1 Arrested, 2 Sought In Alleged Russian Spy Ring In New York CBS New York
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:52
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) '-- The U.S. Attorney's office on Monday announced charges against an alleged Russian spy who accused of illegally gathering intelligence in the United States.
Evgeny Buryakov, also known as ''Zhenya,'' was accused of acting as a spy on behalf of the Russian Federation in New York City without notifying the U.S. Attorney General's office as required by law. Buryakov was arrested in the Bronx on Monday, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors were still searching for two other suspects in the alleged covert spying operation '' Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy '' who no longer reside in the United States and have not been arrested, prosecutors said. Sporyshev and Podobnyy had been protected by diplomatic immunity form arrest and prosecution while in the U.S. by virtue of prior positions they held.
Prosecutors said Buryakov worked in the U.S. as an agent of the Russian foreign intelligence agency known as the SVR. He worked as a non-official cover, meaning that he entered and stayed in the U.S. as a private citizen and posed as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank, prosecutors said.
Sporyshev and Podobnyy are also SVR agents who allegedly posed as official representatives of Russia while really acting as spies, prosecutors said. Sporyshev served as a trade representation from the Russian Federation in New York from 2010 to 2014, and Podobnyy served as the attach(C) to the permanent mission of the Russian Federation at the United Nations, prosecutors said.
While they were immune from arrest based on those positions, they can still be prosecuted for allegedly conspiring with Buryakov, prosecutors said.
Sporyshev and Podobnyy allegedly tried to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources for Russia and tasked Buryakov to gather intelligence, which they allegedly relayed to SVR headquarters in Moscow, prosecutors said.
The directives from the SVR that the three received included requests to gather intelligence on potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and efforts in the U.S. to develop alternative energy sources, prosecutors said.
The three allegedly spoke in code and passed bags, magazines and slips of paper outdoors to avoid surveillance, and also spoke non-specifically about non-specific tickets, books, lists, or ordinary items such as umbrellas or hats that were really believed to be intelligence they gathered, prosecutors said.
The meetings were always preceded by a brief phone call in which they also spoke in code about an exchange, prosecutors said.
Sporyshev and Podobnyy also allegedly discussed their plans to recruit U.S. residents, including several people employed by major companies and several young women tied to an unspecified major university in New York City, prosecutors said.
Podobnyy said his recruitment method included cheating and promising favors, prosecutors said.
''This is intelligence method to cheat. . . . You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go [expletive] himself,'' Podobnyy allegedly said.
Buryakov met several times with a confidential source working for the FBI, who posed as a representative of a wealthy investor who wanted to develop casinos in Russia, prosecutors said. During the meetings, Buryakov allegedly demonstrated a desire to obtain information far beyond the scope of his work as the bank employee he claimed to be in everyday life '' including information about U.S. sanctions against Russia, prosecutors said.
Buryakov, 39; Sporyshev, 40; and Podobnyy, 27, are charged with a conspiracy claim that could result in a maximum sentence of five years in prison upon conviction, prosecutors said.
Buryakov is also charged with acting as an agent of the foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General, and Sporyshev and Podobnyy are charged with aiding and abetting that effort, prosecutors said. Those charges carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Gotham in the Russian-American SpyWar
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:06
Yesterday brought front-page news of the FBI's arrest of a Russian businessman in the Bronx who, according to the information released by the Department of Justice, had been operating as an agent of Russian intelligence for several years, collecting mainly economic information in the United States.
The man in custody is Evgeny Buryakov (39), AKA Zhenya, while his co-conspirators, who have already left the United States, are named as Igor Sporyshev (40) and Victor Podobnyy (27), also Russian nationals. While living in New York, Sporyshev was serving with the Russian trade mission there, while Podobnyy was an attach(C) with the Russian Mission to the United Nations.
All three were in actuality officers of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Sporyshev and Podobnyy were serving in ''official'' cover positions of the kind used by the SVR and its KGB predecessor for nearly a century, while Buryakov was serving in a ''non-official cover'' position, to use the verbiage cited by the FBI. That is, Buryakov enjoyed no diplomatic immunity, which is why he is in custody now; had the FBI managed to catch up with Sporyshev and Podobnyy there was not much they really could have done since those men enjoyed diplomatic protection. At worst, they would have been expelled from the United States '-- PNG'd in spy-speak (from being declared persona non grata).
To use proper Russian terminology, Sporyshev and Podobnyy were ''Legals'' while Buryakov was an ''Illegal.'' Such spies without official cover have long been the elite of the Kremlin's espionage arm, a select cadre. During the Cold War they were legendary, not least because while Legals are relatively easy for the FBI, or any competent counterintelligence service, to detect '-- the odds of a Legal SVR officer being noticed as actually a spy during his or her tour as a ''diplomat'' in any Western country are high '-- Illegals are much more difficult to detect and neutralize.
Or rather, they were. During the Cold War, the KGB was careful to not ''cross the streams'' between their Legal and Illegal networks in the West much, if at all: associating with a Legal, who may be under surveillance, is a good way for an Illegal to wind up on the radar of the local security service. The massive roll-up of the SVR's Illegals Network in 2010, which was a debacle for the Kremlin, was noticed by the media and the public mainly for the fetching Anna Chapman, red-headed Russian temptress extraordinaire, but represented a historic counterintelligence win for the FBI and the Intelligence Community.
Although the media had a good laugh at the Illegals Network, not seeing much important going on there, the reality was different. While it seems indisputable that several of the Illegals caught in 2010 were not up to the caliber of their predecessors of hoary Chekist legend, this has something to do with the fact that the SVR had to rebuild their networks abroad, which went to pieces after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Over the last fifteen years, Russian intelligence has rebuilt their spy networks worldwide, and sometimes getting spies in the field inadequately prepared, backed by flimsy covers, has been a problem, as the Kremlin values quantity as well as quality. It should be noted that Russian military intelligence (GRU) also has networks of Legals and Illegals around the world, separate from SVR espionage.
As a former counterintelligence officer obsessed with espionage against the West, Putin has pushed hard for SVR and GRU to ''get in the game'' and they have. Today, Russian espionage against the West, including numbers of operatives and the tempo of their operations, equals its highest levels during the Cold War. Not every operation is a win, as the Chekist-in-Charge is well aware. The sudden loss of the Illegals Network in 2010 was a major disruption and to fill the gap the SVR sent less-able officers like Buryakov to America, perhaps too hastily.
Our counterintelligence was on to him almost immediately. Many leads emerged from the Illegals Network takedown, in multiple countries, and many tantalizing hints, considering subsequent developments, remain officially unresolved. Buryakov did not help himself by meeting with Sporyshev and Podobnyy, but otherwise he had limited ability to communicate with Moscow Center, i.e. SVR headquarters.
The story of his work is standard spy stuff: covert communications, dead-drops, brush-passes, sometimes fumbling efforts to recruit American businesspeople and students. The main target of this SVR network in New York was economic espionage, particularly regarding the financial sector. They seem to have landed no big fish, but it needs to be kept in mind that the DOJ account of the Buryakov ring released yesterday is the unclassified version of the case which always omits much important detail. Russian espionage operations are seldom straightforward, while some defy real understanding for years, even decades.
Significantly, U.S. counterintelligence had an excellent look into this trio's activities, due mainly to good SIGINT '-- since the greatest weakness of any spy is the need to communicate. Thanks to this, eventually the banker/spy Buryakov fell prey to a ruse when a slightly-too-good-to-be-true source emerged and he took a gamble that a savvier officer might have demurred from. But the source promised classified U.S. Government information, as well as casino goodies; of course, this source was actually under FBI control, a dangle.
As with the Illegals Network in 2010, journalists and commentators who are ignorant of Russian espionage tradecraft are blowing this story off as being of little consequence, even comedic. There is, however, nothing funny about this case. In the first place, it shows that the Kremlin continues to collect economic intelligence in the West, using various covers to steal information of many sorts. This is a big win for the FBI and U.S. counterintelligence, but luck was on our side here, and that cannot be counted on.
Moreover, Illegals have many purposes, including functioning as long-term sources to maintain agent networks in the event of war, when diplomatic facilities close and Legals get pulled home. Given the parlous state of relations between the West and Russia now, this is not a theoretical concern. The Kremlin, unlike most Western intelligence services, tends towards the long-view and worst-case planning with utmost seriousness.
Ominously, among the things Buryakov was looking to steal included very sensitive information regarding high-speed Wall Street trading, automated trading algorithms, and ''destabilization of markets.'' If that thought doesn't worry you, you're not paying attention. There is a bona fide financial and economic war being waged now between Russia and the West, and Moscow intends to win. The potential threat to remove Russia from SWIFT, the international banking information-sharing mechanism, has reduced the Kremlin to fits. Today Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev promised that his government's reaction to booting Russia from SWIFT, which would be tantamount to total financial isolation for Moscow, would be ''unlimited'' and not merely economic in nature. Western pundits are chuckling at the SVR's missteps in New York today, but it may be Putin and his spies who get the last laugh here.
UPDATE: Over at CrossingWallStreet, Eddy Elfenbein '-- whom you should be following if you care about your financial future '-- has added his thoughts on the Wall Street side of this case, a must read.
Poland Prepares for Russian Invasion | The XX Committee
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:45
As Vladimir Putin's Russia continues to threaten Ukraine, having stolen Crimea in the spring and exerted de facto Kremlin control over much of the Donbas this summer, war worries are mounting on NATO's eastern frontier. New reports of Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border this week are not reassuring to those Atlantic Alliance members who suffered Soviet occupation for decades, and still live in Moscow's neighborhood.
Neither are Russian air force incursions into Western airspace calming nerves with their reborn Cold War antics: yesterday, NATO fighters intercepted no less than nineteen Russian combat aircraft, including several heavy bombers. No NATO countries are more worried about Kremlin aggression than the Baltic states, with their small militaries and lack of strategic depth, which are frankly indefensible in any conventional sense without significant and timely Alliance assistance.
But Poland is the real issue when it comes to defending NATO's exposed Eastern frontier from Russian aggression. Only Poland, which occupies the Alliance's central front, has the military power to seriously blunt any Russian moves westward. As in 1920, when the Red Army failed to push past Warsaw, Poland is the wall that will defend Central Europe from any westward movement by Moscow's military. To their credit, and thanks to a long history of understanding the Russian mentality better than most NATO and EU members, Warsaw last fall, when the violent theft of Crimea was still just a Kremlin dream, announced a revised national security strategy emphasizing territorial defense. Eschewing American-led overseas expeditions like those to Iraq and Afghanistan that occupied Poland's Ministry of Defense (MoD) during the post-9/11 era, this new doctrine makes defending Poland from Eastern aggression the main job of its military. Presciently, then-Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, contradicting optimistic European and NATO presumptions of our era that conventional war in Europe was unthinkable, stated in May 2013, ''I'm afraid conflict in Europe is imaginable.''
Particularly in light of the fact that both NATO and the Obama administration rejected my advice to seriously bolster Alliance defenses in the East with four heavy brigades, including the two brigades that Warsaw explicitly asked NATO '-- meaning, in practice, the United States '-- for after this year's Russo-Ukrainian War began in earnest, the issue of Poland's military readiness is of considerable importance to countries far beyond Poland. Instead of creating a militarily viable NATO tripwire that would deter Russian aggression, the Alliance, and Washington, DC, have opted for symbolic gestures '-- speeches, military visits, small exercises '-- that impress the Western media but not the Russians.
Simply put: Can Poland defend itself if Putin decides to move his aggression westward? Even if NATO rides to the rescue, as they would be required to under Article 5 '-- that is now an ''if'' question to many in Warsaw '-- will the Polish military be able to buy sufficient time for the Alliance to come to their aid? Notwithstanding that Poland (and Estonia) are the only ''new NATO'' members that take their Alliance obligations fully seriously, spending more than the required two percent of GDP on defense '-- a standard almost all longstanding NATO members can't manage to meet '-- there are serious doubts about the ability of Poland's armed forces to defend against a major Russian move to the West.
There is good news. When it comes to resisting what I term Special War '-- that shadowy amalgam of espionage, terrorism, and subversion at which the Kremlin excels '-- Warsaw, with its long acquaintance with sneaky Russian games, is probably better equipped than any almost NATO country to deter and defeat Putin's secret offensive. The recent arrests of two Polish agents of Russian military intelligence (GRU), one of them a Polish military officer assigned to the MoD, sent a clear message to Moscow that Special War will be countered with aggressive counterintelligence.
When it comes to conventional defense, however, the news from Poland appears less rosy. Despite the fact that no one questions the basic competence of the Polish armed forces, nor the impressiveness of their current defense acquisition program, there is a matter of size. The recent MoD announcement that it is moving thousands of troops closer to the country's borders with Belarus and Ukraine, where any threat would emerge, is encouraging but not sufficient (thanks to the Cold War, when Poland's Communist military was directed westward, most of its major military bases are closer to Germany than the East). Since the abandonment of conscription five years ago, a cumbersome process that caused readiness problems for some time, Warsaw's armed forces come to only 120,000 active duty troops, with less than 48,000 in the ground forces (i.e. the army). That number is insufficient to man the army's structure of three divisions with thirteen maneuver brigades (ten of them armored or mechanized).
A solution to this manpower shortfall was supposed to be found in the establishment of the National Reserve Forces (NSR), with 20,000 fully trained part-time volunteers who would flesh out the order of battle in a crisis. Yet the NSR, which was announced by the MoD five years ago with much fanfare, has had considerable teething problems, with shortages of recruits and inadequate training budgets. Recent reports indicate both morale and readiness are low among NSR soldiers, who feel poorly treated by the regular military, while none dispute that the force has only recruited and trained 10,000 troops, half the target figure.
Quality can compensate for deficient quantity to an extent, and Poland's recent acquisition of more late-model Leopard II tanks from Germany, adding to the 124 it already has, means they will be able to replace most of their Soviet-model legacy armor, and meet any Russian incursion on an equal footing in terms of quality, if not quantity. By approximately 2020, the air force will have wholly replaced its Soviet-era helicopters, buying 150 modern airframes, while the MoD plans to purchase thirty-two late-model attack helicopters by 2022, which would pose a significant threat to Russian armor.
More interesting still are plans taking shape to give Warsaw asymmetric deep-strike capabilities to resist Russian aggression. The navy and the army intend to acquire long-range missiles to counter superior Russian numbers, but the cornerstone of the deterrence concept called ''Polish Fangs'' by Warsaw is the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), to be carried by the air force's F-16 fleet (the wing of forty-eight F-16's is the backbone of Polish airpower). Combined with drones and Poland's excellent special operations forces, which are among the best in NATO, Warsaw believes that the American-made JASSM on the American-made F-16 will give them an important qualitative advantage over the Russians, including the ability to precisely hit targets up to 370 kilometers behind enemy lines.
Yet even the most optimistic forecasts predict that ''Polish Fangs'' will not be fully operational for three more years '-- five seems a more realistic estimate '-- so there is the pressing matter of deterring Putin's rising aggression right now. To provide additional deterrence, Warsaw is taking the remarkable step of creating home guard forces to harass the Russians in the event of occupation, a condition that Poles are only too familiar with. Unlike Ukraine, Poland plans to be prepared should Putin opt for war.
Ever since Moscow's aggression against Kyiv became overt in the spring, the Polish MoD began quietly standing up volunteer forces to bolster the armed forces, should the Russians come again. Word of this became public this week with a story in the Polish edition of Newsweek that details what's been going on behind the scenes. Building on shooting clubs that exist all over the country, possessing several hundred thousand members, the MoD has been supporting the establishment of paramilitary units that would bolster the army if needed. Their intent would be to counter Russian irregulars, GRU's ''little green men'' that caused such havoc in Crimea a few months ago.
How many volunteers have already been enrolled is unclear, though it's evident that the number far exceeds the 10,000 belonging to the NSR. In late September, and explicitly invoking the legendary Home Army (Armia Krajowa '-- AK) that resisted Nazi occupation in the Second World War, the first volunteer unit was sworn in at Åwidnik, near the eastern border, with modest public fanfare, despite the fact that the MoD considers the existence of this new shadow army to be officially classified.
Advocates of the reborn Home Army speak of finding 100,000 volunteers soon, but that seems a rather long-term goal. While this project has attracted the support of some Polish right-wingers '-- the sort who tend to join rifle clubs '-- its MoD manager is Major General BogusÅaw Pacek, the director of the National Defense Academy, a veteran of Poland's Cold War Communist military not known for dirigiste views. Pacek's quiet enthusiasm for a new Home Army has been noted and it can be expected that before long ''AK 2.0'" may constitute more than a nuisance to any invader.
This begs that question why Poland, a leading member of the Atlantic Alliance, thinks it needs to worry about an actual Russian invasion. In the first place, the Poles have been invaded and occupied by Moscow too many times over the centuries, including twice during the last one, to think this is just a fantasy. Putin's harsh and threatening language gets more attention in Warsaw than just about anywhere else.
The Poles also understand that Article 5 only works as a deterrent if everyone understands that NATO will actually go to war to defend a member under threat. Here, again, recent history gives room for doubt. All of Europe was happy to sit back and watch Poland fight off the Red Army in 1920, alone, while Kremlin sympathizers in Western Europe blocked desperately needed arms shipments headed to Warsaw. More germanely, the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 brought none of the Allied help that Poland was obligated to receive under treaty. Although both Britain and France were supposed to come to Poland's direct military aid, they were content to declare war on Germany and essentially do nothing, letting Hitler and Stalin dismember Poland completely. Warsaw's war plans assumed they needed to buy time '-- perhaps six weeks '-- until the British and French arrived. That promised rescue force never came, and every Pole today knows it.
Hence NATO assurances are met with a certain skepticism in Warsaw, including '-- perhaps especially '-- in defense circles. Then there is the touchy issue of President Obama. The Polish Right was never enamored of him, noting with disgust how Obama in 2009 cancelled a US/NATO missile defense system in the country, termed ''betrayal'' by Poland's president, while making the announcement on September 17, the seventieth anniversary of Stalin's invasion, added insult to injury. More than a few Polish right-wingers have doubted the staying power of Obama, particularly given his youthful dislike of President Reagan, a revered figure to many Poles for his major role in ending the Cold War and regaining Poland's freedom.
Obama's talky dithering on foreign and defense issues and his rough dealings with America's friends have led to Polish worries spreading well beyond the country's right wing. I deal regularly with Polish defense and intelligence officials, and over the last few years their doubts about Washington, DC's courage and wisdom have mounted steadily. Poles understand that without American leadership there is no NATO in any military sense. Since the onset of Putin's aggression against Ukraine, those fears have multiplied and there are now many in Warsaw who wonder if Obama would really honor Article 5 in a crisis.
Yesterday I spoke with a top Polish MoD official, a man of sober and strongly pro-American views whom I've known for years. Referring to this week's needless White House crisis with Israel, another American ally who has doubts about the current administration, he noted, ''I didn't need the Beltway media to tell me who the real chickenshit is.'' ''They really have no idea what they are doing,'' he opined about Obama and his national security staff, ''and we know it. You have no idea how many promises we've been given, even by the President himself, but there's never any follow-up, it's all talk. He thinks he's on Oprah.'' When I asked if he thought America would come to Poland's aid in a crisis, he said laconically, ''I'd flip a coin.''
In a similar vein, a senior Polish intelligence official, another veteran of long collaboration with Washington, DC, expressed his skepticism to me. ''Is it 1939 again? I don't know,'' he explained, ''but I think Obama isn't even a Chamberlain,'' citing the British prime minister who left Poland in the lurch at the beginning of World War Two. Given such doubts, combined with Putin's obvious desire to break the Atlantic Alliance, Poland will prepare to resist the Russians alone, while hoping and praying it does not have to.
Manchukuo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:07
Manchukuo (traditional Chinese: æ>>æ´²å'; simplified Chinese: æ>>æ´²å½; pinyin: MÇnzhÅugu"; Japanese: æ>>æ´²å½; literally: "State of Manchuria") was a puppet state in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia, which was governed under a form of constitutional monarchy. The area, collectively known as Manchuria by westerners and Japanese, was designated by China's erstwhile Qing Dynasty as the "homeland" of the ruling family's ethnic group, the Manchus, but the Manchus themselves never used "Manchuria" (æ>>æ´²) as a place name to refer to the area. In 1931, the region was seized by Japan following the Mukden Incident and a pro-Japanese government was installed one year later with Puyi, the last Qing emperor, as the nominal regent and emperor. Manchukuo's government was abolished in 1945 after the defeat of Imperial Japan at the end of World War II. The territories formally claimed by the puppet state were first seized in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945, and then formally transferred to Chinese administration in the following year.[unreliable source?]
Manchus formed a minority in Manchukuo, whose largest ethnic group were Han Chinese. The population of Koreans increased during the Manchukuo period, and there were also Japanese, Mongols, White Russians and other minorities. The Mongol regions of western Manchukuo were ruled under a slightly different system in acknowledgement of the Mongolian traditions there. The southern part of the Liaodong Peninsula was ruled by Japan as the Kwantung Leased Territory.
BackgroundEdit"Manchuria" is a transcription of the Japanese reading of the Chinese word "æ>>æ´²" which means Manchu, which in Japanese is ManshÅ, which in turn dates from the 19th century. The name Manzhou was invented and given to the Jurchen people by Hong Taiji in 1635 as a new name for their ethnic group, however, the name "Manchuria" was never used by the Manchus or the Qing dynasty itself to refer to their homeland. According to the Japanese scholar Junko Miyawaki-Okada, the Japanese geographer Takahashi Kageyasu was the first to use the term æ>>æ´² (ManshÅ) as a place name in 1809 in the Nippon Henkai Ryakuzu, and it was from that work where Westerners adopted the name. According to Mark C. Elliott, Katsuragawa HoshÅ's 1794 work, the Hokusa bunryaku, was where æ>>æ´² (ManshÅ) first appeared as a place name was in two maps included in the work: "Ashia zenzu" and "ChikyÅ hankyÅ sÅzu" which were also created by Katsuragawa. æ>>æ´² (ManshÅ) then began to appear as a place names in more maps created by Japanese like Kondi JÅzÅ, Takahashi Kageyasu, Baba Sadayoshi and Yamada Ren. These maps were brought to Europe by the Dutch Philipp von Siebold. According to Nakami Tatsuo, Philip Franz von Siebold was the one who brought the usage of the term Manchuria to Europeans, after borrowing it from the Japanese, who were the first to use it in a geographic manner in the eighteenth century, while neither the Manchu nor Chinese languages had a term in their own language equivalent to "Manchuria" as a geographic place name. According to Bill Sewell, it was Europeans who first started using Manchuria as a name to refer to the location and it is "not a genuine geographic term." The historian Gavan McCormack agreed with Robert H. G. Lee's statement that "The term Manchuria or Man-chou is a modern creation used mainly by westerners and Japanese", with McCormack writing that the term Manchuria is imperialistic in nature and has no "precise meaning", since the Japanese deliberately promoted the use of "Manchuria" as a geographic name to promote its separation from China while they were setting up their puppet state of Manchukuo.
The Japanese had their own motive for deliberately spreading the usage of the term Manchuria. The historian Norman Smith wrote that "The term "Manchuria" is controversial". Professor Mariko Asano Tamanoi said that she "should use the term in quotation marks", when referring to Manchuria.Herbert Giles wrote that "Manchuria" was unknown to the Manchus themselves as a geographical expression. In his 2012 dissertation on the Jurchen people to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy degree in History from the University of Washington, Professor Chad D. Garcia noted that usage of the term "Manchuria" is out of favor in "currently scholarly practice" and he did away with using the term, using instead "the northeast" or referring to specific geographical features.
The Qing Dynasty, which replaced the Shun and Ming dynasties in China, was founded by Manchus from Manchuria (modern Northeastern China). The Manchu emperors separated their homeland in Jilin and Heilongjiang from the Han Liaoning province with the Willow Palisade. This ethnic division continued until the Qing dynasty encouraged massive immigration of Han in the 19th century during Chuang Guandong to prevent the Russians from seizing the area from the Qing. After conquering the Ming, the Qing identified their state as "China" (ä¸å', Zhongguo; "Middle Kingdom") and referred to it as "Dulimbai Gurun" in Manchu. The Qing equated the lands of the Qing state (including present day Manchuria, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Tibet and other areas) as "China" in both the Chinese and Manchu languages, defining China as a multi-ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China only meant Han areas, proclaiming that both Han and non-Han peoples were part of "China", using "China" to refer to the Qing in official documents, international treaties, and foreign affairs, and the "Chinese language" (Dulimbai gurun i bithe) referred to Chinese, Manchu, and Mongol languages, and the term "Chinese people" (ä¸å'äºº Zhongguo ren; Manchu: Dulimbai gurun i niyalma) referred to all Han, Manchus, and Mongol subjects of the Qing. The lands in Manchuria were explicitly stated by the Qing to belong to "China" (Zhongguo, Dulimbai gurun) in Qing edicts and in the Treaty of Nerchinsk.
During the Qing dynasty, the area of Manchuria was known as the "three eastern provinces" (ä¸æ'±ç'; SÄn dÅng shÄng) since 1683 when Jilin and Heilongjiang were separated even though it was not until 1907 that they were turned into actual provinces. The area of Manchuria was then converted into three provinces by the late Qing government in 1907. Since then, the "Three Northeast Provinces" (traditional Chinese: æ'±åä¸ç'; simplified Chinese: ä¸'åä¸ç'; pinyin: DÅngbÄi SÄnshÄng) was officially used by the Qing government in China to refer to this region, and the post of Viceroy of Three Northeast Provinces was established to take charge of these provinces.
During its reign the Qing Dynasty became highly integrated with Chinese culture. The dynasty reached its height in the 18th century, during which both territory and population were increased. However, its military power weakened thereafter and, faced with massive rebellions and defeat in wars, the Qing Dynasty declined after the mid-19th century.
As the power of the court in Beijing weakened, many outlying areas either broke free (like Kashgar) or fell under the control of Imperialist powers. In the 19th century, Imperial Russia was most interested in the northern lands of the Qing Empire. In 1858, Russia gained control over a huge tract of land called Outer Manchuria thanks to the Supplementary Treaty of Beijing that ended the Second Opium War. But Russia was not satisfied and, as the Qing Dynasty continued to weaken, they made further efforts to take control of the rest of Manchuria. Inner Manchuria came under strong Russian influence in the 1890s with the building of the Chinese Eastern Railway through Harbin to Vladivostok.
OriginsEditAs a direct result of the Russo-Japanese War (1904/05) Japanese influence replaced Russia's in Inner Manchuria. In 1906, Japan laid the South Manchurian Railway to Port Arthur (Japanese: Ryojun). Between World War I and World War II Manchuria became a political and military battleground between Russia, Japan, and China. Japan moved into Outer Manchuria as a result of the chaos following the Russian Revolution of 1917. A combination of Soviet military successes and American economic pressure forced the Japanese to withdraw from the area, however, and Outer Manchuria returned to Soviet control by 1925.
During the warlord period in China, the warlord Zhang Zuolin established himself in Inner Manchuria with Japanese backing. Later, the Japanese Kwantung Army found him too independent, so he was assassinated in 1928.
After the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, Japanese militarists moved forward to separate the region from Chinese control and to create a Japanese-aligned puppet state. To create an air of legitimacy, the last Emperor of China, Puyi, was invited to come with his followers and act as the head of state for Manchuria. One of his faithful companions was Zheng Xiaoxu, a Qing reformist and loyalist.
On 18 February 1932 the Manchu State (Manchukuo, Pinyin: MÇnzhÅugu") was proclaimed and recognized by Japan on 15 September 1932 through the Japan-Manchukuo Protocol. The city of Changchun, renamed Hsinking (Pinyin: Xinjing) (æ°äº¬, literally "New Capital"), became the capital of the new entity. Chinese in Manchuria organized volunteer armies to oppose the Japanese and the new state required a war lasting several years to appease the country.
The Japanese initially installed Puyi as Head of State in 1932, and two years later he was declared Emperor of Manchukuo with the era name of Kangde ("Tranquility and Virtue"; Wade-Giles: Kangte). Manchukuo thus became the Great Manchurian Empire, sometimes termed Manchutikuo (Pinyin: MÇnzhÅu D¬gu"). Zheng Xiaoxu served as Manchukuo's first prime minister until 1935, when Zhang Jinghui succeeded him. Puyi was nothing more than a figurehead and real authority rested in the hands of the Japanese military officials. An imperial palace was particularly built for the emperor. All of the Manchu ministers served as front-men for their Japanese vice-ministers, who made all decisions.
In this manner, Japan formally detached Manchukuo from China in the course of the 1930s. With Japanese investment and rich natural resources, the area became an industrial powerhouse. Manchukuo had its own issued bank notes and postal stamps. Several independent banks were founded as well.
In 1935, Manchukuo bought the Chinese Eastern Railway from the Soviet Union.
Diplomatic recognitionEditChina did not recognize Manchukuo but the two sides established official ties for trade, communications and transportation. In 1933, the League of Nations adopted the Lytton Report, declaring that Manchuria remained rightfully part of China, leading Japan to resign its membership. The Manchukuo case persuaded the United States to articulate the so-called Stimson Doctrine, under which international recognition was withheld from changes in the international system created by force of arms.
In spite of the League of Nations' approach, the new state was diplomatically recognised by El Salvador (3 March 1934) and the Dominican Republic (1934), the Soviet Union (de facto 23 March 1935; de jure 13 April 1941),Italy (29 November 1937), Spain (2 December 1937), Germany (12 May 1938) and Hungary (9 January 1939).
It is commonly believed that the Holy See established diplomatic relations with Manchukuo in 1934, but the Holy See never did so. This belief is partly due to the erroneous reference in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 film The Last Emperor that the Holy See diplomatically recognised Manchukuo. Bishop Auguste Ernest Pierre Gaspais was appointed as "representative ad tempus of the Holy See and of the Catholic missions of Manchukuo to the government of Manchukuo" by the Congregation De Propaganda Fide (a purely religious body responsible for missions) and not by the Secretariat of State responsible for diplomatic relations with states.
After the outbreak of World War II, the state was recognised by Slovakia (1 June 1940), Vichy France (12 July 1940), Romania (1 December 1940), Bulgaria (10 May 1941), Finland (18 July 1941), Denmark (August 1941), Croatia (2 August 1941)'--all controlled or influenced by Japan's ally Germany '-- as well as by the China's Wang Jingwei government (30 November 1940), Thailand (5 August 1941) and the Philippines (1943) '-- all under Japanese control.
World War II and aftermathEditBefore World War II, the Japanese colonized Manchukuo and used it as a base from which to invade China. In the summer of 1939 a border dispute between Manchukuo and the Mongolian People's Republic resulted in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. During this battle, a combined Soviet-Mongolian force defeated the Japanese Kwantung Army (KantÅgun) supported by limited Manchukuoan forces.
On 8 August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, in accordance with the agreement at the Yalta Conference, and invaded Manchukuo from outer Manchuria and Outer Mongolia. This was called Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation. During the Soviet offensive the Army of Manchukuo, on paper a 200,000-man force, performed poorly and whole units surrendered to the Soviets without firing a single shot; there were even cases of armed riots and mutinies against the Japanese forces. Emperor Kangde (known by reign title Xuantong during the Qing Dynasty; his childhood name was Puyi) had hoped to escape to Japan to surrender to the Americans, but the Soviets captured him and eventually extradited him to the communist government in China, where the authorities had him imprisoned as a war criminal along with all other captured Manchukuo officials.
From 1945 to 1948, Manchuria (Inner Manchuria) served as a base area for the People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War against the National Revolutionary Army. The Chinese Communists used Manchuria as a staging ground until the final Nationalist retreat to Taiwan in 1949. Many Manchukuo army and Japanese Kantogun personnel served with the communist troops during the Chinese Civil War against the Nationalist forces. Most of the 1.5 million Japanese who had been left in Manchukuo at the end of World War II were sent back to their homeland in 1946-1948 by U.S. Navy ships in the operation now known as the Japanese repatriation from Huludao.
Historians generally consider Manchukuo a puppet state of Imperial Japan because of the Japanese military's strong presence and strict control of the government administration. Chinese historians generally refer to the state as 'Wei Manzhouguo' ('false state of Manchuria'). Some historians see Manchukuo as an effort at building a glorified Japanese state in mainland Asia that deteriorated due to the pressures of war.
The independence of Manchuria was proclaimed on 18 February 1932, and renamed to Manchukuo. The Japanese military commander appointed Puyi as regent (reign name Datong) for the time being, stating that he would become Emperor of Manchukuo but could not reign using the title of Emperor of the Great Qing Empire as he once held. Manchukuo was proclaimed a monarchy on 1 March 1934, with Puyi assuming the throne under the reign name of Emperor Kang-de. Puyi was assisted in his executive duties by a Privy Council (Chinese: åè°åº'), and a General Affairs State Council (Chinese: å'åé). This State Council was the center of political power, and consisted of several cabinet ministers, each assisted by a Japanese vice-minister.
The commanding officer of the Kwantung Army in Manchukuo was additionally the Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo. He functioned in a manner similar to that of a British resident officer in British overseas protectorates, with the power to veto decisions by the emperor. The Kwangtung Army leadership placed Japanese vice ministers in his cabinet, while all Chinese advisors gradually resigned or were dismissed.
The Legislative Council (Chinese: çæ"é) was largely a ceremonial body, existing to rubber-stamp decisions issued by the State Council. The only authorized political party was the government-sponsored Concordia Association, although various (C)migr(C) groups were permitted their own political associations.
When the Japanese surrender was announced on 15 August 1945, Puyi was "asked" to abdicate, which he did.
Head of StateEditManchukuo 1932''1945Personal NamesPeriod of ReignsEra names (å¹´è) and their corresponding range of yearsAll given names in bold.Aisin-Gioro Puyi ææ°è...ºç¾
æº¥å ixÄnju(C)lu" PÇ--y¬March 1932 '' August 1945Datong (å¤§å D t"ng) 1932''1934Kangde (åº·å¾· KÄngd(C)) 1934''1945Prime MinisterEditAdministrative divisionsEditSee List of administrative divisions of Manchukuo for a complete list of prefecture-level divisions.During its short-lived existence, Manchukuo was divided into between five (in 1932) and 19 (in 1941) provinces, one special ward of Peiman (Chinese: åæ>>ç¹å¥å) and two Special cities which were Hsinking (Chinese: æ°äº¬ç¹å¥å¸) and Harbin (Chinese: å'ç¾æ±ç¹å¥å¸). Each province was divided into between four (Hsingan-tung) and 24 (Fengtien) prefectures. Peiman lasted less than 3 years (1 July 1933 '' 1 January 1936) and Harbin was later incorporated into Binkiang province. Lungkiang also existed as a province in the 1932 before being divided into Heiho, Lungkiang and Sankiang in 1934. Antung and Chinchow provinces separated themselves from Fengtien while Binkiang and Chientao from Kirin separated themselves in the same year.
DemographicsEditIn 1908, the number of residents was 15,834,000, which rose to 30,000,000 in 1931 and 43,000,000 for the Manchukuo state. The population balance remained 123 men to 100 women and the total number in 1941 was 50,000,000. Other statistics indicate that in Manchukuo the population rose by 18,000,000.
In early 1934, the total population of Manchukuo was estimated as 30,880,000, with 6.1 persons the average family, and 122 men for each 100 women. These numbers included 29,510,000 Chinese (96%, which should have included the Manchurian population), 590,760 Japanese (2%), 680,000 Koreans (2%), and 98,431 (
History of Manchuria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:05
AntiquityEditAt various times in antiquity, Han Dynasty, Cao Wei Dynasty, Western Jin Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and some other minor kingdoms of China had established control in parts of Manchuria. Various Korean kingdoms, such as Gojoseon, Buyeo, Goguryeo and Balhae were also established in parts of this area.
Manchuria was the homeland of several Tungusic tribes, including the Ulchs and Nani. Various ethnic groups and their respective kingdoms, including the Sushen, Donghu, Xianbei, Wuhuan, Mohe and Khitan have risen to power in Manchuria.
Finnish linguist Juha Janhunen believes that it was likely that a "Tungusic-speaking elite" ruled Goguryeo and Balhae, describing them as "protohistorical Manchurian states" and that part of their population was Tungusic, and that the area of southern Manchuria was the origin of Tungusic peoples and inhabited continuously by them since ancient times, and Janhunen rejected opposing theories of Goguryeo and Balhae's ethnic composition.
BalhaeEditFrom 698 to 926, the kingdom of Balhae occupied northern Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria and Primorsky Krai, consisting of the people of the recently fallen Goguryeo kingdom of Korea as an aristocratic class, and the Nanai, the Udege, and the Evenks and descendants of the Tungus-speaking people as a lower class. Balhae was an early feudal medieval state of Eastern Asia, which developed its industry, agriculture, animal husbandry, and had its own cultural traditions and art. People of Balhae maintained political, economic and cultural contacts with the southern ChineseTang Dynasty, as well as Japan.
Primorsky Krai settled at this moment by Northern Mohe tribes were incorporated to Balhae Kingdom under King Seon's reign (818''830) and put Balhae territory at its height. After subduing the Yulou Mohe (Hangul: ì°ë£¨ë§ê°Hanja/Hanzi: èå(C)é'ºé¨pinyin: Yºl"u M²h(C)) first and the Yuexi Mohe (Hangul: ì--í'¬ë§ê°Hanja/Hanzi: è¶å'é'ºé¨pinyin: Yu¨xÇ M²h(C)) thereafter, King Seon administrated their territories by creating four prefectures : Solbin Prefecture, Jeongli Prefecture, Anbyeon Prefecture and Anwon Prefecture.
Manchuria under the Liao and JinEditWith the Song Dynasty to the south, the Khitan people of Western Manchuria, who probably spoke a language related to the Mongolic languages, created the Liao Empire in the region, which went on to control adjacent parts of Northern China as well.
In the early 12th century the Tungusic Jurchen people (the ancestors of the later Manchu people) originally lived in the forests in the eastern borderlands of the Liao Empire, and were Liao's tributaries, overthrew the Liao and formed the Jin Dynasty (1115''1234). They went on to control parts of Northern China and Mongolia after a series of successful military campaigns. Most of the surviving Khitan either assimilated into the bulk of the Han Chinese and Jurchen population, or moved to Central Asia; however, it is thought that the Daur people, still living in northern Manchuria, are also descendants of the Khitans.
The first Jin capital, Shangjing, located on the Ashi River not far from modern Harbin, was originally not much more than the city of tents, but in 1124 the second Jin emperor Wuqimai starting a major construction project, having his Chinese chief architect, Lu Yanlun, build a new city at this site, emulating, on a smaller scale, the Northern Song capital Bianjing (Kaifeng). When Bianjing fell to Jin troops in 1127, thousands of captured Song aristocrats (including the two Song emperors), scholars, craftsmen and entertainers, along with the treasures of the Song capital, were all taken to Shangjing (the Upper Capital) by the winners. Although the Jurchen ruler Wanyan Liang, spurred on by his aspirations to become the ruler of all China, moved the Jin capital from Shangjing to Yanjing (now Beijing) in 1153, and had the Shangjing palaces destroyed in 1157, the city regained a degree of significance under Wanyan Liang's successor, Emperor Shizong, who enjoyed visiting the region to get in touch with his Jurchen roots.
The capital of the Jin, Zhongdu, was captured by the Mongols in 1215 at the Battle of Zhongdu. The Jin moved their capital Kaifeng, which fell to Mongols in 1233. In 1234, the Jin Dynasty collapsed after the siege of Caizhou. The last emperor of the Jin, Emperor Modi, was killed while fighting the Mongols who had breached the walls of the city. Days earlier, his predecessor, Emperor Aizong, committed suicide because he was unable to escape the besieged city.
Manchuria under the Mongol EmpireEditIn 1211, after the conquest of Western Xia, Genghis Khan mobilized an army to conquer the Jin Dynasty. His general Jebe and brother Qasar were ordered to reduce the Jurchen cities in Manchuria. They successfully destroyed the Jin forts there. The Khitans under Yel¼ Liuge declared their allegiance to Genghis Khan and established nominally autonomous state in Manchuria in 1213. However, the Jin forces dispatched a punitive expedition against them. Jebe went there again and the Mongols pushed out the Jins.
The Jin general, Puxian Wannu, rebelled against the Jin Dynasty and founded the Dazhen (å¤§ç') kingdom in Dongjing (Liaoyang) in 1215. He assumed the title Tianwang (å¤(C)ç; lit. Heavenly King) and the era name Tiantai (å¤(C)æ"°). Puxian Wannu allied with the Mongols in order to secure his position. However, he revolted in 1222 after that and fled to an island while the Mongol army invaded Liaoxi, Liaodong, and Khorazm. As a result of an internal strife among the Khitans, they failed to accept Yel¼ Liuge's rule and revolted against the Mongol Empire. Fearing of the Mongol pressure, those Khitans fled to Goryeo without permission. But they were defeated by the Mongol-Koreanalliance. Genghis Khan (1206''1227) gave his brothers and Muqali Chinese districts in Manchuria.
gedei Khan's son G¼y¼k crushed Puxian Wannu's dynasty in 1233, pacifying southern Manchuria. Some time after 1234 gedei also subdued the Water Tatars in northern part of the region and began to receive falcons, harems and furs as taxation. The Mongols suppressed the Water Tatar rebellion in 1237. In Manchuria and Siberia, the Mongols used dogsled relays for their yam. The capital city Karakorum directly controlled Manchuria until the 1260s.
During the Yuan Dynasty (1271''1368), established by Kublai Khan by renaming his empire to "Great Yuan" in 1271, Manchuria was administered under the Liaoyang province. Descendants of Genghis Khan's brothers such as Belgutei and Hasar ruled the area under the Great Khans. The Mongols eagerly adopted new artillery and technologies. The world's earliest known cannon, dated 1282, was found in Mongol-held Manchuria.
After the expulsion of the Mongols from China, the Jurchen clans remained loyal to Toghan Tem¼r, the last Yuan emperor. In 1375, Nahacu, a Mongol official of the Northern Yuan in Liaoyang province invaded Liaodong with aims of restoring the Mongols to power. Although he continued to hold southern Manchuria, Nahacu finally surrendered to the Ming Dynasty in 1387. In order to protect the northern border areas the Ming decided to "pacify" the Jurchens in order to deal with its problems with Yuan remnants along its northern border. The Ming solidified control only under Yongle Emperor (1402''1424).
Manchuria during the Ming DynastyEditThe Ming Empire took control of Liaoning in 1371, just three years after the expulsion of the Mongols from Beijing. During the reign of the Yongle Emperor in the early 15th century, efforts were made to expand Chinese control throughout entire Manchuria by establishing the Nurgan Regional Military Commission. Mighty river fleets were built in Jilin City, and sailed several times between 1409 and ca. 1432, commanded by the eunuchYishiha down the Sungari and the Amur all the way to the mouth of the Amur, getting the chieftains of the local tribes to swear allegiance to the Ming rulers.
Soon after the death of the Yongle Emperor the expansion policy of the Ming was replaced with that of retrenchment in southern Manchuria (Liaodong). Around 1442, a defence wall was constructed to defend the northwestern frontier of Liaodong from a possible threat from the Jurched-Mongol Oriyanghan. In 1467''68 the wall was expanded to protect the region from the northeast as well, against attacks from Jianzhou Jurchens. Although similar in purpose to the Great Wall of China, this "Liaodong Wall" was of a simpler design. While stones and tiles were used in some parts, most of the wall was in fact simply an earthen dike with moats on both sides.
Chinese cultural and religious infleunce such as Chinese New Year, the "Chinese god", Chinese motifs like the dragon, spirals, scrolls, and material goods like agriculture, husbandry, heating, iron cooking pots, silk, and cotton spread among the Amur natives like the Udeghes, Ulchis, and Nanais.
Starting in the 1580s, a Jianzhou Jurchens chieftain Nurhaci (1558''1626), originally based in the Hurha River valley northeast of the Ming Liaodong Wall, started to unify Jurchen tribes of the region. Over the next several decades, the Jurchen (later to be called Manchu), took control over most of Manchuria, the cities of the Ming Liaodong falling to the Jurchen one after another. In 1616, Nurhaci declared himself a khan, and founded the Later Jin Dynasty (which his successors renamed in 1636 to Qing Dynasty).
Manchuria during the Qing DynastyEditThe process of unification of the Jurchen people completed by Nurhaci was followed by his son's, Hong Taiji, energetic expansion into Outer Manchuria. The conquest of the Amur basin people was completed after the defeat of the Evenk chief Bombogor, in 1640.
Soon after the establishment of the Qing Dynasty, the territory of today's Primorsky Kray was made part of the Government-general of Jilin, and along with the lower Amur area was controlled from Ninguta (a garrison town south of today's Mudanjiang).
In 1644, the Manchus took Beijing, overthrowing the Ming Dynasty and soon established the Qing Dynasty rule (1644''1912) over all of China. The Manchus ruled all of China, but they treated their homeland of Manchuria to a special status and ruled it separately. The "Banner" system that in China involved military units originated in Manchuria and was used as a form of government.
After conquering the Ming, the Qing identified their state as "China" (ä¸å', Zhongguo; "Middle Kingdom"), and referred to it as "Dulimbai Gurun" in Manchu. The Qing equated the lands of the Qing state (including present day Manchuria, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Tibet and other areas) as "China" in both the Chinese and Manchu languages, defining China as a multi ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China only meant Han areas, proclaiming that both Han and non-Han peoples were part of "China", using "China" to refer to the Qing in official documents, international treaties, and foreign affairs, and the "Chinese language" (Dulimbai gurun i bithe) referred to Chinese, Manchu, and Mongol languages, and the term "Chinese people" (ä¸å'äºº Zhongguo ren; Manchu: Dulimbai gurun i niyalma) referred to all Han, Manchus, and Mongol subjects of the Qing. The lands in Manchuria were explicitly stated by the Qing to belong to "China" (Zhongguo, Dulimbai gurun) in Qing edicts and in the Treaty of Nerchinsk.
"Manchuria" is a translation of the Japanese word ManshÅ, which dates from the 19th century. The name Manju (Manzhou) was invented and given to the Jurchen people by Hong Taiji in 1635 as a new name for their ethnic group, however, the name "Manchuria" was never used by the Manchus or the Qing dynasty itself to refer to their homeland. According to the Japanese scholar Junko Miyawaki-Okada, the Japanese geographer Takahashi Kageyasu was the first to use the term æ>>æ´² (ManshÅ) as a place-name in 1809 in the Nippon Henkai Ryakuzu, and it was from that work where Westerners adopted the name. According to Mark C. Elliott, Katsuragawa HoshÅ's 1794 work, the "Hokusa bunryaku", was where æ>>æ´² (ManshÅ) first appeared as a place name was in two maps included in the work, "Ashia zenzu" and "ChikyÅ hankyÅ sÅzu" which were also created by Katsuragawa. æ>>æ´² (ManshÅ) then began to appear as a place names in more maps created by Japanese like Kondi JÅzÅ, Takahashi Kageyasu, Baba Sadayoshi and Yamada Ren, and these maps were brought to Europe by the Dutch Philipp von Siebold. According to Nakami Tatsuo, Philip Franz von Siebold was the one who brought the usage of the term Manchuria to Europeans, after borrowing it from the Japanese, who were the first to use it in a geographic manner in the eighteenth century, while neither the Manchu nor Chinese languages had a term in their own language equivalent to "Manchuria" as a geographic place name. According to Bill Sewell, it was Europeans who first started using Manchuria as a name to refer to the location and it is "not a genuine geographic term." The historian Gavan McCormack agreed with Robert H. G. Lee's statement that "The term Manchuria or Man-chou is a modern creation used mainly by westerners and Japanese.", with McCormack writing that the term Manchuria is imperialistic in nature and has no "precise meaning", since the Japanese deliberately promoted the use of "Manchuria" as a geographic name to promote its separation from China while they were setting up their puppet state of Manchukuo. The Japanese had their own motive for deliberately spreading the usage of the term Manchuria. The historian Norman Smith wrote that "The term "Manchuria" is controversial". Professor Mariko Asano Tamanoi said that she "should use the term in quotation marks", when referring to Manchuria.Herbert Giles wrote that "Manchuria" was unknown to the Manchus themselves as a geographical expression. In his 2012 dissertation on the Jurchen people to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy degree in History from the University of Washington, Professor Chad D. Garcia noted that usage of the term "Manchuria" is out of favor in "currently scholarly practice" and he did away with using the term, using instead "the northeast" or referring to specific geographical features.
During the Qing dynasty, the area of Manchuria was known as the "three eastern provinces" (san dong sheng) ä¸æ'±ç' since 1683 when Jilin and Heilongjiang were separated even though it was not until 1907 that they were turned into actual provinces. The area of Manchuria was then converted into three provinces by the late Qing government in 1907.
For decades the Manchu rulers tried to prevent large-scale immigration of Han Chinese, but they failed and the southern parts developed agricultural and social patterns similar to those of north China. Manchuria's population grew from about 1 million in 1750 to 5 million in 1850 and 14 million in 1900, largely because of the immigration of Chinese farmers. The Manchus became a small element in their homeland, although they retained political control until 1900.
The region was separated from China proper by the Inner Willow Palisade, a ditch and embankment planted with willows intended to restrict the movement of the Han Chinese into Manchuria during the Qing Dynasty, as the area was off-limits to the Han until the Qing started colonizing the area with them later on in the dynasty's rule. This movement of the Han Chinese to Manchuria is called Chuang Guandong. The Manchu area was still separated from modern-day Inner Mongolia by the Outer Willow Palisade, which kept the Manchu and the Mongols in the area separate.
Han Chinese farmers were resettled from north China by the Qing to the area along the Liao River in order to restore the land to cultivation. Wasteland was reclaimed by Han Chinese squatters in addition to other Han who rented land from Manchu landlords. Despite officially prohibiting Han Chinese settlement on the Manchu and Mongol lands, by the 18th century the Qing decided to settle Han refugees from northern China who were suffering from famine, floods, and drought into Manchuria and Inner Mongolia so that Han Chinese farmed 500,000 hectares in Manchuria and tens of thousands of hectares in Inner Mongolia by the 1780s. Qianlong allowed Han Chinese peasants suffering from drought to move into Manchuria despite him issuing edicts in favor of banning them from 1740-1776. Chinese tenant farmers rented or even claimed title to land from the "imperial estates" and Manchu Bannerlands in the area. Besides moving into the Liao area in southern Manchuria, the path linking Jinzhou, Fengtian, Tieling, Changchun, Hulun, and Ningguta was settled by Han Chinese during Qianlong Emperor's rule, and Han Chinese were the majority in urban areas of Manchuria by 1800. To increase the Imperial Treasury's revenue, the Qing sold formerly Manchu only lands along the Sungari to Han Chinese at the beginning of the Daoguang Emperor's reign, and Han Chinese filled up most of Manchuria's towns by the 1840s according to Abbe Huc.
The Russian conquest of Siberia was accompanied by massacres due to indigenous resistance to colonization by the Russian Cossacks, who savagely crushed the natives. At the hands of people like Vasilii Poyarkov in 1645 and Yerofei Khabarov in 1650 some peoples like the Daur were slaughtered by the Russians to the extent that it is considered genocide. The Daurs initially deserted their villages since they heard about the cruelty of the Russians the first time Khabarov came. The second time he came, the Daurs decided to do battle against the Russians instead but were slaughtered by Russian guns. The indigenous peoples of the Amur region were attacked by Russians who came to be known as "red-beards". The Russian Cossacks were named luocha (ç¾
å), after Demons found in Buddhist mythology, by the Amur natives because of their cruelty towards the Amur tribes people, who were subjects of the Qing. The Russian proselytization of Orthodox Christianity to the indigenous peoples along the Amur River was viewed as a threat by the Qing.
To the north, the boundary with Russian Siberia was fixed by the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) as running along the watershed of the Stanovoy Mountains. South of the Stanovoy Mountains, the basin of the Amur and its tributaries belonged to the Qing Empire. North of the Stanovoy Mountains, the Uda Valley and Siberia belonged to the Russian Empire. In 1858, a weakening Qing Empire was forced to cede Manchuria north of the Amur to Russia under the Treaty of Aigun; however, Qing subjects were allowed to continue to reside, under the Qing authority, in a small region on the now-Russian side of the river, known as the Sixty-Four Villages East of the Heilongjiang River.
In 1860, at the Treaty of Peking, the Russians managed to obtain a further large slice of Manchuria, east of the Ussuri River.
As a result, Manchuria was divided into a Russian half known as "Outer Manchuria", and a remaining Chinese half known as "Inner Manchuria". In modern literature, "Manchuria" usually refers to Inner (Chinese) Manchuria. (cf. Inner and Outer Mongolia). As a result of the Treaties of Aigun and Peking, China lost access to the Sea of Japan.
The Manza War in 1868 was the first attempt by Russia to expel Chinese from territory it controlled. Hostilities broke out around Vladivostok when the Russians tried to shut off gold mining operations and expel Chinese workers there. The Chinese resisted a Russian attempt to take Askold Island and in response, 2 Russian military stations and 3 Russian towns were attacked by the Chinese, and the Russians failed to oust the Chinese. However, the Russian finally managed it from them in 1892
By the 19th century, Manchu rule had become increasingly sinicized and, along with other borderlands of the Qing Empire such as Mongolia and Tibet, came under the influence of Japan and the European powers as the Qing dynasty grew weaker and weaker.
Russian and Japanese encroachmentEditInner Manchuria also came under strong Russian influence with the building of the Chinese Eastern Railway through Harbin to Vladivostok. Some poor Korean farmers moved there. In Chuang Guandong many Han farmers, mostly from Shandong peninsula moved there, attracted by cheap farmland that was ideal for growing soybeans.
During the Boxer Rebellion in 1899''1900, Russian soldiers killed ten-thousand Chinese (Manchu, Han Chinese and Daur people) living in Blagoveshchensk and Sixty-Four Villages East of the River. In revenge, the Chinese Honghuzi conducted guerilla warfare against the Russian occupation of Manchuria and sided with Japan against Russia during the Russo-Japanese War.
Japan replaced Russian influence in the southern half of Inner Manchuria as a result of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904''1905. Most of the southern branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway (the section from Changchun to Port Arthur (Japanese: Ryojun)) was transferred from Russia to Japan, and became the South Manchurian Railway. Jiandao (in the region bordering Korea), was handed over to Qing Dynasty as a compensation for the South Manchurian Railway.
From 1911 to 1931 Manchuria was nominally part of the Republic of China. In practice it was controlled by Japan, which worked through local warlords.
Japanese influence extended into Outer Manchuria in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917, but Outer Manchuria came under Soviet control by 1925. Japan took advantage of the disorder following the Russian Revolution to occupy Outer Manchuria, but Soviet successes and American economic pressure forced Japanese withdrawal.
In the 1920s Harbin was flooded with 100,000 to 200,000 Russianwhite (C)migr(C)s fleeing from Russia. Harbin held the largest Russian population outside of the state of Russia.
It was reported that among Banner people, both Manchu and Chinese (Hanjun) in Aihun, Heilongjiang in the 1920s, would seldom marry with Han civilians, but they (Manchu and Chinese Bannermen) would mostly intermarry with each other. Owen Lattimore reported that during his January 1930 visit to Manchuria, he studied a community in Jilin (Kirin), where both Manchu and Chinese bannermen were settled at a town called Wulakai, and eventually the Chinese Bannermen there could not be differentiated from Manchus since they were effectively Manchufied. The Han civilian population was in the process of absorbing and mixing with them when Lattimore wrote his article.
Manchuria was (and still is) an important region for its rich mineral and coal reserves, and its soil is perfect for soy and barley production. For Japan, Manchuria became an essential source of raw materials.
1931 Japanese invasion and ManchukuoEditAround the time of World War I, Zhang Zuolin, a former bandit (Honghuzi) established himself as a powerful warlord with influence over most of Manchuria. He was inclined to keep his Manchu army under his control and to keep Manchuria free of foreign influence. The Japanese tried and failed to assassinate him in 1916. They finally succeeded in June 1928
Following the Mukden Incident in 1931 and the subsequent Japanese invasion of Manchuria, Inner Manchuria was proclaimed to be Manchukuo, a puppet state under the control of the Japanese army. The last Manchu emperor, Puyi, was then placed on the throne to lead a Japanese puppet government in the Wei Huang Gong, better known as "Puppet Emperor's Palace". Inner Manchuria was thus detached from China by Japan to create a buffer zone to defend Japan from Russia's Southing Strategy and, with Japanese investment and rich natural resources, became an industrial domination. Under Japanese control Manchuria was one of the most brutally run regions in the world, with a systematic campaign of terror and intimidation against the local Russian and Chinese populations including arrests, organised riots and other forms of subjugation. The Japanese also began a campaign of emigration to Manchukuo; the Japanese population there rose from 240,000 in 1931 to 837,000 in 1939 (the Japanese had a plan to bring in 5 million Japanese settlers into Manchukuo). Hundreds of Manchu farmers were evicted and their farms given to Japanese immigrant families. Manchukuo was used as a base to invade the rest of China in 1937-40.
At the end of the 1930s, Manchuria was a trouble spot with Japan, clashing twice with the Soviet Union. These clashes - at Lake Khasan in 1938 and at Khalkhin Gol one year later - resulted in many Japanese casualties. The Soviet Union won these two battles and a peace agreement was signed. However, the regional unrest endured.
After World War IIEditAfter the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945, the Soviet Union invaded from Soviet Outer Manchuria as part of its declaration of war against Japan. From 1945 to 1948, Inner Manchuria was a base area for the Chinese People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War. With the encouragement of the Soviet Union, Manchuria was used as a staging ground during the Chinese Civil War for the Communist Party of China, which emerged victorious in 1949.
During the Korean War of the 1950s, 300,000 soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army crossed the Sino-Korean border from Manchuria to repulse UN forces led by the United States from North Korea.
In the 1960s, Manchuria's border with the Soviet Union became the site of the most serious tension between the Soviet Union and China. The treaties of 1858 and 1860, which ceded territory north of the Amur, were ambiguous as to which course of the river was the boundary. This ambiguity led to dispute over the political status of several islands. This led to armed conflict in 1969, called the Sino-Soviet border conflict.
With the end of the Cold War, this boundary issue was discussed through negotiations. In 2004, Russia agreed to transfer Yinlong Island and one half of Heixiazi Island to China, ending an enduring border dispute. Both islands are found at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, and were until then administered by Russia and claimed by China. The event was meant to foster feelings of reconciliation and cooperation between the two countries by their leaders, but it has also provoked different degrees of dissent on both sides. Russians, especially Cossack farmers of Khabarovsk, who would lose their ploughlands on the islands, were unhappy about the apparent loss of territory. Meanwhile, some Chinese have criticised the treaty as an official acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Russian rule over Outer Manchuria, which was ceded by the Qing Dynasty to Imperial Russia under a series of Unequal Treaties, which included the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Convention of Peking in 1860, in order to exchange exclusive usage of Russia's rich oil resources. The transfer was carried out on October 14, 2008.
Mukden Incident - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 05:57
The Mukden Incident, also known as the Manchurian Incident, was a staged event engineered by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of the northeastern part of China, known as Manchuria, in 1931.
On September 18, 1931, a small quantity of dynamite was detonated by Lt. Kawamoto Suemori close to a railway line owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway near Mukden (now Shenyang). Although the explosion was so weak that it failed to destroy the track and a train passed over it minutes later, the Imperial Japanese Army, accusing Chinese dissidents of the act, responded with a full invasion that led to the occupation of Manchuria, in which Japan established its puppet state of Manchukuo six months later. The ruse of war was soon exposed to the international community, leading Japan to diplomatic isolation and its March 1933 withdrawal from the League of Nations.
The bombing act is known as the "Liutiaohu Incident" (simplified Chinese: æ"æ'æ¹äºå; traditional Chinese: æ"æ'æ¹äºè®; pinyin: LiÇ--tiohº Sh¬bi n, Japanese: æ"æ'æ¹äºä>>¶, RyÅjÅko-jiken), and the entire episode of events is known in Japan as the "Manchurian Incident" (KyÅjitai: æ>>æ´²äºè®, Shinjitai: æºå·äºå¤, ManshÅ-jihen) and in China as the "September 18 Incident" (simplified Chinese: ä¹'ä¸å
äºå; traditional Chinese: ä¹'ä¸å
äºè®; pinyin: JiÇ--yÄbÄ Sh¬bi n).
BackgroundEditJapanese economic presence and political interest in Manchuria had been growing ever since the end of the Russo-Japanese War (1904''1905). The Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the war had granted Japan the lease of the South Manchuria Railway branch (from Changchun to L¼shun) of the China Far East Railway. The Japanese government, however, claimed that this control included all the rights and privileges that China granted to Russia in the 1896 Li-Lobanov Treaty, as enlarged by the Kwantung Lease Agreement of 1898. This included absolute and exclusive administration within the South Manchuria Railway Zone. Japanese railway guards were stationed within the zone to provide security for the trains and tracks; however, these were regular Japanese soldiers, and they frequently carried out maneuvers outside the railway areas. There were many reports of raids on local Chinese villages by bored Japanese soldiers, and all complaints from the Chinese government were ignored.
In Nanjing in April 1931, a national leadership conference of the Republic of China was held between Chiang Kai-shek and Zhang Xueliang; the Muslim General Ma Fuxiang, along with his vaunted personal guard, also attended. They agreed to assert China's sovereignty in Manchuria strongly.
Believing that a conflict in Manchuria would be in the best interests of Japan, and acting in the spirit of the Japanese concept of gekokujo, Kwantung Army Colonel SeishirÅ Itagaki and Lieutenant Colonel Kanji Ishiwara independently devised a plan to prompt Japan to invade Manchuria by provoking an incident from Chinese forces stationed nearby. However, after the Japanese Minister of WarJirÅ Minami dispatched Major General Yoshitsugu Tatekawa to Manchuria for the specific purpose of curbing the insubordination and militarist behavior of the Kwantung Army, Itagaki and Ishiwara knew that they no longer had the luxury of waiting for the Chinese to respond to provocations but had to stage their own.
Itagaki and Ishiwara chose to sabotage the rail section in an area near LiÇ--tio Lake (æ"æ'æ¹ '' liÇ--tiohº). The area had no official name and was not militarily important to either the Japanese or the Chinese, but it was only eight hundred metres away from the Chinese garrison of Beidaying (åå¤§ç '' bÄid yng), where troops under the command of the "Young Marshal" Zhang Xueliang were stationed. The alleged Japanese plan was to attract Chinese troops by an explosion and then blame them for having caused the disturbance in order to provide a pretext for a formal Japanese invasion. In addition, they intended to make the sabotage appear more convincing as a calculated Chinese attack on an essential target, thereby making the expected Japanese reaction appear as a legitimate measure to protect a vital railway of industrial and economic importance. The Japanese press labeled the site "LiÇ--tio Ditch" (æ"æ'æº' '' liÇ--tiogÅu) or "LiÇ--tio Bridge" (æ"æ'æ(C) '' liÇ--tioqio), when in reality, the site was a small railway section laid on an area of flat land. The choice to place the explosives at this site was to preclude the extensive rebuilding that would have been necessitated had the site actually been a railway bridge.
Colonel SeishirÅ Itagaki, Lieutenant Colonel Kanji Ishiwara, Colonel Kenji Doihara, and Major Takayoshi Tanaka had laid complete plans for the incident by May 31, 1931.
The plan was executed when 1st Lieutenant Suemori Komoto of the Independent Garrison Unit (ç¬çå®åé) of the 29th Infantry Regiment, which guarded the South Manchuria Railway, placed explosives near the tracks, but far enough away to do no real damage. At around 10:20 PM (22:20), September 18, the explosives were detonated. However, the explosion was minor and only a 1.5-meter section on one side of the rail was damaged. In fact, a train from Changchun passed by the site on this damaged track without difficulty and arrived at Shenyang at 10:30 PM (22:30).
Invasion of ManchuriaEditOn the morning of the following day (September 19), two artillery pieces installed at the Mukden officers' club opened fire on the Chinese garrison nearby, in response to the alleged Chinese attack on the railway. Zhang Xueliang's small air force was destroyed, and his soldiers fled their destroyed Beidaying barracks, as five hundred Japanese troops attacked the Chinese garrison of around seven thousand. The Chinese troops were no match for the experienced Japanese troops. By the evening, the fighting was over, and the Japanese had occupied Mukden at the cost of five hundred Chinese lives and two hundred Japanese lives.
At Dalian in the Kwantung Leased Territory, Commander-in-Chief of the Kwantung Army General Shigeru HonjÅ was at first appalled that the invasion plan was enacted without his permission, but he was eventually convinced by Ishiwara to give his approval after the fact. HonjÅ moved the Kwantung Army headquarters to Mukden and ordered General Senjuro Hayashi of the Chosen Army of Japan in Korea to send in reinforcements. At 04:00 on 19 September, Mukden was declared secure.
Having recently lost a major military conflict against the USSR, Zhang Xueliang, falsely claiming to be under implicit instructions from Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government (KMT) to adhere to a non-resistance policy, had already urged his men not to put up a fight and to store away any weapons in case the Japanese invaded (a piece of information that the Japanese advisors to Zhang's army knew ahead of time, hence facilitating the planning). Therefore, the Japanese soldiers proceeded to occupy and garrison the major cities of Changchun and Antung and their surrounding areas with minimal difficulty. However, in November, Muslim General Ma Zhanshan, the acting governor of Heilongjiang, began resistance with his provincial army, followed in January by Generals Ting Chao and Li Du with their local Jilin provincial forces. Despite this resistance, within five months of the Mukden Incident, the Imperial Japanese Army had overrun all major towns and cities in the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.
AftermathEditChinese public opinion strongly criticized Zhang Xueliang for his non-resistance to the Japanese invasion, even though the Kuomintang central government was indirectly responsible for this policy. While the Japanese presented a legitimate threat, the KMT (also known as GMD) focused their efforts mainly on eradicating the communist party. Many charged that Zhang's Northeastern Army of nearly a quarter million could have withstood the Kwantung Army of only 11,000 men. In addition, his arsenal in Manchuria was considered the most modern in China, and his troops had possession of tanks, around 60 combat aircraft, 4000 machine guns, and four artillery battalions.
Zhang Xueliang's seemingly superior force was undermined by several factors. First was that the Kwantung Army had a strong reserve force that could be transported by railway from Korea, which was a Japanese colony, directly adjacent to Manchuria. Secondly, more than half of Zhang's troops were stationed south of the Great Wall in the Hebei province, while the troops north of the wall were scattered throughout Manchuria. Therefore, deploying Zhang's troops north of the Great Wall lacked the concentration needed to effectively fight the Japanese. Most of Zhang's troops were under-trained, poorly led, and had poor morale and questionable loyalty compared to their Japanese counterparts. Japanese secret agents had permeated Zhang's command because of his past (and his father, Zhang Zuolin's) reliance on Japanese military advisers. The Japanese knew the Northeastern Army very well and were able to conduct operations with ease.
The Chinese government was preoccupied with numerous internal problems, including the issue of the newly independent Guangzhou government of Hu Hanmin, Communist Party of China insurrections, and terrible flooding of the Yangtze River that created tens of thousands of refugees. Moreover, Zhang himself was not in Manchuria at the time, but was in a hospital in Beijing to raise money for the flood victims. However, in the Chinese newspapers, Zhang was ridiculed as "General Nonresistance" (Chinese: ä¸æµæå°è>>).
Because of these circumstances, the central government turned to the international community for a peaceful resolution. The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a strong protest to the Japanese government and called for the immediate stop to Japanese military operations in Manchuria, and appealed to the League of Nations, on September 19. On October 24, the League of Nations passed a resolution mandating the withdrawal of Japanese troops, to be completed by November 16. However, Japan rejected the League of Nations resolution and insisted on direct negotiations with the Chinese government. Negotiations went on intermittently without much result.
On November 20, a conference in the Chinese government was convened, but the Guangzhou faction of the Kuomintang insisted that Chiang Kai-shek step down to take responsibility for the Manchurian debacle. On December 15, Chiang resigned as the Chairman of the Nationalist Government and was replaced as Premier of the Republic of China (head of the Executive Yuan) by Sun Fo, son of Sun Yat-sen. Jinzhou, another city in Liaoning, was lost to the Japanese in early January 1932. As a result, Wang Jingwei replaced Sun Fo as the Premier.
On January 7, 1932, United States Secretary of StateHenry Stimson issued his Stimson Doctrine, that the United States would not recognize any government that was established as the result of Japanese actions in Manchuria. On January 14, a League of Nations commission, headed by Victor Bulwer-Lytton, 2nd Earl of Lytton, disembarked at Shanghai to examine the situation. In March, the puppet state of Manchukuo was established, with the former emperor of China, Puyi, installed as head of state.
On October 2, the Lytton Report was published and rejected the Japanese claim that the Manchurian invasion and occupation was an act of self-defense, although it did not assert that the Japanese had perpetrated the initial bombing of the railroad. The report ascertained that Manchukuo was the product of Japanese military aggression in China, while recognizing that Japan had legitimate concerns in Manchuria because of its economic ties there. The League of Nations refused to acknowledge Manchukuo as an independent nation. Japan resigned from the League of Nations in March 1933.
Colonel Kenji Doihara used the Mukden Incident to continue his campaign of disinformation. Since the Chinese troops at Mukden had put up such a poor resistance, he told Manchukuo Emperor Puyi that this was proof that the Chinese remained loyal to him. Japanese intelligence used the incident to continue the campaign to discredit the murdered Zhang Zuolin and his son Zhang Xueliang for "misgovernment" of Manchuria. In fact, drug trafficking and corruption had largely been suppressed under Zhang Zuolin.
ControversyEditDifferent opinions still exist as to who exploded the Japanese railroad at Mukden. Strong evidence points to young officers of the Kwantung Army having conspired to cause the blast, with or without direct orders from Tokyo. Post-war investigations confirmed that the original bomb planted by the Japanese failed to explode, and a replacement had to be planted. The resulting explosion enabled the Japanese Kwantung Army to accomplish their goal of triggering a conflict with Chinese troops stationed in Manchuria and the subsequent establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo.
The 9.18 Incident Exhibition Museum at Shenyang opened by the People's Republic of China on September 18, 1991, takes the position that the explosives were planted by Japan. The YÅshÅkan museum, located within Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, also places the blame on members of the Japanese Kwangtung Army.
David Bergamini's book Japan's Imperial Conspiracy (1971) has a detailed chronology of events in both Manchuria and Tokyo surrounding the Mukden Incident. Bergamini concludes that the greatest deception was that the Mukden Incident and Japanese invasion were planned by junior or hot-headed officers, without formal approval by the Japanese government. However, historian James Weland has concluded that senior commanders had tacitly allowed field operatives to proceed on their own initiative, then endorsed the result after a positive outcome was assured.
In August 2006, the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's top-selling newspaper, published the results of a year-long research project into the general question of who is responsible for the "Showa war". With respect to the Manchurian Incident, the newspaper blamed ambitious Japanese militarists, as well as politicians who were impotent to rein them in or prevent their insubordination.
Debate has also focused on how the incident was handled by the League of Nations and the subsequent Lytton Report. A.J.P. Taylor wrote that "In the face of its first serious challenge," the League buckled and capitulated. The Washington Naval Conference (1921) guaranteed a certain degree of Japanese hegemony in the Far East. Any intervention on the part of America would be a breach of the already mentioned agreement. Furthermore, Britain was in crisis, having been recently forced off the gold standard. Although a power in the Far East, Britain was incapable of decisive action. The only response from these powers was "moral condemnation".
RemembranceEditEach year at 10:00 am on September 18, air-raid sirens sound for several minutes in numerous major cities across China. Provinces include Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hainan, and others.
In popular cultureEditReferencesEdit^The Cambridge History of Japan: The twentieth century, p. 294, Peter Duus,John Whitney Hall, Cambridge University Press: 1989 ISBN 978-0-521-22357-7^An instinct for war: scenes from the battlefields of history, p. 315, Roger J. Spiller, ISBN 978-0-674-01941-6; Harvard University Press^Concise dictionary of modern Japanese history, p. 120, Janet Hunter, University of California Press: 1984, ISBN 978-0-520-04557-6^The Cambridge History of Japan: The twentieth century, p. 294, Peter Duus, John Whitney Hall, Cambridge University Press: 1989. ISBN 978-0-521-22357-7^Fenby, Jonathan. Chiang Kai-shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. Carroll & Graf: 2003, p. 202^Encyclopedia of war crimes and genocide, p. 128, Leslie Alan Horvitz & Christopher Catherwood, Facts on File (2011); ISBN 978-0-8160-8083-0^Jay Taylor (2009). Government The generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the struggle for modern China. Harvard University Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-674-03338-8. Retrieved 2010-06-28. ^Behr, Edward (1987), The Last Emperor, New York: Bantam Books, p. 180, ISBN 0-553-34474-9 ^CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR INTERNATIONAL EVENTS FROM 1931 THROUGH 1943, WITH OSTENSIBLE REASONS ADVANCED FOR THE OCCURRENCE THEREOF 78th Congress, 2d Session. "An explosion undoubtedly occurred on or near the railroad between 10 and 10:30 p.m. on September 18th, but the damage, if any, to the railroad did not in fact prevent the punctual arrival of the south-bound train from Changchun, and was not in itself sufficient to justify military action. The military operations of the Japanese troops during this night, ... cannot be regarded as measures of legitimate self-defence..." [Opinion of Commission of Enquiry], ibid., p. 71^Behr 1987, p. 182^Chen, World War II Database^The Mukden Incident by Thomas Ferrell, Journal of Modern History, p. 67, March 1955^Behr 1987, pp. 182''183^Weland, James (1994). "Misguided Intelligence: Japanese Military Intelligence Officers in the Manchurian Incident, September 1931". Journal of Military History58 (3): 445''460. doi:10.2307/2944134. ^"WAR RESPONSIBILITY--delving into the past (1) / Who should bear the most blame for the Showa War?". Yomiuri Shimbun. 2006-08-13. Retrieved 2008-09-18. ^"WAR RESPONSIBILITY--delving into the past (1) / Manchuria start of slide into war". Yomiuri Shimbun. 2006-08-16. Retrieved 2008-09-18. ^Taylor, A. J. P. (1962), The Origins of the Second World War, New York: Atheneum, p. 91 ^http://dream.sdchina.com/NewsArticle_3087737.html^http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2010-09-18/213421129732.shtml.^Patriots and Traitors: Sorge and Ozaki: A Japanese Cultural Casebook, MerwinAsia: 2009, pp. 101-197Lensen, George Alexander (1974). The Damned Inheritance. The Soviet Union and the Manchurian Crises 1924-1935. The Diplomatic Press. Long-hsuen, Hsu; Chang Ming-kai (1971). History of The Sino-Japanese War (1937''1945) (2nd ed.). 33, 140th Lane, Tung-hwa Street, Taipei, Taiwan: Chung Wu Publishing. Jowett, Philip (2005). Rays of the Rising Sun, Volume 1: Japan's Asian Allies 1931-45, China and Manchukuo. Helion and Company Ltd. ISBN 1-874622-21-3. Matsusaka, Yoshihisa Tak (2003). The Making of Japanese Manchuria, 1904-1932. Harvard University Asia Center. ISBN 0-674-01206-2. External linksEdit
Bulgaria 'Unable to Halt South Stream Construction' - Ex-Energy Minister - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:19
Sofia cannot move to suspend activities related to the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, a former Energy Minister and current MP said on Sunday.
"If we suspend activities unilaterally... this would be a violation of the shareholders' agreement between the two shareholders [sic!]. This is why we cannot put an end to the issuance of permits," Delyan Dobrev, who heads Parliament's Energy Committee, told the Bulgarian National Television.
He was referring to the shareholders at South Stream Bulgaria AD, a joint venture set up in 2010 by state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and Russian energy giant Gazprom to be in charge of the pipeline's construction on Bulgarian soil. On Friday, South Stream Bulgaria CEO Dimitar Gogov announced his entity was still operational and was being financed by the shareholders.
Gogov then revealed activities aimed at obtaining a final construction permit were still being carried out.
On Sunday Dobrev blamed Russia for failing to provide an official announcement that the project was over.
South Stream was declared abandoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Another project, the so-called "Turkish Stream", was announced as a substitute.
But Dobrev believes the latter pipeline is not economically feasible. He told the BNT that "building a gas pipeline via Turkey to feed Eastern Europe is like departing for Plovdiv from Sofia and passing through Vratsa and Gabrovo to make it shorter." (Plovdiv is in Bulgaria's south while Vratsa and Gabrovo are in the north.)
In his words, Turkish Stream is unlikely to happen for this reason.
Moscow announced earlier in January that it was intending to redirect the entire gas flow via Ukraine to Turkish Stream once it was completed, urging Europe to prepare for the shift.
#3Hello? Anyone there? Wake up and smell the roses... It's over. The EU killed this deal and Russia is not going to squabble anymore so we should all get in line and accept a slightly higher price and buy our gas from Turkey and pick it up from Greece. Neither of those countries are complaining and it is less headache for Russia so ... get use to the idea.
#2Rubbish............if it's not going to happen then it's not going to happen, no good having a gas pipeline from nowhere to nowhere carrying nothing, and no-one to pay the bills!!!!!!!!!
Gazprom hammers out new sub-Black Sea pipeline agreement in Turkey | Oil and Gas Technology
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:11
A meeting between the head of Gazprom and the Turkish government has approved the proposed route of the new Russia-Turkey pipeline via the Black Sea
Ankara hosted the working meeting between Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Taner Yildiz, Turkish minister of energy and natural resources, which discussed the main issues of constructing a new gas pipeline across the Black Sea towards Turkey.
''The joint construction of the gas transportation facilities within such an important project would create the strategic infrastructure partnership between Gazprom and Botas,'' said Miller. ''The talks were friendly and constructive. Both parties are keen to hit the target. Our priorities '' to study the route's options in Turkey, to define the location of the landfall facilities, gas delivery points for Turkish consumers and border crossings between Turkey and Greece.''
The four strings will have an aggregate capacity of 63 billion cubic metres a year. Six-hundred-and-sixty kilometres of the pipeline's route will be laid within the old corridor of South Stream and 250 kilometres within a new corridor towards the European part of Turkey.
On January 28 Gazprom will submit a notice requesting a conduct of FEED operations for the new Turkish offshore section. Gazprom will be solely responsible for the construction of the offshore section. Turkish gas transportation facilities will be built jointly.
The project stakes will be distributed in the course of the future talks. Botas is approved to represent the Turkish party. Gazprom and Botas will develop the project schedule within seven days.
''We agreed to plan our work in such a way that would allow us to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement on the gas pipeline in the second quarter this year, therefore the first gas would come to Turkey in December 2016,'' added Miller.
''In this respect, the first string's throughput capacity of 15.75 billion cubic metres will be exclusively intended for Turkish consumers. Considering the state of readiness of the Russkaya compressor station and the pipeline's offshore section, this deadline is absolutely real.''
Turkey is Gazprom's second largest sales market behind Germany. In 2014 Gazprom supplied Turkey with 27.4 billion cubic metres of natural gas.
Turkey currently receives Russian natural gas via the Blue Stream and the Trans-Balkan gas pipelines.
On December 1, 2014 Gazprom and Turkish company Botas Petroleum Pipeline Corporation signed the Memorandum of Understanding on constructing an offshore gas pipeline across the Black Sea towards Turkey.
The gas pipeline will have a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres, with nearly 50 billion cubic metres to be conveyed to a gas hub on the border between Turkey and Greece. Gazprom Russkaya will be in charge of the gas pipeline construction.
Democrats hold off on new Iran sanctions vote -for now | Reuters
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:13
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTONTue Jan 27, 2015 5:50pm EST
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) speaks about immigration reform at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington December 10, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing/Files
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Key Democratic U.S. senators said on Tuesday they would put off supporting new Iran sanctions for at least two months, after a threat by President Barack Obama to veto a bill he said could scuttle talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.
With Republicans holding 54 seats in the 100-member chamber and needing 67 votes to override a veto, they would need significant support from Obama's fellow Democrats to pass the bill against Obama's wishes.
The co-author of legislation to tighten the sanctions, Senator Robert Menendez, said he and other Democrats would not back passage of the bill unless talks between world powers and Iran failed to produce a framework agreement by March 24.
Obama has pledged to veto any bill imposing new sanctions, which are strongly supported by Republicans, passed while the talks between Tehran and major powers go on.
After more than 18 months of negotiations, the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia have agreed with Iran to try to reach a political understanding by the end of March, with a view to a full-blown deal by a self-imposed June 30 deadline.
Menendez said he and nine other Democratic senators had sent a letter to Obama saying they would not back a new sanctions bill in the full Senate before March 24.
Menendez told a Senate Banking Committee hearing that he and his Democratic colleagues still hoped for a diplomatic solution but were "deeply skeptical" about Iran's willingness to make concessions that would allow a deal by the deadline.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes but Washington and others fear it is covertly seeking the capacity to build a bomb.
The Banking panel, which oversees sanctions legislation in the Senate, is still expected to vote on Thursday on a bill co-authored by Menendez and Republican Senator Mark Kirk.
TORPEDO THE TALKS
Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the Senate committee hearing that he had not seen the letter, but was amenable to Menendez's plan. "We appreciate the recognition that our negotiators could use additional time and space," he said.
Four leading European foreign policy officials warned last Thursday in an opinion piece in The Washington Post that new sanctions legislation against Iran could torpedo efforts to secure a long-term agreement.
The bill would impose sanctions on Iran only if it fails to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 30. It also includes provisions that would allow Obama to waive the requirement for new sanctions to provide additional negotiating flexibility.
The Iran issue took on a strongly partisan tone in Washington last week when Republican leaders announced that they had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on Iran, without consulting the Obama administration or congressional Democrats.
The speech by Netanyahu, who is deeply skeptical of the Iran nuclear talks, is scheduled for March 3, well before the March 24 deadline.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, asked whether the administration might drop its opposition to extra sanctions if no framework deal were reached with Iran by the end of March said, "We can discuss that at that point."
Democratic members of the banking panel who backed the new sanctions said they would vote for the bill when it comes before the committee on Thursday, but would wait until March to see if there is a deal before pushing ahead in the full Senate.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would make a decision on the timing of a vote on the bill in the full chamber only after it was passed by the committee.
Iran and the major powers are due to meet again in February after limited progress in talks in Geneva on Jan. 18.
(Additional reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott, David Storey and Howard Goller)
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Shell inks major petrochemical plant deal in Iraq
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:41
Shell has signed a USD 11bn deal with the Iraqi government to build a petrochemical plant in southern Iraq, according to industry minister Nasser al-Esawi
The petrochemical facility will is to be built near Iraq's southern city of Basra, close to Arabian Gulf export facilities, Esawi told a press conference in Baghdad.
The plant, named Nibras, is scheduled to come online between 2020 and 2021.
"The Nibras complex will be one of the largest (foreign) investments (in Iraq) and the most important in the petrochemical sector in the Middle East," Esawi said.
Iraq's cabinet authorised the project on Jan 13, according to Reuters news agency.
An initial Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2012.
Shell has a strong presence in Iraq, where is operates one of the world's largest onshore fields, the Majnoon oilfield, and leads the Basra Gas Company joint venture.
Earlier this month it shelved the Al Karaana development, a major petrochemicals project planned in nearby Qatar, due to costs.
Iran's energy minister: Sharp decline in oil prices driven by enemies' plots
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:00
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Reza Chitchian underlined that the international crude prices are experiencing a sudden fall due to the plots hatched by Iran's enemies.''The sharp decline in oil prices is because of the enemies' plots,'' Chitchian said on Tuesday.
The Iranian energy minister called for al-out efforts to prevent further decline in oil prices.
Meantime, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh underlined earlier this month that Iran's economy is powerful enough to win the battle against the falling crude prices, even if it is forced to sell oil for $25 per barrel.
''If the oil prices drop to 25 dpb, there will yet again be no threat posed to Iran's oil industry,'' Zanganeh told reporters.
He pointed to the sharp decline in oil prices, and said, ''We are looking for further cooperation with OPEC members to revive the oil prices.''
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that oil prices may increase in the second half of the year.
In December, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said exports of crude is just one of Iran's sources of revenue and the country can live up without oil sales and through exports of its rich mineral resources, modern industries, and talented people.
''We have different methods and scenarios to run the country under different circumstances and we will not forget which countries are conspiring to reduce oil prices,'' Larijani said.
He said that the same countries conspired against Iran in the 1980s when Iran was at war with Iraq.
''It would be a mistake if they (certain governments) imagine that they can change the strategic situation of the (Middle East) region through oil (price),'' said Larijani.
In early March, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a meeting with economic activists, elites and state officials in Tehran explained the root cause of Iran's turn to the Resistance Economy as well as the specifications, features and components of such an economic model.
Ayatollah Khamenei elaborated on the reasons and incentives for the adoption of the economy of resistance, and said, ''Abundant material and non-material capacities of the country, treatment of chronic and lasting economic problems, confrontation against sanctions and immunizing the country's economy against global economic crises'' are the reasons why such a model should be practiced in Iran.
He further noted that the components of the resistance economy are ''creating movement and dynamicity in the country's economy and improving macroeconomic indicators'', ''ability to resist against threatening factors'', ''reliance on internal capacities'', adoption of a ''Jihadi approach'', ''people-centeredness'', ''reforming consumption patterns'', ''campaign against corruption'' and adoption of ''knowledge-based approach''.
Ayatollah Khamenei referred to the sanctions imposed by the western powers against Iran due to its peaceful nuclear program, and said the country should strengthen its economy in a way that no boycott and embargo could ever leave a negative impact on it so easily.
By Fars News Agency
The Iran Project is not responsible for the content of quoted articles.
Tags:Hamid ChitchianIran's economyiran's energy ministerIranian oil priceoil priceoil price declineQuoted
All Netanyahu has to do is swing two senators and the bill imposing ''trigger sanctions'' on Iran will pass the Senate by a veto-proof margin.
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:54
Netanyahu's plan to address the Congress comes at a critical moment in the negotiations with Iran, with the Republican leadership in the Senate scheduling an Iran-sanctions vote that will pass or fail by a razor-thin margin, says Lou Dubose.The more you know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned address to Congress, the worse it looks.
Netanyahu's has been working to scuttle negotiations with Iran: the US-directed effort to ensure that Tehran cannot achieve ''break-out capacity'' to build a nuclear weapon. Breakout capacity means sufficient fissile material to build a bomb within one year.
Netanyahu has said that a negotiated settlement with Iran is impossible and has threatened to use military force if Iran develops nuclear weapons. (Israel is the only Middle East nation with nuclear weapons and delivery systems to use them, although it never acknowledges its nuclear capacity.)
The United States is leading the negotiations, which include the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Iran.
Not widely reported in the US press is the fact that Obama telephoned Netanyahu more than a week before he accepted Republican House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to address the Congress. Netanyahu had been personally lobbying members of Congress to pass Iran-sanctions legislation, which would almost certainly force Iran to abandon negotiations. According to a January 23 story inHa'aretz, a liberal Israeli daily, Obama warned Netanyahu on January 12:
US President Barack Obama has demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stop encouraging US senators and congressmen to advance new sanctions legislation against Iran.
A senior American official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, said Obama gave Netanyahu this message during a telephone call on Monday, January 12.
The Israeli prime minister's contempt for the Obama White House is not exactly breaking news. In 2010, he refused to intervene when his interior minister announced plans to construct 1,600 new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem, construction opposed by the United States. The announcement was made just hours after Vice President Joe Biden, on an official visit to Israel, reaffirmed America's unyielding support for Israeli security.
Netanyahu's plan to address the Congress comes at a critical moment in the negotiations with Iran, with the Republican leadership in the Senate scheduling an Iran-sanctions vote that will pass or fail by a razor-thin margin.
According to Jamil Abdi, a former congressional aide now working as policy director for the National Iranian American Council, 65 senators (53 Republicans and 12 Democrats) are expected to vote for an Iran sanctions bill scheduled to be heard by the Senate Banking Committee this Thursday. The bill is sponsored by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).
All Netanyahu has to do is swing two senators and the bill imposing ''trigger sanctions'' on Iran will pass the Senate by a veto-proof margin. There is little doubt that the House would pass a companion bill. A similar bill, which included provisions that would almost certainly have unraveled the negotiations, was blocked last year by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The now-Republican-controlled Senate leadership has announced that passage of a bill aimed at the negotiations was their No. 2 priority, after passing a Keystone bill. Now that they have a Keystone bill on the floor, they are now moving on Iran sanctions.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an influential pro-Israel lobby and huge donor in congressional races, has been lobbying to pass any bill that would scuttle the sanctions.
J Street, a far more moderate Israeli-policy advocacy group, (along with WAND and other progressive organizations) is working in opposition to the sanctions bill and is opposing ''Bibi'' Netanyahu's visit to the United States.
''This invitation looks like a thinly-veiled attempt to scuttle the critical negotiations taking place right now aimed at ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon,'' J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote in an email. ''Bibi and Obama disagree on how to deal with Iran, and that's fair. But a foreign leader lobbying Congress (from the same spot where the President delivered his State of the Union address just days ago!) is inappropriate.''
The original February date for Netanyahu's speech was scratched and he is now scheduled for March 1, to coincide with AIPAC's national convention in Washington.
Senate Republicans'--John McCain, Lindsey Graham, et al., leaders of the faction that supported George W. Bush's militarized foreign policy'--publically insist that their intention is to strengthen the hand of the US negotiation team.
Behind closed doors they probably agree with Tom Cotton, a freshman senator from Arkansas who serves on the intelligence and armed service committees. On January 15 Cotton said in remarks at the Heritage Foundation:
Certain voices call for congressional restraint urging Congress not to act now, lest Iran walk away from the negotiating table, undermining the fabled yet always absent moderates in Iran. But the end of these negotiations isn't an unintended consequence of congressional action. It is very much an intended consequence''a feature, not a bug.
An end to negotiations means interim agreements between Iran and Washington will be suspended, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors currently working in Iran will be sent packing, enrichment of uranium will be increased and new centrifuges will come on line.
And we will be a step closer to whatever solution Netanyahu has in mind.
By Middle East Online
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Tags:Benjamin NetanyahuIran nuclear dealIran nuclear talksIran's nuclear programIran-P5+1 nuke talksIsrael's Prime MinisterJohn BoehnerP5+1 groupQuotedsanctions against IranUS CongressUS senate
Iran, Portugal ink cultural MoU
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:48
TEHRAN, Jan. 27 (MNA) '' During a Tuesday meeting between Iranian minister of culture and Portuguese FM, the two sides signed an MoU to boost cultural interactions.Iranian Minister of Culture Ali Jannati held a meeting with Portuguese Foreign Minister Rui Machete here today to sign a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation.
He referred to the 500 years of relations between the two countries as something unique and outstanding, stressing on its further development through signing the MoU.
''Iran and Portugal have good experiences in the fields of culture, archeology and arts, and we are ready to take the necessary measures for the exchange of these experiences between the two countries,'' said Jannati.
He also pointed to Iran's Cultural Week in Portugal during which various Iranian cultural and artistic works such as films and music were showcased in Lisbon, expressing hope for having the Portuguese artists in Tehran in the near future.
Rui Machete, for his part, stressed his country's serious efforts for the implementation of the memo's provisions, hoping Iran and Portugal's ties would further expand with the signing of various cultural MoUs.
By Mehr News Agency
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Tags:Ali JannatiIran-Portugal tiesIranian Minister of Culture and Islamic GuidanceQuotedRui Manuel Parente Chancerelle de Machete
Oil price to rebound if Iran bans lifted: Iran
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:30
Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh says the removal of economic sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program can help oil prices rebound to a logical level.''With the removal of sanctions against Iran, the trend of global oil price will become rational,'' Zangeneh told Mehr news agency on Friday, adding that the lifting of economic embargoes against Iran could shore up global oil prices.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Zangeneh also said that falling oil prices would not have an impact on the construction of mini liquefied natural gas (LNG) refineries in South Pars oil and gas field.
''The plummeting global oil price has no impact on the economic justification for building the LNG refineries, and undoubtedly the construction of these refineries will be carried out according to schedule,'' he said.
Zangeneh also said that there is no red line for cutting the oil output level in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The Iranian official's remarks come as oil prices surged following the news of the death of Saudi Arabia's king on Friday. Uncertainty, however, still lingers in the energy markets as investors are watching to see if the kingdom will change its oil production policy amid plunging prices.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery rose more than 2 percent to a high of USD 47.76 a barrel in early Asian trading after the Saudi royal court announced the death.
Brent crude for March also jumped USD 1.09 to USD 49.61.
The Saudi King's death that triggered a rise in oil prices comes after months of steep falls caused by slowing global economic growth, oversupply of the black gold and the unlikely chance that the OPEC might cut crude output.
Saudi Arabia is a key member of the OPEC body. The kingdom's decision in late November not to slash output levels led to further falling prices.
Oil prices have plunged about 50 percent since June last year.
By Press TV
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Tags:Bijan Namdar Zanganehiran's oil priceIran's oil ministeroil price declineOPEC oil priceQuotedsanctions against Iran
Does it really matter that Obama won't meet with Netanyahu?
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:35
On the morning after President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, after telling reporters that he has asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on dealing with terrorism, but did not consult the White House on the invitation.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to Congress says a lot more about Israel and US relations than Obama choosing not to meet with him.Citing Israel's upcoming election, the White House announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits the US in March.
''As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,'' White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
The Israeli elections will be held on March 17, just two weeks after his trip to the United States.
Mr. Netanyahu was originally scheduled to visit in February to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress, but he requested that the speech be moved so that he could speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March on the same trip. House Speaker John Boehner obliged with Netanyahu's request, but did so without informing the president, a move that the White House characterized as a ''departure'' from ''protocol.''
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also weighed in. ''If that's the purpose of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit two weeks before his own election, right in the midst of our negotiations, I just don't think it's appropriate and helpful,'' Ms. Pelosi told the AP.
Netanyahu's speech to Congress will likely push for further sanctions on Iran, a proposal that goes against Obama's agenda. The president has urged legislators from both parties to pause on passing new Iranian sanctions while the US and other countries carry out negotiations over Iran's nuclear policy.
Even if Congress were to pass a bill containing new sanctions, Obama would likely veto it.
Netanyahu, whose Likud Party is currently running behind the main opposition, the Labor Party, has a lot to gain, or lose, with this speech, which is viewed by some of his opponents as an election ploy. Attorney Eldad Yaniv, a former adviser to Ehud Barak, has demanded that the Elections Committee not air the speech on television networks.
As for the speech itself, a statement from Netanyahu's office said that it would give the prime minister a welcome opportunity to ''thank President Barack Obama, Congress and the American people for their support of Israel.''
By The Christian Science Monitor
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Tags:Barack ObamaBenjamin NetanyahuIsrael's Prime MinisterIsrael-US relationsQuotedsanctions against IranU.S president
Obama needs Congress to seal a deal with Iran
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:31
US President Barack Obama
The White House hasn't tried to hide how pleased it's been with President Barack Obama going it alone and issuing several executive actions angering Republican lawmakers. It's not so happy now that Congress has put the shoe on the other foot with a unilateral move unwelcome by the administration.That would be House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in March. Boehner issued the invite without following the normal protocol of consulting the White House when offering such a platform to a foreign dignitary.
The Republican leader may be guilty of violating a code of courtesy and manners, but Obama's offense to the legislative branch is more serious. He exceeded his constitutional authority and failed in his responsibility ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed'' by going around Congress to rewrite laws on issues such as health care and immigration.
The latest clash comes over foreign policy. Obama opposes a bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), that would impose new sanctions on Iran if current talks to stop Tehran's march to acquire nuclear weapons fails.
A nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to international peace generally and specifically to the Middle East, already roiled by bloody sectarian violence and terrorism, and to the one nation in the region with Western, democratic values, Israel.
Netanyahu would offer vital perspective about the Iranian threat. Making the speech is not without political risk to him at home. He's facing an election in March and one issue is his handling of relations with Israel's most important ally. It's no secret that he and Obama don't get along. The White House has already said Obama won't meet with Netanyahu when he visits, using the excuse that it doesn't want to get involved in Israel's election.
Obama argues that the threat of new sanctions would alarm Iran and cause it to break off talks. That's strange reasoning given that it was tough sanctions that drove Tehran to the bargaining table. And Iran doesn't seem concerned about alarming U.S. leaders by loudly proclaiming its ''right'' to a nuclear program, keeping inspectors away from military and nuclear facilities, working to develop what can only be described as long-range missiles, and announcing construction of two new nuclear plants.
The White is so defensive that Menendez says, ''The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Iran.'' In a hearing this week, he got an acknowledgement from a White House official that the U.S. goal had gone from stopping Iran's nuclear arms program to constraining the ''breakout'' time it would take to reach weapons capability.
The fear is Iran is stringing the talks out while secretly working on its project. The negotiations have been extended twice, and that may happen again when Obama faces with the next deadline in June.
The problem for the president is that he's been wrong about several big foreign-policy issues. A year ago he famously called ISIS ''jayvees''; just months ago he cited as an American success Yemen, where Iranian-backed rebels have now forced out the government, and in his state of the union speech Obama claimed advances against ISIS in Syria that no one else sees.
Making things worse is that the White House won't commit to submitting any Iran agreement to Congress. Whatever their other differences, there will be no successful Iran policy without the White House and Capitol Hill being on the same page.
By Chicago Sun Times
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Tags:Barack ObamaBenjamin NetanyahuIran nuclear dealIran nuclear talksIran's nuclear programJohn BoehnerQuotedsanctions against IranU.S presidentUS CongressWhite House
What was behind Israel's strike in Syria that killed an Iranian general?
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:30
Relatives of Lebanon's Hezbollah commander Mohamad Issa, known as Abu Issa, stand over his coffin during his funeral in Arab-Salim, south Lebanon January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
On Sunday, an Israeli drone strike in southern Syria left six Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel dead '-- including an Iranian senior general and the son of the late external operations chief for Hezbollah. It also left a host of questions in its wake.Was the strike a brilliantly executed Israeli disruption of an imminent attack planned by Hezbollah and Iran? Or a routine interdiction of a Hezbollah convoy that inadvertently killed several Iranians and a member of a prominent Hezbollah family?
Both versions, attributed to unnamed security sources within the Israeli defense establishment, were reported as details of the strike became known. While both are plausible, only one can be right. Though we cannot say which that is, we can point out the distinct purposes both narratives serve.
An Israeli narrative designed to downplay the drone strike and emphasize the inadvertent nature of the Iranian deaths would be an attempt to signal to Iran that the attack didn't represent a deliberate escalation of the ongoing tensions between the two countries.
The high toll on the Iranian side has drawn the televised promise of retaliation against Israel from a senior Iranian commander, who pledged the release of ''ruinous thunderbolts.''
Downplaying the attack would offer Tehran a way to avoid a spiral of escalation that neither country needs or wants. If Iran acceded to this logic, Israel would have scored a major '-- if accidental '-- hit. And it would be spared a response from Iran, for now.
The other narrative, that the strike deliberately targeted the Iranian contingent and Hezbollah, is governed by an alternative logic.
Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, recently declared that Lebanon and Syria are now one unified and geographically contiguous front against Israel. Before the Syrian civil war, no statement along these lines would have been possible, since the Assad regime prevented agressive actions against Israel on its side of the border. But times have changed.
Amid the anarchy of an ongoing civil war, Assad can no longer exercise the sort of control he once did. This could let Iran play a very dangerous game on Israel's north-eastern flank.
If Hezbollah launched rockets against Israel from inside Syria, Israel might find itself unsure of who to retaliate against. This would be especially the case if Hezbollah managed to obscure the origin of the rockets and the crews that launched them. Thus, from an Iranian perspective, the Syrian front against Israel would be a tremendous gift.
From the vantage point of Jerusalem, Israel could ill afford to let this happen. The presence of such a senior Iranian officer in a highly strategic location would have been read by Israel as Iran staking out its territorial claim and preparing for a second front, thus requiring a strong response. This could explain Sunday's strike.
That leaves one last question: why attack the Iranians now?
Perhaps, according to the former commander of Israel's southern front, Yoav Galant, timing was dictated by the Israeli election cycle. As the number two man in the rising Kulanu party, it might be prudent simply to chalk up this claim to his need to challenge Prime Minister Netanyahu's motivations.
And perhaps that is all it is. Although Galant has since retracted his accusation, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz has examined the record of especially audacious military initiatives in Israel's history with an eye on the political calendar. What the reporter discovered was that the June 1981 strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak; the 1996 invasion of Lebanon; the 2009 invasion of Gaza; and the 2012 Gaza war were all launched when the incumbent prime minister faced a close election, or there was a political reputation at stake. There's an organic link between domestic politics and foreign policy in virtually all countries, so this wouldn't necessarily be a huge surprise.
With less than two months to election day, polls now show a slightly leftward tilt away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Whether Galant is right about his motives for the attacks can't be known. But against the historical background, it's not impossible that Galant's claim sheds light on the timing of the strike. One way or the other, tensions between Israel and Iran are certain to rise.
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Tags:Golan HeightsIranian Gen. Mohammad Ali AllahdadiIsraelIsrael air strike on SyriaIsrael attack on QuneitraQuotedSyria crisis
ISIL executes over 50 in Iraq's Sinjar: Local sources
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:29
The file photo shows ISIL terrorists executing a group of people in Iraq.
Takfiri ISIL militants have executed more than 50 people in Iraq's Nineveh Province, local sources say.According to the sources, the mass execution took place in the town of Sinjar on Friday.
The victims were army officers and civilians, the sources added.
The ISIL started its campaign of terror in Iraq in early June 2014. The heavily-armed militants took control of Mosul before sweeping through parts of the country's Sunni Arab heartland.
The terrorists have been carrying out horrific acts of violence, including public decapitations, against all Iraqi communities such as Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.
Thousands of Izadi women and girls have been compelled to marry or have been sold into sexual slavery by the extremists since August last year, Amnesty International says.
Over 3,000 Izadi women and children are still estimated to be held captive by the ISIL terrorists.
The Iraqi army, backed by pro-government tribes, Shia volunteers and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, has so far managed to make significant gains in the fight against the terrorists.
By Press TV
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Tags:Iraq crisisIraq's Nineveh provinceIslamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)QuotedSinjar
EU court lifts sanctions against Iran's Bank Tejarat
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:29
TEHRAN (ISNA)- A top European court scrapped sanctions imposed by the European Union against Iran's Bank Tejarat.The General Court struck down the illegal sanctions that the 28 members of the European bloc had imposed against Bank Tejarat, The Associated Press reported.
The court said the EU has not presented any justification for freezing the assets and economic resources of the Iranian bank.
The court, in a separate ruling, also annulled the bans on Ocean Capital Administration, an Iranian shipping line, and a number of other companies linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).
The sanctions had been imposed on the Iranian bank and the companies over allegations that they had a role in the development of Iran's nuclear energy program and circumvented US-led illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In late 2014, the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice annulled restrictions imposed by the EU against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).
''The reasons relied on are so vague and lacking in detail that the only possible response was in the form of a general denial,'' the court ruled, adding that ''those reasons therefore do not comply with the requirements of the case-law.''
The court also ordered the European bloc to ''bear one half of its own costs and to pay one half of the costs of Central Bank of Iran.''
At the beginning of 2012, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
In October 2012, EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.
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Tags:Bank TejaratCentral Bank of Iran (CBI)EU courtQuotedsanctions against Iran
Iran eliminates US dollar in foreign trade: Official
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:40
TEHRAN (Tasnim) '' Iran no more uses US dollar in monetary transactions with foreign countries, an official at the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) announced.Gholamali Kamyab, a CBI deputy head, told the Tasnim News Agency that Iran does not employ the US dollar in trade with any country anymore, saying other currencies have been replaced in transactions.
''In trade exchanges with the foreign countries, Iran uses other currencies, including Chinese yuan, euro, Turkish lira, Russian ruble and South Korean won,'' Kamyab said.
He also added that Iran is considering bilateral currency swap agreements with a number of countries, saying negotiations for signing such agreements will begin soon.
Bilateral currency swap agreements are to ease trade and economic transactions, Kamyab noted.
Replacing the US dollar with other currencies is something many other countries have been after as well.
In January 2014, the World Bank's former chief economist called for an initiative for replacing the US dollar with a single global super-currency, saying it will create a more stable global financial system.
''The dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises,'' Justin Yifu Lin told Bruegel, a Brussels-based policy-research think tank. ''The solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency.''
By Tasnim News Agency
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Tags:CBI deputy headCentral Bank of Iran (CBI)Gholamali Kamyabiran economyQuotedUS dollar
Netanyahu vows to block Iran nuclear program
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:41
Obama and Netanyahu during the U.S. president's visit in Israel, March 20, 2013. Photo by Bloomberg
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his cabinet members that he will do his utmost to prevent Iran from obtaining what he called ''nuclear weapons.'' ''As prime minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weaponry that will be aimed at the State of Israel,'' Netanyahu said on Sunday as he was briefing his cabinet on a planned speech to the US Congress about Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that supervises Iran's nuclear activities has never concluded that there has been deviation in Tehran's nuclear program towards militarism.
''This effort is global and I will go anywhere I am invited to make the State of Israel's case and defend its future and existence,'' he said.
The Israeli premier said that the P5+1 group were likely in the next few weeks ''to reach a framework agreement with Iran, an agreement liable to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state.''
''This endangers, first and foremost, the existence of the State of Israel,'' Netanyahu claimed.
Benjamin Netanyahu's comments came days after US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner invited him to address a joint session of Congress on March 3 regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Hours after US President Barack Obama threatened to veto any Iran sanctions bill during his State of the Union address on January 20, Boehner said he had invited Netanyahu to address the issue.
Iran and the P5+1 countries '' the US, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany '' are in talks to secure a final comprehensive deal over Tehran's nuclear work.
Since an interim deal was agreed in Geneva in November 2013, the negotiating sides have missed two deadlines to ink a final agreement.
Tehran and the six countries now seek to reach a high-level political agreement by March 1 and to confirm the full technical details of the accord by July 1.
Angered by the historic interim deal between Iran and its negotiating partners, Israel has been lobbying over the past months to thwart a final accord.
The IAEA has so far on several occasions confirmed that Iran has lived up to its commitments under the deal.
In a televised program on January 10, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Iran and the six world powers were on the verge of clinching a comprehensive nuclear deal back in November 2014, but Israeli lobbies blocked the deal.
By Press TV
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Tags:Benjamin NetanyahuIran nuclear talksIran's nuclear programIran-P5+1 nuke talksQuotedsanctions against IranUS Congress
Parl. admonish Rouhani on people with dual citizenship in govt.
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:39
TEHRAN, Jan. 25 (MNA) '' 13 parliamentarians admonished Rouhani on appointment of people with dual Iranian-American citizenship in government high positions.The written 'question' delivered to the Parliament board reportedly addressed President Rouhani's head of office. The draft of the question demanded that career of people with dual citizenships in the government be terminated.
The letter addressed to president, refers Hassan Rouhani to an article of the Constitution proscribing the appointment of individuals with dual citizenship to government sinecures; ''unfortunately, we have been informed that a high official in your office has a dual Iranian-American citizenship; appointing of these individuals to government political, economic and intelligence high positions would jeopardize the country,'' reads the letter, ''you know well that individuals with sensitive positions in the government could not take oath of allegiance to any other country.''
The letter strongly discourages recruitment of individuals with dual citizenships; ''the Cabinet should wisely avoid the troubles created by appointing of personalities with dual citizenship and if in office, remove them from the position,'' the letter recommended.
By Mehr News Agency
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Tags:Hassan RouhaniHassan Rouhani's cabinetIran's ParliamentQuoted
Political sabotage over a deal with Iran
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:31
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the foreign media at parliament in Jerusalem November 10, 2014.
LONDON '-- America and Iran took a step toward a final nuclear deal on Jan. 18, but they should be making leaps. The negotiators have proposed some creative solutions but major political compromises are sorely needed, and soon.If a framework agreement can't be reached in March, the talks could become mired in stalemate. Those who oppose any diplomacy between Iran and the West are already seeking to end the process altogether. With time, they will gain further ammunition.
Spoilers have been striking from Tehran, Washington and Tel Aviv. Some are trying to limit the ability of President Barack Obama (or whoever succeeds him) to deliver a reasonable sanctions-relief package to Iran. Others are seeking to corner Iran and force its government into knee-jerk reactions to regional flare-ups. Hard-liners in the United States and Iran see the nuclear negotiations as an opportunity to score points domestically and they are escalating their efforts to scuttle a grand bargain.
Although the Obama administration has dedicated itself to multilateral diplomacy with Iran, it has been under constant pressure from Congress. Powerful American legislators, influential lobby groups and the Israeli prime minister have repeatedly called for increased economic pressure on Iran to extract further concessions. Not only does this contradict America's interest in maintaining the freeze on Iran's nuclear program, but it also devalues the agreement brokered between Iran and France, Britain, Russia, China, America and Germany.
Threats by American lawmakers to impose further sanctions on Iran have already poisoned the spirit of the talks and created doubt among Iranians about whether the United States is able and willing to deliver on its promises. This has provoked hard-liners in Tehran to respond with their own threats that Iran would increase its enrichment capacity should new sanctions pass.
During his State of the Union address, President Obama made clear that he would veto any proposals for additional sanctions on Iran. And although officials in Tehran recognize this as a good faith gesture on the part of Mr. Obama, they also remember that a Congressional bill introduced in late 2013 nearly garnered enough support to withstand a similar veto threat. Iranian officials worry that the Obama administration is constitutionally unable to make a durable and ironclad promise of sanctions relief as part of a final deal. With a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, and House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress for a third time, Iran fears that Mr. Obama's veto won't be enough.
At the same time, Iran is at risk of losing the West's trust. There is a danger that Iran will damage its newfound reputation as a good faith interlocutor by retaliating for the presumed Israeli attack that killed Hezbollah operatives and an Iranian general in Syria last Sunday.
Iran believes the strike was a premeditated Israeli operation targeting a high-level Iranian official. Influential hardliners in Tehran's security establishment view it as an act of aggression by Israel and demand a direct response.
But any such retaliation, either overtly by Iran or covertly through Hezbollah, would likely prompt Israel's European and American allies to halt the nuclear negotiations altogether '-- especially if the retaliation involves attacks against civilians.
The Iranian government must decide how openly it wishes to involve itself in the inevitable Hezbollah retaliation while ensuring its tactics do not threaten Iran's long-term strategic objective of securing a nuclear deal. Iran prudently avoided any entanglement in the Gaza conflict over the summer '-- and it should continue to keep its distance.
If Tehran responds excessively, or if operations are carried out unofficially by Iranian hard-liners, this would escalate the Israeli-Iranian standoff and could derail the nuclear talks completely.
March will be an important month for all parties. The results of the Israeli elections could deflate Tel Aviv's fierce opposition to current negotiations with Iran. For Mr. Netanyahu, blocking any nuclear deal is a personal investment. Some of his political rivals do not necessarily share his fervor on the issue. They view a nuclear deal as less of a threat and place more value on maintaining Israel's strong alliances with European nations and the United States, all of whom seek a nuclear deal with Iran. If Mr. Netanyahu is defeated by a less hawkish opponent, the Obama administration will have an easier time reassuring Israel about any deal with Iran and there would also be less Israeli pressure on Congress.
March is also symbolic for Mr. Rouhani, who is eager to mark the Iranian New Year with a psychological shift on sanctions and engagement with the West. This would be a timely electoral boost for moderates seeking to strengthen their position in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
After the negotiations were extended for a second time in November, Mr. Rouhani appealed to the Iranian people, other political factions and Iran's Supreme Leader for hope and patience. They granted his request but they will not tolerate talks that continue to be extended indefinitely with no tangible sanctions relief in sight.
The extension of negotiations has prevented a return to hostile rhetoric between Iran and the West. But tepid progress without any major concessions is a blessing for spoilers, who will use the additional time to sabotage diplomacy.
Iran must not allow its short-term ideological pursuits in the region to jeopardize its overarching strategic objective: achieving a comprehensive nuclear deal that brings sanctions relief and provides Iran the option of having a functional relationship with the West.
Likewise, the United States must not allow a myopic and obstructionist Congress to derail a deal that is in Washington's long-term interest and strengthens global security.
This article was written by Ellie Geranmayeh for the opinion page of The New York Times on January 26, 2015. Ellie Geranmayeh is a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
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Tags:Barack ObamaBenjamin NetanyahuIran's nuclear programIran-P5+1 nuke talksIranian hardlinersIsraelsanctions against IranUS Congress
Iraq: Our Collaboration With Iran In War Against ISIS 'Is Not a Secret'
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:47
The Iraqi Prime Minister, during the World Economic Forum, declared that his country's collaboration with the Iranian military in waging war against the Islamic State is no secret.
''We do not deny our collaboration with General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Qods Force,'' Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi said during a panel discussion on the sidelines of the forum in Davos, Switzerland, Rudaw reported.
Reuters also noted that Abadi mentioned the Iranian general when discussing Iraq's fight against the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, or ISIL), a Sunni jihadist group.
''We have respect for him and the Iranian establishment,'' reportedly said the Iraqi PM.
''Our collaboration with him is not a secret,'' he added, according to Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Abadi claimed that Iranian soldiers have not set foot on Iraqi soil.
The Iraqi leader explained that Shiite Iran filled the gap when the West was slow to deliver help.
''They have been prompt in sending us arms and ammunition without even asking for immediate payments,'' said the prime minister.
Iranian Gen. Soleimani has been under an international travel ban and asset freeze by the U.N. Security Council since 2007.
Nevertheless, Rudaw pointed out that the Iranian general has been seen with Shiite militias in Diyala, Iraq, which borders Iran.
A top Iraqi army officer recently said that Diyala has been ''liberated'' from ISIS.
''Last month, the Paris-based Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) said that the number of Iranian officers and soldiers in Iraq had exceeded 7,000,'' reported Rudaw.
A U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria for months to counter the Sunni jihadist group's advances in those two countries.
Iran, a Shiite majority country, is considered a state-sponsor of terrorism by the United States, but in Iraq Washington and Tehran share a common enemy '-- Sunni militants fighting under the ISIS banner.
Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly said last year that Iran's participation in the anti-ISIS campaign would be a ''net positive.''
Germany rejects US Congress plans to tighten Iran sanctions
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:46
Berlin, Jan 27, IRNA '-- The German government warned against US Congress plans to step up sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Speaking to media representatives on Monday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Martin Schaefer stressed any attempts to damage the ongoing highly sensitive diplomatic talks between Iran and six world powers (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) aimed at resolving the nuclear row was 'not the right way'.
Although the US administration has pursued a multilateral diplomacy with Iran, it has reportedly been under constant pressure from Congress. Powerful American lawmakers and influential pro-Zionist regime lobby groups have repeatedly called for increased economic pressure on Iran to extract further concessions.
Schaefer reiterated prospects for finally settling this 12-year-old conflict had never been this good.
He pointed to a recent joint op-ed piece in the Washington Post in which German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French and British counterpart made clear that right now was not the time to tighten sanctions against Tehran.
Schaefer expressed hope again that a political framework agreement could be reached by March.
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Tags:German foreign ministry spokesmanIran's nuclear programMartin SchaeferQuotedsanctions against IranUS Congress
weather forecasters apologize
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:22
Forecasting weather is not easy.Forecasting weather on social media for millions of people to see and criticize is even harder.A number of Twitter's popular meteorologists took to the service Tuesday morning to acknowledge that the storm had not gone as expected, at least in the New York/New Jersey area:
How everyone but the Weather Channel botched the NYC blizzard forecast.
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:28
A passerby walks his dog near an accumulation of snow on Jan. 27, 2015, in Central Park in New York. Snow levels in New York have ranged from 7.8 inches in Central Park to more than 28 inches in Eastern Long Island.Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images
In the run-up to this week's blizzard, some serious differences emerged when it came to the New York City snowfall forecast.
On the one hand, there was the National Weather Service, armed with thousands of meteorologists, a newly upgraded forecasting supercomputer, a nationwide network of weather radars and balloons, and satellite technology.* It even sent the Hurricane Hunters to fly through the storm to take additional data.
Early on, the NWS called for ''historic'' snowfall totals of 20 to 30 inches in New York City. It cautioned that if an intense snowfall band ended up camping out over the city (as several model forecasts suggested would happen), 3 feet wasn't out of the question.
That obviously didn't happen. One NWS forecaster in Philadelphia went so far as to issue a public apology via Twitter for the botched forecast. The director of the National Weather Service also scheduled a Tuesday afternoon press conference to discuss the forecast, a rare step likely aimed at restoring public trust. (The NWS forecast for Boston, by the way, is right on track. That city's still on pace to record its biggest snowstorm in history.)
So what went wrong in New York City? In a series of Facebook posts explaining its forecast, the NWS said, ''These bands are nearly impossible to predict until they develop.'' True, but someone did manage to forecast it: the Weather Channel.
Throughout most the day on Monday, the Weather Channel was forecasting 12 to 18 inches for New York City, while the National Weather Service insisted a record-breaker was possible. By nightfall the Weather Channel had scaled back its forecast even further, calling for 8 to 12 inches. And that's exactly what fell. As late as 5 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service was still talking about top-end scenarios of up to 3 feet in the Bronx.
These days, meteorologists rely heavily on computer weather models for everything from temperature forecasts to the tracks of hurricanes to snowstorms. Usually, they're pretty good. But the problem is, they frequently disagree'--and when that happens, you need to quickly assess what information to use and what to toss. Which is where the humans come in.
As best I can piece together, the Weather Channel's method for forecasting storms like this is not to throw out any model information, no matter how off-base it may seem at the time. And for this storm, the potential spread of model forecast placement of the most intense snow band was exceptionally large for the New York City area. This is a perfect situation where probabilistic forecasts are useful. Instead of banking on one or two specific models like the NWS did (and which turned out to be the wrong ones), the Weather Channel chose to blend the models and weight them a little more equally.
In contrast, the National Weather Service took the gutsy step of disregarding the GFS model'--its own, newly improved model, by the way'--and opted almost entirely for a blend of the ECMWF and NAM, two of the historically best-performing models for this sort of storm and lead time. Though that's a more traditional style of forecasting, it's prone to busts. Sure enough, the storm's center ended up tracking about 120 miles farther east and about three hours faster than the ECMWF forecasted, closer to where the GFS predicted it would be, a pretty big difference.
For my forecast updates here on Slate, I sided almost exclusively with the numbers from the National Weather Service because 1) they seemed reasonable, looking at much of the same data myself that they used to construct this forecast, and 2) they're the official forecast source. Entire governments make plans based on their forecasts, so I figured that's good enough for Slate. I was wrong.
On Tuesday, I spoke with the Weather Channel's winter weather expert Tom Niziol by phone in an attempt to understand how he and his colleagues got it right'--and, by extension, what the National Weather Service may have missed.
''As we saw the guidance changing throughout the day, we adjusted that forecast as necessary,'' Niziol told me. ''I don't want to make it sound too simple.''
This forecast was truly complicated. The Weather Channel's forecast for a 30-mile stretch including New York City ranged from more than 18 inches on Long Island to less than 8 inches in New Jersey. It really could have gone either way. In contrast, the Boston forecast, Niziol said, was a ''no-brainer.''
In recent years, there've been several weather-related controversies in New York state, suggesting that a storm like this was bound to become political. The twin hurricane threats of Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012 produced vastly different effects in New York City, despite the National Weather Service calling for a significant coastal flood in each case. Irene turned out to be nearly as catastrophic in upstate New York as Sandy was in the city, but downstate residents likely remember Irene as a busted forecast. Then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took heat during the run-up to Sandy for initially downplaying its flooding threat, probably because of Irene, at least in part.
More recently, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was criticized for blaming the National Weather Service for a sluggish response to the Buffalo mega-lake-effect storm, which brought more than 6 feet of snow to the region in just three days.
National Weather Service forecasters (and the governor) likely had these experiences in mind this week. The NWS may have overstressed the blizzard's worst-case scenario, and the governor may have acted too hastily, both in an effort to cover themselves in case it actually came to pass.
Niziol, who used to head up the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service, knows a lot about messaging during major weather events. He told me that emergency managers frequently want the most likely forecast and the worst-case scenario as well. In the aftermath of this storm, local leaders used that philosophy to explain the unnecessary shuttering of NYC schools and public transportation.
There's one emerging technology that may provide a relatively quick solution: probabilistic snowfall forecasts. Several National Weather Service offices, including Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston, have experimental pages right now, though they frequently don't emphasize them in public messaging.
In my blizzard preview post on Sunday, I actually said ''there's very little chance of a bust.'' I came to that conclusion by using the experimental probabilistic snow forecast by the NWS, which at the time showed a 67 percent chance of at least 18 inches in New York City. Although this kind of probabilistic information is exactly what Niziol was talking about, the National Weather Service (and I) got too concerned with the top-end scenarios. I should have played up the other side of that uncertainty more.
This story has a valuable lesson for the future of meteorology, and more importantly, real-time communication of extreme weather events in an era of escalating climate change. If we have the information (and, in the case of the newly upgraded GFS, it's being produced at great expense), why not use it?
*Correction, Jan. 27, 2015: A previous version of this post incorrectly said the National Weather Service has the ability to launch its own weather satellites. Actually, the NWS parent organization, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, works with NASA and the U.S. Air Force to launch satellites, whose data the NWS then uses.
UK Met Office says 2014 was NOT the hottest year ever due to 'uncertainty ranges' of the data | Watts Up With That?
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:08
Met Office Confirms 2014 Continues Global Warming 'Pause'
Guest essay by Dr David Whitehouse, via The GWPF
With the release of the 2014 HadCRUT4 data by the UK Met Office, and the previous release of global temperature data by Berkeley Earth, Nasa and Noaa, the main conclusion to be drawn from the data is that 2014 was a warm year, but not statistically distinguishable from most of the years of the past decade or so meaning that the ''pause'' in global annual average surface temperatures continues.
The Met Office said:
''The HadCRUT4 dataset (compiled by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit) shows last year was 0.56C (±0.1C) above the long-term (1961-1990) average. Nominally this ranks 2014 as the joint warmest year in the record, tied with 2010, but the uncertainty ranges mean it's not possible to definitively say which of several recent years was the warmest.''
HadCRUT4 global temperature data plot '' Click on image to enlarge.
Quoting the temperature to one hundredth of a degree and the error on that measurement to a tenth of a degree is not normal scientific practice. It is against normal scientific practice to have an error of the measurement larger than the precision of that measurement. This means that most scientists would have rounded the data so that it was 0.6 +/- 0.1 °C. If this is done to the HadCRUT4 dataset it is even more obvious that there has been a warming ''pause'' for the past 18 years.Warm PacificLooking in detail at why 2014 was a warm year shows that it was down to unusually warm temperatures for a few months in the northeast Pacific. It is also obvious that had December not been such a warm month 2014 would have been much cooler. The Met Office says in its press release:
''Phil Jones, of the University of East Anglia, said: 2014 was an exceptionally warm year which saw warm tropical pacific temperatures, despite not being officially regarded as an El Ni±o.''
Unusually warm Pacific temperatures in the region they were observed indicates that what made 2014 interesting was not down to any predicted manifestation of ''global warming.''
However, the Met Office considers that the temperature attained in 2014, and therefore all of the years of the past decade or so, would not have been achieved without human influence. In a press release put out in December (when HadCRUT4 data was available to October), when it was still possible that 2014 would have set a ''record'' and could have been treated as a separate event, they said that new research techniques developed by them allow for rapid assessment of how human influence might have affected the chances of breaking temperature records. They said:
''This technique, known as an attribution study, uses climate models and observations to see how likely an event would be in the real world and in a world without human greenhouse gas emissions '' enabling assessment of how human influence has altered the chances of an event.''
Peter Stott, Head of Climate Attribution at the Met Office, said: ''Our research shows current global average temperatures are highly unlikely in a world without human influence on the climate.'' Such attribution research is highly speculative and should have been flagged as such in a press release whose aim was the get the media to print a story suggesting that 2014 would be a 'record' year, and give them an explanation for it. As it turned out November's and December's HadCRUT4 data whittled away the chances of 2014 being a ''record.''
In general the Met Office and before them the Berkerley Earth project were reasonable about the data in pointing out that a new record was not established unequivocally because of the large error bars that encompass 2014 and many other recent years. This is in contrast to the stance taken by NASA who proclaimed without doubt, and without even quoting the temperature and any error information, that 2014 was the warmest year ever.
2014 fits in perfectly with the suggestion that for the past 18 years HadCRUT4 is best represented by a constant temperature.
'' See more at: http://www.thegwpf.com/met-office-confirms-2014-continues-global-pause/#sthash.sp1Zg6FC.dpuf
US Senate refuses to accept humanity's role in global climate change, again | Environment | The Guardian
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:23
Republican and US senator James Inhofe: 'Man can't change climate'. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
It is nearly 27 years now since a Nasa scientist testified before the US Senate that the agency was 99% certain that rising global temperatures were caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
And the Senate still has not got it '' based on the results of three symbolic climate change votes on Wednesday night.
The Senate voted virtually unanimously that climate change is occurring and not, as some Republicans have said, a hoax '' but it defeated two measures attributing its causes to human activity.
Only one Senator, Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, voted against a resolution declaring climate change was real and not '' as his fellow Republican, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma once famous declared '' a hoax. That measure passed 98 to one.
Related:White House unveils plan to open Atlantic waters to offshore oil drilling
But the Senate voted down two measures that attributed climate change to human activity '' and that is far more important.
Unless Senators are prepared to acknowledge the causes of climate change, it is likely they will remain unable and unwilling to do anything about it.
Democrats had planned the symbolic, ''sense of the Senate'' votes as a way of exposing the Republicans' increasingly embarrassing climate change denial. Further climate votes will come up on Thursday.
Two were tacked on as Democratic amendments to a bill seeking to force approval of the contentious Keystone XL pipeline '' despite a veto threat from Barack Obama.
The third, introduced by a Republican, affirmed climate change was real but expressed support for the Keystone XL pipeline.
The first vote, introduced by the Rhode Island Democrat, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, said only: ''To express the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.''
But Republicans have grown canny about being called out as climate deniers. For the Republican party leadership the current preferred phrase now is: ''I am not a scientist'' '' which casts doubt but avoids outright denial. However, Obama made that line a butt of his jokes in the State of the Union address.
Related:Climate change responsible for super-charging winter storms, scientists say
Inhofe, the veteran climate denier in the Senate and incoming chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, stunned a number of Democrats when he asked to co-sponsor the amendment.
For a moment it looked like the ultimate climate denier had had a change of heart '' but no. Inhofe was ready to acknowledge climate change was occurring but he was adamant it had nothing to do with human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels.
''Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will,'' Inhofe told the Senate. ''The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can't change climate.''
The quick thinking from Inhofe now leaves Wicker, the new chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as the only Republican to still embrace the entire idea of climate change as a hoax.
Wicker did not immediately comment on his vote. But he has regularly said that there is no firm evidence of global temperature rise.
An amendment introduced by the North Dakota Republican and Keystone bill sponsor, John Hoeven, attributed climate change to human activity, but said the pipeline would have no significant impacts. Fifteen Republicans voted in favour - but Hoeven winded up voting against his own measure. The vote failed to gather the 60 needed votes, falling 59-40.
The final climate amendment, introduced by the Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz, went further, stating: ''human activity significantly contributes to climate change.''
Only five Republicans supported it '' Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Ted Cruz of Texas '' all thought of as leading Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential race '' voted against. The bill was defeated 50-49.
Environmental groups claimed a partial victory '' at least Republicans were admitting climate change was indeed occurring.
''I'm hoping that after many years of darkness and blockade that this can be a first little vote beam of light through the wall that will allow us to at least start having an honest conversation about what carbon pollution is doing to our climate and to our oceans,'' Whitehouse told the Senate.
But the Senate has acknowledged the existence of climate change before and, as long ago as 2005, voted to affirm that human activity was its driver.
Since 2005, there has been an entire decade of accumulating evidence in real-time of the effects of climate change '' and its threat in the future.
''We are worse off than 2005,'' said Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University who writes about the climate denial movement. ''The resolution saying that anthropogenic climate change is real and we need to act passed in 2005, and failed in 2015,'' he said in an email. ''A similar resolution failed today. 10 years, more certain science, less political will.''
BONO-WTF-External Advisory Board - The Earth Institute - Columbia University
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:14
The External Advisory Board provides guidance regarding priorities in science, public policy, and teaching, among other issues for the Earth Institute. The Board meets annually in New York City.
Dr. Kenneth J. ArrowJoan Kenney Professorof Economics, EmeritusStanford UniversityEconomics Department
Kenneth J. Arrow was born in New York City in 1921 and received the degrees of B.Sc. in Social Science (The City College, 1940), and Ph.D. in economics (Columbia University, 1951). He was a Research Associate of the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics (1947-9) and taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and Stanford University, from which he retired in 1991. He also served on the staff of the United States Council of Economic Advisers.
Arrow has written (alone or with collaborators) seven books and over 220 papers in learned journals, on general equilibrium theory, social choice theory, economic growth and innovation, health economics, the economics of information, environmental economics, the estimation of production functions, and aerial navigation.
Arrow was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal (1957), the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science (1972), and the von Neumann Award (1986). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and several foreign academies. He has been president of the Econometric Society, The Institute of Management Sciences (now Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences), the American Economic Association, the International Society for Inventory Research, the International Economic Association, and the Society for Social Choice and Welfare.
Dr. Barry R. BloomDean of the Faculty,Professor of Immunologyand Infectious DiseasesHarvard School of Public Health
Barry R. Bloom is Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health. He received his B.A. and an honorary Sc.D. from Amherst College, an A.M. from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University.
Bloom served as a consultant to the White House on International Health Policy in 1977''8. He is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Advisory Committee on Health Research and has previously chaired the WHO Committees on Tuberculosis Research, and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the UNDP/ World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. Bloom chaired the WHO/UNAIDS Vaccine Advisory Committee and served on the National AIDS Vaccine Research Committee. He was elected president of the American Association of Immunologists in 1984 and served as President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) in 1985. He has served as a member of the National Advisory Council of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Advisory Board of the Fogarty International Center at the NIH, and the U.S. National Vaccine Advisory Committee. He was co-chair of the Board on Global Health of the Institute of Medicine.
He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and as Chair of the International Vaccine Institute. He received the first Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Research in Infectious Diseases, and shared the Novartis Award in Immunology in 1998. Bloom is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
BonoLead Singer of the Irish rock group U2Founder of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa)
Bono is the lead singer of the Irish rock group U2, who have sold over 100 million albums since they formed in 1980.
Bono has worked with Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign, and last year helped found a new organization called DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) based in Washington, DC and London. Bono travels frequently in his campaigning work to lobby politicians and policy makers on DATA's issues, and increase public awareness of the challenges facing Africa in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
He lives in Dublin with his wife Ali and four children.
Sir Partha DasguptaFrank Ramsey Professor of Economics, Cambridge University, Department of Applied Economics
Partha Dasgupta, was born in Dhaka, (then in India) and educated in Varanasi, Delhi, and Cambridge. He is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics and past Chairman of the Faculty of Economics and Politics (1997-2002) at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St. John's College.
During 1991-1997 he was Chairman of the Scientific Board of the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, and during 1989-1992 also Professor of Economics, and Philosophy, and Director of the Program in Ethics in Society at Stanford University. His research interests have covered welfare and development economics; the economics of technological change; population, environmental, and resource economics; the theory of games; and the economics of undernutrition.
His publications include ''Guidelines for Project Evaluation'' (with SA Marglin and AK Sen; United Nations, 1972), ''Economic Theory and Exhaustible Resources'' (with GM Heal; Cambridge University Press, 1979), ''The Control of Resources'' (Harvard University Press, 1982); ''An Inquiry into Well Being and Destitution'' (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993); and ''Human Well Being and the Natural Environment'' (Oxford University Press, 2001).
Dasgupta is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, Fellow of the British Academy, Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics, Honorary Member of the American Economic Association, Member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, and Fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He is a past President of the Royal Economic Society (1998-2001) and the European Economic Association (1999).
Dasgupta was named Knight Bachelor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in her Birthday Honours List in 2002, for services to economics, and was co-winner (with Karl Goran Maler) of the 2002 Volvo Environment Prize.
Dr. Jared DiamondProfessor of Environmental Health Sciences; Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1937, Jared Diamond received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, England. He is a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA School of Health and a Professor of Geography at UCLA.
Diamond's formal training was in physiology and membrane biophysics. His physiological studies have been recognized by election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and by the research prizes of the American Physiological Society and the American Gastroenterological Association.
At the same time, Diamond has also pursued a parallel career in ecology and evolutionary biology based on an on-going series of expeditions, (19 to date), to study the birds of New Guinea and other tropical Southwest Pacific islands. His evolutionary studies have been recognized by election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and by the Burr Award of the National Geographic Society and the Coues Award of the American Ornithologists' Union.
A recent outgrowth of Diamond's evolutionary studies has been in the area of human history. His book ''Guns, Germs, and Steel'', translated into 23 languages, won both the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction and Britain's Science Book Prize. In 1997, the book won the Phi Beta Kappa Prize in the science category.
Diamond writes bimonthly articles for the News and Views section of Nature, and for Discover Magazine, of which he is a contributing editor. His book ''The Third Chimpanzee'' won Britain's Science Book Prize (Rh´ne-Poulenc Prize).
Diamond's cumulative contributions to all these fields resulted in his being awarded the National Medal of Science in 1999.
Klaus M. LeisingerPresident & CEO of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development
Dr. Nora LustigPresident Universidad de las Am(C)ricas, Puebla Epidemiology
Nora Lustig is J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. Previously she was the Director of the Poverty Group of the United Nations Development Programme. Dr. Lustig was President of the Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Mexico and Professor of its Department of Economics; Senior Advisor and Chief of the Poverty and Inequality Unit at the Inter-American Development Bank, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Studies Program of the Brookings Institution, and Professor at the Center of Economic Studies of the Colegio de Mexico. During her sabbaticals, Nora Lustig spent time as Visiting Scholar at MIT, Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the United Nations Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). She has been a member of the highest level of the Mexican National Researchers System. She is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences since 1987 and of several Boards of academic institutions and editorial committees and was President of the ''Mexican Commission of Macroeconomics and Health''. Dr. Lustig was co-founder and President of LACEA, the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association. She has served in high-level search committees and was a co-panelist of the report ''An Evaluation of World Bank Research'' chaired by Professor Angus Deaton.
As a researcher, Lustig has focused on development economics with particular emphasis on the causes of poverty and inequality and the Mexican economy. Among her publications are: co-edited with Francois Bourguignon and Francisco Ferreira, The Microeconomics of Income Distribution Dynamics; Mexico. The Remaking of an Economy (Fondo de Cultura Economica and El Colegio de Mexico; (editor) Shielding the Poor; co-edited with Sebastian Edwards, Labor Markets in Latin America. Combining Social Protection with Market Flexibility; co-edited with Barry Bosworth and Susan Collins, Coming Together? Mexico-U.S. Relations; (editor), Coping with Austerity: Poverty and Inequality in Latin America. Nora Lustig was also co-Director of the World Bank's 2000/2001 World Development Report ''Attacking Poverty''. She has also published in many refereed journals.
Lustig has written many dissemination pieces and made numerous appearances in the electronic media. Her intellectual influence in policy circles is featured in the December 2005 issue of the IMF journal Finance and Development.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lustig has spent her adult life in Mexico and the United States. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.
Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri
Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri was born in Nainital, India, on 20 August 1940. He assumed his current responsibilities as the head of TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute) in 1981, first as Director and, since April 2001, as Director-General. TERI generates unparalleled and original research, and from that provides professional support in the areas of energy, environment, forestry, biotechnology, and the conservation of natural resources to government departments, institutions, and corporate organizations worldwide.
To acknowledge his immense contribution to the field of environmental studies, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in January 2001, one of India's highest civilian awards that recognize distinguished service to the nation in any field.
Commencing his career with the Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi, where he held several managerial positions, Dr. Pachauri joined the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA, where he obtained an MS in Industrial Engineering in 1972, a PhD in Industrial Engineering and a PhD in Economics, and also served as Assistant Professor and Visiting Faculty Member in the Department of Economics and Business. He has also been a Visiting Professor and Visiting Research Fellow at institutions such as West Virginia University, The World Bank, with the United Nations Development Programme, and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University.
Dr. Pachauri's wide-ranging and renowned expertise has resulted in his being invited to join various international and national committees and boards, in many different companies, academic institutions and within the Indian government. These include organizations such as the International Solar Energy Society, the World Resources Institute Council, the International Association for Energy Economics and the Panel of Eminent Persons on Power.
Dr. Pachauri has also contributed significantly to his field by having authored 21 books and several papers and articles.
Dr. Tim PalmerHeadProbability and Seasonal Forecasting Division European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, UK
Tim Palmer is Head of the Probability and Seasonal Forecasting Division at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts based in the United Kingdom.
Palmer is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and has received awards from both of these societies. He is currently chair of the Scientific Steering Group of the UN World Meteorological Organisation's Climate Variability and Predictability Project, and was lead author of the most recent assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is on a number of external advisory committees of climate institutes and programmes worldwide.
Palmer's early research (D.Phil Oxford) was in general relativity theory '-- his academic grandfather was Paul A.M. Dirac '-- but most of his recent professional research lies in the area of predictability of weather and climate, and has published extensively on both theoretical and practical perspectives. For example, he has contributed significantly to the application of nonlinear mathematical methods to understand non-trivial aspects of global warming; he has also been Coordinator of a major European Union project to apply seasonal-to-interannual climate prediction to the practical problems of forecasting malaria incidence and crop yield a season or more ahead.
Dr. Peter H. RavenDirector Missouri Botanical Garden
Peter H. Raven received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1960 after completing his undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley. He has received honorary degrees from universities in this country and throughout the world.
Raven is Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and one of the world's leading botanists and advocates of conservation and biodiversity. He is also the Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis.
In recognition of his work in science and conservation, Raven is the recipient of numerous other prizes and awards, including the prestigious International Prize for Biology from the government of Japan; Environmental Prize of the Institute de la Vie; Volvo Environment Prize; the Tyler Prize of Environmental Achievement, and the Sasakawa Environment Prize. Raven was a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Clinton Administration. In 2001, he received from the President of the United States, the National Medal of Science, the highest award for scientific accomplishment in this country.
Raven has written numerous books, and publications, both popular and scientific, including ''Biology of Plants'' (co-authored with Ray Evert and Susan Eichhorn, Worth Publishers, Inc., New York), the internationally best-selling textbook in botany, now in its sixth edition, and ''Environment'' (Saunders College Publishing, Pennsylvania), a leading textbook on the environment.
Daniel SchragProfessor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Director, Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography, Harvard University
Daniel Schrag is Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Schrag studies climate and climate change over the broadest range of Earth history. He has examined changes in ocean circulation over the last several decades, with particular attention to El Ni±o and the tropical Pacific. He has worked on theories for Pleistocene ice-age cycles including a better determination of ocean temperatures during the Last Glacial Maximum, 20,000 years ago. Schrag has also developed the Snowball Earth hypothesis, proposing that a series of global glaciations occurred between 750 and 580 million years ago that may have led to the evolution of multicellular animals.
Schrag is currently working on creating integrated models of climate change and economic stability for developing countries. Schrag came to Harvard in 1997 after teaching at Princeton, and studying at Berkeley and Yale.
He was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2000.
Mr. George SorosPresident Soros Fund Management
George Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary on August 12, 1930. He survived the Nazi occupation of Budapest and left communist Hungary in 1947 for England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics. Today Soros is President and Chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC, a private investment management firm that serves as principal advisor to the Quantum Group of Funds, a series of international investment vehicles. The Quantum Fund is generally recognized as the most successful investment fund ever, returning an average 31% annually throughout its 32-year history.
Soros is also Chairman of the Open Society Institute and the founder of a network of philanthropic organizations that are active in more than 50 countries. Based primarily in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union'--but also in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the United States'--these foundations are dedicated to building and maintaining the infrastructure and institutions of an open society. In 1992, Soros founded the Central European University, with its primary campus in Budapest.
Soros is the author of seven books, most recently ''George Soros on Globalization'' (Public Affairs, March 2002). His articles and essays on politics, society, and economics regularly appear in major newspapers and magazines around the world. Soros has received honorary degrees from the New School for Social Research, the University of Oxford, the Budapest University of Economics, and Yale University. In 1995, the University of Bologna awarded Soros its highest honor, the Laurea Honoris Causa, in recognition of his efforts to promote open societies throughout the world.
Carl-Henric Svanberg graduated from Sweden's Institute of Technology at Link¶ping University with a Master of Science and also holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Uppsala University. In addition to this, Svanberg holds honorary doctorates at Lule¥ University of Technology and Link¶ping University in Sweden.
After graduation in 1977, he worked for Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) with various foreign assignments within project exports. In 1986 Svanberg moved to Securitas, the world-leading security company. After four years he was appointed first executive vice president for the Securitas Group, with responsibility for alarm solutions and locks. In 1994, Svanberg moved to Assa Abloy Group where he took up the position as president and CEO. Later, he became CEO and president of the Ericsson Group. In 2009, Svanberg left Ericsson to become chairman of BP.
In addition to Svanberg's business track record, he is personally committed to and an advocate for many corporate responsibility issues, including human rights, climate change and the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.
Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H.Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Chair, Department of Nutrition Harvard School of Public Health
Dr. Walter Willett grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, attended Michigan State University, and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School before obtaining a Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health. He is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Willett is a co-investigator of the Nurses' Health Study I, a cohort of over 121,000 female registered nurses 30-55 years of age who completed a mailed questionnaire that included items about known or suspected risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease. He is Principal Investigator of the Nurses' Health Study II, a prospective cohort investigation established in 1989 with over 116,000 female registered nurses. This study is designed to examine the association between lifestyle and nutritional factors and the occurrence of breast cancer and other major illnesses.
In addition to his work with the Nurses' Health Studies I and II, Willett initiated in 1986, a parallel prospective study of diet in relation to cancer and cardiovascular disease among 52,000 men, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. He has published over 800 articles, primarily on lifestyle risk factors for heart disease and cancer, and has written the textbook, ''Nutritional Epidemiology'' (2nd edition), published by Oxford University Press. His recent book for the general public, ''Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating'' has appeared on most major best seller lists.
Dr. Edward O. WilsonPellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology
Dr. Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus at Harvard and a preeminent biological theorist. He earned B.S. and M.A. degrees in biology from the University of Alabama, and a PhD. in biology from Harvard University. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1956 and distinguished himself over the next four decades as professor of zoology, curator in entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and researcher.
Today, Wilson continues entomological and environmental research at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Two of his 21 books have been awarded Pulitzer prizes: ''On Human Nature'' (1978) and ''The Ants'' (1990, co-authored with Bert H¶lldobler). His most recent book, ''The Future of Life'' (2001), offers a plan for saving Earth's biological heritage.
In addition to his books, Wilson has written over 370 articles, most for scientific journals. Wilson has received some 75 awards in international recognition for his contributions to science and humanity, including the U.S. National Medal of Science (1976), Japan's International Prize for Biology (1993), the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1990), the French Prix du Institut de la Vie (1990), Germany's Terrestrial Ecology Prize (1987), Saudi Arabia's King Faisal International Prize for Science (2000), and the Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society (1999). For his conservation work he has received the Audubon Medal of the National Audubon Society and the Gold Medal of the World Wide Fund for Nature. He is also the recipient of 27 honorary doctoral degrees form North America and Europe.
Dr. Harold VarmusPresident Memorial Sloan-KetteringCancer Center
Harold Varmus has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City since January 2000. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English at Amherst College and Harvard University, and is a graduate of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. He now serves as a trustee of Columbia University. His scientific training occurred first as a Public Health Service officer at the NIH, and then as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.
Much of Varmus' scientific work was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, where he and Dr. J. Michael Bishop and their co-workers demonstrated the cellular origins of the oncogene of a chicken retrovirus. For this work, Bishop and Varmus received many awards, including the 1989 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. In 1993, Varmus was named by President Clinton to serve as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, a position he held until the end of 1999.
In addition to authoring over 300 scientific papers and four books, including an introduction to the genetic basis of cancer for a general audience, Varmus has been an advisor to the Federal government, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, and many academic institutions. Recently, he has served on the World Health Organization's Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, task forces at the Council on Foreign Relations, advisory committees on electronic publishing, and planning groups to enhance scientific activity in the developing world. He is also a founding member and Chairman of the Board at Public Library of Science, a new publisher of free access online papers in biological and medical sciences. He has been a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences since 1984 and of the Institute of Medicine since 1991.
Earth Institute Leadership Council - The Earth Institute - Columbia University
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:13
The Earth Institute Leadership Council is comprised of sustainability experts, creative thinkers and business leaders who support the objectives of the Earth Institute by connecting its resources with new partnership opportunities, and building awareness among their professional and social networks in New York and beyond.
JD CapuanoCo-Founder and Co-CEOClosed Loop Advisors
Dr. Michael DorseyVisiting Professor of Environmental StudiesWesleyan University
Henrietta GallinaSenior Strategist, AlldayeverydayCo-Founder, Design Africa
Ali HartmanVice President, ESG Strategy and CommunicationsKohlberg, Kravis, Roberts &Co.
Michael Holland'--EILC ChairExecutive Vice PresidentEnergy & Industrials Sector LeadEdelman
Roya KazemiDirector, GreeNYCOffice of Long-Term Planning and SustainabilityCity of New York
Scott MillerSustainability Management ConsultantLEED AP
Katy MixterAssistant Vice President, Corporate SustainabilityCitigroup
Pamela QuinlanEnergy Policy SpecialistConsolidated Edison
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director - The Earth Institute - Columbia University
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:13
Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project. Sachs is also one of the Secretary-General's MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011). His most recent book is To Move the World: JFK's Quest for Peace (2013). Short Bio | Full Bio
Latest AnnouncementLatest ArticlesLatest VideoArticles By TopicSachs on Economics and Politics
Sachs on Development
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Polar bear penis bone may be weakened by pollution - life - 26 January 2015 - New Scientist
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 01:31
First climate change, now penile fracture '' polar bears have got it pretty rough. Chemical pollutants may be reducing the density of the bears' penis bones, putting them at risk of breaking this most intimate part of their anatomy.
Various mammals, though not humans, have a penis bone, also known as penile bone or baculum. Its exact function is unclear: it could be just a by-product of evolution, or it may help support the penis or stimulate the female during mating.
Christian Sonne at Aarhus University, Denmark, and colleagues had previously shown that polar bears with high levels of pollutants called organohalogens in their bodies had both smaller testes and a smaller penis bone.
Sonne and his team have now shown that a particular class of organohalogens, the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), is associated with a less dense baculum. This could prevent successful mating, the team suggest.
PCBs were used industrially for several decades from the late 1920s onwards. They had hundreds of applications, including in production of paints and rubber products. Then evidence emerged that they can harm health and cause cancer, and were banned by a UN treaty signed in 2001. But they are slow to break down, so can accumulate in the environment.
Polar depositsThe Arctic has particularly high concentrations of pollutants like PCBs, says Margaret James at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "These chemicals enter the atmosphere at lower latitudes where they were used, and are then deposited down from the cold polar air, so Arctic animals are more highly exposed than animals in more temperate or equatorial regions."
To see what effect high concentrations of PCBs might be having on the bears' mating, Sonne's team collaborated with researchers in Canada to examine baculum specimens from 279 polar bears from north-east Greenland and Canada, all born between 1990 and 2000.
They studied this bone because it's easy to come by. "It's the kind of bone that's taken by local trophy hunters and subsistence hunters. It's an actual sign that you have hunted and shot a bear," says Sonne.
They used a hospital X-ray technique to calculate the density of calcium in each bone. Comparing their figures against data on locally recorded levels of a range of harmful pollutants, they found a link between high PCB levels and low baculum density, although James notes that the analysis was not strong enough statistically to prove that PCBs are the cause of lower bone densities.
Even though the function of the polar bear's penile bone is unknown, Sonne believes that a weaker baculum is likely to be problematic during mating. "If it breaks, you probably won't have a bear which can copulate."
Twin stressesSonne believes that, especially considering the stresses on polar bears from climate change, chemical pollutants are likely to be having an effect on populations too '' but it's difficult to say how much of one. "We don't know because it's so hard and expensive to go and do satellite tracking and repeated measures of the same bears," says Sonne.
Andrew Derocher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, agrees that the interaction between climate change and pollution is a concern. Climate change increases break-up of ice and so reduces the bear's ability to forage. "Skinny bears have higher levels of circulating pollutants, so the concern is that a bear that is nutritionally stressed may become more vulnerable to the effects of pollution at the same time," says Derocher.
Sonne and his team now want to investigate whether food stress and pollutants have been driving evolutionary change in the bears. He believes that the chemicals are likely to have killed many bears over recent decades, so may have shaped changes in the species' genetic make-up.
Journal reference: Environmental Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.12.026
If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.
Presidential Memorandum -- Withdrawal of Certain Areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Alaska from Leasing Disposition
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:12
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 27, 2015
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
SUBJECT: Withdrawal of Certain Areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Alaska from Leasing Disposition
Consistent with principles of responsible public stewardship entrusted to this office, with due consideration of the critical importance of certain areas within the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to subsistence use by Alaska Natives as well as for marine mammals, other wildlife, and wildlife habitat, and to ensure that the unique resources of these areas remain available for future generations, I hereby direct as follows:
Under the authority granted to me in section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a), I hereby withdraw from disposition by leasing for a time period without specific expiration (1) the areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) currently designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as leasing deferral areas within the Chukchi Sea Planning Area and the Beaufort Sea Planning Area in the 5-year oil and gas leasing program for 2012-2017; and (2) the Hanna Shoal region of the Chukchi Sea Planning Area lying within the contours of the 40-meter isobath. The boundaries of the withdrawn areas are more specifically delineated in the attached maps and accompanying table of OCS blocks. Both the maps and table form a part of this memorandum. This withdrawal prevents consideration of these areas for any future oil or gas leasing for purposes of exploration, development, or production.
Nothing in this withdrawal affects the rights under existing leases in the withdrawn areas.
New data backs 'ice age' prediction
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 21:12
NEW YORK '' As the United Nations prepares for its 2014 Climate Summit in New York this month with an agenda to advance a new carbon-emissions regulatory agreement to supersede the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the Russian scientist who correctly predicted the lack of global warming over the past 19 years has gained new scientific support for his belief that Earth is in the beginning of a prolonged ice age.
A new study from Lund University in Sweden, published Aug. 17 in Nature Geoscience, has reconstructed solar activity during the last ice age, the last so-called ''global maximum'' extending from 20,000 to 10,000 years ago. Analysis of trace elements in ice cores in Greenland and from cave formations in China indicates the growth and melting of a thick ice sheet stretching from the Arctic to northern Germany were related to variations in the sun's UV radiation output.
''The study shows an unexpected link between solar activity and climate change. It shows both that changes in solar activity are nothing new and that solar activity influences the climate, especially on a regional level. Understanding these processes helps us to better forecast the climate in certain regions,'' said Raimund Muscheler, lecturer in quaternary geology at Lund University and co-author of the study, in a widely cited interview published by LaboratoryEquipment.com.
The recently published Lund University solar research lends support to the research of Russian scientist Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of the prestigious Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg. Abdussamatov has compiled scientific data supporting the theory ''sun heats earth,'' refuting global warming theorists that insist greenhouse gases are the culprit in a phenomenon of anthropogenic global warming
Using data analyzing sunspot activity going back to the 19th century, Abdussamatov argues that total sun irradiance is the primary factor responsible for climate variations on Earth, citing evidence for his theory the earth is about to enter a prolonged cooling phase because sunspot activity has been in a weak ''mini-max'' in the current Solar Cycle 24 after hitting a ''solar minimum'' in 2009.
In a scientific paper published in St. Petersburg last November. Abdussamotiv predicted that ''after the maximum of solar Cycle-24, from approximately 2014, we can expect the start of the next bicentennial cooling cycle with a little Ice Age in 2055 plus or minus 14 years.'' He believes a global freeze ''will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions.''
Preparing for the 2014 Climate Summit, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization has invited well-known television producers to make videos graphically demonstrating devastating global warming consequences the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, predicts will be reality before 2055. The U.N. plans to make the videos public in the buildup to the Sept. 23 climate meeting in New York City, expected to be attended by President Obama.
The New York Times reported Aug. 26 the Obama administration plans to bypass Congress by signing at the U.N. 2015 Climate Summit in Paris a U.N. carbon-emissions-control treaty designed to supplement the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. has not ratified. It would reserves the failure of the U.N. 2009 climate meeting in Copenhagen to produce a new legally binding international climate agreement.
WND reported Tuesday that the U.N. selected from a pool of 544 candidates Kathy Jentil-Kijiner, a 25-year-old poet, journalist and climate-change activist from the Marshall Islands to keynote the 2014 Climate Summit. The U.N. hopes to duplicate the emotional impact 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani woman shot in the head by the Taliban because she dared attend school, achieved at a meeting last year to promote the U.N.'s Global Education First Initiative.
A U.N. video already released predicts Miami will be under water and Arizona will suffer a ''mega-drought.'' It features television weather forecasters from various countries describing climate disasters.
'Sun heats earth'
''Observations of the sun show that as for the increase in temperature, carbon dioxide is 'not guilty,''' Abdussamatov wrote in 2009, as reported by WND. ''As for what lies ahead in the coming decades, it is not catastrophic warming, but a global, and very prolonged temperature drop.''
The comment was drawn from a paper Abdussamatov wrote that was featured on Page 140 of a 2009 report issued by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. It documented more than 700 scientists who disagree over the proposition that global warming is a man-made, or anthropogenic, phenomenon.
As historical support for his theory, Abdussamatov cited the observations in 1893 of the English astronomer Walter Maunder, who came to the conclusion that from 1645 to 1715, sunspots had been generally absent. Maunder found that coincided with the middle and coldest part of the severe temperature dip known as the ''Little Ice Age'' that stretched from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
Abdussamatov also observed ''the most significant solar event in the 20th century was the extraordinarily high level and the prolonged (virtually over the entire century) increase in the energy radiated by the sun,'' resulting in the global warming that today climate alarmists believe is a man-made phenomenon.''
''The intense solar energy flow radiated since the beginning of the 1990s is slowly decreasing and, in spite of conventional opinion, there is now an unavoidable advance toward a global decrease, a deep temperature drop comparable to the Maunder minimum.''
Abdussamatov warned that more precise determination of the date of the onset of the upcoming deep temperature drop and the depth of the decrease in the global temperature of the Earth may not be available for another eight years. His assessment awaits measurements of the form and diameter of the sun currently being made from the Russian segment of the International Space Station.
Abdussamatov directs the space station's Russian-Ukrainian project Astrometria.
''The observed global warming of the climate of the Earth is not caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, but by extraordinarily high solar intensity that extended over virtually the entire past century,'' Abdussamatov wrote. ''Future decrease in global temperature will occur even if anthropogenic ejection of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere rises to record levels.
''Over the past decade, global temperature on the Earth has not increased; global warming has ceased, and already there are signs of the future deep temperature drop.''
Abdussamatov concluded the Earth is no longer threatened by the catastrophic global warming forecast of some scientists since warming passed its peak in 1998-2005.
''The global temperature of the Earth has begun its decrease without limits on the volume of greenhouse gas emissions by industrial developed countries,'' he wrote. ''Therefore, the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol aimed to rescue the planet from the greenhouse effect should be put off at least 150 years.''
Car sounds email
I have worked in the automotive industry for the past 10 years. I build speciality cars for Hyundai and Ford and have done work for Chevrolet and various other OEMs and aftermarket brands.
The issue of OEMs pumping sound into the car has nothing to do with the engine not making that sound anymore. The issue actually is, modern cars are packed full of so much sound deadening shit and crap to make the experience "peaceful" on the inside you just cannot hear shit.
It is a pretty common theme now along performance cars. Porsche, BMW, Ford are all doing this. It's actually not even very sophisticated. I have one I pulled off a 2013 Ford Mustang I can send you if you want to check it out. It works just like this display here in Car & Driver:
I would say about 90% of an "engine sound" is actually formulated in the headers and through the exhaust. A perfect example is if you ever hear a modified Subaru driving around Austin it has a very distinct sound because the car features unequal length headers. Here is a quick video of a Subaru with equal length and unequal length headers just to see how altering the distance of one exhaust runner completely changes the car sound:
Always wanting to contribute but my world of automotive doesn't come up on the show very much! Hope this was some useful info and feel free to fire away any questions from the industry.
We must make a new browser
. A browser for ourselves and a browser for our
friends. A browser that is fast, but also a browser that is rich in
functionality, highly flexible and puts the user first. A browser that is
made for you.
Google strong-arms indie musicians into accepting brutal, crowdfunding-killing deal for streaming service - Boing Boing
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:22
Google is launching a new, Youtube-branded streaming music service, with the cooperation of the Big Four labels, who got to negotiate the terms of their participation -- unlike the indie musicians, who have been told that they will be exiled from Youtube altogether unless they make it their most-favored-nation distribution service, without the possibility of holding back tracks for backers on services like Kickstarter or Patreon.
Zoe Keating, who runs her own microlabel, has summarized the conversation she had with her Google rep. As JWZ says, it's "the same strategy they used with Google Plus: instead of creating a new service and letting it compete on its own merits, they're going to artificially prop it up by giving people no choice but to sign up for it."
For what it's worth, I predicted this in my book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: as copyright laws have tightened, requiring new Youtube competitors to set up multi-hundred-million-dollar infrastructure like Content ID, the competition for Youtube has all but vanished, meaning that they are now essential to any indie artist's promotion strategy. And now that Youtube doesn't have to compete with other services for access to artists' materials, they have stopped offering attractive terms to indies -- instead, they've become an arm of the big labels, who get to dictate the terms on which their indie competitors will have to do business.
* Participation in the new service requires that your entire catalog be available for streaming, at high resolution.
* Participation requires that you not release your music elsewhere earlier, e.g., no early releases for fans or backers.
* You no longer get a choice of whether to do nothing, block a video, or run ads. Ads are mandatory.
* Five year contract.
* If you don't participate in the new service, then the option to obtain Content-ID ad revenue from the free version of Youtube no longer exists.
* If you had previously been getting Content-ID ad revenue and choose not to participate in the new service, your channel will be deleted and all videos using your music will be blocked.
Google's upcoming paid streaming service [JWZ]
What should I do about Youtube? [Zoe Keating]
(Image: Wood screw big, Rfc1394/Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA)
WARNING: Wi-Fi Blocking is Prohibited | FCC.gov
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:43
Federal Communications Commission
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500
445 12th St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
January 27, 2015
Enforcement Advisory No. 2015-01
FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY
WARNING: Wi-Fi Blocking is Prohibited
Persons or Businesses Causing Intentional Interference to Wi-Fi Hot Spots
Are Subject to Enforcement Action
In the 21st Century, Wi-Fi represents an essential on-ramp to the Internet.
networks, or ''hot spots,'' are an important way that consumers connect to the Internet. Willful
or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hot spots is illegal. Wi-Fi blocking violates Section 333 of
the Communications Act, as amended.1 The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in
which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their
own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment's premises. As a result, the
Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful
In 2014, the Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation, culminating with a Consent
Decree, into this kind of unlawful activity by the operator of a resort hotel and convention
In that case, Marriott International, Inc. deployed a Wi-Fi deauthentication protocol to
deliberately block consumers who sought to connect to the Internet using their own personal
Wi-Fi hot spots. Marriott admitted that the customers it blocked did not pose a security threat
1 47 U.S.C. § 333.
2Marriott Int'l, Inc.; Marriott Hotel Servs, Inc., Order and Consent Decree, 29 FCC Rcd 11760 (Enf. Bur.
2014). Marriott and other members of the hotel and lodging industry filed a petition requesting guidance
on this issue.SeePetition of Am. Hotel & Lodging Ass'n, Marriott Int'l, Inc., and Ryman Hospitality Props.
for a Declaratory Ruling to Interpret 47 U.S.C. § 333, or, in the Alternative, for Rulemaking, RM-11737 (filed
Aug. 25, 2014) (Petition). Comment was sought on the Petition.Consumer & Gov't Affairs Bureau
Reference Information Center Petition for Rulemaking Filed, Public Notice, RM 11737 (Nov. 19, 2014).
While the Enforcement Bureau recognizes that the Petition questions our position, the Bureau will
continue to enforce the law as it understands it unless and until the Commission determines otherwise.
Page 1 of 2
to the Marriott network and agreed to settle the investigation by paying a civil penalty of
Following the settlement, the Enforcement Bureau has received several complaints that other
commercial Wi-Fi network operators may be disrupting the legitimate operation of personal Wi-
Fi hot spots. The Bureau is investigating such complaints and will take appropriate action
What is Prohibited?No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the
network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt
personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to
purchase access to the property owner's Wi-Fi network. Such action is illegal and violations
could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties.3
In addition, we reiterate that Federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type
of jamming equipment, including devices that interfere with Wi-Fi, cellular, or public safety
communications. Detailed information about the prohibition against jamming is available on
the Commission's website athttp://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/jammer-enforcement.
What Should You Do if You Suspect Wi-Fi Blocking?If you have reason to believe your
personal Wi-Fi hot spot has been blocked, you can file a complaint with the FCC. To do so, you
can visitwww.fcc.gov/complaintsor call 1-888-CALL-FCC. If you contact the FCC, you are
encouraged to provide as much detail as possible regarding the potential Wi-Fi blocking,
including the date, time, location, and possible source.
Need More Information?Media inquiries should be directed to Neil Grace at 202-418-0506 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information on the FCC, you may contact the FCC at 1-888-
CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or visit our website atwww.fcc.gov.
To request materials in
accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format),
send an e-mail to email@example.com or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-
418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
Issued by: Chief, Enforcement Bureau
3 All operators, including of a Part 15 device, must comply with the Communications Act, including Section
333, and the Commission's rules.
Page 2 of 2
Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.
FCC: Blocking Wi-Fi in hotels is prohibited | Ars Technica
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:43
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission issued an ''Enforcement Advisory'' stating that blocking W-Fi in hotels is unequivocally ''prohibited."
Further Reading"Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action,'' the FCC bluntly stated, referencing a dispute between Marriott and its customers who said the hotel chain had blocked their personal hotspots to force them to pay for Marriott's Wi-Fi services."The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment's premises,'' the FCC wrote. "As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.''
The statement is a definitive one. The FCC fined Marriott $600,000 in October for blocking customers' personal Wi-Fi hotspots at a Nashville, Tennessee, branch. Although Marriott paid the fine, it remained defiant and filed a request for rulemaking with the commission, asking that Wi-Fi blocking be permitted. Marriott's reasoning was that it could better manage the security of its own network if it blocked unauthorized Wi-Fi broadcasts. But critics like Microsoft and Google filed petitions countering that logic. In January, Marriott promised that it wouldn't block its customers' Wi-Fi, but the company also would not rescind its request for rulemaking from the FCC, perhaps hoping that a favorable decision could legitimate its practice again.
The FCC's notice today settles the issue, at least in the short term. "No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner's Wi-Fi network,'' the FCC wrote today. "Such action is illegal and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties.'' The FCC has the authority to regulate airwaves, and it has maintained that Wi-Fi goes out over an unlicensed band of spectrum that does not belong to any particular company.
FTC Issues Stealth Regulations over Internet of... - TechFreedom
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:09
WASHINGTON D.C. '-- Today, the FTC released areportrecommending ''best practices'' around privacy and data security for the ''Internet of Things'' '-- connected smart home devices, smart cars and the like. The report echoes so-called ''recommendations'' made by the FTC in other reportssince 2010. Commissioner Josh Wrightdissented, lamenting that '''security by design' and other privacy-related catchphrases '... do not appear to contain any meaningful analytical content.''Commissioner Ohlhausen concurred but objected tothe report's call for baseline privacy legislation and embrace of data minimization, which she called a ''precautionary principle.''
''At best, this is just another exercise in Workshop Theater; at worst, the FTC is trying to regulate the Internet of Things by stealth,'' said TechFreedom President Berin Szoka. ''We've been down this road before: In 1980, a heavily Democratic Congress twice tried to rein in the FTC's Naderite regulatory spree. Now, the FTC is effectively circumventing those constraints, using workshop reports asde factoregulations.''
''This report pays only lip service to meaningful cost-benefit analysis,'' said Geoffrey Manne, Executive Director of the International Center for Law & Economics. ''The Internet of Things is a nascent and fast-evolving area. To make specific recommendations on the basis of little more than staff impressions of cherry-picked commentsabout theoretical harmsfrom a one-day workshop '-- without undertaking any real analysis of any meaningful data '-- amounts to regulatory malpractice. The FTC has a wealth of economics expertise in-house, which the Bureau of Consumer Protection willfully ignores. Before recommendinganything, the FTC needs to consider not only the enormous benefits of the Internet of Things, but, more importantly, whether the consumer benefits of any 'recommendation' outweigh its costson the margin. That's regulatory economics 101.''
''Since 2010, we've seen a radical change: The purpose of FTC workshop reports is no longer to produce a better understanding of complex consumer protection issues,'' concluded Szoka. ''Instead, the Chairman and a small number of FTC staffers now seek to use workshop reports to put the agency's institutional weight behind their own agenda, which is driven more by a neo-Naderite ideology than rigorous analysis.''
In the 1970s, the FTCran amuck, trying to ban advertising to kids and micromanage everything from funeral homes to labor practices.
In 1980, a heavily Democratic Congress required the FTC to build a rigorous record before regulating, and to constrain its vast 'unfairness' authority throughcost-benefit analysis.
Since 2010, the FTC has increasingly tried to convert its 'recommendations' into regulations in two ways:
Baking them into the consent decrees the FTC extracts from companies that don't want to undergo the ordeal of fighting the agency.
Claiming that violations of recommendations made in a workshop report can trigger liability under Section 5 of the FTC Act: most notably, itscomplaintagainst LabMD rests in part on the FTC's 2005 staff report about peer-to-peer file sharing.
Until 2010, FTC reports attempted to synthesize a complex record, which helped inform everyone's understanding of evolving technologies and business practices, their benefits, and the consumer protection concerns they raise. Occasionally, an FTC report would recommend legislation '-- butneverthe kinds of sweeping 'recommendations' to private companies that have become commonplace since the FTC's 2010 staff privacy report.
For example, a 2005 staff report on peer-to-peer file-sharing made only short,high-level suggestionsto industry.
In May 2014, in a series of footnotes, Commissioner Wrightobjected tothe FTC'sData Broker Reportmaking a series of legislative recommendations without adequate basis.
Szoka and Manne are available for comment firstname.lastname@example.org,and see our other work onBig DataandFTC reform, especially:
FTC Report on Internet of Things Urges Companies to Adopt Best Practices to Address Consumer Privacy and Security Risks | Federal Trade Commission
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:07
In a detailed report on the Internet of Things, released today, the staff of the Federal Trade Commission recommend a series of concrete steps that businesses can take to enhance and protect consumers' privacy and security, as Americans start to reap the benefits from a growing world of Internet-connected devices.
The Internet of Things is already impacting the daily lives of millions of Americans through the adoption of health and fitness monitors, home security devices, connected cars and household appliances, among other applications. Such devices offer the potential for improved health-monitoring, safer highways, and more efficient home energy use, among other potential benefits. However, the FTC report also notes that connected devices raise numerous privacy and security concerns that could undermine consumer confidence.
''The only way for the Internet of Things to reach its full potential for innovation is with the trust of American consumers,'' said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. ''We believe that by adopting the best practices we've laid out, businesses will be better able to provide consumers the protections they want and allow the benefits of the Internet of Things to be fully realized.''
The Internet of Things universe is expanding quickly, and there are now over 25 billion connected devices in use worldwide, with that number set to rise significantly as consumer goods companies, auto manufacturers, healthcare providers, and other businesses continue to invest in connected devices, according to data cited in the report.
The report is partly based on input from leading technologists and academics, industry representatives, consumer advocates and others who participated in the FTC's Internet of Things workshop held in Washington D.C. on Nov. 19, 2013, as well as those who submitted public comments to the Commission. Staff defined the Internet of Things as devices or sensors '' other than computers, smartphones, or tablets '' that connect, store or transmit information with or between each other via the Internet. The scope of the report is limited to IoT devices that are sold to or used by consumers.
Security was one of the main topics addressed at the workshop and in the comments, particularly due to the highly networked nature of the devices. The report includes the following recommendations for companies developing Internet of Things devices:
build security into devices at the outset, rather than as an afterthought in the design process;train employees about the importance of security, and ensure that security is managed at an appropriate level in the organization;ensure that when outside service providers are hired, that those providers are capable of maintaining reasonable security, and provide reasonable oversight of the providers;when a security risk is identified, consider a ''defense-in-depth'' strategy whereby multiple layers of security may be used to defend against a particular risk;consider measures to keep unauthorized users from accessing a consumer's device, data, or personal information stored on the network;monitor connected devices throughout their expected life cycle, and where feasible, provide security patches to cover known risks.Commission staff also recommend that companies consider data minimization '' that is, limiting the collection of consumer data, and retaining that information only for a set period of time, and not indefinitely. The report notes that data minimization addresses two key privacy risks: first, the risk that a company with a large store of consumer data will become a more enticing target for data thieves or hackers, and second, that consumer data will be used in ways contrary to consumers' expectations.
The report takes a flexible approach to data minimization. Under the recommendations, companies can choose to collect no data, data limited to the categories required to provide the service offered by the device, less sensitive data; or choose to de-identify the data collected.
FTC staff also recommends that companies notify consumers and give them choices about how their information will be used, particularly when the data collection is beyond consumers' reasonable expectations. It acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to how that notice must be given to consumers, particularly since some Internet of Things devices may have no consumer interface. FTC staff identifies several innovative ways that companies could provide notice and choice to consumers.
Regarding legislation, staff concurs with many stakeholders that any Internet of Things-specific legislation would be premature at this point in time given the rapidly evolving nature of the technology. The report, however, reiterates the Commission's repeated call for strong data security and breach notification legislation. Staff also reiterates the Commission's call from its 2012 Privacy Report for broad-based privacy legislation that is both flexible and technology-neutral, though Commissioner Ohlhausen did not concur in this portion of the report.
The FTC has a range of tools currently available to protect American consumers' privacy related to the Internet of Things, including enforcement actions under laws such as the FTC Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act; developing consumer education and business guidance; participation in multi-stakeholder efforts; and advocacy to other agencies at the federal, state and local level.
In addition to the report, the FTC also released a new publication for businesses containing advice about how to build security into products connected to the Internet of Things. ''Careful Connections: Building Security in the Internet of Things'' encourages companies to implement a risk-based approach and take advantage of best practices developed by security experts, such as using strong encryption and proper authentication.
The Commission vote to issue the staff report was 4-1, with Commissioner Wright voting no. Commissioner Ohlhausen issued a concurring statement, and Commissioner Wright issued a dissenting statement.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
Forget 'anti-vaxxers.' The Disney measles outbreak could change the minds of an even more crucial group. - The Washington Post
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:29
The child was behind on her vaccinations. Wendy Sue Swanson took note of this as she talked with the girl's parents last week at a medical clinic in Mill Creek, Wash., outside Seattle.
Swanson, like many pediatricians, sometimes needed to coax parents to get the shots for their children. A few might be unmovable in their objections. But most were like this couple: A mom and dad who might harbor doubts or were just behind schedule. They were at least willing to listen.
An estimated 5 to 11 percent of U.S. parents have skipped at least one vaccination or delayed a shot, according to studies.
Now, Swanson had a new way to prod parents like them: Discussing the Disney measles outbreak in California, which has spread to at least 68 people in 11 states since Jan. 1 and raised alarms about the reemergence of a disease once considered all but vanquished. There was something powerful about the disease hitting a popular, recognizable vacation spot.
The girl got her vaccination. Her parents were on board.
''Their eagerness was different,'' Swanson said later. ''I think it is changing people.''
Jenny McCarthy tries to mend her anti-vaccine reputation with reality TV
Much of the scrutiny in the Disney measles outbreak has fallen on an entrenched anti-vaccination movement in places such as Orange County, Calif., home to the two Disney theme parks where the outbreak gained its foothold. These ''anti-vaxxers'' are viewed as dead-set against vaccinations.
But doctors believe the current outbreak could change the minds of a less-known but even larger group: parents who remain on the fence about the shots. These ''vaccine-hesitant'' parents have some doubt about vaccinations, leading them to question or skip some shots, stagger their delivery or delay them beyond the recommended schedule. An estimated 5 to 11 percent of U.S. parents have skipped at least one vaccination or delayed a shot, according to studies. That compares to only 1 to 3 percent of parents who object to all vaccinations.
Boosting compliance among the ''vaccine hesitant'' population could have major public health implications, doctors say, especially because last year the United States had its highest number of measles cases since 1977. The topic of ''vaccine hesitant'' patients has become the focus of a growing body of medical research in recent years. Doctors are trying to understand what triggers vaccine worries and which strategies work best for overcoming those fears.
Doctors spend many office hours trying to convince these parents that the scientific evidence proves the shots are, in fact, safe and effective. But these hesitant parents have been bombarded by conflicting information. And they don't view all of the shots the same way. The vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella faces particularly strong resistance as a result of thoroughly discredited studies linking the vaccine to autism. So some parents, even those generally open to other vaccines, push to delay or skip this one. The shot is supposed to be given at 12 months and again at age 4.
''One of the problems that vaccines face now is they work too well,'' said Michael Smith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, who has studied vaccine-hesitant parents.
Parents don't have experience with measles, how children can become very ill and in rare cases suffer brain swelling or even die, Smith said. At the same time, these parents are confronted with stories about the unexplained rise in the U.S. autism rate.
''I can understand as a parent why you'd skip the vaccine if you'd been convinced that it's a choice between giving my kids a shot or giving my kid autism,'' Smith said.
Biggest myth about vaccine deniers
But the Disney outbreak changes the discussion. Now, doctors have an event to point to. The threat is no longer abstract or distant.
''This is definitely going to be a talking point that pediatricians should keep in their back pockets,'' Smith said.
Studies have shown that ''anti-vaxxer'' parents are likely to remain steadfast in their opposition. Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a group that raises doubts about the shots, said she was not convinced that the Disney outbreak was even a story about the dangers of being unvaccinated.
''I don't think we know completely what's going on,'' Fisher said.
But physicians such as Kathryn Edwards of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program said the measles vaccine is at least 99 percent effective after the second dose. And measles is one of the most communicable diseases, much more so than the flu. The dangers posed by the disease have been forgotten. Many U.S. doctors have never even seen it. Edwards still recalls the only patient she ever saw with measles, years ago when she was a medical resident. He died.
''So I have a lot of respect for measles,'' Edwards said.
At Boston Children's Hospital, pediatrician Claire McCarthy said she is always happy when parents decide to vaccinate their children against measles in particular. She worries about the current situation in California. And she plans to use the Disney outbreak to try to convince hesitant parents that vaccinations are the right choice.
''I am planning on talking this one up a lot with families,'' McCarthy said. ''I think this probably will make a difference.''
FACT SHEET: President's 2016 Budget Proposes Historic Investment to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to Protect Public Health | The White House
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:07
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 27, 2015
''We now have a national strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, to better protect our children and grandchildren from the reemergence of diseases and infections that the world conquered decades ago.''
'' President Barack Obama's remarks at the Global Health Security Agenda Summit, regarding the Executive Order to Combat Antibiotic Resistance, September 26, 2014
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing public health issues facing the world today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States alone. Antibiotic resistance limits our ability to quickly and reliably treat bacterial infections, and the rise of resistance could hamper our ability to perform a range of modern medical procedures from joint replacements to organ transplants, the safety of which depends on our ability to treat bacterial infections that can arise as post-surgical complications.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria also pose economic threats. The CDC reports that antibiotic-resistant infections account for at least $20 billion in excess direct health care costs and up to $35 billion in lost productivity due to hospitalizations and sick days each year.
Given the clear need for action on this issue, in September 2014 President Obama signed an Executive Order launching Federal efforts to combat the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Administration also issued its National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which outlines steps the U.S. government will take to improve prevention, detection, and control of resistant pathogens. In addition, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report with recommendations for addressing the antibiotic-resistance crisis.
The President's FY 2016 Budget builds on these recent efforts by nearly doubling the amount of Federal funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance to more than $1.2 billion. The funding will improve antibiotic stewardship; strengthen antibiotic resistance risk assessment, surveillance, and reporting capabilities; and drive research innovation in the human health and agricultural sectors.
This $1.2 billion investment increases funding for antibiotic resistance across the government in FY 2016. For example, the Budget:
o More than $650 million across the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to significantly expand America's investments in development of antibacterial and new rapid diagnostics, and to launch a large scale effort to characterize drug resistance. Earlier this year, NIH-supported scientists developed a novel technique for extracting powerful antibiotics from soil, including teixobactin: the first new antibiotic to be discovered in more than 25 years. The FY 2016 investment increases support for this kind of innovative research and discovery.
o More than $280 million at the CDC to support antibiotic stewardship, outbreak surveillance, antibiotic use and resistance monitoring, and research and development related to combating antibiotic resistance.
o $47 million at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support evaluation of new antibacterial drugs for patient treatments and antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture
Nearly quadruples antibiotic research and surveillance funding at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to $77 million.
Increases funding at the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DoD) to $85 and $75 million, respectively, to address issues related to antibiotic resistance in healthcare settings.
Improving Antibiotic Stewardship
Judicious use of antibiotics is essential to slow the emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and extend the useful lifetime of effective antibiotics. Preserving the usefulness of antibiotic resources without compromising human or animal health requires coordination, cooperation, and engagement of healthcare providers, healthcare leaders, pharmaceutical companies, veterinarians, the agricultural and pet industries, and patients.
The President's FY 2016 Budget supports several key efforts to address issues related to antibiotic stewardship, including:
Enhancing collaborative efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing and prevent the spread of resistant bacteria. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can spread when infected patients move between hospitals, long-term care facilities, or other healthcare settings. The President's FY 2016 Budget includes investments that will help healthcare facilities work together, in close partnership with state health departments, to implement effective interventions that slow the regional spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.Strengthening education programs for medical professionals, veterinary professionals, food-animal producers, and members of the public. Some antibiotics are overprescribed in a variety of human and animal settings. Investments in this area will be used to develop education and outreach programs to clarify and strengthen responsible, appropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals. Investments will also support programs that enhance relationships and support necessary linkages across the human and animal health communities.Improving antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture. FDA will continue to support the phasing out of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals, and accelerate the evaluation of new antibacterial drugs and diagnostics for antibiotic-resistant organisms.Improving the health and well-being of veterans. VA will improve the implementation and effectiveness of the VA Antimicrobial Stewardship Program. This program fosters the judicious use of antimicrobials through education, direct provider-to-provider stewardship, and surveillance, and supports and expands ongoing efforts to prevent emergence of multidrug-resistant organisms. All of these actions are focused on improving the health and well-being of our veteran population.Investing in advanced diagnostics. Optimal, informed deployment of antibiotics relies on diagnostic tests that can quickly and accurately detect disease-causing bacteria, identify the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and characterize resistance patterns. Currently, most diagnostic tests take 24 to 72 hours from specimen collection to results, with some tests taking up to weeks. The President's FY 2016 Budget will accelerate the development of new advanced diagnostic tests '' including rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests suitable for use during a healthcare visit '' that could significantly reduce unnecessary antibiotic use. The Budget will also expand the availability and use of advanced diagnostics to improve treatment, enhance infection control, and improve responses to outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals and in the community.Advancing research to make antibiotic stewardship more effective. The President's FY 2016 Budget supports research to develop improved methods and approaches for embracing good antibiotic stewardship practices and combating antibiotic resistance in a variety of health care settings. In particular, improvements in antibiotic stewardship practices are important in the acute-care hospital setting and in ambulatory and long-term care settings, where stewardship efforts are not as well developed. Investments in this area include translation of relevant research findings into useful tools for healthcare providers to prevent and control emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance, and support for DoD efforts to develop antimicrobial stewardship policy to foster judicious use of antimicrobials. Strengthening Antibiotic Resistance Risk Assessment, Surveillance, and Reporting Capabilities
Resistance can arise in bacterial pathogens affecting humans, animals, and the environment. The adoption of a ''One-Health'' approach that integrates human health, veterinary, and ecosystem surveillance will help strengthen detection and control of antibiotic resistance. Improved surveillance will be achieved through enhancement, expansion, and linkage of existing systems that monitor human and animal pathogens, including the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the Emerging Infections Program (EIP), the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), and animal health laboratories.
To improve national and international capabilities for surveillance and reporting of antibiotic resistance, the President's FY 2016 Budget proposes expansion of existing capabilities and establishment of new supporting networks and programs. Efforts in this area include:
Bolstering monitoring and reporting of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The number of CDC's Emerging Infections Program (EIP) sites will be doubled from 10 to 20 across the United States. The EIP focuses on improving national estimates related to healthcare and community antibiotic resistant infections and expanding antibiotic resistant bacteria surveillance. Investments in this area also:o Support FDA activities related to integrated monitoring of bacterial antibiotic resistance via new collaborative approaches for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System.
o Enable the DoD to collect ongoing and enhanced antibiotic use and resistance surveillance data.
o Support HHS's Office of Global Affairs to promote international communication and collaboration on combating antibiotic resistance, improve criteria for susceptibility reporting, and coordinate regulatory approaches with international agencies.
o Expand VA efforts to perform additional surveillance.
Understanding new types of antibiotic resistance. A Detect Network of Antibiotic Resistance Regional Laboratories will be established, serving as a national resource to characterize emerging resistance and rapidly identify outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Laboratories in the network will use state-of-the-art methods to characterize known resistance patterns in real time and more quickly identify clusters of resistant organisms. In addition, a new Antibiotic Resistance Isolate Bank will provide a complete collection of current antibiotic-resistant bacteria, help keep pace with mutations, and provide information to guide FDA approval of new tests, antibiotics, and related products.Increasing surveillance for antibiotic-resistant zoonotic and animal pathogens. Surveillance for antibiotic-resistant zoonotic and animal pathogens nationwide is essential to understanding what bacteria may ultimately generate outbreaks that impact human and animal health. The President's FY 2016 Budget will improve existing surveillance capabilities by enhancing the NAHMS and expanding capacity among existing animal health networks.Supporting the National Healthcare Safety Network, a web-based system to monitor antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use. Driving Research Innovation in the Human Health and Agricultural Sectors
Antibiotics for treating human disease that lose their effectiveness due to the emergence of resistance must be replaced with new drugs. Alternatives to antibiotics are also needed in animal agriculture and veterinary medicine. Advancing antibiotic development and increasing the number of candidates in the drug-development pipeline requires intensified efforts to boost basic scientific research, attract greater private investment, and facilitate clinical trials of new antibiotics. The President's FY 2016 Budget will:
Invest in basic life sciences research. Understanding environmental factors that facilitate development and spread of antibiotic resistance common to human and animal pathogens is essential for ensuring that newly-developed drugs and vaccines remain effective. Basic research in this area will exploit powerful new technologies '' including systems biology, rapid genome sequencing, metagenomics, and Big Data '' to advance the study of antibiotic resistance.Intensify research and development of new therapeutics and vaccines. Despite the urgent need for new antibacterial drugs, the pipeline of antibiotics in development is inadequate, and commercial interest in antibiotic development remains limited. The Budget directly supports activities that will advance the discovery and development of new antibiotics, non-traditional therapeutics, and vaccines by investing in basic and applied research, providing researchers with scientific support services (e.g., specimens, sequence data, and regulatory guidance), and fostering public-private partnerships that reduce the risks, uncertainty, and obstacles faced by companies developing new antibiotics. Investments in this area include:
o An increase of $100 million within NIH's existing research activities, including the development of an antibacterial resistance clinical trial network for rapid testing of new drugs to treat multi-drug resistant bacteria.
o An increase of over $100 million at BARDA for the development of new antibiotic therapies and diagnostics.
o Support for FDA efforts to streamline the development pathway to facilitate treatment of patients with unmet medical needs.
o Support for DOD participation in primary and collaborative efforts to identify new small-molecule candidates and point-of-care diagnostics.
Develop alternatives to antibiotics in agriculture. The President's FY 2016 Budget nearly quadruples funding to $77 million for USDA efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance. This funding supports USDA development of alternatives to antibiotics, including improved management and animal care practices and other tools.
The United States government has laid out an ambitious plan that aims to help dramatically curb the expansion of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Over the next five years, the Administration's efforts to combat antibiotic resistance will enhance national capabilities for antibiotic stewardship, outbreak surveillance, and research in the human healthcare and agricultural sectors. This effort holds the potential to:
Reduce the incidence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections by 60 percent.Reduce the incidence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections by 50 percent.Reduce the incidence of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas infections acquired during hospitalization by 35 percent.Spur at least a 25 percent reduction in the rate of multi-drug resistant Salmonella infections and pediatric and geriatric antibiotic-resistant invasive pneumococcal disease. Together, the Administration's proposed investments of more than $1.2 billion to combat and prevent antibiotic resistance that will lead to critical new developments that could fundamentally transform how public health prevents the transmission and emergence of antibiotic-resistant infections.
Resveratrol may be natural exercise performance enhancer -- ScienceDaily
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:29
A natural compound found in some fruits, nuts and red wine may enhance exercise training and performance, demonstrates newly published medical research from the University of Alberta.
Principal investigator Jason Dyck and his team found out in lab experiments that high doses of the natural compound resveratrol improved physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in lab models.
"We were excited when we saw that resveratrol showed results similar to what you would see from extensive endurance exercise training," says Dyck, who works in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry as a researcher in the department of Pediatrics and the department of Pharmacology. "We immediately saw the potential for this and thought that we identified 'improved exercise performance in a pill.' "
His team's findings were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Physiology in late May.
Dyck and his team will soon start starting testing resveratrol on diabetics with heart failure to see if the natural compound can improve heart function for this patient group. The 10-week study is expected to start within the next few months.
"I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do," says Dyck. "It is very satisfying to progress from basic research in a lab to testing in people, in a short period of time."
The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
VIDEO-The Technology that Unmasks Your Hidden Emotions - WSJ
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:47
Jan. 28, 2015 2:13 p.m. ET Paul Ekman, perhaps the world's most famous face reader, fears he has created a monster.
The 80-year-old psychologist pioneered the study of facial expressions in the 1970s, creating a catalog of more than 5,000 muscle movements to show how the subtlest wrinkling of the nose or lift of an eyebrow reveal hidden emotions.
Now, a group of young companies with names like Emotient Inc., Affectiva Inc. and Eyeris are using Dr. Ekman's research as the backbone of a technology that relies on algorithms to analyze people's faces and potentially discover their deepest feelings. Collectively, they are amassing an enormous visual database of human emotions, seeking patterns that can predict emotional reactions and behavior on a massive scale.
Dr. Ekman, who agreed to become an adviser to Emotient, says he is torn between the potential power of all this data and the need to ensure it is used responsibly, without infringing on personal privacy.
So far, the technology has been used mostly for market research. Emotient, a San Diego startup whose software can recognize emotions from a database of microexpressions that happen in a fraction of a second, has worked with Honda Motor Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. to gauge people's emotions as they try out products. Affectiva, an emotion-detection software maker based in Waltham, Mass., has used webcams to monitor consumers as they watch ads for companies like Coca-Cola Co. and Unilever PLC.
The evolving technology has the potential to help people or even save lives. Cameras that could sense when a trucker is exhausted might prevent him from falling asleep at the wheel. Putting cameras embedded with emotion sensing software in the classroom, could help teachers determine whether they were holding their students' attention.
But other applications are likely to breed privacy concerns. One retailer, for instance, is starting to test software embedded in security cameras that can scan people's faces and divine their emotions as they walk in and out of its stores. Eyeris, based in Mountain View, Calif., says it has sold its software to federal law-enforcement agencies for use in interrogations.
The danger, Dr. Ekman and privacy advocates say, is that the technology could reveal people's emotions without their consent, and their feelings could be misinterpreted. People might try to use the software to determine whether their spouse was lying, police might read the emotions of crowds or employers might use it to secretly monitor workers or job applicants.
''I can't control usage,'' Dr. Ekman says of his catalog, called the Facial Action Coding System. ''I can only be certain that what I'm providing is at least an accurate depiction of when someone is concealing emotion.''
In Dr. Ekman's analysis, there is no such thing as a simple smile or a frown. Facial movements are broken down into more-nuanced expressions; there are seven ways a forehead can furrow.
Dr. Ekman's atlas has been used extensively by psychologists and by law-enforcement and military personnel'--including interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq'--and was the inspiration for the TV drama ''Lie to Me.''
To train its software's algorithm, Emotient has recorded the facial reactions of an ethnically diverse group of hundreds of thousands people participating in marketing research for its clients via video chat. The software extracts at least 90,000 data points from each frame, everything from abstract patterns of light to tiny muscular movements, which are sorted by emotional categories, such as anger, disgust, joy, surprise or boredom.
Rival Affectiva says it has measured seven billion emotional reactions from 2.4 million face videos in 80 countries. The company says the sheer scope of its data has allowed it to draw conclusions about people across cultures and in different settings. For instance, it says it has learned that women smile more than men, and that Indonesians and South Africans are the world's least and most expressive people, respectively.
The startups share the goal of embedding their software in the tiniest of cameras. Affectiva is teaming up with OoVoo LLC, a video-chat service for smartphones that has 100 million users, to build an app that could reveal people's emotions during mobile video chats.
Its peers, too, are expanding their reach. A pediatrics researcher at the University of San Diego is testing a version of Emotient software on children who have had appendix surgery, to see whether it can signal their level of pain. An unidentified retailer is using Emotient's software in its security cameras to gauge whether shoppers are pleased when looking at products and leaving the store.
WSJ.DWSJ.D is the Journal's home for tech news, analysis and product reviews.
Eyeris says it envisions therapeutic apps that could detect when a person feels stress. The company said it has struck deals with federal law-enforcement authorities, but declined to identify them.
Emotient says it prefers not to have its software used for police work or federal security matters. Affectiva says it has turned down funding offers from federal intelligence agencies.
As with many other technologies, emotion-detection software raises all sorts of privacy questions. ''I can see few things more invasive than trying to record someone's emotions in a database,'' said Ginger McCall, a privacy advocate.
In the mid-2000s, former detective Charles Lieberman trained detectives in the New York Police Department's counterterrorism unit in Dr. Ekman's facial-coding system. He said the technology could help interrogators if they could identify inconsistencies between a suspect's story and emotions revealed on his or her face. But, he cautioned, it is important to ''recognize its limitations'--it can lead you in the right direction but is not definitive.''
Problems could also arise if the software isn't perfectly accurate. Emotions, such as sadness or frustration, could be wrongly interpreted. People could be wrongly pegged as liars. Dr. Ekman says Emotion's software is highly accurate, but the accuracy of the system hasn't been independently tested.
With no regulation, the companies are writing the privacy rules as they go.
Ken Denman, CEO of Emotient, says his company makes a point of discarding the images of individual faces within seconds after it has logged the sentiment they express. ''There's very little value in the facial expression of any individual,'' he said.
Affectiva says it stores videos of faces only if the person involved consents. On mobile phones, the work of converting microexpresssions to data points takes place on the phone for later analysis. No images are sent back to the company.
Both Affectiva and Emotient acknowledge they have no control over how third parties using their software might store or use images of people's faces and emotions.
Dr. Ekman says he hopes the government will step in and write rules to protect people. He says that in public spaces, such as shopping malls, consumers should at least be informed if their emotions are captured.
Dr. Ekman says he believes that, on balance, his tools have done more good than harm. But the new technology's ability to instantaneously scan the emotions of crowds of people would be much easier to abuse.
''People don't even know that that's possible,'' he adds.
Write to Elizabeth Dwoskin at email@example.com and Evelyn M. Rusli at firstname.lastname@example.org
VIDEO-Bill Nye on DeflateGate Climate Change Funny or Die VIDEO | Mediaite
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:01
Bill Nye already tackled the science of DeflateGate for Good Morning America but in a new video for Funny or Die, the ''Science Guy'' put his theory to the test by putting some warm footballs in a cool refrigerator.
But while he was waiting for the balls to cool down, Nye revealed his ulterior motive. ''While we have a few minutes here, I'd like to talk about something else,'' he said. ''Climate Change is real!''
''While we're all obsessed with DeflateGate, let's keep in mind that's there's something about which you should give a fuck!'' he continued. ''Yes, like Tom Brady, the world is getting hotter and hotter, because we humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.''
But what you do about it? ''You should vote for congressmen and senators that appreciate the threat of climate change and the rate at which the world is getting warmer, so that we can preserve the Earth for humankind for generations to come!''
At that point, it was time to get the balls out of the fridge and after giving them a squeeze, Nye concluded that the Patriots probably ''bent the rules a little bit.''
Watch video below, via Funny or Die:
[Photo via screengrab]
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VIDEO-Drone crashes on White House lawn - CNN Video
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:39
Secret Service: Crashed drone used recreationallyJim Acosta and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
The person operating the drone that crashed on the White House grounds called the U.S. Secret Service Monday morning to "self-report" their involvement in the incident.
VIDEO-CSE tracks millions of downloads daily: Snowden documents - CBC News - Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:32
Canada's electronic spy agency sifts through millions of videos and documents downloaded online every day by people around the world, as part of a sweeping bid to find extremist plots and suspects, CBC News has learned.
Details of the Communications Security Establishment project dubbed "Levitation" are revealed in a document obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently released to CBC News.
'Under Levitation, analysts with the electronic eavesdropping service can access information on about 10 to 15 million uploads and downloads of files from free websites each day, the document says.
"Every single thing that you do '-- in this case uploading/downloading files to these sites '-- that act is being archived, collected and analyzed," says Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto-based internet security think-tank Citizen Lab, who reviewed the document.
In the document, a PowerPoint presentation written in 2012, the CSE analyst who wrote it jokes about being overloaded with innocuous files such as episodes of the musical TV seriesGlee in their hunt for terrorists.
CBC analyzed the document in collaboration with the U.S. news websiteThe Intercept, which obtained it from Snowden.
The presentation provides a rare glimpse into Canada's cyber-sleuthing capabilities and its use of its spy partners' immense databases to track the online traffic of millions of people around the world, including Canadians.
That glimpse may be of even greater interest now that the Harper government plans to introduce new legislation increasing the powers of Canada's security agencies.
Though Canada's always been described as a junior partner in the Five Eyes spying partnership, which includes the U.S., Britain, New Zealand and Australia, this document shows it led the way in developing this new extremist-tracking tool.
"It's really the first time that a story has been reported that involves [CSE] as the lead agency in a program of pure mass surveillance," said Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer and journalist withThe Intercept, and who has been instrumental in bringing Snowden's information to public attention.
Canada's electronic surveillance service said it cannot comment on the specific program, but added that some of its metadata analysis is designed to identify foreign terrorists who use the internet for activities threatening the security of Canada and Canadians.
On mobile? Click here for Levitation file"CSE is clearly mandated to collect foreign signals intelligence to protect Canada and Canadians from a variety of threats to our national security, including terrorism," agency spokesman Andrew McLaughlin wrote in an email to CBC.
Deibert, at the Citizen Lab, says that on the surface the Levitation program is reassuring, indicating Canada's spies are doing their job, but he adds that the mass surveillance nature of it raises questions.
'A giant X-ray machine'According to the document, Canada can access data from 102 free file upload sites, though only three file-host companies are named: Sendspace, Rapidshare and the now-defunct Megaupload.
Sendspace told CBC News that "no organization has the ability/permission to trawl/search Sendspace for data," and its policy states it won't disclose user identities unless legally required.
Tamir Israel, an internet policy lawyer, says the program raises questions because it's "completely at the discretion of CSE essentially what documents to pick." (Amber Hildebrandt/CBC News)
No other file-sharing company responded to CBC requests for comment.
However, the Levitation document says that access to the data comes from unnamed "special sources," a term that in previous Snowden documents seemed to refer to telecommunications companies or cable operators.
It is also unclear which, or how many, of the Five Eyes access information on these uploaded files and whether the companies involved know the spy agencies have this access.
Many people use file-sharing websites to share photos, videos, music and documents, but these cyber-lockers have also been accused of being havens for illegally sharing copyrighted content.
Not surprisingly, extremists also use the online storage hubs to share propaganda and training materials.
To find those files, the document says Canada's spy agency must first weed out the so-called Glee episodes as well as pictures of cars on fire and vast amounts of other content unrelated to terrorism.
Analysts find 350 "interesting download events" each month, less than 0.0001 per cent of the total collected traffic, according to the top-secret presentation.
Surveillance specialists can then retrieve the metadata on a suspicious file, and use it to map out a day's worth of that file user's online activity.
By inputting other bits of information into at least two databases created by the spying partners, analysts can discover the identity and online behaviour of those uploading or downloading these files, as well as, potentially, new suspicious documents.
The Levitation project illustrates the "giant X-ray machine over all our digital lives," says Deibert.
From IP to IDOnce a suspicious file-downloader is identified, analysts can plug that IP address into Mutant Broth, a database run by the British electronic spy agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), to see five hours of that computer's online traffic before and after the download occurred.
On mobile? Click here for CSE responseThat can sometimes lead them to a Facebook profile page and to a string of Google and other cookies used to track online users' activities for advertising purposes. This can help identify an individual.
In one example in the top-secret document, analysts also used the U.S. National Security Agency's powerful Marina database, which keeps online metadata on people for up to a year, to search for further information about a target's Facebook profile. It helped them find an email address.
After doing its research, the Levitation team then passes on a list of suspects to CSE's Office of Counter Terrorism.
The agency cites two successes as of 2012: the discovery of a German hostage video through a previously unknown target, and an uploaded document that gave it the hostage strategy of a terrorist organization.
It's unclear from the leaked document how long Levitation was operational and whether it is still in use.
CSE says its foreign signals intelligence has "played a vital role in uncovering foreign-based extremists' efforts to attract, radicalize and train individuals to carry out attacks in Canada and abroad." But it offered no specifics about Levitation.
'What else can they do?'Back in 2012, the spy agency appeared to be assessing the power and accuracy of the Levitation project as compared to other tools in its counterterrorism arsenal.
'The specific uses that they talk about in this context may not be the problem, but it's what else they can do.'- Tech lawyer Tamir Israel
Though the presentation jokes about filtering outGlee episodes, the issue underscores an increasing problem for spy agencies around the world: how the massive haystack of internet traffic they are collecting is straining spy agency resources.
Projects like Levitation aim to automate part of the process.
But it also causes some people to worry about what these powerful and secretive agencies can do with such an immense store of data at their fingertips.
"The specific uses that they talk about in this context may not be the problem, but it's what else they can do," says Tamir Israel, a lawyer with the University of Ottawa's Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.
National security expert Wesley Wark says the Levitation documents clearly demonstrate the CSE's abilities. But he also warns the tool has the potential to be "hugely intrusive."
A recent story by The Guardian illustrates that potential. The British newspaper revealed that that the GCHQ scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the largest American and British media outlets, as part of a test exercise.
The story, based on Snowden documents, says GCHQ has also listed investigative journalists as a "threat" who rank somewhere between terrorists and hackers.
A similar issue could arise here, with the eavesdropping service choosing targets outside the terrorism realm, says Israel.
Academics, lawyers, journalists, activists and business people commonly use file-hosting sites as part of their jobs.
"It's completely at the discretion of CSE essentially what documents to pick," Israel says.
The mass surveillance by Canada's signals intelligence agency also raises questions about the number of Canadians inadvertently caught up in it.
In the Levitation presentation, two anonymous Canadian IP addresses from a Montreal-based data server appear on a list of suspicious downloads around the world. The list also included several from allies and trading partners, including the U.K., U.S., Spain, Brazil, Germany and Portugal.
By law, CSE isn't allowed to target Canadians. Canada's commissioner charged with reviewing the secretive group found it unintentionally swept up private communications of 66 Canadians while monitoring signals intelligence abroad, but concluded there was no sign of unlawful practice.
Canada is supposed to mask the identities of untargeted Canadians scooped up in its surveillance before passing information to its Five Eyes partners and law enforcement agencies.
Deibert says there are "all sorts of grey areas" in how CSE operates, including how long they can retain the data they collect, the volume of the mass collection, the rules around metadata and how this data is shared with spying partners.
"The mission is appropriate," he says. "But is engaging in wholesale mass surveillance the appropriate means to that end? Especially in the context where, in this country, you have very little oversight in any meaningful sense."
On mobile? Click here to see how spies track file downloads
CBC is working with U.S. news site The Intercept to shed light on Canada-related files in the cache of documents obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden. The CBC News team'-- DaveSeglins, AmberHildebrandtand MichaelPereira'-- collaborated withThe Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher to analyze the documents. For a complete list of the past stories done by CBC on the Snowden revelations, see our topics page. Contact us by email by clicking on our respective names or search for our PGP keys here.
VIDEO-Falling Gas Tax Revenue Has California Lawmakers Considering Mileage Tax Plan CBS San Francisco
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:05
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) '-- With an increase in electric and hybrid vehicles along with better fuel-efficient vehicles, changing Bay Area drivers habit are posing a serious problem for state coffers.
As motorists use less and less gas, gas tax revenues to pay for state highways, roads and bridges shrink. Meanwhile, as gas prices fall, so does the sales tax generated by fuel sales. In California, among the taxes collected on fuel is a 2.25% sales tax on gasoline and a 9.67 percent tax on diesel.
Some state lawmakers feel a mileage tax is the best solution.
To pay for the shortfall, California officials are considering a plan that would replace California's gas tax with a fee for each mile motorists drive. Drivers who log the most miles will end up paying the most, no matter how fuel efficient their car is.
In 2003, revenue reached $2.3 billion. In 2013, it was $2.62 billion. Governor Jerry Brown says there is a $59 million backlog on highway maintenance.
A 1.5 cent mileage tax is already being implemented in a test program in Oregon. Similar programs are under consideration in Colorado and Washington.
The plan has supporters and detractors across the political spectrum.
The current state gas has remained at 36 cents a gallon since 1994. The federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents a gallon for more than 20 years.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story highlighted dropping sales tax revenue affected by falling gas prices. The current version has been rewritten to emphasize that it is the overall reduction in the use of gasoline as the primary factor in driving this legislation.
VIDEO-The Future of Freedom: A Feature Interview with NSA Whistleblower William Binney | Tragedy and Hope Communications
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:23
The Future of Freedom: A Feature Interview with NSA Whistleblower William Binney from Tragedy and Hope on Vimeo.
A 36-year veteran of America's Intelligence Community, William Binney resigned from his position as Director for Global Communications Intelligence (COMINT) at the National Security Agency (NSA) and blew the whistle, after discovering that his efforts to protect the privacy and security of Americans were being undermined by those above him in the chain of command.
The NSA data-monitoring program which Binney and his team had developed '-- codenamed ThinThread '-- was being aimed not at foreign targets as intended, but at Americans (codenamed as Stellar Wind) was destroying privacy here and around the world. Binney voices his call to action for the billions of individuals whose rights are currently being violated.
William Binney speaks out in this feature-length interview with Tragedy and Hope's Richard Grove, focused on the topic of the ever-growing Surveillance State in America.
On January 22, 2015: (Berlin, Germany) '' The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is proud to announce that retired NSA Technical Director and GAP client, William ''Bill'' Binney, will accept the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award today in Berlin, Germany. The award is presented annually by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) to a professional who has taken a strong stand for ethics and integrity. http://whistleblower.org/press/nsa-whistleblower-bill-binney-wins-prestigious-sam-adams-award
YouTube Link Info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3owk7vEEOvs(Please note: The YouTube upload is currently being burdened with an ad (not of our own doing) and we're working to have it removed.)
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Tragedy and Hope provides a portal through which individuals can discover, identify, and integrate useful tools, resources, and activities which stimulate and fortify Cognitive Liberty, providing primary sources, research, and educational methods which facilitate consciousness.
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VIDEO-Obama: Putin is no chess master - CNN.com
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:20
Critics have pounded President Barack Obama for being upstaged by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Russia's economy is plunging into a recession and Obama's got more to back up his tack on the world stage.
Obama pointed to the result of his sanctions tactic in Russia as proof he's got a successful strategy, in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley airing Sunday.
READ: Obama says North Korea's hack not war
"There was a spate of stories about how he is the chess master and outmaneuvering the West and outmaneuvering Mr. Obama and this and that and the other. And right now, he's presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis and a huge economic contraction," Obama said. "That doesn't sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of America."
Obama added that the U.S. has been "very firm" with countries that counter U.S. interests or violate international law.
He also rejected the "knee-jerk" foreign policy view that "shooting first and thinking about it second projects strength."
"I disagree with that," he said.
VIDEO-U.S. Spies on Millions of Drivers - WSJ
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 02:02
WASHINGTON'--The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.
The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government...
VIDEO-Assisted suicide movement gaining traction in across U.S. - Washington Times
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:25
The highly publicized physician-assisted suicide of 29-year-old brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard has given the ailing right-to-die movement a new lease on life.
A national campaign advocating state right-to-die legislation kicked off Wednesday in Sacramento with the introduction of the California End of Life Option Act, modeled after Oregon's 1994 law allowing doctors to aid terminally ill adults who want to end their lives.
Another dozen states are expected to follow with similar legislation, including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware and Missouri. The D.C. Council is considering a ''death with dignity'' proposal introduced last week by council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, and the New Jersey Assembly passed an Oregon-style bill in November.
''We have a goal of 10 in 10. In the next 10 years, we're anticipating having 10 more states,'' said George Eighmey, a former Oregon state legislator who serves as vice president of the Death with Dignity National Center in Portland, Oregon.
''It's sort of like the other social movements that are out there '-- the gay rights movement, the legalizing marijuana movement. All those things get to a critical mass and once they get to that critical mass, you start seeing other states get on board very quickly,'' said Mr. Eighmey, who advised on the California bill.
Such a proposal would have been dead on arrival even a year ago, but the previously moribund movement has staged a miraculous recovery in the wake of Maynard's media stardom. The attractive newlywed appeared in dozens of print and television interviews, including the cover of People magazine, before she killed herself with the aid of a doctor on Nov. 1 in Portland.
Her fame was no fluke: Plugging Maynard's story behind the scenes was Compassion & Choices, a right-to-die group funded by liberal billionaire George Soros that emerged from the ashes of the now-defunct Hemlock Society.
''It's an organized campaign funded by Soros money, and they're using the Maynard case as their launching pad,'' said Wesley J. Smith, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a euthanasia opponent.
''Let's think about this for a second: There have been over 700 assisted suicides in Oregon, and not one of them got this kind of attention. What you have is a movement that looks around for just the right kind of emotional kick,'' Mr. Smith said. ''You don't get this kind of international, high-profile media by accident.''
Compassion & Choices ''certainly recognized what they had in Maynard,'' Jeff Yang said in a Nov. 5 article in online media outlet Quartz.
''As soon as she called their headquarters in Denver, Colorado, they put into motion a brilliantly savvy national campaign to leverage her unique appeal as a spokesperson for their movement,'' Mr. Yang said.
''Compassion & Choices arranged for People to tell a heartfelt story about Maynard's decision. They connected her with CNN Opinion to write a widely read and shared op-ed. They shot, edited and released to YouTube a mesmerizing 6 -minute video featuring Maynard, her husband and her mother speaking movingly about her choice. They also helped her build a website and launch a social media campaign that turned her name and the #DeathWithDignity slogan into nationally trending hashtags.''
As a result, Maynard is increasingly becoming the face of the movement, replacing Jack Kevorkian, a largely unsympathetic figure who claimed to have assisted in at least 130 suicides and was known as ''Dr. Death.''
He died in 2011 at age 83 of complications from kidney problems and liver cancer.
Maynard's story was the boost advocates had been seeking since Oregon voters approved the nation's first assisted suicide act in 1994. Since 1997, when the law went into effect, the state has tallied 752 physician-assisted deaths, in which a doctor prescribes but does not administer lethal medication.
Story Continues ''
VIDEO-Live:Forecasters row back on blizzard warnings
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:23
A blizzard that was forecast to set all-time snowfall records for the East Coast has turned out to be less severe than originally feared.
On Monday the National Weather Service warned of "crippling snowfall amounts" and potentially "life-threatening" blizzard conditions. However, the meteorologist in charge of the office for South Jersey, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Gary Szatkowski, issued a public apology on Twitter, saying the storm was a "big forecast miss" for most of the region.
Travel bans for New York and its surrounding counties, which were imposed as the storm bore down late Monday, were lifted Tuesday morning as the lack of deep snow became apparent.
Follow our live coverage below. (App users, clickhereto read the live blog in a browser).
VIDEO-CNN Host Kisses De Blasio Before Interview | The Weekly Standard
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:14
On CNN this morning, the host kissed Mayor Bill de Blasio before she interviewed him, and handed him a cup of hot chocolate:
The other host, Chris Cuomo, complained that he'd been waiting for an hour and a half for his hot cocoa to arrive.
"The mayor comes and the hot cocoa comes," Cuomo complained as his co-host arrived on set in the middle of his interview with de Blasio. "The hot cocoa comes. I've been asking for it for an hour and a half."
De Blasio admitted the storm wasn't nearly as had been predicted. But, he argued, if it had been worse, New York City would've been prepared.
VIDEO-Mayor Thanks Sharpton for Climate Change Work, During Blizzard Report - Breitbart
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 07:11
Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch (D) thanked MSNBC anchor Al Sharpton for ''fighting the good fight on climate change'' during a report on Winter Storm Juno on Monday's ''PoliticsNation.''
After urging residents to stay off the roads and reporting that emergency workers were ensuring that the elderly and homeless population were taking care of, Finch told Sharpton ''thank you for your show, Reverend, you've been fighting the good fight on climate change, and we can see the crazy climate here, and we'd like to have a little bit more of you down in Washington.''
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett
VIDEO-Argentina to dissolve intelligence body after prosecutor death - BBC News
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 06:39
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has announced plans to disband Argentina's intelligence agency.
In a TV address, she said she would draft a bill to set up a new body.
Ms Fernandez said the intelligence services had kept much of the same structure they had during the military government, which ended in 1983.
The move comes after the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman - hours before he had been due to testify against senior government officials.
He had been investigating the bombing of a Jewish centre in the capital in 1994 which left 85 people dead.
Mr Nisman, 51, had accused several senior government figures - including President Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman - of involvement in a plot to cover up Iran's alleged role in the bombing.
"I have prepared a bill to reform the intelligence service," President Fernandez said, adding that she wanted the proposal to be discussed at an urgent session of Congress.
A gun was found next to the body of Prosecutor Alberto Nisman in his Buenos Aires flat "The plan is to dissolve the Intelligence Secretariat and create a Federal Intelligence Agency," she said that a new leadership should be chosen by a president but would be subject to a Senate approval.
"Combating impunity has been a priority of my government," she added.
Mr Nisman was found dead on 18 January in his flat in Buenos Aires. A gun was also discovered there.
Investigators initially said they believed he had committed suicide, but later said they could not rule out homicide or "induced suicide".
Ms Fernandez has said she is convinced Mr Nisman's death death was not suicide.
VIDEO-President Obama Calls on Congress to Protect Arctic Refuge as Wilderness | The White House
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 06:32
John Podesta, Mike BootsJanuary 25, 201511:00 AM EST
Each year, as the darkness of the Arctic winter brightens into spring, as the snow melts and the hills and valleys slowly turn green, the tens of thousands of members of the Porcupine caribou herd begin their great migration '-- traveling some 1,500 miles through Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to their calving grounds on the Coastal Plain.
This far northern region is known as ''The Sacred Place Where Life Begins'' to Alaska Native communities. The Refuge sustains the most diverse array of wildlife in the entire Arctic '-- home not only to the Porcupine caribou, but to polar bears, gray wolves, and muskoxen. Bird species from the Coastal Plain migrate to all 50 states of the country '-- meaning that no matter where you live, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is part of your landscape.
But the majority of the Refuge is not protected as wilderness, including the Coastal Plain. For more than three decades, some voices have clamored to drill for oil in the Coastal Plain '-- a move that could irreparably damage this ecological treasure and harm the Alaska Native communities who still depend on the caribou for subsistence.
Today, the Department of the Interior released a revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan to better sustain and manage the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge '-- and President Obama took it a step further and announced his plans to ask Congress to designate the Coastal Plain and other core areas of the refuge as wilderness:
Watch on YouTube
The United States today is the number-one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, and we import less oil than at any time in almost 30 years. The Obama administration believes that oil and natural gas resources can be developed safely. Unfortunately, accidents and spills can still happen, and the environmental impacts can sometimes be felt for many years.
The Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge, one of the few remaining places in the country as pristine today as it was when the oldest Alaska Native communities first set eyes on it, is too precious to put at risk. By designating the area as wilderness, Congress could preserve the Coastal Plain in perpetuity '-- ensuring that this wild, free, beautiful, and bountiful place remains in trust for Alaska Natives and for all Americans.
John Podesta is Counselor to President Barack Obama. Mike Boots leads the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
AUDIO: FPI Fellow James Kirchick Discusses ISIS' Brutal Killing of Homosexuals on The Peter Boyles Show
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 01:38
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness.Read More