allah Akbar'' and ''The Prophet Has Been Avenged'' by the attackers were enunciated in perfect French.
If they were truly extremist Muslims, as the press is reporting it, the second slogan would also have been expressed in Arabic.
Second, how did the perpetrators know that Charlie Hebdo headquarters was going to hold a full member staff meeting at the very hour of their attack? Only, an inside informer (Read: Sayanim) could have tipped them off.
Then, the gunmen, knowing in advancethe names of their targets, headed to the second floor editorial department where the meeting was held and asked people who they were, from the list of names, before shooting.
They didn't just go in shooting up the place like a typical 'terrorist' attack would have been carried out.
Third, the neatly parked 'abandoned' car conveniently had the ID of one of the 'terrorists.'
SURELY, THIS ISclassic Mossad of pulling an ID of a formerly charged 'criminal' already in the intelligence system readily available to be set up as a patsy.
Seriously, who takes their ID on a commando-style 'terror attack?'
Cui bono? Jews'...to further inflame Islamophobia, specifically in this case with the French establishment which has been putting forth pro-Palestinian overtures of late'...greatly ''disappointing'' Tel Aviv.
Right on cue, Netanyahu chimed in, ''The heinous acts in Paris today won't be the last.''
By way of deception wage war, goes the Mossad motto.
And yet another Jewish deception fools the Goyim once again.
Charlie Hebdo cartoonist reveals terrorists threatened to murder her toddler | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 16:15
Corrine Rey and her daughter saw two other cartoonists being killedThey threatened her into giving them entry code for the office building She says men 'who spoke perfect French' claimed to be Al Qaeda terroristsAttackers were reportedly heard shouting: 'the Prophet has been avenged'The masked men asked people's names before killing editor and cartoonist'There were several corpses on the floor,' said office worker from building He entered room right after attackers had gone to see 'blood everywhere'By Peter Allen In Paris for MailOnline
Published: 11:27 EST, 7 January 2015 | Updated: 14:44 EST, 7 January 2015
A young mother and cartoonist who survived the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris today said she had let the suspected Al Qaeda killers into the magazine office.
Corrine Rey said she had returned from picking up her young daughter from a kindergarten when she was confronted by two heavily armed men wearing balaclavas.
'I had gone to pick up my daughter at day care, arriving in front of the magazine building, where two masked and armed men brutally threatened us,' said Ms Rey, who draws under the name 'Coco'.
Scroll down for video
Desperate: Corrine Rey, who's a cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo, hid underneath a desk with her daughter to escape the terrorists who killed her colleagues
Siege: The two men, who claimed to be from Al Qaeda, threatened Miss Rey into giving them the code to enter the building
Killers: One of the masked men mercilessly shot and killed a wounded police officer on the street outside
Death: 12 people, including four Charlie Hebdo journalists, were killed in the attack before the assailants fled
'They said they wanted to go up to the offices, so I tapped in the code,' said Ms Rey, referring to the digi-code security system on the inter-phone.
Miss Rey and her daughter hid under a desk, from where they saw two other cartoonists being executed.
'They shot Wolinski and Cabu,' she said, 'It lasted five minutes. I had taken refuge under a desk.
She said the men 'spoke French perfectly' and 'claimed they were 'Al Qaeda terrorists'.
According to Charlie Hebdo's lawyer, four cartoonists were killed by the masked gunmen: Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous and Charb, the pen name of Stephane Charbonnier, also the chief editor at Charlie Hebdo.
Corrine's story is one of several horrifying tales from people who saw and survived the attack in Paris today.
Another eye-witness, who works in an office in the same building, told the BBC World Service: 'When I arrived at the scene it was quite disturbing as you can imagine. There were several corpses on the floor.
He arrived at the scene of the massacre just minutes after the attackers had left, and described how he tried to make some room for the wounded in the office.
Showdown: There was a fire-fight between French police and the two attackers, who claim to be from Al Qaeda, outside the building
Terrifying: Eyewitnesses say they saw the men firing indiscriminately on the street outside. This tweet allegedly shows a bullet hole from inside the Charlie Hebdo office building
Getaway: After shooting a policeman, the pair escaped in a black Citroen (pictured), which they crashed
On the run: The men, described as 'calm and highly disciplined', remain on the loose in Paris
Terrifying video shows trained terrorists gunning down police
He added: 'As we progressed through the rooms, we saw there were a lot of people down on the floor and there was blood everywhere.
'We're extremely relieved that nobody was affected by the attacks in my own office... but obviously I'm very traumatised by this attack and everything and now we're in psychological hell where we're being attended to by professionals.'
Giles Boulanger, who also works in the same building, described to French news station Itele how a colleague warned him that armed men had entered the building.
He said: 'several minutes later, we heard several shots in the building from automatic weapons from all directions.
'It was really upsetting. You'd think it was a war zone.'
The headquarters of Charlie Hebdo was attacked with a 'firebomb' in November 2011, after they put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover.
Charlie Hebdo was previously attacked with a firebomb in 2011
Out-gunned: One eyewitness told Sky News the security presence around the building was 'useless'
Shooting: Lead cartoonist Jean 'Cabu' Cabut (pictured) was among the 12 massacred by terrorists in Paris
Security presence around the building was ineffective against the 'well trained' attackers, Stefan De Vries told Sky News.
The French journalist, who arrived at the scene moments after the attackers had fled, said: 'There was protection at the door but they killed the police officers, they executed them and they started shooting in the offices. There were more than 50 people inside.
'It was difficult to enter but these people, the suspects were heavily armed, and shot the police so yeah, there was security but it was useless.'
Witnesses said the suspected Al Qaeda killers were heard to shout 'the Prophet has been avenged' and 'Allahu akbar!' '' 'God is greatest' '' as they stalked the building.
Horrific footage also emerged showing an injured police officer slumped on the pavement outside the office as two of the gunmen approach.
Police officers were involved in a gunfight with the men, who escaped in a hijacked car, speeding away towards east Paris and remain on the loose, along with a third armed man.
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New Houellebecq book stirs European angst over Islam - Yahoo News
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:53
'Œ‚HomeMailSearchNewsSportsFinanceWeatherGamesAnswersScreenFlickrMobileMore'‹CelebrityMoviesMusicTVGroupsHealthStyleBeautyFoodParentingDIYTechShoppingTravelAutosHomesUpgrade to the new Firefox >>👤Sign In''‰Mail'šHelpAccount InfoHelpSuggestions
BBC News - Furore over novel depicting Muslim-run France
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:52
6 January 2015Last updated at 19:26 ET The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris reports on the publication of a provocative new book which depicts France as an Islamicised country where universities are compelled to teach the Koran, women are made to wear the veil and polygamy is lawful.
In the year 2022, France has continued its slow collapse and a Muslim party leader takes over as the country's new president.
Women are encouraged to leave their jobs and unemployment falls. Crime evaporates in the banlieues. Veils become the norm and polygamy is authorised.
Universities are made to teach the Koran.
Anti-Islamic scare-mongering?Torpid and decadent, the population reverts to its collaborationist instincts. It accepts the new Islamist France.
Such is the characteristically provocative plot of the new novel by France's most famous living author Michel Houellebecq.
Soumission (Submission) goes on sale on Wednesday, but for a week now the arguments have been raging.
Is the book anti-Islamic scare-mongering in the guise of literature? Does the excuse that it is fiction have any validity if the book gives succour to the far-right?
Or on the contrary, is Houellebecq simply doing the job of an artist: holding a mirror to the world, exaggerating perhaps but honestly telling the deeper truths?
The row is all the more intense because Islam and identity are already at the heart of a fierce national debate in France.
Runaway successLast year the anti-immigration National Front made an extraordinary leap forward by winning a national election - for the European Parliament - for the first time.
Its leader Marine Le Pen is a serious contender for the 2017 presidential election. Indeed in Soumission, it is in order to keep Le Pen out that the mainstream parties rally behind the charismatic Mohammed Ben Abbes.
Background to the new novel is also shaped by the runaway success of the book Le Suicide Francais (French suicide), by right-wing journalist Eric Zemmour, one of whose themes is also France's moral collapse in the face of newly-confident Islam.
Critics of Houellebecq say his novel lends intellectual credibility to the theses of Mr Zemmour and other "neo-reactionaries".
For Laurent Joffrin of the left-wing newspaper Liberation, Houellebecq is "warming Marine Le Pen's seat at the Cafe Flore" - legendary haunt of the left-bank philosophers on the river Seine.
"Whether or not it is the intention, the novel has a clear political resonance," wrote Mr Joffrin.
"Once the media furore has died down, the book will go down as a key moment in the history of ideas - when the theses of the far right made their entry - or re-entry - into great literature."
Others have gone further. Television presenter Ali Baddou said that "this book makes me sick... I felt insulted. The year kicks off with Islamophobia disseminated in the work of a great French novelist."
From the other side, supporters say Houellebecq is addressing issues which the metropolitan and left-leaning elite pretend do not exist.
'Stupidest of religions'Philosopher and member of the Academie Francaise Alain Finkielkraut described Houellebecq as "our great novelist of what might come to be".
"By raising the eventual Islamisation of France, he is touching where it hurts - and the progressives are all crying Ow!"
Houellebecq, who once described Islam as the "stupidest of religions", has denied any desire to be provocative.
In interviews ahead of publication, he said the idea of a Muslim party changing the face of French politics was perfectly plausible - though he agreed he had accelerated the timeframe.
"I tried to put myself in the place of a Muslim, and I realised that, in reality, they are in a totally schizophrenic situation," Houellebecq told the Paris Review.
Muslims, he said, were conservative by background and did not feel at home with the left, especially since the socialists introduced gay marriage. But equally they felt alienated by a political right that rejected them.
Enlightenment demise"So if a Muslim wants to vote, what's he supposed to do? The truth is, he's in an impossible situation. He has no representation whatsoever," he said.
Houellebecq said the wider theme of his book is the return of religion to the centre of human existence, and the demise of the Enlightenment ideas that have prevailed since the 18th Century.
"The return of religion is a worldwide movement, a tidal wave'... Atheism is too sad'... I think right now we are living through the end of a historic movement which began centuries ago, at the end of the Middle Ages," he told Le Figaro.
In the end Houellebecq implies in his interviews that the return of religion is a good thing - he says he himself is no longer atheist - and that even Islam is better than the existential emptiness of Enlightenment Man.
"In the end the Koran turns out to be much better than I thought, now that I've re-read it - or rather, read it," he told Paris Review.
"Obviously, as with all religious texts, there is room for interpretation, but an honest reading will conclude that a holy war of aggression is not generally sanctioned, prayer alone is valid. So you might say I've changed my opinion.
"That's why I don't feel that I'm writing out of fear. I feel, rather, that we can make arrangements. The feminists will not be able to, if we're being completely honest. But I and lots of other people will."
At the end of the book Houellebecq's hero Francois has himself "made arrangements" - going back to his teaching job at the Islamicised Sorbonne, tempted by a pay increase and the promise of several wives.
French Investigate 3rd In Suspected Network - Orlando Sentinel
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:48
PARIS -- French judicial authorities Saturday began a criminal probe of a third man in an investigation of a suspected network that sent Islamic combatants to Iraq, officials said. Cherif Kouachi was placed under investigation for "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise," judicial officials said. Kouachi, 23, is suspected of volunteering to travel to Iraq to fight against U.S.-led coalition forces. A day earlier, two others -- suspected recruiter Farid Benyettoun, 23, and Thamer Bouchnak, 22, a suspected volunteer fighter -- were also placed under investigation and detained.
Globalist Billionaire Tony Fernandes, the TPP and the Recent Rash of Malaysian Plane Crashes | American Everyman
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 09:07
by Scott Creighton
Who is Tan Sri Anthony Francis ''Tony'' Fernandes and what exactly does he have to do with all these strange plane crashes involving Malaysian airline companies? And is it just a coincidence that this is all happening at such a crucial time when the globalist TPP is being debated behind closed doors?
A Little Background on ''Tony''''Tony'' as we shall call him, is British. That's the first thing you need to know. Though he was born in Kuala Lumpor in '64, he attended Epson boarding school in London and from there went on to study at the London School of Economics. He worked for another billionaire for a time at Virgin Records and had stints with various other global conglomerates including Warner Music, Time Warner and America Online.
In 2001, ''Tony'' took advantage of a state-owned enterprise that was doing poorly, AirAsia. He bought it and turned it into a budget, cattle-car air carrier so poor people could afford to fly as well as long as they didn't mind being treated like crap.
''Tony'' managed to buy the state-owned company including it's planes, for 26 cents.
Yeah, that's your ''self made man'' right there. Was given an airline for 26 pennies. Then the first thing he did with it was bust up the union, screwing over his employees, and stuffing more seats on the plane than it was designed to hold. Frankly I'm surprised the asshole doesn't chain his customers to the floor like so many African slaves in British cargo ships.
He was given this sweetheart deal by former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad who held that office for 22 years. At first Mohamed neoliberalised sectors of the economy, privatizing certain state-owned industries and pushing the deregulation of the financial markets at the request of the IMF and others. After the Asian Financial Crisis, the prime minister effectively reversed his position on the austerity measures he and his finance minister previously supported. He took over control of the country's finances and thumbed his nose at the IMF. This did not sit well in Washington back in those days and people like Al Gore and Madeleine Albright were not pleased that he had jumped ship in favor of a more protectionist economic policy.
''Tony'' still maintains some very close connections to Britain. He was given the honor of ''Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) ''for services to promote commercial and educational links'' between Malaysia and the United Kingdom'' '... for basically being a globalist shill overseas for the ''Make the World a Neoliberal Britain'' campaign.
He is currently a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
''Tony'' is a sleazeball who fancies himself a TV star. He also has a chain of budget hotels where he treats his customers like cattle once again and his employees like pieces of meat.
''Tony'' also happens to own a little something called Tune Group Sdn Bhd which has a number of services, mainly financial and entertainment, but they also just happen to dabble in the insurance game.
The company operates an airline carrier that providespassenger transportation services to various destinations worldwide from hubs located in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia; operates a chain of hotels in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom; and operates a mobile virtual network that provides mobile calling and SMS services in Malaysia. It also offers prepaid and loyalty cards, and life and general insurance products to consumers. Business Week
It's funny though, if you head over to the Tune Group Wiki page, they make no mention of insurance at this time. But they do mention it on the Tune Group website. Still it's odd that someone seems to have edited any mention of insurance from their Wiki page, isn't it?
Well, maybe not that odd.
''Tony'' Sold His Shares of His Insurance Company Just Prior to the AirAsia Plane CrashIt seems that ''Tony'' got real ''lucky'' a couple weeks ago when he dumped his holdings in his own company that sells insurance to the customers that fly on his airline.
On December 26, the Malaysian Insider reported that Fernandes, the founder of Tune Group Sdn Bhd which owns AirAsia, had sold a total of 944,800 shares in Tune Insurance Holdings Bhd, with 850,000 shares being dumped on December 22, and the other 94,800 being sold the day after.
According to its official website, Tune Insurance Holdings Bhd is ''an insurance product manager'' for AirAsia in which ''insurance products are sold to (AirAsia) customers as part of their online booking process.''
The share prices of AirAsia and Tune Insurance Holdings both fell on the first day of trading after the disappearance of Flight QZ8501, with the former shedding 12.9 percent at one point. Tune Insurance Holdings lost 0.6%. PakAlert Press
''Tony'' dumped nearly a million shares of his own company less than a week before Flight 8501 disappeared into the Java Sea. Would you call that ''luck''? Same kind of ''luck'' that allowed him to buy an airline for 26 cents?
''Tony's'' company still owns a majority stake in Tune Insurance Holdings Bhd and the million shares is merely a drop in the bucket compared to what they still own. But, it's still a million shares and it's still very odd timing.
It's not the smoking gun some would have us believe. That may lie in his relationship with Malaysian Airlines.
''Tony'' And His War With Malaysian Airlines''Tony'' wants Malaysian Airlines in the worst possible way. He wants to wreck it, buy it for another 26 cents and profit off the state-owned enterprise. That's because he's a neoliberal globalist oligarch and that is what they do.
While the bodies of ''Tony's'' customers are still being pulled out of the Java Sea, I want to go back to Feb. of last year when he was screeching about how state-owned Malaysian Airlines is losing money and thus costing tax-payers. He was saying Malaysian Airlines is ''harming'' their own customers. That was about a month prior to the mysterious downing of Flight 370.
''AirAsia Allstars, take a bow. Malaysia Airlines lost over a billion,'' Tony Fernandes tweeted.
''So much money wasted. If people were more efficient Malaysians would spend less on travel.'''...
'... ''I wonder if it's fair that Malaysia Airlines can lose so much money and protect its market share. Can only do that with taxpayers money,'' Tony Fernandes tweeted.
The outspoken Fernandes also took aim at Malaysian regulators, implying they were seeking to hinder MAS's competition.
''Imagine how many jobs AirAsia could have created if (there was) effective regulation. We have done amazing. Unbelievable. Despite all the roadblocks,'' he said. Financial Express, Feb. 2014
At the time, Malaysian Airlines, one of the highest rated airlines in the world, was losing money and a lot of it. But they were providing great service to their customers and therefore costing ''Tony'' some business.
He may have thought that with the airline losing money at the rate it was, when the two Malaysian Airlines planes went down (370 and Flight 17) so would the company. He would then stand to gain by buying it up for next to nothing like he did with AsiaAir.
Turns out, ''Tony'' miscalculated and in Aug of this past year, after Flight 370 and Flight 17 went down, the government of Malaysia decided to double down on the airline, rather than sell it off to a globalist oligarch like ''Tony''
You see, ''Tony'' had tried to destabilize Malaysian Airlines once in the past. He was brought in by the board of directors in 2011 essentially to try to salvage the company. What he tried to do instead was undermine it by busting up the union and selling off assets like all other vulture capitalists try to do.
The much-awaited restructuring of the board of national carrier Malaysia Airline System Bhd (MAS) was announced yesterday, which witnessed AirAsia Bhd's chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and his deputy Datuk Kamarudin Meranun being appointed as non-independent non-executive directors of the company effective tomorrow (August 2011). Borneo Post
He failed because the unions pushed back and ''Tony'' left after only a couple months. Seems they didn't like the snake oil he had to sell.
''Tony's'' history of wanting Malaysian Airlines is a long, well documented one. Here's an article from 2013 which explains his globalist agenda and shows how he and the former head of MAS wanted government out of the airline business.
It was the most bitter of public feuds between airlines bosses. In May 2008, national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) was accused of unfairly pushing up sales by low-budget airlines AirAsia. It ended with then MAS managing director CEO Dato' Sri Idris Jala barring then AirAsia CEO Datuk Tony Fernandes from any of the MAS flights.
Now all that is water under the bridge. The two have a lot in common. For one, they did not mince their words at the Global Malaysia Series on August 13 (Tuesday) when they both said the role of the government in business should be that of a facilitator only and they wanted a small government role in business in Malaysia.
Dato' Sri Jala said the government should stay out of the airlines business and sell its stake in MAS when the price is right. ''MAS should have been sold when I was there. I brought the share prices from RM3 (US$0.92) to RM6.20 (US$1.84),'' he said. The share price for MAS is currently at 0.30 sen (US$0.10). (See note below on statement issued by Dato' Sri Jala post-conference.) Establishment Post, Aug. 2013
ConclusionPrior to the disappearance of Flight 370 over the South China Sea, you had to go back 20 years (1995) to find a fatal accident involving a Malaysian Airlines flight. They were rated one of the few (13) five-star airlines in the world with a pretty large share of the market in Asia.
AirAsia has never had a crash.
Now Malaysian airplanes are dropping out of the sky like flies.
Contrary to popular belief, the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement isn't dead in the water. They are still trying to push it in Australia and the U.S. even though there's a lot of dissent taking place in some of the other 11 nations that are supposed to sign on the dotted line along with them. Of those, Japan and Malaysia seem to be the leading hold-outs. Japan wanting to defend their ''sacred'' agricultural industries like rice and sugar, and Malaysia is deeply concerned about things like environmental protections, labor rights and of course, state-owned industries.
One of the key state-owned industries Malaysia is trying to protect, just happens to be Malaysia Airlines.
Right after Flight 370 went ''missing'' in March, last April, Obama went on his ''Neoliberalize the Yellow Man'' tour where he tried to sweet talk world leaders from the 7 nations in that area into agreeing to the terms set out by the various global businesses who wrote the TPP. He failed. And then Flight 17 was shot down.
As is altogether too often the case, when the Economic Hitmen fail to achieve a globalist agenda, in come the jackals.
Is it really so improbable that someone somewhere is trying to deconstruct a certain Malaysian state-owned company in favor of privatizing it? Could this possibly be a warning or a threat to the Malaysian government for not signing on the dotted line?
Was the AirAsia taken out in retaliation?
Or, is it all just a big coincidence?
When you have globalist oligarchs like ''Tony'' waiting around grinding their teeth, dreaming about all the mammon they can get from another 26 cent investment, you have to wonder about things like this.
When you have some 800 major corporations and entrenched billionaires thinking about the same thing they can get out of the potential of the world's largest free-trade zone (think ''Nazi work camps'' on a global scale), you can stop wondering.
Back in April of 2014, I wrote about Flight 370 and Obama's ''Pivot to Asia''.
''Crisis'' in Context: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, the TPP and the ''Pivot to Asia''. A Geopolitical Thesis
I still stand by my original conclusion.
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Filed under: AirAsia flight QZ8501, Globalization, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Malaysian Destabilization, Scott Creighton, TPP
Agenda 21
Methane is the new CO2
New Mexico official speaking on how his county banned fracking - Decorah Newspapers
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:53
John Ol­vas, elected in 2010 to the Mora County, New Mexico Commission, will speak in Decorah Sunday, Sept. 28, about how his county banned fracking for natural gas.His talk begins at 7 p.m. at The Cellar, located at The Old Armory, 421 W. Water St. The event is free and open to the public.In April 2013, Ol­vas led the charge to make his county the first in the country to permanently ban corporations from fracking or otherwise developing oil and gas within its borders.''A lot of people ask, 'Who is this small community up in northern New Mexico that's picking a fight with oil and gas?' But as a matter of survival, local people have always prioritized conservation, and they resent outside corporations making money at their expense,'' Ol­vas said.During six months of meetings, residents made clear that they want to protect their land-based heritage.''If you allow industry to come into your community, it changes the dynamics of the culture. I don't think we're ready for that,'' he said.Ol­vas also will be speaking at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 29, during the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Winneshiek County Courthouse.LitigationWhere Mora's fracking ban is concerned, the work is just beginning: Four private landowners backed by oil and gas interests sued last November, followed by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell in January, alleging violation of their constitutional rights.''We knew we were going to get sued,'' Ol­vas said.Mora County plans to fight, with help from the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. Given opponents' deeper pockets, that could mean five to seven years of wrangling, and the creation of some legal precedents, Ol­vas said.Other communities that have adopted similar measures, banning specific corporate activities that harm the resources of local citizens -- Las Vegas, N.M., Pittsburgh, Pa. and more -- are watching.
Winneshiek moratoriumWinneshiek County has several mines serving local needs such as road gravel and dairy farming. However, frac-sand mining is currently not allowed under an 18-month moratorium passed by the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors.The moratorium, which can be extended, ends in December of 2014. The Board of Supervisors has been asking questions and researching facts about this new industry, such as water pollution from surfacants, air pollution from silica dust and road damage from truck traffic.Ol­vas also will speak in Allamakee County; Crawford, Vernon, Trempeleau and Chippewa counties in Wisconsin; and Hennepin County, Minn.The event is sponsored by the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County (CRA). CRA was formed in May 2013 to peacefully assert residents' constitutional right to local, democratic self-governance, for the purpose of protecting the health and integrity of communities, commonly shared natural resources and the future.
How Residents of a Rural New Mexico County Fought the Fracking Barons and Won'--For Now by Nina Bunker Ruiz '-- YES! Magazine
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:50
In Mora County, New Mexico, corporations seeking fracking contracts came up against ''querencia'''--a traditional way of thinking about and defending the land.
posted Sep 15, 2014
My parents live in Chacon, New Mexico, in a wind-chapped finger of high-mountain Mora Valley. My grandparents were determined to spend their last days there and are buried in Chacon's campo santo. Every delicious summer of my childhood, I played in and along the Mora River, and now my children splash in the same cold mountain stream.
''Querencia,'' as it is used in the ordinance, means both a respect and love of place, and a safe haven from which one draws strength.
Energy companies are seeking permits to explore natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Mora County. But the area's traditional livelihoods, farming and ranching, rely on clean, healthy rivers and streams. New Mexico has recently suffered several years of severe drought. Millions of gallons of water are used to frack, and water contamination and earthquakes are increasingly paired with this technology.
On a sunny afternoon last summer, I drove my daughters north to visit my parents. We made the 90-degree turn at Salman Raspberry Ranch, leaving the sweepingllanothat stretches east of Las Vegas as Highway 518 begins to wind between tightly clustered hills of pi±on, juniper, and ponderosa. Then the close-knit hills parted and the valley opened before us, the glistening coils of the Mora River wending through a lush field dotted with grazing cattle, cattails, and willow. As we got closer to my parents' house, the girls pointed out familiar sights: the clinic where my mother worked as a nurse; Mora High School, where my father taught; and the recurring hand-painted signs bearing the image of a cow's head and phrases like ''Farming, not Fracking.''
In 2010, Mora County voters, worried about the mounting threat of fracking, elected John Olivas and Paula Garcia to the Mora County Commission. Both had voiced strong opposition to oil and gas extraction in the county. A local anti-fracking organization, Drilling Mora County, contacted the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), which helps municipalities with a legal framework to support local self-governance. As a result, in April 2013, the Mora County Commission passed ''The Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance,'' the first countywide ban on oil and gas extraction in the United States.
''I would hate to see fracking come in... To me, it's just one more thing that could hurt my family."
Mora's community ordinance draws on the protection of state and federal constitutions and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the contract signed between the United States and Mexico at the end of the Mexican-American War, which has provisions that protect the property and civil rights of land-grant families in New Mexico. The ordinance places both the indigenous and civil rights of the community over those of corporations'--and it has unleashed a flurry of media attention on the Mora community.
It also set off a litigious backlash from the oil and gas industry. The Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and three private landowners filed suit against the county in federal district court, and in mid-February 2014, a second lawsuit was filed by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, which leases state trust land in the eastern part of the county for 25 cents an acre.
Community ordinances like Mora's are needed ''to fill a void,'' according to Eric Jantz, a staff attorney for New Mexico Environmental Law Center. Jantz says the ''Halliburton loophole'' (the energy-bill provision that exempts fracking from EPA regulations), congressional budget cuts, and lack of institutional will to deal with the environmental impacts of extractive industries weaken state and federal protections. If folks in the community put up a good fight, the deep-pocketed corporations take them to court, using what Jantz calls ''a perversion of the 14th Amendment'' to protect their property rights.
Jantz speculates that the oil and gas industry singled out Mora, ''a poor, rural, largely minority community without resources,'' purposefully as its battleground. He suspects the industry intends to use lawsuits to ''squeeze the county into acquiescence.''
Should the plaintiffs win in court, a precedent would be set, and the industry would have more leverage to oppose other community ordinances in the state and across the country. Jantz points to the fact that no comprehensive geological surveys have been done in Mora County. The quantity of shale gas in the county is unknown; there may not even be enough to warrant drilling'--or more specifically, hydraulic fracturing. To Jantz, this is evidence that the fight is about something bigger than access rights to Mora County's hypothetical fossil fuel reserves. It's a fight about rights: corporate vs. community.
Mora County Commissioner and fracking-ban champion Olivas agrees. He says he wants to protect the county from the sort of boom-and-bust industry he saw growing up in Grants, New Mexico, where his parents worked in the uranium mines. Now, Grants is a ghost town, and many of his parents' friends and acquaintances have died from illnesses related to uranium exposure. Olivas also hopes to help set a precedent for other communities to keep fracking at bay. He believes that even the sort of strict regulations on fracking passed in other counties still provide an ''in'' for drilling.
Other local residents disagree. Joseph Griego runs an organic farm in Mora with his wife, Ruth Ann. He showed me their raised beds of frost-hardy greens, the greenhouse with an aquaponics system he built himself, and a pen containing hens and two splendid Spanish heritage turkeys. After the tour, we went into the kitchen, where Ruth Ann was at the stove, sauteeing asparagus.
Sitting across from me at the kitchen table, Griego insisted he has tried to remain neutral on the fracking issue: He doesn't believe the industry's testimonials from farmers and ranchers saying fracking is safe, but he doesn't believe what he regards as hyperbole from environmental groups either. He figures a good number of Hispanics, like him, don't want fracking in Mora but see an outright ban as a bad idea and fundamentally an Anglo-driven initiative.
He doesn't think Mora has a chance to win lawsuits brought by the energy corporations: ''As a county we don't have the money to figure it out in court'--it could take years. Money's going to talk, and we don't have enough population base to say we don't want this here.''
Griego explained that there aren't many job opportunities in Mora Country. He wonders if local fracking would offer his son, a mechanical engineering major at New Mexico Tech, a career in the area.
Jantz speculates that the oil and gas industry singled out Mora, ''a poor, rural, largely minority community without resources,'' purposefully as its battleground.
Joining us at the table with a sleeping baby in her arms, Ruth Ann expressed a less ambivalent view than her husband's. ''I would hate to see fracking come in,'' she said. ''To me, it's just one more thing that could hurt my family. We're trying to raise our own food because we want to know where it comes from. What would it do to the food we grow?''
Griego finished our conversation with a phrase I hear often from Mora residents. Despite his doubts about the fracking ban, he still sees Mora's struggle for community rights as ''the good fight.''
Robert Howarth, a Cornell University professor of ecology and environmental biology, has seen the effects of hydraulic fracturing through his research in other communities. He says that some gas well sites in Texas, Utah, and Colorado had pristine air quality before gas development began just a few years ago and now have airborne benzene and elevated levels of ozone.
As much as 5 million gallons of water and chemical additives are used per frack job, says Howarth. Some of the chemical additives are toxic, and ''fracking fluids extract radioactive substances such as thorium, uranium, radium, and toxic materials such as lead and arsenic from the shale.''
An average of 40 percent of frack fluids rises to the surface over the lifetime of a gas well, and there aren't comprehensive systems for disposing of them: ''In Texas, they inject the waste fluids deep underground into old, conventional gas wells, but there aren't enough such wells for all the waste in many areas.'' Howarth cites evidence that fracking is responsible for an increase in earthquakes.
Then there's climate change. Clearly frustrated that natural gas is touted as cleaner than other fossil fuels, Howarth points out that natural gas is mostly methane, which has the largest greenhouse gas footprint of any fossil fuel. ''Considering natural gas a 'bridge fuel,''' he says, ''is disastrous.''
The serious risks of fracking are frequently ignored by corporations and courts, says CELDF Executive Director Thomas Linzey. He's seen the current system of law not only ignore but punish people who fight to protect their communities. ''We pretend we live in a democracy, but as long as certain corporate-manufactured legal doctrines remain in place, it doesn't matter what we want or what we do.''
These doctrines include corporate constitutional ''rights,'' preemption, and Dillon's Rule, which makes community lawmaking subordinate to state legislatures and state agencies. This means, Linzey continues, that ''what Mora has adopted isn't just an ordinance; it's a new constitution'--a new system of governance, a huge shift, a movement.'' By developing community ordinances, Mora County and more than 200 other communities across the nation are asserting their right to local self-governance to decide the future health of their environment and their communities.
Joseph Griego on his organic farm with a Spanish heritage turkey. Photo by the author.
Olivas lost his seat as chairman of the county commission in June, casting doubt on the security of Mora County's anti-fracking ordinance. His successor, George Trujillo, is not necessarily pro-fracking but believes an outright ban and the resulting lawsuits are too much of a financial burden for the cash-poor county and its taxpayers. However, a repeal of the ordinance would not be easy, much less automatic; it would require both a unanimous vote of the county commission and a referendum, effective only if two-thirds of the electorate votes to repeal.
''If we're opposing an industry coming into our community, we need to show that we're working for something positive,'' says Anita LaRan, descendent of some of the first Mora inhabitants and co-founder of Collaborative Visions, an organization that works to establish local economy projects. The community is rallying around the idea and there are signs of progress: a newsletter, La Voz de Mora; the Mora Watershed Alliance, which aims to restore arroyos and riparian areas; a planned arts venue; and a produce co-op that supplies markets in Taos, Santa Fe, and Espa±ola. Community cohesion is the aim.
''We want to get people involved,'' LaRan says. ''We don't want anything that divides the community.''
A specific aspect of the anti-fracking ordinance refers to the values of a community that understands the importance of place and interdependence. This section evokes the Spanish tradition of querencia as protection for the inherent indigenous rights of all the county's inhabitants'--human, plant, and animal.
''Querencia,'' as it is used in the ordinance, means both a respect and love of place, and a safe haven from which one draws strength. Author Barry Lopez, in The Rediscovery of North America, suggests that the word carries a ''sense of being challenged'' and defines querencia as ''a place in which we know exactly who we are. The place from which we speak our deepest beliefs.''
''As long as certain corporate-manufactured legal doctrines remain in place, it doesn't matter what we want or what we do.''
''A sense of place,'' he warns, ''must include, at the very least, a knowledge of what is inviolate about the relationship between a people and the place they occupy, and certainly, too, how the destruction of this relationship, or the failure to attend to it, wounds people.''
Defending that relationship is embedded in the county's history. During the Mexican-American War, and despite terrible odds, Mora and a handful of outlying areas made up the only significant resistance to the U.S. occupation of New Mexico.
In January 1847, mountain valley rebels managed to repel the U.S. Army, pushing the troops out of Mora. When the Americans returned with fresh soldiers and artillery, they razed the town, burned the wheat fields, and confiscated every last scrap of food. Mora's villagers, left with charred fields and rubble, chose to replant and rebuild rather than relocate.
Today, facing battle with another superior power'--this time in court'--the people of Mora County have drawn on their heritage of resistance and resilience. They've responded to the threat of fracking with an ordinance that asserts their right to self-governance. Despite political differences and financial uncertainty, they're working to create a community-centered economy and to keep up the good fight for place and home'--for querencia.
Nina Bunker Ruiz wrote this article forThe End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue ofYES! Magazine.Nina is a freelance writer native to New Mexico. She currently lives in Santa Fe with her husband and two daughters.
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The NY Times' Hot Air on Methane
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:46
The New York Times has an editorial urging Washington to regulate emissions of methane '' no surprise as ''The Gray Lady'' has to uphold her ''green'' bonafides. But methane as an ''overlooked'' greenhouse gas, as the editorial's headline states? Hardly.
While the Times may have just discovered methane, industry has been working to reduce emissions '' and is succeeding, at a rate that casts doubt on the need for a new federal regulatory layer. Let's look at the facts:
The chart, put together by the folks at Energy In Depth, shows that the methane emissions reductions the Times wants have been occurring since 2008 '' at the same time production of natural gas from shale has been soaring, thanks to safe hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. According to EPA data, industry efforts have reduced methane emissions from fracked wells 73 percent the past three years and nearly 40 percent from 2006 to 2012. EPA:
Reported methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems sector have decreased by 12 percent since 2011, with the largest reductions coming from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells, which have decreased by 73 percent during that period. EPA expects to see further emission reductions as the agency's 2012 standards for the oil and gas industry become fully implemented.
EPA adds:
The decrease in CH4 (methane) emissions is largely due to the decrease in emissions from production and distribution. '... Emissions from this source '... declined by 39.4 percent from 2006 to 2012. Reasons for the 2006-2012 trend include ... increased voluntary reductions over that time period.
Both quotes refer to industry ''green completions'' rules that become standard in January but which industry already is complying with in many cases. Howard Feldman, API's director of regulatory and scientific affairs:
''We're proud to see our industry's efforts demonstrated in EPA data that show emissions are far lower than EPA projected just a few years ago, even as U.S. production has surged. Creating good paying jobs and growing the economy go hand in hand with our efforts to reduce emissions both voluntarily and in compliance with EPA emissions standards that take effect in January. '... Industry will continue to be a leader in environmental stewardship as it maintains our country's leadership position as the top producer of natural gas.''
Some takeways for the Times and others pushing for a new layer of federal regulation: Industry certainly isn't ''overlooking'' methane emissions. While others talk about reducing them, industry is doing it, significantly lowering emissions while it increases natural gas production.
Second, action for action's sake isn't a model for sound public policy. Policy should be based on facts and reality, not stale talking points or a political agenda that could hamper America's energy revolution.
GOVS GET OUT OF THE WAY-More Good News on Methane Emissions
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:44
Some talk '' some take to the streets '' pushing for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and natural gas industry is actually doing it. New EPA data supports:
Methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems decreased 12 percent since 2011.The largest reductions come from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells '' down 73 percent since 2011.Industry's overall greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) decreased 1 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.EPA's table:
The data points to important conclusions: First, emissions reductions have come when oil and natural gas development has increased during the ongoing U.S. energy revolution '' consistent with this chart from Energy In Depth we shared last week:
Second, emissions cuts are being led by reductions from natural gas development using advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. API's Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs:
''We're proud to see our industry's efforts demonstrated in EPA data that show emissions are far lower than EPA projected just a few years ago, even as U.S. production has surged. Creating good-paying jobs and growing the economy go hand in hand with our efforts to reduce emissions both voluntarily and in compliance with EPA emissions standards that take effect in January.''
The emissions reductions underscore industry's commitment to cleaner, greener operations. Technologies and initiatives aimed at capturing emissions at the wellhead, called green completions, obviously are working. Feldman:
''Thanks in large part to innovations like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, America is leading the world in producing natural gas and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Industry will continue to be a leader in environmental stewardship as it maintains our country's leadership position as the top producer of natural gas.''
To be clear: GHG emissions from oil and natural gas production '' including methane emissions '' are falling thanks to new technologies and a continued commitment to achieve them. Hydraulic fracturing isn't the obstacle to progress on GHG '' it's actually leading emissions reductions.
Clean-burning natural gas is fueling America. And as the world's No. 1 producer of natural gas, America can provide energy for our friends around the globe '' if government gets out of the way of privately financed projects to export liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.
Join the energy conversation at facebook.com/Energy.Tomorrow
POUND FOR POUND-EPA-Methane Emissions | Climate Change | US EPA
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:41
U.S. Methane Emissions, By SourceNote: All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012.
Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities. In 2012, CH4 accounted for about 9% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Methane is emitted by natural sources such as wetlands, as well as human activities such as leakage from natural gas systems and the raising of livestock. Natural processes in soil and chemical reactions in the atmosphere help remove CH4 from the atmosphere. Methane's lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but CH4 is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.
Globally, over 60% of total CH4 emissions come from human activities. [1] Methane is emitted from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities, described below.
Industry. Natural gas and petroleum systems are the largest source of CH4 emissions from industry in the United States. Methane is the primary component of natural gas. Some CH4 is emitted to the atmosphere during the production, processing, storage, transmission, and distribution of natural gas. Because gas is often found alongside petroleum, the production, refinement, transportation, and storage of crude oil is also a source of CH4 emissions. For more information, see the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks sections on Natural Gas Systems and Petroleum Systems.Agriculture. Domestic livestock such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels produce large amounts of CH4 as part of their normal digestive process. Also, when animals' manure is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks, CH4 is produced. Because humans raise these animals for food, the emissions are considered human-related. Globally, the Agriculture sector is the primary source of CH4 emissions. For more information, see the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks Agriculture chapter.Waste from Homes and Businesses. Methane is generated in landfills as waste decomposes and in the treatment of wastewater. Landfills are the third largest source of CH4 emissions in the United States. For more information see the U.S. Inventory's Waste chapter.Methane is also emitted from a number of natural sources. Wetlands are the largest source, emitting CH4 from bacteria that decompose organic materials in the absence of oxygen. Smaller sources include termites, oceans, sediments, volcanoes, and wildfires.
To find out more about the role of CH4 in warming the atmosphere, and its sources, visit the Causes of Climate Change page and the Greenhouse Gas Indicators page in the Science section.
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Emissions and TrendsMethane (CH4) emissions in the United States decreased by almost 11% between 1990 and 2012. During this time period, emissions increased from sources associated with agricultural activities, while emissions decreased from sources associated with the exploration and production of natural gas and petroleum products.
U.S. Methane Emissions, 1990-2012Note: All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012.
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Reducing Methane EmissionsThere are a number of ways to reduce methane (CH4) emissions. Some examples are discussed below. EPA has a series of voluntary programs for reducing CH4 emissions, and is supporting the President's Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions (PDF) (15 pp, 1.88MB).
Examples of Reduction Opportunities for MethaneEmissions SourceHow Emissions Can be ReducedIndustry
Upgrading the equipment used to produce, store, and transport oil and gas can reduce many of the leaks that contribute to CH4 emissions. Methane from coal mines can also be captured and used for energy. Learn more about the EPA's Natural Gas STAR Program and Coalbed Methane Outreach Program.
Methane can be reduced and captured by altering manure management strategies at livestock operations or animal feeding practices. Learn more about these strategies and EPA's AgSTAR Program.
Waste from Homes and Businesses
Because CH4 emissions from landfill gas are a major source of CH4 emissions in the United States, emission controls that capture landfill CH4 are an effective reduction strategy. Learn more about these opportunities and the EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach Program.
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References1. EPA (2010). Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Natural Sources . U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.
2. U.S. Department of State (2007). Projected Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In: Fourth Climate Action Report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change . U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, USA.
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Global Warming Potential Describes Impact of Each Gas
Certain greenhouse gases (GHGs) are more effective at warming Earth ("thickening the blanket") than others.The two most important characteristics of a GHG in terms of climate impact are how well the gas absorbs energy (preventing it from immediately escaping to space), and how long the gas stays in the atmosphere.
The Global Warming Potential (GWP) for a gas is a measure of the total energy that a gas absorbs over a particular period of time (usually 100 years), compared to carbon dioxide.[1] The larger the GWP, the more warming the gas causes. For example, methane's 100-year GWP is 21, which means that methane will cause 21 times as much warming as an equivalent mass of carbon dioxide over a 100-year time period.[2]
Carbon dioxide (CO2) has a GWP of 1 and serves as a baseline for other GWP values. CO2 remains in the atmosphere for a very long time - changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations persist for thousands of years.Methane (CH4) has a GWP more than 20 times higher than CO2 for a 100-year time scale. CH4 emitted today lasts for only about a decade in the atmosphere, on average.[3] However, on a pound-for-pound basis, CH4 absorbs more energy than CO2, making its GWP higher.Nitrous Oxide (N2O) has a GWP 300 times that of CO2 for a 100-year timescale. N2O emitted today remains in the atmosphere for more than 100 years, on average.[3]Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) are sometimes called high-GWP gases because, for a given amount of mass, they trap substantially more heat than CO2.
[1]Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, R.B. Alley, T. Berntsen, N.L. Bindoff, Z. Chen, A. Chidthaisong, J.M. Gregory, G.C. Hegerl, M. Heimann, B. Hewitson, B.J. Hoskins, F. Joos, J. Jouzel, V. Kattsov, U. Lohmann, T. Matsuno, M. Molina, N. Nicholls, J. Overpeck, G. Raga, V. Ramaswamy, J. Ren, M. Rusticucci, R. Somerville, T.F. Stocker, P. Whetton, R.A. Wood and D. Wratt (2007). Technical Summary. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis . Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
[2]Forster, P., V. Ramaswamy, P. Artaxo, T. Berntsen, R. Betts, D.W. Fahey, J. Haywood, J. Lean, D.C. Lowe, G. Myhre, J. Nganga, R. Prinn, G. Raga, M. Schulz and R. Van Dorland (2007). Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis . Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
[3]NRC (2010). Advancing the Science of Climate Change . National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.
*Global Warming Potential (GWP) values are from the U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. United Nations guidance currently requires national inventories to use GWPs from the IPCC's Second Assessment Report.
Methane CH4 - Greenhouse Gas, Cows, Pigs Permafrost & Oceans | Du La Bab - Now Is The Time
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:39
Methane or CH4 is responsible for a significant part of the greenhouse gases causing Global warming. Methane is a trace gas that only makes up a mere .00017% of the earths atmosphere. In contrast carbon dioxide or CO2 makes up .04% of our atmosphere, also appearing to be a small amount.
Yet these gases along with various others are being said to be the cause of a potentially world ecological catastrophe for future generations. Some people believe the problem could be so serious that it could grow exponentially and affect present generations.
Carbon is generally well understood by the masses. We frequently hear talk about our carbon footprint. Many people understand that carbon emissions come from cars and the amount of electricity we use. They understand that cutting down the rain forest takes away the trees that convert the CO2 back into oxygen. Very few people comprehend the dangers of methane and the serious effects it is having on climate change.
Where does methane come from?
So where does methane come from and just how bad is it? Methane is a principle component of natural gas. It also comes from coal, solid waste, manure, rice farms, waste water, biofuel combustion and most significantly '' enteric fermentation. Enteric fermentation is fermentation that takes place in the digestive systems of ruminant animals such as cows, sheep and water buffalo. It represents 28%, the largest percentage of contribution to methane in our environment. The majority of methane emissions come from ''large swine'' and dairy farms. Makes you wonder how nature is trying to tell us something '' swine flu and mad cow disease.
Methane store in permafrost & oceans
The main concern with Methane is the amounts that are stored in our permafrost and our oceans. Currently the world has an output of 6 Gigatons of greenhouse gases a year. The problem '' there are large clathrates [or methane stores] frozen into sediment along the ocean margin. How much? '' An estimated 2000 to 4000 gigatons. Wow! Now add to this the fact that as the permafrost is melting in Alaska and Siberia, it is exposing stores of methane and carbon from bogs, although not as much as clathrates, creating a potentially serious cumulative effect.
Hope for the future
There is a bit of hope in all of this information. An equal amount of methane as compared to an equal amount of CO2 has an effect on global warming of 20 times greater than CO2. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) will stay in our atmosphere for around 100 years. With a half life of 7 years Methane last around 10 years in our atmosphere. It is estimated that 60% of global methane emissions are related to human activities. Some scientists believe that these green house gases are as significant as or greater than CO2 emissions from cars.
What if we could significantly reverse methane emissions? Due to the short half life of methane, a significant impact could be made to slowing or reversing climate change by reducing methane combined with reducing CO2. It is simple to do this and it can be done virtually overnight if people understood. By reducing animal consumption, which in the US accounts for 70% of our diet, the need for large herds of livestock for human consumption would be dramatically reduced.
Additionally, the carbon footprint of growing vegetables, beans and grains is a fraction of that generated by animal farming. An additional benefit is that reducing animal consumption would improve the general health of people.
In conclusion by combining a change in lifestyle with ingenuity of containing emissions and burning them for energy, improved energy efficiency and conscious use of renewable energy we may just be able to maintain our existing coastal cities for future generations to enjoy.
Methane poses huge climate threat to Earth | Georgia Straight, Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:36
The volcanoes erupted for about 600,000 years, spewing basalt lava that blanketed an area about half the size of Canada. The acidified oceans warmed by as much as 18 ° F, killing reefs and suffocating organisms. Up to 96 percent of marine species in the super-ocean, Panthalassa, and 70 percent of terrestrial vertebrate species on Earth's supercontinent, Pangaea, went extinct.
The Earth became, according to Carl Zimmer in his foreword to 2008's T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, ''a truly grotesque place'--a glassy purple sea releasing poisonous bubbles that rise up to a pale green sky''.
In a geologic instant, or about 200,000 years, life on Earth collapsed.
According to a March 31 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and titled ''Methanogenic burst in the end-Permian carbon cycle'', it turns out that microbes in the ocean played a great role in the devastation. Fed a steady dose of nickel from the volcanic eruptions, Methanosarcina microorganisms were able to quickly reproduce and convert marine organic carbon into huge amounts of methane'--an agent that has a warming potential between 72 and 100 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.
The end-Permian extinction event'--or the Great Dying'--that occurred 252 million years ago was so catastrophic that it took between 10 million and 30 million years for life to recover.
Today, industrial civilization has produced enough carbon dioxide to warm the planet and bring methane into the picture yet again. A warming planet, for instance, has meant a decrease in Arctic sea ice and snow cover, exposing permafrost under the snow and releasing stored methane.
''Methane is in the marine sediments on the continental shelf and in the permafrost on the land,'' says Paul Beckwith, a part-time geography professor at the University of Ottawa, in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight. ''Around the fringes of the icecap, there's no ice and the water is warming the marine sediments.'' If the melting permafrost and marine sediments trigger a methane bomb, we'll experience a sudden and major ecological shift, according to Beckwith.
''The Earth is presently undergoing an abrupt climate change that will take us from our previous climate state to a state that is much warmer,'' he says, ''perhaps even five or six degrees [Celsius] warmer over a decade or two.''
An American Association for the Advancement of Science report from last month also warned of ''abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes in the Earth's climate system'' that could lead to ''loss of the Amazon rain forest, die-off of coral reefs, and mass extinctions''.
Already, we're seeing the effects on various species. ''One-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds are headed toward oblivion,'' Elizabeth Kolbert writes in The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a book published in February.
We're quickly approaching a critical tipping point that would break apart the web of life of which we're a part.
Beckwith, however, believes we're also approaching a ''tipping point for human behaviour'' where we finally mobilize and challenge the crisis confronting us.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, an investigative journalist and international security expert, agrees. This opportunity arises, he says, because there's a growing recognition that anthropogenic climate disruption is part of a larger web of crises. Climate change, resource depletion, global militarization, and economic collapse, he writes in his 2010 book, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, ''are manifestations of the same structural dynamic generated by the inherently dysfunctional character of the global political economy''. They ''illustrate that neoliberal ideology fails to fully reflect the real conditions of human life as fundamentally embedded in the natural environment''.
We are approaching what Ahmed calls the post-carbon age, where ''a new ethical system based on human cooperation, grassroots participation and the mutual needs and well-being of all will be increasingly viewed...as the basis of the rational pursuit of self-maximization.''
A post-carbon civilization will ''increase access to, and ownership of, productive resources for the majority'', he writes, with agricultural and industrial means of production controlled by grassroots communities. The end of productive resources being concentrated in the hands of an elite minority would ''drastically reduce industrial overconsumption while transitioning to a localized renewable-energy infrastructure''.
This transition could be as dramatic a paradigm shift as abrupt climate change. And it could mean that we do face, in effect, an impending extinction event. But it would be the extinction of modern industrial civilization, which, according to Ahmed, ''cannot survive in its current form beyond the twenty-first century''.
Like those microbes in Earth's ancient oceans, it would ultimately author the end of one era and the beginning of another.
Are Methane-Belching Microbes a Climate Change Threat?
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:34
Photo credit: Flickr user Tony Hisgett.
The earth's climate appears to be changing. Over the past 100 years the earth's average temperature has risen by more than a degree Fahrenheit, with another two or more degrees of warming predicted in the century ahead. This is believed to be causing our weather to become less predictable and more intense. Meanwhile, our oceans are seemingly becoming more acidic, while polar ice caps appear to be melting, causing sea levels to rise. This has a lot of folks worried and pointing fingers. However, what we don't yet understand makes for a curious case in the study of climate change.
Source: EPA.
Finding someone to blameMost of the fingers of blame first point to how we generate electricity, as its production is responsible for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Coal in particular is called out, as it produces 75% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the sector despite only producing 39% of America's electricity.
That being said, there are more slices to the carbon pie than just coal. As the chart on the right points out, greenhouse gas emissions come from a range of sources, including agriculture. It's that last slice of pie that I'd like to point out, because it's one that makes for a curious case study.
Belching and microbiologyLivestock actually produce a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Cows, sheep and even deer have a unique digestive process called enteric fermentation. Inside their rumen, which is a part of their multi-chambered stomach, microbial fermentation takes place thanks to the existence of over 200 species of microorganisms. Some of these microorganisms produce methane gas, which is then vented into the atmosphere when an animal burps. These methane gas emissions are actually 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions, because methane is thought to be so much more efficient at trapping radiation than carbon dioxide.
Yup, we're baaaad. Photo credit: Flickr user PhotKing.
In the U.S., enteric fermentation is said to be responsible for a quarter of all methane emissions. Meanwhile, the management of animal manure when it's stored in lagoons or holding tanks is likely responsible for another 9% of methane emissions. Methane emissions from livestock are even greater in other nations. New Zealand -- which is home to more than 35 million sheep and just 10 million people -- gets nearly half of its greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
Life under the seaBurping sheep, cows, and deer are far from the only natural sources of this climate-warming gas. Wetlands are actually a large source of methane, as well as the oceans. In fact, scientists have recently discovered methane gas bubbling up from the Atlantic Ocean in places they hadn't expected to see it. So far 570 methane seeps have been found along the coast stretching from North Carolina to Massachusetts. While some of this methane could be venting from natural gas deposits underneath the Atlantic, many view that as unlikely -- the Atlantic doesn't have the huge salt layers found in the Gulf of Mexico, which hold much of its oil and gas.
A more likely source of the natural gas is methane-belching microbes similar to those found in ruminating livestock. What scientists are finding curious is the fact that just a few short years ago no methane seeps were thought to exist off of the East Coast. Now scientists believe they have found the largest natural gas seep in the world.
Photo credit: Flickr user Anderson Smith2010.
Cause for concern?Scientists aren't too worried that these methane seeps are a cause for concern when it comes to climate change. What they are finding is that mussels and crabs are able to thrive near these seeps because of a symbiotic relationship they have with methane-eating bacteria. Further, most of the rest of the gas is believed to dissolve before it reaches the surface. It's also believed to be a much smaller amount of gas than what's produced by cows. That being said, scientists still really don't know much about these seeps, as they were not thought to exist a few years ago. This fact just goes to show how much we really don't know about our planet and what, if anything, is causing our climate to change.
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Danger from the deep: New climate threat as methane rises from cracks in Arctic ice - Science - News - The Independent
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:32
Click here to see 'The deadly depths - Methane release in the Arctic' graphic
The researchers found significant amounts of methane being released from the ocean into the atmosphere through cracks in the melting sea ice. They said the quantities could be large enough to affect the global climate. Previous observations have pointed to large methane plumes being released from the seabed in the relatively shallow sea off the northern coast of Siberia but the latest findings were made far away from land in the deep, open ocean where the surface is usually capped by ice.
Eric Kort of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that he and his colleagues were surprised to see methane levels rise so dramatically each time their research aircraft flew over cracks in the sea ice.
"When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase," Dr Kort said. "We were surprised to see these enhanced methane levels at these high latitudes. Our observations really point to the ocean surface as the source, which was not what we had expected," he said.
"Other scientists had seen high concentrations of methane in the sea surface but nobody had expected to see it being released into the atmosphere in this way," he added.
Methane is about 70 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat. However, because methane is broken down more quickly in the atmosphere, scientists calculate that it is 20 times more powerful over a 100-year cycle. The latest methane measurements were made from the American HIPPO research programme where a research aircraft loaded with scientific instruments flies for long distances at varying altitudes, measuring and recording gas levels at different heights.
The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, covered several flights into the Arctic at different times of the year. They covered an area about 950 miles north of the coast of Alaska and about 350 miles south of the North Pole. Dr Kort said that the levels of methane coming off this region were about the same as the quantities measured by other scientists monitoring methane levels above the shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.
"We suggest that the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean represent a potentially important source of methane, which could prove sensitive to changes in sea ice cover," the researchers write. "The association with sea ice makes this methane source likely to be sensitive to changing Arctic ice cover and dynamics, providing an unrecognised feedback process in the global atmosphere-climate system," they say.
Climate scientists are concerned that rising temperatures in the Arctic could trigger climate-feedbacks, where melting ice results in the release of methane which in turn results in a further increase in temperatures.
"We should be concerned because there's so many things in the Arctic where the warming feeds further warming. There are many things in the Arctic that do respond to warming," said Euan Nisbet, a methane expert at Royal Holloway University of London.
As Britain Freezes, Wind Farms Take Power From Grid to Prevent Icing - Breitbart
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 03:44
As Britain shivers under a blanket of snow and ice, it has emerged that offshore windfarms have been idling to prevent icing up '' and drawing electricity off the national grid to do so. Critics have pointed out the ''folly'' of having windfarms idle in a cold snap, but industry experts insist that all forms of power generation involve some electrical input.
The issue has been raised by Brian Christley, a resident of Abergele, Wales, who wrote to the Daily Telegraph to say: ''Over the weekend just gone, the coldest of the year so far, all 100-plus off-shore wind turbines along the North Wales coast were idling very slowly, all using grid power for de-icing and to power their hydraulic systems that keep the blades facing in the same direction.
''Thanks to Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, we will be subsidising these follies for the next 30 years. And then, if we continue to vote for technically naive green politicians, for further periods after that.''
The energy firm which owns the 30 turbines off the North Wales coastline has countered that, on the days in question, the turbines were actually a net contributor to the grid. A spokesman said: ''Our turbines were not idling but generating electricity during each of the days in question, contributing a positive balance of energy into the grid. All energy generators use a small amount of electricity to keep their systems running smoothly, in the case of wind farms drawing power from either an adjacent operating turbine or the grid.''
John Constable, of the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity which promotes sustainable development through the use of renewable energies, said: ''We know that in Denmark there are days when their wind farms are net consumers of electricity, so in some ways this is not surprising. It's another example of how wind power is difficult and expensive to manage.''
Theoretically, Britain's wind farms, both onshore and off, have a combined capacity of 12.1GW, enough to power 8.8 million homes. However, a report published last October by the Scientific Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute found that the chance of all Britain's windfarms running at full capacity together was ''vanishingly small'', meaning that actual output is often far lower. Rather, they found that the average output was just eight percent of the headline figure.
Moreover, they can only produce energy if the wind is blowing at between 10 and 50 mph, above which they automatically shut down to prevent damage. And in freezing conditions they must draw on the energy grid to rotate their blades slowly to prevent them icing, and to power the system which turns the blades into the wind. It also costs about twice as much to produce offshore wind energy as it does to produce traditional coal fired energy.
Roger Helmer, energy spokesman for the UK Independence Party, who want to see wind farm subsidies scrapped, told Breitbart London: ''We're familiar with the layers of subsidy necessary to make wind farms viable. We're familiar with the inefficiency of the necessary back-up fossil fuel generation, for when the wind doesn't blow. Now we learn that on windless days these wind turbines are cannibalising power from the grid merely to help maintain them. Will the folly never stop?''
Nuclear power is the greenest option, say top scientists
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 08:28
Rising demand for energy will place ever greater burdens on the natural world, threatening its rich biodiversity, unless societies accept nuclear power as a key part of the "energy mix", they said. And so the environmental movement and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should drop their opposition to the building of nuclear power stations.
In an open letter to be published next month in the journal Conservation Biology, more than 65 biologists, including a former UK government chief scientist, support the call to build more nuclear power plants as a central part of a global strategy to protect wildlife and the environment.
The full gamut of electricity-generation sources, including nuclear power, must be used to replace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas if the world is to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change, their letter says.
The letter is signed by several leading British academics including Lord May of Oxford, a theoretical biologist at Oxford University and former chief scientific adviser; Professor Andrew Balmford, a conservation biologist at Cambridge; and Professor Tim Blackburn, an expert in biodiversity at University College London.
As well as reducing the sources of carbon dioxide, the chief man-made greenhouse gas implicated in climate change, the expansion of nuclear power will leave more land to support biodiversity and so curb the extinction of species, they say.
Recognising the "historical antagonism towards nuclear energy" among environmentalists, they write: "Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the development of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat climate change, we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is 'green'."
It is too risky to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for replacing fossil fuels because of problems to do with scalability, cost, materials and land use, they explain.
Along with nuclear power, wind energy has the highest benefit-to-cost ratio (Getty)
"Nuclear power '' being far the most compact and energy-dense of sources '' could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution '.... It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy area," they say.
A golf-ball-sized lump of uranium would supply the lifetime's energy needs of a typical person, equivalent to 56 tanker trucks of natural gas, 800 elephant-sized bags of coal or a renewable battery as tall as 16 "super" skyscraper buildings placed one on top of the other, they said.
The letter was organised by Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania and Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide. The two co-authored a paper in the January issue of Conservation Biology outlining the scientific case of nuclear power in terms of environmental protection. Of seven major technologies for generating electricity, nuclear power and wind energy had the highest benefit-to-cost ratio, they concluded.
"Trade-offs and compromises are inevitable and require advocating energy mixes that minimise net environmental damage. Society cannot afford to risk wholesale failure to address energy-related biodiversity impacts because of preconceived notions and ideals," they said.
Professor Corey told The Independent on Sunday: "Our main concern is that society isn't doing enough to rein in emissions'... Unless we embrace a full, global-scale assault on fossil fuels, we'll be in increasingly worse shape over the coming decades '' and decades is all we have to act ruthlessly.
"Many so-called green organisations and individuals, including scientists, have avoided or actively lobbied against proven zero-emissions technologies like nuclear because of the associated negative stigma," he said.
"Our main goal was to show '' through careful, objective scientific analysis '' that on the basis of cost, safety, emissions reduction, land use and pollution, nuclear power must be considered in the future energy mix," he explained.
The letter aims to convince people of the potential benefits of nuclear power in a world where energy demand will increase as the climate begins to change because of rising levels of greenhouse gases, Professor Corey added.
"By convincing leading scientists in the areas of ecological sustainability that nuclear has a role to play, we hope that others opposed to nuclear energy on purely 'environmental' '' or ideological '' grounds might reconsider their positions," he said.
Iran joins European gas race
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:54
Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan.5
By Emil Ismayilov - Trend:
Thaw in relations between the West and Iran gradually begins to bear fruit, and Azerbaijan can also obtain considerable dividends from it.
The recent sworn enemies are in talks now as well. The negotiations led by several European countries (France, UK, Germany, Italy) with the National Iranian Gas Company on the issue of cooperation in the construction of gas processing plants and gas pipelines both in the country and from Iran to Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries, are the striking example of that.
Considering the issue of cooperation in the construction of gas pipelines, the issue of supplies of Iranian gas to Europe also becomes relevant. The issue of gas supplies, which became a matter of urgency in the relations between Europe and Russia, is still open and needs to be addressed.
Rapprochement between Europe and Iran in the gas sector can become a reality in terms of implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project, which will deliver Azerbaijani gas.
All gas transportation infrastructure, which is the part of the Southern Gas Corridor, was calculated with the possibility of adoption of additional gas volumes from other sources. In these circumstances, it is namely Azerbaijan that may become a reliable and important link, through which the Iranian gas can enter the European market.
As is known, Azerbaijan and Iran are connected by the Gazi-Muhammad-Astara-Bind-Biand gas pipeline, which delivers Azerbaijani gas to Iran via the swap operations in order to meet the needs of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR), which is in blockade due to the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia.
The idea of construction of a gas pipeline from Turkey for strengthening NAR's energy security has already been considered. With the construction of 180-kilometer-long Igdir (Turkey)-Sederek (NAR) gas pipeline, the operation of Azerbaijani-Iranian gas pipeline in the opposite direction can become quite real.
With that, various scenarios can be considered on condition of full warming of relations between the West and Iran.
Aside from that, Iran is linked with Turkmenistan via a gas pipeline and Europe also shows interest in obtaining Turkmen gas. This opens great opportunities for ensuring the supply of Turkmen gas to the Southern Gas Corridor. Under the current conditions, there is a need to construct a gas pipeline running under the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan in order to deliver Turkmen gas to Europe.
The triumph of peace in the relations of the West and Iran will be beneficial to all, and in all respects, particularly in gas supply issue. Europe will get additional gas sources, while Iran and Turkmenistan will ensure the delivery of gas to the European market.
Azerbaijan, for its part, will play a role of a 'crystal bridge' in gas relations between EU and Iran and get considerable dividends from the transit and transport of Iranian and Turkmen gas.
Edited by SI
Emil Ismayilov is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @Emilsmail
Follow us on Twitter @TRENDNewsAgency
Persian Pipeline - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 17:35
Persian PipelineLocationCountryIran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, SpainGeneral directionsouth-west-northFromAssaluyehPasses throughBazarganToEuropeGeneral informationTypenatural gasPartnersNational Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC)Operatorcurrently based on Build-Own-OperateExpected2014Technical informationLength3,300 km (2,100 mi)Maximum discharge37''40 billion cubic meters per yearPersian Pipeline, also known as the Pars Pipeline and Iran''Europe pipeline, (Persian: خط ÙÙÙهÙ-- پارØ"'Ž) is a proposed natural gas pipeline to transfer Iranian gas from the Persian Gulf to European markets.[1]
This planned pipeline will connect Iran's South Pars gas field with Turkey and then with European markets. It would consist of two principal sections:
Iranian section, also is called Iran Gas Trunkline 9 or IGAT-9, starting in Assaluyeh will transport gas from South Pars gas field to the city of Bazargan at the border with Turkey.[2][3]The European section, which will cross Turkey, passing on to Greece and Italy.[2][3] In Italy the pipeline would be split:the northern branch will run to Switzerland, Austria and Germany, while southern branch will supply France and Spain.[4][5][6] It is not clear if the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, foreseen for Iran gas export to Europe, would be part of this project or not.Technical descriptionEditThe overall length of the pipeline would be 3,300 kilometres (2,100 mi) and the capacity would be 37''40 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.[4][7][8] The cost of Iranian section is estimated to be around $7 billion. This section will be 1,800 kilometres (1,100 mi) long and it would consist of 17 compressor stations. Each compressor station would have 4 turbo compressors. The cost of each station is expected to be around $100 million.[2]
The Turkish section will be 660 kilometres (410 mi) long and cost about one billion euro.[8] The pipeline would cross the difficult geographic environments, notably mountainous areas. It is expected to be operational by 2014.[2][8][9]
OwnershipEditThe pipeline is proposed as a Build-Own-Operate project. According to the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) two Iranian and two foreign companies were bidding for the contract awarded to one Iranian company or consortium and one foreign company.[2] It is possible that Iran and Turkey will set up a joint company for the building of a pipeline in Iran to the Turkish border, and another joint company on the construction of a gas pipeline in Turkey from Iran's border to the Greek border.[10] It is also alleged that Iran is relying on financial involvement from China. China is reportedly to consider $42.8 billion for investment in Iranian refineries and pipelines.[11]
Iranian Oil MinisterMasoud Mir Kazemi confirmed in July 2010 that NIGEC and Turkey's Som Petrol signed a contract to build a pipeline that will cross Turkey.[8]
Alternative projectsEditThe Persian pipeline is seen as an alternative to the Nabucco pipeline.[7] Although Iran was willing to be a part of the Nabucco project, the Iranian government reconsidered its options and decided to focus on Persian pipeline. According to Hossein Zoulanvar, a member of Majlis Energy Commission of Iran, the reasoning to construct and use Persian pipeline for exports to Europe instead comes from US pressures on European countries to impose sanctions on Iranian gas sector. It is noteworthy that Russia which had been trying to block Nabucco project from realization has been trying to re-route Azerbaijani gas exports planned for initial phase of the project through other possible pipelines such as Mozdok '' Makhachkala '' Kazi Magomed pipeline. Although many argue that Persian pipeline may seem as an alternative to Nabucco, hence rival to South Stream project, Russia denounces the allegations and backs the Iranian initiative of building Persian pipeline.[12]
Southern Gas Corridor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:59
The Southern Gas Corridor is an initiative of the European Commission for the gas supply from Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe. The initiative was proposed in the European Commission's Communication "Second Strategic Energy Review '' An EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan" (COM/2008/781).[1][2] The European Union has identified a number of partner countries for this initiative, such as Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Egypt and Mashreq countries. Uzbekistan and Iran should represent, when political conditions permit, a further significant supply source for the EU.[2]
In the Trans-European Networks '' Energy (TEN '' E) programme, "the European Union has designated (...) three of the pipelines as of strategic importance (ITGI, Nabucco and White Stream)."[3] Also the Trans Adriatic Pipeline is identified as a Southern Corridor project.[1] Together, the Southern Corridor projects could provide the necessary transportation capacity to deliver the 60 to 120 billion cubic metres per year of Caspian and Central Asian gas that the European Commission aims to bring directly to Europe.[4]
ON 8 May 2009, the summit "Southern Corridor '' New Silk Road" was held in Prague.[5]
Pipes for South Stream keep arriving in Bulgaria | EurActiv
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 15:22
A ship flying the Bahamas flag, loaded with pipes for the South Stream gas pipeline, was stuck on Saturday (3 January) in shallow water, maneuvering in the Bulgarian port of Burgas, reports Dnevnik, the EurActiv partner in Bulgaria.
The director of Burgas' port administration was quoted as saying that there had been no injuries in the incident, and that there was no threats to the safety of the crew, or the ship, which would be towed out to sea.
It is unclear why pipes keep arriving in Bulgaria, although the South Stream project has been halted, says Dnevnik.
On a visit to Turkey on 1 December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said South Stream was over, and that the 63 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y) of gas would be shipped to Turkey instead of Bulgaria, which according to the Russian leader, had blocked the project.
>> Read: Russia says South Stream project is over
On 9 December, Gazprom confirmed that the decision to abandon the project is final.
>> Read: Russia confirms decision to abandon South Stream
According to Dnevnik, this is the third arrival of the same ship in Bulgaria carrying pipes for the South Stream pipeline. Forty days ago, the same ship transported a second consignment of pipes.
Dnevnik quotes the Russian agency TASS as saying that the pipes destined for the offshore section of the future pipeline are being temporarily stocked in Burgas and Varna.
Gay and Sexual Diversity
ITM Gents,
I'm going through training for ethical research on human subjects for my postdoc. I clipped this paragraph from an article on obtaining consent from "vulnerable" individuals. Are you a member of the Gay and Sexual Diversity (GSD) community? If so, you may be vulnerable! Leave it to the ethics review board to propagate stereotypes, but that's a separate issue. I'll keep an ear out for someone using GSD in a clip you can play. To be fair, GSD is a huge improvement over the LGBBTQQIAAP sequence of letters which I think we agree propagates differentiation within that group and undermines the goal of equality with heterosexuals.
Members of the Gay and Sexuality Diversity (GSD) community may be vulnerable to discrimination, bullying, violence, and prejudice. Gender differences in societal structures, usually directed towards women, may render one gender vulnerable to these forces as well. GSD individuals face social and cultural vulnerabilities because many have experienced some forms of prejudice and discrimination at home, school, work and/or other social contexts or institutions due to their sexual orientation. Gender differences may also make some individuals vulnerable, especially in areas of the world where women do not have the basic rights of citizenship (access to an education, the right to divorce, franchise). These vulnerabilities can lead to increased risks of harm to the individuals in their participation in research, and the prospect of undue influence or manipulation.
The reference is:
Populations in Research Requiring Additional Considerations and/or Protections
Authors Jeremy N. Block, PhD, MPP, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai & Bruce Gordon, MD, University of Nebraska Medical Center
August 2014
retrieved 2015/01/06 from https://www.citiprogram.org/members/index.cfm?pageID=125
Bern: Nordkorea an der Berner Ferienmesse - News Region: Bern & Region - bernerzeitung.ch
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:49
Ungewohnter Gast in Bern: Das diktorisch regierte und international ge¤chtete Nordkorea pr¤sentiert sich im Januar an der Berner Ferienmesse.
Darf man einem Regime wie Nordkorea eine Plattform auf der Berner Tourismusmesse bieten? (Bild: Nordkoreas F¼hrer Kim Jong Un mit hohen Milit¤rs w¤hrend einer Parade in der Hauptstadt Pyongyang.)Bild: Keystone
UmfrageIst es richtig, Nordkorea an der Berner Ferienmesse eine Plattform zu bieten?
Weiss nicht.
696 Stimmen
Weiss nicht.
696 Stimmen
BildstreckeTrekking-Tour NordkoreaNordkorea ist das abgeschottetste Land der Welt. Trotzdem reiste Globetrotter-Chef Andr(C) L¼thi mit einer Reisegruppe zum Trekken. Er schildert, wie er das Leben in einer Diktatur erlebte. (Mai 2014)
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Korrektur-HinweisMelden Sie uns sachliche oder formale Fehler.
g¼ltige E-Mail-Adresse fehlt Mit Nordkorea pr¤sentiert sich eines der abgeschottetsten L¤nder der Welt als Tourismusdestination an der diesj¤hrigen Berner Ferienmesse. Mit Plakaten und Prospekten will eine Delegation des Tourismus-Ministeriums auf das Land aufmerksam machen.
Das diktatorisch regierte Nordkorea wird international ge¤chtet. Man habe sich gut ¼berlegt, ob man einem solche Land eine Plattform bieten wolle, sagte Messe-Sprecher Adrian Haut im Regionaljournal Bern Freiburg Wallis von Schweizer Radio SRF am Dienstag.
Wir finden, dass jedes Land die M¶glichkeit haben soll, diese Plattform zu nutzen. Wir gehen davon aus, dass die Besucherinnen und Besucher m¼ndig genug sind, um selber zu entscheiden, ob sie das Land bereisen wollen oder nicht>>, f¼hrte Haut aus.
Dialog hilft starre Formen aufzuweichen
Dank der Touristen k¶nne sich ein Land auch ¶ffnen, betonte Haut und verwies auf das Beispiel von Burma. Dort habe ein Dialog zwischen Touristen und Einheimischen mitgeholfen, die starren Formen aufzuweichen. Dadurch habe sich die Lage f¼r die einheimische Bev¶lkerung verbessert.
Die Berner Ferienmesse startet am 15. Januar auf dem Messegel¤nde Bernexpo. Der Kontakt zu den Nordkoreanern kam durch das Reiseb¼ro Globetrotter zustande, das gef¼hrte Reisen in das asiatische Land anbietet.
Im vergangenen Juni war eine zw¶lfk¶pfige Gruppe mit Globetrotter-Chef Andr(C) L¼thi in Nordkorea unterwegs. Immer mehr Europ¤er wollten das Land mit eigenen Augen sehen, sagte L¼thi nach seiner R¼ckkehr Bernerzeitung.ch/Newsnet.
Allerdings k¶nne man sich nur in der Hauptstadt frei bewegen. Dieser Kontrollwahn schrecke viele ab. Er sp¼re aber, dass die nordkoreanischen Beh¶rden sich langsam ¶ffneten. Sie haben gemerkt, dass der Tourismus wichtige Devisen ins Land bringt.>>
Nur in Begleitung
M¶glich sind in Nordkorea einzig gef¼hrte und durch das staatliche Reiseb¼ro organisierte Reisen, wie aus den Reisehinweisen des Eidgen¶ssischen Departements f¼r ausw¤rtige Angelegenheiten (EDA) hervorgeht. Reisende werden stets durch einen offiziellen Reisef¼hrer begleitet.
Die Schweiz engagiert sich nach Angaben auf der Homepage des EDA in Nordkorea im Rahmen der Friedensf¶rderung und der humanit¤ren Hilfe. Sie war verschiedentlich Gastgeberin f¼r Vermittlungsgespr¤che zwischen China, den USA und Nordkorea. Nordkorea unterh¤lt eine Botschaft in Bern und eine permanente Mission in Genf.
200'000 politische Gefangene
Das abgeschottete Nordkorea wird von einem Geflecht auskommunistischer Arbeiterpartei, Armee und Geheimdienst beherrscht.An der Spitze der bitterarmen Atommacht steht der Oberste F¼hrerKim Jong Un. Von ihm wird berichtet, er habe in seiner Jugend einige Jahre unerkannt in Bern eine Schule besucht.
Kim Jong Un hatte seinen im Dezember 2011 gestorbenen Vater Kim Jong-il abgel¶st, der seit dem Tod von dessen Vater Kim Il Sung geherrscht hatte. Seit der Gr¼ndung der Demokratischen Volksrepublik Korea>> 1948 l¤sst sich die Kim-Dynastie in einem Personenkult feiern. Menschenrechtsorganisationen prangern immer wieder Menschenrechtsverletzungen im Land an. Sie sch¤tzen die Zahl der politischen Gefangenen auf 200'000.
Die Berner Ferienmesse findet vom 15. bis 18. Januar 2015 auf dem Bernexpo-Gel¤nde statt.(tag/sda)
Erstellt: 06.01.2015, 12:19 Uhr
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FBI explains how it linked North Korea to the Sony Pictures hack
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 19:20
There were quite a few skeptics when the FBI blamed North Korea for the Sony Pictures hack, and you can't entirely blame them -- where was the evidence? Well, the bureau is finally willing to provide some explanation of how it reached its conclusion. Director James Comey tells guests at a security conference that some of the email from the hack originated from internet connections used "exclusively" by North Koreans. The hackers "got sloppy" by occasionally forgetting to use proxy servers to mask their whereabouts, he says.
Comey isn't willing to spill the beans on everything since it might show how the US collects intelligence, but he's quick to chide critics who suggest the hack came from somewhere else (such as an inside job) based solely on the publicly available details. "They don't see what I see," he notes. No, these answers won't satisfy theorists convinced that the North Korea link was just a pretext for imposing tougher sanctions on the isolated nation, but they're a friendly reminder that there's often much more to a cyberattack than meets the eye.
[Image credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images]
Featured Stories
Inside the ''wiper'' malware that brought Sony Pictures to its knees [Update] | Ars Technica
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 23:19
Part of an FBI memo detailing destructive malware believed to have been used in the Sony Pictures cyber attack.
Sony Pictures HacksView all'...Details of malware that may have been associated with the attack on Sony Pictures were disseminated in an FBI ''Flash'' earlier this week. A copy of the memorandum obtained by Ars Technica details ''a destructive malware used by unknown computer network exploitation (CNE) operators'' that can destroy all the data on Windows computers it infects and spread itself over network file shares to attack Windows servers.
Meanwhile, Re/code reports that Sony is ready to announce that the company has attributed the attack on its network to North Korea, according to sources at the company. Given the details of the malware and its similarity to an attack on South Korean companies last year, a tie to North Korea seems possible, though the people taking credit for the attack claim it was motivated by Sony Pictures' alleged discrimination in the layoffs and firings of employees during a corporate reorganization started earlier this year.
The malware used in the attack, which has been described by a Sony spokesperson as ''very sophisticated,'' is almost certainly the same as that identified in the FBI memo. That malware uses Microsoft Windows' own management and network file sharing features to propagate, shut down network services, and reboot computers'--and files named for key Windows components to do most of the dirty work of communicating with its masters and wreaking havoc on the systems it infects.
While the FBI memo provided a means to detect the ''beacon'' message used by the malware to communicate back to the command and control (C&C) servers used by the attackers who planted it, that information by itself may not protect targeted organizations. That's because the malware only begins to broadcast back to the C&C servers once it's been launched'--and deletion of data on the targeted network has already begun.
However, other details on the malware provided by the FBI could help find the malware on infected systems before it's triggered'--if attackers don't significantly alter its code before using it again. And others have already begun security analysis of the malware, unearthing more details about its command and control network and functionality.
Special deliveryThe delivery mechanism for the malware hasn't yet been revealed, other than that it arrives like most PC malware'--wrapped in an executable ''dropper'' that installs it and supporting files. In this case, the ''dropper'' installs itself as a Windows service when executed.
In addition to installing the malware, the service appears to create a network file share using the ''%SystemRoot%'' Windows environmental variable'--which points to the location of Windows system files in the PC's file directory structure (usually \WINDOWS). It then gives unrestricted access to that share, allowing any other computer on the local network to access it. It also uses the command line of the Windows Management Interface (WMI) in what looks like an attempt to communicate with other computers on the network to launch code on them from that network share to spread itself further'--to other desktops as well as to servers. According to analysis of the dropper posted on the community security analysis site Malwr, the dropper communicates with a set of IP addresses in Japan, possibly connected to Sony's corporate network. Then it shuts itself down.
The dropper also installs a file with the same name as Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS), iissrv.exe. Like Internet Information Server, it listens on TCP/IP port 80'--the same port used by most web traffic. Update: The file actually is a web server'--an internal one used to display the scrolling text and JPEG message that victims saw as their computer files were deleted.
At some point'--either based on a hard-coded time within the malware package or after some other communication with the attackers'--the nasty part of the malware package gets launched'--a Windows executable called ''igfxtrayex.exe''. It does a few interesting things before it goes on its rampage of destruction'--it makes a total of four copies of itself and launches each of them with different command-line arguments, apparently to trigger different parts of the code. It also issues commands to shut down the Microsoft Exchange Information Store service, dismounting Exchange's databases and making e-mail inaccessible.
The malware then attempts to connect to the C&C network of the attackers; according to the FBI analysis, this is through one of three IP addresses hard-coded into the malware: one in Italy that recently belonged to a HideMyAss VPN exit point, one belonging to a Polish import-export business, and one at a university in Thailand. Additional IP addresses were discovered by other security researchers.
At the same time, the malware starts accessing the hard drive and deleting its contents sector by sector. Once it's complete, it issues a command to Windows to suspend for two hours, then reboots the computer when it wakes. At that point, the drive is completely wiped.
The malware is able to make physical changes to the hard drive thanks to a commercial disk driver from EldoS, which is installed as part of the malware disguised as a USB 3.0 device driver. The driver gives the malware the ability to overwrite data on the hard drive while running in user mode'--not requiring administrative privileges.
Early detectionWhile the FBI provided a Snort profile for the ''beacon'' signal sent out by the malware to its C&C servers, detecting that signal doesn't do much good'--it means that the deletion of data has already begun. The FBI, however, did provide a description of the malware that can be used with YARA, an open-source malware research tool, to identify it among malware samples, including the hard-coded IP addresses in the wiper:
rule unknown_wiper_error_strings{
meta: unique custom error debug strings discovered in the wiper malware
$IP1 = "" fullword nocase
$IP2 = "" fullword nocase
$IP3 = "" fullword nocase
$MZ = "MZ"
$MZ at 0 and all of them
Given the nastiness of this malware, early detection of the dropper and its installed files would be essential to prevent significant data losses. Companies reliant on Windows and Microsoft server products'--especially older versions of Windows'--would be particularly vulnerable to the attack.
There's no explanation from the FBI of how data might have been exfiltrated over the network in the volume claimed by the attackers, who identify themselves as the ''Guardians of Peace.'' Based on the amount of data stolen, and the nature of the malware itself, it's likely the attackers had physical access to the network and that the attack may have been ongoing for months'--though the wiper malware itself appears to have been compiled just a week before Sony Pictures' networks were brought down.
Update: Sophos added protection against the wiper's dropper late on December 3. In the company's analysis of the dropper, designated as "Troj/Destover-C," researchers found calls to a number of additional Japanese IP addresses during installation.
Other researchers have obtained samples of the malware; Jaime Blasco, labs director of the security vendor AlienVault, said in an email to Ars, "From the samples we obtained, we can say the attackers knew the internal network from Sony since the malware samples contain hardcoded names of servers inside Sony's network and even credentials /usernames and passwords that the malware uses to connect to system inside the network." He added that the malware samples "talk to IP addresses in Italy, Singapore, Poland, US Thailand, Bolivia and Cyprus - probably hacked systems or VPN/Proxies that the attackers use to hide the origin. We also found the attackers were using the Korean language in the systems they used to compile some of the pieces of malware we have found."
The inside knowledge of Sony Pictures' network infers that attackers either had inside help, or had a long-running penetration of Sony's network. Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure, said, "My bet is on a ''watering hole attack'' (or perhaps spear phishing) rather than an inside job." He also said that while North Korea's involvement "seems implausible," it's still a possibility, as "we now live in 'interesting times.'"
Shut Up Slave!
Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers 'is heavy-handed' - Telegraph
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 05:18
''They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.''
But concern was raised over the practicalities of making it a legal requirement for staff to inform on toddlers.
David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, said: ''It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.
''Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme? I don't think so.
''It is heavy-handed.''
Mr Davis also accused the Home Office of pushing the legislation too quickly.
Isabella Sankey, the policy director at human rights body Liberty, said: ''Turning our teachers and childminders into an army of involuntary spies will not stop the terrorist threat.
''Far from bringing those at the margins back into mainstream society, it will sow seeds of mistrust, division and alienation from an early age.
''The Government should focus on projects to support vulnerable young people '' instead they're playing straight into terrorists' hands by rushing through a Bill that undermines our democratic principles and turns us into a nation of suspects.''
Headteachers' union NAHT, said it was ''uneasy'' with the new guidance. General secretary Russell Hobby, said: ''It's really important that nurseries are able to establish a strong relationship of trust with families, as they are often the first experience the families will have of the education system.
''Any suspicions that they are evaluating families for ideology could be quite counterproductive.
''Nursery settings should focus on the foundations of literacy and socialising with other children '' those are the real 'protections'.''
Schools and nurseries, he said, should not be required to act as a police service.
A Home office spokesman last night said: ''We are not expecting teachers and nursery workers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life, but we do expect them to take action when they observe behaviour of concern.
He added: ''It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way. For children in the early years, this will be about learning right from wrong and in practitioners challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes.
''We would expect staff to have the training they need to identify children at risk of radicalisation and know where and how to refer them for further help if necessary.''
It is understood ministers will expect nursery staff to report for example, anti-Semitic comments made in front of them by toddlers.
''We would not expect this behaviour to be ignored,'' said a source. Other examples of children at risk of radicalisation include instances where a Muslim child might tell a teacher that he has been taught at a religious school, or madrassah, that all non-Muslims ''are wicked''.
AP News : Man in profane ambush on Pennsylvania TV reporter fined $300
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:44
Published: TodaySCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - An 18-year-old man who grabbed a Pennsylvania television reporter's arm and yelled obscenities during a live broadcast has pleaded guilty to harassment.
Police say former Lackawanna College student Tyrone Parker ran up to WNEP's Stacy Lange during the November news report and yelled a profane phrase that's been used periodically by people ambushing television reporters over the past year.
Unflustered, Lange continued with her report about Scranton's budget.
Parker, of Pottstown, must pay a $300 fine plus $163 in fees after pleading guilty Wednesday. He could have faced jail time under an original charge of lying to police.
Lange says Parker has called her to apologize.
Ashton Carter Takes Revolving Door to Higher Level
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 15:37
January 6, 2015
Ashton Carter, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense.
Countless officials in Washington have traveled a familiar path through the revolving door, moving from the private sector to the government and back again. Ashton Carter, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, is part of an elite crowd that has managed to keep a foot in both worlds at the same time.
Several reports have mentioned Carter's work as a consultant to the defense industry between stints as a full-time official at the Department of Defense (DoD). But the Project On Government Oversight has found that Carter's role, like that of many other members of Washington's defense policy establishment, went deeper. While working in the private sector, he has held plum positions on government advisory boards that called for reforms with potential ramifications for his defense industry clients and other companies that receive DoD dollars.
Carter is hardly alone. Federal ethics laws allow scores of advisers at the Pentagon and other agencies to serve in these influential positions while keeping close ties to big businesses overseen by the government. Carter's nomination serves to illustrate how the government allows members of the policy establishment to straddle both sides, and how it's become a fixture of the military-industrial-congressional complex.
Carter's dual roles as government and private adviser have overlapped the most in missile defense and U.S. space policy. These are programs with significant taxpayer dollars at stake: the federal government spends about $8 billion a year on missile defense alone. By virtue of his service on advisory panels, Carter has been in a position to influence government policies and gain an inside perspective on future programs while carrying on his outside roles related to missile defense.
As a member of the State Department's International Security Advisory Board, he served on a task force that produced a 2007 report arguing that numerous U.S. allies measure the ''strength of U.S. security assurances'' in part by dollars spent on missile defense and theater missile defense programs. Another 2007 board report on U.S. space policy warned that ''U.S. policy makers should resist efforts to prohibit space-based missile defenses as 'weaponization of space,''' and said the State Department ''should support the right of the United States to explore the potential of space-based defenses without international restrictions.''
As he was one of several board members, it's unclear how much Carter himself shaped the contents of these advisory reports. He did not respond to POGO's request for comment.
Like other advisers who serve as Special Government Employees, Carter was generally prohibited from taking action on particular matters affecting his financial interests (although it's often unclear how well the government enforces this prohibition, which largely relies on employees to disclose and manage their own conflicts). Nonetheless, government actions and private interests occasionally intersected with Carter's advisory work.
In 2008, while still serving on the board that advised the State Department on missile defense, Carter received $10,000 for providing technical advice to Raytheon, a giant defense contractor that has received substantial taxpayer funding to work on missile defense systems. He disclosed his work for Raytheon in 2009 when he became the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. In a 2009 ethics letter, Carter agreed to wait one year before participating in DoD matters involving the company.
Over the past ten years, Raytheon has received more than $11 billion in contract obligations from the MDA alone. The Obama Administration has canceled some missile defense systems in recent years, but the program is still big business for Raytheon. In a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed, then-Under Secretary Carter wrote that an ''essential element'' of the program is the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptor, which is manufactured by Raytheon. The company also makes the Patriot missile defense system and the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, a key component of intercontinental ballistic missile defense. In 2013, the MDA presented Carter with the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Award. ''Dr. Carter has been instrumental in defining the relationship between the Missile Defense Agency, the developer, and the Services,'' according to a DoD press release.
Earlier in his career, Carter served on powerful panels that advised the Pentagon while he also consulted with clients investing in the defense industry.
From 1991 to 1993, and then again from 1997 to 2001, Carter was a member of the Defense Science Board, which advises the Pentagon on the acquisition process and other ''matters of special interest,'' according to its charter. POGO has reviewed a board report, issued in December 1999, which proposed watering down certain procurement rules that were put in place to protect taxpayers from wasteful contract spending. Carter served on a task force that drafted the advisory board report, alongside ex-government officials and representatives of defense contractors such as United Technologies Corporation (UTC), Raytheon, and General Dynamics. The report said that the ''sheer volume, complexity and fluidity'' of government contracting rules ''serve to discourage commercial firms, U.S. and foreign alike, from doing business with DoD.'' It also expressed concern about ''insufficient clarity in DoD policy on cross-border defense industrial mergers and acquisitions.'' The board's recommendations comported with a series of so-called ''acquisition reforms'' that had been spearheaded by the Clinton Administration under the banner of ''Reinventing Government,'' as detailed by POGO at the time.
Starting in 1998, while still advising the Pentagon, Carter also began working as a senior partner at Global Technology Partners. In a 1999 press release, the firm is described as a ''specialized group of investment professionals'' working to ''acquire and invest in technology, defense, aerospace and related businesses worldwide.'' At the time, Carter and his investment partners were acquiring a stake in Condor Systems, Inc., a ''privately held defense electronics firm'' that specialized in ''signals intelligence, electronic support measures, and specialized electronic countermeasures systems for the electronic warfare industry.''
''[W]e believe that our association with Global Technology Partners'...will assist us in identifying attractive acquisition candidates,'' Condor wrote in a 2000 disclosure to investors. Condor's business at the time included sole-source contracts on the Air Force's B-52H bomber and the Navy's Aegis class ships. The company also supplied prime contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing. Condor received nearly $50 million in obligated DoD contract dollars in fiscal years 2000 and 2001, during Carter's tenure on the Defense Science Board.
In 2000, Global Technology Partners formed a ''strategic alliance'' with Rothschild, the global investment bank. ''We believe the combination of Rothschild's global relationships and Global Technology Partner's access to and knowledge of the international defense and aerospace industry will create high level strategic advisory and investment opportunities,'' a Rothschild executive stated in a press release.
''These opportunities will arise from the continued consolidation of second and third tier defense companies, the anticipated relationships that are forming among aerospace and defense companies on a cross border basis and GTP's insight into defense markets and technologies,'' the Rothschild executive said. These are some of the same issues that Carter and other members of the Defense Science Board tackled in their 1999 report on procurement.
Carter's investment colleagues at Global Technology Partners included other former senior officials'--such as former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former CIA Director John Deutch'-- who were serving simultaneously as advisers to DoD. Perry and Deutch also had close ties to giant defense contractors: Perry served on the boards of UTC and Boeing, while Deutch served on the board of Raytheon.
From 1997 to 2001, Carter also served as a member of the Defense Policy Board, another influential Pentagon committee that advises on ''issues central to strategic Department of Defense (DoD) planning,'' according to its charter. Unlike the Defense Science Board, the Defense Policy Board ''does not publish separate reports,'' according to a database of federal advisory committees, and it's unclear what role Carter played in the panel's work. Nonetheless, Carter's industry clients stood to benefit from his role as a Pentagon advisor on both panels. (Another former member of the Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle, ended up resigning after a controversy erupted over his ties to companies that had business pending before the government.)
When President Obama nominated Carter last month, he praised Carter's record as a ''reformer who's never been afraid to cancel old or inefficient weapons programs.'' When Carter was the Pentagon's top procurement official, he introduced a sweeping initiative, known as ''Better Buying Power,'' aimed at ''delivering better value to the taxpayer and improving the way the Department does business.'' He proposed several measures'--such as leveraging competition, using proper contract types, strengthening the acquisition workforce, and mandating affordability'--to help the Pentagon ''do more without more.''
When it comes to holding contractors accountable, however, Carter's views as a public official have aligned at times with the views espoused by the contracting industry. As POGO reported during Carter's stint as the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, he warned the Commission on Wartime Contracting in 2011 that mandatory suspension of indicted contractors could have a ''chilling effect on contractor cooperation in identifying and fixing real problems.''
Will Ashton Carter be able to stand up to defense contractors as Secretary of Defense? Or will he be more concerned with ensuring their cooperation? Given his tangled history as a public and private advisor, taxpayers may have good reason to be concerned.
Image from the Department of Defense.
Michael Smallberg is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Michael's investigations center on oversight of the financial sector.
Topics:National Security
Related Content:Ethics, Revolving Door, Defense
Authors:Michael Smallberg
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CIA inspector general David Buckley to step down | US news | The Guardian
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:31
David Buckley: standing down. Photograph: UPI
The CIA announced on Monday that its inspector general, who investigated a dispute between the agency and Congress regarding the handling of records of the CIA's detention and interrogation activities, is resigning effective January 31.
The agency said in a statement that David Buckley, who had served as the agency's internal watchdog for more than four years, was leaving the agency to ''pursue an opportunity in the private sector.''
Officials said his departure was unrelated to politics or anything he had investigated.
Buckley's office last July issued a report on a dispute between the agency and the Senate Intelligence Committee. The report found that some agency employees had ''acted in a manner inconsistent'' with an understanding between the CIA and the committee regarding access to a special computer network set up to share documents about the agency's involvement in harsh treatment of detained militants.
Buckley's office sent a report on its investigation to the Justice Department, which declined to open a full criminal investigation into the matter.
Leahy & Grassley Press Administration on Use of Cell Phone Tracking Program | Chuck Grassley
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:36
WASHINGTON '' Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pressed top Obama administration officials on the use of cell-site simulators, which can unknowingly sweep up the cell phone signals of innocent Americans.
Recent news reports have chronicled the use of such simulators by law enforcement, explaining that the simulators have the potential to capture data about the location of thousands of cell phones in their vicinity. Leahy and Grassley previously pressed the FBI about the use of this technology. In a joint letter sent last week to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, the Senators raised questions about exceptions to a new FBI policy to obtain a search warrant before using a cell-site simulator. The Senators also asked about other agencies' use of the technology.
''It remains unclear how other agencies within the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security make use of cell-site simulators and what policies are in place to govern their use of that technology,'' Leahy and Grassley wrote.
Outlining privacy concerns for innocent individuals, the letter continues: ''The Judiciary Committee needs a broader understanding of the full range of law enforcement agencies that use this technology, the policies in place to protect the privacy interests of those whose information might be collected using these devices, and the legal process that DOJ and DHS entities seek prior to using them.''
A copy of the text of the December 23 letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary Johnson can be found below.
December 23, 2014
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr. The Honorable Jeh JohnsonAttorney General Secretary of Homeland Security Department of Justice Department of Homeland Security950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20528Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Johnson:
In recent months, media reports have detailed the use of cell-site simulators (often referred to as ''IMSI Catchers'' or ''Stingrays'') by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Most recently a November 14, 2014, Wall Street Journal article (''Americans' Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program'') reported that the United States Marshals Service regularly deploys airborne cell-site simulators (referred to as ''DRT boxes'' or ''dirtboxes'') from five metropolitan-area airports across the United States. Like the more common Stingray devices, these ''dirtboxes'' mimic standard cell towers, forcing affected cell phones to reveal their approximate location and registration information. The Wall Street Journal article reports that ''dirtboxes'' are capable of gathering data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight.
We wrote to FBI Director Comey in June seeking information about law enforcement use of cell-site simulators. Since then, our staff members have participated in two briefings with FBI officials, and at the most recent session they learned that the FBI recently changed its policy with respect to the type of legal process that it typically seeks before employing this type of technology. According to this new policy, the FBI now obtains a search warrant before deploying a cell-site simulator, although the policy contains a number of potentially broad exceptions and we continue to have questions about how it is being implemented in practice. Furthermore, it remains unclear how other agencies within the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security make use of cell-site simulators and what policies are in place to govern their use of that technology.
The Judiciary Committee needs a broader understanding of the full range of law enforcement agencies that use this technology, the policies in place to protect the privacy interests of those whose information might be collected using these devices, and the legal process that DOJ and DHS entities seek prior to using them.
For example, we understand that the FBI's new policy requires FBI agents to obtain a search warrant whenever a cell-site simulator is used as part of a FBI investigation or operation, unless one of several exceptions apply, including (among others): (1) cases that pose an imminent danger to public safety, (2) cases that involve a fugitive, or (3) cases in which the technology is used in public places or other locations at which the FBI deems there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
We have concerns about the scope of the exceptions. Specifically, we are concerned about whether the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have adequately considered the privacy interests of other individuals who are not the targets of the interception, but whose information is nevertheless being collected when these devices are being used. We understand that the FBI believes that it can address these interests by maintaining that information for a short period of time and purging the information after it has been collected. But there is a question as to whether this sufficiently safeguards privacy interests.
Accordingly, please provide written responses to these questions by January 30, 2015:
1. Since the effective date of the FBI's new policy:a. How many times has the FBI used a cell-site simulator?b. In how many of these instances was the use of the cell-site simulator authorized by a search warrant?c. In how many of these instances was the use of the cell-site simulator authorized by some other form of legal process? Please identify the legal process used.d. In how many of these instances was the cell-site simulator used without any legal process?e. How many times has each of the exceptions to the search warrant policy, including those listed above, been used by the FBI?
2. From January 1, 2010, to the effective date of the FBI's new policy:a. How many times did the FBI use a cell-site simulator? b. In how many of these instances was the use of a cell-site simulator authorized by a search warrant?c. In how many of these instances was the use of the cell-site simulator authorized by some other form of legal process? Please identify the legal process used.d. In how many of these instances was the cell-site simulator used without any legal process? e. In how many of the instances referenced in Question 2(d) did the FBI use a cell-site simulator in a public place or other location in which the FBI deemed there is no reasonable expectation of privacy?
3. What is the FBI's current policy on the retention and destruction of the information collected by cell-site simulators in all cases? How is that policy enforced?
4. What other DOJ and DHS agencies use cell-site simulators?
5. What is the policy of these agencies regarding the legal process needed for use of cell-site simulators?a. Are these agencies seeking search warrants specific to the use of cell-site simulators? b. If not, what legal authorities are they using? c. Do these agencies make use of public place or other exceptions? If so, in what proportion of all instances in which the technology is used are exceptions relied upon? d. What are these agencies' policies on the retention and destruction of the information that is collected by cell-site simulators? How are those policies enforced?
6. What is the Department of Justice's guidance to United States Attorneys' Offices regarding the legal process required for the use of cell-site simulators?
7. Across all DOJ and DHS entities, what protections exist to safeguard the privacy interests of individuals who are not the targets of interception, but whose information is nevertheless being collected by cell-site simulators?
Please number your written responses according to their corresponding questions. In addition, please arrange for knowledgeable DOJ and DHS officials to provide a briefing to Judiciary Committee staff about these issues following the provision of these written responses, but no later than February 6, 2015.
FBI says search warrants not needed to use ''stingrays'' in public places | Ars Technica
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:35
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking the position that court warrants are not required when deploying cell-site simulators in public places. Nicknamed "stingrays," the devices are decoy cell towers that capture locations and identities of mobile phone users and can intercept calls and texts.
The FBI made its position known during private briefings with staff members of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). In response, the two lawmakers wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson, maintaining they were "concerned about whether the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have adequately considered the privacy interests" of Americans.
According to the letter, which was released last week:
For example, we understand that the FBI's new policy requires FBI agents to obtain a search warrant whenever a cell-site simulator is used as part of a FBI investigation or operation, unless one of several exceptions apply, including (among others): (1) cases that pose an imminent danger to public safety, (2) cases that involve a fugitive, or (3) cases in which the technology is used in public places or other locations at which the FBI deems there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
The letter was prompted in part by a Wall Street Journal report in November that said the Justice Department was deploying small airplanes equipped with cell-site simulators that enabled "investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location."
The bureau's position on Americans' privacy isn't surprising. The Obama Administration has repeatedly maintained that the public has no privacy in public places. It began making that argument as early as 2010, when it told a federal appeals court that the authorities should be allowed to affix GPS devices on vehicles and track a suspect's every move without court authorization. The Supreme Court, however, eventually ruled that warrants are required. What's more, the administration has argued that placing a webcam with pan-and-zoom capabilities on a utility pole to spy on a suspect at his or her residence was no different from a police officer's observation from the public right-of-way. A federal judge last month disagreed with the government's position, tossing evidence gathered by the webcam that was operated from afar.
In their letter, Leahy and Grassley complained that little is known about how stingrays, also known as ISMI catchers, are used by law enforcement agencies. The Harris Corp., a maker of the devices from Florida, includes non-disclosure clauses with buyers. Baltimore authorities cited a non-disclosure agreement to a judge in November as their grounds for refusing to say how they tracked a suspect's mobile phone. They eventually dropped charges rather than disclose their techniques. Further, sometimes the authorities simply lie to judges about their use or undertake other underhanded methods to prevent the public from knowing that the cell-site simulators are being used.
"The Judiciary Committee needs a broader understanding of the full range of law enforcement agencies that use this technology, the policies in place to protect the privacy interests of those whose information might be collected using these devices, and the legal process that DOJ and DHS entities seek prior to using them," Leahy and Grassley wrote in their letter to Holder and Johnson.
Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said some states and judges are pushing back against stingrays.
"In Tacoma, judges now require police (to) specifically note they plan to use an IMSI catcher and promise not to store data collected from people who are not investigation targets," he said. "The Florida and Massachusetts state supreme courts ruled warrants were necessary for real-time cell phone tracking. Nine states'--Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin'--passed laws specifically requiring police to use a warrant to track a cell phone in real time."
FBI Says It Doesn't Need a Warrant to Spy on Cell Phone Calls In Public
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:34
If you're in a public place, don't expect your phone calls and texts to stay private. At least not if the FBI flies a Cessna over your head or drives a car around your neighborhoodwhile you're out for a walk.
The FBI won't bother to obtain search warrants before it uses interception devices on people in public, according to a letter written by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and staffer Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). These devices include Stingrays, the cell-tower decoy interception devices used to scoop up data from devices around it. The FBI puts Stingrays and similar devices known as dirtboxes in cars and small airplanes as a way to quickly dragnet data from a large number of devices while it is hunting for a device that belongs to a suspect.
Stingrays, dirtboxes, and other surveillance tools help law enforcement catch criminals. That's true. To do so, the decoys grab information from lots of innocent people by tricking their phones into sending data to the FBI before they can pinpoint a suspect. This is a substantial and wide-ranging intrusion, which is why the policy to forgo warrants is raising concerns.
Leahy and Grassley learned about this "What, me warrant?!" policy at private briefings.
Leahy and Grassley wanted to learn more about the FBI's position after reading disturbing reports from the Wall Street Journalabout the spy planes equipped with dirtboxes.
The congressmen wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson to explain and critique the FBI's new position:
According to this new policy, the FBI now obtains a search warrant before deploying a cell-site simulator, although the policy contains a number of potentially broad exceptions and we continue to have questions about how it is being implemented in practice. Furthermore, it remains unclear how other agencies within the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security make use of cell-site simulators and what policies are in place to govern their use of that technology.
The exceptions include using the spying tools on people in public, meaning the FBI doesn't have to get a warrant to use them on anyone using their phone hanging out in a local park, walking their dog on the street, or doing anything else without the expectation of privacy they'd have at home.
Understandably, Leahy and Grassley are concerned with how lenient the FBI is being with itself:
We have concerns about the scope of the exceptions. Specifically, we are concerned about whether the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have adequately considered the privacy interests of other individuals who are not the targets of the interception, but whose information is nevertheless being collected when these devices are being used. We understand that the FBI believes that it can address these interests by maintaining that information for a short period of time and purging the information after it has been collected. But there is a question as to whether this sufficiently safeguards privacy interests.
The congressmen posed a list of questions about the surveillance program, asking for specifics about how the FBI is using Stingrays and similar tools. They aren't the only lawmakers asking questions; after the Wall Street Journal report, Senator Edward Markey sent a similarly critical letter to the Attorney General asking for more details about the airplane surveillance program.
As Ars Technica pointed out, the attitude the FBI is taking here is in line with how the Obama Administration has treated privacy in public places: Like it doesn't exist. Though the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional, the Obama Administration argued that putting GPS trackers on cars without warrants was OK because people shouldn't have an expectation of privacy while driving their car in public. This wide-ranging phone interception program is an extension of that line of thinking.
Allowing for warrantless surveillance on the phones of anyone in a public place is a mendacious scheme that tramples on any reasonable expectation of privacy. Yes, you can overhear someone's conversation as they're sitting on a patio and that's fair game. People should be able to assume the text messages they silently tap out on their iPhones is safe from eavesdropping. People should be able to assume that the call they're on alone in their car is not game for government interception just because they're in the general vicinity of someone who might have committed a crime. Leahy and Grassley are right to ask questions. Now we need the answers.[Ars Technica]
Citizenfour producers sued for 'aiding' Edward Snowden | Vancouver Observer
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:13
Citizenfour director Laura Poitras, seen here at the 2010 PopTech conference in Camden, Maine, is among those being sued for her part in highlighting Edward Snowden's NSA revelations. (Photo: PopTech/flickr/cc)
A retired naval officer and former government secretary is suing the producers of Citizenfour, the documentary chronicling NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's classified document release in 2013, for "profiteering" from the "theft and misuse" of government files.
The officer and former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, Horace Edwards, said he was filing the suit "on behalf of the American public."
Snowden's document leak revealed widespread, illegal global spying programs conducted by the U.S. and U.K. governments, among other regimes, which targeted both foreign diplomats and those countries' own citizens for surveillance. The files also identified numerous telecommunications companies as participating in the operations, handing over private customer data and metadata to government agents, even without warrants. Snowden's supporters call him a hero; his detractors call him a traitor.
Edwards, who filed the suit Monday at the Kansas federal court, is one such critic. According to the lawsuit, Edwards believes that the revelations'--many of which are still being newly published'--caused "irreparable damage to the safety of the American people." His suit aims to prevent "dangerous disruption of foreign affairs due to irresponsible conduct of disloyal government operatives and entertainment industry collaborators".
Among those named in the suit is investigative journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work highlighting the leak and also directed and is one of the producers of Citizenfour'--a first-person account of the meeting and collaboration in Hong Kong between Poitras, Snowden, and journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewan MacAskill.
"This lawsuit seeks relief against those who profiteer by pretending to be journalists and whistleblowers but in effect are evading the law and betraying their country," Edwards writes in his suit. He also charges Poitras with "hiding [Snowden] in her hotel room while he changes into light disguise, accepting all of the purloined information to use for her personal benefit financially and professionally, filming Defendant Snowden's meeting with a lawyer in Hong Kong as he tries to seek asylum."
Shortly after the documents were released and Snowden's identity was revealed to the world, the U.S. charged the whistleblower with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property. Snowden fled to Russia, where he was granted asylum in 2013 and a three-year residency permit in August. In his suit, Edwards echoes the U.S. government's indictments of Snowden, including that the NSA contractor'--and his journalistic supporters'--"intentionally violate[d] obligations owed to the American people" and "misuse[d] purloined information disclosed to foreign enemies."
"Citizenfour portrays Defendant Snowden as a well-meaning whistleblower having nowhere else to turn, while the Hollywood Defendants justify their own acts as ones deserving of applause, when in fact the film glorifies international espionage for profit," Edwards writes in his suit.
Edwards is seeking a "constructive trust" to overturn the producers' profits from the film.
Citizenfour won Best Feature at the International Documentary Association awards on December 6. Watch the trailer below:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License and was written by Nadia Prupis
Top Kony 'aide' surrenders to US forces - Africa - Al Jazeera English
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 15:46
A man claiming to be one of the top commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army has surrendered to American forces in the Central African Republic, a US official has said.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that a man saying he was senior LRA leader Dominic Ongwen had defected, and was in the custody of US forces deployed in the hunt for Kony in the CAR.
"If the individual proves to be Ongwen, his defection would represent a historic blow to the LRA's command structure," she said.
"Efforts to establish full and positive identification continue, so I don't have confirmation of that at this point," Psaki said.
According to the United Nations, the LRA led by violent warlord Joseph Kony has killed more than 100,000 people and kidnapped more than 60,000 children in an almost three-decade reign of terror in central Africa.
In 2013, the US offered up to $5m for the capture of Kony, who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court along with Ongwen and two other lieutenants.
The apprehension of the LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen would be a major opportunity to advance justice for the LRA's long record of atrocities
Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
There is also a $5m bounty offered for information leading to the arrest, transfer and conviction of Ongwen, accused by the State Department of "murder, enslavement and cruel treatment of civilians".The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Ongwen in 2005 on charges of three counts of crimes against humanity and four of war crimes.
According to LRAcrisistracker.com, set up by two non-governmental organisations to map atrocities by the LRA, Ongwen was himself a child-soldier abducted as a 10-year-old while on his way to school.
'Long record of atrocities'He rose rapidly through the organisation's ranks, becoming a major at 18 and a brigadier by his late 20s.But he has reportedly had a volatile relationship with Kony.
"The apprehension of the LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen would be a major opportunity to advance justice for the LRA's long record of atrocities," said Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
"He should be promptly surrendered to face justice."The LRA first emerged in northern Uganda in 1986, where it claimed to fight in the name of the Acholi ethnic group against the regime of President Yoweri Museveni.But over the years the LRA has roved across the porous borders of the region.It moved from Uganda to sow terror in southern Sudan before shifting to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, finally crossing into southeastern CAR in March 2008.Combining religious mysticism with an astute guerrilla mind and bloodthirsty ruthlessness, Kony has turned scores of young girls into his personal sex-slaves while claiming to be fighting to impose the Bible's Ten Commandments.
Kony 2012! - LRA 'commander' surrenders to US forces in CAR.
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 07:02
6 January 2015Last updated at 18:31 ET A man claiming to be a senior commander in the notorious rebel movement the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has been taken into custody by US forces.
The man, who identified himself as Dominic Ongwen, surrendered in the Central African Republic (CAR), the US State Department says.
Ongwen is wanted by the International Criminal Court on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
He is considered by some to be a deputy commander to LRA chief Joseph Kony.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the man claimed he was an LRA defector.
"In co-ordination with the AURTF (African Union forces), US military forces took custody of an individual claiming to be a defector from the LRA. That individual later identified himself as Ongwen," she told reporters in Washington.
"Efforts to establish full and positive identification continue. If the individual proves to be Ongwen, his defection would represent a historic blow to the LRA's command structure."
Ugandan Army spokesman Paddy Ankunda told the Associated Press news agency that the man claiming to be Ongwen was being held in the town of Obo in the east of the CAR.
Ongwen is said to have commanded the LRA's Sinia Brigade which has been blamed for some of the worst atrocities the group carried out in northern Uganda.
Joseph Kony and the LRA have waged war in Uganda and the region for more than two decades.
He says the LRA is fighting to install a government in Uganda based on the Biblical Ten Commandments.
The group first emerged in Uganda but its estimated 200-500 fighters have terrorised large swathes of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the CAR.
Joseph Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for rape, mutilation and murder of civilians, as well as forcibly recruiting children to serve as soldiers and sex slaves.
Ongwen himself has claimed he was snatched by the LRA as a child.
The US first deployed about 100 special forces in 2011 to support thousands of African troops seeking the LRA leader.
In 2013 the US offered a reward of up to $5m (£3.3m) for information leading to the arrest or capture of Joseph Kony, Dominic Ongwen and another LRA leader, Okot Odhiambo.
Then, in March last year, the US announced it was sending military aircraft and more special forces to help track down the LRA leadership.
African Union-led forces have remained in charge of the operation, with the US supplying an advisory role.
Isis fighters 'high on cocaine': Drugs found at home of Islamic State leader | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 18:42
Bag of cocaine discovered at the home of IS leader, Emir Abu ZahraKurdish fighters killed him during a military operation in Kobane, SyriaThey claim Zahra distributed drug to his fighters to give them 'courage'Previous IS videos show the extremists burning marijuana and cigarettesDiscovery suggests widespread drug-use within Islamic State ranks By Joakim Medin For Mailonline
Published: 10:24 EST, 6 January 2015 | Updated: 10:28 EST, 6 January 2015
Islamic State fighters may be taking cocaine to boost morale as Coalition planes bomb them from above, and Kurds advance on their territory.
Kurdish fighters uncovered a bag of cocaine at the home of IS leader, Emir Abu Zahra, after killing him in a military operation deep inside the war-torn city of Kobane in Syria.
The discovery in the Botan neighbourhood suggests widespread drug use within ISIS which is very much against the doctrines and principles of Islam.
They believe Zahra distributed the drug among his fighters to boost morale - as ground assaults by Iraqi Peshmerga and bombing raids by the US Air Force begin to take their toll.
Discovery: Kurdish fighters found a bag of cocaine (pictured) from the home of an IS leader, Abu Zahra
Drugged: The Kurdish soldiers believe Zahra was distributing the drug to up to 40 of his fighters
Forbidden: The use of narcotics goes against the doctrines and principles of Islam
Raid: Abu Zahra was killed in the military operation which uncovered the bag of cocaine and an armoured laptop (pictured)
Islamic State's propaganda videos have previously shown the extremist group whipping three drug addicts near the Syrian city of Damascus.
The captions on the video being circulated suggested the men were being punished for taking illegal substances, in accordance with Sharia Law.
Islamic State's religious police, known as the Hesbah, have previously been pictured burning a large supply of cigarettes near the IS-controlled city of Raqqa.
While amateur footage online shows its soldiers burning fields of what appears to be a marijuana farm.
Despite the image they portray, there have been constant rumours of drug use within Islamic State ranks.
The group's leaders are believed to drug their fighters so they fight more bravely, although their enemies suggest this inspires reckless and ineffective attacks.
Kurdish fighters have reportedly found mysterious pills, capsules and syringes on both dead and alive IS fighters.
High-tech: An armoured laptop worth over £2,000 was also recovered from Abu Zahra's house
Operation: A dozen Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) carried out the raid on Zahra's home
Destruction: The city of Kobane (pictured) has been reduced to rubble after continuous fighting between Kurdish, regime, and ISIS forces
The dozen soldiers from the People's Protection Units (YPG), who carried out the raid on Zahra's home, also found an armoured Dell Latitude XFR laptop, which costs over £2,000.
Kobane, on the northern border between Syria and Turkey, has been the scene of intense fighting between Kurdish and IS forces.
Kurdish fighters have made great advances into IS territory in Kobane sine the new year, thanks to aerial support from the US Air Force and artillery fire from Iraqi Pehmerga soldiers.
ISIS were pushed back in the south and south-east, and retreated from both the Cultural Centre and the governmental square.
The Kurds now control around 80 per cent of the city, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
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Afghanistan Set Record for Growing Opium in 2014 | CNS News
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 22:06
Afhgan opium farmers working in a field in Jalalabad. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
(CNSNews.com) '' After thirteen years of occupation by U.S. forces, Afghanistan set a record for growing opium poppies in 2014, according to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Heroin is derived from the poppy.
A UNODC report'--''Afghanistan Opium Survey 2014''--provides a ''detailed picture of the outcome of the current year's opium season and, together with data from previous years, enable the identification of medium- and long-term trends in the evolution of the illicit drug problem.''
''The total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated to be 224,000 hectares in 2014, a 7% increase from the previous year,'' says the report.
Net opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan grew from 209,000 hectares in 2013 to 224,000 hectares in 2014.
The UNODC has been tracking opium cultivation in Afghanistan since 1994, whne net Afghan opium production was 71,000 hectares. The 2014 cultivation of 224,000 hectares was more then triple the 1994 level.
According to the 2014 World Drug Report, also published by the UNODC, Afghanistan by far the world's largest producer of opium. ''The opium production in Afghanistan accounts for 80 percent of the global opium production (5,500 tons),'' said that report.
In addition to having record high of opium production in 2014, Afghanistan saw opium poppy eradication decrease 63 percent. ''A total of 2,692 hectares of verified poppy eradication was carried out by the provincial governors in 2014, representing a decrease of 63 percent from 2013 when 7,348 hectares of governor-led eradication (GLE) was verified by [Ministry of Counter-Narcotics and UNODC],'' states the report.
Hilmand province was Afghanistan's largest opium cultivator in 2014, producing 103,240 hectares.
''In 2014, 98% of total opium cultivation in Afghanistan took place in the Southern, Eastern and Western regions of the country,'' explains the report.
Hilmand province was followed by Kandahar province which produced 33,713 hectares, Farah province which produced 27,513 hectares, Nangarhar which produced 18,227 hectares, Nimroz which produced 14,548 hectares, Uruzgan which produced 9,277 hectares, Badghis which produced 5,721 hectares, Badakhshan which produced 4,204 hectares, Zabul which produced 2,894 hectares, Laghman which produced 901 hectares, Kunar which produced 754 hectares, Hirat which produced 738 hectares, Day Kundi which produced 587 hectares, Ghor which produced 493 hectares, Kapisa which produced 472 hectares, Kabul which produced 233 hectares, and Sari Pul which produced 195 hectares.
Most of the U.S. casualties in Afghan War have occurred in the Hilmand and Kandahar provinces, which are also the two leading opium-growing provinces.
According to CNSNews.com's database of U.S. casualties, from 2001 through 2014, 2,232 U.S. military personnel gave their lives serving in the Afghan War. Of those 2,232 casualties, 451 were in Hilmand province and 420 were in Kandahar. That represents 39 percent of the total casualties in the war.
''There is evidence that Afghan heroin is increasingly reaching new markets, such as Oceania and Southeast Asia, that had been traditionally supplied from Southeast Asia,'' the report states.
Cameron wants to move forward Brexit referendum | EurActiv
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 15:17
Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday (4 January) he would like to bring forward a planned referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union from 2017 if possible.
Under pressure from Eurosceptic members of his own party and the rise in popularity of the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), Cameron has pledged to renegotiate Britain's ties with the 28 nation bloc and try to claw back powers to London.
He has said he will hold a referendum in 2017 if his Conservatives win a national election on 7 May.
"If I think we could do that earlier I would be delighted. The sooner I can deliver on this commitment of a renegotiation and a referendum ... the better," he told the BBC.
Cameron is set to discuss his reform plans, which include restricting EU migrants' access to welfare payments, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in London on Wednesday. He has said they will require treaty change, but Merkel has made clear she will not allow the EU's rules on workers' freedom of movement to be diluted.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage told Sky News that under Cameron's plans, the referendum had been "kicked into the long grass" and said his renegotiation looked "highly improbable".
The May election looks set to be one of the most closely fought in modern British history. While the Conservatives are narrowly trailing the opposition Labour party in most opinion polls, many analysts predict neither will win a majority, possibly resulting in another coalition of two or more parties.
Cameron, whose centre-right Conservatives have governed Britain in coalition with the centre-left Liberal Democrats since 2010, traded blows with Labour on Sunday over the economy and healthcare.
'Bad ways'
Labour says the Conservatives have borrowed much more than planned and now aim to cut the budget deficit too fast and too deeply for purely ideological reasons.
Cameron's supporters note that Britain's $2.5 trillion ('‚¬2 trillion) economy has emerged from its deepest downturn since World War Two to enjoy now the fastest growth rate of any major advanced economy.
"The real concern I have is if we turn back now, if we go back to the bad ways of more borrowing, more spending, more debt ... we will go right back to start and really threaten the economic recovery," said Cameron.
He said further planned public spending cuts were "moderate, sensible, reasonable" while Labour's proposals would mean more borrowing and an extra 13.5 billion pounds ('‚¬17.3) in debt interest payments by the end of the next parliament.
Labour business spokesman Chuka Umunna said the comments were "desperate claims from a desperate prime minister".
On Sunday, Labour unveiled two campaign posters and a 27 page document criticising what it described as falling standards in the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) under Cameron and warning the Conservatives' planned cuts would damage it further.
"Our health service as you know it won't survive another five years of David Cameron," Labour election chief Douglas Alexander said. "That is why the NHS is on the ballot paper at this election."
Drone Nation
Obama Has Killed More People with Drones than Died On 9/11 Washington's Blog
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 21:21
Many Civilians Are Being Killed By DronesLaw school teacher Marjorie Cohn '' president of the National Lawyers Guild '' writes:
Obama has killed more people with drones than died on 9/11. Many of those killed were civilians, and only a tiny percentage of the dead were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders.
She may be right '...
The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 4,404 people have been killed '' just in Pakistan and Yemen alone '' between 2004 and 2014.
While it's hard to estimate how many additional people have been killed by drone in Iraq and Afghanistan, a December 2012 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that US and UK forces had carried out over 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan over the previous five years. Given that numerous people are often killed by each drone strike, it is reasonable to assume that several thousand people have been killed by drone in that country.
And many Iraqis have also been killed by drones '... long before ISIS even appeared on the scene. So '' altogether '' the number of people killed by drone is probably well above five thousand.
In contrast, under 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.
But aren't drone strikes targeted attacks on terrorists '... unlike 9/11, which was an attack on civilians?
Unfortunately, no '...
The West is intentionally targeting farmers, small-time drug dealers and very low-level Taliban members with drone assassination.
And the process for deciding who to put on the ''kill list'' is flawed. People are often targeted by the metadata on their phones, a process which a former top NSA official called the drone assassination program ''undisciplined slaughter.''
And people are targeted for insanely loose reasons. As the New York Times reported in 2012:
Mr. Obama had approved not only ''personality'' strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but ''signature'' strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.
But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist ''signature'' were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees ''three guys doing jumping jacks,'' the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers '-- but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.
And then there are ''double taps'' '... where the family members, friends or neighbors who try to rescue someone hit by a drone missile are themselves targeted for assassination.
And '' even when the West is actually targeting high-level terrorists '' there is massive slaughter of innocent civilians as ''collateral damage''. For example, American University Professor Jeff Bachman reports:
Strikes focused on the Kill List ''killed on average 28 other people before they actually succeeded in killing their target.''
The Brookings Institution also noted the high proportion of civilian deaths in 2009:
Critics correctly find many problems with this program, most of all the number of civilian casualties the strikes have incurred. Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.
The Costs of War Project '' a nonpartisan, nonprofit, scholarly initiative based at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies '' notes:
In Iraq, over 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence have been civilians.
(Civilians usually suffer the most casualties.)
No wonder people all over the world are overwhelmingly opposed to drone strikes.
Indeed, even the CIA admits that the drone program might be counter-productive in fighting terrorism.
And the architect of America's drone assassination program says it's gone too far '... creating terrorists rather than eliminating them.
Notes: Obama has used drone strikes much more than Bush:
Obama has increased the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Indeed, most people who have looked at the numbers believe that Obama has killed many more civilians with drone attacks than Bush did using the same method.
The former constitutional law teacher may or may not know that drone attacks are a war crime (more here and here).
28 Pages
Federal Panel Evaluating Need for Continued 28 Pages Secrecy | 28Pages.org
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 17:42
The movement to declassify a finding on foreign government support of the 9/11 hijackers might be strengthened soon: A federal panel is reviewing the censored 28-page chapter of the report of a Congressional joint inquiry into 9/11 and is expected to make a recommendation to President Obama in the coming weeks or even days.
Attorney Tom Julin: Making the Case for 28 Pages TransparencyThe review of the redacted chapter on sources of foreign support of the September 11 terrorists is being conducted under a process called Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR), and was initiated by attorney Tom Julin on behalf of Dan Christensen, Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan. Christensen is the editor of FloridaBulldog.org, and has been working to learn what the FBI knows about a 9/11 cell in Sarasota; Summers and Swan are investigative journalists and authors of the Pulitzer Prize-finalist The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11.
Understanding the MDR ProcessMDR is a multi-tiered process that begins with a request to an agency to review a specific classified document and consider releasing it. It was created by an executive order issued by President Clinton, and can now be found in Executive Order 13526 (see Sec. 3.5).
The 28 pages request was directed to the Department of Justice, which failed to respond within the deadline imposed by the process. Ultimately, Julin appealed to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, or ISCAP. The highest authority in the MDR process, ISCAP agreed to review the 28 pages for declassification. At a Nov. 11 event, Julin said he'd been told to expect the panel's recommendation to President Obama sometime this winter.
A few weeks before that event, nine members of Congress who've read the censored chapter sent a letter to ISCAP urging their release, saying ''we firmly believe that declassification of the 28 pages would enhance, not harm, U.S. national security interests.''
Under the rules governing the ISCAP review, a recommendation to declassify a document ''requires the affirmative vote of at least a majority of the members present.'' The panel consists of senior level representatives appointed by:
The Department of StateThe Department of DefenseThe Department of JusticeThe National ArchivesThe Office of the Director of National IntelligenceThe National Security AdvisorIn addition, the director of the CIA can opt to appoint a voting member to the panel where information that originated with the CIA is in question.
Anticipating the VerdictEyeing the ISCAP ''jury box'' and contemplating the governmental constituencies each member represents, it's far from certain the panel will side with so many authoritative figures on the 28 pages and acknowledge there's no national security justification for the blanket redaction of this entire chapter of the congressional joint inquiry's report.
And even if the panel does reach the same conclusion of the chairs of the 9/11 Commission and the Senate co-chairs of the joint inquiry, it's important to emphasize that the word ''mandatory'' in the name of the process refers to the review and not to the declassification'--the panel's verdict is but a recommendation to the president, one may be accompanied by a final, urgent appeal for secrecy from a government agency. It would, however, be the most powerful such recommendation to date, one that would add substantial pressure on the president to honor the commitment he made to 9/11 family members and release the 28 pages'--while further eroding the credibility of those who say they must remain secret.
The Mandatory Declassification Review is a very important and intriguing front in the fight to finally release the 28 pages, but it's not the only one: If you want to know what's in the 28 pages, it's critical that you make your voice heard on this issue from Capitol Hill to the White House'--right now, while you're thinking about it.
Add your voice to the growing, bipartisan movement to declassify the 28 pages.Join the movement by following 28Pages.org on Twitter and Facebook.
Real News
Monday Ratings: 'Gotham,' 'Scorpion' Back With Best Scores in Months | Variety
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:39
Rookie hits ''Gotham'' on Fox and ''Scorpion'' on CBS, each of which was heavily promoted the previous day during their respective network's NFL playoffs coverage, kicked off the new year Monday by delivering their best ratings in months. The night also saw NBC's ''Celebrity Apprentice'' looking good as it bowed in its regular timeslot, finishing neck and neck with ABC's premiere of ''The Bachelor,'' which took a tumble from last year.
ABC and CBS tied as the night's top-rated network in adults 18-49, with the Eye pulling ahead in adults 25-54 as well as total viewers.
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, Fox's ''Gotham'' (2.5 rating/7 share in adults 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall) was Monday's No. 1 show in adults 18-49, rising 9% (0.2) from its final original of 2014 and outperforming ''Almost Human'' in the comparable hour a year ago (1.8) by nearly 40%. This was the Batman prequel's top 18-49 score since its third episode (Oct. 6) and its largest overall audience since its second episode (Sept. 29)
Sophomore ''Sleepy Hollow'' (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall) continues to drop off from there, though it was up a tick vs. its prior original.
CBS' ''Scorpion'' (2.4/7 in 18-49, 12.1 million viewers overall) was a tick behind ''Gotham'' for the night in 18-49 while standing as the top show on any network in both adults 25-54 (3.3/8) and total viewers. It was up 20% (0.4) from its most recent original in December, logging its top demo score since Oct. 20 and its largest overall audience since its second episode (Sept. 29).
The Eye kicked off the night with solid numbers for half-hours ''2 Broke Girls'' (2.4/7 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall) and ''Mike & Molly'' (2.2/6 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall), both of which matched or set season highs in all categories. And following ''Scorpion'' at 10 p.m., ''NCIS: Los Angeles'' (1.9/6 in 18-49, 11.6 million viewers overall) was No. 2 in its hour in 18-49 and tied ''The Bachelor'' for No. 1 in adults 25-54 (2.8/7); this matched the vet's top demo score since it bowed in its new time period on Sept. 29.
ABC's three-hour premiere of ''The Bachelor'' averaged a 2.2/7 in 18-49 and 7.7 million viewers overall, increasing with each hour and standing as the clear 18-49 winner from 10 to 11. Still, it was down 18% (0.5) from its year ago premiere, which faced lesser competition and no firstrun reality shows.
NBC has to be pleased with the performance of ''Celebrity Apprentice'' (2.1/6 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall), whose regular timeslot premiere grew 24% vs. the premiere of the previous cycle nearly two years ago (1.7) and was also up 17% vs. its second episode of that cycle (1.7). Despite an earlier start time and tough reality show competition from ''The Bachelor,'' ''Apprentice'' retained 91% of the prior night's premiere in 18-49 (2.3); the shows tied head to head in 18-49.
This cycle of ''The Celebrity Apprentice'' has now delivered the show's two highest ratings since the May 2012 finale.
The good Peacock vibe did not extend to 10 p.m., though, as ''State of Affairs'' (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall) merely matched its most recent score, which is its lowest to date.
CW aired repeats of ''The Originals'' (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.8 million viewers overall) and ''Jane the Virgin'' (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.8 million viewers overall).
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 2.2/7; CBS, 2.2/6; Fox, 2.0/6; NBC, 1.7/5; Univision, 1.1/3; Telemundo, 0.7/2; CW, 0.3/1.
In total viewers: CBS, 11.0 million; ABC, 7.7 million; NBC, 5.9 million; Fox, 5.7 million; Univision, 3.0 million; Telemundo, 1.7 million; CW, 0.8 million.
VIDEO-Extreme cloud temperature tied to AirAsia crash - CBS News
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:52
SURABAYA, Indonesia -- Hendra Gunawan Syawal, 23, took what may have been the last photograph of Flight 8501 before it took off. Less than an hour later, the plane disappeared.
Even as the search continues, Indonesian authorities have concluded that the weather caused the crash. A satellite image showed cloud temperatures as cold as 121 degrees below zero.
This photograph of passengers inside AirAsia Flight 8501 was taken an hour before the plane crashed
CBS News
Three days after the crash the Indonesian transport ministry imposed mandatory up-to-date weather briefings for pilots. But in an open letter one pilot dismissed the directive.
"Pilots of airlines around the world do self-briefings," he wrote. "They get printed weather information from systems used by their airlines."
CBS Evening NewsAirlines work on new technology to better track flightsThe search for AirAsia Flight 8501 is a race against time. Search teams would have a head start tracking the flight if they'd had access to some...
Monday was the best weather the searchers have had since the plane went down. Ships using sonar scoured the area where five large pieces of wreckage were detected over the weekend.Families whose loved ones have been identified gather in a designated "mourning area" to accept condolences. Some are offered in the form of specially-painted and highly-decorated signs.
This one, below, is for 10-year-old Stevie Gunawan. She was identified by the Minnie Mouse t-shirt she was wearing.
A memorial sign for Stevie Gunawan, a victim of AirAsia Flight 8501
CBS News
The hope is that divers will retrieve the plane's flight recorders among the wreckage spotted a few days ago. And only then will authorities be able to confirm that icing -- from those storm clouds -- likely triggered the crash.
(C) 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Stephane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo Editor in 2012 : I'd Prefer to Die Than Be Silenced! - YouTube
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:37
VIDEO- W.H. Stumped When Grilled About Harvard Faculty Outrage Over ObamaCare - YouTube
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:56
VIDEO-'Islamophobic' Michel Houellebecq book featured by Charlie Hebdo published today - Telegraph
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:53
Submission, Houellebecq's sixth novel, predicts that in 2022 France's mainstream Left and Right club together to back a certain Mohammed Ben Abbes in a second round presidential run-off against Miss Le Pen.
The new president then proceeds to Islamise the EU, with Turkey and various north African countries joining the bloc. The aim is to build a territory resembling the old Roman empire.
The protagonist, Fran§ois, a 44-year-old literature professor, converts to Islam after a university director introduces him to the pleasures of polygamy with submissive wives.
The book, which has a print run of 150,000, has already shot to the top of Amazon.fr's bestseller list.
In an interview on state TV channel France 2's flagship evening news programme, Houellebecq said his political scenario was not implausible.
Michel Houellebecq and Marine Le Pen (AFP/Reuters)
"It is a possibility '' not in as short a term as in the book, not in 2022. But it's a real possibility," he said.
One German newspaper critic warned the novel could be seized on by anti-Islam protesters in Dresden as proof they are right to voice concern.
Laurent Joffrin, editor-in-chief of left-leaning French newspaper Lib(C)ration, argued that the novel "will mark the date in history when the ideas of the far-right made a grand return to serious French literature".
"This is a book that ennobles the ideas of the Front National," he added.
Alain Jakubovitch, president of the anti-racism group LICRA, said: "This is the best Christmas present Marine Le Pen could wish for."
Houellebecq retorted that he could "see no novel that has changed the course of history" and that besides, "Marine Le Pen doesn't need this. Things are working pretty well for her already."
A bookseller displays Houellebecq's new book Soumission (AFP)
"I am not taking sides, I don't defend any regime. I deny any responsibility, I even claim total irresponsibility," he said in an earlier interview.
Fran§ois Hollande, the French president, on Monday said he would read the book and that literary freedom must be respected. But he urged the French not to give into "fear" of "submersion, invasion, submission".
Houellebecq insisted that the novel was right to focus on the rise of religion. "More and more people can't stand living without God," he said.
After previously claiming Islam was the "the stupidest of all religions", the novelist declared: "The Koran turns out to be much better than I thought now that I've reread, or rather read it."
"Atheism and secularism are dead, so is the French republic," he told NouvelObs.
While the work is undoubtedly provocative, French critics were split over its literary merits with Le Monde's Raphaªlle Leyris claiming Submission was "his most mediocre to date" and Les Echos saying there are "better things to read".
Writer Emmanuel Carr¨re, however, insisted it was a "sublime book" by an author whose vision is "more powerful than Aldous Huxley or George Orwell".
"If there one person in the literary world, and not just the French one, who can think through this huge mutation we all feel is under way without having the means to analyse it, it is him," he said.
VIDEO-LiveLeak.com - Terrorists shoot officer in Paris during terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 17:48
During a terrorist attack today at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Terrorists have killed 11 people. In this video the kill one of the police officers who was as the scene during the attack.
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VIDEO-Politics: Howard Dean: Paris killers aren't 'Muslim terrorists' - oh and ISIS isn't Islamic, either. | Best of Cain
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 17:38
Image Credit: Eeeeyargh! Theyre not Muslims!The left wing Islam apologists have another busy day ahead of them.
This morning, Dan and I were wondering what it will take to shake radical Islam's apologists out of their ridiculous haze. I argue that nothing will ever do it, since the "all religion is equally bad" argument is central to the ideals and goals of the left-wing political ideology. After all, when you worship government and bureaucracy, no mere "God" can ever be allowed to horn in on the spotlight.
Still, we wondered: Will Islamist attacks on the media - which the left allegedly holds sacred - finally be enough to wake them up?
As if anticipating the question, Howard Dean appeared on MSNBC. ...And the answer is "no."
"You know, this is a chronic problem. I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They're about as Muslim as I am. I mean, they have no respect for anybody else's life, that's not what the Koran says. Europe has an enormous radical problem."
Radical what, Mr. Dean? It doesn't have a 'radical Christian' problem.... It doesn't have a 'radical Buddhist' problem... It doesn't have a 'radical Hindu' problem... Heck, it doesn't even have a 'radical Satanic Temple' problem... So, just who are these oh-so-unaffiliated radicals that murdered 12 people over a cartoon?
If that's not enough, Dean also decided that it was a good time to try and claim that ISIS was similarly "non-Islamic."
I think ISIS is a cult. Not an Islamic cult. I think it's a cult.
Here's the video:
So, this is the new strategy. Since defending radical Islam is a losing political battle, the left is going to pretend that the people carrying out these attacks simply "aren't Muslims."
In the leftist world view, Islam doesn't have a problem with terrorism, because they've decided that anyone who's a terrorist is clearly not a Muslim.
Conveniently circular logic.
Be sure to "like" Robert Laurie over on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. You'll be glad you did.
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VIDEO-Bill Clinton's name found 21 times in rich sex offender's phone book (VIDEO) '-- RT USA
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:41
Published time: January 07, 2015 04:38Former U.S. president Bill Clinton.(Reuters / Carlo Allegri)
A new lawsuit has revealed more details about former President Bill Clinton's friendship with a fundraiser who was later jailed for having sex with an underage girl '' including the fact that Clinton's name was listed in the man's phone book 21 times.
In the civil lawsuit complaint, Virginia Roberts alleges that she was used as a sex slave by billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein. She claims Epstein made her have sex with his political and business contacts, including on three occasions with British royal, Prince Andrew. The lawsuit also reveals Clinton took multiple trips between 2002 to 2005 to the billionaire's private island in the Caribbean, where underage girls were reportedly kept hidden away.
Clinton severed his connections with Epstein once allegations over his illegal behavior surfaced and he was arrested back in 2005. Court documents indicate numerous phone numbers leading back to Clinton and his adviser Doug Band, though there is nothing to suggest the former president is linked to Epstein's crime or that he did anything wrong.
RT asked Dennis Hof '' owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada, who knows Clinton '' if there was any way the former president was unaware of what Epstein was doing.
''I don't believe it's possible,'' Hof told RT's Ben Swann. ''It's amazing this happened and came to light. I don't think Bill Clinton would ever want to be involved with any underage girl, but the fact that it is happening in front of his eyes '' and the Secret Service guys didn't do anything about it '' is shocking.''
The new complaint seeks to expand an ongoing lawsuit related to the prosecutor's handling of Epstein's case, and lawyers for Virginia Roberts floated the possibility of subpoenaing Clinton because he ''might well be a source of relevant information'' about Epstein's activities.
The rape allegations first came to light in 2005, when Palm Beach police acted on a complaint from the parents of a 14-year-old girl who told them that a wealthy older man might have had inappropriate sexual contact with her. The girl '' and other teenage girls as well '' said a friend had arranged for them to visit the home of the man, identified as Epstein, and give him massages, usually in their underwear. In exchange, the girls received cash. Most the girls said Epstein masturbated during the massages and a few said he had penetrated them with his fingers or penis. The girls were paid $200 or more.
Those allegations '' after attempts by Epstein's lawyers to discredit the girls and a reluctance to pursue the case on the part of the local district attorney's office and the Justice Department '' eventually led to Epstein's conviction. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution. He served 13 months in jail, and his name was added to the list of registered sex offenders.
Epstein also settled dozens of lawsuits brought by underage girls. At least seven girls received $1 million each.
While Clinton was never asked for a statement on the matter, lawyers obtained Epstein's computerized phone directory, which included ''e-mail addresses for Clinton along with 21 phone numbers for him, including those for his assistant (Doug Band),'' according to a court filing.
''I give Bill Clinton a little bit of a pass,'' Hof said, ''because [Epstein] had other parties after this all happened, and who went to them? [George] Stephanopoulos, Katie Couric, Woody Allen '' which is not a good sign, I guess '' [and] Chelsea Handler. So it could be possible that Clinton did not know about this, but it's hard to believe.''
Epstein's own lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who fought the original lawsuit, is also named in the new suit for allegedly sleeping with underage girls. Dershowitz has denied his involvement and has threatened Roberts' lawyers, Paul Cassell and Bradley Edwards, with disbarment.
"How does a lawyer rely on the statement of a woman who is a serial perjurer, serial liar, serial prostitute, and bring charges against somebody with an unscathed reputation like me without even checking?" Dershowitz said, according to CNN.
Dershowitz also dared the now-30-year-old plaintiff to make a public statement so that he could sue her for defamation.
Journalist Kambiz Shabankare, who has covered sex trafficking around the world, told RT that Dershowitz's behavior is troublesome.
''What is bothering me about this case is blaming the victim,'' he said. ''We see that a lot. They're starting to bully this woman. Ms. Roberts is an example of many of those victims. They can't step forward. They can't talk about their abusers. They can't talk about what happened to them because they're afraid.''
VIDEO-BBC News - Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 11
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:27
7 January 2015Last updated at 07:15 ET Gunmen have attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 11 people and injuring 10, French officials say.
Witnesses spoke of sustained gunfire at the office as the attackers opened fire with assault rifles before escaping.
President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack "of exceptional barbarity".
A major police operation has been launched in the Paris area to catch the attackers.
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
French President Francois Hollande: "This is an act of exceptional barbarism"
Charlie's latest tweet was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs.
The magazine was fire-bombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.
People had been "murdered in a cowardly manner", President Hollande told reporters at the scene. "We are threatened because we are a country of liberty," he added, appealing for national unity.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in a tweet: "The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press."
'Black-hooded men'Two of those killed are police officers, France's AFP news agency reports, and five of those wounded are critically injured.
An eyewitness, Benoit Bringer, told French TV channel Itele: "Two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs.
"A few minutes later we heard lots of shots."
The men were then seen fleeing the building.
"It's carnage," French police official Luc Poignant told another French channel, BFMTV.
Police have warned French media to be on alert and pay attention to security following the attack.
VIDEO-Live Updates: Shooting At Charlie Hebdo
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:10
Witnesses say several gunmen opened fire at the headquarters of a French satirical magazine in Paris. Follow live updates here.
12:04, UK,Wednesday 07January 2015
{headline}{source} ]]>
VIDEO-Creepy doll causes scare, evacuation of Florida courthouse - Orlando Sentinel
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 07:57
FORT PIERCE -- A large, creepy doll leaning against a flagpole caused a scare and led to the evacuation of the Federal Courthouse in St. Lucie County on Tuesday afternoon.
CBS 12 News reported that a man dressed in black and carrying a backpack walked up the courthouse steps, put the doll down and then left.
A bomb squad examined the doll and determined it was not dangerous. Federal authorities are investigating.
Copyright (C) 2015, Orlando Sentinel
VIDEO-White House: Shutdown threat won't deter executive action on immigration | TheHill
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 06:46
645X363 - No Companion - Full Sharing - Additional videos are suggested - Policy/Regulation/Blogs
President Obama won't be deterred from taking executive action on immigration despite threats from some congressional Republicans to force a government shutdown, the White House said Wednesday.
Asked if threats from Republicans would make the president "think twice" on his plans for executive action, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said flatly, "no, it won't.
"The president is determined to act where House Republicans won't, and there is strong support for that all across the country," Earnest said.Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told the Des Moines Register on Wednesday that "all bets are off" on a continuing resolution this fall if the president moved forward on immigration.
"If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear," King said. "I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have also suggested the GOP could use the budget process to halt administrative actions being contemplated by the White House.
Earnest said it "would be a real shame if Republicans were to engage in an effort to shut down the government" over the president's attempts to address immigration reform, noting that the shutdown last year had a negative impact on the economy.
The president is expected to unveil his administration's steps on immigration by the "end of summer.'' White House officials, though, insist no final decisions have been made yet.
The administration is reportedly considering a dramatic expansion of the number of individuals who can receive green cards or who would be eligible for the deferred action program that pauses deportation proceedings for those who have entered the country illegally.
VIDEO-Delaware-sized methane cloud hovers over New Mexico - AOL.com
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:10
Dec 31st 2014 9:59AM CommentsThe Delaware-sized methane cloud over New Mexico has become an increasing cause for concern and a point of contention among environmentalists and energy companies. The Washington Post reports that despite its 25 hundred square mile spread, the plume isn't visible from the ground, and thus went largely undetected for some time. About 3 years ago its presence was brought to light when it showed up on images taken by NASA satellites.The researchers who looked into the matter were so shocked by the readings that they were certain something had malfunctioned. It turned out that was not the case and the massive gaseous spread is real. The primary cause is fuel mining, as methane release is a side effect of a number of extraction processes. While methane itself is an energy source, it's not one that companies drilling for oil are particularly interested in collecting or containing.
Environmentalists and a number of scientists on the other hand are greatly concerned about the effects of leaving such a powerful greenhouse gas flow freely into the air. The cloud has even been considered monstrous by some. President Obama is expected to soon announce measures to shrink the cloud's size, but while the specifics are not known, members of Congress who support the energy industry are expected to push back.
More from AOL.com:Woman recreates generations of family portraitsNetflix New Year's Eve countdown helps parents fool their kidsInsights into Mayan civilization's collapse found in Belize's 'blue hole'
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VIDEO-Joe Biden creepy kiss of Senator's young Daughter - @OpieRadio - YouTube
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 03:47
VIDEO-"I Helped" (Post-9/11 Anti-Drug PSA) - YouTube
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 18:43
VIDEO-Pope Francis Names New Cardinals, Reflecting Shift to Developing World - WSJ
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:52
Updated Jan. 5, 2015 11:42 a.m. ET ROME'-- Pope Francis nominated 15 new members to the College of Cardinals on Sunday, with the majority hailing from small, developing countries such as Cape Verde, Myanmar and Tonga.
The choices by the Argentine-born pontiff reflect his efforts to rebalance a College of Cardinals toward the developing world, where Catholicism is growing faster than in Europe and the U.S. The names also demonstrate the pope's support for prelates with pastoral experience in smaller dioceses and for those coping with violence, migration and poverty.
Nine of the new cardinals are from the emerging world, including Myanmar, Vietnam and Panama. The new batch represents 14 countries in total: five are from Europe, three each from Asia and Latin America, and two each from Africa and Oceania.
The 15 men are all under the age of 80, which makes them eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a future pope. The group of cardinals is the second appointed by Pope Francis, who will have chosen nearly a quarter of voting-age cardinals once they are elevated during a ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Feb. 14.
The pope chose just two new cardinals for Italy'--which is strongly overrepresented in the College of Cardinals'--but picked the archbishops of Ancona and Agrigento, two small dioceses, snubbing cities such as Venice that traditionally have had a red hat. One of the two men is Msgr. Francesco Montenegro, the archbishop of the Sicilian town of Agrigento and head of the Italian bishops' group that deals with migration. The plight of migrants has been a major concern of the pope, whose first trip after becoming pontiff in March 2013 was to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, which has seen a flood of seaborne migrants arrive from Africa in recent years.
Pope Francis elevated just one member of the Curia, the Vatican's Roman bureaucracy, but chose a Moroccan-born French prelate, Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, who heads the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court. About a quarter of voting-age cardinals now come from the Curia.
Pope Francis is in the midst of a sweeping reform of the bloated bureaucracy of the Curia, which has been involved in repeated scandals in recent years. The pontiff, who sharply rebuked the Curia in a Christmas address, accusing some clerics of ''spiritual Alzheimer's,'' will preside over a major meeting of cardinals on Feb. 12-13 to discuss his coming overhaul of the Vatican hierarchy.
Last February, Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals, many also from the developing world. The choice of cardinals is among the most important tasks of a pope. In addition to choosing a new pontiff, the cardinals lead influential dioceses around the world and serve as the heads of key Vatican departments.
New cardinals are named when existing ones turn 80 and lose their eligibility to vote in a papal election. By the time of next month's elevation ceremony, or consistory, there will be 10 vacancies, with two cardinals turning 80 soon afterward. Under rules set by Pope Paul VI, the College of Cardinals Electors should have a maximum of 120 voting-age members. But popes have in the past broken the rules, as did St. John Paul II several times during his papacy.
Some observers wondered whether the pope would nominate a particularly large batch in an attempt to gain support for a series of reforms he has proposed. He has also faced open opposition from more tradition-minded church leaders who dislike his support for ideas such as a new approach to divorced and homosexual Catholics. Instead, the pope raised the number of voting-age cardinals to 125, only slightly over the traditional limit of 120. Including those 80 or older, who therefore aren't eligible to vote, there will be a total 228 cardinals once the February elevation ceremony takes place.
From Far and WideMany of the new cardinals aren't from the church's traditional power bases:
Francesco Montenegro: archbishop of a small Sicilian diocese, Agrigento, and head of the bishops' group dealing with the plight of migrants, a major concern of Pope Francis.Alberto Surez Inda: archbishop of Morelia in the Mexican state of Michoacn, which has been ravaged by drug violence.Soane Patita Paini Mafi: archbishop of Tonga, which hasn't traditionally had a cardinal. At 53, he will be the youngest to hold the title.Dominique Mamberti: a Frenchman born in Morocco and Vatican's former foreign minister. He was the only Curia member to be named Sunday.Pope Francis is seeking to bolster the representation of the emerging world in the College of Cardinals to reflect the greater growth of Catholicism in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia. However, even after the new nominees are elevated, Europe, home to 24% of the world's Catholics, will still have 57 voting-age cardinals, while the U.S. and Canada, which have about 8% of Catholics, will have 15. By contrast, Latin America, which has nearly 40% of Catholics and where the ranks of the faithful are growing, will have 21 cardinals, or less than a fifth of voting-age cardinals.
For the second time, the pope chose no new American cardinals. And his nominees in the rich world reflect his preference to focus on smaller cities. For instance, he chose Msgr. Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain.
The pontiff chose cardinals in a number of cities such as David, Panama, and Morelia, Mexico, that haven't had cardinals in the past. He also chose places where the Catholic community is a minority and areas, such as Morelia, that are afflicted by violence.
One of the pope's nominees was Msgr. Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Southeast Asian nation has a small but vibrant Catholic community and is one of the few countries with which the Holy See doesn't have diplomatic relations. However, relations have warmed notably in recent years and some expect full ties to be restored in the near future.
He also nominated Msgr. Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij in Bangkok and Msgr. Charles Maung Bo in Myanmar. The youngest nominee is Msgr. Soane Patita Paini Mafi, the 53-year-old bishop of Tonga. Others include Msgr. Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Msgr. Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet of Montevideo. In Cape Verde, Santiago de Cabo Vede'--one of Africa's oldest Catholic dioceses'--will receive its first cardinalship when the pope elevates Msgr. Arlindo Gomes Furtado next month.
The pontiff also nominated five cardinals emeriti, who won't have the power to vote in a conclave. Such nominations are honorary.
'--Liam Moloney contributed to this article.
Write to Deborah Ball at deborah.ball@wsj.com
Corrections & Amplifications
The cardinals will be elevated at a ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Feb. 14. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the ceremony would take place on Feb. 24. (1/4/2015)
VIDEO-WH to Reporter: 'That's a Clown Question, Bro' - Breitbart
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 06:51
Monday at the White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest refused to confirm whether President Barack Obama refers to UK Prime Minister David Cameron as ''bro,'' by calling CBS News' chief White House correspondent Major Garrett's question a ''clown question.''
Garrett asked Earnest about Cameron telling the ''Daily Mail'' that Obama often calls him ''bro,'' Earnest answered by referring to a response by Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, saying, ''Well, to paraphrase a local baseball player here in Washington, D.C., that's a clown question, bro.''
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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