696: The Key Key Thing

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 47m
February 15th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Instaslave, Dame Kathy & Sir Greg Simmunich

Associate Executive Producers: Incognegro, Jeffery Maxwell, Sir Stuart Rushing, Sir Patrick Coble, Sierra Walker, Mike Nichols

Cover Artist: MartinJJ


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2015 CAMPLITE 16DBS by Livin Lite [For Sale] - Sky River RV CL1505
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 01:59
2015 CAMPLITE 16DBS by Livin Lite [For Sale] - Sky River RV CL1505
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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Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape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''696, 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.
Canadian police: Shooting plot foiled - CNN.com
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 06:34
Story highlightsCanadian authorities say they stopped a planned mass shooting at a public placeTwo men and a woman arrested and a fourth suspect is found dead, police sayThree people have been arrested and a fourth suspect was found dead in a residence, Nova Scotia Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commanding Officer Brian Brennan said at a press conference.
Brennan did not reveal the suspects' alleged motives, only saying they were "a group of individuals who had some beliefs and were willing to carry out violent acts."
Their motivation, he said, was "not culturally based."
Authorities received a tip Thursday morning that a 19-year-old Timberlea man and a 23-year old Geneva, Illinois, woman had weapons and planned to go to a public location in Halifax on Saturday with "a goal of opening fire to kill citizens, and then themselves," Brennan said.
"The possibility for a large loss of life was definitely there," he said, declining to say what public place they planned to use.
Police went to a residence on Thursday and found the 19-year-old suspect dead, Brennan said. He would not say how the man died.
The woman and a 20-year-old man were arrested at about 2 a.m. Friday at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, he said, and later in the day police arrested a 17-year-old male.
All three remain in custody and no other arrests are expected. Brennan would not say what kind of weapons were confiscated.
dpa news - 1ST LEAD Police cancel German carnival procession over terror threat By Oliver Pietschmann, dpa
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:34
Hanover, Germany (dpa) - Police in the northern German city of Braunschweig cancelled the annual carnival procession shortly before it was due to begin on Sunday over fears of a terrorist attack.A police spokesman said they had received the information during the night and investigated it Sunday morning.
"Reliable state security sources" informed the police that "a concrete danger existed from an attack with an Islamist background," the spokesman said.
The carnival, known as the "Schoduvel," is the largest in northern Germany and was expected to draw a crowd of 250,000 to Braunschweig, also known in English as Brunswick, with 4,500 participants in the procession and some 100 floats this year.
Immediately before the carnival was cancelled, the German interior ministry had reacted to Saturday's terrorist attack in Copenhagen by saying their was no elevated risk of an attack in Germany.
As always, there was an abstract level of danger, a ministry spokeswoman in Berlin told dpa. "But we do not have any concrete indications of attack plans in Germany," she stressed. "The situation is unchanged."
She added that German security authorities were in contact with their Danish counterparts, but as investigations in Copenhagen were ongoing, it was too early to draw any conclusions as regards Germany.
Two people were killed and five injured in the Copenhagen attack before police shot dead the suspected attacker on Sunday morning.
Remarks by the President on Request to Congress for Authorization of Force Against ISIL
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:09
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 11, 2015
Roosevelt Room
3:37 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today, as part of an international coalition of some 60 nations -- including Arab countries -- our men and women in uniform continue the fight against ISIL in Iraq and in Syria.
More than 2,000 coalition airstrikes have pounded these terrorists. We're disrupting their command and control and supply lines, making it harder for them to move. We're destroying their fighting positions, their tanks, their vehicles, their barracks, their training camps, and the oil and gas facilities and infrastructure that fund their operations. We're taking out their commanders, their fighters, and their leaders.
In Iraq, local forces have largely held the line and in some places have pushed ISIL back. In Syria, ISIL failed in its major push to take the town of Kobani, losing countless fighters in the process -- fighters who will never again threaten innocent civilians. And we've seen reports of sinking morale among ISIL fighters as they realize the futility of their cause.
Now, make no mistake -- this is a difficult mission, and it will remain difficult for some time. It's going to take time to dislodge these terrorists, especially from urban areas. But our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose. Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are a desperate and revolting attempt to strike fear in the hearts of people it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology -- because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction. And with vile groups like this, there is only one option: With our allies and partners, we are going to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.
And when I announced our strategy against ISIL in September, I said that we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. Today, my administration submitted a draft resolution to Congress to authorize the use of force against ISIL. I want to be very clear about what it does and what it does not do.
This resolution reflects our core objective to destroy ISIL. It supports the comprehensive strategy that we have been pursuing with our allies and partners: A systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Support and training for local forces on the ground, including the moderate Syrian opposition. Preventing ISIL attacks, in the region and beyond, including by foreign terrorist fighters who try to threaten our countries. Regional and international support for an inclusive Iraqi government that unites the Iraqi people and strengthens Iraqi forces against ISIL. Humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians of Iraq and Syria, who are suffering so terribly under ISIL's reign of horror.
I want to thank Vice President Biden, Secretaries Kerry and Hagel, and General Marty Dempsey for their leadership in advancing our strategy. Even as we meet this challenge in Iraq and Syria, we all agree that one of our weapons against terrorists like ISIL -- a critical part of our strategy -- is the values we live here at home. One of the best antidotes to the hateful ideologies that try to recruit and radicalize people to violent extremism is our own example as diverse and tolerant societies that welcome the contributions of all people, including people of all faiths.
The resolution we've submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases -- and, yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment. But they do not have a combat mission. They are focused on training Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces.
As I've said before, I'm convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East. That's not in our national security interest and it's not necessary for us to defeat ISIL. Local forces on the ground who know their countries best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL -- and that's what they're doing.
At the same time, this resolution strikes the necessary balance by giving us the flexibility we need for unforeseen circumstances. For example, if we had actionable intelligence about a gathering of ISIL leaders, and our partners didn't have the capacity to get them, I would be prepared to order our Special Forces to take action, because I will not allow these terrorists to have a safe haven. So we need flexibility, but we also have to be careful and deliberate. And there is no heavier decision than asking our men and women in uniform to risk their lives on our behalf. As Commander in Chief, I will only send our troops into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary for our national security.
Finally, this resolution repeals the 2002 authorization of force for the invasion of Iraq and limits this new authorization to three years. I do not believe America's interests are served by endless war, or by remaining on a perpetual war footing. As a nation, we need to ask the difficult and necessary questions about when, why and how we use military force. After all, it is our troops who bear the costs of our decisions, and we owe them a clear strategy and the support they need to get the job done. So this resolution will give our armed forces and our coalition the continuity we need for the next three years.
It is not a timetable. It is not announcing that the mission is completed at any given period. What it is saying is that Congress should revisit the issue at the beginning of the next President's term. It's conceivable that the mission is completed earlier. It's conceivable that after deliberation, debate and evaluation, that there are additional tasks to be carried out in this area. And the people's representatives, with a new President, should be able to have that discussion.
In closing, I want to say that in crafting this resolution we have consulted with, and listened to, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. We have made a sincere effort to address difficult issues that we've discussed together. In the days and weeks ahead, we'll continue to work closely with leaders and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. I believe this resolution can grow even stronger with the thoughtful and dignified debate that this moment demands. I'm optimistic that it can win strong bipartisan support, and that we can show our troops and the world that Americans are united in this mission.
Today, our men and women in uniform continue the fight against ISIL, and we salute them for their courageous service. We pray for their safety. We stand with their families who miss them and who are sacrificing here at home. But know this: Our coalition is strong, our cause is just, and our mission will succeed. And long after the terrorists we face today are destroyed and forgotten, America will continue to stand free and tall and strong.
May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much, everybody.
3:45 P.M. EST
Center for a New American Security - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:14
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank established in 2007 by co-founders Mich¨le Flournoy and Kurt M. Campbell which specializes in U.S.national security issues. CNAS's stated mission is to "develop strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values."[1] CNAS focuses on terrorism and irregular warfare, the future of the U.S. military, the emergence of Asia as a global power center, and the national security implications of natural resource consumption. Deputy Secretary of StateJames Steinberg has called CNAS "an indispensable feature on the Washington landscape."[2] Speaking at the CNAS annual conference in June 2009, U.S. Central Command Commander GEN David Petraeus observed that "CNAS has, in a few years, established itself as a true force in think tank and policy-making circles"[3]
The Obama administration has hired several CNAS employees for key jobs.[4] Founders Mich¨le Flournoy and Kurt Campbell formerly served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, respectively. In June 2009 The Washington Post suggested, "In the era of Obama...the Center for a New American Security may emerge as Washington's go-to think tank on military affairs."[4] CNAS scholars have included John Nagl,[5]David Kilcullen, Andrew Exum, Thomas E. Ricks, Robert D. Kaplan,[6] and Marc Lynch. CNAS is led by CEO Mich¨le Flournoy.
CNAS is relatively small, with around 30 employees and a budget under $6 million.[7]
In a speech to the United States Military Academy at West Point on February 25, 2011, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quoted CNAS President John Nagl and Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow Lieutenant General David Barno, USA (Ret.) for their recommendations on improving promotion policies in the military.[8]
CNAS experts have been quoted in numerous national media outlets, including but not limited to Foreign Policy,[9]The New York Times,[10]The Washington Post,[11]The Wall Street Journal,[12]The National Interest,[13]The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,[14]C-SPAN,[15]NBC,[16]NPR,[17]CNN,[18] and PBS.[19]
Studies[edit]CNAS has released extensive reports on terrorism, irregular warfare, and regional security challenges.
Before joining CNAS, John Nagl served as an active duty officer in both the first Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He then was part of the team that wrote FM 3-24, the Army's counter-insurgencyfield manual that transformed the way the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were conducted. Since joining CNAS first as a Senior Fellow and then as President, Nagl has continued to delve into counterinsurgency while also publishing papers on other topics, including the need for a permanent corps of Army advisers[20] and strategies for confronting Islamic extremism.[21]
CNAS has also staked out terrain in studying the emergence of Asia as a center of global power, particularly with regards to China. One of the main stated goals of CNAS's Asia-Pacific Security program is to ''devise a future path for America's engagement of China that can expand bilateral cooperation in areas of shared strategic interest and encourage increasing accountability from the Chinese regime''.[22]
The CNAS U.S.-India Initiative is co-chaired by CNAS Board of Directors members Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, and Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The stated goal of the Initiative is to help advance growing bilateral ties in areas of mutual interest, including security, economics, energy and climate change, democracy and human rights.[23] On October 27, 2010 at the White House Press Gaggle on the President's Upcoming Trip to India, the CNAS report Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations was referenced in a reporter's question to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.[24]
In 2010, the Center developed its Cyber Security project, which is co-chaired by Bob Kahn, the co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols used to transmit information over the Internet; Vice Admiral John Michael McConnell, USN (Ret.), former Director of National Intelligence; Joseph Nye, Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University; and Peter Schwartz, a futurist and business strategist and member of the CNAS Board of Directors.[25] In February 2011, CNAS Vice President and Director of Studies Kristin Lord and Research Associate Travis Sharp argued in The Hill that "increased federal attention to cyber security makes good sense," but "lawmakers must ensure that the U.S. government does not spend aimlessly on cyber security."[26]
CNAS has suggested that one way to contain future military costs would be to fold heavy army units into the National guard and reserves, but military officials have responded that the governors would rather have light units, that are better suited to their emergency needs.[27]
Research[edit]Strategy and Statescraft[edit]Strategy and Statecraft '' is a program developed in order to provide answers for how U.S. strategy can be easily adapted in order to meet the challenges in security, political and economical areas of the global environment. Senior fellow and director Julie Smith, vice president Shawn Brimley, and president Richard Fontain.[28]
U.S. defense policy and Military Operations[edit]U.S. defense policy and Military Operations '' by examining issues in defense, diplomacy, intelligence and development, the defense team, made up of retired USA LTG David W. Barno as director, and Nora Bensahel as deputy director, are able to provide U.S. policymakers with the latest ideas in order to develop a better national security strategy for the nation.[29]
Technology and national security[edit]Technology and national security '' though exploration of the many strategies, technology and businesses developments this program is able to gain from the opportunities and avoid possible risks caused by the fast paced changes in technology. Ben FitzGerald is the director.[30]
Energy environment and security[edit]Energy environment and security '' lead by director, Elizabeh Rosenberg, the energy, environment and security program is based on analyzing the impact of a changing global energy landscape, and focuses on the opportunities and challenges that it could provide for the present national security, and assists decision makers with the understanding and response to these changes.[31]
Military, Veterans, and society[edit]Military, Veterans, and society '' with the increasing numbers of veterans and military personnel, this CNAS program includes research in regards to this increasing community, including military personnel issues, veterans and military health care, transformative technologies and ways to serve veterans and military personal, and building national strategies in order to support them. Phillip Carter is the director of the program.[32]
Defense strategies and assessments[edit]Defense strategies and assessments '' with director and Senior fellow, Jerry Hendrix, and fellow and Director Paul Scharre, the CNAS defense strategies and assessments program includes analysis of wargaming, history, force structures and their strategic impacts, service roles and missions. It focuses specifically on the emerging technologies that change the future of warfare.[33]
References[edit]^Center for a New American Security, About CNAS^http://www.state.gov/s/d/2009/129686.htm^Center for a New American Security, 'About the Center for a New American Security, 2012.^ ab"Carlos Lozada -- Setting Priorities for the Afghan War". The Washington Post. June 7, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2010. ^Ricks, Thomas E. (January 16, 2008). "High-Profile Officer Nagl to Leave Army, Join Think Tank". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 28, 2010. ^Center for a New American Security, Robert Kaplan.^Yochi J. Dreazen, Obama dips into think tank for talent, Wall Street Journal, 18 November 2008^U.S. Department of Defense, "Speech: As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, West Point, NY, 25 February 2011.^See, for example, Robert Kaplan 'Oman's Renaissance Man', Foreign Policy, 1 March 2011.^"Room for Debate: A Logical, but Difficult, Step". The New York Times. March 22, 2011. ^Kaplan, Robert D. (February 27, 2011). "Arab democracy and the return of the Mediterranean world". The Washington Post. ^Kaplan, Robert D. (March 26, 2011). "The Middle East Crisis Has Just Begun". The Wall Street Journal. ^http://nationalinterest.org/article/america-primed-4892^The Daily Show, Thomas Ricks, 10 February 2009.^C-SPAN, U.S. Military Intervention in Libya, 23 March 2011.^MSNBC, Meet the Press transcripts, 27 March 2011.^Tom Gjelten, In Libyan Conflict, is Endgame a Stalemate?, NPR, 24 March 2011.^"CNN.com". CNN. ^Center for a New American Security, United States, Arab Leaders Walk Fine Line as Egypt's Power Center Remains Uncertain, 4 February 2011.^http://www.cnas.org/node/130^http://www.cnas.org/node/795^Center for a New American Security, Asia-Pacific Security^Center for a New American Security India Initiative^The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Press Gaggle on the President's Upcoming Trip to India, 27 October 2010.^Center for a New American Security Cyber Security^Kristin M. Lord and Travis Sharp, Cyber sanity, The Hill, 25 February 2011.^Clark, Colin. "Romney Pledges Defense Boost; Analyst Predicts $1 Trillion in DoD Cuts."AOL Defense, 7 October 2011.^"Strategy and Statecraft". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. ^"U.S. Defense Policy and Military Operations". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. ^"Technology and National Security". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. ^"Energy, Environment and Security". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. ^"Military, Veterans, and Society". Retrieved 10 December 2014. ^"Defense Strategies and Assessments". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. External links[edit]
Michael T. Flynn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:14
Michael T. Flynn is a retired United States Armylieutenant general[1][2] who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and chair of the Military Intelligence Board from July 24, 2012, to August 2, 2014.[3] Prior to this he served as assistant director of national intelligence. He consistently pushed for greater information and intelligence sharing and was a leading figure in coalition and special operations intelligence operations. Flynn published a report in January 2010 through the Center for a New American Security entitled "Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan", that took the intelligence community to task for lacking an understanding of the human-socio context of the battlefield in Afghanistan.
Flynn's military career was primarily operational, with numerous combat arms, conventional and special operations senior intelligence assignments. He also served as the senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command, where he was credited with creating innovative techniques for interrogation operations and operations-intelligence fusion, leading to major breakthroughs in counterterrorism operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere against Al-Qaeda and its associated movements. Flynn is a published author, with articles appearing in Infantry Journal, Military Intelligence Magazine, Small Wars Journal, Military Review, Joint Forces Quarterly, the Center for a New American Security, and various other military and intelligence publications.
Flynn graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science degree in management science in 1981 and was commissioned a distinguished military graduate through Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He also holds three master's degrees and an honorary doctorate. He is also the recipient of the Congressionally approved Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the 2012 Association of Special Operations Professionals Man of the Year award.
Flynn's assignments included multiple tours at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Joint Special Operations Command, where he deployed for Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. He also has served with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.[2]
Flynn commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade from June 2002 to June 2004. He served as the assistant chief of staff, G2, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from June 2001 and the director of intelligence, Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan until July 2002.[2]
Flynn served as the director of intelligence, Joint Staff from July, 2008 to June, 2009, then the director of intelligence, International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from June 2009 to October 2010. He also served as the director of intelligence, United States Central Command from June 2007 to July 2008, and the director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007, with service in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom).[2]
Flynn is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and Naval War College. He earned a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, a Master of Military Art and Science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and an honorary doctorate from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC.[2]
Office of the Director of National Intelligence[edit]In September 2011 numerous media outlets reported on Flynn's promotion to lieutenant general and assignment to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. His duties include public, private, and international outreach and engagement. Flynn's influence throughout the intelligence community is primarily with operational units across all the services, especially in the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance arenas as well as information technology and organizational design.
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency[edit]On April 17, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.[4] Flynn took command of DIA, July, 2012.[5] In October 2012 Flynn announced plans to release his paper "VISION2020: Accelerating Change Through Integration", a broad look at how the Defense Intelligence Agency must transform to meet the national security challenges for the 21st Century.[6]
On April 30, 2014, LTG Flynn announced his retirement effective Fall 2014.[7] He retired August 7, 2014.
Flynn was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster), Bronze Star Medal (with three oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), and several service and campaign medals. Flynn also earned the Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, and Joint Staff Identification Badge.[2]
PersondataNameFlynn, Michael TAlternative namesShort descriptionUnited States generalDate of birthPlace of birthMiddletown, Rhode IslandDate of deathPlace of death
About START | START.umd.edu
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:10
OverviewThe National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism'--better known as START'--is a university-based research and education center comprised of an international network of scholars committed to the scientific study of the causes and human consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.
Headquartered at the University of Maryland, START supports the research efforts of leading social scientists at more than 50 academic and research institutions, each of whom is conducting original investigations into fundamental questions about terrorism, including:
What is the nature of terrorism in the world today? How has terrorist activity evolved over time? How does terrorism vary across geographies? And what do these trends indicate about likely future terrorism?Under what conditions does an individual or a group turn to terrorism to pursue its goals? What is the nature of the radicalization process?How does terrorism end? What are the processes of deradicalization and disengagement from terrorism for groups and individuals?What actions can governments take to counter the threat of terrorism?What impact does terrorism and the threat of terrorism have on communities, and how can societies enhance their resilience to minimize the potential impacts of future attacks?START experts apply a range of research methods to the exploration of these questions in order to deliver findings based on the best available open-source evidence and data. At the heart of START's work are the principles that the research it is conducting must be both scientifically rigorous and directly relevant to homeland security professionals.
START is committed to the widespread dissemination of its research findings not only to homeland security professionals through tailored research, education and training efforts, but also to students of all levels and to the general public. START has developed educational materials and programs specifically designed for instructors and students at the secondary, university, and graduate levels. Educational resources available through START include relevant teaching tools and a range of unique data sources that can be integrated into an array of courses to deepen students' understanding of the dynamics of terrorism. START also has internships and funding opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students engaged in terrorism research.
In addition, START has developed educational programs, including an Undergraduate Global Terrorism Minor Program available to students at the University of Maryland and an online Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis Program, available to qualified students around the world.
Since its launch in 2005, START has been headed by Dr. Gary LaFree, a professor of criminology at the University of Maryland, and START's work is managed by a small staff of terrorism experts and university administrators at Maryland, who work closely with the collection of scholars and students that comprise the START Consortium.
START is a part of the collection of Centers of Excellence supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and also receives funding and support from a variety of Federal agencies, private foundations, and universities. All of START's research is conducted using non-classified materials and its findings are those of individual researchers and do not reflect the official position of any START funders.
HistoryThe National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) was established in 2005 as a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, tasked with utilizing state-of-the-art theories, methods, and data from the social and behavioral sciences to improve the understanding of the origins, dynamics, and social and psychological impacts of terrorism. START was funded by an initial $12 million grant from DHS to complete projects in the research areas of terrorist group formation and recruitment, terrorist group persistence and dynamics, and societal responses to terrorist threats and attacks.
START was awarded a 3-year renewal grant from DHS in 2008 to sponsor new and continuing research projects related to the core research areas of radicalization, terrorist operations and interventions, and community resilience relative to the terrorist threat.
Since its inception, START has furthered its mission through hundreds of publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, dozens of public events, and extensive consultations by government agencies and Congress on issues related to terrorism and homeland security. This includes frequent testimony before Congress and hundreds of requests for assistance or advice from DHS and other federal, state, and local government agencies. Click here fore more information on START research.
Consistent with its goal of training and mentoring a new generation of scholars and analysts, START launched a Terrorism Studies Minor Program at the University of Maryland in 2007. START emphasizes a variety of approaches to education, including undergraduate and graduate learning opportunities, professional development training, mentor programs, and public presentations, brown bags and webinars. In order to provide educational opportunities to a broader audience, in 2010 START launched an online Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis. Click here for more information on START Educational Programs.
In 2009, START was recognized by DHS for outstanding contributions to the security of the United States for its long-term support of the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), an open-source database including information on more than 113,000 domestic and international terrorist events around the world since 1970. More information on the GTD can be found at http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/.
More Information
National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:09
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) is a research and education center at the University of Maryland, College Park focused on the scientific study of the causes and consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.[1] It maintains the Global Terrorism Database, that includes over 125,000 terrorist attacks and is described as the "most comprehensive unclassified data base on terrorist events in the world."[2]
History[edit]START was launched in 2005 as one of the Centers of Excellence supported by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.[1][3] Since its launch, it has been under the directorship of Gary LaFree, a professor of criminology at the University of Maryland, College Park.[1] START received a 3-year $12 million initial grant from the Department of Homeland Security in 2005 and the grant was renewed by DHS in 2008.[1] It launched its undergraduate Terrorism Studies Minor in 2007 and its graduate certificate in 2010.[1]
Activities[edit]Teaching[edit]START has developed an undergraduate Global Terrorism Minor program,[4] one of the options in the University of Maryland's Global Studies Minor program (other options include the International Development and Conflict Management minor, the International Engineering minor, the Global Poverty minor, and the Global Engineering minor).[5] It also offers an online Gradual Certificate in Terrorism Analysis Program.[6]
Data[edit]START offers a number of datasets related to terrorism.[7] The most important of these is the Global Terrorism Database, a database of over 113,000 terrorist attacks from 1970 till (as of June 2014) 2012, excluding the year 1993.[2] START also hosts the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, now known as the Terrorist Organization Profiles, but does not actively maintain or take responsibility for the data.[8]
Media coverage[edit]The work at START has been cited and quoted in the Huffington Post,[9] the New York Times,[10]The Guardian,[11] and the Wall Street Journal.[12]
References[edit]^ abcde"About START". National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), University of Maryland, College Park. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^ ab"Overview of the GTD". Global Terrorism Database. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^"DHS Centers of Excellence Network". Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^"Global Terrorism Minor Program". National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^"Global Studies Program". University of Maryland, College Park. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^"Graduate Certificate (online)". National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^"Data and Tools". National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^"Terrorist Organization Profiles". National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^"National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (tag)". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^Shane, Scott (April 16, 2013). "Bombings End Decade of Strikingly Few Successful Terrorism Attacks in U.S.". New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^Ackerman, Spencer (April 30, 2014). "Global terrorism rose 43% in 2013 despite al-Qaida splintering, US reports". The Guardian. Retrieved June 12, 2014. ^Chinni, Dante (April 19, 2013). "Politics Counts: Terror Fears and Polls". Retrieved June 12, 2014. External links[edit]Official website
Media, Murder, and The Narrative
Fri, 13 Feb 2015 23:55
This morning brought the terrible news of the murder of three young people in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The victims, Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad (21), and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19) '-- tragically, the first two were newlyweds '-- were all students at the University of North Carolina. They are reported to have been killed by gunshots to the head, in what sounds like an execution-style murder.
Police already have their supposed killer in custody, Craig Stephen Hicks (46), of Chapel Hill. Since the victims were Muslims, Twitter immediately exploded with outrage and, of course, a hashtag: #MuslimLivesMatter. My Twitter feed filled with rants that nobody cares about Muslim dead and where is the coverage? '-- when, of course, I saw little but media coverage of this horrific crime. Predictably, the Angry Muslim Brigade was out in force online, insisting that this is a clear case of Christian terrorism, while Islamic State barbarism says nothing about Islam, because they are not actually Muslim (really).
Everybody sentient knows what's going on here. Our mainstream media loves The Narrative, as I've discussed before, and facts are entirely secondary in these cases. Victims of certain ethnic or religious backgrounds '-- particularly if they can be shown to have been victimized by the wrong kind of person, politically speaking '-- meet the needs of The Narrative; exceptions do not and are to be ignored when not actively suppressed.
Hicks looked promising as a culprit, as a white Southerner '-- pictures soon emerged of him riding an ATV, as if on cue '-- and immediately media figures were asking why nobody was talking about this ''Islamophobic white terrorist'' when, of course, everybody was talking about him. He could not be an MSM hate figure at the level of, say, Southern frat boys, but Hicks looked good enough for use in The Narrative.
However, doubts quickly emerged as Hicks turns out to be not a Christian fundamentalist, but an atheist of an angry sort, based on his online postings. His hatred seems to have been omnidirectional, aimed at all religions. His politics look like those of many normal progressives, actually. This turn of events is inconvenient for The Narrative and we can expect little more MSM coverage of Hicks' motivations and beliefs. A National Conversation on violent atheism is not inbound.
It is interesting to compare today's outrage with media reactions to the recent murder of Zemir Begic, a 32 year-old Bosnian Muslim immigrant who was beaten to death with hammers on the streets of St. Louis by black and Hispanic killers. Despite the fact that Begic seemed to have been targeted because he was Bosnian, i.e. white, the media showed so little interest in the story that the media began asking why they were showing so little interest, particularly when compared to the non-stop coverage of the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, only a few miles from where Begic was butchered. On cue, St. Louis authorities suggested that the attack on Begic was ''random'' '-- a word that seems to pop up a lot in certain cases, even by President Obama '-- a case of ''wrong place, wrong time,'' per a police spokesman.
Today, we are left with a terrible triple-homicide that very well may be a hate crime. We don't know much about Hicks' motivations to kill three innocent people yet, but we can assume the police will find that out, and we can hope the media reports it fairly.
It's important that the ''terrorism'' label not be applied to crimes without some evidence. I recently argued that the media needs to raise the bar on the use of the term ''genocide,'' and terrorism is another term we ought not cheapen through overuse. Every crime, even every hate crime, is not terrorism.
In the real world, the line between terrorism and mere murder can be murky enough. In a case I cited in yesterday's column, back in early 2007, an 18 year-old Muslim killed five people and wounded four more in a spree killing at a Salt Lake City mall. Sulejman Talović, who hailed from Bosnia, was killed by police gunfire, so he could not explain his motivations. Talović's family (of course) insisted that their son's acts had nothing to do with his Muslim beliefs '-- while indirectly blaming the U.S. Government for the mass murder '-- while the anti-jihad contingent (of course) insisted this was a case of homegrown jihad. The FBI ruled out terrorism in this case, which was controversial to some. What exactly motivated Talović to kill remains murky, and presumably will in perpetuity.
In real life, a lot of cases are like Talović's. It can be difficult to establish firm motives, particularly when the killer is dead. Given the emotions surrounding terrorism, it would be wise of the media to not jump to rapid conclusions for which there is no evidence, or in the Hicks case, the evidence to date seems contrary to MSM assumptions. Fanning hysteria for the sake of ratings and The Narrative is not a public service.
UPDATE (1015 EST, 11 Feb): The Chapel Hill Police Department said Wednesday morning, ''Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking '... Hicks is cooperating with investigators and more information may be released at a later time.''
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Obama's Party Line: Radical Islam Denial
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:00
By James Kirchick | February 10, 2015 | The Daily Beast
Getty Images
According to President Obama and his spokesmen, last month's slaughter at a kosher supermarket in Paris '' in which a radical Islamist terrorist murdered four people, all of them Jews '' was not necessarily an act of anti-Semitic terrorism.
The administration could be accused of no more than rhetorical recklessness and semantic foolishness had its members not gone to such a great extent to deny the obvious. That they have gives us further evidence that willful denial of reality forms the core of the Obama administration's approach to radical Islam. Far from being gaffes, the statements by the president and his spokespeople had a clear synergy on Tuesday '' and deep ideological roots.
The administration began digging this unnerving hole when the president gave an interview to Matthew Yglesias of the liberal ''explainer journalism'' website Vox. Asked whether Americans were overreacting to terrorism, the president observed that, ''It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you've got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.''
There was nothing ''random'' about the attack on ''a bunch of folks'' at Hyper Cacher'--the Jewishness of either the people or the deli. Indeed, this event was the very antithesis of ''random.'' It was a premeditated, deliberate, planned act of violence whose perpetrators singled out their victims solely because of their Jewishness.
A serious interviewer, one interested in producing something a bit more challenging than the equivalent of a ''Scientology recruitment film,'' as POLITICO's Jack Shafer characterized the Vox parley, would have pressed the president on his use of the word ''random'' to describe the massacre in Paris. Sanguine speculation that the president misspoke '' that he really meant to use the word ''senseless,'' or perhaps a word less indistinct in connotation '' were quashed Tuesday, however, in view of two administration press conferences.
At the first, ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if the president had ''any doubt that those terrorists attacked that deli because there would be Jews in that deli."
''The adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were but because of where they randomly happened to be,'' Earnest replied.
''There were people other than just Jews who were in that deli,'' Earnest said, as if the presence of non-Jews obviated the fact that the killer was targeting Jews. In fact, the hostage taker specifically told a French television journalist he was singling out Jews to kill at the height of the siege.
Later in the day, asked the same question by AP State Department reporter Matt Lee, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki offered this nonsense: ''If I remember the victims specifically, they were not all victims of one background or one nationality so I think what they mean by that is, I don't know that they spoke to the targeting of the grocery store or that specifically, but the individuals impacted.''
''I don't think we're going to speak on behalf of French authorities and what they believe was the situation here,'' Psaki said, adding, ''It's an issue for the French government to address.''
For the record, all four of the people murdered at the Hyper Cacher market were Jews. Their bodies were buried in Israel. Immediately after the attacks, France's President and Prime Minister both denounced the crime for its specific anti-Semitic nature, with the latter, Manuel Valls, giving a rousing speech decrying ''the new anti-Semitism'' before the country's National Assembly. The French government then deployed 4,700 soldiers to guard Jewish institutions. Clearly, the French government was of the belief that the kosher supermarket was targeted because it was kosher, and that other kosher '' and not, say, halal '' outlets were at risk of being attacked.
These statements by the president and his spokespersons have left many people flabbergasted, but they follow naturally from the administration's worldview. That they would deny the palpably anti-Semitic nature of the Paris attacks is predictable'--it logically follows from the hesitance to admit that we are at war with a radical Islamist ideology. The corollary to denying that we have an enemy is that the enemy has targets. One of those targets'--aside, of course, from Americans generally'--are Jews.
The president's refusal to acknowledge the anti-Semitic nature of this crime is of a piece with his administration's refusal to acknowledge the radical Islamic nature of our enemies. Just as the president absurdly claims that the Islamic State is ''not Islamic,'' he equally absurdly claims that the radical Islamist murder of Jews has nothing to do with Islam, nothing to do with anti-Semitism, and is entirely ''random.''
Now, contrary to the accusations of some of his right-wing Jewish critics, the president is not a ''Jew-hater.'' Rather, his failure to acknowledge anti-Semitism stems from his foreign policy ''realism,'' or what he imagines ''realism'' to be. In his coolly rationalist thinking, the president has made a calculation: he is more concerned with not angering the world's 1.3 billion Muslims than with reassuring it's 18 million Jews. Rather than do what is just or right, Obama would prefer not to get on the Muslim world's collective bad side.
That explains the Cairo speech that opened his outreach to Muslims around the globe, a fusillade of apologies for alleged American misdeeds. It explains this administration's strained relationship with Israel, which the president '' heeding the advice of Arab potentates and his domestic progressive base, a motley crew indeed '' has begun to see as an obstacle to his vision of a grand entente between America and the Muslim world. It explains Obama's remarks last month to Senate Democrats lobbying them against further sanctions on Iran, that, according to the New York Times, he ''understood the pressures that senators face from donors.''
Downplaying global anti-Semitism fits in with the president's broader Middle East strategy, which consists of distancing the United States from its traditional ally in the region, Israel, while opening its doors to historic enemy, Iran.
The history and reasoning behind this policy is explained in a new, magisterial essay in the online magazine Mosaic by Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran, who argues that Obama takes inspiration from the 2006 bipartisan report drafted by former Secretary of State James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, urging American retrenchment from the Middle East and rapprochement with the Islamic Republic. ''Baker and Hamilton believed that Bush stood in thrall to Israel and was therefore insufficiently alive to the benefits of cooperating with Iran and Syria,'' Doran writes. ''Those two regimes, supposedly, shared with Washington the twin goals of stabilizing Iraq and defeating al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadi groups. In turn, this shared interest would provide a foundation for building a concert system of states'--a club of stable powers that could work together to contain the worst pathologies of the Middle East and lead the way to a sunnier future.''
Both Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough '' two of the president's closest advisors '' worked for Hamilton.
In the wake of the uproar '' mostly from conservatives '' over their performances today, both Earnest and Psaki tried walking back their statements denying the anti-Semitic nature of the Paris attacks on Twitter. It is too late. The mask has slipped, and the face lurking behind it isn't pretty.
Fort Carson brigade headed to Kuwait for possible showdown with ISIS
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 02:43
As Congress mulls America's war with the Islamic State terror group, more than 4,000 Fort Carson soldiers prepared Thursday to leave for Kuwait, where they will take over as America's largest ground force in the troubled region.
The 3rd Brigade Combat team, 4th Infantry Division, cases its colors on Thursday. Photo from the 3rd Brigade Combat team Facebook page.
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team bid farewell to the post in a ceremony and soon will serve as U.S. Central Command's Reserve force in the Middle East - the first soldiers into battle if a major combat force is used to battle Islamic State fighters.
The unit is Fort Carson's heaviest force, armed with tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Many of its soldiers are veterans of one or more of the brigade's four combat tours in Iraq.
"We're no strangers to deployment," the brigade's commander, Col. Greg Sierra, told a crowd gathered for the ceremony.
Sierra's soldiers have trained for more than a year for the Kuwait mission. They practiced skills that atrophied over more than a decade of counterinsurgency fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, relearning the armored combat skills last used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
"We are absolutely ready for this mission," Sierra said.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday asked Congress to authorize long-term combat efforts against the Islamic State, but reinforced his pledge to not use the Army's big combat units in the fight.
"Local forces, rather than U.S. military forces, should be deployed to conduct such operations," Obama said in a letter to lawmakers. "The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against (Islamic State) leadership."
The Army has kept a brigade in Kuwait since the end of the Iraq war in 2011. Those soldiers, including two units from Fort Carson, have worked to train local troops from throughout the Middle East. In its most recent deployment to Kuwait, Fort Carson's 2nd Brigade Combat team conducted training missions with allies including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, which have joined the coalition against Islamic State fighters.
After the ceremony, Sierra said the brigade's training regimen readied soldiers for a range of missions from humanitarian relief to nonstop combat.
"We are prepared for any contingency," he said.
Sierra's soldiers are getting a long weekend with their families before they head out. The colonel gave the families reassurance that if his brigade tangles with Islamic State fighters, the outcome won't be in doubt.
"In the end, if we do get into fights, we win decisively," he said.
Executive Order -- Promoting Private Sector Cybersecurity Information Sharing | The White House
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 15:36
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 13, 2015
- - - - - - -
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. In order to address cyber threats to public health and safety, national security, and economic security of the United States, private companies, nonprofit organizations, executive departments and agencies (agencies), and other entities must be able to share information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents and collaborate to respond in as close to real time as possible.
Organizations engaged in the sharing of information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents play an invaluable role in the collective cybersecurity of the United States. The purpose of this order is to encourage the voluntary formation of such organizations, to establish mechanisms to continually improve the capabilities and functions of these organizations, and to better allow these organizations to partner with the Federal Government on a voluntary basis.
Such information sharing must be conducted in a manner that protects the privacy and civil liberties of individuals, that preserves business confidentiality, that safeguards the information being shared, and that protects the ability of the Government to detect, investigate, prevent, and respond to cyber threats to the public health and safety, national security, and economic security of the United States.
This order builds upon the foundation established by Executive Order 13636 of February 12, 2013 (Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity), and Presidential Policy Directive-21 (PPD-21) of February 12, 2013 (Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience).
Policy coordination, guidance, dispute resolution, and periodic in-progress reviews for the functions and programs described and assigned herein shall be provided through the interagency process established in Presidential Policy Directive-l (PPD-l) of February 13, 2009 (Organization of the National Security Council System), or any successor.
Sec. 2. Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) shall strongly encourage the development and formation of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs).
(b) ISAOs may be organized on the basis of sector, sub-sector, region, or any other affinity, including in response to particular emerging threats or vulnerabilities. ISAO membership may be drawn from the public or private sectors, or consist of a combination of public and private sector organizations. ISAOs may be formed as for-profit or nonprofit entities.
(c) The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), established under section 226(b) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (the "Act"), shall engage in continuous, collaborative, and inclusive coordination with ISAOs on the sharing of information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents, addressing such risks and incidents, and strengthening information security systems consistent with sections 212 and 226 of the Act.
(d) In promoting the formation of ISAOs, the Secretary shall consult with other Federal entities responsible for conducting cybersecurity activities, including Sector-Specific Agencies, independent regulatory agencies at their discretion, and national security and law enforcement agencies.
Sec. 3. ISAO Standards Organization. (a) The Secretary, in consultation with other Federal entities responsible for conducting cybersecurity and related activities, shall, through an open and competitive process, enter into an agreement with a nongovernmental organization to serve as the ISAO Standards Organization (SO), which shall identify a common set of voluntary standards or guidelines for the creation and functioning of ISAOs under this order. The standards shall further the goal of creating robust information sharing related to cybersecurity risks and incidents with ISAOs and among ISAOs to create deeper and broader networks of information sharing nationally, and to foster the development and adoption of automated mechanisms for the sharing of information. The standards will address the baseline capabilities that ISAOs under this order should possess and be able to demonstrate. These standards shall address, but not be limited to, contractual agreements, business processes, operating procedures, technical means, and privacy protections, such as minimization, for ISAO operation and ISAO member participation.
(b) To be selected, the SO must demonstrate the ability to engage and work across the broad community of organizations engaged in sharing information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents, including ISAOs, and associations and private companies engaged in information sharing in support of their customers.
(c) The agreement referenced in section 3(a) shall require that the SO engage in an open public review and comment process for the development of the standards referenced above, soliciting the viewpoints of existing entities engaged in sharing information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents, owners and operators of critical infrastructure, relevant agencies, and other public and private sector stakeholders.
(d) The Secretary shall support the development of these standards and, in carrying out the requirements set forth inthis section, shall consult with the Office of Management and Budget, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, the Information Security Oversight Office in the National Archives and Records Administration, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Sector-Specific Agencies, and other interested Federal entities. All standards shall be consistent with voluntary international standards when such international standards will advance the objectives of this order, and shall meet the requirements of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-113), and OMB Circular A-119, as revised.
Sec. 4. Critical Infrastructure Protection Program. (a) Pursuant to sections 213 and 214(h) of the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002, I hereby designate the NCCIC as a critical infrastructure protection program and delegate to it authority to enter into voluntary agreements with ISAOs in order to promote critical infrastructure security with respect to cybersecurity.
(b) Other Federal entities responsible for conducting cybersecurity and related activities to address threats to the public health and safety, national security, and economic security, consistent with the objectives of this order, may participate in activities under these agreements.
(c) The Secretary will determine the eligibility of ISAOs and their members for any necessary facility or personnel security clearances associated with voluntary agreements in accordance with Executive Order 13549 of August 18, 2010 (Classified National Security Information Programs for State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities), and Executive Order 12829 of January 6, 1993 (National Industrial Security Program), as amended, including as amended by this order.
Sec. 5. Privacy and Civil Liberties Protections. (a) Agencies shall coordinate their activities under this order with their senior agency officials for privacy and civil liberties and ensure that appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties are incorporated into such activities. Such protections shall be based upon the Fair Information Practice Principles and other privacy and civil liberties policies, principles, and frameworks as they apply to each agency's activities.
(b) Senior privacy and civil liberties officials for agencies engaged in activities under this order shall conduct assessments of their agency's activities and provide those assessments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief Privacy Officer and the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for consideration and inclusion in the Privacy and Civil Liberties Assessment report required under Executive Order 13636.
Sec. 6. National Industrial Security Program. Executive Order 12829, as amended, is hereby further amended as follows:
(a) the second paragraph is amended by inserting "the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004," after "the National Security Act of 1947, as amended,";
(b) Sec. 101(b) is amended to read as follows: "The National Industrial Security Program shall provide for the protection of information classified pursuant to Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009, or any predecessor or successor order, and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.).";
(c) Sec. 102(b) is amended by replacing the first paragraph with: "In consultation with the National Security Advisor, the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, in accordance with Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009, shall be responsible for implementing and monitoring the National Industrial Security Program and shall:";
(d) Sec. 102(c) is amended to read as follows: "Nothing in this order shall be construed to supersede the authority of the Secretary of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.), or the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (or any Intelligence Community element) under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, or Executive Order 12333 of December 8, 1981, as amended, or the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security, as the Executive Agent for the Classified National Security Information Program established under Executive Order 13549 of August 18, 2010 (Classified National Security Information Program for State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities).";
(e) Sec. 201(a) is amended to read as follows: "The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with all affected agencies and with the concurrence of the Secretary of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall issue and maintain a National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (Manual). The Secretary of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shall prescribe and issue that portion of the Manual that pertains to information classified under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.). The Director of National Intelligence shall prescribe and issue that portion of the Manual that pertains to intelligence sources and methods, including Sensitive Compartmented Information. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall prescribe and issue that portion of the Manual that pertains to classified information shared under a designated critical infrastructure protection program.";
(f) Sec. 201(f) is deleted in its entirety;
(g) Sec. 201(e) is redesignated Sec. 201(f) and revised by substituting "Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009, or any successor order," for "Executive Order No. 12356 of April 2, 1982.";
(h) Sec. 201(d) is redesignated Sec. 201(e) and revised by substituting "the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretary of Homeland Security" for "and the Director of Central Intelligence.";
(i) a new Sec. 201(d) is inserted after Sec. 201(c) to read as follows: "The Manual shall also prescribe arrangements necessary to permit and enable secure sharing of classifiedinformation under a designated critical infrastructure protection program to such authorized individuals and organizations as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.";
(j) Sec. 202(b) is amended to read as follows: "The Director of National Intelligence retains authority over access to intelligence sources and methods, including Sensitive Compartmented Information. The Director of National Intelligence may inspect and monitor contractor, licensee, and grantee programs and facilities that involve access to such information or may enter into written agreements with the Secretary of Defense, as Executive Agent, or with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to inspect and monitor these programs or facilities, in whole or in part, on the Director's behalf.";
(k) Sec. 202(d) is redesignated as Sec. 202(e); and
(l) in Sec. 202 a new subsection (d) is inserted after subsection (c) to read as follows: "The Secretary of Homeland Security may determine the eligibility for access to Classified National Security Information of contractors, licensees, and grantees and their respective employees under a designated critical infrastructure protection program, including parties to agreements with such program; the Secretary of Homeland Security may inspect and monitor contractor, licensee, and grantee programs and facilities or may enter into written agreements with the Secretary of Defense, as Executive Agent, or with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to inspect and monitor these programs or facilities in whole or in part, on behalf of the Secretary of Homeland Security."
Sec. 7. Definitions. (a) "Critical infrastructure information" has the meaning given the term in section 212(3) of the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002.
(b) "Critical infrastructure protection program" has the meaning given the term in section 212(4) of the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002.
(c) "Cybersecurity risk" has the meaning given the term in section 226(a)(1) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (as amended by the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014).
(d) "Fair Information Practice Principles" means the eight principles set forth in Appendix A of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.
(e) "Incident" has the meaning given the term in section 226(a)(2) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (as amended by the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014).
(f) "Information Sharing and Analysis Organization" has the meaning given the term in section 212(5) of the Critical Infrastrucure Information Act of 2002.
(g) "Sector-Specific Agency" has the meaning given the term in PPD-21, or any successor.
Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law or Executive Order to an agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. Nothing in this order shall be construed to alter or limit any authority or responsibility of an agency under existing law including those activities conducted with the private sector relating to criminal and national security threats. Nothing in this order shall be construed to provide an agency with authority for regulating the security of critical infrastructure in addition to or to a greater extent than the authority the agency has under existing law.
(c) All actions taken pursuant to this order shall be consistent with requirements and authorities to protect intelligence and law enforcement sources and methods.
(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
FACT SHEET: Executive Order Promoting Private Sector Cybersecurity Information Sharing | The White House
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 15:35
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 12, 2015
Today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order to encourage and promote sharing of cybersecurity threat information within the private sector and between the private sector and government. Rapid information sharing is an essential element of effective cybersecurity, because it enables U.S. companies to work together to respond to threats, rather than operating alone. This Executive Order lays out a framework for expanded information sharing designed to help companies work together, and work with the federal government, to quickly identify and protect against cyber threats.
Encouraging Private-Sector Cybersecurity Collaboration
Encourage the development of Information Sharing Organizations: This Executive Order encourages the development of information sharing and analysis organizations (ISAOs) to serve as focal points for cybersecurity information sharing and collaboration within the private sector and between the private sector and government. Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) are already essential drivers of effective cybersecurity collaboration, and could constitute ISAOs under this new framework. In encouraging the creation of ISAOs, the Executive Order expands information sharing by encouraging the formation of communities that share information across a region or in response to a specific emerging cyber threat. An ISAO could be a not-for-profit community, a membership organization, or a single company facilitating sharing among its customers or partners.
Develop a common set of voluntary standards for information sharing organizations: The Executive Order also directs the Department of Homeland Security to fund the creation of a non-profit organization to develop a common set of voluntary standards for ISAOs. Developing this baseline will enable ISAOs to quickly demonstrate their policies and security protocols to potential partners. This will make collaboration safer, faster, and easier, and ensure greater coordination within the private sector to respond to cyber threats.
Enabling Better Private-Public Information Sharing
Clarify the Department of Homeland Security's authority to enter into agreements with information sharing organizations: The Executive Order also increases collaboration between ISAOs and the federal government by streamlining the mechanism for the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) to enter into information sharing agreements with ISAOs. This will ensure that robust, voluntary information sharing continues and expands between the public and private sectors. The administration intends this expanded sharing to complement existing effective relationships between government and the private sector.
Streamline private sector companies' ability to access classified cybersecurity threat information: Classified threat information can often provide valuable context to network defenders and enhance their ability to protect their systems. The Executive Order adds the Department of Homeland Security to the list of Federal agencies that approve classified information sharing arrangements and takes steps to ensure that information sharing entities can appropriately access classified cybersecurity threat information.
Providing Strong Privacy and Civil Liberties Protections
The Executive Order ensures that information sharing enabled by this new framework will include strong protections for privacy and civil liberties. Private sector ISAOs will agree to abide by a common set of voluntary standards, which will include privacy protections, such as minimization, for ISAO operation and ISAO member participation. In addition, agencies collaborating with ISAOs under this order will coordinate their activities with their senior agency officials for privacy and civil liberties and ensure that appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties are in place and are based upon the Fair Information Practice Principles.
Paving the Way for Future Legislation
The Executive Order also complements the Administration's January 2015 legislative proposal, and paves the way for new legislation, by building out the concept of ISAOs as a framework for the targeted liability protections that the Administration has long asserted are pivotal to incentivizing and expanding information sharing. The Administration intends this proposal to complement and not to limit existing effective relationships between government and the private sector.
Hackers rob US and global banks of millions in one of the largest heists ever | The Verge
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:50
Banks in Russia, Japan, the US, and Europe have fallen victim to a massive, sophisticated malware hack, allowing the perpetrators to steal hundreds of millions of dollars since 2013. According to a Kaspersky Labs report provided to the New York Times, more than 100 banks in 30 nations have been affected by the breach, with upwards of $300 million stolen in the process.
One of the largest bank heists ever
While no banks have come forward to acknowledge the theft, experts are calling the attack potentially one of the largest bank heists ever. "This is likely the most sophisticated attack the world has seen to date in terms of the tactics and methods that cybercriminals have used to remain covert," Chris Doggett, manager of Kaspersky's North American office in Boston, told the Times.
Pulling off an attack of this scale took time, and Kaspersky says the hackers were patient in its execution. In order to steal as much as $10 million from some victims, the criminals reportedly had to infect bank computers and remotely install surveillance software to observe everyday behavior. Then, by mimicking employee actions, the hackers could make large transactions look like business as usual. To cash out, the money would be siphoned off into dummy accounts made in advance. One Kaspersky client reportedly lost $7.3 million from ATM transactions.
The Times reports that the majority of the affected banks are in Russia, but the hack is widespread and apparently ongoing. Banks have been silent on the issue to date, though the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center states that the industry has been alerted to the breach. Customers, however, have not been alerted about the breach.
Anthem: company says five employee's credentials phished and used
Thu, 12 Feb 2015 12:44
Anthem: company says five employee's credentials phished and usedFebruary 12, 2015 | Posted by Dan RaywoodHackers who raided health insurance records from Anthem may have been inside the system since December.
According toAssociated Press, although the breach was first detected on January 27thwhen an Anthem computer system administrator discovered outsiders were using his own security credentials to log into the company system and steal data, unauthorised data queries with similar hallmarks started as early as December 10th, and continued sporadically until the 27thof January.
Kristin Binns, a spokeswoman for Anthem said that attempts may also have been made earlier in 2014. She declined to be more specific, saying the matter is still under investigation.
Fred Touchette, senior security analyst of AppRiver, said: ''It is very hard to anticipate or predict a custom attack that has been specifically crafted for their targets. In the case of a phishing email, for example, these don't follow any previously used templates, they're often typed out by hand as a normal email would and any links used within them contain domains with clean reputations.
''These emails often look just like any other email in the eyes of automation. That is why it is so important for the recipient to be well trained and able to spot these scams if and when they arrive in the inbox (or any other route they may take).''
TK Keanini, CTO of Lancope, told IT Security Guru that this shows that the most advanced threats are in your network with valid credentials, meaning that they are not setting off the normal violation alarms that traditional security products provide.
''It is about turning the network in to a sensor and leveraging Netflow/IPFIX, which acts as a general ledger leaving the adversary nowhere to hide,'' he said. ''Having the operational visibility on network activity that notifies you when abnormalities happen is task one in this battle against advanced threat.''
Although details of the investigation were not fully disclosed, investigators now believe that the hackers compromised the credentials of five different tech workers, possibly through a phishing scheme.
Rohyt Belani, CEO of PhishMe, dismissed the ''five employee'' theory as speculation, as the attackers likely targeted more employees.
He said: ''Phishing is the #1 attack vector. It is important that organisations don't get distracted in training their users on other theoretical threats that have little to no impact as such an approach can result in employees getting desensitized to security training in general.
''We have found that the most successful security programs take a threat-oriented approach that provides two to three minutes of micro-education if and when employees are found susceptible during the course of immersive phishing exercises.''
Anthem's security consultants also said that the breach resulted from a ''sophisticated'' attack by hackers using techniques usually associated with organised financial crime rings or groups working for the government of some country.
Touchette said: ''It is not uncommon for more than one person to be a potential target for these phishing attacks. Also, even though one person was 'accredited' for the being the main 'in' in the RSA attacks, it's still possible that more than one person had been targeted and this one person was the one who fell for it.
Mike Spykerman, vice president of product marketing at OPSWAT, said: ''In the common attack scenario, the more targets '' the bigger chance of success. Though in a targeted attack such as this, the number of targets is kept much lower to avoid raising flags.
''It is very hard to anticipate or predict a custom attack that has been specifically crafted for their targets. In the case of a phishing email, for example, these don't follow any previously used templates, they're often typed out by hand as a normal email would and any links used within them contain domains with clean reputations.''
Keanini said: ''In many cases, a phishing campaign will 'cast a large net' across a specific community so those 5 that are being named are from a large set of targets that are in the hundreds, maybe thousands. The other entitlements these five had versus the others that have been compromised during this campaign. These five would likely have had access to something in the attack continuum.''
email on Anthem sys admins
I know someone who used to work at Blue Shield
and he said the company is very out of date
and is run on extremely old software and that the guys
in charge of system security spend most of their time
trolling on Linked-In for girls who work in the company to
ask them out for coffee. He wasn't shocked in the least
that their systems were heavily compromised but
was shocked that it hadn't happened sooner.
Sir Larry
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa O. Monaco Strengthening our Nation's Cyber Defenses
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:04
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 11, 2015
**Remarks as Prepared for Delivery**
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa O. MonacoStrengthening our Nation's Cyber DefensesThe Wilson CenterWashington, D.C.Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Jane, for your kind words, for your leadership on national security, and to everyone here at the Wilson Center for hosting me today. Some of you may not know this, but my very first job in Washington, I'm afraid to admit nearly 25 years ago, was working as a research assistant at the Wilson Quarterly'--back when it was a quarterly, paper journal. Now, like everything else in our world, the Wilson Quarterly is online and much more up-to-the-minute. So today feels a bit like coming home.
Before I get to my main subject today, I'd like to say a few words about the terrible news of this morning. With deep sadness, we have confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, who had been held hostage by ISIL for more than a year. Today, our hearts go out to her family, and my thoughts in particular are with her parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, who have shown strength and dignity over many difficult months. Kayla represented the best of us'--she was a testament to the boundless human spirit, and her legacy of compassion will serve as an inspiration to all those who seek to make our world a more just place. Her life reaffirms a clear truth: that a hateful and barbarous terrorist group like ISIL will never overcome the basic decency and hope that dwells in the human heart. And, as the President made clear, we will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla's captivity and death'--no matter how long it takes.
As President Obama's Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, I brief him every morning on the most significant, destructive, and horrific threats facing the American people. I am oftentimes, as the President reminds me, the ''bearer of bad news.'' Since I began this job two years ago, I can tell you that an increasing share of the bad news I deliver is unfortunately on cyber threats. In just the last nine months, we've seen a growing list of high profile targets '' Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase, Target, Sony Pictures, CENTCOM, and the U.S. Postal Service, to name a few.
We are at a transformational moment in the evolution of the cyber threat. The actions we take today '' and those we fail to take '' will determine whether cyberspace remains a great national asset or increasingly becomes a strategic liability. An economic and national security strength, or a source of vulnerability.
So today, I want to talk about the threat we face and the Administration's approach to countering it, drawing on counterterrorism lessons learned from the last decade of war.
Let me start with the facts. According to a recent U.S. Government assessment, cyber threats to our national and economic security are increasing in their frequency, scale, sophistication, and severity of impact. The range of cyber threat actors, methods of attack, targeted systems, and victims are expanding at an unprecedented clip.
The pace of cyber intrusions has also ticked up substantially'--annual reports of data breaches have increased roughly five-fold since 2009. And the seriousness of those breaches is also rising, causing significant economic damage.
No one, it seems, is immune '' from healthcare companies and universities to the tech industry, critical infrastructure, and entertainment sector. Just last week, Anthem, one of the nation's largest health insurance providers, announced that hackers had breached a database containing the personal information of 80 million customers and employees. Inside the U.S. government, we know that state and non-state actors, terrorists, hackers, and criminals are probing our networks every day '' seeking to steal, spy, manipulate, and destroy data.
At the state level, threats come from nations with highly sophisticated cyber programs, including China and Russia, and nations with less technical capacity but greater disruptive intent, like Iran and North Korea. Several nations regularly conduct cyber economic espionage for the commercial gain of their companies. And politically motivated attacks are a growing reality, as we saw with North Korea's attack on South Korean banks and media outlets last year.
As for non-state actors, threats are increasingly originating from profit-motivated criminals'--so-called hackers for hire'--those who steal your information and sell it to the highest bidder online. Transnational criminals use cyber as a vector for profit. There are the ideologically motivated hackers or terrorists. You have groups like Anonymous that thrive on creating disruptions on company's websites and leaking personal information online. You have groups like the so-called Syrian Electronic Army, which conducts cyber attacks in support of the brutal regime in Syria.
And then there is ISIL, which has harnessed social media for a propaganda machine that's radicalizing and recruiting young people to their hateful message around the world.
Most concerning, perhaps, is the increasingly destructive and malicious nature of cyber attacks, as we saw with Sony Pictures Entertainment last fall. This attack stole large amounts of data and rendered inoperable thousands of Sony's computers and servers. It was a game changer because it wasn't about profit'--it was about a dictator trying to impose censorship and prevent the exercise of free expression. At bottom, it was about coercion, which the United States believes is unacceptable, and which is why we took the extraordinary step of publicly identifying North Korea as responsible for the attack and responded swiftly, imposing additional sanctions on Kim Jong-Un's regime.
In short, the threat is becoming more diverse, more sophisticated, and more dangerous.
And I worry that malicious attacks like the one on Sony Pictures will increasingly become the norm unless we adapt quickly and take a comprehensive approach, just as we have in other contexts. Which brings me to the counterterrorism model.
Now, to be sure, there are many differences that make it difficult to apply lessons learned from the counterterrorism experience to cyber. For one, the private sector plays a more central role in spotting and responding to cyber incidents than they do in the counterterrorism realm, where the government largely takes the lead.
Having observed our Nation's response to terrorism post 9/11 from three different perches in the U.S. government'--at the FBI, as Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice, and now at the White House'--I can tell you there are structural, organizational, and cultural shifts that were made in our government in the counterterrorism realm that also apply to cyber. We need to develop the same muscle memory in the government response to cyber threats as we have for terrorist incidents.
Structurally, since 9/11 our government has done the hard work of breaking down walls in our counterterrorism agencies and bringing people together to share information so that we get the best possible assessment of the threat. Whenever possible, we're bringing partners together to share information and extend our operational reach. This model has made our counterterrorism mission against an evolving enemy more effective and sustainable.
Like counterterrorism, meeting cyber threats requires a whole-of-government approach that uses all the appropriate tools available to us'--including our global diplomacy, our economic clout, our intelligence resources, our law enforcement expertise, our competitive technological edge, and, when necessary, our military capability. Those who would harm us should know that they can be found and will be held to account.
In the cyber context, we need to share threat information more broadly and coordinate our actions so that we're all working to achieve the same goal'--and we have to do so consistent with our fundamental values and in a manner that includes appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties. We need to sync up our intelligence with our operations and respond quickly to threats against our citizens, our companies, and our Nation.
Make no mistake. Over the last few years, we have developed new and better ways to collaborate across all levels of government and with our partners in the private sector'--including at the operational hubs in our government charged with monitoring threats, issuing warnings, sharing information, and protecting America's critical infrastructure.
At the White House, we've taken steps to improve our policy response. Last summer, following a rising number of breaches and intrusions to public and private networks, we created the Cyber Response Group, or CRG'--modeled on the highly effective and long-standing Counterterrorism Security Group. The CRG convenes the interagency and pools knowledge about ongoing threats and attacks and coordinates all elements of our government's response at the highest levels.
Despite this progress, it has become clear that we can do more as a government to quickly consolidate, analyze, and provide assessments on fast-moving threats or attacks. As President Obama said during the State of the Union last month, we will make ''sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism.''
So today, I'm pleased to announce that we will establish a new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, or CTIIC, under the auspices of the Director of National Intelligence. Currently, no single government entity is responsible for producing coordinated cyber threat assessments, ensuring that information is shared rapidly among existing Cyber Centers and other elements within the government, and supporting the work of operators and policy makers with timely intelligence about the latest cyber threats and threat actors. The CTIIC is intended to fill these gaps.
In this vein, CTIIC will serve a similar function for cyber as the National Counterterrorism Center does for terrorism'--integrating intelligence about cyber threats; providing all-source analysis to policymakers and operators; and supporting the work of the existing Federal government Cyber Centers, network defenders, and local law enforcement communities. The CTIIC will not collect intelligence'--it will analyze and integrate information already collected under existing authorities.
Nor will it perform functions already assigned to other Centers. It is intended to enable them to do their jobs more effectively, and as a result, make the Federal government more effective as a whole in responding to cyber threats. CTIIC will draw on the existing Cyber Centers to better integrate their relevant expertise and information to improve our collective response to threats.
Of course, responding to today's threat is only part of the task. The real challenge is getting ahead of where the threat is trending. That's why the President's National Security Strategy identifies cyber as a critical focus area to ensure we both meet the challenges of today and prepare for the threats we will face tomorrow. The President's new budget backs up this commitment with $14 billion to protect our critical infrastructure, government networks, and other systems.
And later this week, at Stanford University, President Obama and I and several Cabinet members will join hundreds of experts, academics, and private sector representatives for a first-of-its-kind summit to discuss how we can improve trust, enhance cooperation, and strengthen America's online consumer protections and cyber defenses.
But to truly safeguard Americans online and enhance the security of what has become a vast cyber ecosystem, we are going to have to work in lock-step with the private sector.
The private sector cannot and should not rely on the government to solve all of its cybersecurity problems. At the same time, I want to emphasize that the government won't leave the private sector to fend for itself. Partnership is a precondition of success'--there's no other way to tackle such a complicated problem. It requires daily collaboration to identify and analyze threats, address vulnerabilities, and then work together to respond jointly.
To the private sector, we've made it clear that we will work together. We're not going to bottle up our intelligence'--if we have information about a significant threat to a business, we're going to do our utmost to share it. In fact, within 24 hours of learning about the Sony Pictures Entertainment attack, the U.S. government pushed out information and malware signatures to the private sector to update their cyber defenses. We want this flow of information to go both ways.
The private sector has vital information we don't always see unless they share it with us, and the government has a unique capacity to integrate information about threats, including non-cyber sources, to create the best possible picture to secure all of our networks.
When companies share information with us about a major cyber intrusion or a potentially debilitating denial of service attack, they can expect us to respond quickly. We will provide as much information as we can about the threat to assist companies in protecting their networks and critical information. We will coordinate a quick and unified response from government experts, including at DHS and the FBI. We will look to determine who the actor is and hold them to account. And, as we respond to attacks, we will bring to bear all of the tools available to us and draw on the full range of government resources to disrupt threats.
I want to commend companies that have shown strong leadership by coming forward as soon as they identify breaches and seeking assistance so we can work together and address threats more rapidly'--which is good for the company, good for the consumer, and good for the government. Across the board, we're tearing down silos, increasing communication, and developing the flexibility and agility to respond to cyber threats of the 21st century, just as we have done in the counterterrorism world.
Moving forward, as our lives become more and more dependent on the Internet, and the amount of territory we have to defend keeps expanding, our strategy will focus on four key elements.
First, we need to improve our defenses'--employing better basic preventative cybersecurity, like the steps outlined in the Cybersecurity Framework announced last year, would enable every organization to manage cyber risk more effectively. But even just employing basic cyber hygiene could stop a large percentage of the intrusions we face, so we've got to start by getting the basics rights.
Second, we need to improve our ability to disrupt, respond to, and recover from cyber threats. That means using the full strength of the United States government'--not just our cyber tools'--to raise the costs for bad actors and deter malicious actions.
Third, we need to enhance international cooperation, including between our law enforcement agencies, so that when criminals anywhere in the world target innocent users online, we can hold them accountable'--just as we do when people commit crimes in the physical world.
And fourth, we need to make cyberspace intrinsically more secure'--replacing passwords with more secure technologies, building more resilient networks, and enhancing consumer protections online, to start with.
President Obama will continue to do everything within his authority to harden our cyber defenses, but executive actions alone will not be enough. We need durable, long-term solutions, codified in law that bolster the Nation's cyber defenses. This is not, and should not, be a partisan issue. The future security of the United States depends on a strong, bipartisan consensus that responds to a growing national security concern. Everyone shares responsibility here, including the Congress.
In December, Congress passed important bills to modernize how the government protects its systems and to clarify the government's authorities to carry out its cyber missions. Today, we need the Congress to build on that progress by passing the package of cybersecurity measures that President Obama announced last month that encourage greater information sharing, set a national standard for companies to report data breaches, and provide law enforcement with updated tools to combat cybercrime. And we look to Congress to pass a budget with critical funding for cybersecurity, including for DHS. The Administration is ready to work with Congress to pass these measures as quickly as possible.
Cybersecurity is and will remain a defining challenge of the 21st century. With more than three billion internet users around the world and as many as ten billion internet-connected devices, there's no putting this genie back in the bottle. We have to get this right. Our prosperity and security depend upon the Internet being secure against threats; reliable in our ability to access information; open to all who seek to harness the opportunities of the Internet age; and interoperable to ensure the free flow of information across networks and nations.
But we are at a crossroads, and the clock is ticking. The choices we make today will define the threat environment we face tomorrow.
All of us have a responsibility to act'--to take preventative measures to defend our systems; to build greater resilience into our networks to bounce back from attacks; to break down silos and improve information sharing and the integration and analysis of threats; to pass cybersecurity legislation; and to ensure we take a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to respond to cyber attacks, just as we do in other contexts.
These are hard and complicated issues. But I'm confident that working together'--government, industry, advocacy groups, the public, and Congress'--our networks will be safer, our privacy protected, and our future more secure. I look forward to tackling these threats with all of you. Thanks very much.
New agency to sniff out threats in cyberspace - The Washington Post
Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:33
The Obama administration is establishing a new agency to combat the deepening threat from cyberattacks, and its mission will be to fuse intelligence from around the government when a crisis occurs.
The agency is modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center, which was launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks amid criticism that the government failed to share intelligence that could have unraveled the al-Qaeda plot.
Over the past several years, a series of significant cyber-incidents has affected U.S. companies and government networks, increasing the profile of the threat for policymakers and industries. Disruptions, linked to Iran, of major bank Web sites, a Russian intrusion into the White House's unclassified computer network and the North Korean hack of Sony Pictures have raised the specter of devastating consequences if critical infrastructure were destroyed.
''The cyberthreat is one of the greatest threats we face, and policymakers and operators will benefit from having a rapid source of intelligence,'' Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said in an interview. ''It will help ensure that we have the same integrated, all-tools approach to the cyberthreat that we have developed to combat terrorism.''
Monaco will announce the creation of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center on Tuesday in a speech at the Wilson Center.
''It's a great idea,'' said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official. ''It's overdue.''
Others question why a new agency is needed when the government already has several dedicated to monitoring and analyzing cyberthreat data. The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Security Agency all have cyber-operations centers, and the FBI and the NSA are able to integrate information, noted Melissa Hathaway, a former White House cybersecurity coordinator and president of Hathaway Global Strategies.
''We should not be creating more organizations and bureaucracy,'' she said. ''We need to be forcing the existing organizations to become more effective '-- hold them accountable.''
The idea of a central agency to analyze cyberthreats and coordinate strategy to counter them isn't new. But as the threat has grown, the idea has taken hold again.
Monaco, who has a decade of government experience in counterterrorism, has long thought that the lessons learned from fighting terrorism can be applied to cybersecurity. She saw that as a policymaker she could quickly receive an intelligence community assessment on the latest terrorism threat from NCTC, but that was not possible in the cyber realm.
''We need to build up the muscle memory for our cyber-response capabilities, as we have on the terrorism side,'' she said.
Last summer, Monaco directed White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel to see whether lessons learned from the counterterrorism world could be applied to cyberthreats. She also revived a cyber-response group for senior staff from agencies around the government, modeled after a similar group in the counterterrorism world, to meet weekly and during crises.
Daniel's staff concluded that the same defects that contributed to the 2001 terrorist attacks '-- intelligence agency stove-piping and a failure to combine analysis from across the government '-- existed in the cyber context.
They recommended the creation of an NCTC for cybersecurity, but some agencies initially resisted. Advocates argued that the new center would not conduct operations or supplant the work of others. Rather it would support their work, providing useful analysis so that the FBI can focus on investigations and DHS can focus on working with the private sector, officials said.
During Thanksgiving week, news broke of a major incident at Sony Pictures Entertainment. In the following days, it became clear the hack was significant: Computers were rendered useless, and massive amounts of e-mail and employee data were pilfered and made public.
President Obama wanted to know the details. What was the impact? Who was behind it? Monaco called meetings of the key agencies involved in the investigation, including the FBI, the NSA and the CIA.
''Okay, who do we think did this?'' she asked, according to one participant. ''She got back six views.'' All pointed to North Korea, but they differed in the degree of certainty. The key gap: No one was responsible for an analysis that integrated all the agency views.
In the end, Monaco asked the FBI to produce one, coordinating with the other agencies.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NCTC, might seem a natural place to provide that analysis. But its small cyber staff focuses on strategic long-term analysis, not a rapid merging of all sources of intelligence about a particular problem.
The Sony incident provided the final impetus for the new center. Monaco began making the rounds at the White House to build support for the center, officials said.
In his State of the Union speech on Jan. 20, Obama made a veiled reference to the center, saying the government would integrate intelligence to combat cyberthreats ''just as we have done to combat terrorism.''
Obama will issue a memorandum creating the center, which will be part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The new agency will begin with a staff of about 50 and a budget of $35 million, officials said.
Matthew Olsen, a former NCTC director, said the quality of the threat analysis will depend on a steady stream of data from the private sector, which operates the nation's energy, financial and other critical systems. ''One challenge will be identifying ways to work more closely with the private sector, where cyberthreats are the most prevalent,'' he said.
The government and industries need to invest more in technology, information-sharing and personnel training, as well as in deterring and punishing those who carry out cyberattacks, said Michael Leiter, another former NCTC director who is now executive vice president at Leidos, a national security contractor.
The new center ''is a good and important step,'' Leiter said. ''But it is far from a panacea.''
Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post. She focuses on issues relating to intelligence, technology and civil liberties.
US creates centralized cybersecurity agency following Sony attack | The Verge
Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:31
The White House today will announce the creation of a new agency tasked with thwarting cyberattacks by sharing intelligence across other agencies in the event of a crisis, the Washington Post reports. The new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) will be formally unveiled at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC later today. The unit will be created as part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and will start off with a staff of about 50 people and a budget of $35 million, officials tell the Post.
The idea is to apply lessons learned after the September 11th terrorist attacks '-- which were blamed, in part, on intelligence failures '-- to the realm of cybersecurity. The new agency will be structured like the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), created in the aftermath of September 11th, and will be charged with analyzing and coordinating responses to cyberthreats.
"The cyberthreat is one of the greatest threats we face."
"The cyberthreat is one of the greatest threats we face, and policymakers and operators will benefit from having a rapid source of intelligence," Lisa Monaco, President Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, tells the Post. Monaco will announce the creation of the CTIIC in a speech at today's event. "It will help ensure that we have the same integrated, all-tools approach to the cyberthreat that we have developed to combat terrorism."
Monaco had been pushing for the creation of a new agency for several months, amid signs of the growing dangers that cyberattacks posed, but the initiative gained new momentum following last year's hack of Sony Pictures. The response to that attack, Monaco says, demonstrated the need for a centralized body to analyze intelligence gathered from various agencies '-- in this case, the FBI, NSA, and CIA '-- and the White House agreed. Earlier this month, Obama announced new measures to protect companies who share their data with federal intelligence agencies following cyberattacks, in the hope that doing so will help coordinate responses.
Experts say accessing data from private sector companies will be critical to the CTICC's effectiveness going forward, but others aren't convinced that creating another government agency is the answer. ''We should not be creating more organizations and bureaucracy," Melissa Hathaway, a former White House cybersecurity coordinator, tells the Post. ''We need to be forcing the existing organizations to become more effective '-- hold them accountable."
U.S. to establish new cybersecurity agency
Tue, 10 Feb 2015 17:28
Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:12am ESTBy Warren Strobel
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is creating a new agency to monitor cybersecurity threats, pooling and analyzing information on a spectrum of risks, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday.
The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) will be an "intelligence center that will 'connect the dots' between various cyber threats to the nation so that relevant departments and agencies are aware of these threats in as close to real time as possible," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Obama has moved cybersecurity to the top of his 2015 agenda after recent hacking attacks against Sony Pictures (6758.T)(SNE.N), Home Depot Inc (HD.N), Anthem Inc (ANTM.N) and Target Corp (TGT.N) and the federal government itself.
The Democratic president sees it as an area of cooperation with the Republican-led Congress.
Various federal agencies have cybersecurity components, including the National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the CIA.
The Obama administration is trying to connect the agencies "so that there's one belly button for the entire U.S. government," Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike cybersecurity agency, said on the CBS "This Morning" program.
"That's a good strategy. It's important because there's so many different pieces of intelligence coming in. You've got to collaborate and put it together," he said.
The CTIIC will aim for "seamless intelligence flows among centers, including those responsible for sharing with the private sector," the official said.
The White House counter terrorism coordinator, Lisa Monaco, will announce the new center in an address on Tuesday.
The Obama administration likens the new agency to the National Counterterrorism Center established after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, following criticism that U.S. intelligence agencies were not communicating with each other.
It will have a similar broad focus of providing "integrated, all-source analysis" of threats, the official said.
"No existing agency has the responsibility for performing these functions, so we need these gaps to be filled to help the federal government meet its responsibilities in cybersecurity," the official said.
Congress has tried for years to pass legislation to encourage companies to share data from cyberattacks with the government and each other, but efforts were stymied by liability issues and privacy concerns of citizens.
Last month, President Barack Obama proposed legislation to strike a balance, offering liability protection to companies that provide information in near real time to the government, while requiring them to strip it of personal data.
The Washington Post first reported the agency's creation.
(Reporting by Warren Strobel; Writing by Doina Chicau; Editing by Susan Heavey and Jeffrey Benkoe)
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Will Russia invade Eastern Ukraine within a month?
Will Russia blow 9/11 wide open? | Alternative News & Commentary
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 03:10
Kevin BarrettVeterans Today
As Gordon Duff reported hereTuesday '' and as discussed on today's False Flag Weekly News (posted above '' click here for story links) '' Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing the release of Russian satellite photos and other evidence showing that 9/11 was a false-flag operation by treasonous elements of the American national security community.
The original story reporting Putin's threat was published by Pravda on February 7th. According to Duff, that story has been confirmed by a reliable source who has actually seen some of the photos during a visit to Moscow. VT sources insist that this is NOT merely a shot across the bow of the US government. Putin, these sources say, is genuinely planning to release the 9/11 material.
These historic photos are expected to show:
* That none of the passenger airliners allegedly used as weapons on 9/11 actually crashed where we were told they did; and:
* That the World Trade Center demolitions were conducted using extremely high-energy weapons.
''The sh*t has hit the fan!'' exclaimed one highly knowledgable VT source.
Russia's classified 9/11 dossier has been held in reserve against the day the Russians feel a vital national interest '' such as their survival as a free and independent nation '' is at stake. That day, it appears, has either finally come, or is approaching so fast that the impending launch of the ''truth bomb'' is being prepared.
Russia's satellite photos and other evidence are currently serving a strategic role analogous to that of nuclear weapons. They are primarily a deterrent '' a last-ditch ace-in-the-hole whose main role is to deter and dissuade the enemy from going too far.
But unlike nuclear weapons, the ''truth bomb'' will not kill anyone; and its use against the US would first and foremost harm the 9/11-complicit faction of the American power structure, while helping the non-complicit faction regain control and adjust the course of the ship of state away from the icebergs. While risky (the 9/11 bomb could indirectly lead to Israel contemplating or even exercising its Samson Option) and therefore anathema to risk-averse elites, Putin has apparently decided that the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.
If and when the Russians finally release their 9/11 dossier, the cataclysm that ensues will stand as a milestone in the march of one of the signal trends in modern warfare and geostrategy: the weaponization of truth. While lies have been weaponized since time immemorial, in the form of propaganda, disinformation, false signals, and so on, truth has rarely been in a position to fight back.
Today, the weaponized big lies of the Zio-American Empire '' like the empire itself '' are over-extended and vulnerable. The stage is being set for a David's slingshot of truth to bring down a Goliath of lies. To understand how 9/11 has backfired, let's review the past few decades of history.
During the 1990s, the neoconservatives (and even some realists like Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has since repented of the way his views were used to justify 9/11) believed a New Pearl Harbor would bring invaluable benefits to American geo-strategy. According to their analysis, famously expressed in Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard(1997) the US was ''too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad.'' In The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski stated that the US would increasingly find it ''difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.'' He ominously noted: ''The public supported America's engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.''
The obvious solution: A New Pearl Harbor that would convince the American people they were under massive external threat. The neoconservatives, with their Israeli friends, were glad to oblige. The result was 9/11: The event that was supposed to enable a ''New American Century.''
But the New Pearl Harbor backfired, for several reasons.
First, the ''direct external threat,'' alleged Arab and Muslim extremism, was bogus. The Arab and Muslim world, with its vast energy reserves and economic growth potential, should have been a US ally, not an enemy. And the religious element in Arab-Muslim civilization was especially conducive to friendship with the US, since the US and the Islamic nations are the last monotheistic cultures on earth. It would have been in the US strategic interest to be a strong ally of the Muslim world against European secularism, Russian and Chinese post-communism, and Hindu extremism. The deal should go something like this: America protects the genuine independence, including the religious values, dignity and autonomy, of its fellow monotheists; and in return gets a say (thoughnot total control) in oil pricing and policy.
But thanks to a false flag that turned the US against Islam and Muslims, America chose precisely the wrong enemy. While Israel has benefitted mightily from the US war on Islam, America has been digging its own grave by wasting its substance, even its sanity, on a fight against a phantom.
Secondly, rather than uniting Americans behind their leaders in a ''good fight'' against the nation's enemies, 9/11 has greatly exacerbated the fractiousness and mistrust of leadership that makes it hard for the US to conduct foreign policy. Polls show that 36% of Americans (over 100 million people) think 9/11 was an inside job, while a whopping 84% or so don't believe they are getting the full truth about 9/11 from their government. Confidence in government is at record lows, and the sickening feeling of having been lied to is largely responsible for the US military's inability to win wars '' and for the rash of troop and veteran suicides that are far more lethal than any enemy army.
So 9/11, the neoconservative New Pearl Harbor, has hollowed out America, not strengthened it. The false-flag attack on New York and Washington has left the US morally and financiallybankrupted, without a functioning Constitution, fragmented in every conceivable way, lacking domestic and international legitimacy, and no longer in a position to be even a first among equals, much less a self-styled sole superpower.
The neoconservatives, whose top priority has always been Israel, are in a panic. Their only hope is to flee forward into ever-bigger wars. That is why Netanyahu is so desperately lobbying for a war on Iran that would set the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, on fire. And that is why such neoconservatives as Victoria Nuland are pushing for a war with Russia that would in all likelihood go nuclear.
World War III is the last desperate hope for the neoconservatives and their Likudnik allies. Such a war would usher in martial law, enable the suppression (or at least continued obfuscation) of the truth about 9/11, and save the neocons from treason trials, and Israel from dismantlement.
Though Putin doesn't want to play his ace in the hole, the 9/11 truth card, until he absolutely has to, the moment of truth may have finally arrived. As soon as it becomes absolutely clear that the US is never going to back off from its attempt to turn Ukraine into a hostile NATO base; that the economic war on Russia has reached a point of no return; that the neoconservative ''flight forward'' into World War III is inevitable'...
'...at that point, no sooner and no later, Putin will slap his 9/11 truth card down on the table and let the chips fall where they may.
If he plays it too soon, he is taking unnecessary risks.
But if he waits too long, the move will lose its impact. (Once World War III is underway, 9/11 truth from the Russian government will be dismissed as propaganda, and censorship under martial law will turn the truth bomb into a dud.)
I believe the moment of truth is at hand. Strategically, Putin needs to play his 9/11 truth card now.
The Pravda story, confirmed by VT's inside sources, suggests that the card is about to be played.
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Pravda: Putin Threatens to Release Satellite Evidence of 9/11 | Veterans Today
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 03:16
(Editor's note: Russian satellite evidence proving the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center using ''special weapons'' was reviewed by a VT editor while in Moscow. The article below was forwarded to us for publication in the US and translated from Russian. It is 3 days old, published on February 7, 2015.)
Moscow (Pravda): American experts believe that despite the fact that relations between the US and Russia reached the worst point since the Cold War, Putin delivered until Obama only minor troubles.Analysts believe that this is the ''calm before the storm.'' Putin is going to hit once, but he's going to hit hard. Russia is preparing the release of evidence of the involvement of the US government and intelligence services in the September 11 attacks.
The list of evidence includes satellite images.
Published material can prove the US government complicity in the 9/11 attacks and the successful manipulation of public opinion. The attack was planned by the US government, but exercised using her proxy, so that an attack on America and the people of the United States looked like an act of aggression by international terrorist organizations.
The motive for deception and murder its own citizens served US oil interests and the Middle East state corporations.
The evidence will be so convincing that it utterly debunks the official 9/11 cover story supported by the US government.
Russia proves that America is no stranger to using false flag terrorism against its citizens in order to achieve a pretext for military intervention in a foreign country.In the case of ''the September 11 attacks,'' the evidence will be conclusive satellite imagery.
If successful, the consequences of Putin's tactics would expose the US government's secret terrorist policies.The government's credibility will be undermined and should bring about mass protests in the cities leading to an uprising, according to American analysts..
And as the United States will look on the world political arena?The validity of America's position as a leader in the fight against international terrorism will be totally undermined giving immediately advantage to rogue states and Islamic terrorists.
The actual development of the situation could be much worse, experts warn.
Gordon DuffGordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War.He is a disabled veteran and has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades.Gordon Duff is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists.He manages the world's largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues.
Gordon Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than "several" countries.He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration.Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.
Visit Gordon Duff's YouTube Channel
Latest posts by Gordon Duff (see all)Related Posts:The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT or any other VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors or partners and technicians. Notices Posted by Gordon Duff on February 10, 2015, With 0 Reads, Filed under 9/11, Investigations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
German foreign minister threatens sanctions against Ukraine | Reuters
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 03:21
BERLINTue Feb 4, 2014 4:12am EST
TweetShare thisEmailPrintGermany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks during a news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in central London February 3, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Ben Stansall/Pool
BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said sanctions should be used as a threat against Ukraine's government unless it finds a political solution to its long-running, at times violent, dispute with the opposition.
The comments from the Social Democrat minister strike a different tone from the line taken so far by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said last week there was no question of sanctions at the moment.
"I think we must now show sanctions as a threat," Steinmeier told Germany's ARD television in an interview late on Monday, adding that Germany had to be ready to opt for these measures if the situation did not improve.
Ukraine has been hit by more than two months of unrest following a decision by President Viktor Yanukovich not to pursue trade and other deals with the European Union. Ukraine is now in a tug-of war between Russia and the West.
The United States and EU are in preliminary discussions about possible financial assistance for Ukraine once a new government is formed, a U.S. State Debarment spokeswoman said on Monday.
(Reporting by Thomas Seythal; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Stephen Brown)
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Mikheil Saakashvili was appointed Head of Advisory International Council of Reforms - Official web-site of President of Ukraine
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:20
13.02.2015 20:16
Press office of President
By his Decree of February 13, the President has established an Advisory International Council of Reforms and appointed Mikheil Saakashvili to the post of its Head.
The Advisory International Council of Reforms is a consultative body the main task of which is to elaborate proposals and recommendations on the implementation of reforms in Ukraine taking into account the best international experience. The Council will involve foreign experts in the reformation of the Ukrainian legislation and increase the level of international support to Ukraine.
"We've been thinking for a long time how to use the knowledge, experience and unique know-how of Mikheil Saakashvili in the best way. In Georgia, he managed to implement reforms virtually in all spheres of economic, political and social life. The path we chose the last year with the Revolution of Dignity has been already completed and verified by our neighbors. They are ready to share their experience with us. Until recently, Mikheil was, in fact, a freelance consultant of Ukraine in the issue of reforms. And now, finally, he gets the official status," the President of Ukraine said.
"Mikheil will become a representative of Ukraine abroad and, simultaneously, a representative of the international community in Ukraine. We are confident that it is Mikheil who will establish a bilateral communication between Ukraine and the world on the issue of reforms. He will involve the best foreign experience and decently represent us abroad," Petro Poroshenko noted.
In his turn, Mikheil Saakashvili has expressed sincere gratitude for trust and noted that the entire continent was looking at Ukraine. According to him, many things in the world will depend on the success of the Ukrainian reforms. "We will not win if we do not build a new Ukraine today and do not implement new reforms. It is a pursuit in time. If new Ukraine comes true, Georgia will also be free," Mikheil Saakashvili emphasized.
The Advisory International Council of Reforms will closely cooperate with the National Council of Reforms and its Head will become a member of the National Council.
"At present, many international experts and prominent figures assist Ukraine, but their work is unordered. The Advisory Council will help consolidate their efforts and direct them into a single channel for the best results. In our turn, we guarantee that we will listen to all the proposals of the Council," Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration and Co-Head of the National Council of Reforms Dmytro Shymkiv noted.
Nuke in Ukraine?
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 03:15
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Похожие заÐисиУкÑаина
Prepare For More Fake Russian Military Aggression As Ireland's Press Claim They Need New Jets
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 17:02
Two Irish Air Corps Pilatus PC-9 planes at Galway Airport.
Ireland is ''Europe's weakest link'' in air defence cover because our Air Corps is so poorly equipped it cannot defend our airspace against hijackers taking over commercial aircraft or intrusions by foreign military aircraft.
One of the country's leading security experts says the recent incursion by two Russian Tupulov TU-95 'Bear' bombers highlights a potentially dangerous situation in the skies above us that we can cannot affect.
By Russian standards, the massive, propeller-driven TU-95 are old, having entered active service in 1956. However, they operate at up to 13.7km and can travel at 510 knots.
By contrast, the Air Corps is equipped with much slower planes. Its five Cessnas aircraft, with a combined age of more than 200 years, can only attain an altitude of 3km and a top speed of 161 knots.
The more modern Pilatus PC-9M, which entered service with the Air Corps in 2004, can reach a height of 7.6km and achieve 275 knots.
The TU-95, which is capable of carrying nuclear weapons, has a range of 8,000km, while the Pilatus manage 1,574km and the Cessnas just 926km.
If the Air Corps was equipped with jets, even the most inexpensive, they could easily intercept military and civil aircraft.
Former army officer Tom Clonan says the Department of Foreign Affairs should have banned all Russian civilian aircraft from our airspace after the incident until it had received assurances from the Russian authorities that the recent incident was not repeated.
The TU-95s flew with their transponders off, which made them unidentifiable to air traffic control and commercial aircraft in one of the busiest airspaces in the world.
''Around 75% of all transatlantic traffic passes through Irish airspace,'' said Dr Clonan. ''There are roughly 1,800 aircraft movement in our airspace every 24 hours. For aviation safety, we were relying on those Russian aircraft knowing what was in their path.
''When they shot down the Malaysian aircraft over the Ukraine, the Russians had no regard for safety.''
Dr Clonan said such crowded skies made the possibility of mid-air collisions between transponderless military aircraft and passenger aircraft ''quite high''.
He also described Ireland's airspace defences as ''Europe's weakest link''.
''If terrorists take over an aircraft in Irish space, it's game over,'' he said.
The Defence Forces are also equipped with substandard radar systems, which have less range than the commercial radar employed by the Irish Aviation Authority.
At a conference for Defence Force officers in December 2013, Chief of Staff Lt Gen Conor O'Boyle, said he would like the ageing Cessnas to be replaced with more modern aircraft. The pilots who fly the Cessnas are all younger than the planes.
The Department of Defence was asked what it planned to do about air cover deficiencies.
It said future defence requirements are being considered as part of the development of a White Paper on Defence. Work is ongoing in this regard.
TASS: World - Kiev security forces open fire on DPR, LPR republics' positions - Basurin
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 00:58
DONETSK, February 15. /TASS/. Ukrainian security forces at 02:00 am opened fire on the positions of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR), spokesman for DPR defence ministry Eduard Basurin told reporters on Sunday.
"At 02:00 am the Ukrainian armed forces opened mortar and artillery fire on the DPR and LPR positions," he said.
DPR head Zakharchenko calls urgent meeting on fact of Ukrainian army violation of ceasefire agreement.
Burning Man
UncleBob's Treehouse: A Quick Note on Being Burned to Death
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 00:25
When people are burned to death while alive they always curl up into the fetal position. If they're not in fetal position they were burned while dead.This is how investigators tell if people were burned while alive or dead.
That ISIS burning of the pilot is fake. Standing up in a cage while on fire? I don't think so.
Singularity University Startup Lab | Investor
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 13:46
The SU Labs portfolio is comprised of companies at various levels of funding and development; all leveraging exponential technologies and targeting some of the most intractable problems in the world.
If you are interested in SU Companies' fundraising activities follow us on Angellist, attend one of our events or send us an email.
INVESTORS-Singularity University '' Startup Lab | AngelList
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:19
We're a fiercely passionate community of entrepreneurs'¨ tackling humanity's grand challenges.
At Singularity University's Startup Lab we believe that by leveraging the power of exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, synthetic biology or digital fabrication (to name a few), combined with design thinking and empathy, some of the most intractable problems in this world are solvable.
We dedicate our efforts to the entrepreneurs who are positively impacting the world of tomorrow.
What is Singularity University?Singularity University is a benefit corporation that provides educational programs, innovative partnerships and a startup accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilize these technologies to positively impact billions of people.
Learn more at http://singularityu.org
Singularity University Startup Lab | Startup Accelerator
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:16
Welcome to the first accelerator program built specifically for startups tackling humanity's grand challenges leveraging exponential technology.
The Startup Lab Experience
We need to be training people on how to change the world.Larry Page
In an intense hands-on 10-week experience on the Singularity University campus in the heart of Silicon Valley we will take startups from prototype or early proof-of-concept to scale. Starting with a one-week Bootcamp experience, the SU Startup Lab Accelerator team will guide you through four two-week long sprints, each focused on a different area of your business.
At each step along the way you will receive guidance, advice and feedback from some of the most accomplished experts in their respective fields, plug into Singularity University's programs and initiatives and meet with our Impact Partners and Fortune 500 companies. Weekly speaker series, share-outs and review session round up the overall experience.
>> Read more about the program structure on our blog.
We provide investment to give you runway throughout the program, a co-working space at NASA Research Park, a structured program offering and the best Singularity University has to offer '' all with the goal to help you build products positively impacting humanity at scale.
Coming in March 2015 '' Applications are closed.
Jason Silva - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 03:07
Jason Silva (born February 6, 1982) is a Venezuelan-American television personality, filmmaker, and performance philosopher. He resides in Los Angeles, California and New York City.
Silva earned a degree in film and philosophy from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He, along with Max Lugavere, produced and starred in a video documentary/performance piece entitled "Textures of Selfhood"'--an experimental film about hedonism and spirituality. "The Party-Philosophers" and "Intellectual Hedonists", as named by Angeleno Magazine, borrowed the name for the film from the Hedonistic Imperative, a website promoting the end to suffering by philosopher David Pearce.
The Atlantic describes Silva as "A Timothy Leary of the Viral Video Age".[1]
Current TV[edit]From 2005 to 2011, Silva was a presenter on Current TV. He co-hosted the show "Max and Jason" with Max Lugavere and they became a prolific hosting and producing duo, with stories ranging from illegal immigration and counterfeit IDs, to profiling a brave new singer songwriter right before signing a publishing deal, to a taped philosophical sit-down with director Darren Aronofsky. Their story on counterfeit IDs earned them a featured appearance and interview on Anderson Cooper 360. Their franchise, "Max and Jason Style" was one of the hallmarks of their work on Current TV. They covered issues in a distinctly unique way - often juxtaposing telegenic images and a heightened filmmaking aesthetic with bold and intelligent content.
He left the network in 2011 to become, according to The Atlantic, "a part-time filmmaker and full-time walking, talking TEDTalk."
Public speaking[edit]An active and prolific speaker, Silva has spoken at Google, The Economist Ideas Festival, the prestigious DLD Digital Life Design Conference in Munich, TEDGlobal, the Singularity Summit, the PSFK Conference, and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.[2]
At TEDGlobal in June 2012, Jason premiered "Radical Openness," a new short video.[3] In September 2012, Silva presented his Radical Openness videos at the opening keynote at Microsoft TechEd Australia.[4] Radical Openness was also featured in his presentation at La Ciudad de las Ideas conference on November 10, 2012.
In September 2012, he appeared at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, where he presented a speech entitled "We Are The Gods Now."[5]
Brain Games[edit]In 2011, Silva became the host of Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel. The show set a record as the highest rated series launch in Nat Geo's history, with an average of 1.5 million viewers for the first two episodes.[6]
Shots of Awe[edit]In May 2013, Jason started a YouTube channel on the TestTube Network called "Shots of Awe", wherein he uploads short, inspirational videos that explore topics such as the emergence of life, the evolution of intelligence, and the advancement of technology.[7]Zoltan Istvan, editor for the Huffington Post, wrote that Shots of Awe is a blend of philosophy and art and has been massively popular to the younger generation.[8]
Other[edit]Silva has been featured in The Atlantic,[1]The Economist,[9]Vanity Fair,[10]Forbes,[11][12][13]Wired,[14] and many others.
In 2011 he became a fellow at the Hybrid Reality Institute, examining the symbiosis between man and machine.[15]
On August 15, 2012 he appeared on CBS This Morning.[16]
On September 24, 2012 he appeared on AustralianABC program Q&A alongside Tanya Plibersek, Kelly O'Dwyer, Mark Carnegie & Elliot Perlman.[17]
His film ATTENTION: The Immersive Power of Cinema[18] is part of the exhibition 'KINO und der kinamatografische Blick' ('CINEMA and the cinamatographic gaze'), 20 March - 2 June 2013, at MEWO Kunsthalle in Memmingen (Germany).[19]
He has appeared multiple times as a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.[20]
On March 18, 2014 he was a guest in an episode of SourceFed's Tabletalk.[21]
References[edit]^ ab"A Timothy Leary for the Viral Video Age". The Atlantic. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^"Jason Silva Bio". CAA Speakers. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^Silva, Jason. "Radical Openness". Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^Silva, Jason. "Radical Openness". Retrieved 28 September 2012. ^Silva, Jason. "We Are The Gods Now". Retrieved 29 June 2013. ^Silva, Jason. "Brain Games is National Geographic's Highest-Rated Series Premiere Ever". Retrieved 29 June 2013. ^Silva, Jason. "Shots of Awe". Retrieved 29 June 2013. ^Zoltan Istvan, Transhumanist Art Will Help Guide People to Becoming Masterpieces, Huffington Post, (June 5, 2014).^"Jason Silva speaking at the Ideas Economy Conference in Innovation". Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^"Why We Could All Use a Heavy Dose of Techno-optimism". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^"Radical Openness: A Trip Through Our Next Frontier". Forbes. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^"Four Steps To Finding Inspiration, From An Idea DJ". Forbes. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^Alex Knapp, Jason Silva Muses on Humans Turning Into Gods, Forbes, (Aug. 5, 2011).^"Jason Silva's Captivating Videos Deliver a Dose of 'Techno-Optimism'". Wired. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^"Hybrid Reality Fellows". Hybrid Reality Institute. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^"Jason Silva: Wonder junkie". CBS. Retrieved 17 August 2012. ^"Q&A - Tanya Plibersek, Kelly O'Dwyer, Mark Carnegie, Elliot Perlman & Jason Silva". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 September 2012. ^http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlClW6-Ozms&list=UUiL3S6IS15fYdcNS8HOn2cw&index=11^http://www.mewo-kunsthalle.de/ausstellungen/kino.html^Silva, Jason. "Joe Rogan Experience Podcast". Retrieved 29 June 2013. ^https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhyHzxLvIIMExternal links[edit]PersondataNameJason SilvaAlternative namesShort descriptionVenezuelan television personalityDate of birthFebruary 6, 1982Place of birthCaracas, VenezuelaDate of deathPlace of death
Malacca Straigts
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Conviction of Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim | The White House
Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:06
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 10, 2015
The United States is deeply disappointed with Mr. Anwar's conviction following a government appeal of the original verdict finding him not guilty. The decision to prosecute Mr. Anwar and the conduct of his trial have raised a number of serious concerns about rule of law and the fairness of the judicial system in Malaysia. These concerns are compounded by the government's intent to expand its sedition law, which Prime Minister Najib had pledged to repeal, to prosecute government critics.
When National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with Malaysian opposition leaders in April 2014, she reiterated the President's message that countries who uphold the human rights of all their citizens -- regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity, race, religion or sexual orientation -- are ultimately more prosperous and more stable. The United States and Malaysia have built a strong ''comprehensive partnership,'' and we remain committed to expanding our cooperation on shared economic and security challenges affecting our countries' interests in Asia and globally. In that context, we urge the Government of Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently, and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia's democracy, judiciary, and economy.
Obama Nation
Greek Defense Minister: Greece Has Other Options to 'Europe under German domination' - The Pappas Post
Fri, 13 Feb 2015 21:09
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos warned that if Greece failed to get a new debt agreement with its European partners, it could always look elsewhere for help, including the United States.
''What we want is a deal. But if there is no deal '' hopefully (there will be) '' and if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow apart Europe, then we have the obligation to go to Plan B. Plan B is to get funding from another source,'' he told a Greek television show that ran into early Tuesday. ''It could the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries,'' he said.
Kammenos is also the head of Independent Greeks, a nationalist anti-bailout party that is the junior coalition partner of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' Syriza party.
Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis, who holds the European Affairs portfolio, told Greek radio that Russia and China had offered Greece economic support though Athens had not requested it.
''There have been proposals, offers I would say, from Russia, recently after the election, for economic support as well as from China, regarding help, investment possibilities,'' Chountis said, asked to comment on Kammenos's remarks, adding: ''We have not asked for it.''
Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is due to visit Russia on Wednesday.
Amazon.com Widgets
Chountis said that while Athens was not excluding alternative sources of aid, it's first priority was to ''exhaust all options'' in reaching a deal with its European partners.
Greece is seeking a new debt agreement with the euro zone that will allow it to shake off much of the austerity that has been imposed by a European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout since 2010.
The euro zone, particularly Germany, has shown no willingness to ease its requirement that Greece make deep budget cuts and economic reforms.
''Our primary plan is to find a solution with our European partners because we are aware of the commitments and obligations that our presence is Europe and the euro zone entails,'' Chountis said.
Agenda 21
The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 20:53
Exposing the comprehensive UN plan to bring about an authoritarian world government via international regulations and treaties under the guise of environmentalism and social justice.
In order to meet the challenges of environment and development, States have decided to establish a new global partnership. This partnership commits all States to engage in a continuous and constructive dialogue, inspired by the need to achieve a more efficient and equitable world economy, keeping in view the increasing interdependence of the community of nations and that sustainable development should become a priority item on the agenda of the international community. It is recognized that, for the success of this new partnership, it is important to overcome confrontation and to foster a climate of genuine cooperation and solidarity. It is equally important to strengthen national and international policies and multinational cooperation to adapt to the new realities.
Remember, a lot of this is heavy doublespeak. I.E. "Commuter Friendly" = Commuter hell, at the mercy of public transportation, unfriendly-to-cars, no leaving the area etc., "Walkable" = car unfriendly, literally poverty infrastructure
New UrbanismTriple Bottom LineSustainability/Sustainable DevelopmentSocial EquityEconomic EmpowermentSocial Responsibility"Smart" i.e. Smart GrowthEconomic/Environmental JusticeCorporate Social Responsibility(CSR)Liveable/WalkableNew NormalComplete StreetsMixed-Use (property)"Green"Commuter Friendly"Well-Being"Community ActionResilience/Resilient CommunitiesTransition TownNext/New EconomyNo Racism
No Abusive/threatening language.
Any posts that attack the sub, the users or the mods can be removed. Breaking this rule more than once can earn a ban.
We are all different here, and you may find that have different beliefs, but please be respectful of each other.
Yahoo News Digest '-- Fed report: Time to examine idea of purposely...
Tue, 10 Feb 2015 23:24
ScienceIt's time to study and maybe even test the idea of cooling the Earth by injecting sulfur pollution high in the air to reflect the sun's heat, a first-of-its-kind federal science report said Tuesday. The idea was once considered fringe '-- to purposely re-engineer the planet's climate as a last-ditch effort to battle global warming with an artificial cloud. No longer. In a nuanced, two-volume report, the National Academy of Sciences said that the concept should not be acted upon immediately because it is too risky, but it should be studied and perhaps tested outdoors in small projects.
You're talking about potentially changing weather and climate. You don't want to do that without as good an understanding as you can possibly have.
Waleed Abdalati, a University of Colorado ice scientist and former NASA chief scientist who co-authored the report
This is the first time a government-associated science panel has openly discussed the controlled small-scale outdoor tests of the artificial cloud concept, called solar radiation management, or SRM. But even then, panelists downplayed the idea and said it would require some kind of government or other oversight before it is carried out. Some scientists worry that research will make this type of planet hacking more likely to occur.
Save the Planet Kill Yourself! Environmentalists Want Humans to Live Shorter Lives | LifeNews.com
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 19:12
Humans are the enemy! A new study published in Ecology and Society claims that longer life expectancy for us is bad news for the planet. From the study by Aaron Lotz and Craig R. Allen:
We found a positive relationship between life expectancy and the percentage of endangered and invasive species in a country'...The overall trend in high-income countries with improvements to the Human Development Index, which includes human life expectancy as one of its variables, is toward a disproportionately larger negative impact on a country's ecological footprint. However, some lower-income countries have a high level of development without a high impact on ecosystem services (Moran et al. 2008).
Increased life expectancy means that people live longer and affect the planet longer; each year is another year of carbon footprint, ecological footprint, use of natural resources, etc. The magnitude of this impact is increased as more people live longer.
Bad humans! Bad, bad humans.
The answer is supposedly''it's becoming a clich(C)''that we see ourselves as just part of nature:
Fischer et al. (2012) propose a ''transformation strategy'' that assumes that direct links between people and nature are better than indirect links. This paradigm shift would recouple the social-ecological system.
Wrong. We are the exceptional species. The environment benefits most when we see that it is our duty to manage the environment responsibly because we are human. If we redefine ourselves as just another animal in the forest, that's just how we will act.
The authors don't say whether we should try and live shorter lives. But that certainly seems an implication.
LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.
FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces Initiative to Scale Up Investment in Clean Energy Innovation
Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:07
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 10, 2015
President Obama is committed to addressing the impacts of climate change to protect future generations. As part of that effort, today, the Administration is launching a Clean Energy Investment Initiative and announcing a goal to catalyze $2 billion of expanded private sector investment in solutions to climate change, including innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution.
Further clean energy innovation to improve the cost, performance, and scalability of low-carbon energy technologies will be critical to taking action against climate change. Substantial technological progress has been made in recent years in solar photovoltaics, wind power, advanced batteries, energy-efficient lighting, and fuel cells. For example, the cost of solar energy systems has decreased 50 percent since 2010 alone. But additional investment is needed.
Mission-driven investors '' such as foundations, university endowments, and institutional investors '' can play a catalytic role in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy. A growing number of such organizations have committed to investing in clean energy innovation and solutions to climate change, in pursuit of both financial returns and mission-aligned impact. Today's announcements will help clean energy investors reduce transaction costs, spread promising investment models, and increase their climate mitigation impact.
That is why the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing that it will help catalyze philanthropic activity through the Clean Energy Investment Initiative by leading an effort to identify opportunities to leverage its world-class technical expertise, technologies, and programs to assist in understanding opportunities and needs that drive clean energy innovation '' with a focus on mission-oriented investors seeking climate and environmental impact. DOE will work to mobilize a broad range of philanthropists and impact investors to scale up investments throughout the energy innovation pipeline, from laboratory R&D to startup funding to growth-stage financing '' supporting the kind of technology innovation that the ARPA-E Summit, where this initiative was announced, is all about.
To kick off this call to action, the White House will host a Clean Energy Investment Summit later this spring, as a forum for foundations, family offices, and institutional investors to scale up private sector investment in clean energy innovation.
Further, today philanthropic and private sector leaders are making initial announcements toward scaling up investment in clean energy innovation, including:
The University of California Board of Regents will build on its commitment to allocate at least $1 billion of its endowment and pension over five years for investments in solutions to climate change by developing an innovative vehicle that combines three complementary objectives: First, to partner with philanthropists interested in de-risking early-stage technologies with high climate related impact potential. Second, to target, through the independently managed vehicle, for-profit investments in technologies with the potential to deliver both significant climate change mitigation and high investment returns. Third, to partner with the world's largest institutional investors in a follow-on facility that will offer proven technologies and companies an "on ramp" to commercial scale. The Office of the Chief Investment Officer will engage with foundations, family offices, and institutional investors to strengthen this long-term innovation pipeline.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will work to connect investors with early-stage clean energy companies, so that a growing number of foundations and other mission-driven organizations can efficiently and effectively finance innovative technologies with high impact potential. The Foundation has developed deep experience in building and sustaining multi-foundation alliances to limit the risks of climate change and advance clean energy.
The Schmidt Family Foundation has allocated a significant portion of its assets to impact investing, with the aim of filling market gaps to finance solutions that mitigate climate change. To help grow the community of practice alongside other institutions, the Foundation will share its expertise and ongoing findings in sourcing, vetting, and structuring impact investments, especially for pre-market technologies.
Wells Fargo will build on its commitment of $100 million in environmental grants by 2020 to accelerate the transition to a greener economy, which includes the $10 million Innovation Incubator (IN2) program to foster the development of early-stage energy efficiency technologies for commercial buildings. Co-administered by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), this first-of-its-kind program will provide startups with grant funding, mentorship, research and testing support at NREL, and real-world field testing in Wells Fargo buildings to de-risk these technologies and accelerate their commercial adoption. Having developed this unique expertise in collaborating with a National Laboratory and deploying foundation dollars to support energy startups, Wells Fargo will work to expand investment partnerships for these field-tested technologies and to rally other major companies to build complementary programs that support clean energy innovation.
Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Energy has already helped put in place many successful initiatives to develop or deploy advanced energy technologies.
ARPA-E has invested approximately $1.1 billion across more than 400 potentially transformational energy technology projects. The President's FY16 Budget also called for $325 million for DOE'S ARPA-E to further support potentially transformative applied energy research.DOE's Solar Access to Public Capital working group has assembled over 300 leading organizations working together to increase public capital markets' financing of solar energy projects.DOE's Loan Programs Office continues to support clean energy deployment and has made use of co-lending to bring new commercial lenders into the market to gain experience financing innovative projects.The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, a new public-private consortium of 122 leading U.S. manufacturers, universities, and non-profits focused on advanced composites, is providing open access to a network of shared research, development and demonstration facilities at national laboratories and premier universities.
Shut Up Slave!
France can now block suspected terrorism websites without a court order | The Verge
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 16:09
A new decree that went into effect today allows the French government to block websites accused of promoting terrorism and publishing child pornography, without seeking a court order. Under the new rules, published last week by France's Ministry of the Interior, internet service providers (ISPs) must take down offending websites within 24 hours of receiving a government order. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says the decree is critical to combatting terrorism, but civil rights groups say it gives the government dangerously broad powers to suppress free speech.
The regulations have been under consideration since 2011, but gained new momentum following last month's terrorist attacks at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The French government has launched a massive anti-terror campaign in the wake of the attacks, countering radical online propaganda with its own anti-jihad website and arresting dozens of suspected terrorism supporters. Last week, French President Fran§ois Hollande announced plans to hold major internet companies accountable for sites hosting extremist content, saying the new law would make companies like Facebook and Google "accomplices" to terrorism.
"France's government needs to seriously think about whether this law will stop terrorists, or merely chill speech."
The decree implements two provisions from two laws '-- an anti-child pornography law passed in 2011 and an anti-terror law passed late last year. A department of the French national police will be responsible for identifying the sites to be blocked, with the suspected terror-related sites subject to review by an anti-terrorism branch. An administrator from the CNIL, France's independent data protection organization, will be charged with overseeing the process. Once a site is blocked, its page will be replaced with an explanation of why the government took it down. In the case of child pornography pages, the text will also include a recommendation to seek medical help.
Supporters of the measure say it's critical to preventing future attacks, pointing to the growing number of young French nationals who have joined jihadist movements in Iraq and Syria, as well as aggressive online propaganda campaigns from terrorist groups like ISIS.
"Today, 90 percent of those who swing toward terrorist activities within the European Union do so after visiting the internet," Cazneuves told reporters last week, after presenting the decree to French ministers. "We do not combat terrorism if we do not take measures to regulate the internet."
"The measure only gives the illusion that the State is acting for our safety."
But detractors have criticized the decree for circumventing France's judicial branch, giving the government broader powers to suppress free speech at a time of heightened security concerns.
"In light of the recent arrests that have followed the Charlie Hebdo attacks '-- many of which are clearly overboard '-- I would say that France's government needs to seriously think about whether this law will stop terrorists, or merely chill speech," Jillian York, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said in an email to The Verge.
Others question the effectiveness of the measure. Felix Tr(C)guer, of the French online rights group La Quadrature du Net, says the decree risks "over-blocking perfectly legal content," adding that the domain name system (DNS) blocking that it calls for can be easily circumvented.
"The measure only gives the illusion that the State is acting for our safety," Tr(C)guer said in a statement published today, "while going one step further in undermining fundamental rights online."
Public university spends $16K on campaign to warn students to watch what they say
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 21:01
Tweet'Inclusive Language Campaign' debuts at University of Michigan
Dozens of posters plastered across the University of Michigan caution students not to say things that might hurt others' feelings, part of a new ''Inclusive Language Campaign'' at the state's flagship public university that cost $16,000 to implement.
Words declared unacceptable through the campaign include ''crazy,'' ''insane,'' ''retarded,'' ''gay,'' ''tranny,'' ''gypped,'' ''illegal alien,'' ''fag,'' ''ghetto'' and ''raghead.'' Phrases such as ''I want to die'' and ''that test raped me'' are also verboten.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told The College Fix in an email the campaign aims to ''address campus climate by helping individuals understand that their words can impact someone and to encourage individuals to commit to creating a positive campus community.''
Students have been asked to sign a pledge to ''use inclusive language'' and to help their peers ''understand the importance of using inclusive language,'' according to campaign materials.
Though only in existence for one semester, the Inclusive Language Campaign has maintained a strong presence throughout the university. Students roaming the campus frequently encounter posters of all sizes reminding them: ''YOUR WORDS MATTER,'' and asking questions such as: ''If you knew that I grew up in poverty, would you still call things 'ghetto' and 'ratchet'?''
Representatives of the Inclusive Language Campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The College Fix.
Junior Kidada Malloy, who helps promote the program on campus, told the Michigan Daily the campaign ''is a great program because it will improve the day-to-day language of students on campus by providing education around words that are offensive.''
Fitzgerald told The College Fix the university budgeted $16,000 for the campaign. The program comes at a time when the university has raised tuition and fees for the last two consecutive years.
''This program is intended to be educational, not regulatory,'' Fitzgerald said of the campaign. ''We hope there is only the understanding that we all participate in, and have the power to influence campus culture.''
ILC's Facebook page includes a variety of inclusion-based material, inspirational quotes, personal stories, and even a video that details how to address a person by the correct pronouns. It operates in conjunction with two other campuswide initiatives, Expect Respect and Change It Up!, both of which emphasize inclusive words in and out of the classroom.
Students living in university housing are urged to take part in a Change It Up! workshop, which ''brings bystander intervention skills to first-year housing residents for the purpose of building safe, inclusive, and respectful communities.''
Before and after completing these workshops, students fill out surveys in which they reflect on internal biases that may pose a threat to an ''inclusive campus.''
As the Inclusive Language Campaign has enlarged its influence on campus through various kick-off events, interactive programming and provoking visuals, some students have called into question how it reconciles with the university's policy on free speech, which ''encourages open and vigorous discussion and strives to maintain an environment where the free exchange of ideas and opinions can flourish.''
Asked if the campaign stifles free speech, Fitzgerald said ''we believe this program has just the opposite effect.''
''We believe it will make discourse more constructive by respecting the views and perspectives of others,'' he said. ''A campus conversation about the impact of words is good for everyone.''
The University of Maryland launched a similar campaign three years ago that cost $15,000.
College Fix reporter Samantha Audia is a student at the University of Michigan.
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Federal Election Commission to Consider Regulating Online Political Speech | CNS News
Wed, 11 Feb 2015 17:12
(CNSNews.com) -- The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is holding a hearing today to receive public feedback on whether it should create new rules regulating political speech, including political speech on the Internet that one commissioner warned could affect blogs, YouTube videos and even websites like the Drudge Report.
The hearing is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC last year, which struck down the FEC's previous cap on aggregate campaign contributions from a single donor in an election cycle.
Before the decision, individuals were limited to a combined total of $46,200 in contributions to all federal candidates, and $70,800 to federal political action committees and parties.
Individuals are no longer restricted by aggregate limits, which Chief Justice John Roberts said "intrude without justification on a citizen's ability to exercise 'the most fundamental First Amendment activities'."
They may now "contribute up to $2,600 per election to a federal candidate, $10,000 per calendar year to a state party committee, $32,400 per calendar year to a national party committee, and $5,000 per calendar year to a PAC [political action committee]," according to the FEC.
The commission, which consists of three Republican and three Democratic members, last considered such regulations in 2005. However, intense opposition from First Amendment groups resulted in rules that were limited to paid advertisements from political campaigns, parties, and PACs.
This time around, organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have warned that some Democrats on the commission would like to impose much more burdensome regulations that could serve as the equivalent of spending caps in restricting political speech.
Ann Ravel, chair of the Federal Election Commission. (FEC)
Last October, FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel issued a statement in which she complained that the agency was not doing enough to monitor activity on the Internet.
''Some of my colleagues seem to believe that the same political message that would require disclosure if run on television should be categorically exempt from the same requirements when placed on the Internet alone. As a matter of policy, this simply does not make sense,'' Ravel said.
However, the commission's three Republican members '' Lee Goodman, Caroline Hunter, and Matthew Petersen '' responded to Ravel's comments in a joint statement.
''Despite the Internet's growing importance as a tool for all citizens to engage in political debate, and notwithstanding this Commission's promise to take a 'restrained regulatory approach' with respect to online political activity, [Ravel] apparently believes the time has come to impose greater regulation on political speech over the Internet,'' the group wrote.
According to Commissioner Goodman, who served as chairman of the FEC last year, regulation of content placed on the Internet is a very real possibility.
FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman. (FEC)
''The commission has seen proposals to regulate even issue advocacy referencing federal candidates that is disseminated on the Internet," Goodman told CNSNews.com.
"That could reach YouTube videos, blogs, and websites like [the] Drudge Report,'' he warned.
Among those testifying at Wednesday's hearing, three former Republican commissioners '' Donald McGahn, David Mason, and Hans Von Spakovsky '' are scheduled to speak against further controls from the FEC.
The Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign Legal Center, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG are among those expected to testify in favor of more government regulations.
Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University professor who will also be testifying at Wednesday's hearing, disputed the idea that the agency would follow Ravel's dictate.
''This seems to me to be a major and silly political distraction, because this hearing is about what the FEC should be doing around McCutcheon. With the decision, along with the Citizens United decision, there are all these new opportunities for patronage politics... I'm calling hogwash [about the idea that regulations will be imposed on online content],'' Teachout told CNSNews.com.
Democrats have long supported regulating political content on the Internet, but have generally sought to do so using the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In 2009, a staff member for former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) spoke about the possibility of the FCC passing regulations that would affect sites like Drudge.
''Does one heavily trafficked Internet site present one side of an issue and not link to sites that present alternative views?'' the staff member asked. ''These are some of the questions [Waxman] is thinking about right now, and we are going to have an FCC that will finally have the people in place to answer them."
However, with the FCC set to vote on February 26 on ''net neutrality'' rules under the auspices of preventing private Internet operators from imposing controls, the political focus behind the push to regulate online political speech has shifted largely to the FEC.
The political affiliation of the FEC chairman works on a rotating basis, with the two major political parties trading off each year. Since each party retains an equal share of members on the commission, any new rules adopted by the commission would require bipartisan support.
German Embassy Releases ''Alarming'' Declaration to Residents in Venezuela
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:11
Caracas, February 11th, 2015. (Venezuelanalysis)- The German Embassy in Caracas has alarmed political observers in Venezuela by publishing what the press has described as an "alarming'' official declaration to its citizens in the South American country.
Published on February 5th, the declaration is written and signed by the Charg(C) d'Affaires at the German Embassy, Dr. J¶rg Polster. It began to make the rounds on social media networks over the last two days.
In the statement, German diplomat Polster informs readers that the embassy is extremely ''worried'' about the current situation in the country and advises German residents to take a number of ''precautions in the face of the crisis''.
These precautions include having ''lots of provisions'' such as enough food and drinking water to last ''in our opinion, for 2 weeks'', as well as cash, medicine, batteries, candles, and copies of important documents.
''We shouldn't take it for granted that we will have access to electricity or internet services. The validity of passports and identity documents should be verified regularly,'' continues the text.
A 24 hour emergency phone line and link to an information e-mailing list are also given in the statement, which recommends that members of the German community have the embassy's phone number ''at hand at all times''.
''In terms of the precautions to take in the face of the current crisis, it's important to add that the embassy is constantly monitoring the situation and will publish information about the development of events when necessary,'' it states.
Many news outlets in the country have described the statement as ''alarming'' whilst others have labelled it ''suspicious''.
The socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro is currently facing a stepped up economic war which is causing scarcities of basic goods, as well as increased calls by the political opposition for his government to step down. Many observers have likened the situation to pre-coup 1973 Chile, whilst government supporters have accused the US of plotting to facilitate a coup alongside the rightwing opposition.
''What development are they waiting for? Is it possible that they know something more than they are letting on?'' stated an article on the pro-government website, Laiguana in reaction to the declaration.
Despite the furore, the German embassy has denied that it meant to cause alarm by the declaration and unusual advice.
''Without describing any concrete scenario, we always advise having food and water at home'... For reasons of prudence, those who manage German embassies have a duty to occasionally communicate with the German citizens residing in those countries,'' stated Moritz Jacobshagen, Secretary of Cultural and Political Matters at the embassy on a local radio show.
''Many people on Twitter are saying that we are on the brink of evacuating German citizens, this isn't true'... This statement is purely routine,'' he added.
Walter J. Lindner has been German Ambassador to Caracas since July 2012. There are currently estimated to be around 20,000 Germans living in Venezuela.
Published on Feb 11th 2015 at 6.59pm
There is an 'anti-Francis faction' in Rome, says Irish priest - Independent.ie
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 02:41
Jennifer McShane
Published 14/02/2015 | 15:55
Fr Flannery Credit: Twitter/@FlanneryTonyAn Irish priest has said that the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is part of an "anti-Francis faction" opposed to Pope Francis".
Speaking on Radio One today, Fr Tony Flannery (68) said CDF's Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig M¼ller was also the leader of an anti-Francis group or faction against the Pope in the Vatican.
''M¼ller is the leader of an anti-Francis faction in the Vatican in Rome,'' the Galway cleric told the Miriam Finucane show.
''He would generally be seen as the leader of that. There is an enormous power struggle going on in the Vatican, at the moment, there's no doubt about that,'' the 68-year-old said.
''A lot of people there who are very unhappy with the type of thing that Francis is doing,'' he said, adding that he was a fan of Francis and liked the way he was going about reforming the church.
Fr Flannery also said that the Pope was unable to touch the power of the CDF, who are still ''very strong and powerful.''
''He [Francis] hasn't as yet touched the power of the CDF, and the information I'm getting is that the CDF's power is very much as it always was, and they are operating very much as they always have been,'' he said.
Fr Flannery said that he was ''officially silenced'' by the Vatican in 2012, when they initially objected to some of his writings in a reformist magazine.
''At the height of the clerical sexual abuse cases in Ireland, I wrote in an article ''The priesthood in Ireland now is not as Jesus intended,'' he said.
He said that this led to him being ''silenced'' by Rome, but he chose to ignore that, but added that he cannot officially practice Ministry.
''If I want to get back into Ministry officially, I'll have to play the game of the CDF,'' he added. ''Maybe in 10 years if I'm dying of cancer, they'll lift the sanctions.''
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SHILLS-Readout of the President's Meeting with Private Sector Supporters of the International Response to End Ebola | The White House
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:08
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 11, 2015
Today, President Obama met with 13 private sector and foundation leaders who have joined the international response to end the Ebola epidemic by providing urgent assistance, mobilizing public interest and action, and setting the stage for recovery. The President thanked participants for contributing to the progress achieved thus far and encouraged them to sustain the momentum. The President also urged continued vigilance to end the Ebola epidemic and shared views about the next steps to achieve a resilient and Ebola-free West Africa. The President reiterated his commitment to "Get to Zero," focus on regional recovery, strengthen global capability to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to future outbreaks, and he encouraged the private sector leaders to do the same.
Private Sector Participants:
Hugo Bague (Rio Tinto)David M. Barash (General Electric Foundation)Larry Brilliant (Skoll Foundation)Michael Deich (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)Gabrielle Fitzgerald (Paul G. Allen Family Foundation)Jacqueline Fuller (Google)Joel Kaplan (Facebook)Randy Newcomb (Humanity United)Ed Martinez (UPS Foundation)Strive Masiyiwa (Econet Wireless)Lucy Southworth (Larry Page Family Foundation)Tidjane Thiam (Prudential) Jeffrey Wright (Actor)
February 13, 2015 6:18 PM EST
Week In Review: Ebola, ISIL, and a New LawFrom welcoming Chancellor Angela Merkel to signing a bill into law, the President had a busy week. See more in our latest Week In Review.
February 13, 2015 3:15 PM EST
Report to the President on America's National Travel and Tourism GoalThe United States is taking actions to ensure the travel experience is safe, efficient, and welcoming, while also protecting the security of this country. We want to travelers to return to the U.S. often and encourage their friends and families to visit, as well.
February 13, 2015 11:45 AM EST
Happy Valentine's Day, and God Bless Our TroopsDr. Jill Biden reflects on a dinner at Walter Reed National Medical Center and the importance of honoring veterans on Valentine's Day.
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Statement by the President on the Departure of Ron Klain
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 15:24
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 12, 2015
When I asked Ron Klain last fall to become the Administration's Ebola Response Coordinator, the apprehension and even fear of Ebola in the United States was at its peak. Likewise, there was more than a little skepticism from some corners at the selection of Ron to fulfill this function. But, the background noise notwithstanding, I chose Ron for a reason: I have known him to be nothing less than an effective, dedicated, and tireless manager and leader. And those traits have been on full display since October, as Ron has helped marshal our whole-of-government approach to tackle Ebola at the source in West Africa and to fortify our preparedness here at home. The results of that effort speak for themselves, so much so that we can now turn our focus to our ultimate goal of getting to zero cases in West Africa, which might have seemed unthinkable last fall.
As Ron finishes his tenure and returns to private life, I extend my gratitude for his service. He took on a challenge that many called insurmountable, and, in leading the team responsible for the tremendous progress, helped remind the world what makes America so exceptional.
Venezuela Announces New Currency Exchange Mechanism Based on ''Supply and Demand''
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 01:09
Caracas, February 11th 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) All individuals living in Venezuela will soon be able to purchase and sell US dollars at a price set by the market, the government has announced, in one of the biggest changes to the country's exchange rate system in years.
The creation of the new watershed FOREX system, known as SIMADI, or ''Marginal Currency System'', was announced this Tuesday by the Minister for State Economy, Rodolfo Marco Torres and the President of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), Nelson Merentes, at a press conference in Caracas.
Exchange rate controls were initially brought in under the Chavez government 12 years ago in a bid to limit capital flight. Despite the fact that access to dollars has only been legally available at a regulated price through government agencies, a flourishing black market means that US dollars now fetch a street price of 180 Bolivars or more.
The new system, which effectively legalises the black market rate, is aimed at managing speculation against the Venezuelan Bolivar and bringing the illegal sale of dollars under control.
During the press conference, Torres explained that the SIMADI will continue to operate alongside two already existing exchange rate mechanisms, SICAD I and SICAD II, which will both continue to sell US dollars at a state regulated price.
According to the BCV, SICAD I will maintain the rate of 6.3 Bolivars to the US dollar for private businesses importing what are considered to be ''essential goods'' such as food and medicine that are not produced in Venezuela. These goods make up around 70% of all imports.
''70% of Venezuelan needs are guaranteed,'' stated the Minister.
An adjustment will also be made to the second tier exchange rate, known as SICAD II, which will be unified with the SICAD I rate. The agency will now begin to auction dollars starting at 12 Bolivars per US dollar for the import of non-essential goods, which amount to approximately 30% of all imports. It is also the rate for Venezuelans to buy foreign currency if they travel abroad.
The government has stressed that both SICAD I and SICAD II are insulated from all speculation.
New SIMADI System
Although the finer details of the new system are yet to be revealed, a rush of information about the SIMADI has been inundating internet news agencies throughout the day.
In order to participate in the new SIMADI scheme, individuals must have access to a national bank account in dollars and be over 18 years of age. Transactions will take place at over 3,790 different points, including private and public banks and currency exchange centres where individuals will be able to buy a maximum amount of $300 daily and US$10,000 annually. Private sellers will be able to offer a maximum of US$200 daily and family remittances from abroad will also be changed via this agency.
According to government statements, the system will be free of charge and totally unregulated by the state.
So far the new system has received mixed receptions from both pro-government and anti-government camps.
According to Jorge Roig, President of Venezuela's largest businesses federation, FEDECAMARAS, the move demonstrates that the government has ''recognised that supply and demand must set price." He described the announcement as an effective devaluation of the Bolivar.
''A bit of Liberalism is never a bad thing,'' he stated to his Twitter followers.
Nonetheless, other financial experts such as Ricardo Montilla, President of the National Association of Currency Exchange are optimistic about the new measure.
''The parallel market as such will disappear, it all depends on the expectations of the users of this system. I for one think the (black market) rate should come down,'' he stated.
Prices for dollars at the SIMADI are expected to open this coming Thursday at a rate of between 120-140 Bs to the US dollar.
''If the government wants to stimulate the private sale of foreign currency, currently being swindled on the parallel market, and transfer this across to the SIMADI, the logical thing to do is that this exchange rate, which wasn't announced, should start at the same or a similar rate to the parallel market,'' explained economist, Victor Alvarez, former Minister of Basic Industries.
Venezuela is currently experiencing a shortage of foreign currency due to a significant drop in oil prices, the country's main source of US dollars.
Published on Feb 12th 2015 at 12.48am
Banking Giant HSBC Sheltered Murky Cash Linked to Dictators and Arms Dealers | International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 22:13
Team of journalists from 45 countries unearths secret bank accounts maintained for criminals, traffickers, tax dodgers, politicians and celebrities
Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws.
The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC's Swiss private banking arm, relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion. They provide a rare glimpse inside the super-secret Swiss banking system '-- one the public has never seen before.
The documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via the French newspaper Le Monde, show the bank's dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities. They also show private records of famed soccer and tennis players, cyclists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty, politicians, corporate executives and old-wealth families.
These disclosures shine a light on the intersection of international crime and legitimate business, and they dramatically expand what's known about potentially illegal or unethical behavior in recent years at HSBC, one of the world's largest banks.
The leaked account records show some clients making trips to Geneva to withdraw large wads of cash, sometimes in used notes. The files also document huge sums of money controlled by dealers in diamonds who are known to have operated in war zones and sold gemstones to finance insurgencies that caused untold deaths.
HSBC, which is headquartered in London and has offices in 74 nations and territories on six continents, at first insisted that ICIJ destroy the data.
Late last month, after being informed of the full extent of the reporting team's findings, HSBC gave a final response that was more conciliatory, telling ICIJ: ''We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC's Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today.''
The written statement said the bank had ''taken significant steps over the past several years to implement reforms and exit clients who did not meet strict new HSBC standards, including those where we had concerns in relation to tax compliance.''
The bank added that it had refocused this part of its business. ''As a result of this repositioning, HSBC's Swiss private bank has reduced its client base by almost 70% since 2007.''
How the offshore banking industry shelters money and hides secrets has enormous implications for societies across the globe. Academics conservatively estimate that $7.6 trillion is held in overseas tax havens, costing government treasuries at least $200 billion a year.
''The offshore industry is a major threat for our democratic institutions and our basic social contract,'' French economist Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century told ICIJ. ''Financial opacity is one of the key drivers of rising global inequality. It allows a large fraction of top income and top wealth groups to pay negligible tax rates, while the rest of us pay large taxes in order to finance the public goods and services (education, health, infrastructures) that are indispensable for the development process.''
HSBC's questionable tax tacticsThe secret files obtained by ICIJ '-- covering accounts up to 2007 associated with more than 100,000 individuals and legal entities from more than 200 nations '-- are a version of the ones the French government obtained and shared with other governments in 2010, leading to prosecutions or settlements with individuals for tax evasion in several countries. Nations whose tax authorities received the French files include the U.S., Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Britain, Ireland, India, Belgium and Argentina.
It's not illegal in most countries to maintain offshore bank accounts, and being identified as holding an HSBC Private Bank account is of itself no indication of any wrongdoing. Some who are named in the files may have had some connection to a Swiss bank account, such as a power of attorney, while not owning the money in the account, or owning only a share of it. Others in the files may not even have had a Swiss bank account.
Hollywood actor John Malkovich, for instance, said through a representative that he knows nothing about an account listing his name and conjectured that it might have to do with Bernard Madoff, the former stockbroker convicted of fraud who handled some of his finances. A representative for the British actress Joan Collins told ICIJ: ''In 1993 my client deposited funds into a bank account in London and subsequently discovered that, without her instructions, the money had been transferred to the Swiss account referred to in your letter.'' The representative added that no tax was avoided.
The rock star David Bowie responded to ICIJ media partner The Guardian that he has been a legal resident of Switzerland since 1976. Tina Turner, though seen by many as a quintessentially American singer, has lived in Switzerland for nearly two decades and gave up her U.S. citizenship in 2013.
In many instances the records do describe questionable behavior, such as bankers advising clients on how to take a range of measures to avoid paying taxes in their home countries '-- and customers telling bankers that their accounts are not declared to their governments.
The reporting by ICIJ and a team of media organizations from 45 countries go deeper into the dark corners of HSBC than a 2012 U.S. Senate investigation, which found that the bank had lax controls that allowed Latin American drug cartels to launder hundreds of millions of ill-gotten dollars through its U.S. operations, rendering the dirty money usable.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations' extensive report on HSBC also said some bank affiliates skirted U.S. government bans against financial transactions with Iran and other countries. And HSBC's U.S. division provided money and banking services to banks in Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh believed to have helped fund Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the report said.
Later in 2012, HSBC agreed to pay more than $1.9 billion to settle U.S. criminal and civil investigations and entered into a five-year deferred-prosecution agreement.
A subcommittee staff source said Senate investigators had requested the HSBC Private Bank account records obtained by ICIJ and been refused by the bank's management. The new documents show the bank's activity in many other parts of the world and reveal a new range of questionable clients and actions by the bank.
The ICIJ revelations also come after The Wall Street Journal reported in January that a progress report by the independent monitor appointed to the bank, a synopsis of which is expected to be made public in April, will show HSBC is failing in its attempts to reform.
An international cast of clientsThe documents obtained by ICIJ are based on data originally smuggled away by a former HSBC employee-turned-whistleblower, Herv(C) Falciani, and handed to French authorities in 2008. Le Monde obtained material from the French tax authority investigation into the files and then shared the French tax authority's material with ICIJ with the agreement that ICIJ would pull together a team of journalists from multiple countries that could sift through the data from all angles.
ICIJ enlisted more than 140 journalists from 45 countries, including reporters from Le Monde, the BBC, The Guardian, 60 Minutes, S¼ddeutsche Zeitung and more than 45 other media organizations.
The reporters found the names of current and former politicians from Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kenya, Romania, India, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Paraguay, Djibouti, Senegal, the Philippines and Algeria, among others. They found several people on the current U.S. sanctions list, such as Selim Alguadis, a Turkish businessman alleged to have supplied sophisticated electrical goods to Libya's secret nuclear weapons project, and Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of the main targets of sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and businesses in response to the annexation of Crimea and the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The files do not state either Alguadis' or Timchenko's exact roles in relation to the Swiss accounts. A spokesman for Timchenko said the reasons for the sanctions were ''far-fetched and deeply flawed'' and that his client has ''always been fully compliant with all tax related matters.''
Alguadis told ICIJ, ''I have had many bank accounts at Turkish and international banks during my life for my personal reasons. At times I felt it prudent to keep some of my savings off-shore.'' Alguadis called the U.S. accusations ''ridiculous.''
''All our exports were properly declared at Turkish customs and completely legal,'' said Alguadis, who denied all links to Libya.
Some clients linked to millions and sometimes tens of millions of dollars in their accounts are politically-connected figures such as Rachid Mohamed Rachid, the former Egyptian trade minister who fled Cairo in February 2011 amid the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Rachid, who is listed as having power of attorney over an account worth $31 million, was convicted in absentia for alleged profiteering and squandering public funds. Other names in the files include the late Frantz Merceron, the alleged bagman for the late former Haitian President Jean Claude ''Baby Doc'' Duvalier, who was accused of having looted up to $900 million before fleeing his country, and Rami Makhlouf, whose cousin and close associate, Syrian President Bashar al Assad, over the past three years has helped cause the deaths of tens of thousands of his citizens in the country's civil war. Merceron is listed as an attorney on a $1.3 million account belonging to his wife. Makhlouf is listed as a beneficial owner on multiple accounts.
The files feature people who figure in legal proceedings, such as Vladimir Antonov, the former owner of an English soccer club, Portsmouth FC, who faces trial in Lithuania over an alleged '‚¬500 million bank fraud; Margulan Seisembayev, a Kazakh banker accused by the Alliance Bank of looting its assets and Tancred Tabone, the former head of the Malta state oil company Enemalta, who is facing prosecution for allegedly demanding bribes.
In a statement, Tabone's lawyer said his client denies all charges and added that he ''has formally authorised the Swiss authorities to provide all that information. '... His fiscal affairs in that respect are in order.'' Antonov is listed as a beneficial owner on an account worth $65 million. Seisembayev is listed as beneficial owner of multiple accounts.
A representative told ICIJ reporting partner The Guardian, ''Mr.Antonov is not and was never a tax resident in the UK. He opened the Swiss accounts you refer to in 2008 for business reasons and because Swiss banks provide a better level of client care and are much more flexible than any UK banks.''
In a reflection of the sheer variety of names in the data, others who appear are Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former Chinese Premier Li Peng, famous for his role in the Tiananmen Square massacre; Joseph Fok, a judge on Hong Kong's highest court, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the beloved cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of England and his wife.
The account that can be linked to the prince and princess was held in the name of their company, Cantium Services Limited. A representative for the couple said the account ''never received nor held any funds'' and was closed in 2009. Li Xiaolin is listed, along with her husband, as a beneficial owner of an account that held $2.5 million. Fok is listed as the holder of an account that was closed in 2002. They did not respond to requests for comment.
The files reflect a spectrum of royalty, from King Mohammed VI of Morocco to the Crown prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to dozens of members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family. Many were partial or full beneficial owners of accounts. The role of the King of Morocco was not specified.
A spokesman for the Crown Prince said, ''The Crown Prince invested in a regional hedge fund over which he exercised no control and obtained no tax advantage.''
Business figures and political donors from the U.S. include the financier and philanthropist S. Donald Sussman, whose account predated his marriage to Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine; the billionaire owner of the Victoria's Secret lingerie chain, Les Wexner, who in 2012 donated $250,000 to a super PAC supporting former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; and the Israeli diamond-dealing Steinmetz family. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2007 that the Steinmetz family's venture capital firm Sage Capital Growth paid generous allowances for speeches and other services to Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor lauded as an organized crime and corruption fighter who later unsuccessfully pursued the Republican presidential nomination.
A representative of Sussman said the account was not his, adding that he had made a passive investment in a technology venture fund. The representative said it was this fund that had the account, the existence of which he learned for the first time when questioned by ICIJ. ''Mr. Sussman's investments were minority interests,'' the spokesman said, ''and he had no involvement in the funds' management, investment decisions, or other activities.'' Neither Wexner nor the Steinmetz family responded to requests for comment.
An analysis of the files by ICIJ shows that many individuals linked to accounts took extra precautions to protect their identities, even though HSBC staff repeatedly assured customers they were already bound by tight Swiss banking secrecy.
Many of the accounts were held by companies in offshore tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama or in the remote Pacific island of Niue, rather than by the individuals who owned the money. Thousands more used de-identified, numbered accounts.
In the documents an HSBC employee refers to one of Australia's most prominent corporate figures, Charles Barrington Goode, by his initials.
''Acct holder Mr. Ch.B.G. would like to be called Mr. Shaw (acct heading). So the entire discussion we were speaking about Mr. Shaw,'' the staff member wrote in one document. Goode's account was held under the name ''SHAW99.''
At the time of the note, Goode was the chairman of ANZ bank, one of Australia's biggest. In his other role in politics, Goode was called by a senator during debate in the Australian Parliament in 2001 ''a man who is the bag carrier, the fundraiser, for the Liberal party,'' the current ruling party of the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.
Two foundations that Goode has been publicly associated with in Australia '-- The Cormack Foundation and Valpold Pty Ltd '-- gave more than Aus$30 million to the Victoria branch of the Liberal Party between 1998 and 2013, according to filings with the Australian Electoral Commission.
Goode told ICIJ that he opened his account 30 years ago and the bank insisted he use a pseudonym. ''The bank officer told me that, for security purposes, I needed a name, other than my own name, or a number, to identify the account and which I should use in communicating with the bank. I chose the name 'Shaw.' '' Goode said ''the account was dormant for about 25 years'' and that before he closed the account five years ago he had declared it to Australian tax authorities and paid tax on any income he derived.
Breaking the bank's own policyThe documents raise new questions about past public statements by HSBC that staff did not help customers engage in tax evasion. In July 2008, for example, Chris Meares, the then head of private banking for HSBC, told a British parliamentary hearing: ''We prohibit our bankers from encouraging or being involved in tax evasion.''
Three years earlier one wealthy British client, Keith Humphreys, a director of the English Premier League soccer club Stoke City FC, is described telling his HSBC manager that one of his family's Swiss accounts was ''not declared'' to the U.K. tax authorities. The files state it held more than $450,000 at the time.
Humphreys told ICIJ media partner, The Guardian, that the Swiss account was held not by him but by his father and that it was later voluntarily disclosed to authorities. The account, he said, ''was established in line with financial advice that he was given at the time'' and disclosed to British tax authorities in 2011, with a settlement of £147,165.
''This client is somwhat [sic] paranoid, e.g. whenever he was coming to ZH [Zurich], he flew to Paris and hired a car to drive to ZH"
In another instance, an HSBC employee wrote this note in the file of Irish businessman John Cashell, who would later to be convicted of a tax fraud in his native country: ''His pre-occupation is with the risk of disclosure to the Irish authorities. Once again I endeavoured to reassure him that there is no risk of that happening.'' Cashell did not respond to requests for comment.
The bank itself became uneasy over a '‚¬20 million transaction by a Serbian businessman. But the bank employees merely asked him to act less conspicuously: ''Explained that as per today the bank did not interfered [sic] in his money transfer transactions,'' the relevant document says, ''but would have preferred to reduce those activities on a lower scale. [He] understands our concerns and will use smaller amounts.''
HSBC staff also appeared to show little concern at the description they received of a Canadian doctor, Irwin Rodier. ''This client is somwhat [sic] paranoid, e.g. whenever he was coming to ZH [Zurich], he flew to Paris and hired a car to drive to ZH, in order not to re-enact his final destination etc.''
Rodier told ICIJ media partner CBC/Radio-Canada that he had since settled his taxes with Canadian authorities.
In its statement to ICIJ, HSBC said: ''In the past, the Swiss private banking industry operated very differently to the way it does today. Private banks, including HSBC's Swiss private bank, assumed that responsibility for payment of taxes rested with individual clients, rather than the institutions that banked them.''
Getting around a new lawThe files show that some European customers were given advice on how to avoid a withholding tax on bank savings that came into effect in European Union countries in 2005. Switzerland had agreed to implement the tax '-- called the European Savings Directive, or ESD.
But the ESD pertained only to individuals, not to corporations. The files show HSBC Private Bank seized on this loophole to market products that transformed individuals into corporations for tax-reporting purposes.
The documents record that day by day throughout 2005, clients arrived in Switzerland to make cash withdrawals in British pounds, Euros, Swiss francs, U.S. dollars, even Danish krone '-- sometimes asking for small used notes.
One of those being provided with cash supplies of dollars and euros was Arturo del Tiempo Marques, a property developer sentenced in 2013 to a seven-year jail sentence in Spain for smuggling cocaine. He controlled up to 19 HSBC accounts containing more than $3 million. He did not respond to requests for comment.
In one transaction, the British business tycoon Richard Caring, accompanied by security, was depicted in September 2005 collecting more than five million Swiss francs in cash.
HSBC staff explained handing Caring the huge sum of cash by quoting a statement by him that he planned to deposit the cash with another Swiss bank, and did not want either bank to be aware of the other. They wrote: ''RC goes to great lengths to maintain discretion.''
A representative of Caring told The Guardian that he did not avoid taxes and that his ''use of offshore funds was conducted under widely used and accepted tax principles.''
The files show Caring, a major donor to British politics, transferring $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit set up by the former U.S. President Bill Clinton with the stated mission to ''strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.''
The donation to the Clinton Foundation was requested in December 2005. The previous month, Caring funded a champagne and caviar extravaganza at Catherine the Great's Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russia, flying in 450 guests to be entertained by Sir Elton John and Tina Turner and addressed by Bill Clinton. The event raised more than £11 million for a children's charity.
More Clinton donors A number of other prominent donors to the Clinton Foundation appear in the files, including the Canadian businessman Frank Giustra and German motor racing superstar Michael Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One champion. A representative of Schumacher, who is listed as a beneficial owner of an account closed in 2002, told ICIJ that he is a long-term resident of Switzerland.
The records show Giustra is the only person listed in an HSBC account holding more than $10 million in 2006/2007, although his role in the account is not specified
The New York Times reported in 2008 that Giustra donated to the Clinton Foundation shortly after Bill Clinton accompanied Giustra on a trip to Kazakhstan in 2005. When they landed, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, who has served for decades as Kazakhstan's president, met his two visitors over a sumptuous midnight banquet.
The Times reported that Clinton made a public declaration of support for Nazarbayev that was at odds with the stance of the U.S. government and of Clinton's wife, then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had criticized Kazakhstan's record on human rights. Two days later, corporate records showed, Giustra's company won the right to buy into three state-owned uranium projects in Kazakhstan.
Both Clinton and Giustra told the Times that Giustra traveled with Clinton to Kazakhstan to see first-hand the foundation's philanthropic work. A spokesman for Clinton told the newspaper that the former president was generally aware of Giustra's mining interests in Kazakhstan but did nothing to help those interests.
A representative for Giustra disputed the New York Times story and said that Giustra is ''in full compliance and disclosure regarding any and all bank accounts.'' A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation told The Guardian it ''has strong donor integrity and transparency practices that go well beyond what is required of U.S. charities, including the full disclosure of all of our donors."
Data disappears in GreeceThe data shared by French authorities with other governments is now the basis of formal investigations in several countries. French magistrates are examining whether the bank helped some clients avoid paying 2006 and 2007 taxes. French authorities have required HSBC to deposit a bail bond of '‚¬50 million. Belgian prosecutors late last year also accused the bank of tax fraud.
In August 2014, Argentine tax agents raided HSBC's offices in Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires Herald has reported that Argentine tax chief Ricardo Echegaray has accused HSBC of ''rolling out a fraud-enabling platform'' as ''a maneuver to hide bank account information from tax collectors.''
HSBC said in its statement to ICIJ that it was ''fully committed to the exchange of information with relevant authorities'' and was ''actively pursuing measures that ensure clients are tax transparent, even in advance of a regulatory or legal requirement to do so. We are also cooperating with relevant authorities investigating these matters.''
The documents raise questions about why there were investigations in some countries and not in others '-- and whether some investigations were less than painstaking.
For instance, some of the most extensive material relates to the bank's U.K. clients. Initial investigations by French tax authorities identified more than 5,000 British clients linked to $61 billion in HSBC deposits '-- more clients and more money than from any other country.
Though the French investigators likely initially over-estimated the true amounts held by clients, the British tax office concluded that 3,600 of the 5,000 names it received from the French in 2010 were ''potentially non-compliant.'' A report to a House of Commons committee in September 2014 said the tax office had recovered just £135 million in back taxes from individuals on the list, compared to £220 million collected by Spain and £188 million collected by France. Lord Stephen Green, the head of HSBC during the period the records cover, later became trade minister in the Cameron government in Britain, a position he held until 2013.
Apart from isolated court cases in U.S. federal courts, it appears that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has also gone about its work quietly despite French tax investigators having identified 1,400 people with U.S. connections, holding some $16 billion. Again, that figure was higher than the amounts identified by ICIJ.
In a statement to ICIJ media partner 60 Minutes, the IRS said that since U.S. taxpayers were first encouraged to voluntarily come forward with details of their offshore holdings in 2009, ''there have been more than 50,000 disclosures and we have collected more than $7 billion from this initiative alone.'' The agency declined to disclose how many, if any, of those who came forward had accounts with HSBC.
What happened after France sent Greece the names of more than 2,000 Greek HSBC clients touched off a furor that now has Greece's former finance minister facing trial.
Greece received the names in 2010, but nothing happened until October 2012, when a Greek magazine, Hot Doc, published the names and noted the lack of an investigation into whether rich Greeks were evading taxes while the country was undergoing austerity measures, including pay cuts and tax increases for those who paid.
In contrast to the reluctance with which they had gone after possible tax evasion, Greek authorities were quick to arrest Hot Doc editor Kostas Vaxevanis and charge him with violating privacy laws. He was quickly acquitted, and his trial provoked anger when two former heads of the financial police testified that neither the former finance minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou nor his successor had ordered an investigation into the list. Papakonstantinou said it had been lost.
When the list finally surfaced, it was missing the names of three relatives of Papakonstantinou. He now faces criminal charges alleging breach of trust, doctoring an official document and dereliction of duty growing out of the removal of his relatives' names and out of his failure to act on the list when he received it.
Doing business with arms dealersLinks to arms dealing emerge repeatedly in the files obtained by ICIJ.
HSBC kept Aziza Kulsum and her family as clients even after Kulsum was named by the United Nations as financing the bloody Burundian civil war in the 1990s.
The 2001 United Nations report also said that Kulsum was a key player in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the illicit trade in coltan, a strategically important mineral used in electronic devices. A big part of the world's supply of coltan comes from conflict zones in Central Africa, where armed factions control many mines, extort miners and profit from the sale of illegal ore.
While two of Kulsum's accounts were closed before 2001, a third account worth $3.2 million was frozen (though not closed) for unspecified ''compliance reasons'' at an unknown date. Kulsum's husband had an unspecified connection to a further account that was not closed and held an additional $1.6 million at one point in 2006/2007. HSBC referred to Kulsum as a ''businesswoman (stone and noble metals)'' and the owner of a cigarette factory.
Another questionable account appears under the name of Katex Mines Guinee. According to a 2003 report by the United Nations, Katex Mines was a front company used by Guinea's Ministry of Defense to traffic arms to rebel soldiers in Liberia during fighting in 2003. Inexperienced child soldiers were fighting on both sides; hundreds of people were killed and more than 2,000 were injured. The account is shown with $7.14 million in it three years after UN reports about Katex Mines were made public.
Other notes show HSBC staff meeting a customer, Shailesh Vithlani, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2005, to advise him how best to invest his money. The Guardian reported in 2007 that Vithlani, who is listed as a beneficial owner of one account, was an alleged middleman who arranged for the British arms company BAE to secretly pay $12 million into an unspecified Swiss bank account in return for the Tanzanian government buying an overpriced military radar system. Vithlani, who could not be reached for comment, told The Guardian in 2007 that he did not pay money from Switzerland to officials in Tanzania.
Another HSBC customer linked to BAE was Fana Hlongwane, a South African political adviser and businessman. The U.K. Serious Fraud Office said in statements submitted to South African prosecutors in 2008 that Hlongwane received money from BAE through a disguised chain of offshore intermediaries in order to promote arms deals.
Hlongwane's lawyers did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In a 2014 affidavit made to an ongoing inquiry into the arms contracts, Hlongwane denied ''any evidence implicating myself and/or my Companies in any corruption or wrongdoing.''
Hlongwane is listed as the beneficial owner of an account, Leynier Finance SA, that contained $888,000. Two other accounts that held $12 million at one point in 2006/2007 do not specify his exact role.
Another account holder appears to be linked to the so-called Angolagate scandal.
In 2008, French prosecutors began proceedings against more than 40 people implicated in corrupted arms sales to Angola in the 1990s. The scandal, which was alleged to have involved more than $50 million in bribes exchanged for contracts worth nearly $800 million, named high-profile French figures, including the son of former French President Francois Mitterrand.
The account likely linked to Angolagate, under the name Micheline Arlette Manuel, was dubbed Corday and was open from 1994 to 1999. Manuel's exact role with the account was not specified.
Corday is the name on a series of accounts at HSBC and other banks that have been publicly linked to Micheline Arlette Manuel's husband, Yves, who also held an account with HSBC and who died following a conviction for his role in the scandal. A French court ruling in October 2011 said Yves Manuel received and concealed $2.59 million that he knew had come from the company that disbursed bribes to French and Angolan officials. She did not respond to requests for comment.
Yet another account can be found under the name Wang Chia-Hsing, the son of the alleged middleman in an infamous Taiwan arms deal, Andrew Wang Chuan-pu.
Wang Chuan-pu is a fugitive wanted in Taiwan over his alleged role in the murder of Taiwanese Navy Capt. Yin Ching-feng and a series of kickback and corruption scandals implicating Taiwan, France and China.
The South China Morning Post reported that Wang Chuan-pu left Taiwan shortly after the body of Yin '' who was about to blow the whistle on alleged kickbacks and corruption in the navy's purchase of six French frigates '' was found floating off the island's north coast in December 1993. Despite Chuan-pu's death earlier this year, announced by his Swiss lawyers on 30 Jan., court cases continue in Switzerland and Taiwan.
The HSBC documents show conversations between Wang Chia-Hsing, who is described as an interior decorator and shown with an upmarket London address, and HSBC staff even during a period when the account with more than $38 million was under a court blocking order. The files do not make clear what Wang Chia-Hsing's exact role in the account was. However, the files record that he asked the bank to recognize his non-domicile residency status in the U.K., a reference to a foreign national living in the U.K. who doesn't pay income tax or capital gains tax on earnings abroad. It is generally regarded as a form of legal tax avoidance. The bank's notes further indicate that a HSBC staff member was willing to backdate a form.
A representative for Wang Chia-Hsing said he has ''paid all proper taxes due and has not acted in any way improperly or unlawfully.''
Diamond TradersAn analysis by ICIJ shows that almost 2,000 of HSBC clients who appear in the files are associated with the diamond industry. Among them is Emmanuel Shallop, who was subsequently convicted of dealing in blood diamonds.
Blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, are terms used for gems mined in war zones that are later sold to finance further war. Diamonds mined during the recent civil wars in Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone and other nations have been given the label.
''Diamonds have a long history of being linked to conflict and violence,'' said Michael Gibb of the international human rights group Global Witness. ''The ease with which diamonds can be converted into tools of war, when not sourced responsibly, is astonishing.''
The documents show that HSBC was aware that Shallop was under investigation by Belgian authorities at the time it was helping him. ''We have opened a company account for him based in Dubai. '... The client is very cautious currently because he is under pressure from the Belgian tax authorities, who are investigating his activities in the area of diamond fiscal fraud.''
Shallop's lawyer told ICIJ, ''We dot [sic] not want to give any comment on this issue. My client does not want his name to be mentioned in any article because of reasons of privacy.''
Other HSBC account holders can be linked to Omega Diamonds, which in 2013settleda tax dispute in Belgium for $195 million, without admitting liability. Belgian authorities alleged in their civil suit that Omega shifted profits into Dubai by trading falsely valued diamonds from mines in Congo and Angola. During the period of these alleged transactions, the firm's two principals, Ehud Arye Laniado and Sylvain Goldberg, each had HSBC accounts. A third Omega shareholder, Robert Liling, appears in the files as the owner of several accounts.
An attorney for the three men said none were prosecuted for tax offences. ''The tax dispute between Omega Diamonds and the Belgian tax authorities involved Omega Diamonds only, neither Mr Laniado, Mr Goldberg or Mr Liling were involved in this. The Omega Diamonds tax dispute has been settled in an amicable settlement.''
Links to Al Qaeda? HSBC's clients' links to Al Qaeda were first publicly raised in the July 2012 U.S. Senate report, which cited an alleged internal Al Qaeda list of financial benefactors. The Senate report said the list came to light after a search of the Bosnian offices of the Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi-based nonprofit organization that the U.S. Treasury Department has designated as a terrorist organization.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, referred to the handwritten list of the 20 names as the ''Golden Chain.''
From the moment the names on the Golden Chain list were made public in news reports in the spring of 2003, the Senate subcommittee stated that HSBC should have been ''on notice'' and aware these powerful business figures were high risk clients.
Though the significance of the Golden Chain list has since been questioned, the ICIJ found what appear to be three Golden Chain names with HSBC Swiss accounts that existed after that date.
Documents also reveal irony The documents reveal so many grim stories, but at least one is ironic.
People on the Most Wanted list of Interpol, the international police agency, such as the diamond dealers Mozes Victor Konig and Kenneth Lee Akselrod, are among the HSBC account holders '-- and so is Elias Murr, who is president of the board of Interpol's Foundation for a Safer World, an organization aimed at fighting terrorism and organized crime. Murr, who was a prominent businessman before entering politics, was interior minister of Lebanon in 2004 when an HSBC account owned by him was held through a company called Callorford Investments Limited. By 2006-2007, the account would contain $42 million.
A spokesman for Murr said his client's wealth and that of his family is public knowledge, and his family has held accounts in Switzerland since before he was born. The account was not connected to his political role. ''It is not illegal and it is not suspicious that a Lebanese national opens and holds accounts anywhere.''
Drone Nation
Why the US Government Is Terrified of Hobbyist Drones | WIRED
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 09:40
If you want to understand why the government freaked out when a $400 remote-controlled quadcopter landed on the White House grounds last week, you need to look four miles away, to a small briefing room in Arlington, Virginia. There, just 10 days earlier, officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA gathered for a DHS ''summit'' on a danger that had been consuming them privately for years: the potential use of hobbyist drones as weapons of terror or assassination.
The conference was open to civilians, but explicitly closed to the press. One attendee described it as an eye-opener. The officials played videos of low-cost drones firing semi-automatic weapons, revealed that Syrian rebels are importing consumer-grade drones to launch attacks, and flashed photos from an exercise that pitted $5,000 worth of drones against a convoy of armored vehicles. (The drones won.) But the most striking visual aid was on an exhibit table outside the auditorium, where a buffet of low-cost drones had been converted into simulated flying bombs. One quadcopter, strapped to 3 pounds of inert explosive, was a DJI Phantom 2, a newer version of the very drone that would land at the White House the next week.
Attendee Daniel Herbert snapped a photo and posted it to his website along with detailed notes from the conference. The day after the White House incident, he says, DHS phoned him and politely asked him to remove the entire post. He complied. ''I'm not going to be the one to challenge Homeland Security and cause more contention,'' says Herbert, who runs a small drone shop in Delaware called Skygear Solutions.
The White House drone, of course, wasn't packing an explosive and wasn't piloted by a terrorist'--just a Washingtonian who lost control of the device while playing around in the wee hours. But the gentle censorship directed at Herbert illustrates how serious the issue is to counterterrorism officials.
A Drone Maker Takes Decisive ActionThe Phantom line of consumer drones made by China-based DJI figures prominently in the government's attack scenarios. That's not because there's anything sinister about DJI or the Phantom'--in fact, just the opposite. The Phantom is the iPod of drones, cheap, easy to use, and as popular with casual and first-time fliers as with experienced radio control enthusiasts.
With all the attention surrounding the White House landing, DJI felt it had to take action. So last Thursday it pushed a ''mandatory firmware update'' for its Phantom 2 that would prevent the drone from flying in a 15.5 mile radius of the White House. So far it's the only drone-maker installing what's known as GPS geofencing
The technique is not new to DJI. The company first added no-fly zones to its firmware in April of last year to deter newbie pilots from zipping into the restricted airspace over airports, where they might interfere with departing and arriving aircraft. If a Phantom 2 pilot flies within five miles of a major airport's no fly zone, the drone's maximum altitude begins to taper. At 1.5 miles away, it lands and refuses to take off again. Municipal airports are protected by smaller zones, also programmed into the drones' firmware.
For DJI, airport no-fly zones were a response to the growing popularity of the Phantom 2 and perhaps a hedge against the constant threat of increased regulation. ''We started seeing the community of pilots grow,'' says spokesman Michael Perry, and many users have no idea where they can and can't legally fly the drone. ''The guy in the White House incident, I'm pretty sure he didn't know that flying in downtown DC is illegal.'' Rather than put the onus on every user to learn local air traffic zoning rules, DJI translated them into code, and added a little buffer zone of its own for added safety.
The White House geofence is only the second one that isn't centered on an airport, according to Perry'--the first was Tiananmen Square. It won't be the last. Now that the company has perfected the ability to erect geofences at will, the sky's the limit'--or, more accurately, the skies are limited. DJI is preparing an update that will increase the number of airport no fly zones from 710 to 10,000, and prevent users from flying across some national borders'--a reaction to the recent discovery that drug smugglers are trying to use drones to fly small loads of meth from Mexico into the US.
'I Want to Fly Wherever the Heck I Want'This geofencing has critics, including hobbyists chagrined to find their favorite flying spot suddenly encompassed by a DJI no-fly zones. ''I live just inside a red zone and find it quite offensive that a company would attempt to restrict any potential usage in/around my own house,'' one user wrote in response to the first geofencing update last April.
''One could theorize that every zone anywhere could be a restricted zone,'' wrote another. ''Thank you but no thank you. If I spend thousands of dollars then I want to fly wherever the heck I want as long as it is under 400ft and 500ft away from airports.''
''This is NOT something users want,'' another critic added. ''I have a good relationship with my local airports and have worked with every local tower or control center. I get clearance to fly and they have been great, but this 'update' takes away my control.''
Ryan Calo, a University of Washingtonlaw professor who studies robots and the law, traces the resistance to two sources. ''One is a complaint about restricting innovation. The second one says you should own your own stuff, and it's a liberty issue: corporate verses individual control and autonomy,'' Calo says. ''When I purchase something I own it, and when someone else controls what I own, it will be serving someone else's interest, not mine.''
DJI, in other words, has flown into one a core discontent of the Internet age. Technology's no-fly zones already are everywhere. Lexmark printers and Keurig coffee makers have been programmed to reject third-party ink cartridges and coffee pods. Auto dealers are beginning to install remote-control immobilizers in cars sold to sub-prime borrowers, so they can shut down a driver who's delinquent with an auto payment (the technology already has resulted in a 100-vehicle automotive hack attack.) In 2009, some Kindle owners discovered Amazon has the power to remotely delete the book they're reading, after the company purged George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from e-book readers, an action Jeff Bezos later apologized for .
''The fate of small drone flights over DC may seem like a little thing'--a spat worked out among private players,'' wrote EFF's Parker Higgins in a blog post Monday. ''But these small battles shape the notion of what it means to own something and illustrate the growing control of manufacturers over user conduct.''
Geofencing Won't Prevent TerrorismWhile alarming to some, DJI's paternal interference in its customers' flight plans probably will reduce unintentional incidents like last week's White House landing. But it certainly won't prevent the scenario feared by official Washington: an attacker looking to weaponize a drone. For one thing, hardcore drone hobbyists tend to be tinkerers, and sooner or later their rumbling will translate into published firmware hacks and workarounds anyone can use.
''Right now there doesn't exist any hacks to remove the geofencing or downgrade the firmware,'' says Herbert. ''I'm sure they're coming. People will figure it out eventually.''
But, he notes, drone fliers who don't want geofencing have many options. DJI's mandatory update only affects the Phantom 2 line'--ironically, the older Phantom 1 that landed at the White House isn't included. And Phantom 2 owners will receive the mandatory update only when they link their drone to their Internet-connected PC or Mac. And if you really want to exercise your own judgment when flying, DJI says you can simply buy from a competitor.
''We do provide different layers of security to make it difficult to hack and get around,'' says DJI's Perry. But for those determined to avoid geofencing, ''there's an easy way to do that, which is to buy another quad-copter.''
That may be true for now, but it's easy to see lawmakers and regulators jumping on DJI's mandatory update as an easy cure, and mandating geofencing industrywide. When that happens, you can expect that circumventing drone firmware, for any reason, will become illegal, the same way hacking your car's programming is illegal. One thing is for certain: Nobody willing to strap a bomb to a toy drone will be deterred.
Air Force Data on Friendly Fire, Civilian Casualties Was Manipulated Against A-10
Tue, 10 Feb 2015 23:05
Air Force Data on Friendly Fire, Civilian Casualties Was Manipulated Against A-10February 9, 2015
The Air Force manipulated data and omitted key stats in order to skew a comparison of civilian casualties and friendly fire deaths caused by close air support aircraft in Afghanistan, according to an analysis released today by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
The stats, which were recently reported by USA Today, were intended to bolster the Air Force's campaign to retire the A-10 Warthog in favor of the much costlier and unproven F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
However, POGO's analysis found that the A-10 is significantly safer than most of the other planes in the comparison. The POGO analysis notes that the Air Force manipulated the data to either exclude or include information that worked against the A-10.
For example, the data looking at civilian casualties excluded an event in 2009 in which a B-1 killed up to 147 civilians and wounded many more. Most importantly, the Air Force did not provide ''kinetic'' sortie information'--those missions in which weapons were employed'--that would put these statistics into important context.
''The Air Force cherry picked and doctored the data that it released in an attempt to build a false narrative against the A-10,'' said Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at POGO. ''The Air Force is resorting to dirty tricks because it can't make a valid argument against the A-10, proven to be reliable, effective, and a favorite of troops on the ground.''
POGO is calling for Congress to ask the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of all available data and report to the House and Senate Armed Services committees before the committees mark up the new defense policy bill.
The release of the manipulated data follows comments by an Air Force general who said that any service member providing Congress with information about the A-10 would be committing treason. POGO has called on the Air Force Secretary to remove Maj. Gen. James Post from his command for those comments.
Read the full analysis here.
Image from the U.S. Air Force.
Joe Newman is the Director of Communications for the Project On Government Oversight.
Topics:National Security
Related Content:Straus, A-10
Authors:Joe Newman
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Latest PodcastPodcast; Social Media, Internet Provides Opportunities, Challenges for LawmakersThe Congressional Management Foundation offers the Gold Mouse Awards annually to members of Congress who make the most of the opportunity the digital world offers them. POGO spoke with members of Rep. Mike Honda's communications team about their award.
US Navy's 6th Generation Fighter Jets Will Be Slow and Unstealthy | The National Interest Blog
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 19:39
The U.S. Navy's next generation air superiority fighter will not be ''super-duper fast'' or employ much in the way of stealth, a senior navy official announced on Wednesday.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Navy's top officer, divulged some details about the Navy's so-called Next Generation Air Dominance F/A-XX fighter jet during a speech at an industry conference.
''I don't see that it's going to be super-duper fast, because you can't outrun missiles.'' Greenert said, the Washington Examiner reported. ''And you can't become so stealthy that you become invisible '-- you are going to generate a signature of some sort,'' he also noted, adding ''You know that stealth may be overrated'.... If something moves fast through the air and disrupts molecules in the air and puts out heat '' I don't care how cool the engine can be '' it's going to be detectable.''
(Recommended: 5 Ways to Replace the F-35)
In lieu of stealth and speed, Greenert said that the F/A-XX would gain access by deploying ''a spectrum of weapons'' that could suppress enemy air defenses.
Greenert made the remarks while speaking at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo in Washington, DC.
(Recommended: Will the F-35 Dominate the Skies?)
His concerns about speed and stealth appear to be valid. As USNI News notes, the proliferation of high-speed anti-air weapons to America's potential adversaries greatly reduces the value of speed. Stealth also is a wasting asset, as Dave Majumdar recently explained onThe National Interest:
''Russia and China are already working on new networked air defenses coupled with new radars operating in the UHF and VHF-bands that threaten to neutralize America's massive investment in fifth-generation fighters. Fighter-sized stealth aircraft are only optimized to perform against high-frequency fire control band radars operating in the Ku, X, C and portions of the S-band.''
That the next generation fighter will gain access primarily by suppressing enemy air defenses also isn't entirely surprising. After all, the Navy already employs the Boeing EA-18G Growler, an electronic warfare variant of the the F/A-18F Super Hornet, one of the planes that the F/A-XX will eventually replace.
(Recommended: How to Start A Proxy War With Russia)
Still, Greenert's claims about the declining value of stealth and speed pose some stark questions for the armed forces and American taxpayers. The U.S. has spent decades and hundreds of billions of dollars developing and fielding the ''super-duper fast'' F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, both of which rely on stealth to be effective. These fifth generation aircraft are expected to be the foundation of the U.S. fighter fleet for years to come. If their capabilities quickly become inadequate to meet America's security needs, the U.S. could find itself facing a glaring fighter gap.
(Recommended: 5 Russian Weapons of War NATO Should Fear)
It's little wonder then that the military is already fast at work trying to develop the next generation X-plane even though the F-35 JSF is not even operational yet. Unfortunately, these sixth generation fighters might not operational until 2035.
Image: Wikimedia/Boeing
Netflix to Offer Service in Cuba - Bloomberg Business
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 21:34
(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc., the online video-subscription service, said it will offer movies and TV shows in Cuba, becoming one of the first U.S. companies to operate there after President Barack Obama moved to restore diplomatic ties.
Starting today, Cubans with broadband service and access to international payment methods will be able to stream shows including ''House of Cards'' and ''Orange Is the New Black,'' Los Gatos, California-based Netflix said today in a statement.
The government owns and controls all broadcast media in Cuba, with private ownership of electronic media barred, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The country had 5,360 fixed broadband subscribers in 2013 out of a population of about 11.3 million, according to the International Telecommunications Union.
''Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture, and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience,'' Reed Hastings, the company's co-founder and chief executive officer, said in the statement.
The Cuban government won't play a role the service's content library, according to Cliff Edwards, a Netflix spokesman
Netflix will offer a curated selection of movies and TV shows in Cuba starting at $7.99 a month. Cubans earn a monthly salary that averages about $20, according to the country's National Office of Statistics and Information.
Limited Access''The average Cuban has very limited access to the Internet, particularly to fast service,'' said Sanja Kelly, Freedom House's project director for Internet freedom, in a telephone interview from Virginia. ''Very few Cubans will be able to subscribe and watch movies.''
Markets outside the U.S. are the company's fastest-growing source of new subscribers, which hit 57.4 million at year-end. Netflix raised $1.5 billion in a bond sale this month to support its expansion, including the development of new shows.
Netflix fell 0.2 percent to $443.62 at 1:42 p.m. in New York. The stock had gained 30 percent this year as of Feb. 6, second best in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
American Express Co., the biggest U.S. credit-card issuer by customer purchases, said in January it was making preparations for its cards to be accepted in Cuba.
The lender planned to work with Cuban merchants, and requires approval from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, Marina Norville, a spokeswoman for New York-based AmEx, said at the time.
MasterCard Inc. said in January it will lift a block on U.S. bank-card transactions in Cuba beginning March 1 after receiving guidance from OFAC.
Latin AmericaNetflix began offering its service in Latin America in 2011 and now counts more than 5 million subscribers.
The company has said it plans to enter Japan by fall. Netflix said on its earnings call last month that it would offer its monthly service to almost every territory with high-speed Internet service by the end of 2016.
Cuba has the best-educated workforce in Latin America, Bloomberg Business reported last month. Eighty percent of college-age Cubans were enrolled in postsecondary education in 2011, compared with 75 percent in Argentina, 71 percent in Chile, and 29 percent in Mexico, according to the United Nations.
New rules outlined by Obama in December will make it easier for people to travel to Cuba under 12 exceptions, including family visits, education, research, journalism and professional meetings. Those who get to Cuba will be able to use credit and debit cards there.
U.S. companies will be permitted to export to Cuba telecommunications equipment, agricultural commodities, construction supplies and materials for small businesses. U.S. financial institutions will be allowed to open accounts with Cuban banks, under rules announced in January.
To contact the reporters on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at rgolum@bloomberg.net; Ezra Fieser in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Bruce Rule, Andrew Pollack
Case against Argentine president moves forward - Israel News, Ynetnews
Fri, 13 Feb 2015 23:45
Prosecutor who inherited case from the late Alberto Nisman formally renews investigation, amid government accusations of a 'coup' attempt.Associated Press
The prosecutor who inherited a high-profile case against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Friday reaffirmed the accusations, formally renewing the investigation into whether the president helped Iranian officials cover up their alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.
Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita's decision to go forward with the case was significant because it sets the stage for a close examination of the investigation that prosecutor Alberto Nisman was building before he was found dead Jan. 18. The next day, Nisman was scheduled to elaborate his accusations to Congress.
Nisman accused Fernandez, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others in her administration of brokering the cover-up in exchange for favorable deals on oil and other goods from Iran. Fernandez and Timerman have strongly denied the accusations, and Iran has repeatedly denied involvement in the bombing, which killed 85 people.
In his statement released Friday afternoon, Pollicita recounted Nisman's accusations without providing analysis of them. He concluded that an investigation is necessary to "achieve a degree of understanding to prove or disprove the factual and dogmatic extremes expressed in the preceding paragraphs."
Related stories:
Ruling Victory Front lawmaker Andr(C)s Larroque, social leader Luis D'El­a, head of the political group Quebracho Fernando Esteche, ex-judge H(C)ctor Yrimia and Allan Bogado have been also charged, reported the Buenos Aires Herald.
Pollicita will present his findings to judge Daniel Rafecas, the federal magistrate assigned to the case who will ultimately decide whether to dismiss it or send it on to trial.
Even before Pollicita's decision, amid rumors that it was coming, the administration was moving to both reject and minimize it.
Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich called the move a "judicial coup" during his daily press briefing.
"The Argentine people should know that we're talking about a vulgar lie, of an enormous media operation, of a strategy of political destabilization and the biggest judicial coup d'etat in the history of Argentina to cover the real perpetrators of the crime," he said.
Similarly, Presidential spokesman Anibal Fernandez said moving the case forward was a "clear maneuver to destabilize democracy" but that ultimately "it has no legal value. It does not matter."
On Tuesday, Gustavo Lopez, an undersecretary in Kirchner's government, branded the investigation "an attempted coup d'etat that aims to get rid of the president, to end this political project that has been governing since 2003 and to restore the neoliberal conservative forces that governed for decades to reap their own benefits."
The strength of Nisman's 289-page investigation, presented to a judge a few days after his death, has been hot topic of debate within the legal community.
The basis of his case are wiretaps of administration officials allegedly talking about a secret deal around the time of a 2013 "Memorandum of Understanding" that Argentina reached with Iran. The agreement, which is being challenged in Argentine courts, on its face sets the conditions for the two countries to investigate the bombing.
Juan Jose Avila, a criminal lawyer, said arguing that Nisman's case wasn't strong enough misses the point because at this stage, no investigation is ready to be tried in court.
"No accusation, when it's first made, is proven," he said.
BBC News - Synthetic vaccine sought to finally eradicate polio
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 02:27
14 February 2015Last updated at 02:42 ET By Jonathan AmosBBC Science Correspondent. San JoseAn international team of scientists is to try to develop a wholly artificial vaccine to combat polio.
The disease is very close to being eradicated, with only a few hundred cases now reported worldwide each year.
The hope is that the new approach can address some shortcomings in an existing vaccine, and so help eliminate polio altogether.
The World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are providing a $674,000 (£438,000) grant.
The project was announced at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California.
Researchers in the US and the UK will participate. In Britain, this will pull in workers from Leeds, Oxford, Reading, and the Diamond synchrotron.
Genome 'removed'The battle against polio is tantalisingly close to being won.
Where once there were hundreds of thousands of cases worldwide, just 350 were reported last year, and most of those were in Pakistan.
But the last mile is proving to be frustrating. One reason is because the existing oral vaccine uses a weakened version of the virus as its stimulus to provoke a response and protection in the patient.
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Prof Dave Stuart: "We're not able at the moment to get rid of those last few cases"
And in just a few particular individuals, this can set up an infection in the gut that then enables a reactivated virus to pass out of the body and spread to other, unvaccinated people.
But if the virus particle has no genetic machinery this transmission route is closed, and the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation is to fund the scientists to engineer just such particle for use as a replacement vaccine.
Professor Dave Stuart from Oxford University is a member of the team.
"The idea of the synthetic vaccine is that it contains no genome - it's virus free," he told BBC News.
"So it's made, in a way, like a super-chemical, a complicated chemical, that assembles itself to look like the virus but has no way of ever replicating."
The team feels it is already some way down the road to achieving its goal because of the success it had in developing a synthetic vaccine to combat the foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV).
Polio is from the same family of viruses and works in very similar ways.
One of the obstacles the team had to overcome in producing the FMDV solution was to find a way to maintain the shape of the particle when it had no genetic material inside.
Prof Stuart explained: "There are problems because if you try to make something that looks like the virus but doesn't contain the genome, it tends to be more fragile.
"We had to use a detailed knowledge of how the atoms in this complicated structure were arranged to then go in and do some molecular re-engineering to make it more stable, so that it could hang around long enough to induce enough protective response from the immune system."
As well as being a professor of structural biology at Oxford, Dave Stuart is the life sciences director at the Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron science facility.
It is at Diamond that powerful X-rays are used to image these types of structures on the scale of atoms and molecules.
The scientists stress that a synthetic approach is just part of the strategy required to totally eliminate polio, and they warn that vaccination would have to continue for some years beyond the last recorded case to make sure it had no chance of re-establishing itself.
"Our aspiration is eventually to get rid of the virus and consign it to a few vials in the freezers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Georgia, or wherever," said Prof Stuart.
Other key British figures on the team are Prof Ian Jones from Reading University and Prof Dave Rowlands at the University of Leeds. In the US, it Dr Andy Macadam at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control.
Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk an follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos
NBC Survey Finds Congress is Unanimous on Vaccinations - NBC News.com
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 02:20
On Capitol Hill, disagreement is the rule, not the exception.
But when it comes to the issue of vaccinations, there appears to be a level of unanimous agreement. An NBC News survey of all 434 voting members currently serving in the House of Representatives finds that not a single member indicated that their children had NOT been vaccinated.
According to their offices, 121 members with children said they've vaccinated them, zero said they haven't, and another seven declined to answer. Thirty-three offices responded that the congressional member does not have children. All other offices have yet to respond.
NBC conducted this survey as a debate over mandatory vaccinations rose to the top of the political conversation this week, with the measles outbreak expanding to 14 states last month. Top 2016 presidential candidates made a flurry of conflicting statements this week, with some urging all children get vaccinated, and others defending parents skeptical that vaccines are linked to developmental disorders like autism.
Total Responses: 161
Responded saying "No Children": 33
Yes: 121
No: 0
Declined to answer: 7
NBC News' Shaquille Brewster, Teddy Amenabar, Sydney Gottfried, Justin Peligri. Matthew Fried, Maggie Gottlieb, and Ed Demaria contributed to this report.
First published February 6 2015, 1:27 PM
Aggressive new HIV strain detected in Cuba - UPI.com
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:40
A new HIV strain in some patients in Cuba appears to be much more aggressive and can develop into AIDS within three years of infection. Researchers said the progression happens so fast that treatment with antiretroviral drugs may come too late.Without treatment, HIV infection usually takes 5 to 10 years to turn into AIDS, according to Anne-Mieke Vandamme, a medical professor at Belgium's University of Leuvan. According to the study, published in the journal EBioMedicine, Vandamme was alerted to the new aggressive strain of HIV by Cuban health officials who wanted to find out what was happening.
"So this group of patients that progressed very fast, they were all recently infected," Vandamme explained to Voice of America. "And we know that because they had been HIV negative tested one or a maximum two years before."
None of the patients had received treatment for the virus, and all of the patients infected with the mutated strain of HIV developed AIDS within three years.
While fast progression of HIV to AIDS is usually the result of the patient's weak immune system rather than the particular subtype of HIV, what's happening in Cuba is different.
"Here we had a variant of HIV that we found only in the group that was progressing fast. Not in the other two groups. We focused in on this variant [and] tried to find out what was different. And we saw it was a recombinant of three different subtypes."
The new variant, named CRF19, is a combination of HIV subtypes A, D and G.
HIV normally infects cells by attaching itself to what is called a co-receptor, and the transition to AIDS usually occurs when the virus switches -- after many years -- from co-receptor CCR5 to co-receptor CXCR4. The new strain makes the switch much faster.
The variant has been observed in Africa, but in too few cases to be fully studied. Researchers said the strain is more widespread in Cuba.
'¨While the aggressive form of HIV responds to most antiretroviral drugs, people may not realize they have AIDS until it's too late for treatment to do any good. Vandamme said it's vital for people having unprotected sex with multiple partners to be tested for HIV early and often.
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The US Government Has Paid out $3 Billion to Vaccine-Injured Americans Since 1989 | The Refusers
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:36
By Lily Dane - The Daily Sheeple February 4th, 2015
Unless you live in a cave and have NO access to television or the internet, you've likely been exposed to the Measles Mania that has swept America.
Facebook, Twitter, online news site comment sections'...everywhere you look, people are launching into hysterical tirades and internet battles about vaccines, ''evil anti-vaxxers'', and fear-mongering.
Some people are so whipped up into a frenzy over those who don't vaccinate that they are calling for those people to be sued or jailed. Even more disturbing? Some are saying they hope anti-vaxxers' children die of a communicable disease.
Click PLAY to hear Refusers song VACCINE GESTAPO
It's like a modern-day witch hunt.
The anger is strong, and it is infectious (pardon the pun).
And mainstream news sites and politicians are fueling the fire.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both potential Republican presidential candidates, have stated publicly that parents should have a say in which vaccines their children receive.
Hillary Clinton and President Obama are both saying that vaccines are safe, and that all children should be vaccinated, which is in stark contrast tocomments each made in 2008:
At a 2008 rally, Mr. Obama said, ''We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included. [Points to person in audience.] The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.''
In 2008, Hillary Clinton was asked in a questionnaire from an autism group about whether vaccines should be investigated as a ''possible cause'' of autism. She answered: ''I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.''
Amidst the hype and hysteria over whether or not people should be forced to vaccinate their children, I have noticed two issues that are causing quite a bit of confusion.
One is autism. Whenever a person says they do not vaccinate their children, a lot (and I mean, A LOT) of people assume that it is because that person is afraid of autism. This assumption inevitably launches that person into a lecture about how the link between autism and vaccines has been ''debunked'' or ''disproven.''
(Autism is far from being the only risk associated with vaccination. More on that later.)
The other is the widespread lack of awareness of the ''vaccine court.'' People just don't believe this entity exists. It's as if I'm telling them that I have a flock of magical unicorns frolicking in my backyard. If I had a dollar for every time a person has accused me of being wrong '' or lying '' about the existence of the vaccine court, I might actually be able to buy a flock of unicorns.
Anyway'...yes, the government does have a vaccine court and fund that serve to compensate people who can show strong evidence that their child's injury, disability, or death is linked to vaccinations.
Here's an explanation of the vaccine court from Generation Rescue:
The United States federal court has presided over landmark cases for the autism community, filing official court decisions that have linked vaccinations as an environmental trigger of autism. The court in which all of these decisions are rendered is the Office of Special Masters of the United States Courts of Federal Claims, otherwise known as ''Vaccine Court.''
The U.S. government created this specific court in 1986 to protect pharmaceutical companies from the direct lawsuits that were arising due to the preponderance of illnesses and injuries that were stemming from the company's vaccination products. By establishing the Vaccine Court, the government now protects the pharmaceutical industry by trying the cases and awarding damages from a federal excise tax added to the cost of each dosage of a vaccine.
In the ''Vaccine Court,'' the burden of proof lays squarely on the claimant. In other words, a family must show a clear causal connection between a vaccination and its adverse effects. For the autism community, this standard is made more challenging because the ''Vaccine Court'' does not accept ''autism'' as a legal determination. This is because autism is a clinical diagnosis, labeled on the basis of a collection of clinical features and created by causes that are still unknown. But the autism community has still persevered, and compelled the court to acknowledge the link between their children's autism diagnoses and vaccinations' environmental triggers.
Here's how that system works.
The CDC and FDA co-sponsor a national vaccine safety surveillance program called Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). It serves to collect information about adverse events (possible side effects) that occur after the administration of vaccines licensed for use in the United States. People can report reactions that may be related to vaccinations there, and the data is open and available for anyone to access.
If a case makes it to vaccine court and an award is granted to a family, the money comes from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program:
Since the first National Vaccine Injury Compensation (VICP) claims were filed in 1989, 3,887 compensation awards have been made. More than $3.0 billion in compensation awards has been paid to petitioners and more than $120.4 million has been paid to cover attorneys' fees and other legal costs.
To date, 9,860 claims have been dismissed. Of those, 4,912 claimants were paid more than $64.8 million to cover attorneys' fees and other legal costs.
For those who are still skeptical that such a thing exists'...
The following are cases in which the families of children who suffered from vaccine-related injuries (and in one case, unfortunately, death) were awarded compensation by the vaccine court.
Click on each child's name to view the actual court documents.
Richelle Oxley: DPT shot reaction: post-pertussis vaccine encephalopathy
'''...no evidence to overcome the strong probability that the DPT was the most likely cause. Richelle's disabilities include autistic-like behavior, hyperactivity, and partially controlled seizures. The court finds further that all other statutory requirements have been met, and concludes that petitioners are entitled to compensation for injuries sustained as a result of the DPT vaccine administered on July 30, 1979.''
Hannah Poling: MMR vaccine
''Court ruled in favor of compensation due to the significant aggravation of child's pre-existing mitochondrial disorder based on an MMR vaccine Table presumptive injury of encephalopathy, which eventually manifested as chronic encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder and a complex partial seizure disorder as a sequelae.''
Eric Lassiter: DPT vaccine
Eric was completely healthy prior to a DPT booster. His is a ''known case of static encephalopathy after DPT immunization.'' Based on the court's own findings of fact and the reasons proffered by Dr. Lichtenfeld, the court concludes that Eric, more likely than not, sustained an encephalopathy and that the first manifestation of onset of the injury occurred within the Table time frame.
*The possibility of autism was discussed in depth during Eric's court proceedings, but a conclusion was never made. One doctor believed the child had autism'...but not as a result of the DTP vaccine.
Bailey Banks: MMR vaccine
''The Court found, supra, that Bailey's ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey's ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was not too remote, but was rather a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.''
Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (''ADEM'') is ''an acute or subacute encephalomyelitis or infiltration and 3 demyelination; it occurs most commonly following an acute viral infection, especially measles, but may occur without a recognizable antecedent'....It is believed to be a manifestation of an autoimmune attack on the myelin of the central nervous system. Clinical manifestations include fever, headache, vomiting, and drowsiness progressing to lethargy and coma; tremor, seizures, and paralysis may also occur; mortality ranges from 5 to 20 per cent; many survivors have residual neurological deficits.''
Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a 'subthreshold' condition in which some '' but not all '' features of autism or another explicitly identified Pervasive Developmental Disorder are identified. PDD-NOS; also referred to as ''atypical personality development,'' ''atypical PDD,'' or ''atypical autism'', is included in DSM-IV to encompass cases where there is marked impairment of social interaction, communication, and/or stereotyped behavior patterns or interest, but when full features for autism or another explicitly defined PDD are not met.
As a preliminary matter, even though Respondent conceded during briefing that Bailey suffers from PDD, Respondent's expert, Dr. MacDonald characterized Bailey's condition as autism; however, he at one point conflated the two as of one or of like kind. Tr. at 84-86. Despite his comments to that effect, the Court is inclined to view Bailey's condition as accurately as the medical records will allow; that is, to find that Bailey more likely than not suffers from PDD, and not from autism.
Elias Tembenis: Death after DTaP vaccination. This little boy had seizures after receiving a DTaP shot'...but was still given boosters and other vaccines. In 2002, doctors noted that Elias had features of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (''PDD''), which is an autism spectrum disorder. He died in 2007, at age 7. The immediate cause of death was multisystem organ failure, which was a consequence of cardiac arrest'...which was a consequence of Elias's seizure disorder.
''Petitioners have satisfied the legal requirements for proving that Elias's December 26, 2000 DTaP vaccination was a legal cause of his epilepsy and death. Respondent has not overcome Petitioners' evidence by proving an alternative cause. Therefore, I find that Petitioners have established entitlement to compensation under the Vaccine Act.''
Ryan Mojabi: MMR vaccine
Saeid and Parivash Mojabi of San Jose, California had their infant son vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), among other vaccinations, between 2003 and 2005. Shortly after the MMR vaccinations, their son developed Autism Spectrum Disorder, asthma, and an encephalopathy, which refers to a syndrome of brain dysfunction. The case is 'unpublished,' meaning there is little information available to the public.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conceded that the MMR vaccination caused the boy's encephalopathy. There is no documentation stating the government recognized that the encephalopathy directly led to his autism. The Mojabi's were awarded a lump sum of more than $980,0000, and another lump sum, several million dollars more, will be invested in annuities on his behalf to cover annual costs for the rest of his life. (source)
From the same law firm that represented Ryan Mojabi:
A similar case involving a young girl reports an eerily similar timeline. The girl's mother, Jillian Moller, filed her claim in 2003, alleging that her daughter was severely injured by the vaccines she received at 15 months old.
Almost immediately, the girl developed high fevers, seizure episodes, and a similar measles-type rash. She started staring blankly, having shaking episodes, and was diagnosed with encephalopathy characterized by speech and developmental delay. She was also ultimately diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
More than seven years after filing her claim, the government agreed to settle, and made an offer upwards of $1.1 million. Another $9 million will be granted for annual expenses throughout her life. The Department of Health and Human Services did not officially admit that the vaccines caused her encephalopathy or autism.
Notice that in several of those court cases, terms like ''autistic-like,'' ''features of autism,'' ''PDD or atypical autism,'' and ''autistic disorders'' are used.
Here's a recent case from outside of the US.
Valentino Bocca: MMR vaccine (Italy)
Valentino was never the same child after the jab in his arm. He developed autism and, in a landmark judgment, a judge has ruled that his devastating disability was provoked by the inoculation against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
Judge Lucio Ardigo, awarding compensation to the family, agreed. He said it was 'conclusively established' that Valentino had suffered from an 'autistic disorder associated with medium cognitive delay' and his illness, as Dr Barboni stated, was linked to receiving the jab.
Skeptics will say that none of these cases proves there is a link between vaccinations and autism.
Maybe they don't prove anything. Maybe the definition of ''autism'' is too broad and confusing (after all, the diagnostic criteria specified by the American Psychiatric Association has changed several times). There isn't a blood test '' or any medical test '' that can be used to detect autism spectrum disorders. Diagnosis is challenging.
But it is hard to discount the increasing number of heartbreaking tales of drastic changes (or death) in once-healthy children shortly after receiving vaccinations.
Dr. Jane Orient, the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), said that she believes the science behind vaccination risks is far from settled and that hundreds of parents have reported that their children have had severe deficits after an inoculation.
''We have a lot of observations that are not otherwise explainable,'' said Dr. Orient, an internist. ''I don't think we can dismiss it out of hand.''
The AAPS has called for an end to government-mandated vaccinations in the past:
''Our children face the possibility of death or serious long-term adverse effects from mandated vaccines that aren't necessary or that have very limited benefits,'' said Dr. Orient.
''This is not a vote against vaccines. This resolution only attempts to halt blanket vaccine mandates by government agencies and school districts that give no consideration for the rights of the parents or the individual medical condition of the child.''
''It's obscene to threaten to seize a child just because his parents refuse medical treatment that is obviously unnecessary and perhaps even dangerous,'' said Dr. Orient. ''AAPS believes that parents, with the advice of their doctors, should make decisions about their children's medical care '-- not government bureaucrats.''
You won't hear about most of this via the mainstream media. Could that be because vaccine manufacturers like Merck give money to some news organizations? (One example: Merck sponsors CNN.)
Perhaps parents are a more reliable source of information. After all, don't parents know their children better than anyone else?
Let's look at some video footage of parents speaking about their experiences with vaccines.
This video shows footage of expert and parent testimony during a vaccine hearing in MA:
This is a video of a mom talking about her son's vaccine reaction:
More on vaccine court cases:
Parents are sharing videos of their children's stories of possible vaccine-related disabilities on the YouTube page Hear This Well: Breaking the Silence on Vaccine Violence. To date, 295 personal videos have been submitted to that channel.
Former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete discusses why he believes that vaccines, MMR in particular, could have caused his son R.J.'s autism here: Facing the trauma of autism diagnosis
As I mentioned earlier, most of the controversy surrounding the possible health risks of vaccines centers around autism.
But there are many other possible injuries and conditions that can be caused by vaccines. To see the complete Vaccine Injury Table from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, click here.
Because there is so much discussion about MMR vaccines lately, let's take a look at the vaccine manufacturer's package insert adverse reactions.
MMR II (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus VACCINE LIVE) from Merck:
ADVERSE REACTIONS: The following adverse reactions are listed in decreasing order of severity, without regard to causality, within each body system category and have been reported during clinical trials, with use of the marketed vaccine, or with use of monovalent or bivalent vaccine containing measles, mumps, or rubella:
Body as a Whole Panniculitis; atypical measles; fever; syncope; headache; dizziness; malaise; irritability. Cardiovascular System Vasculitis. Digestive System Pancreatitis; diarrhea; vomiting; parotitis; nausea. 7 Endocrine System Diabetes mellitus. Hemic and Lymphatic System Thrombocytopenia (see WARNINGS, Thrombocytopenia); purpura; regional lymphadenopathy; leukocytosis. Immune System Anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid reactions have been reported as well as related phenomena such as angioneurotic edema (including peripheral or facial edema) and bronchial spasm in individuals with or without an allergic history. Musculoskeletal System Arthritis; arthralgia; myalgia. Arthralgia and/or arthritis (usually transient and rarely chronic), and polyneuritis are features of infection with wild-type rubella and vary in frequency and severity with age and sex, being greatest in adult females and least in prepubertal children. This type of involvement as well as myalgia and paresthesia, have also been reported following administration of MERUVAX II. Chronic arthritis has been associated with wild-type rubella infection and has been related to persistent virus and/or viral antigen isolated from body tissues. Only rarely have vaccine recipients developed chronic joint symptoms. Following vaccination in children, reactions in joints are uncommon and generally of brief duration. In women, incidence rates for arthritis and arthralgia are generally higher than those seen in children (children: 0-3%; women: 12-26%),{17,56,57} and the reactions tend to be more marked and of longer duration. Symptoms may persist for a matter of months or on rare occasions for years. In adolescent girls, the reactions appear to be intermediate in incidence between those seen in children and in adult women. Even in women older than 35 years, these reactions are generally well tolerated and rarely interfere with normal activities. Nervous System Encephalitis; encephalopathy; measles inclusion body encephalitis (MIBE) (see CONTRAINDICATIONS); subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE); Guillain-Barr(C) Syndrome (GBS); acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM); transverse myelitis; febrile convulsions; afebrile convulsions or seizures; ataxia; polyneuritis; polyneuropathy; ocular palsies; paresthesia.
Respiratory System Pneumonia; pneumonitis (see CONTRAINDICATIONS); sore throat; cough; rhinitis. Skin Stevens-Johnson syndrome; erythema multiforme; urticaria; rash; measles-like rash; pruritis. Local reactions including burning/stinging at injection site; wheal and flare; redness (erythema); swelling; induration; tenderness; vesiculation at injection site. Special Senses '-- Ear Nerve deafness; otitis media. Special Senses '-- Eye Retinitis; optic neuritis; papillitis; retrobulbar neuritis; conjunctivitis. Urogenital System Epididymitis; orchitis. Other Death from various, and in some cases unknown, causes has been reported rarely following vaccination with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines; however, a causal relationship has not been established in healthy individuals (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Most vaccine package insert ''adverse reactions'' sections look like that, so for the sake of saving space (and not overwhelming readers), I'll stop here. Package inserts for other vaccines can be found here, for those who are up for some heavy reading.
The CDC's Vaccine Safety page has links to information on each vaccine and their associated risks.
A compilation of 97 research papers that reportedly support the vaccine-autism link can be found here.
And one more item from the AAPS site:
Selected vaccine authorities from CDC, FDA, and manufacturers discuss, in a closed meeting, the possibility of neurodevelopmental disorders resulting from vaccine components.
The CDC published a study in late 2003, repudiating any possible link between thimerosal and developmental problems such as autism, but the CDC did have data supporting such a link which it secretly kept from the public.
Documents released through the Freedom of Information Act detail the transcript of a meeting held in June of 2000 between members of the CDC, the FDA, and representatives from the vaccine industry.
The conference followed a study that showed that mercury in vaccines may have caused neurodevelopmental problems.
To read excerpts from the 260-page transcript, click here.
Unfortunately, there are many more stories and cases like the ones I've covered here.
Many will say that correlation does not equal causation. I'm not denying that, but when we have this many people speaking up about their personal stories, and government-run vaccine courts paying out billions to families, what are we supposed to think?
Could all of these cases be coincidental?
Where do we go from here?
(H/T to D. Seal for video recommendation)
Out There
Obama aide John Podesta says 'biggest failure' was not securing the disclosure of UFO files - The Washington Post
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 03:23
Outgoing Obama counselor John Podesta remains a devoted fan of things extraterrestrial. When Podesta, who was President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, returned to White House duty in late 2013, we wrote that his arrival meant ''the Obama presidential library will be inundated '-- just as the Clinton library in Little Rock has been '-- with Freedom of Information Act requests, such as this one: for 'e-mails to and from John Podesta, containing the words either, X-Files or Area 51.'''
Podesta was a major fan of the ''X-Files'' television show. Our colleague Karen Tumulty asked him in 2007 about the FOIA jam at the library, and Podesta, through a spokesman, replied: ''The truth is out there.'' That's the show's tag­ line.
And, just to make sure the FOIA requesters don't forget, Podesta tweeted Thursday:
Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the ''In the Loop'' column in 1993.
VIDEO-Jack Matlock, Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, on the Situation in Ukraine | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:29
By escheiner | February 12, 2015 6:22pm ET 47 viewsIf the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
Former Ambassador: US Should Not Risk 'Spiraling Confrontation' With Russia Over Ukraine See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/former-ambassador-us-should-not-risk-spiraling-confrontation
VIDEO-Biden Refers to Friend in Iowa as His 'Old Butt Buddy'; Networks Ignore | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:24
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
Speaking at Drake University in Iowa on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden was running through a list of dignitaries that were there for his remarks and referred to former Iowa Democratic Representative Neal Smith as his ''old butt buddy'' and told Smith that ''I miss you man.''
On Thursday night, the major networks ignored the story and didn't even one of its lighthearted news briefs to it (as the networks often do in the second half of their programs).
Bloomberg's With All Due Respect ended its Thursday show by having a laugh over Biden's latest tongue slip with co-host John Heilemann remarking that ''things got awkward when Joe Biden stumbled over his words, because, you know, that's never happened before.''
VIDEO-Retired Lt. Gen.: 'There Should be no Authorization' Without 'Clear, Coherent and Unambiguous Strategy' | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:17
By escheiner | February 13, 2015 3:11pm ET 109 viewsIf the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
Intelligence Expert: 'No Authorization' for Military Force Without 'Clear, Coherent ... Strategy' See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/intelligence-expert-no-authorization-military-force-without-clear-coherent
VIDEO-Terrorist Expert Anticipates Data Will Show a Record 15,000 Terror Attacks Around the Globe in 2014 | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 14:10
By escheiner | February 13, 2015 3:52pm ET 26 viewsIf the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
Terrorism Expert Predicts a Record 15,000 Terror Attacks Around the Globe in 2014 See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/terrorism-expert-predicts-record-15000-terror-attacks-around-globe-2014
VIDEO- Jason Silva On The Singularity - YouTube
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 03:07
VIDEO- Shark Tank - Saturday Night Live - YouTube
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 02:56
VIDEO-Thorning bes¸ger Krudtt¸nden: Jeg er s¥ ked af det | Nyhederne.tv2.dk
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 01:59
Omkring klokken 20 l¸rdag aften begav statsminister Helle Thorning-Schmidt sig mod gerningsstedet for dagens attentatfors¸g p¥ sterbro, hvor en 40-¥rig civil mand mistede livet og tre betjente blev s¥ret.
- Jeg er s¥ ked af det, der er sket. Der er tale om en kynisk voldshandling. Mine tanker g¥r til de p¥r¸rende. Alle politikredse er i h¸jeste beredskab for at p¥gribe gerningsm...ndene, der desv...rre stadig er p¥ fri fod, siger statsminister Helle Thorning-Schmidt om skyderi p¥ sterbro.
L...s ogs¥: Thorning: Alt tyder p¥ terror- N¥r jeg er her, er det for p¥ vegne af danskerne at sige, s¥dan skal Danmark ikke v...re, og det fylder os med afsky.
Tidligere p¥ aftenen havde statsministeren udsendt en pressemeddelelse, hvori hun ogs¥ forklarede, at regeringens Sikkerhedsudvalg kl. 18 har holdt m¸de om sagen, mens er politi i fuldt beredskab over hele landet.
L...s ogs¥: Det ved vi om attentatfors¸get i K¸benhavn
L...s ogs¥: Lige nu: Verdens ¸jne er rettet mod K¸benhavn
VIDEO-Obama Interview with Kara Swisher on Cybersecurity, tech and privacy | Re/code
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 06:35
President Barack Obama took the hot seat with Re/code's Kara Swisher Friday as the two talked about a range of tech-focused topics, including cyber warfare, the White House's relationship with Silicon Valley tech giants and the Apple Watch.
Obama, who was in Silicon Valley to speak at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, met with Swisher* for a one-on-one chat at Stanford University.
Here's the full video of the interview.
* Kara Swisher is married to but separated from Megan Smith, chief technology officer for the Obama Administration. See her ethics statement here.
VIDEO-President Obama Delivers a Statement on ISIL | The White House
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:12
February 11, 2015 | 8:06 | Public Domain
On February 11, 2015, President Obama provided an update on his request of Congress for authorization to use military force against ISIL terrorists.
Download mp4 (297MB) | mp3 (20MB)


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Agenda 21

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