694: Bend it Down

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 30m
February 8th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Baron Jim Spitzer, Sir Lennart Renkema,

Associate Executive Producers: Robert Smiley, Jean-Claude Schmid, Raun J Kilgo, Marc Hampton, Michael Sosnin, Michael Towan, Lizz Gunther, David Lane

Cover Artist: MartinJJ


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Amazon.com: Perp Walk (A No Agenda Short Story) eBook: Scott McKenzie: Kindle Store
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 01:57
From Scott McKenzie, author of One Day in Gitmo Nation, Death by Autopen and Drawing Dead.The United Kingdom is on the brink of witnessing a public inquiry into historical cases of child abuse. A key witness is Colin Parker, a senior assistant to the British Ambassador to the United States. On his last night in New York before flying home to face his demons, he is arrested in his hotel room and framed for a terrible crime he did not commit. He knows there are people who want to discredit him, but they could never dream how far he would go to protest his innocence...
Perp Walk is a work of fiction inspired by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, and based on the topics discussed on the No Agenda show hosted by Adam Curry and John C Dvorak.www.noagendashow.com
NYC Meetup!
Rain Review
Another DEAD audience - Like watching TV or something
Lack of movement was depressing
Row R selfie
Fact Sheet: The 2015 National Security Strategy | The White House
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:39
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 06, 2015
Fact Sheet: The 2015 National Security Strategy
Today, the United States is stronger and better positioned to seize the opportunities of a still new century and safeguard our interests against the risks of an insecure world. The President's new National Security Strategy provides a vision and strategy for advancing the nation's interests, universal values, and a rules-based international order through strong and sustainable American leadership. The strategy sets out the principles and priorities that describe how America will lead the world toward greater peace and a new prosperity.
We will lead with purpose, guided by our enduring national interests and values and committed to advancing a balanced portfolio of priorities worthy of a great power.We will lead with strength, harnessing a resurgent economy, increased energy security, an unrivaled military, and the talent and diversity of the American people.We will lead by example, upholding our values at home and our obligations abroad. We will lead with capable partners, mobilizing collective action and building partner capacity to address global challenges.We will lead with all instruments of U.S. power, leveraging our strategic advantages in diplomacy, development, defense, intelligence, science and technology, and more.We will lead with a long-term perspective, influencing the trajectory of major shifts in the security landscape today in order to secure our national interests in the future.We will advance the security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners by:
Maintaining a national defense that is the best trained, equipped, and led force in the world while honoring our promises to service members, veterans, and their families.Working with Congress to end the draconian cuts imposed by sequestration that threaten the effectiveness of our military and other instruments of power.Reinforcing our homeland security to keep the American people safe from terrorist attacks and natural hazards while strengthening our national resilience.Transitioning to a sustainable global security posture that combines our decisive capabilities with local partners and keeps pressure on al-Qa'ida, ISIL, and their affiliates.Striving for a world without nuclear weapons and ensuring nuclear materials do not fall into the hands of irresponsible states and violent non-state actors.Developing a global capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to biological threats like Ebola through the Global Health Security Agenda.Confronting the urgent crisis of climate change, including through national emissions reductions, international diplomacy, and our commitment to the Green Climate Fund.We will advance a strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity by:
Strengthening American energy security and increasing global access to reliable and affordable energy to bolster economic growth and development worldwide.Opening markets for U.S. goods, services, and investment and leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses to boost our economic competitiveness.Advancing a trade agenda '' including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership '' that creates good American jobs and shared prosperity. Leading efforts to reduce extreme poverty, food insecurity, and preventable deaths with initiatives such as Feed the Future and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.Proving new sustainable development models like the President's Power Africa Initiative.We will advance respect for universal values at home and around the world by:
Holding ourselves to the highest possible standard by living our values at home even as we do what is necessary to keep our people safe and our allies secure.Promoting and defending democracy, human rights, and equality while supporting countries such as Tunisia and Burma that are transitioning from authoritarianism.Empowering future leaders of government, business, and civil society around the world, including through the President's young leaders initiatives.Leading the way in confronting the corruption by promoting adherence to standards of accountable and transparent governance.Leading the international community to prevent and respond to human rights abuses and mass atrocities as well as gender-based violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.We will advance an international order that promotes peace, security, and oppor­tunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges by:
Working with partners to reinforce and update the rules of the road, norms, and institutions that are foundational to peace, prosperity, and human dignity in the 21st century. Strengthening and growing our global alliances and partnerships, forging diverse coalitions, and leading at the United Nations and other multilateral organizations.Rebalancing to Asia and the Pacific through increased diplomacy, stronger alliances and partnerships, expanded trade and investment, and a diverse security posture.Strengthening our enduring commitment to a free and peaceful Europe by countering aggression and modernizing the NATO alliance to meet emerging threats.Pursuing a stable Middle East and North Africa by countering terrorism, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and reducing the underlying sources of conflict.Building upon the success of the U.S.-Africa Leaders' Summit by investing in Africa's economic, agricultural, health, governance, and security capacity.Promoting a prosperous, secure, and democratic Western Hemisphere by expanding integration and leveraging a new opening to Cuba to expand our engagement.
Letter from the President -- National Security Strategy
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:37
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 06, 2015
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Consistent with section 108 of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended (50 U.S.C. 3043), I transmit herewith the National Security Strategy of the United States.
Theodore Kasczinski "Industrial Society and Its Future"
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''694, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1708^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". America.gov. January 16, 2003.
Ministry of Truth
It is important to deconstruct The Brian Williams story. Because if we don't analyze the taint of mainstream news now, we may not recognize the taint in the future
The science behind Brian Williams's mortifying memory flub - The Washington Post
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:12
When we tell stories about our lives, most of us never have our memories questioned. NBC's Brian Williams, like other high-profile people in the past, is finding out what happens when questions arise.
Williams's faux pas '' retelling a story of his helicopter coming under fire in Iraq a dozen years ago when it was actually the helicopter flying ahead of him '' was much like Hillary Rodham Clinton's during the 2008 presidential campaign. Her story was about coming under fire during a visit to an airfield in Bosnia 12 years earlier. George W. Bush also misremembered when, on several occasions, he told audiences that on 9/11 he watched the first plane fly into the north tower of the World Trade Center on TV, just before entering that classroom in Florida to read a book to school kids. In each case, these were highly emotional moments. Williams's helicopter made an emergency landing in the desert behind the aircraft that was hit; Clinton was made to don a flak jacket and was told her airplane might not be able to land at the airport in Bosnia because of sniper fire in the area; and Bush was told by an aide about the first crash into World Trade Center just before entering the classroom.
That each of those memories was false created huge public relations headaches for Clinton and Williams. But the fact is that false memories are not that uncommon, especially when they involve highly emotional events.
Brian Williams, the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, has apologized for telling a story about coming under fire during a reporting assignment in Iraq in 2003. The Post's Erik Wemple describes what Williams got wrong and the potential impact on his reputation and career. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)
Scientists have been telling us for years that memory of autobiographical events, also known as episodic memory, is pliable and even unreliable. The consensus from neuroimaging studies and laboratory experiments is that episodic memory is not like replaying a film but more like reconstructing an event from bits and pieces of information. Memories are stored in clusters of neurons called engrams, and the proteins responsible for storing those memories, scientists say, are modified and changed just by the reconstruction process of remembering.
These findings are just one reason that last year, the U.S. National Research Council recommended that the criminal justice system exert tighter control over the use of eyewitness testimony in court and come up with a more scientific approach to the identification of suspects in police lineups.
Using neuroimaging, Northwestern University scientist Ken A. Paller was able to offer one reason that people can misremember something as important as being shot at or a terrorist attack. Paller determined which parts of the brain were activated in forming a false memory and which when forming a real memory. The finding: The part of the brain that perceives an object or event overlaps with the part that imagines an object or event.
Even scientists who specialize in memory research are susceptible to misremembering.
Several years ago, University of Illinois psychologist Daniel Simons performed an experiment on himself by first writing down everything he could remember about his own experiences on 9/11, beginning with hearing about the planes crashing into the twin towers. He then asked the people who were with him at that time to write down their own recollections. Later he discovered that two of the people he asked were, in fact, not with him at the time. And he did not remember one person who was there.
The experiment made Simons empathize with Clinton and Bush.
"The next time you hear a politician or celebrity make a false claim about what they remember,'' he wrote in 2010, ''keep in mind that they might not be lying maliciously. They might not even realize their memory is wrong (and if you tell them, they might not believe you).''
But Williams, Clinton and Bush also could have simply been lying, not misremembering. Research also tells us that people by and large act, think (and yes, even remember) in a way that is beneficial to themselves. Everyone lies to gain an advantage of some kind, but we lie in little bits so that we can still feel good about ourselves. Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist who wrote the book ''The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone -- Especially Ourselves'' put it this way: ''People may allow themselves to cheat sometimes, but not if it involves identifying themselves as Cheaters.''
Read more:
Zapping your brain really does improve memory
UK votes yes: How one baby can have three people's DNA
Most men would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Amy Ellis Nutt covers health and science for The Washington Post.
Politician wins defamation suit - BC News - Castanet.net
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 04:00
Photo: Facebook
A British Columbia judge has awarded $50,000 in damages to a politician and leading climate scientist after he sued the National Post for defamation.
Andrew Weaver sued the newspaper, its publisher and several writers over four columns that were published in late 2009 and early 2010, which he alleged implied he was "untrustworthy, unscientific and incompetent."
Weaver is now a Green party member of B.C.'s legislature, but at the time he was a University of Victoria professor who had participated in the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations agency.
He alleged the columns implied he tried to divert public attention from a scandal involving the IPCC by linking the fossil fuel industry to break-ins at his office, and that he distorted and concealed scientific data.
The scandal in question was dubbed "Climategate," in which hackers leaked thousands of emails from a British climate centre in 2009. The emails were embraced by climate change skeptics who said they contained proof that global warming was a scientific conspiracy.
The Post columns reported that Weaver had pointed to the "fossil fuel industry" as the culprits behind two break-ins in his university office, and that he had implied a connection between the break-ins and Climategate.
Weaver said he had told a Post reporter that the fossil fuel industry was benefiting from an overall campaign to discredit climate science, but he never suggested that it was responsible for security breaches at the university.
He also alleged that the columns had falsely implied that he had distorted and concealed scientific data in exchange for government funding and to promote a public agenda about climate change.
The National Post could not immediately be reached for comment. Former publisher Gordon Fisher, as well as columnists Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster and Kevin Libin, were all named in the legal action.
The newspaper argued the articles were about Weaver's public actions and words, not his character. It also argued they were protected by the defence of fair comment, which essentially allows writers to state opinions if they are in the public interest and based on fact.
B.C. Supreme Court Judge Emily Burke disagreed with the defendants, concluding that an ordinary reader would infer defamatory meanings from the columns '-- including that Weaver was "deceitful" and "avaricious."
"The reality is the combination and cumulative effect of these articles is such as to adversely impact on Dr. Weaver's reputation and integrity as a scientist," she wrote. "Imputations of dishonest behaviour on the part of a scientist or professor in that role can constitute defamation."
She awarded $50,000 in general damages, and also ordered the Post to remove the articles from its electronic databases, withdraw any consent given to third parties to re-publish the columns, and publish a full retraction online.
Weaver wrote on Twitter on Friday that he was "thrilled" with the decision.
Burning Man
VFX TUTORIAL - Explosion / Basic Compositing - YouTube
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:39
Merck Co s Fake MMR Trial Data Buried Even as Measles Outbreak Shows Vaccine Surge
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 01:32
January 27, 2015By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News StaffThe recent outbreak of measles originating at Disneyland has brought to light a False Claims Act complaint in 2010 against vaccine manufacturer Merck & Co. (MRK).
Two virologists who worked at Merck, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, filed a suit that was unsealed in 2010 accusing the company of falsifying its mumps vaccine test results to hit an efficacy rate of 95 percent. According to the scientists, Merck added animal antibodies to a blood sample to give the impression of increased antibodies.
Specifically the suit stated, ''In an effort to maintain its Food and Drug Administration (''FDA'') approval and exclusive license to sell the vaccine, Merck has used improper testing techniques and falsified test data to fabricate a vaccine efficacy rate of 95 percent or higher. This is the efficacy threshold on which the FDA insists for its licensing and approval of the vaccine. In truth, the efficacy rate of Merck's mumps vaccine is, and has been since at least 1999, significantly lower than this requisite threshold.''
The first court case United States v. Merck & Co. is based on Krahling and Wlochowski's accusations.
There is, however, a second court case, Chatom Primary Care v. Merck & Co., that utilizes the same evidence. This is a class action lawsuit filed ''against Merck for unlawfully monopolizing the U.S. market for Mumps Vaccine by engaging in a decade-long scheme to falsify and misrepresent the true efficacy of its vaccine.''
There is also a third whistleblower, a Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) scientist, William Thompson, who participated in an MMR vaccine study in 2004. In what is likely to be a controversial case, Thompson indicates they covered up data suggesting high rates of autism in African-American boys who received the MMR vaccination. The CDC and the lead author of the study, Frank DeStefano, say they stand by the original study results. He says he will, however, review his notes. The autism analysis has been refuted is highly questionable.
The Disneyland measles outbreak has hit 87 cases so far. The majority of those infected were not vaccinated, in some cases because they were children under the age of 12 months. Six of the cases were in individuals who received the vaccine.
The CDC indicates that the MMR shot is 97 percent effective. More complete effectiveness requires two doses. With a single doses, 5 to 7 percent of people don't achieve an effective antibody response for protection.
''And even with two doses, you can get some failure,'' said Greg Wallace, lead of the measles, mumps, rubella and polio team at the CDC in a statement, ''whether it's because the initial response isn't perfect, or because the response waned in some people.''
The MMR, for measles, mumps, and rubella virus vaccine, manufactured by Merck, is the same vaccine, or part of the vaccine, currently implicated in the fraud lawsuits.
Classify Refusal To Vaccinate Children As A Mental Disorder
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 04:51
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'Voer dienstplicht in vanwege Russische dreiging en IS-terreur' | NU - Het laatste nieuws het eerst op NU.nl
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:27
Daarnaast kan de dienstplicht helpen ontspoorde allochtonen weer op het rechte pad te brengen, laat Van Klaveren weten tegenover NU.nl.
Maandag behandelt de Tweede Kamer zijn initiatiefnota waarin hij pleit voor de herinvoering van de militaire dienstplicht voor alle Nederlanders vanaf de leeftijd van 18 jaar.
"De dienstplicht werd in 1993 na de val van het Sovjet Rijk en de beindiging van de Koude Oorlog opgeschort", zegt Van Klaveren. "De militaire opleving van Rusland en de terroristische dreiging van IS tonen aan dat Nederland serieus werk moet maken van het op orde brengen van de krijgsmacht."
De dienstplicht zal ertoe leiden dat Nederland weer kan beschikken over een volwaardige krijgsmacht, denkt het voormalige PVV-Kamerlid.
BezuinigingenAl jaren is Defensie een bezuinigingspost op de rijksbegroting en dat heeft de organisatie uitgehold. Door de samenleving weer in contact te brengen met de krijgsmacht, verwacht Van Klaveren dat het draagvlak voor krijgsmacht zal toenemen.
Het personeelstekort bij het ministerie denkt Van Klaveren op te lossen met de aanwas van dienstplichtigen. Hierdoor kunnen de beroepsmilitairen zich beter focussen op hun militaire werk.
"Door de gehele samenleving in aanraking te laten komen met Defensie, zullen veel meer competente jong-volwassenen voor een carri¨re bij de krijgsmacht kunnen kiezen die anders nooit met de krijgsmacht in aanraking zouden komen."
HeropvoedingEen belangrijke andere reden voor de herinvoering van de dienstplicht is de opvoedkundige en disciplinerende rol die het half jaar in het leger op de jeugd van Nederland kan hebben.
"We zien in Nederland een oververtegenwoordiging van niet-Westerse allochtonen in de criminaliteitscijfers. Wie de fout in gaat moet hard worden aangepakt, maar we moeten ook kijken naar hoe we deze ellende kunnen voorkomen", zegt Van Klaveren.
In het leger zullen de jongeren orde, structuur en discipline in hun leven krijgen, denkt hij. Daarnaast biedt het probleemjongeren een toekomstperspectief en komen zij in aanraking met verschillende jongeren uit verschillende lagen van de samenleving. "Dat zal de integratie bevorderen."
"Zij krijgen een doel in hun leven, gaan niet zomaar op straat hangen en komen minder snel in de verleiding zich met criminele zaken bezig te houden. En als ze het goed doen, komen ze misschien wel in aanmerking voor een baan bij Defensie", aldus Van Klaveren.
Van Klaveren is niet bang dat hij met zijn plan de deuren van Defensie opent voor potentile jihadisten.
"De screening zal uitvoerig zijn. Dat wordt goed gecheckt door onze inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten. Als je al verkeerde intenties hebt, kun je je nu ook al aanmelden bij het leger."
VrouwenIn het voorstel van Van Klaveren zullen zowel mannen als vrouwen voor de duur van zes maanden in dienst treden. "Hierdoor zullen zij geen studievertraging oplopen." Ook worden zij financieel gecompenseerd. "Van het Rijk ontvangen zij het minimumloon inclusief vakantiegeld, huisvesting en reiskostenvergoeding."
De dienstplichtigen zullen in het half jaar naast de militaire basistraining die zij krijgen kunnen worden ingezet bij rampenbestrijdingen en beveiligingswerkzaamheden. Zij worden niet uitgezonden voor militaire missies. De dienstplicht gaat niet ten koste van de huidige beroepskrijgsmacht.
Voor jongeren die de dienstplicht niet kunnen vervullen bestaat de vervangende burgerdienst die drie maanden langer duurt. Zij moeten werkzaamheden uitvoeren die het algemeen belang van het land dienen. Van Klaveren: "Als je gewetensbezwaren hebt, kun je bijvoorbeeld in een verzorgingstehuis werken."
Het hele plan kost de staat 600 miljoen euro per jaar en past wat Van Klaveren betreft in het voornemen dat verschillende politieke partijen hebben uitgesproken om het defensiebudget structureel te verhogen.
Door: NU.nl/Avinash Bhikhie
The New Ukraine: Rogues, Sexpots, Warlords, Lunatics and Oligarchs | Observer
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:04
Anti-government protesters clashing with police in Independence square, February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Hopes that Ukraine would mature into a western democracy have decayed as a motley crew of leaders has taken center stage (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.)
There were times in Ukraine's recent history when even the country's military brass were kneeling before the U.S. Literally. In June 2013, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft received the saber of the Ukrainian Cossack in the city of Kherson from a kneeling Ukrainian high-rank military official. Mr. Tefft nowadays is serving the country as an Ambassador to Russia where no such honors are even imaginable.
But that was then'--a previous regime.
On the surface, today's Ukraine is much more favorably disposed toward everything Western and everything American because of the exciting wind of transformations that swept through the Ukrainian political landscape last year. Its political culture looks modern, attractive, refined and European. For example, at the end of last year a new law was passed that allowed former citizens of other countries to participate in Ukrainian politics and even the government, in case they denounce their former citizenships. The reason given was the fight with notorious Ukrainian corruption. Apparently, in a country of more than 40 million people, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk (called ''Rabbit'' by his citizens) couldn't find a dozen or so native-born yet not corrupt professionals for his government.
Now three former foreigners'--ex-American Natalia Yaresko (Minister for Finance), ex-Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavičius (Minister For Economy and Trade) and ex-Georgian Alexander Kvitashvili (Minister for Public Health)'--are firmly established in their new cabinets. They are just the beginning. They gave up their U.S. and European passports with only two benefits in return: a $200-a-month salary and the chance to build a prosperous new Ukraine.
In a strange twist of fate, the Ukrainian ministers during their meetings now have to speak hated Russian'--former foreigners do not speak Ukrainian well enough and locals do not speak English at the level necessary for complicated discussions on how to save a Ukraine economy that is disappearing before their eyes.
The problems they are facing are overwhelming. The new minister for economy, Mr. Abromavičius, knows that the country is in fact bankrupt. ''To expect that we are going to produce real as opposed to declarative incentive programs is unrealistic,'' he declared. In other words, the new Ukrainian budget is nothing but a piece of paper. But without this piece of paper there will be no new money from the European Bank and the IMF.
The first steps he has taken so far are controversial.
The new minister for economy appointed former Estonian Jaanika Merilo as his advisor on foreign investments and improving the business climate in Ukraine. Directly after her appointment, Ms. Merilo posted a series of candid images that display her long legs, plump lips and prominent cleavage, including some shots in which she emulates movie scenes.
On January 5, the new minister for economy appointed former Estonian Jaanika Merilo'--a young dark-haired beauty'--as his advisor on foreign investments, improvement of business climate in Ukraine, coordination of international programs and so on. Directly after her appointment, the young lady put online not her resume or a program for Ukrainian financial stabilization but a series of candid shots that display her long legs, plump lips and prominent cleavage. In some shots, she places a knife to her lips a la Angelina Jolie and sits on the chair a la Sharon Stone.
Ms. Merilo, too, forfeited her European passport in the hope of a better future for her new Motherland.
By law, double citizenship is not permitted for a Ukrainian governmental official, but, as often happens in Ukraine, for some there is always another way around. The governor of Dnepropetrovsk region, oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, for example, has three citizenships.
As exhilarating winds of change swept through the Ukrainian government, Western newspapers giddily reported the fact that after the last elections for the first time in decades there would be no Communists in the Ukrainian Parliament. But that means all possible organized opposition to the current president and prime minister is gone.
Instead, the new Rada has a big group of parliamentarians of very uncertain political loyalties and even dubious mental state'--former warlords and street activists who distinguished themselves during street fights and tire burnings.
These government rookies are sometimes turning to strange ways of self-promotion, now within the walls of the Parliament.
One new face in the Rada'--leader of the Right Sector ultra-nationalist party and former warlord Dmytro Yarosh'--admitted in a January interview with Ukrainian TV that he caresses a real hand grenade in his pocket while inside the Rada. Because he is MP, the security personnel has no right to check his pockets. They just ask if he has anything dangerous on his person and he says no. The reason to have a hand grenade on his body is that there are too many enemies of Ukraine within the MP crowding him during the voting process. He is not afraid, of course. But when the time comes, he will use this grenade and with a bit of luck he will take a lot of them with him if he dies.
Former warlord Dmytro Yarosh is the leader of the ultra-nationalist party Right Sector and now an MP. He told Ukrainian TV that he caresses a real hand grenade in his pocket while serving inside the Rada.
Ukrainian MPs Yuri Beryoza and Andrei Levus, also former warlords and members of radical parties, became notorious last December after publicly applauding the terrorist attack in the Russian city of Grozny'--an attack in which 14 policemen were killed. ''On our eastern borders our brothers are coming out from under Russia's power. It's normal. These are the allies of Ukraine,'' said Mr. Beryoza. This is the same fellow who had earlier promised that the Ukrainian army would soon take Moscow. Andrei Levus proposed Russia withdraw all of her ''punishers'' from the ''People's Republic of Ichkeria'' (i.e. Chechnya) immediately.
Another former warlord, former member of social-national party and today's Ukrainian MP Igor Mosiychuk said to the journalists that Ukraine, ''being in the state of war, must stimulate the opening of the second front in the Caucuses, in Middle Asia'' against Russia. In the scandalous video, which has been viewed 2.5 million times, he unloaded an assault rifle into the portrait of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov ranting, ''Ramzan, you have sent your dogs, traitors into our land. We have been killing them here and we will come after you. We will come after you to Grozny. We will help our brothers to free Ichkeria from such dogs like you. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the free Ichkeria!''
Despite this bravado, the personal security for all three MPs had to be increased'--at high cost to the cash-starved country'--after the Chechen leader promised to bring them to justice in Russia for incitement of terrorism.
While it may be tempting to dismiss these words as the ravings of former warlords who have been traumatized by war, worrisome shifts of the political mindset have been appearing in the mainstream of the Ukrainian political establishment.
Anton Geraschenko is the poster boy of the next generation of Ukrainian politicians. He holds an important position as the advisor to the minister for internal affairs, executing the role of the Ministry's spokesman. This 36-year-old, well-educated member of the Parliament is a familiar face on TV, and a darling of the nation's political talk shows. He is well-spoken and gives elaborate interviews on every political subject to all major Ukrainian newspapers.
Last Friday, while on his trip to the U.S., Mr. Gerashchenko published two controversial posts on his Facebook page, which could be considered very revealing from the perspective of the changing mood in the Ukrainian political class toward the United States.
In the first, Mr. Gerashchenko praised a George Soros article in which the 84-year-old financier is ''flying high'' like an eagle ''over the pettiness of Obama and other political dwarfs.'' Mr. Gerashchenko blamed Mr. Obama and other ''political dwarfs'' for not realizing that ''Putin's actions towards Ukraine are the tectonic shifts in the world history, much bigger in scale than those that were the results of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington.'' According to Mr. Gerashchenko, George Soros lost all hope that ''Barack Obama will give a chance to the people of the United States to give large-scale economical assistance to the people of Ukraine, not the miserable hand-outs that have been ten times less than the help that was given to Iraq or Afghanistan.'' Mr. Gerashchenko vented his frustration at Mr. Obama for not giving Ukraine money on the scale of the Marshall Plan or the aid packages that were given to rebuild Japan after WWII or South Korea after the Korean War.
Prominent Ukrainian lawmaker Anton Gerashchenko's Facebook posts have created a stir, downplaying Sept. 11 and lobbing insults at President Obama.
According to his post, Mr. Gerashchenko believes that the United States has the obligation to give to the Ukraine enough money so the people of ''occupied Crimea and Donbass in a maximum of three or five years would dig tunnels and destroy walls and barbed-wire fences, bursting into the territory of prosperous Free Ukraine '... looking for jobs, social assistance, high quality of living '' as a counterweight to the Mordor which the Russian Federation will definitely have become'' ('total catastrophe') under the leadership of ''Putler.'' (''Putler'' being 'Putin' and 'Hitler' combined into one word'--a popular new term among Ukraine's new political class.)
The Facebook post by the young Ukrainian politician created an uproar in both Ukraine and Russia'--but Western media preferred to look the other way.
Inspired by his sudden notoriety, Mr. Gerashchenko posted one more rant on the same subject later on the same day in which he elaborated his ideas even farther.
''Yes, Obama is a political dwarf because it looks like he does not grasp the full scale the consequences of Putin's capture of Crimea. Because last spring and in the beginning of last summer Obama took the 'ostrich's position' and preferred not to see the Putin's aggression on the continental part of the Ukraine. In the U.S.A., Barack Obama for his indecisive actions and lost positions in foreign politics is called 'lame duck' which is analogous to our expression 'shot-down pilot'. And this name is well deserved. Barack Obama will never be put in the same row with such great U.S. Presidents as Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan. And even with Bill Clinton '...''
In his second post Mr. Gerashchenko went on to say that he was expressing not only his own feelings but the attitude of a significant part of the Ukrainian population, ''which considers Obama's actions unworthy of the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, the one that made Ukraine give up its nuclear status '... Instead of decisive actions, from March on we have seen nothing but declarations that the White House is 'very concerned,' expresses its concerns' and also 'deeply worried' by the situation in our country.''
By Mr. Gerashchenko's light, President Putin's entire operation in Crimea and Donbass was possible only because Mr. Putin knew that Mr. Obama would never risk any strong moves to stop him. According to this star of Ukrainian politics, America gave ''only'' $1 billion to Ukraine but Mr. Gerashchenko and the like view this as a pittance. Instead, they want a big slice of the hundreds of billions that the U.S. has spent on war from 2001-2014 in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
These revealing and troubling posts were deleted within hours on the same day they appeared. Deleted or not, Mr. Gerashchenko, as well as some significant number of Ukrainian politicians, rant at Mr. Obama for not doing what George Soros wants him to do'--immediately spend $50 billion of U.S. and E.U. taxpayers' money on building an immediate paradise in Ukraine. George Soros' motives could be pragmatic, of course. Some evil tongues have been saying that the financier's arguments for the bailout of a falling Ukrainian economy by the U.S. and European taxpayers have roots not in his love for freedom around the world. They say that he has a lot of the Ukrainian government's bonds in his portfolio and in the case of Ukraine's national default he will lose billions.
Screencap of Anton Gerashchenko's Facebook post. (Facebook)
Ironically, the biggest winner of a significant and prompt infusion of Western money into Ukraine would be the hated ''Putler.'' Just last week, Russia, strapped for cash itself as the ruble plummets, started to spread rumors that it is considering demanding early repayment of its $3 billion 2014 loan to Ukraine because the conditions of the loan demand such a step in the event that the national debt of Ukraine exceeds 60 percent of its GDP. By now the national debt of Ukraine is around 70 percent of its GDP and the prognosis is that by the end of this year it will be around 90 percent of its GDP. If any significant amount of money is given to Ukraine, Russia will immediately start sucking out a big part of it as Ukrainian gas and other energy bills will finally be paid on time '... to Russia.
Mr. Gerashchenko's scandalous FB posts are gone, but the questions raised by them still remain. Will the Ukrainian political class turn away from the U.S. and the West if the generosity of the U.S. taxpayers does not match the nebulous expectations of the reformers in the Ukrainian government? Are the Ukrainians ready to rely mostly on themselves on the long and painful journey of building their own independent nation? Amid all the reform talk and the importing of attractive foreign ''advisors,'' one cannot but wonder if it's nothing more than camouflage for the same old Ukrainian game'--to convince the world to give, as Mr. Gerashchenko's first Facebook post put it, just one more ''large-scale economical assistance.''
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that oligarch Igor Kolomoisky is governor of Zaporozhe region. He is actually governor of Dnepropetrovsk region. The Observer regrets the error.
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 14:04
By John Helmer, Moscow
The case for foreign investment in Ukraine is to be made by a specialist in sado-masochism, cosmetic surgery, and undress. Jaanika Merilo (above), 35, a member of the Estonian parliament of Ukrainian origin with US and UK training, was appointed the government advisor on foreign investment in Kiev on January 5. She will report to Aivaras Abromavičius, a Lithuanian and Ukraine's Minister of Economic Development and Trade since December. In a press campaign this month which Merilo has authorized, she likens herself to the Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie.
In London and Brussels, Merrilo has promoted herself as the executive head of the Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (UVCA), which is backed by Horizon Capital, the US Government-funded operation of Natalie Jaresko, who became the Ukrainian Finance Minister on December 3. The Warsaw Stock Exchange and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are backers of Merilo's association, through which she also claims to be a prot(C)g(C) of Sir Richard Branson (below, left), and a ''Facebook friend'' of Edward Lucas (right). Lucas is the first e-citizen of Estonia, and is basing his media promotion business there.
Merilo told the Wall Street Journal her group has 32 members; 18 are private equity and venture capital firms. The lawyers to the association are Arzinger of Kiev. This firm, close to Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk and President Petro Poroshenko, has provided appointees as deputy attorney-general and deputy minister of justice, in charge of negotiations with Brussels and Washington, as well as a member of President's Judicial Reform Council.
According to Merilo, her line of business is good for fighting corruption. ''It is obvious that the corruption is deep-rooted in the Ukrainian society and it is very hard to uproot it'...digital solutions, such as the e-government, where the human contact is minimized, would help to fight against corruption.''
In April of 2014, five weeks after Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich was ousted in Kiev, Merilo says she became chairman of the management board of the BrainBasket Foundation. The purpose of the foundation was ''to change Ukraine,to make I.T. a driving factor in creating a strong economy''. BrainBasket says it was launched on April 15, and confirms Merilo's appointment. It also reports Merilo as coming from the ''Center for Ukrainian European Development''. To advertise her presentation at a subsequent conference in London, Merilo claimed she was managing director of the ''Center of Ukrainian European Development and Integration''. No entity with either name can be located.
Supporting the foundation in addition to Branson, BrainBasket claims it's on the receiving end of ''donati[on] funds'' from the Ukrainian Government, Microsoft and Cisco, as well as Luxoft, the Russian IT outsourcing operator. In its US share-listing papers in mid-2013, Luxoft reported that its future profitability depends on cheap Ukrainian and Russian labour.
Working beside Merilo as president of the Brainbasket Foundation is Gil Taran (right). He says he comes from Israel, teaches ''information security'' at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania, and works ''with government clients in the financial, operational and defense sectors''. The governments, according to Taran, include Kazakhstan, China, India, Portugal, Mexico, and Colombia.
In May 2014, days after Merilo started at BrainBasket, she was appointed an expert on the Ukrainian Government's ''E-Governance Strategic Advisory Group''. After another month she became a board member of UANGEL, the Ukrainian Business Angels Network. The Angels Network describes itself as the beneficiary of anonymous Ukrainian oligarchs who ''rarely mention high return expectations (as we know, angels all over the world target yearly investment return rates of 25-30%) as their main reason. At this stage of market development, they are guided by other things '' an opportunity to be engaged with innovation, to keep up with trends, find synergy for their current businesses, obtain a technology, be closer to the creative class of young entrepreneurs and talent pool '' but not primarily by the desire to earn more money.''
Merilo's pitch has been to employ Ukrainians for the IT sector, with a target of producing 100,000 computer operators and programmers by the year 2020, generating a target $20 billion in revenues. According to the BrainBasket website, ''Ukraine has an opportunity to use the IT Industry as a locomotive to drive growth and become the IT powerhouse of Europe, or you could call it the BrainBasket of Europe''. The political idea is: ''Grow the Middle Class. The vast majority of these revenues will be paid out to the employees, who would then drive growth in Ukraine when spending their income.''
The BBC identifies the scheme as funded by Branson.
Bernard Casey (right), an American, is another of Merilo's backers. He became head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine in January of 2014. By the end of April, Casey was touting an inventory of two hundred state-owned assets in Ukraine which he was putting together for privatization sale to foreign investors. In December Merilo endorsed Casey (no relation to William Casey of the CIA) as ''a very strong networker with wide range of contacts from USA to Ukraine, very good specialist and one of the most honorable, pleasant and likable business partners and colleagues anyone could have.''Casey's previous job was promoting a wind-energy park in Crimea, controlled by Valery Borovik.
In August Merilo helped draft the prospectus for the Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (UVCA). This describes its function as a fixer for foreign investors in Ukraine, and lobbyist between them and the government in Kiev. The goals, says the prospectus, are to be the ''gateway to Ukraine for foreign private equity investors; promoting Ukrainian investment opportunities to foreign investors in industry eventsand in one-on-one meetings; organizing roadshows for international investors in Ukraine as well as Ukrainian investors abroad; supporting creating IT success stories in Ukraine''; together with ''amending legislation on improving business and investment climate; lobbying for creating new investment vehicles and schemes to expand investment opportunities; International support in lobbying'...''
Merilo says she feels Ukrainian. ''I was born in Estonia, so it's a little bit twisted and mixed how many percent I'm Ukrainian, Estonian and so on, but actually, I somehow feel it's [Ukraine] my mission'...If you have Ukrainian roots it's much easier to understand this mentality, and the perceptions. It's harder for me to say how Estonian perceptions have changed, because I'm half-Ukrainian and not an average Estonian'...We didn't really think about [national identity]. We didn't categorize ourselves. It was part of our identity, and before you have that choice to make, you don't really think about it. When the conflict came you had to pick 'sides', and then there was more of a variation. I'm very much Ukrainian at the moment, I just live in Estonia. I think everyone's got to make their own decisions.''
With an Estonian business degree and additional study at Cornell University in the US and the University of Cumbria in the UK, Merilo got her big business break with Estonian, Urmas Sµµrumaa (below, left). She describes him as her ''guru''.
A car mechanic by trade, Sµµrumaa served in the Soviet armed forces during the conscription era, and then, between 1983 and 1991, he rose through the ranks of the Soviet-controlled Interior Ministry of Estonia. According to Merilo, he wasn't a policeman. According to him, he was an inspector of militia. Whether he inspected cars or criminals isn't clear. After Estonia became independent, Sµµrumaa started selling protection, er security services to building and real estate developers. He then moved upstream into real estate investment and investment management.
In 2008 Sµµrumaa was telling the local press that Estonia wasn't good for his business. By 2013 he had remedied that, selling out to the UK security group G4S, and consolidating his remaining protection operations in USS Security Esti AS. According to Sµµrumaa, USS Security owns ''a third of Estonia's security service's market'', with a private army of at least 1,300. Sµµrumaa has also branched out into the ''manned and technical security services'' sector in Ukraine. Garbage collection, landfill, biogas, and tennis are other lines of his business.
Merilo says she worked for Sµµrumaa for several years.
Sµµrumaa is also an adept of James Bond '' the flicks, that is. That's Sµµrumaa (above right) practising his moves at a party for the Estonian premiere for ''Skyfall'', which Sµµrumaa's USS Security company paid for at Sµµrumaa's US Art Gallery in Tallinn in November 2012. The lady being throttled is Kati Toots (n(C)e Kµiv), whom the local media describe as a ''socialite'' and having, like Merilo, a guru in a branch of the Estonian police and intelligence services.
Merilo's new guru, Ukrainian economic development and trade minister Abromavičius, has been associated in the past with Lithuanian government-funded efforts to swing western Ukraine toward the European Union '' for example, the Centre for European Integration of Ukraine. The Lithuanian Government reports funding several entities like this.
Just after her Kiev appointment was announced, Merilo told the Estonian media ''Ukraine needs reforms within weeks'... although the hostilities in the eastern Ukraine have not stopped and are a depressive topic, it wouldn't obstruct the reforms.''
The war in the east of the country looked to be good for Merilo's line of business, even before she was given her job in Kiev. On December 30, she told Estonia Public Broadcasting: ''The key principle of introducing e-government to Ukraine is to 'pick the functionality that fits the need today.' The example she cites is the 27 military hospitals currently using differing IT systems, into which the e-health infrastructure used successfully in North Estonia Military Hospital is being introduced. 'Now we're copying the main functionality, giving it to Ukraine, and Ukrainians are plugging in certain databases, and whatever is needed. I've always said that local government should support the development of local IT products and local services, but today we don't have this time. Anything that could be adopted and copied cheaply, quickly and efficiently is very good. We're taking the Estonian software and adapting it for Ukraine.' Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs, she adds, wish to utilize similar e-government IT systems for use with the country's National Guard.''
She added that Estonia ''is offering practical assistance by using its technical knowhow to bring help to those on the frontline of the fighting.''
In a photograph with Abromavičius (right), published on January 17, Merilo has opted for office coveralls and blackened hair. The official on her left is the Prime Minister of Estonia, Taavi Roivas. It's her maiden appearance as a Ukrainian official: Merilo is missing from the photo record of a meeting Abromavičius held last week with Nathan Sheets, the US Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs. Sheets told Abromavičius that ''provided Ukraine remains on-track with the reform program it has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'', the US will sign a $1 billion loan guarantee. Also, ''if Ukraine continues making concrete progress on its reform agenda and if conditions warrant,'' Sheets added: ''the U.S. Administration will be willing, working with Congress, to provide an additional $1 billion loan guarantee in late 2015.''
Two days after Sheets, Merilo was also excluded from the record of Abromavičius's meeting with Peter Balazs from the European Commission. Balazs, according to the Ukrainian record, told Abromavičius the EU isn't so keen on the privatization selloff which Merilo and Casey have been promoting.
Merilo was asked to clarify the date and purpose of the photographs which she has released on the internet, displaying her in undress, her lips, a knife at her lips, and tasting blood; they were published last week by a website called Peoples Trust Toronto. Merilo did not reply. Asked whether funding for the Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association has come from government bodies such as the Ukrainian Government, the European Union, EBRD, or the US Agency for International Development, she refused to say.
by Editor - Sunday, January 18th, 2015
FPI WAR F-RUSSIA-What Germany Owes Ukraine | Foreign Policy Initiative
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 04:35
By James Kirchick | February 5, 2015 | Foreign Policy
Getty Images
In a state visit to Hungary on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated what has become her mantra ever since Russian tanks, men, and materiel began pouring over the border into Ukraine last spring. ''I am convinced that this conflict cannot be solved militarily,'' the Queen of Europe, now entering her 10th year as the most powerful leader on the continent, said.
If only Vladimir Putin agreed.
Almost immediately following its stealth invasion of Crimea and subsequent illegal annexation of the peninsula last march, Russia began supplying arms and tactical support to rebels in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region. Soon thereafter, Russian soldiers themselves joined the fight. Official Russian claims to the contrary, the steady trickle of body bags back to Mother Russia over the past year has attested to the presence of Russian forces fighting (and dying) in Ukraine. In the past two weeks, pro-Russian rebels, emboldened by the support they have received from regular Russian military forces, have killed dozens of Ukrainian civilians, including children, by firing shells indiscriminately into non-combatant areas like transit stops.
Putin's strategy is clear. He intends to punish Ukraine for ousting its pro-Russian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, and for having the gall to seek a western political orientation. And he intends to do so by rendering it a failed state. A semi-permanent condition of low-intensity armed conflict in the East serves that function. To secure his grip on Crimea, Putin also seeks to establish a land bridge connecting it to the Russian mainland, which explains the increased military activity around Donetsk and Mariupol in recent weeks.
Putin seems to have no misgivings about using military means to achieve his goals. Which is why, according to the Ukrainian government, there are currently some 15,000 Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory and an untold higher number amassed at the border, ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. A cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk last fall '-- in which Merkel and other European diplomats naively invested much hope '-- is no longer worth the paper it was written on, if it ever was.
Much has been said about how fortunate Europe is to have Merkel dealing with Putin at such a sensitive moment, given her East German upbringing, fluent Russian, and appreciation for cold, hard data instilled via a scientific education. A recent laudatory profile in the New Yorker by George Packer praised her ''characteristically unsentimental view of Russia.'' On the face of it, her tough posture has stood in stark contrast to the emotional attitudes held by so many of her countrymen, especially past Chancellors Gerhard Schr¶der and Helmut Schmidt, who have bent over backwards to make excuses for Putin. And yet, despite Merkel's Teutonic stoicism, her position on Russia is anything but firm.
Mindful of her role as leader of the country that twice plunged Europe into war in the last century, Merkel has, from the very start of the Ukraine crisis, repeatedly advised NATO against providing military support to Kiev. ''Military action isn't an option for us,'' she declared last March, days before Putin formally annexed Crimea, a line that she has recited at nearly every opportunity. So much for the principle of strategic ambiguity.
Not only has Merkel opposed NATO supplying weapons to Ukraine, she has also gone so far as to oppose the stationing of NATO forces further east on the territory of the alliance's newer members so as to reassure them in the face of the new Russian aggression. To justify this stance, she has formulated a dubious interpretation of a clause in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, which stated that NATO would not station ''permanent'' forces in the new member countries in the ''current and foreseeable security environment.'' Calls today by Poland and the Baltic states for NATO troops to be deployed on their territory need not violate this provision, however, as they would not necessarily be ''permanent.'' Moreover, the Founding Act itself has been effectively nullified by the actions of Russia and Russia alone, which has perpetrated an Anschluss. Yet Merkel leads a bevy of other hesitant European statesmen in clinging to its outdated provisions, echoing positions favorable to the Kremlin.
Merkel's leadership style hinges upon a deft reading of public opinion, followed by a gentle guiding from the front. This rule-by-consensus approach is what has kept her in power for the past decade. As the broad majority of Germans has always opposed sending any military support to Ukraine, there is little reason to believe that Merkel would ever risk standing athwart this popular accord. In the first place, Russia's propaganda machine has done its work. The German public has been especially susceptible to Russian claims that the new government in Kiev is replete with ''Nazis,'' as Germans are ever sensitive to claims of nascent fascism on the European continent. Secondly, calls to get tough on Russia are often viewed as explicitly American machinations, something many Germans are allergic to in an era when they regard the U.S.-Germany alliance with growing skepticism. (Danke, Edward Snowden.)
But most immediately, Germans' hesitation to confront Russia is rooted in their confused understanding of their country's wartime history. Seventy years after World War II, German political discussion of Russia continues to be plagued by a misplaced sense of guilt toward Moscow. This sympathy for Russia is so wide and so deep that the epithet Russland-Versteher, or ''Russia understander,'' entered the political lexicon last year. Many German political leaders have difficulty separating the historic atrocities committed by the Wehrmacht and SS against Soviet troops and citizens with the atrocities being visited upon Ukrainians by Russians this very day. So, when, for instance, last year German Finance Minister Wolfgang Sch¤uble very reasonably compared Putin to Adolf Hitler '-- on the basis that both men forcibly seized whole chunks of other countries' territories based solely upon the utterly illegitimate predicate of ethnic comradeship '-- he was set upon by all sectors of German media and politics as an uncouth barbarian trampling upon Germany's sacred debt to honor its wartime history. Their number included no less a figure than the Chancellor herself, who described Crimea as ''a standalone case.''
Simply put, most Germans, already averse to violence in the first place, cannot countenance the idea of German weapons being used to kill Russians. It doesn't matter if those weapons are being used purely in self-defense to protect Ukrainians, who would otherwise perish in the Russian onslaught. More important to the collective German conscience is its own moral immaculacy. It's an understandable historical hang-up, but a deeply erroneous one. For in ascribing permanent victimhood status to Putin's Russian Federation, the Germans not only absolve the Russian leader of responsibility for his actions '-- they commit a grave historical error by conflating the former Soviet Union with contemporary Russia.
''The vast majority of Ukrainians who fought in [World War II] did so in the uniform of the Red Army,'' writes historian Timothy Snyder. ''More Ukrainians were killed fighting the Wehrmacht than American, British, and French soldiers '-- combined.'' By swallowing Russian propaganda about Ukrainian nationalists who fought on the side of the Nazis against the Soviets, Germans forget that the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians who fought in World War II did so on the side of the Soviets and died at the hands of Germans. If war guilt is to be a major determinative factor in the formation of 21st-century German foreign policy (and it appears that it will), then Germans owe Ukrainians at least as much, if not more, than whatever they may owe Russians: after all, their grandfathers killed plenty of both. Ultimately, what Germany owes both countries in equal measure is an honest accounting of history. It is the very least that Germany, which has produced some of the best historians of World War II, can do.
An honest accounting of history, then, would show that Ukraine was a victim both of German and Soviet predations, and is today being set upon by a rapacious, authoritarian Russia. In words, at least, Merkel seems to understand this. ''What Russia is visiting upon Ukraine is a violation of our European system of peace and security,'' she said Tuesday in Budapest, stating that Moscow's actions signify ''the old pattern of thought that neighboring states are spheres of influence, and not partners.'' It is just that she seems unwilling to match her words with deeds.
Today, Germans proudly see themselves as staunch advocates for liberal democratic values '-- the sharpest repudiation possible of their own dark past. In Budapest earlier this week, Merkel criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose right-wing populist government has repeatedly come under fire from the European Union and human rights watchdogs for weakening checks and balances and for whitewashing the country's World War II collaboration with the Nazis. But during the same visit, she repeated her position against arming Ukraine. Hungary, however, is not where the continent's most desperate battles in defense of a struggling new democracy are being waged. It's all well and good for Merkel to speak out for democracy with words and bureaucratic instruments. But in neighboring Ukraine, where the state's very existence hangs in the balance, the battle for democracy must be waged with bullets.
No, Putin Does Not Have Autism
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 07:07
The media is aflutter this week with the ''revelation'' from a classified Department of Defense assessment that Vladimir Putin has autism. The troublesome man in the Kremlin is a problem not because he's a nasty Chekist, besotted with Russian nationalism and KGB conspiracy thinking, he's just 'spergy '-- think an unfunny Rain Man with several thousand nuclear missiles. Per a 2008 DoD study:
Putin's ''neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy,'' wrote Brenda Connors, an expert in movement pattern analysis at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Studies of his movement, Connors wrote, reveal ''that the Russian President carries a neurological abnormality.''
This has been met by snickers among the media, while the Kremlin sees nothing funny here at all. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, angrily denounced the ''conclusion'' that Russia's president has Asperger's as ''stupidity not worthy of comment.'' This is a rarity for me, but allow me to state that the Kremlin has this exactly right.
POLITICO has obtained two relevant studies by Brenda Connors through the Freedom of Information Act and let's just say it's not impressed. As it asks readers:
Do you like watching Internet videos and then drawing broad, sweeping, pseudoscientific conclusions about the people involved? If so, congratulations, you might be qualified to join the Pentagon's secret team investigating the nonverbal cues of powerful world leaders.
What's going on here is a tad complex but it's worth a bit of unpacking since it demonstrates how DoD wastes vast sums of taxpayer money on complete bullshit. I happen to know a bit about this case, since I was at the Naval War College from 2005 to 2014, and got to see some of Ms. Connors' special genius at work, and let me state that what's still behind the classification wall is more risible than even this.
Allow me to also state that I don't actually know if Putin has autism '-- and neither does Connors. Her credentials for making such an assessment are literally nonexistent. She has a BA and MA in political science and a background in '-- wait for it '-- interpretive dance. She was a protocol officer at the State Department and somehow wangled her way into lucrative research (i.e. non-teaching) faculty positions at the Naval War College; all this was a subject of some mystery to NWC faculty, but given that institution's tendency to give out jobs to unqualified ''special friends,'' the Connors case isn't really that much of an outlier. Connors has been at NWC for over a decade'...doing whatever it is she does.
She bills herself as an expert in ''movement analysis,'' which means she watches a lot of video and YouTube clips and generates classified assessments of the subject's mental state. How she comes to these conclusions is mysterious, to be charitable. Her Putin ''assessment'' was the topic of head-scratching by NWC faculty who, unlike Connors, knew something about Russia, the Kremlin, and the KGB. Her sole claim to understanding Putin is ''movement analysis,'' which is a discipline nobody else on the faculty had heard of.
Neither was the need for such classified assessments clear, since for decades CIA has done exactly that, writing up detailed medical and psychological studies of world leaders, so that U.S. decision-makers might gain insights of value. I've read quite a few of those assessments and, since they are done with the input of bona fide MDs and PhDs, unlike Connors, they can be genuinely insightful.
You see, Connors somehow got the eye of the Pentagon's spooky Office of Net Assessment, which dispenses bags of cash in a non-transparent fashion to all sorts of oddballs. How much ONA has given to Connors for what she terms her ''Body Leads'' project is unclear but POLITICO learned that since 2009, experts working with Connors have received at least $365,000. Rumor has it the true figure is much higher, but I'll leave that to intrepid reporters to uncover.
None of this is exactly surprising to anybody acquainted with ONA, which has been run since 1973 by Andy Marshall, known as ''Yoda'' to his legions of intellectual fans. Appointed by President Nixon in an effort to get around CIA assessments that Kissinger especially didn't like, Marshall did that and ONA succeeded in that mission at least, and subsequently Marshall has enjoyed a level of geriatric tenure rarely seen outside North Korea.
This has something to do with the strong following Marshall has built up, which in his waning days '-- Yoda has promised to leave the Pentagon this year, finally '-- some are daring to note possesses cult-like qualities. I've found most ONA analysis middling (it's not all as bizarre as ''Putin has autism'') and it's evident that Marshall's real skill is in building his office and generating massive loyalty to it '-- and himself.
It's not hard to see how Marshall has done this, since ONA under him manifests all the worst defects of academia and intelligence work, run together. You have the intellectual vanity. You have the powerful mentorship that can verge on the cultish. Plus you dispense cash to promising acolytes and keep the loyal ones on the gravy train for decades, ensuring their adherence to the Yoda-Is-God party line. You hide behind classification to make sure nobody's ever entirely sure who's on the ONA payroll and who isn't, plus you avoid anything like normal peer review. Finally, hardly any of your assessments, being classified, are seen by outside scholars, much less the public, so nobody really knows what you're doing.
Therefore there's no mystery how the laughable Connors debacle happened. There's also a specific ONA-NWC angle here that merits attention. The Connors case is not isolated, and not the worst one either. I am aware of NWC faculty working for ONA, then selling the DoD-owned product on the open market at considerable profit. This is called ''triple-dipping'' and is flagrantly illegal, not to mention unethical. I'd like to tell you NWC cleaned this up and fired wrong-doers, but they did nothing of the sort. These sort of shenanigans being tolerated at NWC may have something to do with the fact that, for years, it's been the only accredited graduate-level college in the United States that I know of where the dean of research, who is supposed to prevent this sort of thing, possesses no terminal degree in research.
Last year the Department of the Navy's Inspector General produced an unflattering assessment of the Naval War College that scathingly noted that the college faculty is underqualified and overpaid: which is true. One can only wonder what a Pentagon IG assessment of Andy Marshall's shop would look like. Perhaps someone will be spurred to do one, given these revelations about the Connors boondoggle. They should look into ONA-NWC connections while they're at it. I've only scratched the surface here.
UPDATE (1120 EST, 6 Feb): Brenda Connors' LinkedIn page is suitably vague but does manage to misspell both ''behavioral'' and ''strategic.'' In case she deletes this, which would be sensible of her, it's visible below.
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Nuclear War and Clashing Ukraine Narratives | Consortiumnews
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 14:04
Exclusive: America and Russia have two nearly opposite narratives on Ukraine, which is more an indictment of the U.S. news media which feigns objectivity but disseminates what amounts to propaganda. These divergent narratives are driving the world toward a possible nuclear crisis, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
The U.S. government and mainstream media are swaggering toward a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia over Ukraine without any of the seriousness that has informed this sort of decision-making throughout the nuclear age. Instead, Official Washington seems possessed by a self-righteous goofiness that could be the prelude to the end of life on this planet.
Nearly across the U.S. political spectrum, there is a pugnacious ''group think'' which has transformed what should have been a manageable political dispute in Ukraine into some morality play where U.S. politicians and pundits blather on about how the nearly year-old coup regime in Kiev ''shares our values'' and how America must be prepared to defend this regime militarily.
Jaanika Merilo, an Estonian brought into the Ukrainian government to oversee foreign investments. (A photo released on the Internet by Merilo via DanceswithBears)
Though I'm told that President Barack Obama personally recognizes how foolhardy this attitude is, he has made no significant move to head off the craziness and, indeed, has tolerated provocative actions by his underlings, such as neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland's scheming with coup plotters to overthrow Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.
Obama also has withheld from the American people intelligence information that undercuts some of the more extreme claims that his administration has made. For instance, I'm told that he has detailed intelligence reporting on both the mysterious sniper attack that preceded the putsch nearly a year ago and the shoot-down of the Malaysia Airlines Flights 17 that deepened the crisis last summer. But he won't release the findings.
More broadly over the last year, Obama's behavior '' ranging from his initial neglect of the Ukraine issue, as Nuland's coup plotting unfolded, to his own participation in the tough talk, such as boasting during his State of the Union address that he had helped put the Russian economy ''in tatters'' '' ranks as one of the most irresponsible performances by a U.S. president.
Given the potential stakes of nuclear war, none of the post-World War II presidents behaved as recklessly as Obama has, which now includes allowing his administration officials to talk loosely about sending military support to an unstable regime in Kiev that includes neo-Nazis who have undertaken death-squad operations against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, who is commander of NATO, declared last November that '' regarding supplying military support for the Kiev government '' ''nothing at this time is off the table.'' Breedlove is now pushing actively to send lethal U.S. military equipment to fend off an offensive by ethnic Russian rebels in the east.
I'm told that the Russians fear that U.S. officials are contemplating placing Cruise missiles in Ukraine or otherwise introducing advanced weaponry that Moscow regards as a direct threat to its national security. Whether or not the Russians are being alarmist, these fears are affecting their own decision-making.
None of the nuclear-age presidents '' not Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush '' would have engaged in such provocative actions on Russia's borders, though some surely behaved aggressively in overthrowing governments and starting wars farther away.
Even Ronald Reagan, an aggressive Cold Warrior, kept his challenges to the Soviet Union in areas that were far less sensitive to its national security than Ukraine. He may have supported the slaughter of leftists in Central America and Africa or armed Islamic fundamentalists fighting a Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan, but he recognized the insanity of a military showdown with Moscow in Eastern Europe.
After the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, U.S. presidents became more assertive, pushing NATO into the former Warsaw Pact nations and, under President Clinton, bombing a Russian ally in Serbia, but that came at a time when Russia was essentially flat on its back geopolitically.
Perhaps the triumphalism of that period is still alive especially among neocons who reject President Vladimir Putin's reassertion of Russia's national pride. These Washington hardliners still feel that they can treat Moscow with disdain, ignoring the fact that Russia maintains a formidable nuclear arsenal and is not willing to return to the supine position of the 1990s.
In 2008, President George W. Bush '' arguably one of the most reckless presidents of the era '' backed away from a confrontation with Russia when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a neocon favorite, drew the Russians into a border conflict over South Ossetia. Despite some war talk from the likes of Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain, President Bush showed relative restraint.
Imbalanced Narrative
But Obama has failed to rein in his administration's war hawks and has done nothing to correct the biased narrative that his State Department has fed to the equally irresponsible mainstream U.S. news media. Since the Ukraine crisis began in fall of 2013, the New York Times and other major U.S. news outlets have provided only one side of the story, openly supporting the interests of the pro-European western Ukrainians over the ethnic Russian eastern Ukrainians.
The bias is so strong that the mainstream media has largely ignored the remarkable story of the Kiev regime willfully dispatching Nazi storm troopers to kill ethnic Russians in the east, something that hasn't happened in Europe since World War II.
For Western news organizations that are quick to note the slightest uptick in neo-Nazism in Europe, there has been a willful blindness to Kiev's premeditated use of what amount to Nazi death squads undertaking house-to-house killings in eastern Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com's ''Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.'']
The Russian government has repeatedly protested these death-squad operations and other crimes committed by the Kiev regime, but the U.S. mainstream media is so in the tank for the western Ukrainians that it has suppressed this aspect of the crisis, typically burying references to the neo-Nazi militias at the end of stories or dismissing these accounts as ''Russian propaganda.''
With this ugly reality hidden from the U.S. public, Obama's State Department has been able to present a white-hat-vs.-black-hat narrative to the crisis. So, while Russians saw a constitutionally elected government on their border overthrown by a U.S.-backed coup last February '' and then human rights atrocities inflicted on ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine '' the American people heard only about wonderful pro-American ''reformers'' in Kiev and the evil pro-Russian ''minions'' trying to destroy ''democracy'' at Putin's bidding.
This distorted American narrative has represented one of the most unprofessional and dangerous performances in the history of modern U.S. journalism, rivaling the false conventional wisdom about Iraq's WMD except in this case the media propaganda is aimed at a country in Russia that really does have weapons of mass destruction.
The Russians also have noted the arrival of financially self-interested Americans, including Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden and Ukraine's new Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, reminding the Russians of the American financial experts who descended on Moscow with their ''shock therapy'' in the 1990s, ''reforms'' that enriched a few well-connected oligarchs but impoverished millions of average Russians.
Ukraine's Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.
Jaresko, a former U.S. diplomat who took Ukrainian citizenship in December 2014 to become Finance Minister, had been in charge of a U.S.-taxpayer-financed $150 million Ukrainian investment fund which involved substantial insider dealings, including paying a management firm that Jaresko created more than $1 million a year in fees, even as the $150 million apparently dwindled to less than $100 million.
Jaresko also has been involved in a two-year-long legal battle with her ex-husband to gag him from releasing information about apparent irregularities in the handling of the U.S. money. Jaresko went into Chancery Court in Delaware to enforce a non-disclosure clause against her ex-husband, Ihor Figlus, and got a court order to silence him.
This week, when I contacted George Pazuniak, Figlus's lawyer about Jaresko's aggressive enforcement of the non-disclosure agreement, he told me that ''at this point, it's very difficult for me to say very much without having a detrimental effect on my client.''
With Jaresko now being hailed as a Ukrainian ''reformer'' who '' in the words of New York Times' columnist Thomas L. Friedman '' ''shares our values,'' one has to wonder why she has fought so hard to shut up her ex-husband regarding possible revelations about improper handling of U.S. taxpayer money. [See Consortiumnews.com's ''Ukraine's Made-in-USA Finance Minister.'']
More Interested Parties
The Russians also looked askance at the appointment of Estonian Jaanika Merilo as the latest foreigner to be brought inside the Ukrainian government as a ''reformer.'' Merilo, a Jaresko associate, is being put in charge of attracting foreign investments but her photo spreads look more like someone interested in some rather kinky partying.
Jaanika Merilo, the Estonian being put in charge of arranging foreign investments in Ukraine. (A photo released by Merilo on the Internet via DanceswithBears)
The Russians are aware, too, of prominent Americans circling around the potential plunder of Ukraine. For instance, Hunter Biden was named to the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine's largest private gas firm. Burisma is also a shadowy Cyprus-based company linked to Privat Bank.
Privat Bank is controlled by the thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by the Kiev regime to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a south-central province of Ukraine. Kolomoysky has helped finance the paramilitary forces killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
And, Burisma has been lining up well-connected lobbyists, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry's former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobbying disclosures. As Time magazine reported, ''Leiter's involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry's son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.'' [See Consortiumnews.com's ''The Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis.'']
So, the Russians have a decidedly different view of the Ukrainian ''reforms'' than much of the U.S. media does. But I'm told that the Russians would be willing to tolerate these well-connected Americans enriching themselves in Ukraine and even having Ukraine expand its economic relations with the European Union.
But the Russians have drawn a red line at the prospect for the expansion of NATO forces into Ukraine and the continued killing of ethnic Russians at the hands of neo-Nazi death squads. Putin is demanding that those paramilitary forces be disarmed.
Besides unleashing these right-wing militias on the ethnic Russians, the Kiev government has moved to punish the people living in the eastern sectors by cutting off access to banks and other financial services. It also has become harder and more dangerous for ethnic Russians to cross into territory controlled by the Kiev authorities. Many are turned back and those who do get through face the risk of being taken and killed by the neo-Nazi militias.
These conditions have left the people in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas '' the so-called Donbass region on Russia's border '' dependent on relief supplies from Russia. Meanwhile, the Kiev regime '-- pumped up by prospects of weapons from Washington as well as more money '-- has toughened its tone with vows to crush the eastern rebellion once and for all.
Russia's Hardening Line
The worsening situation in the east and the fear of U.S. military weapons arriving in the west have prompted a shift in Moscow's view of the Ukraine crisis, including a readiness to resupply the ethnic Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and even provide military advisers.
These developments have alarmed European leaders who find themselves caught in the middle of a possible conflict between the United States and Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande rushed to Kiev and then Moscow this week to discuss possible ways to defuse the crisis.
The hardening Russian position now seeks, in effect, a division of Ukraine into two autonomous zones, the east and the west with a central government that maintains the currency and handles other national concerns. But I'm told that Moscow might still accept the earlier idea of a federated Ukraine with greater self-governance by the different regions.
Putin also does not object to Ukraine building closer economic ties to Europe and he offered a new referendum in Crimea on whether the voters still want to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, said a source familiar with the Kremlin's thinking. But Putin's red lines include no NATO expansion into Ukraine and protection for ethnic Russians by disarming the neo-Nazi militias, the source said.
If such an arrangement or something similar isn't acceptable and if the killing of ethnic Russians continues, the Kremlin would support a large-scale military offensive from the east that would involve ''taking Kiev,'' according to the source.
A Russian escalation of that magnitude would likely invite a vigorous U.S. response, with leading American politicians and pundits sure to ratchet up demands for a military counterstrike against Russia. If Obama were to acquiesce to such bellicosity '' to avoid being called ''weak'' '' the world could be pushed to the brink of nuclear war.
Who's to Blame?
Though the State Department and the mainstream U.S. media continue to put all the blame on Russia, the fact that the Ukraine crisis has reach such a dangerous crossroads reveals how reckless the behavior of Official Washington has been over the past year.
Nuland and other U.S. officials took an internal Ukrainian disagreement over how quickly it should expand ties to Europe '' while seeking to retain its historic relations with Russia '' and turned that fairly pedestrian political dispute into a possible flashpoint for a nuclear war.
At no time, as this crisis has evolved over the past year, did anyone of significance in Official Washington, whether in government or media, stop and contemplate whether this issue was worth risking the end of life on the planet. Instead, all the American people have been given is a steady diet of anti-Yanukovych and anti-Putin propaganda.
Though constitutionally elected, Yanukovych was depicted as a corrupt tyrant who had a pricy sauna in his official mansion. Though Putin had just staged the Winter Olympics in Sochi, signaling his desire for Russia to integrate more with the West, he was portrayed as either a new-age imperial czar or the second coming of Hitler '' if not worse because he occasionally would ride on a horse while not wearing a shirt.
Further, the U.S. news media refused to conduct a serious investigation into the evidence that Nuland and other U.S. officials had helped destabilize Yanukovych's government with the goal of achieving another neocon ''regime change.''
Nuland, who personally urged on anti-Yanukovych protests in Kiev, discussed with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in early February 2014 who should lead the new government '' ''Yats is the guy,'' she said, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk '' and how to ''glue this thing.''
After weeks of mounting tensions and worsening violence, the coup occurred on Feb. 22, 2014, when well-organized neo-Nazi and other right-wing militias from western Ukraine overran presidential buildings forcing officials to flee for their lives. With Yanukovych ousted, Yatsenyuk soon became Prime Minister. [See Consortiumnews.com's ''When Is a Putsch a Putsch.'' ]
Many ethnic Russians in southern and eastern Ukraine, who had strongly supported Yanukovych, refused to accept the new U.S.-backed order in Kiev. Crimean officials and voters moved to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that Putin accepted because of Crimea's historic ties to Russia and his fear that the Russian naval base at Sevastopol might be handed to NATO.
The resistance spread to eastern Ukraine where other ethnic Russians took up arms against the coup regime in Kiev, which responded with that it called an ''anti-terrorist operation'' against the east. To bolster the weak Ukrainian army, Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov dispatched neo-Nazi and other ''volunteer'' militias to spearhead the attacks.
After the deaths of more than 5,000 people, a shaky cease-fire was announced in September, but '-- amid complaints about neo-Nazi death squads operating in government-controlled areas and with life deteriorating in rebel-controlled towns and cities '-- the ethnic Russians launched an offensive in January, using Russian-supplied weapons to expand their control of territory.
In reaction, U.S. pundits, including columnists and editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post, called for dispatching U.S. aid to the Kiev forces, including proposals for lethal weaponry to deter Putin's ''aggression.'' Members of Congress and members of the Obama administration have joined the chorus.
On Feb. 2, the New York Times reported ''With Russian-backed separatists pressing their attacks in Ukraine, NATO's military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev's beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, American officials said. '... President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance.''
That same day, the lead Times editorial was entitled ''Mr. Putin Resumes His War'' and continued with the theme about ''Russian aggression'' and the need ''to increase the cost'' if Russia demands ''a permanent rebel-held enclave.''
On Feb. 3, the Washington Post ran an editorial entitled ''Help for Ukraine. Defensive weapons could deter Russia in a way sanctions won't.'' The editorial concluded that Putin ''will stop only if the cost to his regime is sharply raised '' and quickly.''
A new war fever gripped Washington and no one wanted to be viewed as ''soft'' or to be denounced as a ''Putin apologist.'' Amid this combination of propaganda, confusion and tough-guy-ism '' and lacking the tempering wisdom about war and nuclear weapons that restrained earlier U.S. presidents '' a momentum lurched toward a nuclear showdown over Ukraine that could put all life on earth in jeopardy.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book,America's Stolen Narrative,either in print here or as an e-book (fromAmazonandbarnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includesAmerica's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer,click here.
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:25
A number of seasoned observers of Middle Eastern affairs agree that U.S. - Saudi relations are at their lowest ebb since U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established America's special relationship>> with the Saudi monarchy on February 14, 1945, just a few months before FDR's death. Subsequent to the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt met Saudi King Ibn Saud on board the USS Quincy on Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal in Egypt. Roosevelt and Saud inked the Quincy Agreement>>, by which the United States would provide Saudi Arabia with military equipment and training in return for the U.S. establishing a military base at Dhahran in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia guaranteeing the United States a steady flow of Saudi oil. Except for the Arab oil embargo instituted against the West in the 1970s, the Quincy Agreement has survived six Saudi kings.However, the Quincy Agreement is in trouble. There are a number of reasons why U.S.-Saudi relations have fractured. They include:' The decision by the Barack Obama administration to cancel a U.S. military strike against Syria in return for a U.S.-Russian concordat to oversee the removal from Syria and ultimate destruction of chemical weapons.' The Obama administration's decision to engage Iran through direct diplomatic negotiations.' Increasing evidence by U.S. intelligence of Saudi links to Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-linked terrorists operating around the world.' Reduced U.S. dependency on Saudi oil as a result of increased U.S. carbon fuel output from the fracking of shale reserves in the United States.' The closeness of the head of the Ri'asat Al-Istikhbarat Al-'Ama, the Saudi General Intelligence Agency, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, to the Bush family and other leading Republicans, including former Vice President Dick Cheney.' Saudi concern that the U.S. has turned its Arab Spring>> resources against Saudi Arabia in a low-level manner through the Car Key Revolution>>, a widespread protest by Saudi women who broke Saudi law by driving cars.After the U.S. supported the Arab Spring Jasmine Revolution>> in Tunisia that toppled longtime Tunisian strongman President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali '' who received refuge in Saudi Arabia -- and the Lotus Revolution>> that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power, Riyadh grew increasingly concerned that the mass demonstrations against unpopular regimes would spread to the Kingdom.>> In fact, Saudi forces quickly suppressed a few demonstrations in Saudi Arabia and sent in military forces to ruthlessly put down a pro-democracy uprising in neighboring Bahrain. The Saudis were never comfortable with the accession to power in Egyptian elections of the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly the presidency of Mohamed Morsi. The Saudis, therefore, instructed the pro-Saudi Nour Party in Egypt to support the military coup that toppled Morsi and replaced him with General Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi.Although Sisi has Nasserite sympathies, the Saudis view him much more favorably than they do the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi's establishing of closer relations with Iran was viewed as a threat to the Saudi regime and a breakdown of the established balance of power in the region. Obama's decision to curtail the supply of military weaponry to Egypt following the ouster of Morsi further inflamed relations between Riyadh and Washington. To make up for the cut-off in U.S. assistance to Cairo, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates pledged $12 billion in aid to Cairo in July of this year. The Saudis also joined Israel in voicing opposition to the cut off of American military assistance to Cairo, evidence of the growing relationship between Saudi Arabia and the nation that Saudi King Faisal once referred to as the Zionist regime>> as he presented beautifully-bound copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion>> to visiting dignitaries.After serving as Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005, becoming the dean of the Washington diplomatic corps, and smoking cigars in the White House with George W. Bush while the smoke still rose from the remains of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Bandar Bush>>, as he was known to the Bush family, was certain America would hit targets in Syria in order to deal a blow to the government of President Bashar al Assad. After all, Bandar's influence with Bush and Cheney helped convince them to launch the military attack on Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein from power. Bandar concluded that the same U.S. military-intelligence complex that initiated the occupation of Iraq would certainly exercise its muscle against the Middle East's only remaining Baathist Socialist regime in Syria. Bandar was wrong. Secretary of State John Kerry, although surprised by it, could not resist Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's extension of a deal that saw Syria disarm its chemical weapons arsenal in return for no American strike. Bandar and the Saudi regime were furious. Cheney, appearing on the radio show of right-wing fringe commentator Hugh Hewitt, lamented that the Saudis could no longer trust its historical relationship>> with the United States. Cheney condemned Obama for erasing the red line>> on the use by Assad of chemical weapons that Obama earlier imposed on Syria. Cheney stated that the Obama administration let down America's allies that warred with the U.S. against Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, but he ignored the fact that those allies included Assad's father, Hafez al Assad. Neo-conservatives like Cheney and Hewitt find altering history to being not only a science but an art form.The U.S.-Russian agreement on Syria also slightly improved the overall bilateral U.S. relationship with Moscow. This was especially true in the area of count-terrorism. After Bandar reportedly offered Russian President Vladimir Putin a lucrative deal by the Kingdom to purchase Russian weapons and an order to its Al Qaeda units to observe a truce on terrorist attacks against the Sochi Winter Olympics in return for Russia's abandonment of Assad, it became clear that the Salafist and Wahhabist terror groups in Russia were financed by the Saudis. In fact, the Saudi terror support network in Chechnya and Dagestan was the same as the one that struck the Boston Marathon. Bandar's offer to Moscow ignored one important facet of Russian history. Russia is known for supporting its foreign allies, from the United States during its civil war with the Confederacy to the government of Afghanistan battling Islamic mujaheddin guerrillas. Syria is no exception. In preparation for the Sochi Olympics, Russian and American intelligence began sharing intelligence on Al Qaeda's and their allies' plans. The same money flows and trails detected prior to 9/11 from Saudi sources to Al Qaeda cells were lighting up in financial intelligence fusion systems.The realization that America and Russia had a common foe in Saudi Arabia prompted some interest by former U.S. members of the intelligence community to expand a regular dialogue with their Russian counterparts that took place in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union and, more recently, through the Elbe Group>>, which has mainly focused on counter-nuclear proliferation issues. The Saudis and their supporters in neo-conservative power circles in Washington responded to this initiative by planting stories in the press that the FBI was investigating increased Russian espionage efforts in the United States, especially surrounding the activities of the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Washington. The Saudis and their neo-con American friends realized that the Russian center, which sponsored professional exchange visits to Russia, would be one potential avenue for a low-level dialogue visit by former but influential U.S. intelligence officers to Russia. Every effort had to be made to scuttle such meetings and the best way was to accuse the Russian center of being an espionage front.The decision by Obama to phone Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in New York before he departed John F. Kennedy International Airport after his address to the UN General Assembly was considered another affront to the Saudis. It was the first direct contact between an American president and a president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Further meetings between Kerry and his Iranian counterpart and between other U.S. and Iranian officials, amid reports of Iranian willingness to have its nuclear facilities inspected and activities curtailed, gave rise to hopes of a U.S.-Iranian d(C)tente.With U.S. reliance on foreign oil being reduced from 60 to 40 percent and forecasts that the U.S. could soon, as a result of shale fracking and offshore pumping, become self-sufficient in oil, the Saudi leverage of oil was no longer a weapon it could use to influence U.S. policy in the Middle East. Having more leeway in its dealings with Riyadh enabled the Obama administration, mainly through National Security Adviser Susan Rice and U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, to give quiet support to a George Soros-style thematic revolution>> in Saudi Arabia. The decision by Saudi women, who are banned from driving in the Kingdom, to violate the law in a national protest, was met with some driving citations being issued by Saudi police. But the decision by the White House to quietly support the Car Key Revolution>> was the first indication, albeit low level, that Washington was prepared to tear up the Quincy Agreement. But one thing that is certain about Bandar and his neocon allies in Washington and Israel. When backed up against the wall, they will strike like desert asps. America, Russia, and other nations should remain on alert.
Houthi leader vows to defend 'glorious revolution' - Al Jazeera English
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 04:51
The leader of Yemen's Houthi fighters has defended the group's overthrowing of the government, calling it a "glorious revolution" that has "broken the shackles of injustice and corruption".
In his first public address since Friday's coup, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi said the decision to install a new government and dissolve parliament was a "responsible act" taken in the "best interests of the country".
Houthi Coup: make or break for Yemen?
"The Yemeni people have taken a giant step forward in their march towards freedom, dignity and independence," Houthi said.
Houthi blamed former president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, for creating chaos, and said he would confront all attempts at inciting sedition.
"Some political forces and collaborators, within and outside Yemen, have failed to understand that the Yemeni people are adamant they will achieve their legimiate, lawful, just demands to establish a dignified way of life," Houthi added.
Houthi's speech came as thousands of people rallied across the country.
Demonstrations erupted in the capital Sanaa, as well as the cities of Aden, Hodeida, Taiz, Dhamar, Ibb and al-Bayda.
Sources told Al Jazeera that at least 17 people were arrested at the Sanaa rally, after the Houthis reportedly fired live ammunition to disperse crowds.
Abdel Aziz bin Habtur, the governor of Aden, called the Houthi declaration "a plot against the constitution", while in Taiz, Yemen's third-largest city, protesters pitched tents outside a local government building.
The Houthis' political rivals, the Islah party rejected the "unilateral" initiative and called for it to be scrapped in favour of a return to political dialogue.
Yemen coup: What happens now?
The Houthis, who have controlled the capital since September last year, said on Friday they would set up a 551-member national council to replace the dissolved parliament.
The Shia movement said a five-member presidential council would form a transitional government to run the country for the next two years.
According to its 'constitutional declaration', Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a cousin of Abdel-Malik al-Houthi was declared the new president.
Analysis: Houthis will struggle to seize oil-rich region
General Mahmud al-Subaihi, would chair a newly formed "security commission" to "lead the country's affairs until the establishment of a presidential council".
Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Aden, said the announcement threatened to split an already divided country and would have ramifications throughout the region.
"Popularly speaking, the Houthis are a Shia minority, and there is a lot of opposition to them from the Sunni majority," he said.
"Politically speaking, you have regions like Aden that have said they reject the Houthi takeover and will not accept orders from Sanaa.
Yemen's south accounts for about 70 percent of the country's production and groups in the region have been demanding a return to the full independence the south enjoyed from 1967 to 1990.
OPINION: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the 'Great Game' in Yemen
The Houthi takeover has drawn a strong rebuke from Washington, the UN and neighbouring Gulf states.
On Saturday, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said the coup endangered the "territorial integrity of Yemen".
"The Houthi coup marks a grave and inacceptable escalation ... and endangers the security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen," it said in a statement.
The fall of Hadi's Western-backed government raises fears of chaos engulfing Yemen, strategically located next to oil giant Saudi Arabia and on the key shipping route from the Suez Canal to the Gulf.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
'A Line in the Sand' in Fight to Release Thousands of Prisoner Abuse Photos - The Intercept
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 05:25
A federal judge is demanding that the government explain, photo-by-photo, why it can't release hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of pictures showing detainee abuse by U.S. forces at military prison sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a courtroom in the Southern District of New York yesterday, Judge Alvin Hellerstein appeared skeptical of the government's argument, which asserted that the threat of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda exploiting the images for propaganda should override the public's right to see any of the photos.
He was ''highly suspicious'' of the government's attempt to declare the whole lot of the photos dangerous. ''It's too easy and too meaningless,'' he said.
Since 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union has been fighting for the release of photos from military investigations into prisoner abuse beyond those that were leaked from Abu Ghraib. The additional pictures reportedly show sexual assault, soldiers posing with dead bodies, and other offenses. The exact number of photos has not been disclosed in court, though former Senator Joe Lieberman has previously said that there are nearly 2,100.
Hellerstein first ordered the government to hand over a subset of the pictures in 2005. President Obama decided to release them in 2009, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the top American general in Iraq implored him not to. Congress then passed a law amending the Freedom of Information Act to allow the Secretary of Defense to certify that publishing the pictures could put American lives at risk, which then-secretary Robert Gates did.
The ACLU continued to fight the issue in court, and last August, Hellerstein ordered that the government needed to justify withholding each picture individually.
Six months later, the Pentagon has not done that '' instead, government lawyers filed a motion in December repeating their position that all the photos were properly kept from the public. The government said that the Islamic State made use of past U.S. abuses when it executed hostages on camera, depicting them ''in an orange jumpsuit '' a symbol commonly associated with detainees housed at Guantanamo Bay,'' and that Al Qaeda wrote about Guantanamo in a recent issue of its magazine Inspire.
Both groups could exploit the photos ''to encourage supporters and followers to attack United States military and government personnel,'' the government argued in the motion.
In court yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Lamorte maintained that the Pentagon had already reviewed the photos in 2012. A Pentagon lawyer had brought samples of the various types of photos to senior Pentagon officials, who recommended against publishing them, she said.
Hellerstein did not agree that the 2012 review fulfilled his order. He also said he had originally decided that at least some of the photos should be released, even in the middle of the Iraq war, and did not see the situation now as any different, despite the new threats posed by ISIS. ''We're at a line in the sand,'' Hellerstein declared. ''I'm not changing my view.''
He gave the government a week to decide what it wants to do: appeal the order, or put forward a plan to comply with it. He suggested that the government could present the photos to him, in a closed session, and explain their rationale for keeping them secret. He also advised the government not to try to delay ''the day of reckoning'' by drawing the case out on appeal.
''I have to think that this is not an all or nothing case,'' he said. ''But the way the government has litigated has made it that way.''
This case echoes the Pentagon's attempts to keep secret videotapes showing hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees being force-fed. The government has said that the videos could ''inflame Muslim sensitivities overseas.'' (The Intercept's parent company First Look Media is among the media groups who are trying to get the videos released.)
The judge in that case warned this fall against allowing a ''heckler's veto'' over the public interest. She cited one of Hellerstein's comments from early in the photo litigation, that terrorists ''do not need pretexts for their barbarism.''
Photo: AP
Pentagon Spent $504,816 on Viagra Last Year | Washington Free Beacon
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 04:38
BY:Elizabeth HarringtonFebruary 6, 2015 3:50 pm
The Department of Defense (DoD) spent more than a half a million dollars on the male enhancement drug Viagra last year, according to government contracts.
The Pentagon issued 60 contracts worth $504,816 for the drug in 2014. All 60 contracts were awarded to Cardinal Health Inc., a pharmaceutical distribution company based in Dublin, Ohio.
Last year DoD also ordered $3,505 worth of Levitra, and $14,540 of Cialis, other popular erectile dysfunction drugs.
The contracts were filed under ''Troop Support.''
DoD began offering Viagra to soldiers as a medical benefit in 1998, when the drug cost $10 a pill. Due to inflation, one pill now costs $25. At the time the military's policy only allowed for six pills a month per patient, and the DoD said they would ''not replace lost or stolen pills.''
''Defense guidelines allow military physicians to prescribe Viagra only after a thorough evaluation indicates the medication as the optimal regimen for the patient,'' a release outlining the Pentagon's policy said. ''Patients prescribed Viagra also receive careful guidelines for taking the medication. According to defense health officials, Viagra side effects may include headaches, flushing of the face or chest, indigestion, nasal congestion and mild vision impairment.''
''There's also no guarantee Viagra will work,'' DoD added.
Viagra is still covered by TRICARE, the military's health insurance system, as well as ''External vacuum appliances,'' or penis pumps, ''penile implants and testicular prostheses,'' and hormone injections to treat Erectile Dysfunction.
According to a Washington Free Beacon analysis, at $25 a pill, the amount of Viagra purchased by the Pentagon could have led to up to 80,770 hours, 33 minutes, and 36 seconds of sexual enhancement, assuming that no erection lasted more than the medically advised 4 hour maximum.
Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan Rice on the 2015 National Security Strategy | The White House
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:50
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 06, 2015
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Strobe, for your kind words and to everyone at Brookings. This was my home for six peaceful years. I miss it. Looking around the room, I see many friends who challenged and encouraged me '-- and who continue to generate some of the best ideas for America's foreign policy. So, I'm very pleased to be here.
This morning, President Obama released his 2015 National Security Strategy. Fundamentally, it's a strategy to strengthen the foundations of America's power'--political, economic, and military'--and to sustain American leadership in this new century so that we can surmount the challenges of today and capture the opportunities of tomorrow.
Our strategy is guided by the same four enduring national interests we laid out in the 2010 National Security Strategy '' security, prosperity, values, and a rules-based international order. Our interests are enduring, but in many respects, 2015 is a whole new ballgame. Much has changed in the last five years.
As a nation, we are stronger than we've been in a long time. Since President Obama took office, we arrested the worst financial crisis and repaired the biggest collapse in world trade since the Great Depression. In 2010, unemployment in the United States was almost 10 percent. Today, businesses have added more than 11 million new jobs, and unemployment is down to 5.7 percent. In 2010, our deficit topped $1 trillion; today, we've cut that in half, to less than $500 billion. Our kids are graduating at higher rates, and millions more Americans have healthcare. We've unlocked a domestic energy boom that has made us the world's number one producer of oil and gas, strengthening our energy security '' with huge ripple effects for global oil markets and geopolitics. We've brought home almost 170,000 American troops, responsibly ending two long and costly ground wars and re-purposing our military strength so we can better respond to emerging threats and crises. The diversity and creativity of the American people continue to be a wellspring of American power'--driving innovations that are revolutionizing everything from the way we hail a cab to the way we treat disease. By fortifying our foundational strengths, America is in a better position to confront current crises and seize the opportunities of this new century.
Yet, few know better than we the complexity of the challenges that America faces. Every day, I start my morning with a briefing that covers the most sobering threats and the difficult problems we confront around the world. These include the fall-out from the Arab uprisings, Russian aggression, Ebola, cyber attacks, and a more diffuse terrorist threat.
But, too often, what's missing here in Washington is a sense of perspective. Yes, there's a lot going on. Still, while the dangers we face may be more numerous and varied, they are not of the existential nature we confronted during World War II or the Cold War. We can't afford to be buffeted by alarmism and an instantaneous news cycle. We must continue to do the hard work of leading a complex and rapidly evolving world, of seizing opportunities, and of winning the future for our children.
Strong and sustained American leadership remains essential, as ever. Think for a minute where the world would be today without decisive U.S. leadership. Ebola would be spreading throughout West Africa and likely to far corners of the world. Instead, America galvanized the world to roll back this horrible disease. Without us, Russia would be suffering no cost for its actions in Ukraine. Instead, the ruble is in a free fall, and Russia is paying dearly for flaunting the rules. Without us, there would be no military campaign or sixty countries countering ISIL's advance. There would be no prospect for a global deal on climate change; no pressure for Iran to be at the negotiating table; and, no potential for trade that meets a higher standard for our workers and businesses.
Nonetheless, there is a loud debate in Washington about American leadership in the 21st century. But the issue is not simply when we should have started arming Syrian rebels or whether we should provide lethal weapons to Ukraine. It is about the nature of U.S. leadership for the future. With this national security strategy, we stake out a much larger role for America in shaping our world, while anticipating the challenges to come.
Before I go through the elements of this strategy, I want to note how our approach may differ from what others may recommend. We believe in the importance of economic growth, but we insist upon investing in the foundations of American power: education and health care; clean energy and basic research. We will always act to defend our country and its people, but we aim to avoid sending many thousands of ground forces into combat in hostile lands. We have renewed our core alliances, while also building partnerships with emerging powers and neglected regions. We are committed to fighting terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, even as we rally the world to meet the threats of tomorrow'--malicious cyber actors and deadly pandemics; climate change and competition in space. We focus '' every day '' on the crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, but we are simultaneously rebalancing to the regions that will do more to determine the course of the 21st century'--East Asia and India, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas.
So, with that in mind, let me outline the four ways we are advancing our core interests.
The first element of our strategy is to secure the U.S., our citizens, our allies and partners through a dynamic global security posture in which we employ our unique capabilities, forge diverse coalitions, and support local partners. This approach builds on a more secure homeland and a national defense that is second to none. President Obama is committed to maintaining the best trained, best equipped, and best led military force the world has ever known, while honoring our promises to service members, veterans, and their families. To ensure success, we call on Congress to support responsible investments in our national security, including by ending sequestration.
To counter today's threats, we're implementing a comprehensive counter-terrorism approach that takes account of how the enemy has evolved. As al-Qa'ida core has been decimated, we've seen the diffusion of the threat '' to al-Qa'ida affiliates, ISIL, local militias, and home-grown violent extremists. This diffusion may for now reduce the risk of a spectacular attack like 9/11, but it raises the probability of the types of attacks that we've seen in Boston and Ottawa, Sydney and Paris. To meet this morphing challenge, we are combining our decisive military capabilities with local partnerships, with the financial tools to choke off funding, and the international reach of our law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. We're strengthening the capacity of weak states to govern their territory and provide for their citizens, while countering the corrosive ideology of violent extremism. Fighting terrorism is a long-term struggle. There will be setbacks, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. We have to work across multiple lines of effort in diverse contexts to be effective.
To degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, we assembled a broad coalition that is confronting this scourge from all angles'--from training Iraqi security forces and supporting the moderate Syrian opposition to encouraging political reforms in Iraq that foster greater inclusion. Together, we've taken out thousands of ISIL's fighters; destroyed nearly 200 oil and gas facilities that fund their terror; and pushed them out of territory, including areas around Baghdad, Sinjar, and the Mosul Dam. Just last week, ISIL conceded defeat in their months-long siege of Kobane. And with the world united in condemnation of its horrific executions, ISIL should know that their barbarism only fortifies the world's collective resolve.
Our counter-terrorism strategy is still at work in Afghanistan, where we ended our combat mission as planned. Now, we are focused on supporting a sovereign and stable Afghanistan that will not be a safe haven for al-Qa'ida terrorists. Even as we help develop Afghan security forces, we will continue to keep pressure on al-Qa'ida through a capable counterterrorism mission.
American leadership remains essential not only to tackling today's threats but also to addressing the global challenges that will define the nature of security for our children and grandchildren. And here, too, we have to lead with our heads, enlisting partners to work alongside us.
American leadership is addressing the danger of nuclear proliferation. No threat poses as grave a risk to our security as the potential use of nuclear weapons. That is why we continue to secure nuclear material and strengthen international norms against the use of all weapons of mass destruction, moving us closer to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
American leadership rallied the world to toughen sanctions against Iran. Through diplomacy and sustained economic pressure, we've halted the progress of Iran's nuclear program and rolled it back in key respects. Now, we must give diplomacy a chance to finish the job. If diplomacy fails, it will not be for lack of good faith by America or the P5+1. And then, if necessary, we would be stronger in leading our partners to dial up the pressure and in making sure Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.
American leadership is addressing the dangers of pandemic disease. Our agenda to improve global health security doesn't end with Ebola. It strengthens the capacity of states and international institutions to prevent, detect, and respond to future outbreaks, before they become deadly epidemics.
American leadership is addressing the very real threat of climate change. The science is clear. The impacts of climate change will only worsen over time'--even longer droughts, more severe storms, more forced migration. So we're making smart decisions today that will pay off for generations, like our ground-breaking climate commitment with China that will limit both our nations' greenhouse gases and bend down the global emissions curve.
American leadership is also addressing the pressing need for enhanced cyber-security. As more of the world comes online, we're leading an international effort to define the rules for how states engage with one another in cyberspace, while ensuring the Internet remains a powerful tool to drive future advances. At the same time, we are committing new resources to bolster the security of U.S. critical infrastructure, government networks, and other systems against cyber threats.
Second, we will expand prosperity by using our renewed economic strength'--our resurgent economy and improved energy security'--to bolster the global financial system, advance an open international economic order, and reduce inequality and poverty.
With the world's top universities, premier research facilities, and a culture of entrepreneurship, America already has the keys that will drive our knowledge economy through the coming century. And, with critical investments in technology and innovation, we'll keep sharpening our technological edge to keep the American economy at the forefront of innovation.
We're opening more markets to American businesses, workers, and farmers while forging trade agreements that set high standards for fair wages, safe workplaces, and environmental protections. And, to make sure new trade and growth benefit people around the world, we'll continue to pursue a sustainable development agenda, grounded in our commitment to end extreme poverty.
We'll work with Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority so we can finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, thus securing a free trade agreement with many of the world's fastest-growing economies. We're working to make rapid progress with the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, expanding what is already the largest trading relationship in the world. And, we are committed to renewing and enhancing the African Growth and Opportunity Act to further deepen our investment in that promising region.
Africa is primed to become a major center of global growth. We've ramped up our commitments across the continent, including through the President's Power Africa initiative to connect millions more people to reliable electricity. Through Feed the Future, we're helping farmers plant better crops and raise their incomes, while also improving the food security of the region. And last August, for the first time ever, President Obama hosted some 50 African leaders to chart ways our nations will do more together and seize opportunities for U.S. businesses to invest in Africa's future.
Third, at a time when citizens in every region are demanding greater freedom and more accountability from their governments, our strategy is to defend democracy and human rights, combat corruption, promote open government, and stand with civil society. We do so by living our values at home, growing the ranks of capable democratic states, and defending universal rights. We'll help countries in transition'--like Burma, Tunisia, and Sri Lanka'--become more open, more democratic, and more inclusive societies. We'll support established democracies that are in danger of backsliding. We'll empower citizens and NGOs in places where they are under attack.
At the same time, President Obama has deepened our commitment to promoting that basic American value: equality. We believe everyone should be able to speak their minds and practice their faith freely. We believe all girls deserve the very same opportunities as boys. We believe that all humans are created equal and are worthy of the same love and respect'--including our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters. These beliefs are fundamental to who we are.
Advancing equality is both morally right and smart strategy. If we reduce disparities, which can lead to instability and violence, we increase our shared security. Reams of empirical evidence demonstrate how countries do better'--across every metric'--when they tap the talents of all their people. So, we champion the rights of vulnerable communities'--those targeted by abuse or excluded from society'--and counter escalating cycles of hatred that can spark violence. Mass killings threaten our common security and diminish our shared humanity, so we affirm that governments have a responsibility to protect civilians. We'll continue to lead global efforts to prevent atrocities and hold accountable those who commit the worst abuses.
We're also reaching out to populations that America can ill-afford to neglect. With more than half the world under the age of 30, our strategy invests in and empowers young people through educational exchanges and entrepreneurship. Our Young Leaders initiatives in Africa and Southeast Asia identify and mentor the next generation of talent to grasp opportunity.
And, because we seek to lead by example, we'll keep working to make our own laws more inclusive, to sustain our prohibitions against torture, to protect civil liberties and privacy, and to improve transparency on issues like electronic surveillance. We've reduced the population of Guantanamo by nearly half, and while there are tough challenges ahead, we mean to keep going until we finish the job.
Finally, our strategy leverages American leadership to uphold the liberal international order, which has served the world well for 70 years, by reinforcing rules-of-the road and strengthening and diversifying our alliances and partnerships in every region of the world.
Russia's aggression against Ukraine is a heinous and deadly affront to long-standing international law and norms. In lock-step with our European allies, we have built a coalition of partners around the world to impose steep political and economic costs on Russia, in contrast to its cost-free invasion of Georgia. And, we will continue to turn up the pressure, unless Russia decisively reverses course. At the same time, we're providing vital economic support to help the Ukrainian people write a better future for their country, and we are strengthening our enduring alliance with Europe'--by reassuring our allies in Eastern Europe and investing in modernizing NATO to meet emerging threats.
As we update the existing international system, our strategy is to enhance our focus on regions that will shape the century ahead, starting with the Asia-Pacific. Our rebalance is deepening longstanding alliances and forging new partnerships to expand cooperation. We're investing in ASEAN, the East Asia Summit, and the Pacific Islands Forum to strengthen their capacity to enforce regional norms, respond to crises like natural disasters, and resolve disputes peacefully, so that the Asia Pacific remains a region of dynamic growth and opportunity.
With China, we're building a constructive relationship that expands practical cooperation across a wide spectrum of issues from global health to non-proliferation, even as we confront real differences over human rights, cyber-enabled economic espionage, and the use of coercion to advance territorial claims. President Obama's recent trip to India strengthened another critical partnership that will deliver economic and security benefits for both our nations and the broader region, and help lift up the lives of more than a billion people. In furtherance of our relationships throughout the region, I'm pleased to announce today that we have invited Prime Minister Abe of Japan and President Xi of China for state visits, and we look forward to welcoming other Asian leaders to the White House this year'--including President Park of South Korea and President Widodo of Indonesia.
At the same time, we seek a Middle East that's more secure, prosperous, and where democracy can take root. That's the ultimate vision we're working toward with partners throughout the region. We'll continuously strengthen the unique bonds that unite the peoples of Israel and America. Our commitment to Israel's security remains enduring and unshakeable. We refuse to give up on a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. We'll keep investing in the ability of our Gulf partners, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to deter aggression, even as we deepen our cooperation on regional challenges. Since Libya, Syria, and Yemen confront persistent violence and instability, we'll protect our people, work with partners to shrink terrorist safe havens, and support those working to achieve political and social reform.
To be sure, the region's challenges are many, including: a generational transformation; citizens' legitimate demands for political and economic reform; sectarian, ethnic, and tribal tensions; and Iran's destabilizing influence. But, we'll keep leading international efforts to reduce insecurity and, drawing on all sources of our influence'--not just our military'--we will work to foster progress that endures.
Closer to home, Latin America and the Caribbean is a region that's experienced rapid growth, with a large and growing middle class, vibrant democracies, and still untapped potential. It's grappling with challenges like transnational crime and trafficking that have serious implications for our own security. Thanks in part to our opening with Cuba, which turns the page on 50 years of fruitless policy, we have new opportunities to strengthen our partnership with our neighbors. We're investing particularly in Central America to improve governance and citizen safety to address some of the root causes of mass migrations, like we saw last summer. Across a range of issues, with an array of partners, the United States is proudly shouldering the responsibilities of global leadership. As President Obama made clear during his State of the Union address: ''The question is not whether America leads in the world, but how.'' The answer is: we are pursuing an ambitious, yet achievable agenda, worthy of a great power. The President's Budget directly supports his strategy. Our national security leadership is united around this shared vision and agenda. And, we are eager to work with Congress to restore the vital bi-partisan center to U.S. foreign policy.
Our unparalleled leadership is grounded in America's enduring strengths and guided by a clear sense of purpose. We approach challenges using all levers of our power'--vigorous diplomacy, broad-based development, economic leverage, our technological advantages, the talent and diversity of our people, and, when needed, our military might. We rally partners to enact sustainable solutions when challenges arise. We strive to set the highest standards by our own example. And, we lead with our eyes fixed firmly on the future, alert to opportunities to make the world safer and increasingly just.
President Obama has two years left in his term'--and two years is plenty of time. This national security strategy is a blueprint for what we intend to get done over the next two years '' from degrading ISIL and opposing Russian aggression, to leaving behind a world that can more effectively meet the dangers of climate change and disease, cyber threats, and extreme poverty.
If we run through the tape, America will be better and more sustainably positioned to continue leading '' on the issues, and in the regions, that will shape our future.One thing I can guarantee you: President Obama is going to leave everything on the field, and so will the rest of us. The challenges ahead will surely continue to be many and great. Progress won't be quick or linear. But, we are committed to seizing the future that lies beyond the crisis of the day and to pursuing a vision of the world as it can and should be.
That's our strategy for sustaining the leadership that future generations deserve. Anything less would not be worthy of the American people or of our great nation.
Thank you.
Susan Rice: U.S. Will Avoid Large-Scale Military Commitments Abroad
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:49
With just two years left, the Obama administration still has plenty of time for the administration to ''shape out a much larger role for America in the world,'' National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in Washington Friday, but that role in is likely to be fulfilled without sending large numbers of U.S. troops to war.
''We will always act to defend our country and its people, but we aim to avoid sending many thousands of ground forces into combat in hostile lands,'' said Rice, speaking Friday at the Brookings Institute .
Rice also announced in her remarks that the Obama Administration invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Washington for separate state visits.
In her speech, a hoarse Rice leaned heavily on the administration's 2015 National Security Strategy, a 29-page security strategy document released earlier in the day. She also made frequent use of buzz words like ''strength,'' ''leadership,'' and ''values,'' and applauded the administration '-- and America '-- for restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, engineering a possible deal on climate change, gutting the Ruble, and forming a coalition to fight ISIS.
Rice went on to commend America for beating back the Ebola epidemic that ravaged western Africa last year. She also said the continent has the potential, in the coming years, to grow into a world economic power. The National Security Strategy document itself endorses the entry of more Western businesses into Africa: ''We will continue to support U.S. companies to deepen investment in what can be the world's next major center of global growth.''
Rice offered lip service to continuing concerns about privacy''despite recent reports that the administration will continue to allow the F.B.I. to use national security letters, which do not require court warrants, to force businesses to hand over customer records''but offered no specifics on the administration's plans. ''We will protect civil liberties and privacy and work to improve transparency on issues like electronic surveillance,'' she said.
Rice also offered some criticism of the Washington news media. ''We cannot afford to be buffeted by alarmism and a nearly instantaneous news cycle,'' she said.
Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Agenda 21
UN Climate Chief: We Are Remaking The World Economy | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 14:10
''This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history,'' Christiana Figueres, who heads up the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters.
''This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution,'' Figueres said.
Figueres's remarks come ahead of a meeting in Geneva next week where delegates will pour over draft treaty texts that the U.N. hopes countries will agree to in December. She doesn't expect global warming to be solved by one treaty, but was optimistic in will be solved in the coming years.
''That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 '' you choose the number,'' she said. ''It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.''
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What happens to gay people in North Korea? | Gay Star News
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 06:47
Are there gay people in North Korea?
That was the question posed to four defectors on the NK News website, perhaps prompted by a CCTV photo released last month of two male soldiers kissing upward of the DMZ.
All four unidentified defectors confirmed that LGBTI people do indeed exist in the hermit kingdom, but only one had actually met any.
One seemingly younger defector said they had heard from grown-ups that men often had sex with one another during their 10-year compulsory military service.
'It's tolerable for soldiers stationed on the military bases near neighborhoods. But soldiers who are stationed on military bases located in the middle of the mountains do not get to see women for 10 years,' they said.
'That's why senior officers have been known take charge of ''pretty boy privates.'' Some of them might have been gay. But others may have done so not because they were gay but because they didn't have any women around for so many years.'
Another defector said she was friends with many lesbians, who are known to be particularly good girlfriends.
'They wore men's clothes, kept their hair very short and acted like men, too. They all liked to date women, not men,' she said.
'Parents of girls would do anything to keep their daughters from lesbian girlfriends. So, they would call the police or even slap the girls. But even if the parents of a daughter with a girlfriend call the police, they couldn't be arrested since it wasn't against the law.'
She said the police could only make them write a letter promising not to cross-dress and then they were free to go.
'What's important is that lesbians would be an object of ridicule or gossip but they weren't shunned or excluded from North Korean society,' she said.
The third defector said transgender people also existed in North Korea but sex reassignment surgery was only performed for medical reasons.
'For instance, if a sexless baby is born, the hospital performs the sex-change operation after discussion with the baby's parents,' they said.
'But I can tell you with full confidence that it is impossible to be a transgender in North Korea solely for your sexual orientation.'
They said medical technology in North Korea was not advanced enough and no one would be able to afford the surgery anyway.
The last defector said they had never heard the words 'gay' or 'lesbian in North Korea but they were aware of people with 'different sexual preferences.'
'As long as they were good people, we didn't have any problem being friends with them regardless of their sexual preference,' they said.
They said there was gossip but LGBTI people were never treated with contempt, and it was only after arriving in South Korea that they saw homosexuality as a 'social issue.'
'I believe you don't have a reason to be opposed to homosexuality as expressing one's sexual orientation is equivalent to expressing one's preference in a capitalist, democratic society,' they said.
Packet Equality
Basic thoughts
Epa case proved agencies can't just adjust rules
Wheelers announcement is a punt
Title II changes require thus congress.
333 Pages-Wheeler Won't Release Net Neutrality Draft | Multichannel
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:06
Tom Wheeler won't make public his draft of new open Internet rules before the Feb. 26 meeting, the FCC chairman told the Republican leaders of the House and Senate committees overseeing communications.
"What you have suggested in terms of releasing the preliminary discussion draft of the Order runs contrary to Commission procedure followed over the years by both Democratic and Republican Chairs," he said in a letter dated Feb. 2 obtained by Multichannel News. "If decades of precedent are to be changed, then there must be an opportunity for thoughtful review in the lead up to any change." Wheeler signaled last week that he was unlikely to grant the request, citing the need to go through regular process in order to change regular process.
Wheeler said he would circulate the draft to the commissioners Feb. 5 as planned and they should have the requisite three-week period to discuss the substance of it "in confidence" before the planned Feb. 26 vote. "This is commonplace for administrative agencies and closely resembles the way that appellate courts - including the Supreme Court - hear public argument, confer privately, share their views and review drafts confidentially, and then issue their public decision," he said.
The request to see the draft, which the chairman has said will circulate to the other commissioners Feb. 5 per custom, came in a letter Jan. 22 to Wheeler from House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.).
During network neutrality hearings in the House and Senate two weeks ago, those same leaders suggested one advantage of congressional action'--they have proposed a bill to clarify FCC authority over Internet access'-- is that it was on the table for everyone to check out.
"We will continue to hear from interested parties in the run-up to the open meeting, will engage in the normal confidential process of sharing and considering changes to that Order and, of course, will consider and discuss the matter in public at the open meeting," he said.
The letter is reprinted in full below:
Dear Chairmen Thune, Upton, and Walden:
Thank you for your letter regarding the Commission's Open Internet proceeding. Irecognize and appreciate that your Committees are fully engaged on Open Internet issues, whichare of great importance to Congress and the American people. It is critical to preserve an openInternet.
The Commission's process for considering items like the Open Internet rule is designedto give stakeholders and members of the public ample opportunity to engage in a transparent andvigorous discussion. It is also designed to give Commissioners a three-week period to discuss inconfidence the substance of an item before final decisions are released. This is commonplace foradministrative agencies and closely resembles the way that appellate courts - including theSupreme Court - hear public argument, confer privately, share their views and review draftsconfidentially, and then issue their public decision.
What you have suggested in terms of releasing the preliminary discussion draft of theOrder runs contrary to Commission procedure followed over the years by both Democratic andRepublican Chairs. If decades of precedent are to be changed, then there must be an opportunityfor thoughtful review in the lead up to any change.
I intend to ask the Commission to adopt an Open Internet Order at our next open meeting,on February 26, 2015. As is long-standing and established FCC procedure, I will circulate adraft Order for consideration by my fellow commissioners three weeks prior to the date of thatmeeting (on February 5, 2015). We will continue to hear from interested parties in the run-up tothe open meeting, will engage in the normal confidential process of sharing and consideringchanges to that Order and, of course, will consider and discuss the matter in public at the openmeeting.
The Commission's Open Internet proceeding has been one of the most transparent andinclusive proceedings in recent memory. Indeed, we have received more than four millioncomments - a record for any Commission proceeding - on the Notice of Proposed Rulemakingreleased last spring. We have been urged to act, and act swiftly, to protect Internet openness. Wehave also had continuous engagement with stakeholders, including in the form of six separateroundtables. These roundtables, which were open to the public, addressed Open Internet issues,including mobile broadband, effective enforcement, and technological considerations, and alsosought the best economic and legal thinking on Open Internet topics. The information gatheredfrom these roundtables, public comments, and other engagement with stakeholders has informedour deliberations in the Open Internet proceeding. The almost 600 Ex Parte filings in thisproceeding are another indication of the extensive dialogue the Commission and stakeholdershave conducted in recent months.
Our decisionmaking process has also been informed by regular and detailed, bipartisanengagement with Congress, including you and other Members and staff of your Committees.Again, I am pleased that we share the goal of ensuring a free and open Internet, and I amcommitted to continuing to work with you toward that end and on other matters of interest toyour Committees,
Again, I am pleased that we share the goal of ensuring a free and open Internet, and I amcommitted to continuing to work with you toward that end and on other matters of interest toyour Committees. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me if I may be of further assistancein this matter.
"Here is President Obama's 332-page plan to regulate the...
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:41
About TechFreedomTechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology think tank launched in 2011. TechFreedom is excited about the future. Focusing on issues of Internet freedom and technological progress, we work to protect innovation and discovery from powers that fear change. Technology is the great driver of social progress and human well-being, and we aim to keep it that way.
Obama Nation
The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 01:20
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Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) - Trade - European Commission
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:18
Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)Quick Facts on TiSAan agreement to liberalise trade in servicesinvolves 23 WTO members, including the EU, who together account for 70% of world trade in servicesopen to other WTO members and compatible with WTO / GATScould be made part of the WTO once enough WTO members jointen rounds of talks in Geneva by the end of 2014no set deadline to end the talksEU position papers on TisaThe Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated by 23 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the EU. Together, these countries account for 70% of world trade in services.
TiSA is based on the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which involves all WTO members. The key provisions of the GATS '' scope, definitions, market access, national treatment and exemptions '' are also found in TiSA .
The talks are based on proposals made by the participants. TiSA aims at opening up markets and improving rules in areas such as licensing, financial services, telecoms, e-commerce, maritime transport, and professionals moving abroad temporarily to provide services.
TiSA in a nutshellFacilitating trade in services...Services are an increasingly important in the global economy and a central part of the economy of every EU country. The EU is the world's largest exporter of services with tens of millions of jobs throughout Europe in the services sector. Opening up markets for services will mean more growth and jobs.
By opening up trade in services, we also hope the TiSA talks will help kick start the stalled multilateral negotiations '' the Doha Development Round or DDA '' being carried out under the umbrella of the World Trade Organisation.
...Between a group of like-minded countries...23 WTO members are taking part in the TiSA talks:Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU, Hong Kong China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States. Of these, the EU has no free trade agreements on services with Chinese Taipei, Israel, Pakistan or Turkey.
... and designed to encourage others to joinTiSA is open to all WTO members who want to open up trade in services. China and Uruguay have asked to join the talks. The EU supports their applications because it wants as many countries as possible to join the agreement.
TiSA is based on the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which involves all WTO members. This means that if enough WTO members join, TiSA could be turned into a broader WTO agreement and its benefits extended beyond the current participants.
How is it organised?The meetings take place in Geneva. They are chaired alternately by the EU, Australia and the US. The talks and decision-making are consensus-based.
TransparencyLike any other trade negotiations, the TiSA talks are not carried out in public and the documents are available to participants only.
The EU, however, has been keen to be as transparent as possible.
The European Commission negotiates on behalf of the EU. Its team of negotiators provide regular briefings to the Council '' where representatives of the governments of the EU's Member States sit '' and to the European Parliament. The Commission also organises frequent meetings with business and civil society.
TiSA participants keep other WTO members regularly informed of the state of play of negotiations.
State of playThe talks started formally in March 2013, with participants agreeing on a basic text in September 2013. By the end of 2013, most participants had indicated which of their services markets they were prepared to open and by how much.
By the end of 2014, ten negotiation rounds will have taken place. Meetings are scheduled for September/October and December. The talks are progressing well. There is no set deadline set for ending the negotiations.
Trade in Services Agreement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:17
The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a proposed international trade treaty between 23 Parties, including the European Union and the United States. The agreement aims at liberalizing the worldwide trade of services such as banking, health care and transport.[1] Criticism about the secrecy of the agreement arose after WikiLeaks released in June 2014 a classified draft of the proposal's financial services annex, dated the previous April.[2]
The process was an initiative of the United States. It was proposed to a group of countries meeting in Geneva and called the "Really Good Friends". All negotiating meetings take place in Geneva. The EU and the US are the main proponents of the agreement, and the authors of most joint changes. The participating countries started crafting the proposed agreement in February 2012[3] and presented initial offers at the end of 2013.[4]
Proposed Agreement[edit]The agreement covers about 70% of the global services economy. Its aim is liberalizing the worldwide trade of services such as banking, healthcare and transport.[1][5] Services comprise 75% of American economic output; in EU states, almost 75% of its employment and gross domestic product.[6]
Once a particular trade barrier has unilaterally been removed, it can not be reintroduced. This proposal is known as the 'ratchet clause'.[7]
European Union[edit]The EU has stated that companies outside of its borders will not be allowed to provide publicly funded healthcare or social services.[7]
Market access for publicly-funded health, social services and education, water services, film or TV will not be taken. Therefore the 'racket clause' will not apply.[7]
Parties involved[edit]Initially having 16 members, the TISA has expanded to include 23 parties. Since the European Union represents 28 member states, there are 50 countries represented.[8] The 23 TiSA parties in order of their income categories are[9]
Income GroupPartiesHigh Income CountriesAustralia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, European Union, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United States.Upper Middle Income CountriesColombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, TurkeyLower Middle Income CountriesPakistan,ParaguayControversy[edit]The agreement has been criticized for the secrecy around the negotiation. The cover page of the negotiating document leaked by Wikileaks says: "Declassify on: Five years from entry into force of the TISA agreement or, if no agreement enters into force, five years from the close of the negotiations."[2] Because of this practice it is not possible to be informed about the liberalizing rules that the participating countries propose for the future agreement. Only Switzerland has a practice of making public on the Internet all the proposals it submitted to the other parties since June 2012.[3] European Union published its "offer" for TISA only in July 2014,[10] after the Wikileaks disclosure.
Digital rights advocates have also brought attention to the fact that the agreement has provisions which would significantly weaken existing data protection provisions in signatory countries. In particular, the agreement would strip existing protections which aim to keep confidential or personally identifiable data within country borders or which prohibit its movement to other countries which do not have similar data protection laws in place.[11]
Analysis[edit]A preliminary analysis of the Financial Services Annex by Professor Jane Kelsey, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand was published with the WikiLeaks release.[12]
The Public Services International (PSI) organization described TISA as:
a treaty that would further liberalize trade and investment in services, and expand "regulatory disciplines" on all services sectors, including many public services. The "disciplines," or treaty rules, would provide all foreign providers access to domestic markets at "no less favorable" conditions as domestic suppliers and would restrict governments' ability to regulate, purchase and provide services. This would essentially change the regulation of many public and privatized or commercial services from serving the public interest to serving the profit interests of private, foreign corporations.[13]
One concern is the provisions regarding retention of business records. David Cay Johnston said, "It is ... hard to make the case that the cost of keeping a duplicate record at the home office in a different country is a burden." He noted that business records requirements are sufficiently important that they were codified in law even before the Code of Hammurabi.[14]
Impacts of the law may include "whether people can get loans or buy insurance and at what prices as well as what jobs may be available."[14]
Dr. Patricia Ranald, a research associate at the University of Sydney, said:
''Amendments from the US are seeking to end publicly provided services like public pension funds, which are referred to as 'monopolies' and to limit public regulation of all financial services ... They want to freeze financial regulation at existing levels, which would mean that governments could not respond to new developments like another global financial crisis."[15]
Regarding the secrecy of the draft, Professor Kelsey commented: "The secrecy of negotiating documents exceeds even the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and runs counter to moves in the WTO towards greater openness."[12] Johnston adds, "It is impossible to obey a law or know how it affects you when the law is secret."[14]
See also[edit]External links[edit]References[edit]
Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:17
The Trade In Services Agreement (TISA)
What is the TISA?
The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) is the most promising opportunity in two decades to improve and expand trade in services. Initiated by the United States and Australia, the TISA is currently being negotiated in Geneva, Switzerland with 50 participants that represent 70 percent of the world's trade in services.
As of July 2014, participants in the TISA include Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union*, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States.
The last major services agreement, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) was established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Since then, the world has evolved dramatically from the result of technological advances, changing business practices, and deeper global integration. TheTISA can establish new market access commitments and universal rules that reflect 21st century trade.
The Importance of Services
The services sector is the world's largest employer, and produces 70 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). In the United States, services generate more than 75 percent of of the national economic output and provide 80 percent of private sector jobs. The United States consistantly maintains a surplus of services trade; currently the surplus is over $200 billion. According to the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative, if U.S. business services achieved the same export potential as U.S. manufactured goods, then U.S. exports as a whole could increase by $800 billion.
The TISA has the opportunity to address major and fundamental barriers to trade in services affecting the United States and the globe. Some barriers to services trade include limited movement of data across borders, unfair competition from state-owned enterprises, lack of transparency and need for due process of law, and forced local ownership and discrimination in obtaining business licenses and permits.
An international services agreement has the potential to create trading conditions that enable services industries to achieve their full potential. The TISA can be one of the most important economic contributions of this century-for the United States and the globe.
*European Union includes: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
July 2014
More information on the TiSA:
U.S. Trade Representative's TiSA Webpage
Fact Sheets
CSI: The United States and TiSA
U.S. Chamber of Commerce TiSA Fact Sheet
Comment Letters
CSI Letter to President Obama
President's Export Council Letter to President Obama
CSI Letter to the Trade Policy Staff Committee
CSI Letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman
Testimony to the Trade Policy Staff Committee
Avaaz - Stop TISA the secret trade agreement
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:16
TTIP was just the beginning - now a new secret deal called TISA threatens to privatise our drinking water and health services, and even hand our personal bank details to the US. But together we can still stop the shady negotiations!Negotiated behind closed doors, TISA - the Trade in Services Agreement - has far-reaching consequences. Insiders say it will push the privatisation of our water, electricity and health systems, and put data protection at risk. But massive citizen's protests already put a spanner in the works for TTIP, a similar trade agreement, and negotiators are doing all they can to prevent the same public outrage around TISA. With a huge petition ahead of next week's negotiation round, we can turn their plans upside down. TISA negotiations are a well-kept secret
, many people have never heard of them, and the content of discussions is not revealed. Let's change this now! Sign the petition to stop the negotiations and spread the word to keep key public services out of the hands of corporations!
Shup Up Slave!
''Human Rights Activist'' Tanya Cohen Wants Life in Prison for ''Hate Speech'' in America | Daily Stormer
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:32
Michael SlayDaily StormerFebruary 6, 2015
Goyim'... it must end.
A filthy Jewess named Tanya Cohen (on Twitter here) '' who, like most subversive Jews, is heavily involved in the Marxist Jewish ''human rights'' movement '' has come out and published some articles calling for life in prison, guilty until proven innocent, state surveillance, and re-education centers for goyim who commit ''hate speech'' in the United States. These articles have gone viral, exposing the mindset of European and Australian Jewry to the United States. Many Americans are unaware of just how Orwellian these Jews really are, but Tanya Cohen's articles are actually pretty standard ''human rights'' drivel and would be considered centrist in Europe and Australia.
The Jewess had previously written in the Daily Kos about evil Nazis on Reddit who hilariously snatch up subreddits for dead negroes.
Daily Kos:
Clearly, this isn't going to stop any time soon. Until Reddit starts protecting basic human rights on their website, neo-Nazis will continue to fill it with hate speech and they will continue to use it as a platform to spread their toxic ideology. Of course it's important to uphold freedom of speech, but hate speech is not free speech and freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to maliciously hurt others or to engage in racial discrimination. Hate speech is illegal under international human rights law and, as any human rights lawyer will tell you, freedom of speech must always be balanced against the fundamental human rights of others.
Ultimately, Reddit's administrators have to ask themselves: do they want their website to be known as a place where white supremacists gather to celebrate the murders of innocent people of color?
If you're as appalled by this as I am, then contact the media and let Reddit know that hate speech has no place in the 21st century.
In other words: OY VEY, SHUT IT DOWN!
Here are some highlights from Tanya Cohen's first viral Thought Catalog article.
Thought Catalog:
The recent controversy at the University of Iowa '' in which an ''artist'' (supposedly an ''anti-racist'' one) put up an ''art exhibit'' which resembles a KKK member covered in newspaper clippings about racial violence '' is a perfect example of why we need to implement real legislation against hate speech in the United States. The year is 2015 and all other countries have laws against hate speech along with laws against other forms of speech which violate basic human rights. As a matter of fact, international human rights law MANDATES laws against hate speech. Protecting vulnerable minorities from hate speech is one of the most basic and fundamental of human rights obligations, and all human rights organizations worldwide have emphasized this. But the United States refuses to protect even the most basic of human rights, firmly establishing itself as a pariah state that falls far behind the rest of the world in terms of protecting fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms.
Like any sensible person, I am a strong believer in the unalienable right to freedom of speech and I understand that defending freedom of speech is the most important when it's speech that many people do not want to hear (like, for example, pro-LGBT speech in Russia). Freedom of speech is the core of any democratic society, and it's important that freedom of speech be strongly respected and upheld. Censorship in all of its forms is something that must always be fiercely opposed. But we must never confuse hate speech with freedom of speech. Speech that offends, insults, demeans, threatens, disrespects, incites hatred or violence, and/or violates basic human rights and freedoms has absolutely no place in even the freest society. In fact, it has no place in any free society, as bigotry is fundamentally anti-freedom by its very nature. The human right to freedom of speech must always be balanced against the human rights to dignity, respect, honor, non-discrimination, and freedom from hatred. Civilized countries consider hate speech to be among the most serious crimes around, with many countries even placing it on par with murder. In some countries, people are automatically declared guilty of hate speech and other hate crimes unless they can absolutely prove their innocence beyond any reasonable doubt. The principle of guilty until proven innocent may seem a bit harsh to some, but it makes sense when you consider how severe the crime of hate speech is '' it is a crime that simply cannot be tolerated in a democracy. Hate speech is not merely speech, but is, in fact, a form of violence and the international community has established hate speech to be a form of violence many times. Hate speech doesn't merely CAUSE violence. Hate speech IS violence.
In civilized democratic countries, organizations and political parties which pose a threat to liberty, freedom, human rights, and democracy are outlawed. For example, Germany faced strong criticism from human rights groups and from the international human rights community when it failed to ban the far-right NPD party, and human rights activists in Europe are currently working around the clock to place Europe-wide bans on Golden Dawn, Jobbik, Sweden Democrats, and other un-democratic parties which pose a serious threat to freedom and democracy. But, in the US, fascist political parties like the Republican Party, the Constitution Party, and the Libertarian Party are allowed to freely exist and to spread their hateful ideology, even though these parties oppose fundamental human rights and thus have absolutely no place in a democratic society. What kind of democracy allows the free existence of un-democratic parties? No society that genuinely values democracy and human rights would allow people to oppose democracy and human rights. That simply isn't how these things work.
We've all seen what can happen when hate speech is allowed to flourish. Hate speech has directly led to the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the Srebrenica massacre, and many other genocides and war crimes throughout history. Hate speech has been a key influence on numerous far-right terrorists and murderers, including Anders Behring Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, and Jared Lee Loughner. By allowing hate speech to flourish, the United States is giving the go-ahead for tragedies like these to happen again and again. Hate speech has already had disastrous consequences for the United States. A recent example would be the ''Innocence of Muslims'' YouTube video '' a disgusting Islamophobic video blatantly inciting hatred and violence against Muslims. This video directly led to numerous riots across the Islamic world, including an attack on a US embassy in Benghazi that left four dead. The bigots responsible for making this video are every bit as responsible for the deaths of those people as the killers are. In a civilized country, the bigots responsible for the video would be jailed for life. But, in the United States, their vile bigotry is protected as ''free speech'', even though the United Nations itself stressed that the video clearly constituted an incitement to racist hatred and violence, and thus was absolutely not freedom of speech.
Stopping the spread of hate speech online and protecting vulnerable minorities from being exposed to online hate speech has been made a top priority of the international human rights community. The human rights bodies of the United Nations have made cracking down on Internet hate speech one of their biggest goals, and groups like the No Hate Speech Movement for Human Rights Online have been set up by organizations like the Council of Europe. But protecting human rights online is incredibly difficult when the United States '' which controls most of the Internet '' refuses to pass human rights legislation and instead allows the proliferation of online hatred and discrimination as ''free speech'', in clear defiance of international human rights conventions.
In order to establish ourselves as a country that sincerely respects fundamental human rights, democratic freedoms, and individual liberties, America needs to pass basic human rights legislation '' such as a Human Rights Act '' that outlaws, among other things:
Speech which offends, insults, demeans, threatens, disrespects, discriminates against, and/or incites hatred or violence against a person or a group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, color, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or sexual activity, gender identity or gender expression, disability, language, language ability, ideology or opinion, social class, occupation, appearance (height, weight, hair color, etc.), mental capacity, and/or any other comparable distinction. In cases where hate speech is aggravated '' such as incitement to genocide '' prison sentences should be even longer.The spreading of misinformation, including climate change denial, denial of war crimes and genocides (especially Holocaust denial), conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine propaganda, and general nonsense.Anti-feminist, anti-multicultural, anti-immigration, and/or anti-equality ideology.Insulting, disrespectful, and/or offensive speech in general and speech that violates the dignity of people. This would include, for example, jokes about tragedies along with insults and derogatory/disrespectful comments about any person, group, place, or thing.Speech that disparages the memory of deceased persons.Speech that voices approval of oppressive, anti-freedom, anti-democratic, and/or totalitarian ideologies. This would include, for example, speech that opposes a woman's right to have an abortion and speech that approves of Israeli apartheid in Palestine.Speech that opposes any human rights. This would mean that anyone saying that hate speech shouldn't be against the law would be prosecuted, since hate speech is universally recognized as an injustice and a human rights violation. It would also include propaganda for war, which is illegal under international human rights law.Speech that incites, instructs, assists, condones, celebrates, justifies, glorifies, advocates, or threatens violence and/or law-breaking and speech that undermines the rule of law. This would include, for example, the advocacy of gun ownership (which would be classified as incitement to violence in any civilized country). In a civilized society, advocating violence is no different than actually committing the violence yourself. Only in the US is inciting violence and murder '' even inciting violence and murder against minorities '' considered to be ''free speech''.Speech that undermines the authority of the state and/or interferes with the state's ability to properly function and do its job. This would also include speech that undermines the authority of the United Nations and/or international law.Speech that objectifies women and/or reduces them to their sexual dimension, such as pornography and catcalling.Speech that promotes unacceptable ideas, such as un-democratic ideologies and ideologies that oppose freedom. This would also apply to promoting people who promote or promoted unacceptable ideas. For example, in the case of The Jewish community of Oslo et al. v. Norway, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ruled that glorifying Hitler not only constitutes incitement to Hatred, but also incitement to violence.Speech that harms and/or divides society in general, including speech that damages social cohesion.Symbols associated with hateful and/or un-democratic ideologies, such as Nazi swastikas and Confederate flags.Gestures and salutes associated with hateful and/or un-democratic ideologies, such as fascist salutes.Speech which constitutes microaggressions against vulnerable minorities.Images or recordings of any crimes.Speech which may lead to tensions with other nations and/or upset people in other nations.Speech which is found to be blasphemous towards minority religions.Depictions of indecent violence (especially violence against women) and/or other offensive content.Speech which is found to be irresponsible, unethical, antisocial, hurtful, impolite, uncivil, abusive, distasteful, and/or unacceptable in general.'...
Anyone guilty of hate speech '' which should carry criminal penalties of 25 years to life '' should be sent to special prisons designed to re-educate them and to instill values of tolerance, freedom, democracy, and human rights in them. Prison is about punishment, but it's also about changing the behavior of criminals. We often tend to forget this in our country. Merely sending bigots to ordinary prisons is not good enough '' they need to be sent to special prisons for bigots, which will re-educate them. The United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the international human rights community have stressed many times that education and re-education are crucial for eliminating hatred and protecting human rights. In addition to requiring prisons to re-educate bigots, America also needs to pass laws mandating that all schools and all media outlets spend an allotted amount of time each day to promoting tolerance, freedom, democracy, and human rights.
'...and so on and so on. It really goes on forever.
tl;dr: Among other things, she says ''hate speech'' laws shouldn't apply to ''vulnerable minorities,'' that people accused of ''hate speech'' should be declared guilty until proven innocent, and that, if the US doesn't outlaw ''hate speech,'' then it's no better than Nazi Germany was (OY GEVALT, ANNUDAH SHOWAH!).
The filthy Jew bitch then released a follow-up article, which also went viral.
Here are some highlights from Tanya Cohen's follow-up article.
Thought Catalog:
First up, yes, I do strongly believe in freedom of speech, and I've worked with many human rights organizations to protest against genuine restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, such as government crackdowns on LGBT activists in Russia. Freedom of speech is the core of all democratic societies, and it's a freedom that must be upheld in the strongest terms possible. But the people responding to my column with anger do not seem to understand what freedom of speech is. They seem to make no distinction between free speech and hate speech, and they seem to believe that freedom of speech includes the freedom to say anything.
Everything in my article was based on laws that already exist in other liberal democracies. The need to outlaw hate speech is perhaps the most uncontroversial thing in the worldwide human rights movement, as no human rights group or human rights activist would ever question it. I sent my article to countless human rights activists and all of them agreed with it 100%. It's rather telling that human rights activists agreed with my article, but Americans fiercely opposed it. What does this say about America's treatment of human rights?
Those who oppose human rights legislation fail to consider the serious harm that can be caused by hate speech. This is John Stuart Mill's classical liberal ''harm principle'', which establishes that conduct can be outlawed when it causes a great deal of harm to others. In Europe, Canada, Australia, and the rest of the world, even the most hardcore libertarians and free speech absolutists strongly support legal protections against hate speech. Only in the US does anyone consider hate speech legislation to be a restriction on ''freedom of speech'', completely failing to understand what freedom of speech actually is.
Freedom of speech is not the only obligation in a democracy. Democracies also have the obligation to uphold human dignity, social cohesion, and the rights of vulnerable minorities. Hate speech laws are already on the books in every single liberal democracy except for the United States. This not only damages our international image and reputation, but it also allows hatred to flow out of the United States like an ocean. It's very confusing to human rights activists and anti-fascists in other countries when they see American hate websites and American hate propaganda. They wonder why the government allows this stuff to freely exist, and they also wonder how the US can possibly call itself a free and liberated country when it refuses to take a stand against hatred and bigotry.
We can see from the recent massacre at hate speech magazine Charlie Hebdo's headquarters in France what can happen as a result of hate speech '' in this case, the magazine had a long history of inciting racial and religious hatred and violence, particularly against Muslims. The same thing happened '' on an even larger scale '' when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons inciting racist hatred and violence against Muslims. The United Nations, the Council of Europe, and countless human rights groups have repeatedly stressed that countries like France and Denmark need to pass and enforce much stricter legislation against all forms of hate speech and discrimination, but those countries refused to listen and, as a result, they experienced the consequences of allowing hate speech and discrimination to flourish. Words and images do have consequences, and those consequences can often be fatal for many innocent people. Just ask the people of Rwanda, who experienced a brutal and horrific genocide as a direct result of racist hate speech.
In other countries '' such as Japan '' people have persistently lobbied, campaigned, protested, and petitioned for the creation and expansion of hate speech laws. People power can get hate speech legislation passed in the US as well. But, first, the US needs to change its culture into one that actually respects basic human rights. We can already see the early beginnings of hate speech legislation in the US, in the form of hate crime laws (which, as of right now, only cover physical violence motivated by hatred), anti-discrimination laws (which, as of right now, only ban discrimination in service and employment), and campus speech codes. I get the feeling that things are indeed starting to change, and the US is indeed starting to become a country with a bit more respect for human rights. These things always take time, but I do believe that, one day, the US will indeed pass a Human Rights Act and/or a new anti-discrimination law to outlaw hate speech and other forms of speech which violate basic human rights. Those of us on the right side of history, meanwhile, will be writing columns like mine, while racist bigots continue to write angry comments speaking out against human rights. They can scream all they want, but things are indeed changing for the better and they will not be able to stop it. Human rights WILL come to the US eventually and no amount of angry comments from angry bigots will ever be able to stop that.
In other words: typical Jew wants any speech that goes against the Jewish agenda to be outlawed in the US, just like it's already been outlawed in the rest of the world.
Spread these articles far and wide, as they provide a valuable insight into the mind of a typical Jew and they very accurately sum up the filthy Jewish ''human rights'' movement, which has been a Bolshevik movement right from the very beginning. Should Hillary Clinton win the next election, we will undoubtedly see more attempts to bring these filthy Jew ''hate speech'' laws to the US, and those attempts will no doubt use ''international human rights law'' as a justification.
Finally, as we have mentioned here before, do not forget that it was the Soviet Jewnion that spread ''hate speech'' laws worldwide in the first place, using the Bolshevik Jewnited Nations as their weapon. You can read about that here. Spread this article as well, as people need to know where these Jew ''hate speech'' laws originate from. They were a Stalinist creation right from the start, intended to undermine freedom of speech on a global scale.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:34
Text in PDF Format
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 49Preamble
The States Parties to the present Covenant,
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,
Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights,
Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,
Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant,
Agree upon the following articles:
Article 1
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
Article 2
1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
2. Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures, each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present Covenant.
3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:
(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;
(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;
(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.
Article 3
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant.
Article 4
1 . In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.
2. No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18 may be made under this provision.
3. Any State Party to the present Covenant availing itself of the right of derogation shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the present Covenant, through the intermediary of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, of the provisions from which it has derogated and of the reasons by which it was actuated. A further communication shall be made, through the same intermediary, on the date on which it terminates such derogation.
Article 5
1. Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant.
2. There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.
Article 6
1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
2. In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.
3. When deprivation of life constitutes the crime of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this article shall authorize any State Party to the present Covenant to derogate in any way from any obligation assumed under the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases.
5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.
6. Nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the present Covenant.
Article 7
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.
Article 8
1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited.
2. No one shall be held in servitude.
(a) No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour;
(b) Paragraph 3 (a) shall not be held to preclude, in countries where imprisonment with hard labour may be imposed as a punishment for a crime, the performance of hard labour in pursuance of a sentence to such punishment by a competent court;
(c) For the purpose of this paragraph the term "forced or compulsory labour" shall not include:
(i) Any work or service, not referred to in subparagraph (b), normally required of a person who is under detention in consequence of a lawful order of a court, or of a person during conditional release from such detention;
(ii) Any service of a military character and, in countries where conscientious objection is recognized, any national service required by law of conscientious objectors;
(iii) Any service exacted in cases of emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
(iv) Any work or service which forms part of normal civil obligations.
Article 9
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgement.
4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
Article 10
1. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
(a) Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons;
(b) Accused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication.
3. The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation. Juvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status.
Article 11
No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation.Article 12
1. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.
2. Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.
3. The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Covenant.
4. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.
Article 13
An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to the present Covenant may be expelled therefrom only in pursuance of a decision reached in accordance with law and shall, except where compelling reasons of national security otherwise require, be allowed to submit the reasons against his expulsion and to have his case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority or a person or persons especially designated by the competent authority.
Article 14
1. All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. The press and the public may be excluded from all or part of a trial for reasons of morals, public order (ordre public) or national security in a democratic society, or when the interest of the private lives of the parties so requires, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice; but any judgement rendered in a criminal case or in a suit at law shall be made public except where the interest of juvenile persons otherwise requires or the proceedings concern matrimonial disputes or the guardianship of children.
2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
3. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality: (a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;
(b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing;
(c) To be tried without undue delay;
(d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;
(e) To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;
(f) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;
(g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.
4. In the case of juvenile persons, the procedure shall be such as will take account of their age and the desirability of promoting their rehabilitation.5. Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.
6. When a person has by a final decision been convicted of a criminal offence and when subsequently his conviction has been reversed or he has been pardoned on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice, the person who has suffered punishment as a result of such conviction shall be compensated according to law, unless it is proved that the non-disclosure of the unknown fact in time is wholly or partly attributable to him.
7. No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country.
Article 15
1 . No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time when the criminal offence was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of the offence, provision is made by law for the imposition of the lighter penalty, the offender shall benefit thereby.
2. Nothing in this article shall prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations.
Article 16
Everyone shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 17
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 18
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
Article 19
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Article 20
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Article 21
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Article 22
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on members of the armed forces and of the police in their exercise of this right.
3. Nothing in this article shall authorize States Parties to the International Labour Organisation Convention of 1948 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize to take legislative measures which would prejudice, or to apply the law in such a manner as to prejudice, the guarantees provided for in that Convention.
Article 23
1. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
2. The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.
3. No marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
4. States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.
Article 24
1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.
2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.
3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
Article 25
Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:
(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;
(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;
(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.
Article 26
All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Article 27
In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.
Article 28
1. There shall be established a Human Rights Committee (hereafter referred to in the present Covenant as the Committee). It shall consist of eighteen members and shall carry out the functions hereinafter provided.
2. The Committee shall be composed of nationals of the States Parties to the present Covenant who shall be persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights, consideration being given to the usefulness of the participation of some persons having legal experience.
3. The members of the Committee shall be elected and shall serve in their personal capacity.
Article 29
1. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list of persons possessing the qualifications prescribed in article 28 and nominated for the purpose by the States Parties to the present Covenant.
2. Each State Party to the present Covenant may nominate not more than two persons. These persons shall be nationals of the nominating State.
3. A person shall be eligible for renomination.
Article 30
1. The initial election shall be held no later than six months after the date of the entry into force of the present Covenant.
2. At least four months before the date of each election to the Committee, other than an election to fill a vacancy declared in accordance with article 34, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address a written invitation to the States Parties to the present Covenant to submit their nominations for membership of the Committee within three months.
3. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of all the persons thus nominated, with an indication of the States Parties which have nominated them, and shall submit it to the States Parties to the present Covenant no later than one month before the date of each election.
4. Elections of the members of the Committee shall be held at a meeting of the States Parties to the present Covenant convened by the Secretary General of the United Nations at the Headquarters of the United Nations. At that meeting, for which two thirds of the States Parties to the present Covenant shall constitute a quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those nominees who obtain the largest number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the representatives of States Parties present and voting.
Article 31
1. The Committee may not include more than one national of the same State.
2. In the election of the Committee, consideration shall be given to equitable geographical distribution of membership and to the representation of the different forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems.
Article 32
1. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term of four years. They shall be eligible for re-election if renominated. However, the terms of nine of the members elected at the first election shall expire at the end of two years; immediately after the first election, the names of these nine members shall be chosen by lot by the Chairman of the meeting referred to in article 30, paragraph 4.2. Elections at the expiry of office shall be held in accordance with the preceding articles of this part of the present Covenant.
Article 33
1. If, in the unanimous opinion of the other members, a member of the Committee has ceased to carry out his functions for any cause other than absence of a temporary character, the Chairman of the Committee shall notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall then declare the seat of that member to be vacant.
2. In the event of the death or the resignation of a member of the Committee, the Chairman shall immediately notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall declare the seat vacant from the date of death or the date on which the resignation takes effect.
Article 34
1. When a vacancy is declared in accordance with article 33 and if the term of office of the member to be replaced does not expire within six months of the declaration of the vacancy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall notify each of the States Parties to the present Covenant, which may within two months submit nominations in accordance with article 29 for the purpose of filling the vacancy.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of the persons thus nominated and shall submit it to the States Parties to the present Covenant. The election to fill the vacancy shall then take place in accordance with the relevant provisions of this part of the present Covenant.
3. A member of the Committee elected to fill a vacancy declared in accordance with article 33 shall hold office for the remainder of the term of the member who vacated the seat on the Committee under the provisions of that article.
Article 35
The members of the Committee shall, with the approval of the General Assembly of the United Nations, receive emoluments from United Nations resources on such terms and conditions as the General Assembly may decide, having regard to the importance of the Committee's responsibilities.
Article 36
The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall provide the necessary staff and facilities for the effective performance of the functions of the Committee under the present Covenant.
Article 37
1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall convene the initial meeting of the Committee at the Headquarters of the United Nations.
2. After its initial meeting, the Committee shall meet at such times as shall be provided in its rules of procedure.
3. The Committee shall normally meet at the Headquarters of the United Nations or at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Article 38
Every member of the Committee shall, before taking up his duties, make a solemn declaration in open committee that he will perform his functions impartially and conscientiously.
Article 39
1. The Committee shall elect its officers for a term of two years. They may be re-elected.
2. The Committee shall establish its own rules of procedure, but these rules shall provide, inter alia, that:
(a) Twelve members shall constitute a quorum;
(b) Decisions of the Committee shall be made by a majority vote of the members present.
Article 40
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to submit reports on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized herein and on the progress made in the enjoyment of those rights: (a) Within one year of the entry into force of the present Covenant for the States Parties concerned;
(b) Thereafter whenever the Committee so requests.
2. All reports shall be submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit them to the Committee for consideration. Reports shall indicate the factors and difficulties, if any, affecting the implementation of the present Covenant.
3. The Secretary-General of the United Nations may, after consultation with the Committee, transmit to the specialized agencies concerned copies of such parts of the reports as may fall within their field of competence.
4. The Committee shall study the reports submitted by the States Parties to the present Covenant. It shall transmit its reports, and such general comments as it may consider appropriate, to the States Parties. The Committee may also transmit to the Economic and Social Council these comments along with the copies of the reports it has received from States Parties to the present Covenant.
5. The States Parties to the present Covenant may submit to the Committee observations on any comments that may be made in accordance with paragraph 4 of this article.
Article 41
1. A State Party to the present Covenant may at any time declare under this article that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications to the effect that a State Party claims that another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations under the present Covenant. Communications under this article may be received and considered only if submitted by a State Party which has made a declaration recognizing in regard to itself the competence of the Committee. No communication shall be received by the Committee if it concerns a State Party which has not made such a declaration. Communications received under this article shall be dealt with in accordance with the following procedure:
(a) If a State Party to the present Covenant considers that another State Party is not giving effect to the provisions of the present Covenant, it may, by written communication, bring the matter to the attention of that State Party. Within three months after the receipt of the communication the receiving State shall afford the State which sent the communication an explanation, or any other statement in writing clarifying the matter which should include, to the extent possible and pertinent, reference to domestic procedures and remedies taken, pending, or available in the matter;
(b) If the matter is not adjusted to the satisfaction of both States Parties concerned within six months after the receipt by the receiving State of the initial communication, either State shall have the right to refer the matter to the Committee, by notice given to the Committee and to the other State;
(c) The Committee shall deal with a matter referred to it only after it has ascertained that all available domestic remedies have been invoked and exhausted in the matter, in conformity with the generally recognized principles of international law. This shall not be the rule where the application of the remedies is unreasonably prolonged;
(d) The Committee shall hold closed meetings when examining communications under this article;
(e) Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (c), the Committee shall make available its good offices to the States Parties concerned with a view to a friendly solution of the matter on the basis of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the present Covenant;
(f) In any matter referred to it, the Committee may call upon the States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b), to supply any relevant information;
(g) The States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b), shall have the right to be represented when the matter is being considered in the Committee and to make submissions orally and/or in writing;
(h) The Committee shall, within twelve months after the date of receipt of notice under subparagraph (b), submit a report:
(i) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (e) is reached, the Committee shall confine its report to a brief statement of the facts and of the solution reached;
(ii) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (e) is not reached, the Committee shall confine its report to a brief statement of the facts; the written submissions and record of the oral submissions made by the States Parties concerned shall be attached to the report. In every matter, the report shall be communicated to the States Parties concerned.
2. The provisions of this article shall come into force when ten States Parties to the present Covenant have made declarations under paragraph I of this article. Such declarations shall be deposited by the States Parties with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof to the other States Parties. A declaration may be withdrawn at any time by notification to the Secretary-General. Such a withdrawal shall not prejudice the consideration of any matter which is the subject of a communication already transmitted under this article; no further communication by any State Party shall be received after the notification of withdrawal of the declaration has been received by the Secretary-General, unless the State Party concerned has made a new declaration.
Article 42
(a) If a matter referred to the Committee in accordance with article 41 is not resolved to the satisfaction of the States Parties concerned, the Committee may, with the prior consent of the States Parties concerned, appoint an ad hoc Conciliation Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Commission). The good offices of the Commission shall be made available to the States Parties concerned with a view to an amicable solution of the matter on the basis of respect for the present Covenant;
(b) The Commission shall consist of five persons acceptable to the States Parties concerned. If the States Parties concerned fail to reach agreement within three months on all or part of the composition of the Commission, the members of the Commission concerning whom no agreement has been reached shall be elected by secret ballot by a two-thirds majority vote of the Committee from among its members.
2. The members of the Commission shall serve in their personal capacity. They shall not be nationals of the States Parties concerned, or of a State not Party to the present Covenant, or of a State Party which has not made a declaration under article 41.
3. The Commission shall elect its own Chairman and adopt its own rules of procedure.
4. The meetings of the Commission shall normally be held at the Headquarters of the United Nations or at the United Nations Office at Geneva. However, they may be held at such other convenient places as the Commission may determine in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the States Parties concerned.
5. The secretariat provided in accordance with article 36 shall also service the commissions appointed under this article.
6. The information received and collated by the Committee shall be made available to the Commission and the Commission may call upon the States Parties concerned to supply any other relevant information.
7. When the Commission has fully considered the matter, but in any event not later than twelve months after having been seized of the matter, it shall submit to the Chairman of the Committee a report for communication to the States Parties concerned:
(a) If the Commission is unable to complete its consideration of the matter within twelve months, it shall confine its report to a brief statement of the status of its consideration of the matter;
(b) If an amicable solution to the matter on tie basis of respect for human rights as recognized in the present Covenant is reached, the Commission shall confine its report to a brief statement of the facts and of the solution reached;
(c) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (b) is not reached, the Commission's report shall embody its findings on all questions of fact relevant to the issues between the States Parties concerned, and its views on the possibilities of an amicable solution of the matter. This report shall also contain the written submissions and a record of the oral submissions made by the States Parties concerned;
(d) If the Commission's report is submitted under subparagraph (c), the States Parties concerned shall, within three months of the receipt of the report, notify the Chairman of the Committee whether or not they accept the contents of the report of the Commission.
8. The provisions of this article are without prejudice to the responsibilities of the Committee under article 41.
9. The States Parties concerned shall share equally all the expenses of the members of the Commission in accordance with estimates to be provided by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
10. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be empowered to pay the expenses of the members of the Commission, if necessary, before reimbursement by the States Parties concerned, in accordance with paragraph 9 of this article.
Article 43
The members of the Committee, and of the ad hoc conciliation commissions which may be appointed under article 42, shall be entitled to the facilities, privileges and immunities of experts on mission for the United Nations as laid down in the relevant sections of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
Article 44
The provisions for the implementation of the present Covenant shall apply without prejudice to the procedures prescribed in the field of human rights by or under the constituent instruments and the conventions of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies and shall not prevent the States Parties to the present Covenant from having recourse to other procedures for settling a dispute in accordance with general or special international agreements in force between them.
Article 45
The Committee shall submit to the General Assembly of the United Nations, through the Economic and Social Council, an annual report on its activities.
Article 46
Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and of the constitutions of the specialized agencies which define the respective responsibilities of the various organs of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies in regard to the matters dealt with in the present Covenant.
Article 47
Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources.
Article 48
1. The present Covenant is open for signature by any State Member of the United Nations or member of any of its specialized agencies, by any State Party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and by any other State which has been invited by the General Assembly of the United Nations to become a Party to the present Covenant.
2. The present Covenant is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
3. The present Covenant shall be open to accession by any State referred to in paragraph 1 of this article.
4. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
5. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States which have signed this Covenant or acceded to it of the deposit of each instrument of ratification or accession.
Article 49
1. The present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or instrument of accession.
2. For each State ratifying the present Covenant or acceding to it after the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or instrument of accession, the present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of ratification or instrument of accession.
Article 50
The provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions.
Article 51
1. Any State Party to the present Covenant may propose an amendment and file it with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall thereupon communicate any proposed amendments to the States Parties to the present Covenant with a request that they notify him whether they favour a conference of States Parties for the purpose of considering and voting upon the proposals. In the event that at least one third of the States Parties favours such a conference, the Secretary-General shall convene the conference under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of the States Parties present and voting at the conference shall be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations for approval.
2. Amendments shall come into force when they have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations and accepted by a two-thirds majority of the States Parties to the present Covenant in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. 3. When amendments come into force, they shall be binding on those States Parties which have accepted them, other States Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present Covenant and any earlier amendment which they have accepted.
Article 52
1. Irrespective of the notifications made under article 48, paragraph 5, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States referred to in paragraph I of the same article of the following particulars:
(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions under article 48;
(b) The date of the entry into force of the present Covenant under article 49 and the date of the entry into force of any amendments under article 51.
Article 53
1. The present Covenant, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of the present Covenant to all States referred to in article 48.
Here Is Why It's Time To Get Tough On Hate Speech In America | Thought Catalog
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:34
The recent controversy at the University of Iowa '' in which an ''artist'' (supposedly an ''anti-racist'' one) put up an ''art exhibit'' which resembles a KKK member covered in newspaper clippings about racial violence '' is a perfect example of why we need to implement real legislation against hate speech in the United States. The year is 2015 and all other countries have laws against hate speech along with laws against other forms of speech which violate basic human rights. As a matter of fact, international human rights law MANDATES laws against hate speech. Protecting vulnerable minorities from hate speech is one of the most basic and fundamental of human rights obligations, and all human rights organizations worldwide have emphasized this. But the United States refuses to protect even the most basic of human rights, firmly establishing itself as a pariah state that falls far behind the rest of the world in terms of protecting fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms.
First, let's have a look at international human rights laws which the United States has ratified.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights establishes that all people have the right to freedom of expression before stating:
Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states that direct and public incitement to commit genocide is illegal.
Finally, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination states:
States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:
(a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof;
(b) Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law;
(c) Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination.
In Hagan v. Australia, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ruled that, while not originally intended to demean anyone, the name of the ''E. S. 'Nigger' Brown Stand'' (named in honor of 1920s rugby league player Edward Stanley Brown) at a Toowoomba sports field was racially offensive and should be removed. This effectively establishes that, under international human rights law, anything which offends or insults ethnic minorities is illegal, even if it is not intended to be. What this means it that the KKK display at the University of Iowa constitutes illegal racial discrimination under international human rights law which the United States has ratified. The United Nations has repeatedly stressed that none of these laws restrict, limit, or infringe upon freedom of speech '' as a matter of fact, they protect freedom of speech.
The US has laws against racial discrimination, but these laws only target discrimination in service and employment. In all other countries, anti-discrimination laws ban the IDEA of racial discrimination, which means that ALL forms of racial discrimination '' including hate speech '' are outlawed. For example, there was huge outrage when Switzerland ruled that giving Nazi salutes was not always legally punishable as racial discrimination, and even the far-right Generation Identitaire were outraged. The KKK display at the University of Iowa would constitute illegal racial discrimination in any civilized country, so why doesn't it constitute illegal racial discrimination in the US?
Likewise, the US has laws against hate crimes, but these laws only increase penalties for other crimes motivated by hatred. They don't include hate speech as a hate crime. In all other countries, hate crime laws automatically outlaw any expression of hatred. The KKK display at the University of Iowa would constitute a hate crime in any civilized country, so why doesn't it constitute a hate crime in the US?
Even in countries with weak hate speech laws '' countries where people freely spread lies and defamation about minorities '' you still cannot legally advocate or justify violence against minority groups, and absolutely nobody believes that you should ever be allowed to. But, in the US, you can. The US allows people to advocate violence, murder, terrorism, and genocide '' even against minorities '' all in the name of ''freedom''. How is genocide ''freedom''? Where in the First Amendment does it say that genocide is acceptable? How can a supposedly civilized and democratic society possibly justify allowing people to freely incite violence and murder against vulnerable minorities? As an example, there have been several cases of US preachers saying that LGBT people should receive the death penalty. In a civilized country with democracy and human rights, anyone who said something like this would receive at least ten years in prison for inciting hatred, violence, murder, and genocide against a protected minority group. But, in the US, this is allowed in the name of ''freedom''. Well, guess what? Homophobes inciting the genocide of LGBT people is most definitely not ''freedom'' for the highly vulnerable LGBT people who already live their lives in constant fear of homophobic violence. How can the US possibly justify '' from any kind of logical standpoint '' allowing this sort of thing in the name of ''freedom''?
Hate Speech In Other CountriesLook at what's happening in Japan right now. For years, human rights groups and the United Nations have stressed that Japan needs to do more to combat hate speech through the law, and that it needs to create educational programs to educate and re-educate the public in order to prevent hatred and other unacceptable ideas. Japan has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination '' and Japanese courts have ruled that racist language is not free speech, but in fact constitutes illegal racial discrimination (the courts have also ruled that video footage of racist rallies posted on the Internet is illegal) '' but the country still has yet to pass a comprehensive law against hate speech, despite the repeated urgings of the United Nations and human rights groups. But that's all changing right now. In response to hate speech demonstrations primarily targeting ethnic Koreans (these racist demonstrations are tiny, and usually about the size of a typical Westboro Baptist Church demonstration) and hate speech on the Japanese Internet, thousands and thousands of people '' citizens, human rights activists, politicians, lawyers, musicians, journalists, and others from all walks of life '' have been persistently lobbying, protesting, petitioning, and campaigning for the Japanese government to pass strong, comprehensive legislation outlawing all forms of hate speech, including hate speech disseminated through the Internet.
Thousands and thousands of people have participated in the March on Tokyo for Freedom, Tokyo No Hate 2014, and numerous other public anti-hate speech marches and demonstrations (heavily inspired by the historical civil rights marches of the United States) calling on the Japanese government to sincerely adhere to international human rights law and outlaw hate speech. South Korea, the United Nations, and human rights organizations have assured Japan that hate speech is not freedom of expression, but is, in fact, a clear form of violence which must be subject to strong legal sanctions. Human rights organizations have conducted polls which found that all politicians in Japan believe that hate speech should be outlawed. Not only are human rights groups loudly campaigning to enact hate speech legislation in Japan, but entire groups and committees have been created for the sole purpose of combating hate speech through the law, and Japan has been working with South Korea and the United Nations to eliminate hate speech in Japan. Even small-government libertarians and hardcore far-right ultra-nationalists (including outright neo-Nazis) have been publicly calling for a crackdown on hate speech, citing the need to reject discrimination, to ensure that bigotry has no place in a free and democratic society, and to balance freedom of expression against the basic human rights of others.
Why can Japan '' a society typically derided as racist and xenophobic '' understand the need to crack down on hate speech through the law, but not the United States, which supposedly prides itself on racial diversity and racial tolerance? Japan's constitution guarantees freedom of expression too, but, like the rest of the world, they understand that hate speech is NOT freedom of expression. By refusing to outlaw hate speech, the United States is sending the message to the rest of the world that we approve of hatred and intolerance. When we allow bigots to speak out openly, the rest of the world sees this and associates this with our country. We give the impression that we are a country of violent, hateful bigots and that our government has no problem with violent, hateful bigotry. Is this really what we want to be?
Hate Speech Is ViolenceLike any sensible person, I am a strong believer in the unalienable right to freedom of speech and I understand that defending freedom of speech is the most important when it's speech that many people do not want to hear (like, for example, pro-LGBT speech in Russia). Freedom of speech is the core of any democratic society, and it's important that freedom of speech be strongly respected and upheld. Censorship in all of its forms is something that must always be fiercely opposed. But we must never confuse hate speech with freedom of speech. Speech that offends, insults, demeans, threatens, disrespects, incites hatred or violence, and/or violates basic human rights and freedoms has absolutely no place in even the freest society. In fact, it has no place in any free society, as bigotry is fundamentally anti-freedom by its very nature. The human right to freedom of speech must always be balanced against the human rights to dignity, respect, honor, non-discrimination, and freedom from hatred. Civilized countries consider hate speech to be among the most serious crimes around, with many countries even placing it on par with murder. In some countries, people are automatically declared guilty of hate speech and other hate crimes unless they can absolutely prove their innocence beyond any reasonable doubt. The principle of guilty until proven innocent may seem a bit harsh to some, but it makes sense when you consider how severe the crime of hate speech is '' it is a crime that simply cannot be tolerated in a democracy. Hate speech is not merely speech, but is, in fact, a form of violence and the international community has established hate speech to be a form of violence many times. Hate speech doesn't merely CAUSE violence. Hate speech IS violence.
Bigotry has no place in a free society. It is fundamentally anti-freedom by nature, and its proliferation violates the basic freedoms of vulnerable minorities as recognized by the international community. Vulnerable minorities are much less free when bigotry is allowed to exist. A society that claims to uphold human rights cannot allow the proliferation of speech that opposes these fundamental human rights. In many countries, not only is bigotry illegal, but so is speech that offends or insults in general, along with speech that voices approval of anti-democratic, anti-freedom, and/or totalitarian ideologies and propaganda for war. Civilized countries not only have laws against hate speech, but also have laws against things like group defamation, membership in un-democratic organizations, and attempting to suppress fundamental rights and freedoms (fascist Slovakian politician Marian Kotleba was charged with this, for example). Nobody has the freedom to take away basic freedoms from others and nobody has the right to oppose human rights.
In civilized democratic countries, organizations and political parties which pose a threat to liberty, freedom, human rights, and democracy are outlawed. For example, Germany faced strong criticism from human rights groups and from the international human rights community when it failed to ban the far-right NPD party, and human rights activists in Europe are currently working around the clock to place Europe-wide bans on Golden Dawn, Jobbik, Sweden Democrats, and other un-democratic parties which pose a serious threat to freedom and democracy. But, in the US, fascist political parties like the Republican Party, the Constitution Party, and the Libertarian Party are allowed to freely exist and to spread their hateful ideology, even though these parties oppose fundamental human rights and thus have absolutely no place in a democratic society. What kind of democracy allows the free existence of un-democratic parties? No society that genuinely values democracy and human rights would allow people to oppose democracy and human rights. That simply isn't how these things work.
Australia As The Model To Look TowardFor an example of a human rights-based society that the US should look to emulate, we can look at Australia. Recently, the Tony Abbott government proposed amending the country's federal anti-discrimination law, which makes it illegal to offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate vulnerable ethnic minorities. The Abbott government wanted to replace the words ''offend'', ''insult'', and ''humiliate'' with the word ''vilify'', with ''vilify'' being defined as ''inciting hatred''. This would effectively water down protections against racist hate speech, setting the standard for illegal hate speech lower than before. Although most libertarians agreed that it should always be illegal to offend or insult ethnic minorities, a few ultra-libertarians believed that ONLY inciting hatred should be illegal rather than merely offending or insulting ethnic minorities. This was seen as recklessly removing all limitations on ''freedom of speech'' at the expense of vulnerable ethnic minorities, and many people warned that race riots and even genocide could potentially occur as a result. Immediately, this proposal to weaken federal hate speech legislation sparked massive backlash from all sides. Human rights activists and human rights groups were the most vocal in their objections, but journalists, authors, artists, politicians, and citizens alike all joined up against the proposal, with campaigns and protests being launched all across the country. The proposal to water down protections against racist hate speech outraged all political parties, including leftists, centrists, right-wingers, libertarians, and more. The people who proposed watering down the federal hate speech laws were universally denounced as racists championing bigotry. Many of Australia's most prominent free speech activists spoke up against the proposed changes, citing the need to balance freedom of speech against the basic human rights to dignity and non-discrimination along with citing international human rights law. Eventually, the government relented and chose not to change the law. This was widely celebrated in Australia as a victory for tolerance, freedom, democracy, and human rights. ''Respect Wins'' immediately went viral on social media in celebration of the victory against hate speech. Likewise, Australia's human rights defenders have also worked to ban the proliferation of rape culture in the country, including working to ban the camper car company Wicked Campers, which uses vulgar slogans that incite rape, degrade women, and promote rape culture.
During the administration of Julia Gillard, Australia had a much more human rights-friendly government. A proposed human rights law called the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill would have made it illegal to offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate people on the basis of age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, immigrant status, marital/relationship status, political opinion, social origin, religion, nationality, medical history, family responsibilities, or industrial history '' and the law stated that people would be declared guilty until proven innocent, effectively requiring people to prove in court that they did not violate the fundamental human rights of others with hate speech. The law also would have outlawed any expression of religious belief if someone were offended by it. Although most human rights activists agreed that the law did not go nearly far enough, it had wide support among the left, the center, and much of the right, and was backed by Australia's federal government Australian Human Rights Commission. The only reason that the law failed to pass was because of the relentless efforts of the Rupert Murdoch-owned anti-Gillard media, which the law would have silenced. Nevertheless, the law almost passed, and its existence at all demonstrates that Australia is a strongly human rights-oriented culture which the United States should view as an example.
Hate Speech Causes ViolenceThe United States was founded on principles of basic individual freedoms, essential civil liberties, and fundamental human rights. But, by failing to prosecute hate speech '' in blatant violation of international human rights conventions '' we are abandoning these core principles which our Constitution is based upon. It's long past time for the United States to finally uphold its international obligations and join the rest of the world by outlawing all forms of hate speech and all speech that opposes basic human rights. The United States is supposed to be a liberal democracy. It's time for us to start acting like one. The basic right to human dignity is the most essential right in existence. It is a fundamental human right, civil right, and natural right. But it's a right that the United States refuses to respect in any form. That needs to change, and it needs to change now.
We've all seen what can happen when hate speech is allowed to flourish. Hate speech has directly led to the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the Srebrenica massacre, and many other genocides and war crimes throughout history. Hate speech has been a key influence on numerous far-right terrorists and murderers, including Anders Behring Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, and Jared Lee Loughner. By allowing hate speech to flourish, the United States is giving the go-ahead for tragedies like these to happen again and again. Hate speech has already had disastrous consequences for the United States. A recent example would be the ''Innocence of Muslims'' YouTube video '' a disgusting Islamophobic video blatantly inciting hatred and violence against Muslims. This video directly led to numerous riots across the Islamic world, including an attack on a US embassy in Benghazi that left four dead. The bigots responsible for making this video are every bit as responsible for the deaths of those people as the killers are. In a civilized country, the bigots responsible for the video would be jailed for life. But, in the United States, their vile bigotry is protected as ''free speech'', even though the United Nations itself stressed that the video clearly constituted an incitement to racist hatred and violence, and thus was absolutely not freedom of speech.
The United States has always been far behind the times when it comes to protecting basic human rights. When human rights activists (including the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) were attempting to have Salman Rushdie's Islamophobic book The Satanic Verses banned for inciting hatred and violence against Muslims, the US continued to allow the book to be sold. When human rights activists were campaigning to ban Jamaican murder music (homophobic reggae music which incites hatred, violence, and murder against LGBT people), the United States continued to allow its existence. When human rights activists were campaigning to ban Japanese rape games like RapeLay '' which incite rape and violate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women '' the United States continued to allow them to be sold. When human rights activists were campaigning to get the disgusting ''Innocence of Muslims'' video banned from the Internet (a video which, the United Nations emphasized, clearly incites hatred and violence against Muslims), the United States refused to ban it. Human rights activists are now campaigning to outlaw anti-feminist speech, but the United States will undoubtedly continue to allow people to demean feminism and to reject gender equality in the name of ''free speech'', even though international law clearly establishes multiple times that hate speech is not free speech.
Stopping the spread of hate speech online and protecting vulnerable minorities from being exposed to online hate speech has been made a top priority of the international human rights community. The human rights bodies of the United Nations have made cracking down on Internet hate speech one of their biggest goals, and groups like the No Hate Speech Movement for Human Rights Online have been set up by organizations like the Council of Europe. But protecting human rights online is incredibly difficult when the United States '' which controls most of the Internet '' refuses to pass human rights legislation and instead allows the proliferation of online hatred and discrimination as ''free speech'', in clear defiance of international human rights conventions.
A Way Ahead For The U.S.In order to establish ourselves as a country that sincerely respects fundamental human rights, democratic freedoms, and individual liberties, America needs to pass basic human rights legislation '' such as a Human Rights Act '' that outlaws, among other things:
Speech which offends, insults, demeans, threatens, disrespects, discriminates against, and/or incites hatred or violence against a person or a group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, color, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or sexual activity, gender identity or gender expression, disability, language, language ability, ideology or opinion, social class, occupation, appearance (height, weight, hair color, etc.), mental capacity, and/or any other comparable distinction. In cases where hate speech is aggravated '' such as incitement to genocide '' prison sentences should be even longer.The spreading of misinformation, including climate change denial, denial of war crimes and genocides (especially Holocaust denial), conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine propaganda, and general nonsense.Anti-feminist, anti-multicultural, anti-immigration, and/or anti-equality ideology.Insulting, disrespectful, and/or offensive speech in general and speech that violates the dignity of people. This would include, for example, jokes about tragedies along with insults and derogatory/disrespectful comments about any person, group, place, or thing.Speech that disparages the memory of deceased persons.Speech that voices approval of oppressive, anti-freedom, anti-democratic, and/or totalitarian ideologies. This would include, for example, speech that opposes a woman's right to have an abortion and speech that approves of Israeli apartheid in Palestine.Speech that opposes any human rights. This would mean that anyone saying that hate speech shouldn't be against the law would be prosecuted, since hate speech is universally recognized as an injustice and a human rights violation. It would also include propaganda for war, which is illegal under international human rights law.Speech that incites, instructs, assists, condones, celebrates, justifies, glorifies, advocates, or threatens violence and/or law-breaking and speech that undermines the rule of law. This would include, for example, the advocacy of gun ownership (which would be classified as incitement to violence in any civilized country). In a civilized society, advocating violence is no different than actually committing the violence yourself. Only in the US is inciting violence and murder '' even inciting violence and murder against minorities '' considered to be ''free speech''.Speech that undermines the authority of the state and/or interferes with the state's ability to properly function and do its job. This would also include speech that undermines the authority of the United Nations and/or international law.Speech that objectifies women and/or reduces them to their sexual dimension, such as pornography and catcalling.Speech that promotes unacceptable ideas, such as un-democratic ideologies and ideologies that oppose freedom. This would also apply to promoting people who promote or promoted unacceptable ideas. For example, in the case of The Jewish community of Oslo et al. v. Norway, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ruled that glorifying Hitler not only constitutes incitement to Hatred, but also incitement to violence.Speech that harms and/or divides society in general, including speech that damages social cohesion.Symbols associated with hateful and/or un-democratic ideologies, such as Nazi swastikas and Confederate flags.Gestures and salutes associated with hateful and/or un-democratic ideologies, such as fascist salutes.Speech which constitutes microaggressions against vulnerable minorities.Images or recordings of any crimes.Speech which may lead to tensions with other nations and/or upset people in other nations.Speech which is found to be blasphemous towards minority religions.Depictions of indecent violence (especially violence against women) and/or other offensive content.Speech which is found to be irresponsible, unethical, antisocial, hurtful, impolite, uncivil, abusive, distasteful, and/or unacceptable in general.Like all rights, the right to freedom of speech comes with great responsibility and it must be balanced against other rights. All of these things go far outside the realm of free speech, and all other advanced democracies have already passed laws against most of these things in order to protect basic human rights. Outlawing these forms of hatred does not interfere with the sacrosanct right to freedom of speech, and it would not violate the First Amendment in any way since hate speech is not freedom of speech in any way, shape, or form. Nobody has the right to take away rights from others. Nobody has the freedom to take away freedoms from others.
Anyone guilty of hate speech '' which should carry criminal penalties of 25 years to life '' should be sent to special prisons designed to re-educate them and to instill values of tolerance, freedom, democracy, and human rights in them. Prison is about punishment, but it's also about changing the behavior of criminals. We often tend to forget this in our country. Merely sending bigots to ordinary prisons is not good enough '' they need to be sent to special prisons for bigots, which will re-educate them. The United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the international human rights community have stressed many times that education and re-education are crucial for eliminating hatred and protecting human rights. In addition to requiring prisons to re-educate bigots, America also needs to pass laws mandating that all schools and all media outlets spend an allotted amount of time each day to promoting tolerance, freedom, democracy, and human rights.
Europe provides an example for the US to follow in this regard. Working with the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties along with the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, human rights defenders in the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation are working right now to enact the Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance in Europe. This new human rights law will set up state surveillance of intolerant citizens, including those who voice anti-feminist views and those who voice overt approval of a totalitarian ideology. Intolerant citizens will not only be arrested, but will also be sent to special re-education facilities designed to instill values of tolerance, and the law will also require all media outlets to promote a climate of tolerance. The law carefully takes freedom of expression into account. Since hate speech is not freedom of expression, the law does not violate the sacred right to freedom of expression in any way. Likewise, the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled that the right to not be exposed to hate speech must be taken seriously by all democratic countries '' for example, in one ruling, they ruled that government regulation of speech was ''necessary in a democratic society'' in order to guarantee the rights of others ''to protection from gratuitous insults to their religious feelings.'' This is something that the US needs to follow unless we want to continue being viewed as a backwards country with zero protections for basic human rights and freedoms. Only in America would anyone consider hate speech to be ''liberty'', even though hate speech is the exact opposite of liberty.
Freedom of expression '' defined by international human rights law as the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers '' would remain sacrosanct. Discrimination and hate speech are not free speech, and hate is not an ''opinion''. International human rights law clearly establishes multiple times that hateful speech must be outlawed in order to protect human rights, and the UN has repeatedly stressed that this does not restrict freedom of speech in any way. All hate speech '' whether it's in public or in private '' is something that must always be strictly prosecuted in a democratic country that respects human rights. Every democratic country guarantees freedom of speech, but the United States is the only country that's twisted and backwards enough to believe that hate speech is ''freedom of speech''. Hate speech is not ''freedom of speech'' in any way, but is, in fact, clear violence against groups that already face widespread persecution.
The truthfulness or factual nature of statements should not matter. Numerous countries have ruled that completely true, balanced, and factual statements can be outlawed as hate speech if they are likely to stir up hatred, or if vulnerable minorities are likely to take offense to them. As such, any kind of speech '' whether true or otherwise '' which could potentially paint vulnerable minorities in a negative light must always be vigorously prosecuted in order to protect human rights.
These laws would not apply to members of vulnerable minority groups. Rather, they would protect said minority groups from manifestations of hatred which constitute a form of violence and oppression under international human rights law. Punishment would also vary depending on which group the hate speech is directed at. Obviously, advocating the murder of police is certainly not the same thing as advocating the murder of LGBT people, and no sensible person would ever suggest that the two things should be considered the same. Hate speech laws always take different groups into account, and they always consider the harm to society caused by the individual cases of hate speech. In my example, anger against police is something that can certainly be justified, while inciting hatred or violence against LGBT people is something that can never be justified in any way and has absolutely no place in a free and civilized democracy. Hate speech laws exist to protect vulnerable groups from hatred. In Canada, for example, inciting hatred or advocating genocide against protected groups is a criminal offense. So, you can advocate genocide against homophobes, but advocating genocide against LGBT people would land you in prison. This is because LGBT people are a vulnerable group in need of legal protections against hatred, whereas homophobes are most assuredly not, as they belong in prison.
Hate speech is universally recognized as a violation of basic human rights and particularly the basic human rights of vulnerable minorities, including by the United States itself. The United States condemns hate speech in other countries and encourages the use of hate speech legislation in other countries. So why do we refuse to implement these basic human rights protections in our own country? Why is the US so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to protecting the most essential human rights and democratic freedoms? The human right to dignity is perhaps the most fundamental human right there is, yet the US continually allows its citizens to trample all over the basic human dignity of others in the name of ''free speech''. Until the US makes protecting human dignity a priority, it will remain far behind the rest of the world in terms of basic human rights.
In all other countries '' especially liberal democracies '' hate speech laws have universal support, from the left-wing to the center to the right-wing to libertarians to monarchists to fascists. Every single man, woman, and child outside of the US strongly supports laws against hate speech. Even most racists and bigots still believe that hate speech should be against the law, and they CERTAINLY agree that extreme forms of hate speech (e.g. calls for violence or genocide against minorities) should always carry strong criminal penalties. Why do racists and Nazis in other countries have more respect for fundamental human rights than American ''liberals'' do? In civilized and democratic countries, a politician saying that hate speech shouldn't be illegal would be the equivalent of a politician saying that murder shouldn't be illegal. It's something that nobody would ever propose '' and, if they did, the backlash would be extreme and universal. Even the most extreme free speech activists outside of the US strongly support laws against hate speech, as they understand that freedom of speech must be balanced against fundamental human rights.
Minorities already face widespread discrimination in our society. America's Orwellian notion of ''freedom of speech'' as protecting hateful speech is even more abhorrent when you consider how the voices of minorities are persistently marginalized and how they are routinely denied a voice while the rich and powerful are allowed to demean and dehumanize minorities under the guise of ''free speech''. How are vulnerable minorities expected to speak up about the injustices that they face when they are always shouted down by the hateful voices of the rich and powerful? Hate speech is not ''freedom'' to people of color who face constant racist abuse, transgender people who receive non-stop harassment and misgendering, or women visiting abortion clinics who get heckled and called murderers. Not to mention, the right of minorities to NOT be exposed to hate speech is infinitely more important than the so-called ''right'' of bigots to spew hate speech at minorities. Freedom of speech is extremely important, but so are basic human rights and human decency.
Hate speech in the US is not a fringe phenomenon '' not in the least. It's not just little-known individuals like this University of Iowa ''artist'' who spread hate speech in America. Organizations like Fox News and individuals like Bill Maher routinely spread hate speech against Muslims, against immigrants, against our government and our President, and more '' all with zero respect whatsoever for the most fundamental human rights and freedoms. This cannot continue to persist in a country that claims to be free and democratic. In a truly free and civilized country, Bill Maher, for example, would have been sent to prison for inciting racist hatred and violence against Muslims, who already face high levels of hatred and violence in American society.
America also needs a government press regulating body to ensure that the media and the press are used responsibly. In the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, there has been much progress in establishing strong government press regulation. Journalists have led the way, writing column after column about the need for press regulation and persistently lobbying for it. Liberty '' the UK's biggest civil liberties organization '' has supported the Leveson Inquiry, which aims to establish government control and licensing of the press in the UK. Real journalists in the UK have unanimously supported the plans for government press regulation, citing the need to stop right-wing tabloids from spreading lies. In Australia, the Australian Press Council '' an industry-established regulatory body created to stop the government from interfering in the media '' has repeatedly criticized the Rupert Murdoch-owned media's right-wing slant. The irresponsible nature of the Rupert Murdoch-owned media in Australia has led to the Finkelstein Inquiry, which aims to establish government control and licensing of the press in Australia. Almost every single real journalist in Australia has spoken out about the need for government press regulation. And, in New Zealand, proponents of ethical journalism are pushing for the creation of a News Media Standards Authority (NMSA) to license and regulate the press. This is because, in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, the press is dominated by irresponsible and unethical outlets like The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Australian, and other right-wing papers which spread lies and hatred as ''journalism'' and consistently seek to undermine progressive policies put forth by the government. This is comparable to how the American media is dominated by propaganda like Fox News and Breitbart, which would be shut down in a country where responsible journalism was enforced. Serious journalists understand the need for licensing of the press in order to stop right-wingers from using the press to spread their propaganda. The press must be used in an ethical and responsible manner.
America is the only country in the world that does not have any kind of legislation against hate speech. Even countries like Jordan, Turkey, India, Russia, and Indonesia have laws against hate speech. Why do these so-called ''backwards'' countries respect basic human rights more than a supposedly free and liberated country like the US does? The US has ruled that not only is hate speech protected by the First Amendment, but so is advocating violence '' in the view of the United States Supreme Court, these things are supposedly part of a ''marketplace of ideas'' and are ''free speech''. America's continued insistence that hatred, oppression, and discrimination are ''free speech'' makes us look completely twisted and backwards to the rest of the world. It's time to finally bring America up to date on human rights. We need to outlaw all forms of hate speech and we need to set up federal and state Equality and Human Rights Commissions to strictly regulate all press and media to ensure staunch compliance with human rights, and to investigate, prosecute, and enact surveillance of people who spread hatred, intolerance, and other anti-freedom ideologies which have no place in a modern democracy.
We are not talking about censorship here. We are talking about cracking down on hate speech and protecting basic human rights. Nobody in a democratic society should ever have the ability to incite hatred and violence against vulnerable minorities. There is zero logical reason that anyone should ever have the right to spread hatred. Inciting hatred and violence against minorities has absolutely nothing to do with a ''marketplace of ideas''. In a civilized country with democracy and human rights, the man responsible for this disgusting KKK display would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law under human rights legislation. Only in America do we allow this hatred to exist as ''free speech''. Well, I say: no more. It's time for America to finally join the free, civilized, and democratic world. It's time for America to stop approving of hatred and bigotry. Hate speech is NOT free speech. Human rights and democracy must finally be respected in this country. The United States must start to finally uphold basic human rights if it's truly going to call itself a free and liberated country. Every other country already has laws against hate speech '' ESPECIALLY advanced first-world democracies. America is an extreme anomaly in the world when it comes to failing to protect basic human rights.
Finally, the biggest reason why we need to oppose bigotry is simply because it is wrong. Bigotry has absolutely no place in a society supposedly built on tolerance, respect, diversity, dignity, multiculturalism, and human rights. Hate speech goes against the very core principles of our Constitution. America is supposed to lead the world in human rights, but, when it comes to fulfilling even the most basic and fundamental of international human rights obligations, we are falling far behind the rest of the world. Every other liberal democracy has laws against hate speech, and for good reason, too. Hate speech deeply hurts anyone with a conscience, and it destroys the very fabric of society '' a society where people are supposed to live together in peace and harmony. Freedom of speech must never be a license to maliciously hurt people. Not only must freedom of speech be respected, but so must human dignity and social cohesion. We cannot continue to sit back and approve of hatred and bigotry. We cannot continue to tolerate intolerance. We need to combat the evils of bigotry head-on if we are to call ourselves a bastion of freedom and democracy. We need to fight against all forms of bigotry, defend democratic ideals, and protect civil rights for all. Otherwise, we are truly no better than Nazi Germany was.
Notice -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Situation in or in Relation to C´te d'Ivoire
Fri, 06 Feb 2015 10:35
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 04, 2015
- - - - - - -
On February 7, 2006, by Executive Order 13396, the President declared a national emergency, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the situation in or in relation to C´te d'Ivoire and ordered related measures blocking the property of certain persons contributing to the conflict in C´te d'Ivoire. The situation in or in relation to C´te d'Ivoire, which has been addressed by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 1572 of November 15, 2004, and subsequent resolutions, has resulted in the massacre of large numbers of civilians, widespread human rights abuses, significant political violence and unrest, and fatal attacks against international peacekeeping forces.
The Government of C´te d'Ivoire and its people continue to make significant progress in promotion of democratic, social, and economic development. The United States also supports the advancement of impartial justice in C´te d'Ivoire as well as the Government of C´te d'Ivoire's efforts to prepare for a peaceful, fair, and transparent presidential election in 2015, which will be an important milestone in C´te d'Ivoire's progress. The United States is committed to helping C´te d'Ivoire strengthen its democracy, and we look forward to working with the Government and people of C´te d'Ivoire to ensure continued progress and lasting peace for all Ivorians. We urge all sides to work for the benefit of the country as a whole by rejecting violence and participating in the electoral process.
While the Government of C´te d'Ivoire and its people continue to make progress toward peace and prosperity, the situation in or in relation to C´te d'Ivoire continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on February 7, 2006, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond February 7, 2015. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13396.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
'Ontslagronde nadert voor Blokkerpersoneel' | Binnenland | de Volkskrant
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:20
Na V&D lijkt nu ook Blokker - 596 filialen in Nederland - flink te willen bezuinigen op het personeel. Volgens vakbond FNV worden werknemers op grote schaal onder druk gezet om ontslag te nemen. Doen ze het niet, aldus de bond, dan bestaat de kans dat ze worden weggepest.
'We zien al langere tijd dat er een enorme toename is van klachten over ontslagen bij Blokker', zegt FNV-onderhandelaar Niels Suijker. 'Daarom hebben we deze week vier bijeenkomsten georganiseerd waar in totaal 160 medewerkers op afkwamen. Eigenlijk gaf iedereen daar iets soortgelijks aan. Namelijk dat Blokker op vrij grote schaal af wil van medewerkers in vaste dienst en dat ze dat op een oneigenlijke manier doen.'
Er zouden werknemers onder druk worden gezet vrijwillig ontslag te nemen, met als excuus dat ze disfunctioneren, niet in het team of in de formule passen. Suijker: 'Het gaat om mensen die vaak al 15 of zelfs 25 jaar bij het bedrijf werken, zonder dat ze ooit iets negatiefs hoorden over hun functioneren.'
Suijker spreekt van pesten. Medewerkers werden apart genomen waarna aan hen werd gevraagd ter plekke te tekenen voor hun ontslag. In het geval dat ze tekenden, lag er een vertrekpremie klaar. Als ze weigerden, zo werd hun verteld, zou er een nieuw traject worden gezocht. 'Denk daarbij aan overplaatsing naar een filiaal een uur verderop; methodes om mensen te ontmoedigen en te demotiveren. Intimidatie en angst zijn niet voor niets twee woorden die meermalen terugkwamen bij die bijeenkomsten.'
Uit een document dat de personeelsafdeling van Blokker aan een aantal bedrijfsleiders stuurde, staat onder het kopje 'blauwdruk' waar het bedrijf in de toekomst naar toe wil. In plaats van vier of meer vaste werknemers per filiaal, zoals nu, moeten er binnenkort een of twee fulltimers leiding geven aan 'een schil van flex-medewerkers' daaromheen.
Blokker zegt bij monde van een woordvoerder zich niet te herkennen in het beeld dat Suijker schetst. Ook wil het bedrijf niet ingaan op vragen over mogelijke reorganisaties of toekomstplannen.De problemen zouden volgens FNV niet alleen bij Blokkerwinkels spelen, maar ook bij andere Blokkerformules zoals Bart Smit, Intertoys, Marskramer en Xenos. Om hoeveel medewerkers het precies gaat, is onduidelijk. De bond helpt momenteel 30 mensen hun ontslag juridisch aan te vechten, maar volgens Suijker kan het totale aantal zomaar tien maal hoger liggen.
Blokker is qua aantal filialen het op twee na grootste bedrijf van Nederland. In acht landen heeft de holding 22.000 medewerkers. Aanstaande dinsdag gaat FNV in gesprek met de personeelsafdeling van het bedrijf.
In Historic Ruling, U.K. Surveillance Secrecy Declared Unlawful
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:47
The United Kingdom's top surveillance agency has acted unlawfully by keeping details about the scope of its Internet spying operations secret, a British court ruled in an unprecedented judgment issued on Friday.
Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, was found to have breached human rights laws by concealing information about how it accesses surveillance data collected by its American counterpart, the National Security Agency.
The ruling was handed down by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a special court that handles complaints related to covert surveillance operations conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In its 15-year history, the tribunal has never before upheld a complaint against any intelligence agencies.
The legal challenge was brought by human rights groups, including Privacy International and Liberty, following disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The groups alleged that GCHQ was unlawfully obtaining data through the NSA's online spying program PRISM, which collects data stored by Internet giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The groups also focused on GCHQ's role in obtaining private communications swept up by the NSA directly from internet cables, known as so-called ''upstream'' collection.
The court ruling against GCHQ found that by keeping the rules underpinning the surveillance secret, the agency had ''contravened'' the privacy and free expression provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. The secret policies were released for the first time in December, meaning that until then GCHQ had been operating unlawfully, likely for several years. (GCHQ has had access to PRISM since at least 2010, according to reports based on Snowden documents.)
The judges cited a previous ruling that stated laws must be publicly available and clear enough so that individuals have ''adequate protection against arbitrary interference.'' But they did not deem the surveillance itself to be an illegal invasion of privacy; it was only the secrecy shrouding it that they ruled a violation of human rights. Friday's decision was therefore more of a victory for transparency than it was for online privacy.
Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, said the ruling showed spy agencies cannot justify mass surveillance using ''secret interpretations of secret laws.''
''For far too long, intelligence agencies like GCHQ and NSA have acted like they are above the law,'' King said in a statement. ''Today's decision confirms to the public what many have said all along '-- over the past decade, GCHQ and the NSA have been engaged in an illegal mass surveillance sharing program that has affected millions of people around the world.''
James Welch, legal director for Liberty, said that the group would continue its fight against GCHQ mass surveillance by taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights.
''We now know that, by keeping the public in the dark about their secret dealings with the National Security Agency, GCHQ acted unlawfully and violated our rights. That their activities are now deemed lawful is thanks only to the degree of disclosure Liberty and the other claimants were able to force from our secrecy-obsessed Government.
''But the Intelligence Services retain a largely unfettered power to rifle through millions of people's private communications '' and the Tribunal believes the limited safeguards revealed during last year's legal proceedings are an adequate protection of our privacy. We disagree, and will be taking our fight to the European Court of Human Rights.''
The PRISM program was first exposed by the Guardian and the Washington Post in June 2013. Last year, The Intercept published new details about the scope of GCHQ's access to PRISM, and revealed that the British agency was secretly pushing to obtain broader access to huge NSA data repositories. These public news reports formed a central part of the case against GCHQ, and were cited during witness statements.
GCHQ was dismissive of the IPT's ruling in a statement posted on its website Friday, describing it as focusing on a ''discrete and purely historical issue.'' The agency pointed to a previous court ruling on its ''bulk interception regime,'' which it said was ''fully compatible with human rights, in particular the right to privacy.''
Photo: GCHQ headquarters: Barry Batchelor/Press Association via AP.
NA-Tech News
BIG DATA/How startup Fab died
Sat, 07 Feb 2015 20:22
Business Insider
On Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, Fab CEO Jason Goldberg gathered a dozen executives in the eighth-floor conference room of the company's New York City headquarters.
When the executives filed in, they were handed a five-page document. Goldberg sat at the head of the table, his expression somber beneath his salt-and-pepper scruff.
He explained that Fab, a company that had been valued at $900 million just three months previously, was about to change drastically. Two-thirds of the company needed to be fired. Its European division would more or less be shuttered. The company had burned $200 million of the $336 million it had raised, and it had failed to find a sustainable business model.
Megan Dickey/Business InsiderJason Goldberg, CEO and cofounder of Fab.
"We are going to make this work," Goldberg's five-page missive began. "It has to start with brutal honesty."
Goldberg advised everyone to "acknowledge that we have a serious problem."
"We spent $200M in the past 2 years. $200M!" Goldberg's letter read. "We spent $200M and we have not proven out our business model. We spent $200M and we have not proven that we know precisely what our customers want to buy.
"We are the most heavily funded startup in NYC in our life cycle and we have spent 2/3 of the cash ... Holy shit this is a big deal."
Goldberg's rallying cry could not save Fab.
Later that month the company laid off some employees. Key executives, including Goldberg's cofounder, Bradford Shellhammer, departed.
A year later, rumors swirled that Fab would be acquired by PCH Innovations for a mere $15 million.
Business InsiderThe five-page missive Jason Goldberg wrote in October 2013 about how much money Fab had spent.
This month, that deal is expected to close. PCH Innovations will buy the wreckage of Fab, insiders say, in a deal valued at $15-$50 million based on PCH's stock.
How does a billion-dollar business go bust in three years?
Why didn't Goldberg see this coming? Why did investors keep giving him hundreds of millions of dollars?
Over the past few weeks, we've conducted a dozen interviews with people intimately familiar with Fab's business, and we asked them those very questions. Many wished to remain anonymous, to avoid legal ramifications, but they had a lot to say.
"I don't think everyone who worked for Fab realized what a true Titanic it was," one former Fab employee said.
Here's how the "world's fastest-growing startup" exploded quickly '-- then crashed.
The beginning: 'from zero to hero in 9 months'Jason Goldberg/Business InsiderIn early 2011, Bradford Shellhammer and Jason Goldberg shut down Fabulis and started Fab.
Jason Goldberg, 42, has experienced failure before.
A graduate of Emory and Stanford's MBA program, Goldberg began his career in the White House. He spent six years as a special assistant to the chief of staff under Bill Clinton and later became the marketing director of T-Mobile. Goldberg first entered the startup world in the early 2000s when he founded Jobster, a recruiting platform that raised about $50 million before it went sideways and laid off nearly half its staff.
Goldberg's political and marketing backgrounds make him perfect at selling a vision and rallying others around it. He prides himself on being transparent '-- although he occasionally tells half-truths to sound more compelling. For example, Goldberg told the media Fab had 14 million registered users in July 2013. Internal sources say Fab's numbers never grew beyond 10 million. One person said Goldberg got to 14 million by "rounding up." Another insider denies the claim and said the 4 million user discrepancy was due to natural attrition and the company cleaning out inactive user Fab accounts.
Others describe Goldberg as a polarizing figure whose behavior can seem manic. Goldberg was once out of the office for so long that all of the checks on his desk needed to be reissued. Other times he wouldn't sleep, spending days on end just cranking.
He's a hype man who sometimes struggles to execute.
"He is so talented at getting an idea off the ground. Bar none, the best I've ever seen," said a former colleague of Goldberg's. "But he can't operate a company."
Said another: "Jason can talk and sell you water ... He convinces himself that what he's going to do is going to work ... Jason had so much energy and passion that he drove you to want to do something. You can't hate the guy for that '-- you just wish it would have worked out the way he said it was going to."
Despite his shortcomings as an operator, Goldberg has founded several businesses. In 2008 he launched Socialmedian, which was later acquired by XING; there, Goldberg served as chief product manager and accumulated personal wealth.
In 2010, Goldberg founded another company with his friend Bradford Shellhammer, his Socialmedian cofounder, Nishith Shah, and Shah's wife, Deepa. They created Fabulis, a social network for the LGBT community that pivoted to become a daily-deals site. Fabulis finished the year with only 150,000 users. They told investors, who poured about $1 million into Fabulis' seed round, that they needed to shut down.
"I'm a big believer in ship it fast, iterate it quickly. But you can't iterate your way to a business model," Goldberg said of Fabulis at a Berlin conference in 2011.
Goldberg and his cofounders spent three weeks building what would become Fab.com, a design-focused e-commerce site. Fab would feature and sell third-party items from small design shops all over the world and use a flash-sales model, which had proved successful for sites like Gilt Groupe and Ruelala.
Flash sales allow e-commerce companies to sell a limited amount of inventory quickly by offering it at a discount for a short time, usually one day. Flash sales enable sites to test inventory demand before they purchase products in bulk.
Goldberg and his team drummed up 45,000 prelaunch signups, then unveiled Fab's website on June 9, 2011. Goldberg invested $500,000 and came up with a clever invite scheme: People could unlock new products and parts of the website if they invited friends to join Fab.
In the beginning, Shellhammer said Fab felt like his personal store. He flew around the world and found funky objects, then put them on the website. Occasionally customers would buy them.
Fab.comFab's Chandelini sold for $1,775.
Shellhammer's unique design taste caught on quickly, and Fab started to spread by word of mouth. Soon, tens of thousands of people were opening Fab's emails to shop for items they couldn't find anywhere else, like a $1,775 chandelier made of martini glasses or a rhinestone-covered motorcycle helmet.
"I was really impressed with the distinctive design and consistent selection of goods," one e-commerce executive said of Fab's launch. "If I showed you a random item and said, 'Do you think that's on Ruelala or One Kings Lane?' You might not be able to tell the difference. But you could always tell which product was a Fab product."
A few weeks after its launch, actor Ashton Kutcher and Silicon Valley investors gave Fab $1 million. Many of Fabulis' initial investors, like First Round Capital and angel investor David Tisch, rolled their money over into the new company.
By mid-June, the company had 240,000 members with 5,000 new users signing up each day. That August, Fab had half a million users. Investors gave Goldberg a $7.7 million a Series A round financing.
By October 2011, Fab was generating $100,000 a day. It hired 80 people and grew to 750,000 users. Etsy veteran Beth Ferriera joined Fab as COO and David Lapter joined as CFO. Fab was called the "fastest-growing startup in the world."
The company finished the year with 1.3 million users and an annual run rate of $80 million. It closed a $40 million round of financing at a $200 million valuation from top Silicon Valley investment firm Andreessen Horowitz. Jeff Jordan, who also invested in Pinterest, joined Fab's board.
Fab moved into two floors of office space on in Manhattan's West Village. Goldberg gave a presentation in Berlin called "From Zero to Hero in 9 Months" about how he took a failed startup idea, Fabulis, and made it a success.
That success, it turns out, was fleeting.
"There was a real business there," a former Fab employee lamented. "It could have worked."
Another agreed: "People used to rattle off things they bought on Fab to me. We had that [magic] that got people to open emails and engage with content ... There's no question the core business worked. That's the frustrating part about all of it."
The $100 million mistakeDaniel Goodman / Business InsiderJason Goldberg at his desk in Fab's 330 W. 38th St. headquarters in Manhattan in 2011.
Fab employees described 2012 as a "whirlwind of insanity."
Lunch was served daily in the company's shining new headquarters. Sales rolled in. Employees could watch revenue tick upward on the website in real time. They were encouraged to guess what day and time Fab would break a major new revenue milestone in exchange for a prize. It's the same game women play at baby showers to guess when a mother will give birth.
When new hires were made, Goldberg would shout it out to the entire office, which would erupt in cheer. One former employee said Fab back then felt like Google, or what he imagines it feels like to work at Google. Fab hit 5 million users faster than Facebook.
By June 2012, Fab had grown to 150 people and raised $105 million at a $500 million valuation. The board approved a plan to rapidly expand Fab's business and reach $100 million in sales by year end.
Fab's early traction was noticed around the world, and within its first six months, four near-identical clones popped up in Germany. A fifth, backed by the Samwer brothers, Bamarang, troubled Goldberg and his board.
FabFab employees loved the company, in the beginning. Here, some of them work to keep business going through Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Marc and Alex Samwer are German entrepreneurs who have made millions launching near replicas of successful American internet businesses abroad, including eBay, Zappos, Pinterest, and Airbnb.
Bamarang was a pixel-by-pixel clone of Fab. Goldberg and his board decided to move fast and launch in Europe, even though the business was still fledgling in the US.
Most startups wait until they've established a sturdy business in one country before expanding internationally. But, Fab reasoned, if it could acquire another cheap clone and stake an early claim in Europe, it might be the most cost-effective way to beat Bamarang.
Fab acquired three similar European startups that year in all-stock transactions. It bought Casacanda in February 2012, Llustre in June 2012, and True Sparrow Systems in November 2012.
Fab sources estimate that moving into Europe prematurely cost the company $60-$100 million. There were too many employees and not enough sales generated. Streamlining the businesses was difficult; there was no US playbook to hand over to Europe. Additionally, Fab spent $12 million signing a 10-year lease on a warehouse there that eventually closed.
"When you look at Fab's decision to go to Europe, we were still nascent in the US," said one former Fab employee. "We had our ducks in a row, but not everything figured out. We couldn't afford to send anyone from the US there because we were trying to keep our heads above water here. Two years later would have been a more natural place to make those investments in [Europe]."
Back in New York, Fab made another decision that proved detrimental to its core business. It decided to ditch flash sales and start holding inventory.
Pivoting from flash salesBusiness InsiderFab pivoted from flash sales and began holding inventory, which increased expenses and made margins thin.
Fab's customers complained about long shipping times. It took, on average, 16.5 days for a customer to receive a product ordered on the site.
Fab worked with small designers to feature and sell their third-party goods through flash sales; the designers fulfilled orders themselves, which resulted in the slow shipments.
In mid-2012, Fab made an effort to deliver products faster, within 6.5 days. The most obvious time-saver was for Fab to begin holding inventory.
Fab purchased a warehouse, in New Jersey, and by the 2012 holiday season it was moving some of its products. Delivery time dropped to 5.5 days. Fab's customer service improved, too, with the average response time dropping from 48 hours to less than 12.
Fab rapidly scaled the number of products it had on its site. The company jumped from having 1,000 products, or stock keeping units (SKUs), per day in 2011 to 11,000 six months later. Fab launched a number of new product categories, including food and pet items.
Business InsiderFab's operations and customer service department in 2011.
"We were across 32 categories, shipping jewelry to furniture," a former Fab employee recalled. "We sold first, then we took inventory, then we sold and developed our own products. We had all kinds of challenges across all of that, and we had to do it quickly."
The expansion caused Fab to lose its competitive edge. Fab's early users loved discovering products they couldn't find anywhere else on the web. But as Fab's SKUs increased, the originality diminished: Fab products could be found on competing sites like Amazon for less, where they could be shipped faster.
"Fab had product market fit, but Fab didn't understand its product market fit," a former Fab employee said.
Fab's warehouse workers noticed the first signs of trouble during the holiday season of 2012. Fab generated $110 million that year, but piles of inventory remained unmoved. Buyers didn't seem to understand what would sell on Fab. And margins didn't seem to be taken into account when items were priced and sold on the site.
Despite that, in 2013, Fab decided to ditch flash sales completely and sell only the items it kept in stock.
"That was the kiss of death," one former employee said.
Spiraling out of control, and staging a coupFab's 2013 kicked off with a five-hour board meeting. The board '-- which consisted of First Round Capital's Howard Morgan, Fab CEO Jason Goldberg, Andreessen Horowitz's Jeff Jordan, Atomico's Geoffrey Prentice, Tencent's James Mitchell, and Allen Morgan '-- decided Fab needed to move faster. It approved a plan to increase Fab's burn rate to generate $200 million by the end of the year. The plan would drain Fab of its remaining capital by August, but as long as Goldberg was able to raise $300 million more by then, the company would be fine.
"We thought we had this great opportunity," one board member recalled. "We wanted to really go for it. We were foolish perhaps."
Fab's promise was compelling, and Goldberg delivered it flawlessly. There were four e-commerce companies in the world worth more than $10 billion, Goldberg would say. And if you invested in Fab, you had to believe Fab could become the fifth. And that it could become the fifth in the shortest time.
Fab planned to achieve that through "emotional commerce." Its sweet spot was gifts people give to loved ones and the items they put on display in their homes.
"All the investors were seeing were dollar signs in their eyes," one former Fab employee said. "Jason had this hunger to get bigger and do more and take on Amazon, even though our customer base loved Fab because it was curating interesting design products ... He was just like, 'I want more stuff' for the sole reason that he wanted to be more like Amazon."
Said another: "It's pretty clear Jason wants to make a personal mark for himself and be the next Jeff Bezos ... If we had just stayed the course, Fab would have been a very profitable business."
Fab increased its spending to $14 million per month, and sales in the first quarter of 2013 increased to $40 million.
Goldberg began fund-raising in the spring but he quickly discovered money was harder to round up than he'd anticipated. He also began to see that Fab had serious issues, caused by growth tactics the company had implemented in 2012. Europe, Goldberg realized, was a disaster. And users who had been acquired through aggressive Facebook-marketing campaigns weren't showing strong repeat buying patterns.
Fab had been paying attention only to top-line sales and user growth. It failed to see how messed up its cost structure had become.
"We had at team in place for maybe two to three times the revenue that we had," one Fab employee said. "We had been hiring on growth potential and not actual realities."
Another former staffer said Jason was warned to cut costs sooner, but he ignored them. "There were recommendations from the senior team to say we should cut Europe's operations in half, but Jason was reluctant to do that until Fab was finished with fundraising," that person said.
Business InsiderThe five-page missive CEO Jason Goldberg wrote in October 2013.
By July, Goldberg '-- who had been fully transparent with investors about the state of the company and Europe '-- was able to raise only $150 million, but at a $900 million valuation. It wasn't nearly enough. Money had become so tight that Goldberg was prepared to personally float the entire company's payroll in August if the round hadn't closed when it did.
Goldberg told his board how he'd use the $150 million to save Fab. He proposed winding down Europe, chopping Fab's overhead by two-thirds, and restructuring the business around selling higher-margin items like furniture. Shortly after, Fab fired 150 people in Europe.
In October, Goldberg sat his executive team down and handed them the five-page missive about all the mistakes he made as CEO, and he explained Fab's new direction.
Fab's executives weren't sure what to do. Some of them felt Goldberg had run a working company into the ground.
Daniel Goodman / Business InsiderBradford Shellhammer and Jason Goldberg cofounded Fab. Shellhammer didn't depart on the best of terms, and sources say he tried to stage a coup.
Goldberg's cofounder, Bradford Shellhammer, invited a few Fab executives to his house for a casual dinner. There, sources say, Shellhammer attempted to stage a coup and get Goldberg fired. He suggested writing a letter to the board or creating a presentation to demonstrate all the things that were wrong with Fab.
Fab's COO, Beth Ferriera, the group suggested, could take over in the interim. And Fab could go back to its initial working business model, flash sales with third-party designers, and stop trying to be Amazon.
Goldberg learned of Shellhammer's dinner and, shortly after, Shellhammer left Fab. Goldberg gave him a pile of papers that described all the things Shellhammer had done wrong, which included buying $15 million worth of inventory Fab was unable to sell.
When reached for comment, Shellhammer did not deny the coup but said he frequently had Fab executives over for dinner. He said he quit and wasn't fired by Goldberg. Shellhammer has since started a new company, Bezar, that's almost an exact replica of what Fab used to be.
By December, only 150 of Fab's 700 employees remained. Security was hired to standby during a significant round of layoffs in the New York City office, in case employees got emotional.
Launching HemBy mid-2014, Fab was a shell of what it used to be. But Goldberg had a plan to help him and his board save face.
With $80 million left in the bank, Goldberg proposed acquiring a private-label furniture maker in Europe, One Nordic. Fab would be sold off to fund a new e-commerce company, Hem, which would focus on selling original, high-margin home goods.
Furniture accounted for more than 15% of Fab's sales in 2012, and when paired with lighting and other home decor, it accounted for more than 40%. This made the pivot seem obvious to Goldberg.
"While it may seem from the outside that we are struggling to find our way, I have a very clear plan that we are marching towards," Goldberg announced in June 2014 email to some of Fab's designers. "The plan -- which I started to put in place in November of last year -- is to create a timeless design brand, known for our original designs that we bring to market and manufacture."
Goldberg explained that at the end of the month, he'd be splitting Fab into two companies: Fab, which had grown to house 20,000 SKUs on its website, would continue selling "giftables," a new brand Hem would begin selling home items designed specifically for the website. Goldberg guaranteed tens of thousands of dollars in future royalties to some Fab designers who joined him on Hem.
In the fall, Goldberg began exploring acquisition offers for Fab's assets so he could focus fully on Hem. A source said Zulily and Groupon were both contenders. In December 2014, Fab formally changed the legal entity of the company to Hem and later this month, PCH Innovations is expected to buy what's left of Fab in a $15-$50 million stock-based deal.
PostmortemVimeoJason Goldberg at Berlin's HackFWD conference in December 2011. He believes it's important to apologize and own your mistakes.
What's painful about Fab, former employees said, is that it could have worked, and it could have been saved. But instead of trying to solve problems, Goldberg was inclined to pivot the business.
"You can change a business once or twice, but after that you're drowning," one former Fab employee said.
Goldberg is the first to admit he made a lot of mistakes with Fab.
In his October 2013 missive, Goldberg listed a bunch of his missteps:
I guided us to go too fast.I enabled us to lose our core focus.I didn't insist on our honing in on our target customer.I didn't build discipline around costs and business metrics enough into our culture.I didn't build a retail merchandising/marketing culture.I spent too much on marketing before we got the consumer value proposition right.I allowed us to over invest in Europe vs. insisting on scaling global teams from the start.I didn't build a culture and discipline that connected supply chain to merchandising to delivery. I allowed silos of teams and thinking, and that has seeded an awful an [sic] cancerous distrust.I didn't see the need to course correct fast enough.Etc.Etc.Now, he has a brighter outlook. He says Hem is doing well, and he firmly believes that in a few years he'll be running a company both he and his investors are proud of.
Goldberg told Business Insider in a written statement:
As founder and CEO I am equally and fully responsible for the good days and the bad days at the Company. We are proud of our accomplishments and we own our mistakes. Our Fab brand is on stable ground today; it is a solid business moving in a positive direction. Our Hem full-stack design brand is off to a fantastic start. The Hem products are unique and innovative, and they are resonating with consumers. Our average order value at Hem is above $1000 and we've sold thousands of units already in our first 100 days -- to customers in more than 40 different countries.
We are more confident today than at any time in the last couple of years that we will create a meaningful and highly valuable business that will deliver a solid return to our investors. My promise to our shareholders is that we will build a business that we are all extremely proud of. We are doing that.
Time will tell the full story.
Let's remember, though, that Goldberg is an eternal optimist. And it will be hard to forget the facts behind Fab's spectacular three-year crash:
Jobs created then lost: 500Value created then lost: $850 millionMoney burned: $250 millionFor many, the Fab experience was frustrating. For others, it was bittersweet with a lot of hard lessons learned.
"I look at it as a great time in my life. I learned a lot," one Fab employee who was fired recalled. "The only negative is that it ended."
The GNU Privacy Guard
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:51
Work on GnuPG is mostly financed from donations. To continue maintaining GnuPG so to keep it strong and secure against the ever increasing mass surveillance we need your support. Until the end of November we received a total of 6584'‰'‚¬ (~5500 net) donations for this year. Along with the 18000'‰'‚¬ net from the Goteo campaign this paid for less than 50% of the costs for one developer.
194299 '‚¬goal: 120000 '‚¬
For a critical project of this size two experienced developers are required for proper operation. This requires gross revenues of at least 120000 Euro per year. Unfortunately there is currently only one underpaid full time developer who is barely able to keep up with the work; see this blog entry for some backgound. Please help to secure the future of GnuPG and consider to donate to this project now. (Donating Bitcoins is possible via the Wau Holland Stiftung; see the donation page for details.)
Due to this ProPublica article we received more than 120,000 '‚¬ of individual donations on a single day. There is even more: The Core Infrastructure Initiative granted 60,000 $ for 2015. Our payment service Stripe and Facebook will each give 50,000 $ to the project. And finally the Wau Holland Stiftung is collecting tax deductible funds for GnuPG (7000 '‚¬ in December; numbers for January will be posted soon).
As the main author of GnuPG, I like to thank everyone for supporting the project, be it small or large individual donations, helping users, providing corporate sponsorship, working on the software, and for all the encouraging words.
GnuPG does not stand alone: there are many other projects, often unknown to most people, which are essential to keep the free Internet running. Many of them are run by volunteers who spend a lot of unpaid time on them. They need our support as well.
'-- Werner, 2015-02-06
GnuPG is a complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard as defined by RFC4880 (also known as PGP). GnuPG allows to encrypt and sign your data and communication, features a versatile key management system as well as access modules for all kinds of public key directories. GnuPG, also known as GPG, is a command line tool with features for easy integration with other applications. A wealth of frontend applications and libraries are available. Version 2 of GnuPG also provides support for S/MIME and Secure Shell (ssh).
GnuPG is Free Software (meaning that it respects your freedom). It can be freely used, modified and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License .
GnuPG comes in three flavours:
2.0.26 is the stable version suggested for most users,2.1.1 is the brand-new modern version with support for ECC and many other new features,and 1.4.18 is the classic portable version.Project Gpg4win provides a Windows version of GnuPG stable. It is nicely integrated into an installer and features several frontends as well as English and German manuals.
Even if you have nothing to hide, using encryption helps protect the privacy of people you communicate with, and makes life difficult for bulk surveillance systems. If you do have something important to hide, you are in good company; GnuPG is one of the tools that Edward Snowden used to uncover his secrets about the NSA.
Please visit the Email Self-Defense site to learn how and why you should use GnuPG for your electronic communication. If you need printed leaflets check out FSFE's GnuPG leaflet.
The following frames report the latest news from GnuPG. A list with all news of previous years is also available.
This is the second release of the modern branch of GnuPG. It fixes a lot of bugs and brings some new features. Read more about 2.1 at the feature overview page and in the announcement mail.
This is a security fix release and all users of Libksba should update to this version. Note that GnuPG 2.x makes use of Libksba and thus all user of GnuPG 2.x need to install this new version of Libksba and restart the dirmngr process. Read the full announcement.
This is the first released of the new modern branch of GnuPG. It features a lot of new things including support for ECC. Read more at the feature overview page and in the announcement mail.
Microsoft Windows on Devices '' Raspberry Pi 2
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 05:59
We're excited to announce that we are expanding our Windows Developer Program for IoT by delivering a version of Windows 10 that supports Raspberry Pi 2. This release of Windows 10 will be free for the Maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT.
Windows 10 is the first step to an era of more personal computing. This vision framed our work on Windows 10, where we are moving Windows to a world that is more mobile, natural and grounded in trust. With the Windows for IoT developer program we're bringing our leading development tools, services and ecosystem to the Raspberry Pi community!
We see the Maker community as an amazing source of innovation for smart, connected devices that represent the very foundation for the next wave of computing, and we're excited to be a part of this community.
We are excited about our partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and delivering a version of Windows 10 that supports Raspberry Pi 2, and we will be sharing more details about our Windows 10 plans for IoT in the coming months.
Join the Windows for IoT Development program todayBy joining our program you will be amongst the first to receive new information about the Windows Developer Program for IoT including product information, beta programs and releases.
No surprises here... Radioshack files bankruptcy
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 06:01
Please check the sidebar rules and FAQs before posting!Reddit's very own ham radio club. All topics relating to the hobby are welcome here, from purchasing and building equipment, to operating techniques and activities, and everything in between.
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Jeffrey Epstein accuser: video exists of underage sex with powerful men | UK news | The Guardian
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:33
Jeffrey Epstein served 13 months in jail after pleading guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features
The woman who alleges that she was made to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 has told a court she believes US authorities hold video footage of her having underage sex with powerful associates of Andrew's friend Jeffrey Epstein.
Virginia Roberts also alleged in a new affidavit filed on Friday that she was so badly assaulted by Epstein's friends that she thought she might die.
''There were times when I was physically abused to the point that I remember fearfully thinking that I didn't know whether I was going to survive,'' she said.
Related:Modelling scout to take legal action over claims linking him to Jeffrey Epstein
Now 31, Roberts alleged in a court filing in December that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual relations with Andrew by Epstein, a wealthy former investment banker and hedge fund boss who was jailed in Florida in 2008 for sex offences. Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts's claim, which they say is totally without foundation.
Roberts claimed on Friday that US authorities were holding back damning evidence of activities that she was made to engage in while working as Epstein's so-called ''sex slave''. She said she was the victim of a ''major cover-up''.
''Based on my knowledge of Epstein and his organisation, as well as discussions with the FBI, it is my belief that federal prosecutors likely possess videotapes and photographic images of me as an underage girl having sex with Epstein and some of his powerful friends,'' she said.
Despite an inquiry by the FBI turning up dozens of alleged victims of Epstein's underage sex abuse, he secured a deal that saw him serve 13 months in jail in return for pleading guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor. The deal has been criticised by some of his alleged victims as unusually lenient.
Roberts is seeking to join a long-running lawsuit against the US government filed by other alleged victims of Epstein to a federal court in Florida. The women claim that Epstein's plea deal violated their constitutional rights, and that his powerful allies '' including presidents, influential lawyers and other celebrities '' may have helped win him special treatment.
Dismissed as a liar and a fantasist by Epstein allies, Roberts filed with her affidavit on Friday previously undisclosed receipts for a flight from New York to Thailand in September 2002 and a stay costing several thousand dollars at the Royal Princess hotel in Chiang Mai. All the bills appeared to have been paid for by ''J Epstein''.
Roberts, who says she was recruited for Epstein at 15, has previously alleged that she was sent on the Thailand trip by Epstein to learn Thai massage and interview a Thai girl ''to bring back to the United States'' for him. Instead, she says, she met a man whom she married and fled with him to Australia for more than a decade.
Government prosecutors say that Roberts was properly notified about the plea deal at the time it was struck and has waited too long to join the lawsuit. Roberts argues that she did not fully understand the letter sent to her by prosecutors and was too scared of repercussions from Epstein's powerful friends to come out of hiding.
Virginia Roberts, centre '' who is identified in court documents only as Jane Doe 3 '' with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell.Photograph: PRRoberts was contacted and interviewed by FBI agents at the US consulate in Sydney soon after first going public with allegations against Epstein and Andrew in a 2011 interview with the Mail on Sunday. However, she wrote, ''they seemed like they were being blocked from doing what they wanted to do '' which I thought was to arrest Epstein and his powerful friends for all of their illegal sexual crimes.''
Roberts went on in her affidavit on Friday to allege that authorities already hold evidence ''that will support what I have been saying about Epstein and his associates'', including the video and photographic material. She said she did not understand why no action had been taken.
''I have asked the FBI to show me the video surveillance and other pictures of me that I believe they have in their possession,'' she said. ''They said that I would have to go to the prosecutors to get them. But the prosecutors will not share anything with me.''
She also claimed: ''There are also many people who could confirm what I am saying. I hope that these people will come forward and tell the truth.''
Roberts is referred to in the court documents as Jane Doe 3. Pleadingwith Judge Kenneth Marra to allow her to join the lawsuit brought byJane Does 1 and 2, Roberts made increasingly serious allegations about her treatment at the hands of some of Epstein's friends, while not naming any other alleged abusers.
Noting that she had already disclosed the identities of some powerful Epstein allies with whom she was made to have sex, Roberts wrote: ''There were others, though, who I continue to refrain from naming publicly out of fear for physical repercussions.''
Related:Jeffrey Epstein: inside the decade of scandal entangling Prince Andrew
The 31-year-old said her anxiety about possibly being in danger was partly fuelled by memories of the physical abuse she suffered from some of Epstein's friends, while again not specifying any by name. Roberts has long claimed that Epstein ''debriefed'' her after she had sex with his allies so that he would possess intimate and potentially embarrassing information that could be used for blackmail.
''Jeffrey Epstein knew about this physical and sexual abuse because I would detail it for him as part of my debriefing,'' she said. ''Epstein didn't care. Epstein said things like, 'You get that sometimes.' I told him how much I hated having to be with some people, but Epstein still sent me back. I had no choice.''
Epstein dismissed the allegations against him last month, in his first formal remarks on the revived scandal. Condemning the ''media frenzy'' surrounding his case, Epstein said in a court filing said that he and his associates ''have been the subject of the most outlandish and offensive attacks, allegations, and plain inventions''.
Real News
Women's prison mass jail break after inmates in dominatrix gear handcuff male guards expecting 'mass orgy' - Mirror Online
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:25
Twenty-eight inmates escaped from a Brazilian jail after three women in fantasy police costumes "seduced" prison wardens, it was reported today.
Police found three wardens naked and handcuffed inside the Nova Mutum public jail, near Cuiaba, central Brazil, the morning after the mass break-out.
The women reportedly drugged the prison guards by giving them spiked whisky after convincing them to take part in an orgy, according to investigators.
Inmates then left the prison through the main doors, even taking with them guns and munitions they had taken from prison caches.
Lingerie: 28 inmates escaped after the daring plan's success
Police later found a bag of lingerie and dominatrix police uniforms believed to have been worn by the temptresses.
Last night photos of one the naked wardens, believed to have been leaked by amused police officers who found him, had been shared thousands of times on social network sites.
The three women - one of them reportedly the girlfriend of one of the prisoners who escaped - arrived at the prison at 3am on Thursday morning and asked to be let inside to "chat and drink", police said.
The prison guards reportedly obliged and were soon persuaded to leave their posts, accompanying the girls to staff sleeping quarters.
Red-faced: Guards were found handcuffed and drugged
After drugging the wardens the women handcuffed them, took their keys and unlocked all the prison's cells, according to chief Angelina de Andrades Ferreira.
She told a news conference: "The plan was to seduce them. They served them cheap whisky with some substance to knock them out, then unlocked the central gate which accesses the internal cells.
"Whoever wanted to escape left by the front door.
"From the moment they drank the whisky the agents don't remember a thing. One was found dizzy, trying to wake up. Another slept for the whole afternoon and couldn't even be questioned."
The inmates took three 12 caliber rifles shotguns, two 38 caliber revolvers and munition, she said.
Ms Ferreira said the escape was planned by the boyfriend of one of the women, Bruno Amorim, 18, was was serving time for attempted murder, robbery and firearms possession.
She said: "Everything indicated that he planned and executed everything, with the help of his girlfriend."
She said the three prison officers had been arrested and will be charged with "facilitating a jailbreak" and "culpable embezzlement" because of the theft of firearms.
Last night eight of the 28 prisoners had been recaptured as police launched a massive operation to track down the fugitives.
One inmate was found wandering around the centre of Nova Mutum in a drunken state, holding one of the stolen rifles.
Another was caught after stealing a stealing a pick-up truck from a farm and crashing it, police said.
China & France Sign Science Sharing Agreement Including Military Technology
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:48
SEE ALSO: China Buys France's Club Med
SEE ALSO: Scotland Yard HQ Sold to United Arab Emirates For £370 Million
China, France sign technology co-operation agreements.
Jon Grevatt, Bangkok '' IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
05 February 2015
China and France have signed agreements to foster collaboration across a range of high-tech sectors, many of them linked to defence.
According to official statements on 30 January, the two countries will pursue co-operation programmes in sectors including commercial aerospace, nuclear technologies, and satellites.
China's State Administration for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) '' the country's primary agency for defence industry development '' said the agreements will promote ''mutually beneficial co-operation'' and drive the ''China-France strategic partnership into a new era''.
SASTIND said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also urged visiting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to ''ease restrictions on export of high-technology products to China''.
VIDEO-Weekly Address: Everyone Who Works Hard Should Get Ahead | The White House
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 14:16
February 07, 2015 | 3:16 | Public Domain
President Obama highlights the progress our economy has made, with more than 3.1 million jobs created in 2014 '' the best year for job growth since the late 1990s. America has come a long way, and with the right policies focused on middle-class economics, we can continue to grow our economy into one where those who work hard can get ahead.
Download mp4 (121MB) | mp3 (7MB)
VIDEO-Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast - Interview with Rebecca Richards | Steptoe CyberblogSteptoe Cyberblog
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:46
Home > International > China > Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast '' Interview with Rebecca Richards
By Stewart Baker on February 3, 2015Posted in China, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, International, PCLOB, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & PoliciesIn this week's episode, our guest is Rebecca Richards, NSA's director of privacy and civil liberties. We ask the tough questions: Is her title an elaborate hoax or is she the busiest woman on the planet? How long will it be before privacy groups blame the Seattle Seahawks' loss on NSA's policy of intercepting everything? How do you tell an extroverted NSA engineer from an introvert? And, more seriously, now that acting within the law isn't apparently enough, how can an intelligence agency assure Americans that it shares their values without exposing all its capabilities?
In the week's news, Jason Weinstein, Michael Vatis and I explore the DEA's license plate collection program and what it means, among other things, for future Supreme Court jurisprudence on location and the fourth amendment. We take on the WikiLeaks-Google flap and conclude that there's less there than meets the eye.
Jason celebrates a festival of FTC news. The staff report on the Internet of Things provokes a commissioner to dissent from feel-good privacy bromides. The FTC data security scalp count grows to 53, with more on the way. We discover that the FTC has aspirations to become the Federal Telecommunications Commission, regulating telecommunications throttling as well as cramming '' and apparently forcing the FCC into the business of regulating hotels. To be fair, we find ourselves rooting for the Commission as it brings the hammer down on a revenge porn site.
And Michael finds the key to understanding China's policies on cybersecurity and encryption.
The Cyberlaw Podcast is now open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates, or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. If you'd like to leave a message by phone, contact us at +1 202 862 5785.
Download the fifty-second episode (mp3).
Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!
The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.
Tags: data protection, FTC, National Security Agency, NSA, PCLOB, privacy, Section 215, superbowlStewart BakerStewart served as the first Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security where he set cybersecurity policy, including inward investment reviews focused on network security. More
Watch Stewart speak on "Why Privacy Will Become a Luxury."
Michael VatisMichael served as the founding director of the National Infrastructure Protection Center at the FBI, the government's first organization dedicated to detecting and investigating cyberattacks. More.
Watch Michael speak on oversight of Government Secret Programs.
Jason M. WeinsteinJason is a former deputy assistant attorney general of the US Department of Justice's (DOJ) Criminal Division where he supervised the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, and the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section. More.
About This BlogSteptoe Cyberblog, with its sometimes contrasting insights, serves up opinionated and provocative thoughts on the issues '-- especially cybersecurity and privacy '-- that arise at the intersection of law, information technology, and security.
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VIDEO-Flashback: Brian Williams Tells Alec Baldwin about Being Shot Down in Iraq | MRCTV
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 04:16
Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin, March 04, 2013Transcript:
"Alec Baldwin: I never'--I feel the same way. I think one thing that you and I have in common, and that is, it's a decision you make. It's like literally to me, it's always the same image. And that is I'm in a ski chute. I'm in the chute of a ski run of a black diamond ski run; a very, very tough ski run. I say to myself, 'There's only one way down.' I get a sense that you're the same way, which is that, you know, as much as we're like, 'Pinch me, pinch me', one of the ways we succeeded was we just jumped out of the plane and we pulled the ripcord and took it one step at a time, and we turned around, next thing you know, we're skating.
Brian Williams: Yeah, there's this 'I got this' syndrome. I guess I do say to myself and to others, 'I've got this.'
Alec Baldwin: Yes I can.
Brian Williams: And I don't know where that unbridled confidence came from, and I've done some ridiculously stupid things under that banner, like being in a helicopter I had no business being in in Iraq, with rounds coming into the airframe, but I -
Alec Baldwin: Did you think you would die?
Brian Williams: I also'--briefly. Sure. There have been probably more than -
Alec Baldwin: A handful of those?
Brian Williams: Yeah. But and -
Alec Baldwin: Do you tell yourself that's the job?
Brian Williams: Oh absolutely. You have my job and not go and sense and cover and feel these dual wars that we have asked these millions of terrific Americans to go fight, and they've raised their hands and volunteered for the honor of it, would be malpractice."
VIDEO-Mika Brzezinski: My Parents Spanked Me With Hairbrush | MRCTV
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:48
During a discussion of a statement by Pope Francis in which he seemed to suggest that spanking is acceptable so long as the dignity of the child is preserved, Mika Brzezinski reveals that as a child her parents spanked her on the side of a highway with a hairbrush.
VIDEO-Obama at Prayer Breakfast Speech | People Committed Terrible Deeds in Name of Christ During Crusades - YouTube
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 03:31
VIDEO- U.S.: Cannot Confirm American Killed in Strike - YouTube
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:28
VIDEO: ODNI General Counsel Robert Litt Speaks on Intelligence...
Fri, 06 Feb 2015 10:36
February 4, 2015
Via Brookings.edu
U.S. Intelligence Community Surveillance One Year After President Obama's Address
On February 4, Governance Studies at Brookings examined what has been done to implement the directives announced in President Obama's January 2014 speech and their subsequent implications on privacy, civil liberties, competitiveness, and security. The conversation focused on questions raised by the implementation of these reforms and changes to how the U.S. intelligence community conducts surveillance.
Speaker: Robert S. Litt - General Counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Moderator: Cameron F. Kerry - Ann R. and Andrew H. Tisch Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation
A full transcript of Mr. Litt's as prepared remarks follows:
Transcript of Mr. Litt's As Prepared Remarks from February 4, 2014 at the Brookings Institute
Thanks for that nice introduction, Cam.
A year and a half ago, in July 2013, I gave a speech here about Privacy, Technology and National Security. It was just about a month after classified documents stolen by Edward Snowden began appearing in the press, at a time when people in the United States and around the world were raising questions about the legality and wisdom of our signals intelligence activities. My speech had several purposes.
First, I wanted to set out the legal framework under which we conduct signals intelligence and the extensive oversight of that activity by all three branches of Government.
Second, I wanted to explain how we protect both privacy and national security in a changing technology and security environment, and in particular how we protect privacy through robust restrictions on the use we can make of the data we collect.
Third, I wanted to demystify and correct misimpressions about the two programs that had been the subject of the leaks, and to commit the Intelligence Community to greater transparency going forward.
I began by noting the huge amount of private information that we all expose today, through social media, e-commerce, and so on. But I acknowledged that government access to the same information worries us more '' with good reason '' because of what the government could do with that information. So I suggested we should address that problem directly. And in fact, I said, we can and do protect both privacy and national security by a regime that not only puts limits on collection but also restricts access to, and use of, the data we collect based on factors such as the sensitivity of the data, the volume of the collection, how it was collected, and the reason for which it was collected, and that backs up those restrictions with technological and human controls and auditing. This approach has largely been effective. The information that has come out since my speech, both licitly and illicitly, has validated my statement then: While there have been technological challenges and human error in our current signals intelligence activities, there has been no systematic abuse or misuse akin to the very real illegalities and abuses of the 1960s and 1970s.
Well, you may have noticed that my speech did not entirely put the public concerns to rest.
Questions have continued to be asked, and we've continued to address them. In particular, just over a year ago, President Obama gave a speech about surveillance reform, and issued Presidential Policy Directive 28. The President reaffirmed the critical importance of signals intelligence activity to protect our national security and that of our allies against terrorism and other threats. But he took note of the concerns that had been raised and directed a number of reforms to ''give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe,'' as well as to provide ''ordinary citizens in other countries '... confidence that the United States respects their privacy too.''
The Intelligence Community has spent the year since the President's speech implementing the reforms he set out, as well as many of the recommendations of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (or PCLOB) and the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. And I'd note in passing that the PCLOB last week issued a report finding that we have made substantial progress towards implementing the great majority of its recommendations. We've consulted with privacy groups, industry, Congress and foreign partners. In particular, we have a robust ongoing dialogue with our European allies and partners about privacy and data protection. We've participated in a wide variety of public events at which reform proposals have been discussed and debated. And yesterday the ODNI released a report detailing the concrete steps we have taken so far, along with the actual agency policies that implement some of those reforms. What I want to do today is drill down on what we have done in the last year, and in particular explain how we have responded to some of the concerns that have been raised in the last year and a half.
Let me begin by laying out some premises that I think are commonly agreed upon and that should frame how we think about signals intelligence. The first is that we still need to conduct signals intelligence activities. As the President said in his speech last year, ''the challenges posed by threats like terrorism and proliferation and cyber-attacks are not going away any time soon.'' If anything, as recent events show, they are growing. Signals intelligence activities play an indispensable role in how we learn about and protect against these threats.
Second, to be effective, our signals intelligence activities have to take account of the changing technological and communications environment. Fifty years ago, we could more easily isolate the communications of our target: the paradigm of electronic surveillance then was two alligator clips on the target's telephone line. Today, digital communications are all mingled together and traverse the globe. The communications of our adversaries are not separate and easily identified streams, but are part of an ocean of irrelevant conversations, and that creates new challenges for us.
Third, it's critical to keep in mind that signals intelligence '' like all foreign intelligence '' is fundamentally different from electronic surveillance for law enforcement purposes. In the typical law enforcement context, a crime has been or is being committed, and the goal is to gather evidence about that particular crime. Intelligence, on the other hand, is often an effort to find out what is going to happen, so that we can prevent it from happening, or to keep policy-makers informed. This means that we cannot limit our signals intelligence activities only to targeted collection against specific individuals whom we have already identified. We have to try to uncover threats or adversaries of which we may as yet be unaware, such as hackers seeking to penetrate our systems, or potential terrorists, or people supplying nuclear materials to proliferators. Or we may simply be seeking information to support the nation's leadership in the service of other important foreign policy interests.
Fourth, we can also agree that '' in part because of these considerations '' signals intelligence activities can present special challenges to privacy and civil liberties. The capacity to listen in on private conversations or read online communications, if not properly limited and constrained, could impinge upon legitimate privacy interests, and could be misused for improper purposes.Finally, as the President also said, ''for our intelligence community to be effective over the long haul, we must maintain the trust of the American people, and people around the world.'' So although we must continue to conduct signals intelligence activities to protect our national security, we need to do so in a way that is consistent with our values, that treats all people with dignity and respect, that takes account of the concerns that people have with the potential intrusiveness of these activities, and that provides reassurance to the public that they are conducted within appropriate limits and oversight.
So with these premises, let me address some of the concerns that people have raised about our signals intelligence activities.
I want to start with the issue of transparency, both because it is something I care about deeply and because our commitment to transparency is what enables me to explain the other changes we have made. One of the biggest challenges that we have faced in responding to the events of the past year and a half is that to a great extent our intelligence activities have to be kept secret.
The public does not know everything that is done in its name '' and that has to be so. If we reveal too much about our intelligence activities we will compromise the capability of those activities to protect the nation. And I want to reiterate what I have said before '' while there have been significant benefits from the recent public debate, the leaks have unquestionably caused damage to our national security, damage whose full extent we will not know for years. We have seen public postings clearly referencing the disclosures, such as an extremist who advised others to stop using a particular communications platform because the company that provided it, which had been discussed in the leaked documents, was ''part of NSA.''
And yet the Intelligence Community, from the Director of National Intelligence on down, recognizes that with secrecy inevitably come both suspicion and the possibility of abuse. I and many others in the Intelligence Community firmly believe that there would have been less public outcry from the leaks of the last year and a half if we had been more transparent about our activities beforehand. Indeed, as we have been able to release more information, it has helped to allay some of the mistaken impressions people have had about our intelligence activities.
And so we have committed ourselves to disclosing more information about our signals intelligence activities, when the public interest in disclosure outweighs the risk to national security from disclosure:
We have declassified thousands of pages of court filings, opinions, procedures, compliance reports, congressional notifications and other documents.We have released summary statistics about our use of surveillance authorities, and have authorized providers to release aggregate information as well.Representatives of the Intelligence Community have appeared in numerous public forums '' such as this one.We've also changed the way we disclose information to enable greater public access, by establishing IContheRecord, a tumblr account where we post declassified documents, official statements, and other materials.Finally, we have developed and issued principles of transparency to apply to our intelligence activities going forward.The transparency process will never move as quickly as we would like. Public interest declassification requires a meticulous review to ensure that we don't inadvertently release information that needs to remain classified, and we have limited resources to devote to the task. The same people who review documents for discretionary declassification also have to review thousands of documents implicated by FOIA requests with judicial deadlines '' and all this on top of their ''day job'' of actually working to keep us safe. But we recognize the importance of this task and are committed to continued greater transparency.
In general, our transparency efforts have focused, and will continue to focus, on enhancing the public's overall understanding of the Intelligence Community's mission and how we accomplish that mission, while continuing to protect specific targets of surveillance, specific means by which we conduct surveillance, specific partnerships and specific intelligence we gather. It's particularly important that we give the public greater insight into the laws and policies we operate under and how we interpret those authorities, into the limits we impose upon our activities, and into our oversight and compliance regime. I hope that our efforts at transparency will continue to demonstrate to the American people and the rest of the world that our signals intelligence activities are not arbitrary and are conducted responsibly and pursuant to law.
Limitations on Surveillance
One persistent but mistaken charge in the wake of the leaks has been that our signals intelligence activity is overly broad, that it is not adequately overseen and is subject to abuse '' in short, that NSA ''collects whatever it wants.'' This is and always has been a myth, but in addition to greater transparency we have taken a number of concrete steps to reassure the public that we conduct signals intelligence activity only within the scope of our legal authorities and applicable policy limits.
To begin with, in PPD-28 the President set out a number of important general principles that govern our signals intelligence activity:
The collection of signals intelligence must be authorized by statute or Presidential authorization, and must be conducted in accordance with the Constitution and law.Privacy and civil liberties must be integral considerations in planning signals intelligence activities.Signals intelligence will be collected only when there is a valid foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose.We will not conduct signals intelligence activities for the purpose of suppressing criticism or dissent.We will not use signals intelligence to disadvantage people based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.We will not use signals intelligence to afford a competitive commercial advantage to U.S. companies and business sectors.Our signals intelligence activity must always be as tailored as feasible, taking into account the availability of other sources of information.The President also directed that we set up processes to ensure that we adhere to these restrictions, and that we have appropriate policy review of our signals intelligence collection. I want to spend a little time now talking about what these processes are '' how we try to ensure that signals intelligence is only collected in appropriate circumstances. And you'll forgive me if I get a bit down into the weeds on this, but I think this is important for people to understand.
To begin with, neither NSA nor any other intelligence agency decides on its own what to collect. Each year the President sets the nation's highest priorities for foreign intelligence collection after an extensive, formal interagency process. Moreover, as a result of PPD-28, the rest of our intelligence priorities are now also reviewed and approved through a high-level interagency policy process. Overall, this process ensures that all of our intelligence priorities are set by senior policy-makers who are in the best position to identify our foreign intelligence requirements, and that those policy-makers take into account not only the potential value of the intelligence collection but also the risks of that collection, including the risks to privacy, national economic interests and foreign relations.
The DNI then translates these priorities into the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, or NIPF. Our Intelligence Community Directive about the NIPF, ICD 204, which incorporates the requirements of PPD-28, is publicly available on our web site. And while the NIPF itself is classified, much of it is reflected annually in the DNI's unclassified Worldwide Threat Assessment.But the priorities in the NIPF are at a fairly high level of generality. They include topics such as the pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities by particular foreign adversaries, the effects of drug cartel corruption in Mexico, and human rights abuses in specific countries. And they apply not just to signals intelligence, but to all intelligence activities. So how do the priorities in the NIPF get translated into actual signals intelligence collection?
The organization that is responsible for doing this is called the National Signals Intelligence Committee, or SIGCOM. (We have acronyms for everything). It operates under the auspices of the Director of the NSA, who is designated by Executive Order 12333 as what we call the functional manager for signals intelligence, responsible for overseeing and coordinating signals intelligence across the Intelligence Community under the oversight of the Secretary of Defense and the DNI. The SIGCOM has representatives from all elements of the community and, as we fully implement PPD-28, also will have full representation from other departments and agencies with a policy interest in signals intelligence.
All departments and agencies that are consumers of intelligence submit their requests for collection to the SIGCOM. The SIGCOM reviews those requests, ensures that they are consistent with the NIPF, and assigns them priorities using criteria such as:
Can SIGINT provide useful information in this case? Perhaps imagery or human sources are better or more cost-effective sources of information to address the requirement.How critical is this information need? If it is a high priority in the NIPF, it will most often be a high SIGINT priority.What type of SIGINT could be used? NSA collects three types of signals intelligence: collection against foreign weapons systems (known as FISINT), foreign communications (known as COMINT), and other foreign electronic signals such as radar (known as ELINT).Is the collection as tailored as feasible? Should there be time, focus, or other limitations?And our signals intelligence requirements process also requires explicit consideration of other factors, namely:Is the target of the collection, or the methodology used to collect, particularly sensitive? If so, it will require review by senior policy makers.Will the collection present an unwarranted risk to privacy and civil liberties, regardless of nationality? And'...Are additional dissemination and retention safeguards necessary to protect privacy or national security interests?Finally, at the end of the process, a limited number of trained NSA personnel take the priorities validated by the SIGCOM and research and identify specific selection terms, such as telephone numbers or email addresses, that are expected to collect foreign intelligence responsive to these priorities. Any selector must be reviewed and approved by two persons before it is entered into NSA's collection systems. Even then, however, whether and when actual collection takes place will depend in part on additional considerations such as the availability of appropriate collection resources. And, of course, when collection is conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, NSA and other agencies must follow additional restrictions approved by the court.
So that's how we ensure that signals intelligence collection targets reflect valid and important foreign intelligence needs. But, as is typically the case with our signals intelligence activities, we don't just set rules and processes at the front end; we also have mechanisms to ensure that we are complying with those rules and processes.
Cabinet officials are required to validate their SIGINT requirements each year.NSA checks signals intelligence targets throughout the collection process to determine if they are actually providing valuable foreign intelligence responsive to the priorities, and will stop collection against targets that are not. In addition, all selection terms are reviewed by supervisors annually.Based on a recommendation from the President's Review Group, the DNI has established a new mechanism to monitor the collection and dissemination of signals intelligence that is particularly sensitive because of the nature of the target or the means of collection, to ensure that it is consistent with the determinations of policy-makers.Finally, ODNI annually reviews the IC's allocation of resources against the NIPF priorities and the intelligence mission as a whole. This review includes assessments of the value of all types of intelligence collection, including SIGINT, and looks both backward '' how successful have we been in achieving our goals? '' and forward '' what will we need in the future? '' and helps ensure that our SIGINT resources are applied to the most important national priorities.The point I want to make with this perhaps excessively detailed description is that the Intelligence Community does not decide on its own which conversations to listen to, nor does it try to collect everything. Its activities are focused on priorities set by policymakers, through a process that involves input from across the government, and that is overseen both within NSA and by the ODNI and Department of Defense. The processes put in place by PPD-28, which are described in the report we issued yesterday, have further strengthened this oversight to ensure that our signals intelligence activities are conducted for appropriate foreign intelligence purposes and with full consideration of the risks of collection as well as the benefits.
Bulk Collection
One of the principal concerns that has been raised both here and abroad is with bulk collection. Bulk collection is not the same thing as bulky collection; even a narrowly targeted collection program can collect a great deal of data. Rather, bulk collection generally refers to collection that is not targeted by the use of terms such as a person's phone number or email address.We do bulk collection for a number of reasons, although like all of our intelligence activities it must always be for a valid foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose. In some circumstances, it may not be technically possible to target a specific person or selector. In other circumstances, we need to have a pool of relevant data to review as circumstances arise, data which might not otherwise be available because, for example, it would have been deleted or overwritten. In particular, we can use metadata that we collect in bulk to help identify targets for more intrusive surveillance. But because bulk collection is not targeted, it often involves the collection of information that is ultimately not of foreign intelligence value along with information that is, and it is therefore important that we regulate it appropriately.
We've taken a number of steps to provide appropriate and transparent limits on our bulk collection activities. First, agency procedures governing signals intelligence now explicitly provide that collection should be targeted, rather than bulk, whenever practicable. Second, the President in PPD-28 required that when we do collect signals intelligence in bulk we can only use it for one of six enumerated purposes, which I can paraphrase as countering espionage and other threats from foreign powers, counterterrorism, counter-proliferation, cybersecurity, protecting our forces, and combating transnational criminal threats. We can't take information collected in bulk and trawl through it for any reason we please; we have to be able to confirm that we are using it for one of the six specified purposes. Agencies that have access to signals intelligence collected in bulk have incorporated these limitations in procedures governing their use of signals intelligence, which we released yesterday. This is not a meaningless step; it means that violations of those restrictions are subject to oversight and significant violations must be reported to the DNI.
Third, in PPD-28 the President directed my boss, the Director of National Intelligence, to study whether there were software-based solutions that could eliminate the need for bulk collection. The DNI commissioned a study from the National Academy of Sciences, which was conducted by a team of independent experts. They issued their report a few weeks ago, and it is publicly available. To summarize, they concluded that to the extent the goal of bulk collection is, as I said a moment ago, to enable us to look backwards when we discover new facts '' for example to see if a terrorist arrested overseas has ever been in contact with people in the US '' there are no software-based solutions available today that could accomplish that goal, but that we could explore ways to use technology to provide more effective limits and controls on the uses we make of bulk data and to more effectively target collection. I'll return to technology a bit later in my remarks. To be clear, this report doesn't purport to settle whether bulk collection is a good idea, or whether it is valuable; it simply concludes that present technology doesn't allow other, less intrusive ways of accomplishing the same goals we can achieve with bulk collection.
Finally, the President directed specific steps to address concerns about the bulk collection of telephone metadata pursuant to FISA Court order under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. You'll recall that this was the program set up to fix a gap identified in the wake of 9/11, to provide a tool that can identify potential domestic confederates of foreign terrorists. I won't explain in detail this program and the extensive controls it operates under, because by now most of you are familiar with it, but there is a wealth of information about it available at IContheRecord.
Some have claimed that this program is illegal or unconstitutional, though the vast majority of judges who have considered it to date have determined that it is lawful. People have also claimed that the program is useless because they say it's never stopped a terrorist plot. While we have provided examples where the program has proved valuable, I don't happen to think that the number of plots foiled is the only metric to assess it; it's more like an insurance policy, which provides valuable protection even though you may never have to file a claim. And because the program involves only metadata about communications and is subject to strict limitations and controls, the privacy concerns that it raises, while not non-existent, are far less substantial than if we were collecting the full content of those communications.
Even so, the President recognized the public concerns about this program and ordered that several steps be taken immediately to limit it. In particular, except in emergency situations NSA must now obtain the FISA court's advance agreement that there is a reasonable articulable suspicion that a number being used to query the database is associated with specific foreign terrorist organizations. And the results that an analyst actually gets back from a query are now limited to numbers in direct contact with the query number and numbers in contact with those numbers '' what we call ''two hops'' instead of three, as it used to be.
Longer term, the President directed us to find a way to preserve the essential capabilities of this program without having the government hold the metadata in bulk. In furtherance of this direction, we worked extensively with Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and with privacy and civil liberties groups, on the USA FREEDOM Act. This was not a perfect bill. It went further than some proponents of national security would wish, and it did not go as far as some advocacy groups would wish. But it was the product of a series of compromises, and if enacted it would have accomplished the President's goal: it would have prohibited bulk collection under Section 215 and several other authorities, while authorizing a new mechanism that '' based on telecommunications providers' current practice in retaining telephone metadata '' would have preserved the essential capabilities of the existing program. Having invested a great deal of time in those negotiations, I was personally disappointed that the Senate failed by two votes to advance this bill, and with Section 215 sunsetting on June 1 of this year, I hope that the Congress acts expeditiously to pass the USA FREEDOM Act or another bill that accomplishes the President's goal.
Incidental Collection
A second set of concerns centered around the other program that was leaked, collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Section 702 enables us to target non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States for foreign intelligence purposes with the compelled assistance of domestic communications service providers. Contrary to some claims, this is not bulk collection; all of the collection is based on identifiers, such as telephone numbers or email addresses, that we have reason to believe are being used by non-U.S. persons abroad to communicate or receive foreign intelligence information. Again, there is ample information about this program and how it operates on IContheRecord.
Unlike the bulk telephone metadata program, no one really disagrees that Section 702 is an effective and important source of foreign intelligence information. Rather, the concerns about this statute, at least within the United States, have to do with the fact that even when we are targeting non-U.S. persons we are inevitably going to collect the communications of U.S. persons, either because U.S. persons are talking to the foreign targets, or, in some limited circumstances, because we cannot technically separate the communications we are looking for from others. This is called ''incidental'' collection because we aren't targeting the U.S. persons, and I want to emphasize that when Congress passed Section 702 it fully understood that incidental collection would occur.
Some of this incidental collection may be important foreign intelligence information. To pick the most obvious example, if a foreign terrorist who we are targeting under Section 702 is giving instructions to a confederate in the U.S., we need to be able to identify that communication and follow up '' even if we weren't targeting the U.S. person herself. But people have asked: What are we allowed to do with communications that aren't of foreign intelligence value but may be, for example, evidence of a crime? And to what extent should we be allowed to rummage through the database of communications we collect to look for communications of U.S. persons?
Part of the problem was that the general public didn't know what the rules governing our activities under Section 702 were. And so we have declassified and released the CIA, FBI and NSA procedures for minimizing the collection, retention and dissemination of information about U.S. persons under Section 702.
But to address these concerns further, the President in his speech directed the Attorney General and the DNI to ''institute reforms that place additional restrictions on government's ability to retain, search, and use in criminal cases, communications between Americans and foreign citizens incidentally collected under Section 702.'' We are doing so. First, as the PCLOB recommended, agencies have new restrictions on their ability to look through 702 collection for information about U.S. persons. The agencies' various rules are described in the report we issued yesterday. It's important to note that different agencies in the Intelligence Community have been charged by Congress and the President with focusing on different intelligence activities. For example, NSA focuses on signals intelligence; CIA collects primarily human intelligence; and FBI has a domestic law enforcement focus. Because these agencies' missions are different, their internal governance and their IT systems have developed differently from one another, and so the specifics of their procedures differ somewhat. But they will all ensure that information about U.S. persons incidentally collected pursuant to Section 702 is only made available to analysts and agents when appropriate.
Second, we have reaffirmed that intelligence agencies must delete communications acquired pursuant to Section 702 that are to, from or about U.S. persons if the communications are determined to be of no foreign intelligence value, and we have strengthened oversight of this requirement. Third, the Government will use information acquired under Section 702 as evidence against a person in a criminal case only in cases related to national security or for certain other enumerated serious crimes, * and only when the Attorney General approves. In short, we have taken concrete steps to ensure that there are limits on our ability to identify and use information about U.S. persons that we incidentally collect under Section 702.
Protection for Non-U.S. Persons
But one refrain that we often hear from some of our foreign partners is that our rules are focused only on protecting Americans, and that we ignore the legitimate privacy interests of other persons around the world. The fact that we have strong protections for the rights of our citizens is hardly surprising, and I'm not going to apologize for it. Indeed, the legal regimes of most if not all nations afford greater protection to their own citizens or residents than to foreigners abroad. Nonetheless, it was never true that the Intelligence Community had a sort of ''open season'' to spy on foreigners around the world; we have always been required to limit our activities to valid intelligence purposes, as I outlined above.
However, the President recognized that, given the power and scope of our signals intelligence activities, we need to do more to reassure the world that we treat ''all persons '... with dignity and respect, regardless of their nationality and where they might reside,'' and that we provide appropriate protection for the ''legitimate privacy interests [of all persons] in the handling of their personal information.'' And so Section 4 of PPD-28, which I think is an extraordinarily significant step, requires that we have express limits on the retention and dissemination of personal information about non-U.S. persons collected by signals intelligence, comparable to the limits we have for U.S. persons. These rules are incorporated into the agency procedures that we released yesterday, and into another publicly available Intelligence Community Directive, ICD 203, governing analytic standards in reporting.
With respect to retention, we now have explicit rules that require that personal information about non-U.S. persons that we collect through SIGINT must generally be deleted after five years unless comparable information about a U.S. person could be retained. And we have likewise prohibited the dissemination of personal information about non-U.S. persons unless comparable information about U.S. persons could be disseminated. In particular, ''SIGINT information about the routine activities of a foreign person'' would not be considered foreign intelligence that could be disseminated by virtue of that fact alone unless it is otherwise responsive to an authorized foreign intelligence requirement.
This last point in particular is, in my opinion, a big deal. Over the last year and a half, in defending our signals intelligence activity, we have repeatedly said that we protect personal information because we only disseminate valid foreign intelligence information. But many have expressed concerns that our limitations on dissemination are neither transparent nor enforceable. Moreover, people have noted that the definition of ''foreign intelligence'' includes information about ''the capabilities, intentions, or activities of '... foreign persons,'' and have therefore questioned whether the foreign intelligence requirement imposed any meaningful limits to protect the privacy of foreign persons. The new procedures address this concern, by making clear that just because an IC officer has signals intelligence information about a foreign person doesn't mean she can disseminate it as foreign intelligence, unless there is some other basis to consider it foreign intelligence information.
In short, for the first time, we have instituted express and transparent requirements to take account of the privacy of people outside our nation in how we conduct some of our intelligence activities. These new protections are, I think, a demonstration of our nation's enduring commitment to respecting the personal privacy and human dignity of citizens of all countries.
Other Activities/Going Forward
There is much more that we have done but I am running short of time. The Administration has endorsed changes to the operation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that were contained in the USA FREEDOM Act, not because the court is a rubber stamp as some charged '' the documents we have released make clear that it is not '' but in order to reassure the public. These include creation of a panel of lawyers who can advocate for privacy interests in appropriate cases, and continued declassification and release of significant court opinions. We are taking steps to limit the length of time that secrecy that can be imposed on recipients of National Security letters. We are continuing to implement rules to protect Intelligence Community whistleblowers who report through proper channels. These steps are discussed more fully in the materials we released yesterday.
So where do we go from here? The President has directed that we report again in one year. In the interim, we will continue to implement the reforms that the President directed in PPD-28 and his speech. We will declassify and release more information, we will continue to institutionalize transparency, and we will continue our public dialogue on these issues. We will work with Congress to secure passage of the USA FREEDOM Act or something like it.
And I hope that we will be able to work together with industry to help us find better solutions to protect both privacy and national security. One of the many ways in which Snowden's leaks have damaged our national security is by driving a wedge between the government and providers and technology companies, so that some companies that formerly recognized that protecting our nation was a valuable and important public service now feel compelled to stand in opposition. I don't think that is healthy, because I think that American companies have a huge amount to contribute to how we protect both privacy and national security.
When people talk about technology and surveillance, they tend to talk either about how technology has enabled the Intelligence Community to do all sorts of scary things, or about how technology can protect you from the scary things that the Intelligence Community can do. But there's a third role that technology can play, and that is to provide protections and restrictions on the national security apparatus that can assure Americans, and people around the world, that we are respecting the appropriate limits on intelligence activities, while still protecting national security. This is where the genius and capabilities of American technology companies can provide invaluable assistance.
In this regard, I'd like to point you to the National Academy of Sciences report that I mentioned earlier. The last section of their report identified a number of areas where technology could help us target signals intelligence collection more effectively, and provide more robust, transparent and effective protections for privacy, including enforcing limitations on the use of data we collect. One challenge they mentioned is the spread of encryption, and in my view this is an important area where we should look to the private sector to provide solutions. And I should emphasize that I am speaking for myself here.
Encryption is a critical tool to protect privacy, to facilitate commerce, and to provide security, and the United States supports its use. At the same time, the increasing use of encryption that cannot be decrypted when we have the lawful authority to collect information risks allowing criminals, terrorists, hackers and other threats to escape detection. As President Obama recently said, ''[i]f we get into a situation in which the technologies do not allow us at all to track someone that we're confident is a terrorist '...that's a problem.'' I'm not a cryptographer, but I am an optimist: I believe that if our businesses and academics put their mind to it, they will find a solution that does not compromise the integrity of encryption technology but that enables both encryption to protect privacy and decryption under lawful authority to protect national security.
So with that plea for help, let me stop and take your questions.
* In his as delivered remarks, Mr. Litt went on to describe the ''enumerated serious crimes" for which the Government will use information acquired under Section 702 as evidence against a person:
Under the new policy, in addition to any other limitations imposed by applicable law, including FISA, any communication to or from, or information about, a U.S. person acquired under Section 702 of FISA shall not be introduced as evidence against that U.S. person in any criminal proceeding except (1) with the prior approval of the Attorney General and (2) in (A) criminal proceedings related to national security (such as terrorism, proliferation, espionage, or cybersecurity) or (B) other prosecutions of crimes involving (i) death; (ii) kidnapping; (iii) substantial bodily harm; (iv) conduct that constitutes a criminal offense that is a specified offense against a minor as defined in 42 USC 16911; (v) incapacitation or destruction of critical infrastructure as defined in 42 USC 5195c(e); (vi) cybersecurity; (vii) transnational crimes; (or (vii) human trafficking.
VIDEO-Jordan unleashes wrath on ISIS: 'This is just the beginning' - CNN.com
Fri, 06 Feb 2015 10:03
Story highlights"We're going after them wherever they are, with everything that we have," vows Jordan's FMEgypt's grand mufti joins those calling pilot's killing barbaric and antithetical to IslamJordan's king meets with his military's brass and relatives of the pilot killed by ISISFighter jets carried out airstrikes Thursday, then returned to fly over the home of the slain 27-year-old pilot, Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh, in the village of Ay in Karak governorate.
"This is just the beginning and you shall know who the Jordanians are," the armed forces said in a statement on state TV.
They claimed hits on ISIS training centers, arms and ammunition depots: "All targets were completely destroyed and all the planes returned to their bases safely."
The air mission was named "Moath the Martyr." State TV aired exclusive video footage of warplanes striking unspecified ISIS positions in Syria.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh later stressed to CNN that the airstrikes marked the beginning of his nation's retaliation over the pilot's death, but not the start of its fight against terrorism. He vowed to destroy ISIS.
"We are upping the ante. We're going after them wherever they are, with everything that we have. But it's not the beginning, and it's certainly not the end," Judeh said.
The pilot's father, Safi al-Kasasbeh, told CNN that King Abdullah II had promised him that Jordan would avenge his son's death and bombard ISIS' de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. On Thursday, he said that the King told him 30 Jordanian fighter jets participated in the strikes.
"The homeland is entrusted to you all," he said alongside Abdullah, in remarks shown on state television, referencing Jordan's military and calling for national unity. "... For you (troops), to honor Moath is to uphold your oath and to follow in his footsteps as soldiers for God, his prophet (and) Islam ... in defending this dear homeland."
Spokesman: 'These people will be punished'Thursday's strikes were the latest that Jordan's military has carried out against ISIS, which captured Moath al-Kasasbeh after his F-16 fighter jet crashed near Raqqa on December 24.
Jordan is one of a handful of Middle Eastern nations taking part in the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS. The air campaign continued with strikes elsewhere in Syria, including near Hasaka, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Raqqa.
ISIS posted photos of the destruction, and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdurrahman reported that 10 militants were killed.
The video of Moath al-Kasasbeh's execution came out Tuesday, though Jordanian authorities say they think he was killed a month earlier.
Whatever the timing, the proof and savagery of al-Kasasbeh's death have moved many in Amman and elsewhere not just to condemn ISIS but to vow strong actions against it.
Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told CNN that Jordan's response to the killing "will be strong and will be decisive."
"We will not let this crime of killing our pilots with the horrific way it was done pass without punishment," al-Momani said. "These people will be punished."
What comes next?
Analyst: Military response must be sustained to workIn addition to meeting with al-Kasasbeh's family, King Abdullah visited his armed forces headquarters, according to the state-run Petra News Agency. He voiced confidence in Jordanian troops' readiness and got a briefing on the latest airstrikes.
It's hard to tell right away how effective Jordanian military's mission was Thursday, or what the military will do next.
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James "Spider" Marks, a CNN military analyst, said the most important thing will be not just to have one strike but a persistent effort that's well-coordinated with the coalition military effort.
"It can't be a revenge attack, it can't be vitriolic," Marks said. "... If emotions brought them in, that's fine. But at this point, it needs to be a relentless, aggressive attack ... objectively controlled so that you can achieve results on the ground. And it needs to be sustained."
On Wednesday, Jordan executed two prisoners -- Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber whose release ISIS had previously demanded as part of a prisoner exchange, and Ziad Karbouli, a former top aide to the deceased leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Al-Kasasbeh's father had demanded more be done.
"These were criminals and there is no comparison between them and Moath. His blood is more valued than Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad Karbouli," Safi al-Kasasbeh said. "... I demand that this criminal organization (ISIS) ... be annihilated."
Opinion: Jordan's execution of jihadists could backfire
Killing on big screens?ISIS apparently made a big show of the pilot's brutal execution in Raqqa, with an activist network -- Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently -- reporting that the killing was being shown, repeatedly, on large screens across the city.
One of ISIS' propaganda production outlets posted a video online that appears to show a crowd cheering as flames around the pilot grow.
The video features a tight shot of a boy, looking up as if in awe and saying that he would "burn the pilot" himself if he had a chance and that "all Arab tyrants should also be burned." The boy can also be heard saying, "Obama the dog."
Because the video is carefully orchestrated propaganda, CNN has no way to know whether people in Raqqa really feel this way, if other children were present or whether the video participants' responses were authentic or a result of intimidation.
Sheikh Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, is among those influential Muslims -- both clerics and political leaders -- who have condemned the burning of al-Kasasbeh as "barbaric," telling CNN that it's "far away from humanity, much less religion."
It's also contrary to the goal of the group calling itself the Islamic State, which seeks to form a vast caliphate governed by its strict, perverse version of Sharia law. The pilot's killing will only hurt that cause, said Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, who was a prominent Sunni Muslim cleric in Syria before heading into exile as the civil war there raged.
"ISIS wanted to instill terror and fear in the heart of its enemies," al-Yaqoubi told CNN's Christiane Amanpour from Morocco. "... What's happening is the opposite.
"The martyrdom of Moath has united Muslims ... against ISIS, leaving no slight room of doubt that these people do not represent Islam. They represent savagery, terrorism and extremism."
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reported from Jordan and Greg Botelho wrote this report from Atlanta. CNN's Ed Payne, Dana Ford, Ian Lee, Kareem Khadder, Ali Younes, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Atika Shubert, Alexander Felton, Becky Anderson, Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr, Caroline Faraj, Jessica King and Samira Said contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Hospitals restrict visitors due to flu outbreak - RT‰ News
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 01:46
Three hospitals have introduced visitor restrictions due to an increase in patients presenting with flu-like symptoms.
Cork University Hospital is the latest to introduce visiting restrictions owing to the influenza outbreak.
Visitors to the hospital will only be permitted to paediatric wards, the ICU and to those who are critically ill.
Members of the public with flu symptoms are being asked not to come to the hospital at all.
Restrictions are also in place at St James's Hospital in Dublin and the Mercy University Hospital in Cork, with both saying they have taken the measure in the interest of patient safety.
Hospitals are advising anyone with flu symptoms to go to their GP rather than presenting at emergency departments.
The restrictions follow the number of people hospitalised with influenza more than doubling last week.
44 people were admitted to hospital with the virus during the week ending 1 February, compared with 18 reported cases the previous week.
Figures in the weekly Influenza Surveillance Report show there was also an increase in flu-related calls to GP out-of-hours service during this period.
However, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said influenza activity is at moderate levels.
It says six people have died and 11 people have been admitted to critical care, due to influenza during this flu season.
St James's Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital say it is the first time they have ever taken such a measure because of flu.
St James's Hospital CEO and Medical Director Professor Patrick Plunkett has described the move as "unprecedented" and an "extreme measure" but said the hospital had no other option.
He said it was done to protect vulnerable patients because the flu virus could kill them.
Prof Plunkett said several wards in the Intensive Care Unit had been closed to planned admissions.
He said he was sure that emergency department overcrowding had contributed to the problem but was not the exclusive cause.
The decision will be reviewed tomorrow to see if restrictions need to be continued, he added.
The Mercy University Hospital has also restricted patient visit with the exception of the children's ward, critical care areas and some exceptional cases.
It says the restrictions will be continuously reviewed over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Heath Service Executive said the number of people being hospitalised due to influenza is not high for the time of year.
It added there is some international evidence to suggest the strain of flu has drifted from the one that is being used in this year's vaccine.
However, the HSE says it has not changed its recommendation that those at risk should get the vaccine, as it remains the most effective means of preventing infection.


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Agenda 21

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