698: Citadels of Censorship

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 53m
February 22nd, 2015
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Executive Producers: Grand Duke of France & Belgium Sir Steven Pelsmaekers, Sir Dwayne Melancon Duke of the Pac NW, Sir Phillip Smith

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Matt (Matthew Elwart) of the Moon, Andrew Martin, Brian Dennison, David Fugazzotto, Ryan (AKA InstaKnightMe), Donald Winkler

Cover Artist: @NealCampbell


Start of Show
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Gruene Texas
Dance Hall
Guadaloupe River
NT Driving Skills
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 02:39
February 19 Come and Taste It at The Grapevine
February 21 & 22 Gruene Market Days in front of Adobe Verde
February 27 The Wood Brothers at Gruene Hall
February 28 The Paul Thorn Band at Gruene Hall
NY Banker- humble salary downplaying=we won't
Magnetic Loop antenna
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Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape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''698, 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.
ISIL now has Microphone flags!
NYTimes: F.B.I. Chief Not Invited to Meeting on Countering Violent Extremism
'‹ISIS 'organ harvesting' must be probed by Security Council '' Iraqi envoy
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:07
Published time: February 18, 2015 05:14Reuters / Stringer
The Islamic State is harvesting human organs to finance its blood-driven caliphate, according to Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, urging its Security Council to investigate the issue.
Envoy Mohamed Alhakim called on the 15-member body to look at allegations of organ removal by the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) as bodies with surgical incisions and missing kidneys were discovered in shallow mass graves.
''We have bodies. Come and examine them,'' the envoy, Mohamed Alhakim, said on Tuesday.
''It is clear they are missing certain parts,'' the diplomat also noted, adding that a dozen doctors were executed in in northern Iraq, after allegedly refusing to harvest organs of the ISIS victims.
The Islamic State is guilty of ''crimes of genocide'' of ethnic groups, Alhakim said.
''These terrorist groups have desecrated all human values. They have committed the most heinous criminal terrorist acts against the Iraqi people whether Shi'ite, Sunni, Christians, Turkmen, Shabak or Yazidis,'' Iraq's UN Ambassador said.
After the testimony, the UN envoy to Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, then briefed the Council saying that there are numerous reports to support the claim of organ harvesting, which the envoy says is done by the caliphate to finance its cause.
''It's very clear that the tactics ISIS is using expand by the day,'' Mladenov said.
''Almost daily terrorist attacks continue to deliberately target all Iraqis, most notably the Shi'ite community, as well as ethnic and religious minorities, across the country,'' he told the Security Council, specifying that at least 790 people were killed in January in Iraq.
''Equally worrying is the increasing number of reports of revenge attacks committed particularly against members of the Sunni community in areas liberated from (Islamic State) control,'' he said.
Looking into the source of ISIS funding, Middle East media outlet, Al-Monitor, claimed that foreign doctors were harvesting organs in Mosul in a report last year based on a medical source.
According to the Iraqi doctor providing the information, otolaryngologist Siruwan al-Mosuli, there had been an ''unusual movement'' in clinics in Mosul, where Arab and foreign surgeons were hired, but ''prohibited from mixing with local doctors.''
The organs, al-Mosuli told Al-Monitor, were coming from kidnapped individuals, or wounded fighters.
''Surgeries take place within a hospital and organs are quickly transported through networks specialized in trafficking human organs,'' the doctor claimed, accusing ''specialized mafia'' of being involved internationally.
Organ harvesting news comes as the Islamic State jihadists burnt 45 people alive near the town al-Baghdadi in Western Iraq. It also comes in the footsteps of the recent beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya and the brutal execution of a Jordanian pilot.
Hollywood Studio Caught Producing ISIS Videos - DrudgeReport
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:18
Shockwaves are being felt all throughout Tinseltown today as federal authorities moved to arrest several who are accused of aiding and abetting a foreign terrorist organization by producing ISIS recruitment videos. It had long been suspected that the ISIS videos were produced from an outside source due to their above average production value, but no one had imagined an American production company could somehow be involved. That changed last night, when authorities moved in and raided Final Solution Productions, a production company off the famous intersection of Sunset and Vine. Authorities did not release the names of those arrested but did say six were arrested at the studio and two more at their homes in coordinated raids. Final Solution Productions is listed as a finishing company on their Web site, and claim to have worked on projects in the live sports commercial world, including for clients such as Pepsi Cola, Anheuser-Busch, and Apple. It is not known at the time of publishing to what extent these companies were themselves involved with Final Solutions, if at all, or what specific role it played in finishing the ads. What is known is that Final Solution Productions was operating under this front while editing and producing the terrorist videos from their Hollywood studio. ''Around 2300 hours last night, in conjunction with Office of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department, officers seized the assets at 42568 Vine St., arresting six individuals,'' said FBI Special Agent Kendrick D. Williams from the LA division. ''Two additional suspected were apprehended at their residence at that same time. All eight are being held as suspects in distributing and creating terrorist propaganda and are awaiting formal charges.''Agent Williams is in charge of the Los Angeles intelligence office, and said agents were tipped off when they intercepted what appeared to be raw video elements being downloaded on computers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. When asked, Mr. Williams would not elaborate how the government intercepted this material, but sources say it was a result of interrogation that first began from captured prisoners in Iraq. One source told us that authorities learned of video elements being sent via encrypted FTP servers to a producer ''somewhere in the United States.'' Tech experts tell us that once a server containing this media could be intercepted, it wouldn't take long for someone with the right resources to be able to track the IP addresses of where it was ultimately being delivered, even if that IP addressed was masked by a torrent system. ''Currently the FBI is investigating all other possible connections that Final Solution Productions may have had in the Hollywood production area,'' said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. ''We do not believe Final Solution Productions acted alone, and are currently investigating its partners.'' For some time, authorities have been worried of so called ''domestic terrorists'' working for ISIS, and consider this a possible lead. Final Solution is believed to have worked with other studios and producers in Hollywood, some who, while not terrorists specifically, saw a profitable business and sought to gain from it. ''It wouldn't be the first time Hollywood has sold itself out for a price,'' said Hollywood insider Hanna Strong. Strong has started the #shameonhollywood tag in part to raise awareness against those in Hollywood willing to sell out America for their own profits. The tag is seen as a public reminder to executives that Americans won't stand for this behavior, and is currently trending. ''Americans need to react to this story so that we don't let a few money hungry people taint Hollywood,'' continued Strong. ''It's up to us as consumers to let the executives know where we stand on terrorism.'' Those arrested include the president of Final Solution Productions, his executive producer, editor, and coordinator. The post Hollywood Studio Caught Producing ISIS Videos appeared first on National Report.
Hollywood Studio Busted Producing ISIS Videos | Truth Uncensored
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:17
Federal authorities arrested several people accused of aiding and abetting a foreign terrorist organization by producing ISIS recruitment videos.
It had long been suspected, and a buzz all over Facebook that the ISIS videos were produced from an outside source due to their above average production quality, but no one had imagined that an American production company could be directly involved.
Drudge Report:
That changed this week when authorities moved in and raided Final Solution Productions, a production company off the famous intersection of Sunset and Vine. Authorities did not release the names of those arrested but did say six were arrested at the studio and two more at their homes in coordinated raids.
Final Solution Productions is listed as a finishing company on their Web site, and claim to have worked on projects in the live sports commercial world, including for clients such as Pepsi Cola, Anheuser-Busch, and Apple. It is not known at the time of publishing to what extent these companies were themselves involved with Final Solutions, if at all, or what specific role it played in finishing the ads.
What is known is that Final Solution Productions was operating under this front while editing and producing the terrorist videos from their Hollywood studio. ''Around 2300 hours last night, in conjunction with Office of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department, officers seized the assets at 42568 Vine St., arresting six individuals,'' said FBI Special Agent Kendrick D. Williams from the LA division. ''Two additional suspected were apprehended at their residence at that same time.
All eight are being held as suspects in distributing and creating terrorist propaganda and are awaiting formal charges.''
Agent Williams is in charge of the Los Angeles intelligence office, and said agents were tipped off when they intercepted what appeared to be raw video elements being downloaded on computers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. When asked, Mr. Williams would not elaborate how the government intercepted this material, but sources say it was a result of interrogation that first began from captured prisoners in Iraq.
Agent Williams is in charge of the Los Angeles intelligence office, and said agents were tipped off when they intercepted what appeared to be raw video elements being downloaded on computers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. When asked, Mr. Williams would not elaborate how the government intercepted this material, but sources say it was a result of interrogation that first began from captured prisoners in Iraq. One source told us that authorities learned of video elements being sent via encrypted FTP servers to a producer ''somewhere in the United States.''
Tech experts tell us that once a server containing this media could be intercepted, it wouldn't take long for someone with the right resources to be able to track the IP addresses of where it was ultimately being delivered, even if that IP addressed was masked by a torrent system. ''Currently the FBI is investigating all other possible connections that Final Solution Productions may have had in the Hollywood production area,'' said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. ''We do not believe Final Solution Productions acted alone, and are currently investigating its partners.''
For some time, authorities have been worried of so called ''domestic terrorists'' working for ISIS, and consider this a possible lead. Final Solution is believed to have worked with other studios and producers in Hollywood,
Final Solution is believed to have worked with other studios and producers in Hollywood, some who, while not terrorists specifically, saw a profitable business and sought to gain from it. ''It wouldn't be the first time Hollywood has sold itself out for a price,'' said Hollywood insider Hanna Strong. Strong has started the #shameonhollywood tag in part to raise awareness against those in Hollywood willing to sell out America for their own profits. The tag is seen as a public reminder to executives that Americans won't stand for this behavior, and is currently trending. ''Americans need to react to this story so that we don't let a few money hungry people taint Hollywood,'' continued Strong. ''It's up to us as consumers to let the executives know where we stand on terrorism.'' Those arrested include the president of Final Solution Productions, his executive producer, editor, and coordinator.
Photo courtesy of Google.com
Top 10 Bogus ISIS Stories | FAIR Blog
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:13
ISIS's violent bona fides are not in doubt to anyone paying attention. They've targeted religious minorities, beheaded aid workers, sold women into sex slavery and have been all-around devastating for those under their rule. But as America debates the possibility of a full-scale ground invasion of ISIS-controlled territory, it's important to note that much of the ISIS threat '-- namely that which targets the West '-- has been habitually overstated by an uncritical media.
In no particular order, here are the ten most bogus ISIS scare stories over the past year:
1. Female genital mutilation edict '' July 2014
Who it fooled: Most major media outlets from Time to Reuters to The Atlantic to the BBC (whose story has since been scrubbed online). Above all, the UN itself.
Why it's bogus: Actual residents of Mosul and regional experts quickly knew it reeked. The story was subsequently discredited by experts and jouranalists and called a hoax soon after.
2. Church-burning in Mosul '' July 2014
Who it fooled:Human Rights Watch, The Atlantic, The Independent, The Times of India
Why it's bogus: An intrepid archaeologist, Sam Hardy, called BS and thanks to the magic of reverse image Google search and some prodding by yours truly, it was eventually retracted by several outlets and never mentioned again.
3. ISIS in Mexico '' October 2014
Who it fooled: Fox News, Judicial Watch, The Inquisitr .
Why it's bogus: Absurd on its face, the story was quickly and roundly debunked.
4. ISIS recruiting emo British teen '' December 2014
Who it fooled: Metro, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph
Why it's bogus: The person who uploaded the picture admitted on Twitter it was a fake. The media subsequently deemed it a "hoax".
5. ISIS Caliphate map '' July 2014
Who it fooled: ABC News, International Business Times, Breitbart
Why it's bogus: The original story from ABC News cited a map that had been floating around the Internet for months. To this day, its one and only source is a tweet from a noted white supremacist website Third Position.
io9.com and others eventually deemed it a hoax.
6. ISIS beheads Christian children '' Aug 2014
Who it fooled: Originally asserted on CNN by self-proclaimed Iraqi-Christian activist Mark Arabo''a grocery story industry lobbyist whose previous media appearance was on a local San Diego news channel to oppose an increase in minimum wage''this story spread among right-wing and Christian media.
Why it's bogus: After a fairly thorough inquiry, snopes eventually determined the claim was "inconclusive," having found no independent evidence it occurred.
7. $425m bank robbery '' June 2014
Who it fooled: The Washington Post, International Business Times, Fox News, Mic, Vocativ
Why it's bogus: The story was based solely on accounts from the former mayor of Mosul and was later found to be uncredible by The Financial Times and, ultimately, US officials themselves.
8. 'Over 100 Americans have joined ISIS' '' October 2014
Who it fooled: NBC News, Washington Post, Al Jazeera
Why it's bogus: After the FBI admitted there were only "about a dozen" Americans fighting alongside jihadists in Syria in September 2014, several media outlets continued to report "over 100," despite the government correcting the record several weeks prior.
9. #AllEyesOnISIS "Twitter storm" '' June 2014
Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, McClatchy
Why it's bogus: Yours truly showed that the "Twitter storm" was simply a reposting of weeks- or months-old tweets by an overzealous ISIS fanboi.
10. ISIS's ebola terror plot '' December 2014
Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, Fox News, Mashable, random right-wing media
Why it's bogus: "Iraqi media" was the only source for the story, and the Iraqi minister of Health quickly debunked it.
Adam Johnson is a freelance journalist; formerly he was a founder of the hardware startup Brightbox. You can follow him on Twitter at @adamjohnsonnyc. A version of this post appeared on his blog Citations Needed (2/20/15).
ISIL is Secret American Army in Middle East '' US Historian / Sputnik International
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:54
The Islamic State is a secret army of the United States and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a leader of the terrorist group, is a close friend of US Senator John McCain, says US historian Webster Tarpley, according to Iranian News Agency IRNA.The author, known for his book ''9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA'', said that all terrorism around the world is created and facilitated by the US government.
These are not Tarpley's first comments in which he blames the United States for creating the Islamic State. Earlier, Press TV had an interview with Tarpley during which he explained his rationale why he thinks the United States was behind the creation of the terrorist group.
Tarpley began by saying that the money that supports the Islamic State and its operations comes from Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East. The main money donor of the Islamic State is allegedly Prince Abdul Rahman al-Faisal, the brother of Saud bin Faisal Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, and Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, the former Saudi Ambassador to the United States. Having said that, Tarpley concludes that if the United States really wanted to get rid of the Islamic State, it would have easily issued an ultimatum to Saudi Arabia and told the Gulf Kingdom to stop sending arms and money to the terrorists in Iraq and Syria.Second, Turkey, a NATO member with a huge army, is right next to the war-town Syria and Iraq, where the jihadists operate. Tarpley asks the important question: why cannot the Turkish Army come into the lawless Syrian and Iraqi territory and simply wipe the jihadists off the face of the Earth in a matter of weeks, especially if the United States and NATO were so keen to destroy the Islamic State?
If the United States actually thought that the Islamic State was a monstrosity that must be destroyed at all cost, Tarpley asks why wouldn't the White House join the government of Bashar Assad in Syria, the legally recognized government and the UN member state, in the fight against the jihadists and crush them once and for all? And also, why did the US troops bomb Syrian units loyal to Assad, once the Syrian army started to defeat the jihadists and push them away? Counterproductive and senseless at best, the secret supporter of the militants at worst, Tarpley says.And lastly, referring to how the jihadist group is using social media and Internet to spread its propaganda and recruit new fighters, Tarpley said there is an interest in not having the Islamic State propaganda shut down online. All major Internet companies are based in the United States and therefore the White House could easily limit, if not close down, the presence of Islamic State on the Internet, if it wanted to.
Although Tarpley's line of thinking might seem a little too provocative to some, the questions that he asks are nonetheless important. There is certainly a connection between the emergence of al-Qaeda and the American involvement in Afghanistan back in the 1980s. And since al-Qaeda was a forefather of the Islamic State, there might be a possibility of a more intimate relationship between the government of the United States and the jihadists, currently cutting people's heads off in Iraq and Syria.
Elahe Izadi
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 05:00
Elahe Izadi is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with experience covering politics and demographics. She currently writes for The Washington Post.
She previously covered Congress for National Journal. Elahe has lived in Central America, worked on a Native American reservation and is fluent in Spanish and Persian.
Elahe is also a stand-up comedian. Sign up here to find out when she's performing next.
Contact: E-mail/ @ElaheIzadi
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From hijab to burqa - a guide to Muslim headwear - Channel 4 News
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 06:16
For some, wearing Muslim headdress is an assertion of religious and cultural identity. For others, it is a symbol of female oppression. Darshna Soni explains the differences between headwear styles.
Within Islam, dress codes are known as hijab, a term which refers to the principle of modesty and which includes behaviour as well as dress, writes Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Darshna Soni.
Although recent controversies have focused on what Muslim women wear, there are also rules for men.
These rules are open to a wide range of interpretations. Some Muslim women believe in covering every part of the body, others do not observe any special dress rules. Here is our quick guide.
HijabThis is the most common type of headscarf worn by Muslim women here in the UK. It is a headscarf that covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear. The scarves come in many different shades and shapes and are often colour co-ordinated with women's outfits.
NiqabThe niqab is a combination of a head covering and scarf that covers all of a woman's face except for her eyes. It usually flows down to the mid-back to cover a woman's hair, and may flow down to the mid-chest in the front. It is most often worn in Arab countries, but an increasing number of Muslim women in the west are choosing to wear it.
Although the majority of scholars agree that hijab is obligatory, only a minority of them say that the niqab is.
BurqaThe terms niqab and burqa are often incorrectly used interchangeably; a niqab covers the face while a burqa covers the whole body from the top of the head to the ground. It is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It covers the entire face, including the eyes (with a mesh cloth to see through) and the body.
ChadorThe chador is a body-length outer garment, usually black in colour, worn mainly by women in Iran. It is not secured at the front by buttons or clasps, so the woman holds it closed
Jilbab/AbayaThese are long, loosely fitted garments worn by Muslim women to cover the shape of their bodies. They are often worn in combination with the hijab or niqab.
The niqab in IslamWithin Islam, there is disagreement about whether the niqab is compulsory, writes Darshna Soni. Ironically, face veiling was practised by many cultures before Islam, and scholars say Muslims adopted the practice to fit in with these societies.Today, the niqab is seen as a symbol of the very opposite, of separation and difference.
There are just two - arguably ambiguous - references in the Koran dealing specifically with women's dress, and this has led to different interpretations.
It was known that the wives of the Prophet Muhammad covered themselves. However, the Koran explicitly states that the wives of the Prophet are held to a difference standard.
Quote from the Koran
O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.
Poland kicks off unprecedented military spending spree - Yahoo News
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 04:06
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Germany Cancels Planned Armored Vehicles' Supplies to Lithuania
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:54
Europe14:41 22.02.2015(updated 15:29 22.02.2015)
A spokesman of the German Ministry of Defense announced that Germany will not supply Lithuania with Boxer armored fighting vehicles as was expected before.
Deliveries of armored transport vehicles from the Bundeswehr or their resale are not expected in the coming years, the spokesman said.Lithuanian authorities sent a request for military equipment supplies to the German Ministry of Defense of Germany in summer of 2014 when they decided to modernize the armed forces of the country.
The cancellation of the weapons supplies means that the German government respects the agreement between NATO and Russia on non-deployment of large military units in Eastern Europe, according to the German newspaper ''Die Welt''. However, spokesman of the CSU political party, Florian Hahn, mentioned that anxiety of the Baltic states with regard to the Ukrainian crisis is justified and that Germany should support its NATO and EU partners in the Baltic region as much as possible.
Deutschland verweigert Panzerlieferung an Litauen - NachrichtenPolitik - Deutschland - DIE WELT
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:54
Von Thorsten Jungholtvor 13 Stunden
Radpanzer des Typs Boxer. Litauen wollte diese Milit¤rfahrzeuge in zweistelliger Zahl aus Deutschland ordernFoto: picture alliance / dpaNato-Partner Litauen f¼rchtet einen russischen Angriff und modernisiert die Streitkr¤fte. Dazu sollte auch Deutschland etwas beitragen. Die Bundesregierung lehnte die Anfrage der Balten ab.
F¼r Adrian Bradshaw ist die Sache klar. Was die Ukraine gerade durchmache, sagte der Vize-Kommandeur der Nato f¼r Europa am Freitag in einer Rede im Londoner Royal United Services Institute, das drohe auch den osteurop¤ischen B¼ndnispartnern. Russland k¶nne zur Nato geh¶rende Gebiete ebenfalls erobern und stelle damit eine "existenzielle Gefahr" dar. In Litauen sieht man das schon l¤nger so. Pr¤sidentin Dalia Grybauskaite stuft Russland als "reale Bedrohung" ihres Landes ein. "T¤gliche Truppenman¶ver" registriere man an der Grenze Litauens zur russischen Exklave Kaliningrad. "Wir wissen, dass wir bereit sein m¼ssen, uns zu verteidigen."
Im Sommer 2014 beschloss der baltische Staat deshalb, seine Streitkr¤fte zu modernisieren. Und dazu soll auch Deutschland etwas beitragen: Radpanzer des Typs Boxer. Um die mit 300 veralteten Transportpanzern des amerikanischen Typs M113 ausgestattete Infanterie m¶glichst schnell mit neuen Fahrzeugen versorgen zu k¶nnen, hatte das EU-Mitglied Litauen dem deutschen Verteidigungsministerium ein sogenanntes "Government to Government"-Gesch¤ft vorgeschlagen.
Vertragspartner der Litauer w¤re dabei die Bundesregierung, nicht die Herstellerfirma des Boxers, das Unternehmen Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. So k¶nnte ein zeitaufwendiges R¼stungsexportverfahren vermieden werden. Nach Informationen der "Welt am Sonntag" geht es um den Kauf einer zweistelligen Zahl von Panzern.
Die Bundesregierung indes lehnte die Anfrage ab. Grunds¤tzlich begr¼Ÿe Deutschland angesichts des gestiegenen Sicherheitsbed¼rfnisses der Nato-Mitgliedsstaaten die Modernisierung der litauischen Streitkr¤fte, sagte ein Sprecher des Verteidigungsministeriums. Er f¼gte jedoch hinzu: "Eine Abgabe von gepanzerten Transportfahrzeugen der Bundeswehr oder der Weiterkauf von Fahrzeugen, die in den n¤chsten Jahren beschafft werden sollen, ist nicht vorgesehen."
F¼hrende Sicherheitspolitiker von Union und SPD kritisierten die Entscheidung der Regierung. "Wir haben ein groŸes Interesse daran, dass die Nato-Partner im Baltikum ihre F¤higkeiten steigern", sagte der verteidigungspolitische Sprecher der SPD, Rainer Arnold.
Wappnen f¼r die Kriege der Zukunft
Ein Fehler ist aufgetreten.Bitte laden Sie das Video neu.Hinweis: Bundesliga-Videos sind auŸerhalb von Deutschland nicht abspielbar.
Welche Gefahren bedrohen Deutschland in Zukunft - und wie reagieren wir darauf? Mit einem "WeiŸbuch" will Verteidigungsministerin von der Leyen das herausfinden. Experten halten wenig von dieser Idee.Quelle: N24
Es sei zwar richtig, dass Deutschland den Nato-Russland-Vertrag einhalte und keine gr¶Ÿeren Truppeneinheiten in Osteuropa stationiere: "Aber unterhalb dieser Schwelle sollten wir alles tun, was unseren Partnern hilft." Der verteidigungspolitische Sprecher der CSU, Florian Hahn, sagte, das Baltikum f¼hle sich von der Ukraine-Krise zu Recht in besonderer Weise bedroht: "In dieser Lage sind wir angehalten, unsere Nato- und EU-Partner im Baltikum so weit wie m¶glich zu unterst¼tzen. Das gilt auch f¼r Beschaffungsvorhaben wie den Transportpanzer Boxer."
Der allradgetriebene Boxer gilt als einer der modernsten Radpanzer der Welt. Er kann f¼r den Transport von Infanterietruppen und als mobiler Gefechtsstand eingesetzt werden, in einer bewaffneten Variante auch als Radsch¼tzenpanzer. Die Bundeswehr hat 272 Fahrzeuge bestellt, weitere 131 sollen noch hinzukommen. Von diesen Panzern k¶nne man keine weiterreichen, heiŸt es nun im Verteidigungsministerium. Aber man versuche, "Litauen im Rahmen unserer M¶glichkeiten zu unterst¼tzen". Erwogen wird beispielsweise Ausbildungshilfe.
Irish Defense Sect. Michael Fallon Pushes Defense Spending On Fake Russian Aggression'...'...As Predicted
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:19
As I predicted on Feb 12 the Irish press has reported fake Russian military aggression near Cornwall UK. This is of course as Ireland's Defense Minister has called for renewed commitment to the NATO 2% of GDP military spending obligation. Russia obliged them by flying bombers near the UK's coast of course. This is all on the heels of the Ukraine ''peace negotiations'' for which everyone signed yet all parties stated they aren't sending weapons into the conflict!
SOURCE: Prepare For More Fake Russian Military Aggression As Ireland's Press Claim They Need New Jets
SEE ALSO: Another Fake Russian '' NATO Military Standoff For The Military Complex
Russian fury at Fallon danger jibeDefence Secretary Michael Fallon said Nato must be ready for Russian aggression in ''whatever form it takes''.
19 February 2015
Russia has reacted with fury after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon warned there was a ''real and present danger'' that Moscow could repeat the tactics used to de-stabilise Ukraine against the Baltic States.
Deputy foreign minister Aleksandr Lukashevich said his words were ''beyond diplomatic ethics'' and warned that the Kremlin would ''find a way to react''.
The furious diplomatic row erupted as the Ministry of Defence disclosed that RAF fighters had again scrambled to intercept long-range Russian bombers off the south coast of England.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Moscow appeared to by trying to make ''some sort of a point'' and that the RAF response showed the UK was well-prepared to react to any Russian incursion.
In his comments to journalists travelling with him to Sierra Leone, Mr Fallon compared the threat from Russian president Vladimir Putin to Islamic State and warned Nato had to be ready to respond to any further aggression ''whatever form it takes''.
In a statement reported by the Russia Today website, Mr Lukashevich said his remarks were ''absolutely unacceptable''.
''His absolutely unacceptable characteristics of the Russian Federation remind me of last year's speech of US president Barack Obama before the UN general assembly, in which he mentioned Russia among the three most serious challenges his country was facing,'' he said.
''I believe we will find a way to react to Mr Secretary's statements.''
The MoD said that Typhoon fighter jets from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire had intercepted two Bear bombers off the Cornish coast yesterday afternoon and escorted them until they left the ''UK area of interest''.
''At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace,'' a spokesman said.
Speaking at an event in Felixstowe, Suffolk, Mr Cameron said the incident underlined the readiness of UK forces.
''I think what this episode demonstrates is that we do have the fast jets, the pilots, the systems, in place to protect the United Kingdom,'' he said.
''I suspect what's happening here is that the Russians are trying to make some sort of a point and I don't think we should dignify it with too much of a response.''
Mr Fallon however warned that tensions with Moscow appeared to be ''warming up'' in the wake of the international stand-off over Ukraine.
The latest incursion by Russian aircraft comes after a Russian warship was intercepted by the Royal Navy close to UK waters and two long-range bombers flew down the English Channel off the coast near Bournemouth.
''It is the first time since the height of the Cold War that has happened and it just shows you the need to respond each time he does something like that,'' Mr Fallon said.
He expressed concern that the Russian leader could now attempt a repeat of the covert campaign used in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine against the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
That could involve irregular troops, cyber attacks and inflaming tensions with ethnic Russian minorities in nations seen as part of the country's ''near abroad'' by Moscow.
''Putin is as great a threat to Europe as Islamic State. We've got to be ready for both,'' he said.
''Nato has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia, whatever form it takes. Nato is getting ready.
''You have tanks and armour rolling across the Ukrainian border and you have an Estonian border guard being captured and not yet still returned.
''When you have jets being flown up the English Channel, when you have submarines in the North Sea, it looks to me like it's warming up.''
Ukip leader Nigel Farage however blamed the desire of Western governments to expand Nato and the European Union for triggering the latest instability.
''I've looked at what Michael Fallon said today. I have to say there's one missing part to everything that is being said and that is, actually, who was it that really started all this?'' he said during a campaign visit in Kent
''I'm not defending Putin's behaviour since, but we still aren't capable of actually admitting that it was us, through expansionism, through wanting Nato and the EU to expand to include the Ukraine, that actually began much of this instability.''
The chairman of the cross-party Defence Select Committee backed Mr Fallon's assessment of the threat posed by Russia and urged the leaders of all main political parties to commit to protect spending on the armed forces.
Rory Stewart said the West was on a political ''razor edge'' over how to respond to Mr Putin, with the risk of inadvertently sparking further conflict on one side and allowing Russian expansionism to go unchecked on the other.
Asked if there was a risk of an unintended escalation in violence, he told BBC Radio 4's World At One: ''I think there is always the risk of that.
''But equally there is a risk that if you do nothing you end up with violence. This is the razor edge which Western policymakers need to walk.
''If they do nothing, Putin '' who is a real opportunist '' will be encouraged to push his luck and see if he can humiliate Nato.
''If, on the other hand, they do too much we could risk provoking an over-reaction.''
Endorsing Mr Fallon's comments, Mr Stewart said: ''There's no doubt at all that probably the most vulnerable part of the Nato alliance at the moment is the Baltic states.''
He urged all parties to write into their manifestos a commitment to spend the 2% of GDP on defence required by Nato to send a message to Mr Putin and prepare to deal with ''hybrid threats'' such as cyber attacks, irregular troops and propaganda.
''Dealing with these hybrid threats requires much more investment in cyber, in strategic communications and intelligence because these aren't conventional threats, they are things that are going to involve people who are special forces operatives or intelligence operatives able to detect these things happening very quickly in the Baltic,'' he said.
'If terrorists take a plane in Irish space, it's game over'February 11, 2015
Two Irish Air Corps Pilatus PC-9 planes at Galway Airport.
By Sean O'Riordan
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.
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Deputy foreign minister Aleksandr Lukashevich said his words were "beyond diplomatic ethics" and warned that the Kremlin would "find a way to react".
The furious diplomatic row erupted as the Ministry of Defence disclosed that RAF fighters had again scrambled to intercept long-range Russian bombers off the south coast of England.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Moscow appeared to by trying to make "some sort of a point" and that the RAF response showed the UK was well-prepared to react to any Russian incursion.
In his comments to journalists travelling with him to Sierra Leone, Mr Fallon compared the threat from Russian president Vladimir Putin to Islamic State and warned Nato had to be ready to respond to any further aggression "whatever form it takes".
In a statement reported by the Russia Today website, Mr Lukashevich said his remarks were "absolutely unacceptable".
"His absolutely unacceptable characteristics of the Russian Federation remind me of last year's speech of US president Barack Obama before the UN general assembly, in which he mentioned Russia among the three most serious challenges his country was facing," he said.
"I believe we will find a way to react to Mr Secretary's statements."
The MoD said that Typhoon fighter jets from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire had intercepted two Bear bombers off the Cornish coast yesterday afternoon and escorted them until they left the "UK area of interest".
"At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace," a spokesman said.
Speaking at an event in Felixstowe, Suffolk, Mr Cameron said the incident underlined the readiness of UK forces.
"I think what this episode demonstrates is that we do have the fast jets, the pilots, the systems, in place to protect the United Kingdom," he said.
"I suspect what's happening here is that the Russians are trying to make some sort of a point and I don't think we should dignify it with too much of a response."
Mr Fallon however warned that tensions with Moscow appeared to be "warming up" in the wake of the international stand-off over Ukraine.
The latest incursion by Russian aircraft comes after a Russian warship was intercepted by the Royal Navy close to UK waters and two long-range bombers flew down the English Channel off the coast near Bournemouth.
"It is the first time since the height of the Cold War that has happened and it just shows you the need to respond each time he does something like that," Mr Fallon said.
He expressed concern that the Russian leader could now attempt a repeat of the covert campaign used in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine against the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
That could involve irregular troops, cyber attacks and inflaming tensions with ethnic Russian minorities in nations seen as part of the country's "near abroad" by Moscow.
"Putin is as great a threat to Europe as Islamic State. We've got to be ready for both," he said.
"Nato has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia, whatever form it takes. Nato is getting ready.
"You have tanks and armour rolling across the Ukrainian border and you have an Estonian border guard being captured and not yet still returned.
"When you have jets being flown up the English Channel, when you have submarines in the North Sea, it looks to me like it's warming up."
Ukip leader Nigel Farage however blamed the desire of Western governments to expand Nato and the European Union for triggering the latest instability.
"I've looked at what Michael Fallon said today. I have to say there's one missing part to everything that is being said and that is, actually, who was it that really started all this?" he said during a campaign visit in Kent
"I'm not defending Putin's behaviour since, but we still aren't capable of actually admitting that it was us, through expansionism, through wanting Nato and the EU to expand to include the Ukraine, that actually began much of this instability."
The chairman of the cross-party Defence Select Committee backed Mr Fallon's assessment of the threat posed by Russia and urged the leaders of all main political parties to commit to protect spending on the armed forces.
Rory Stewart said the West was on a political "razor edge" over how to respond to Mr Putin, with the risk of inadvertently sparking further conflict on one side and allowing Russian expansionism to go unchecked on the other.
Asked if there was a risk of an unintended escalation in violence, he told BBC Radio 4's World At One: "I think there is always the risk of that.
"But equally there is a risk that if you do nothing you end up with violence. This is the razor edge which Western policymakers need to walk.
"If they do nothing, Putin - who is a real opportunist - will be encouraged to push his luck and see if he can humiliate Nato.
"If, on the other hand, they do too much we could risk provoking an over-reaction."
Endorsing Mr Fallon's comments, Mr Stewart said: "There's no doubt at all that probably the most vulnerable part of the Nato alliance at the moment is the Baltic states."
He urged all parties to write into their manifestos a commitment to spend the 2% of GDP on defence required by Nato to send a message to Mr Putin and prepare to deal with "hybrid threats" such as cyber attacks, irregular troops and propaganda.
"Dealing with these hybrid threats requires much more investment in cyber, in strategic communications and intelligence because these aren't conventional threats, they are things that are going to involve people who are special forces operatives or intelligence operatives able to detect these things happening very quickly in the Baltic," he said.
Mr Cameron later spoke to European Council president Donald Tusk by phone about the violence in eastern Ukraine.
The two men discussed how the EU should respond, a Downing Street spokesman said.
He added: " Both expressed deep concern that since the ceasefire, Russian-backed separatists have continued to attack Debaltseve, forcing the Ukrainian army to conduct an orderly withdrawal, and that the separatists have violated the ceasefire in other locations in Donetsk and Luhansk.
"They agreed that the EU should make clear to Russia that the pro-Russian rebels must abide by the ceasefire.
"Mr Tusk said that the EU will be scrutinising the situation on the ground very closely in the coming days and both leaders agreed that European member states would need to review the EU's response accordingly."
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Presidential Memorandum -- Determination and Waiver Pursuant to Section 1209 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:11
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 20, 2015
SUBJECT: Determination and Waiver Pursuant to Section 1209 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 Regarding the Provision of Assistance to Appropriately Vetted Elements of the Syrian Opposition
Pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 1209 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 (Public Law 113-291), I hereby:
-- determine that sections 40 and 40A of the Arms Export Control Act; section 2249a of Title 10, U.S. Code; and Chapter 137 of Title 10, U.S. Code, would impede national security objectives of the United States by prohibiting, restricting, delaying, or otherwise limiting the provision of assistance, including training, equipment, supplies, stipends, construction of training and associated facilities, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals; and
-- waive said provisions of law, to the extent necessary to allow the Department of Defense, with the coordination of the Department of State, to carry out the purposes of section 1209 of the NDAA FY 2015.
You are hereby authorized and directed to report this determination and the accompanying Memorandum of Justification to the Congress and publish the determination in the Federal Register.
BBC News - Ukraine crisis: Moscow rally against 'coup' one year on
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:36
21 February 2015Last updated at 11:56 ET Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Footage shows hundreds of people marching in Moscow, with banners bearing the slogan We Won't Forget!, referring to Ukraine's uprising
A rally has taken place in Moscow to condemn the "coup" in neighbouring Ukraine, a year after the downfall of its pro-Russian president.
Russian state media heavily promoted the rally and march with the slogan "We won't forget! We won't forgive!".
Ukraine's protests ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
Speaking on Russian TV, the ex-leader condemned "lawlessness" in Ukraine, saying the situation there had caused him "very many sleepless nights".
Since Mr Yanukovych's departure, Russia has annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and is accused of backing rebels in eastern Ukraine.
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The BBC's Paul Adams reports from inside Debaltseve, a town in "total shock"
A ceasefire plan agreed this month in Minsk has appeared close to collapse since taking effect just over a week ago.
The Ukrainian government, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels in eastern Ukraine with heavy weapons and soldiers. Independent experts echo that accusation. Moscow denies it, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are "volunteers".
Nearly 5,700 people have died since the fighting erupted last April and some 1.5 million people have fled their homes, according to the UN.
In developments on Saturday:
The rebels announced a prisoner exchange to take place in the Luhansk region under which between 35 and 39 Ukrainian soldiers would be handed over in exchange for 37 people held by the Ukrainian government An adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Poroshenko, Yuri Biriukov, reported on his Facebook page (in Russian) that the Ukrainian death toll in the battle for Debaltseve was possibly 179 with 81 missing - a much higher figure than previously announced Shelling could be heard in the city of Donetsk, the rebels' main stronghold. 'Anti-Maidan'Groups of demonstrators gathered in central Moscow on Saturday under patriotic Russian banners.
Police estimated that about 35,000 people in total took part.
The Moscow event was styled as an "anti-Maidan" march - a reference to Ukraine's pro-EU protests that started on Kiev's central Independence Square, widely known as the Maidan.
The BBC's Sarah Rainsford, at the scene, says the event was highly organised, with flags and banners distributed and buses laid on from some provinces.
The marchers included Cossacks in full uniform and young women in anoraks emblazoned with pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin, she says.
Among those at the rally was Ukrainian rebel politician Oleg Tsarev, who marched alongside the leader of Russia's Night Wolves motorcycle club, Alexander "The Surgeon" Zaldostanov, a prominent Russian nationalist.
One group of marchers in military fatigues could be seen with a placard which read "Maidan is an illness - we're going to cure it!" Another placard read "Maidan benefits the enemies of Russia!"
Our correspondent says many people at the march blame America and Europe for engineering regime change in Ukraine.
They fear Moscow is the next target, and said they were marching to show they will not allow that.
The anti-Yanukovych revolt was triggered by a sudden U-turn that ditched a wide-ranging pact with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia.
Since Mr Yanukovych fled Kiev, the new authorities in Ukraine have issued an arrest warrant for him over the "mass murder of peaceful citizens".
President Poroshenko accused Russia on Friday of direct involvement in the sniper fire that killed dozens of protesters in Kiev on 18-20 February last year.
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What happened in the Maidan?
Speaking at a commemorative gathering in Kiev, he said Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov had organised "groups of foreign snipers". The Russian foreign ministry hit back at the claim, calling it "nonsense".
Mr Poroshenko was speaking just two days after his army retreated from Debaltseve, now in rebel hands.
The rebels took the strategic transport hub in spite of the ceasefire signed on 12 February, arguing the truce did not apply to the flash-point town.
Are you attending the rally in Moscow? Are you in Ukraine and affected by the recent unrest? You can share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk. If you would be happy to speak to a BBC journalist please include a contact telephone number.
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BBC News - Ukraine accuses Russia over Maidan 2014 killings
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:26
20 February 2015Last updated at 16:51 ET Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accused Russia of direct involvement in the sniper fire which killed dozens of protesters in central Kiev a year ago.
He was speaking as the capital marked the first anniversary of the clashes between protesters and police which toppled ex-President Viktor Yanukovych.
A top Kremlin aide, Vladislav Surkov, had organised snipers, he alleged.
The Russian government hit back at the claim, calling it "nonsense".
More than 100 people died in the violence on Kiev's central Independence Square, known as the Maidan, a year ago.
The anti-Yanukovych revolt was called the "EuroMaidan revolution", as huge crowds demanded a pact with the EU.
In a speech at the Maidan on Friday, President Poroshenko condemned the insurgency by pro-Russian rebels in the east.
Earlier, he told Maidan victims' relatives that, according to Ukrainian state security, "the Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov led the organisation of groups of foreign snipers on the Maidan".
The claim was first made by the head of Ukraine's security services on Thursday.
Mr Poroshenko was speaking just two days after his army retreated from the key town of Debaltseve, now in rebel hands.
Rebel advanceUkraine, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence Russia is helping the rebels with heavy weapons and soldiers. Moscow denies this, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are "volunteers".
Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said more than 20 Russian tanks, 10 missile systems and busloads of troops had entered Ukraine in the past 24 hours, heading for Novoazovsk, a rebel-held town on the coast. The report has not been confirmed.
The Maidan ceremony included poetry, a choir singing the national anthem, and a performance of Mozart's Requiem by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine.
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What happened in the Maidan? A look back to the events of 20 February 2014, one the bloodiest days of Ukraine's civil unrest
Mr Yanukovych - a political ally of Moscow - fled into exile in late February 2014, but soon resurfaced in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
He said he had been ousted in an "illegal coup" and lambasted the "fascists" who had taken power in Kiev.
For weeks in the winter of 2013-2014 the Maidan was a vast campsite populated by EuroMaidan protesters, who kept police at bay with barricades and burning tyres.
Most of those killed in the clashes were shot by snipers, and some uniformed police were filmed firing at protesters.
At the scene: Anastasiya Gribanova, BBC News, Kiev
Maidan was a breathtaking scene on Friday night - lit by thousands of candles and covered flowers to honour those who died here last winter.
The crowd chanted "Glory to Ukraine!" and "Glory to heroes!" before falling silent as the orchestra played Mozart's Requiem and projectors rose into the sky from the spots where each protester was killed.
Emotions were high. Many people we talked to couldn't contain their tears as they laid carnations and tulips on makeshift shrines.
"We will never forget these people," said Olena from Kiev. "We will come here every year."
"This is not a celebration. This is a day to remember," said Igor, who was wounded at Maidan last year.
The untold story of the Maidan massacre
Mr Poroshenko said on Friday that phone records obtained by Ukrainian state security showed a direct Russian state role in the shootings. Those records, he said, revealed "conversations between Yanukovych and Russian state security officials.
"They prepared for the shooting together, in advance."
Russia's foreign ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, said Mr Poroshenko had been duped by his security aides.
"Ukraine's investigative and security services have things to be getting on with. But at the moment, instead of carrying out investigations, they're exploiting people's deaths and putting out nonsense worthy only of a mental hospital," he said.
BattlefieldShelling continues to mar a ceasefire for eastern Ukraine signed in Minsk on 12 February.
An intense rebel bombardment forced some 2,500 government troops to retreat from Debaltseve on Wednesday, and dozens of others surrendered.
The village of Chernukhino, near Debaltseve, is now in rebel hands too, according to the Kiev-appointed governor of Luhansk region, Gennadiy Moskal.
US Vice President Joe Biden condemned the rebel offensive on Debaltseve in a phone call with Mr Poroshenko on Friday.
The White House said he also discussed options for "effective monitoring" of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
On Wednesday, President Poroshenko called for UN peacekeepers to be deployed to eastern Ukraine to enforce the ceasefire.
At the scene: Paul Adams, BBC News, Debaltseve
The streets of Debaltseve were mostly quiet and mostly deserted as we entered the city for the first time since intense fighting ended.
Those civilians still holed up in the city, who have been without water, gas and electricity since early January, were slowly emerging from shelters to see what was left of their homes.
But there were more rebels than civilians, with convoys of victorious separatists returning from the recent clashes.
Evidence of the fighting was littered across the roads and we spotted the bodies of two Ukrainian solders that had been lying in the cold for three days.
Poroshenko bruised by army retreat
Russian gay rights story wins World Press Photo contest for Danish photographer: Digital Photography Review
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 04:18
World Press Photo of the Year 2014, First Prize Contemporary Issues. Photo by Mads Nissen, Denmark, Scanpix/Panos Pictures
A photograph that highlights the difficulties facing sexual minorities in Russia has won the World Press Photo contest's top prize. 'Jon and Alex', from a project called 'Homophobia in Russia', shows a 'intimate moment' between a gay couple from St. Petersburg and won Danish photographer Mads Nissen the Contemporary Issues category of the competition, as well as the first prize for a single image, netting him 11,500 Euro and Canon DSLR equipment.
The 2015 contest attracted entries from 5692 photographers representing 131 nationalities, and drew in a total of 97,912 pictures. Once again what constitutes an acceptable degree of digital manipulation has been questioned, with a spokesperson reportedly telling UK photo magazine Amateur Photographer that 22% of the short listed entries were rejected by the jury once original files were called in for checking. The World Press Photo foundation published Integrity of the Image (PDF), a paper dealing with the characteristics of image manipulation and the acceptable boundaries last year, which describes what it considers 'minor/normal/subtle/moderate' and which acknowledges that defining 'excessive' is open to interpretation.
For more information on the winners, the competition and to see a gallery of all the winning entries, visit the World Press Photo website. You can also hear the phone call in which Nissen was told he had won the overall prize.
CNN Applies For Broadcast License To Return To Russia
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:14
An aerial view of Moscow, Russia.
Associated Press
CNN International has applied for a broadcasting license in Russia in a bid to return to the market, which it exited in early 2015.
''We have received an application for a universal broadcasting license in Russia from CNN International,'' Roskomnazor, Russia's communications watchdog, announced, adding that the agency is to consider the application within 30 days but, most likely, a decision will be announced earlier.
Roskomnadzor also said it had nothing to do with the broadcaster's decision to terminate operations in Russia as of Jan. 1, 2015.
CNN announced the move last November, and it was widely believed to be triggered by legislation under which commercials on Russian pay TV were to be banned as of Jan. 1, 2015.
''It was [ÐNN's] decision,'' Alexander Zharov, Roskomnadzor's head, was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency Interfax. ''No one discussed it with us. But we are open for dialogue.''
He added that he saw ''no legislative obstacles'' for CNN International's obtaining a broadcasting license in Russia.
Until this January, CNN operated in Russia without a broadcasting license but faced no problems because of that.
Last month, CNN executives had a meeting with Roskomnadzor officials to discuss the broadcaster's possible return to Russia. No details about the meeting were disclosed.
The law banning commercials on pay TV was recently amended, but it still applies to foreign broadcasters, while local networks are exempt.
IMF aid package pushes Ukraine gas prices up 280% '-- RT Business
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:59
Published time: February 18, 2015 15:31Edited time: February 20, 2015 06:59Reuters / Regis Duvignau
Ukraine has agreed to increase the cost of gas to consumer by 280 percent, and 66 percent for heating, as part of the IMF terms for getting extra financial aid, says Valery Gontareva the head of the National Bank of Ukraine.
"From now on, in accordance with our joint program with the IMF, the tariffs will see rather a sharp increase of 280 percent for gas and about 66 percent for heat," said Gontareva Wednesday during the 11th Dragon Capital investment conference in Kiev. She added that as a result inflation will be 25-26 percent by the end of 2015.
The tariff rises are part of the amendments to the 2015 budget the government has had to introduce in order to receive an $8.5 billion loan from the IMF by the end of the year.
READ MORE: IMF announces new $17.5bn bailout package for Ukraine
The changes will also see Ukraine's budget deficit growing to 4.1 percent of GDP and forecasts a 5.5 percent decline in the Ukrainian economy.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk had warned of future price rises for gas and heating, and stressed the IMF saved Ukraine from default, and now it's time to make moves which should eventually result in Ukraine's complete independence from Russian gas.
The tariff increase was among the subjects Ukraine and the IMF touched upon during negotiations in January. Deputy Chairman of the Ukraine parliament's budget committee Viktor Krivenko said the IMF had requested a sevenfold increase in prices.
The head of IMF Christine Lagarde said on February 12 that the preliminary agreement reached between Kiev and Western creditors envisages increasing the aid package to $40 billion over the next four years.
The program will help Ukraine receive an additional $25 billion in financial aid, of which $17.5 billion will be provided to stabilize the financial situation in the country.
The latest IMF program will replace the $17 billion package agreed in April 2014. Ukraine has already received $4.5 billion under that agreement, thus the total IMF loans to Ukraine since the beginning of the crisis amount to $22 billion.
Ukraine Agrees To Monsanto Land Grab For $17 Billion IMF Loan | Global Research
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:57
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is helping biotech run the latest war in Ukraine. Make no mistake that what is happening in the Ukraine now is deeply tied to the interests of Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and other big players in the poison food game.
Monsanto has an office in Ukraine. While this does not shout 'culpability' from every corner, it is no different than the US military's habit to place bases in places that they want to gain political control. The opening of this office coincided with land grabs with loans from the IMF and World Bank to one of the world's most hated corporations '' all in support of their biotech takeover.
Previously, there was a ban on private sector land ownership in the country '' but it was lifted 'just in time' for Monsanto to have its way with the Ukraine.
In fact, a bit of political maneuvering by the IMF gave the Ukraine a $17 billion loan '' but only if they would open up to biotech farming and the selling of Monsanto's poison crops and chemicals '' destroying a farmland that is one of the most pristine in all of Europe. Farm equipment dealer, Deere, along with seed producers Dupont and Monsanto, will have a heyday.
In the guise of 'aid,' a claim has been made on Ukraine's vast agricultural riches. It is the world's third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat. Ukraine has deep, rich, black soil that can grow almost anything, and its ability to produce high volumes of GM grain is what made biotech come rushing to take it over.
As reported by The Ecologist, according to the Oakland Institute:
''Whereas Ukraine does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: it indicates, among other things, that both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies.
There is no doubt that this provision meets the expectations of the agribusiness industry. As observed by Michael Cox, research director at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, 'Ukraine and, to a wider extent, Eastern Europe, are among the most promising growth markets for farm-equipment giant Deere, as well as seed producers Monsanto and DuPont'.''
The nation WAS Europe's breadbasket '' and now in an act of bio-warfare, it will become the wasteland that many US farmlands have become due to copious amounts of herbicide spraying, the depletion of soil, and the overall disruption of a perfect ecosystem.
The aim of US government entities is to support the takeover of Ukraine for biotech interests (among other strategies involving the prop-up of a failing cabalistic banking system that Russia has also refused with its new alignment with BRICS and its own payment system called SWIFT). This is similar to biotech's desired takeover of Hawaiian islands and land in Africa.
The Ukraine war has many angles that haven't been exposed to the general public '' and you can bet that biotech has their hands in the proverbial corn pie.
Presidential Memorandum -- Delegation of Authority Under the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:21
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 19, 2015
SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Under the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby order as follows:
I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the authority to prepare and submit to the Congress the reports and strategies required by subsections 6(b), 7(d), 9(c), and 10(c) of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-272) (the "Act").
Any reference in this memorandum to the Act shall be deemed to be a reference to any future Act that is the same or substantially the same as such provision.
You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
CIA puppet regime in Kiev close to collapse |
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:22
Yesterday Russia Insider published a lengthy account from the German magazine Der Spiegel of the Minsk negotiations.
This article is a good example of the sort of press Merkel gets in Germany. It portrays her as the heroine of the hour, battling to save peace from the sinister designs of others. The article lavishes praise on her in a way that readers outside Germany might find unsettling. Contrary to what many in the West think, the Russian media never writes about Putin in this way.
The very favourable publicity Merkel gets in Germany is coordinated by her own office. Articles like the one in Der Spiegel are written in close communication with her office. This means that though the article gives a rather one-sided account of the Minsk negotiations, it is nonetheless packed with information if one knows how to read it properly. In the case of this particular piece, we can be certain that Merkel's office was involved since the article actually names it as a source.
The first thing we learn from the text is that what triggered the Minsk process is the disintegration of the Ukrainian economy and especially of the Ukrainian military.
This is exactly what we said when Merkel's and Hollande's trip to Moscow was first announced.
Der Spiegel gives us a summary of a report provided to Merkel by German intelligence that confirms what we previously said, that the Ukrainian army is bleeding to death, and is heading for total collapse:
''According to a report delivered recently to the Chancellery in Berlin by Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, the Ukrainian army is slowly disintegrating, demoralized by the separatist advances and short on personnel.
Even arms deliveries from the West, the BND believes, would be more likely to overwhelm the Ukrainian army than it would to make it a more effective fighting force.''
Der Spiegel also shows that the overriding fact that provoked Merkel to go to Moscow and launch the Minsk process was the encirclement of up to a quarter of the effective combat troops of the Ukrainian army by the rebel militia at Debaltsevo. The article says:
''Debaltseve is a small town in eastern Ukraine, held by 6,000 government troops, or perhaps 8,000. Nobody wants to say for sure. It is the heart of an army that can only put 30,000 soldiers into the field, a weak heart.
Until Sunday of last week, that heart was largely encircled by pro-Russian separatists and the troops could only be supplied by way of highway M03. Then, Monday came.
Separatist fighters began advancing across snowy fields towards the village of Lohvynove, a tiny settlement of 30 houses hugging the M03.
he separatists stormed an army checkpoint and killed a few officers. They then dug in '-- and the heart of the Ukrainian army was surrounded.
The situation in Debaltseve plunged the Ukrainian army into a desperate, almost hopeless, position, as the negotiators in Minsk well knew. Indeed, it was the reason the talks were so urgently necessary.''
Der Spiegel says Merkel launched the peace initiative in order to save what Der Spiegel calls ''the heart of Ukraine's army'' from destruction. Der Spiegel even talks about the Europeans (ie. Merkel and Hollande) trying to ''protect'' the Ukrainian military at Debaltsevo. Der Spiegel's words are:
''The Europeans'...'.... insisted on an immediate cease-fire out of concern for the volatile situation facing the Ukrainian military.
The separatists, not surprisingly, wanted to delay the beginning of the cease-fire for as long as possible so as to give themselves time to completely conquer Debaltseve.
Poroshenko, too, seemed to prefer a delayed cease-fire '-- apparently not fully understanding the situation facing his military. The Europeans were trying to protect the Ukrainians from themselves.''
Secondly, as we have also previously said, Der Spiegel shows this was a Western not a Russian initiative. The Russians did not initiate it. Merkel did. According to Der Spiegel she first floated the idea at the end of January when she was dining at a restaurant in Strasbourg with Hollande and European Parliament President Martin Schultz.
This is the key to understanding what happened in Minsk. Because it is difficult for some in the West to acknowledge that the initiative was launched by Merkel because of the critical condition the Ukrainians are in and that this forced Merkel to make major concessions to Putin in Minsk, parts of the Western media are trying to deny the fact.
An article by Niall Ferguson in the Financial Times says it was Putin who invited Merkel and Hollande to Moscow in order to divide the West and prevent the US sending arms to Kiev. An editorial in the London Times says the same thing. Der Spiegel shows this is untrue.
Thirdly, as we have also said, the initiative was Merkel's not Hollande's. Hollande was brought along purely to give Merkel diplomatic cover. Der Spiegel does not openly say so, but a German Chancellor cannot afford to be seen cutting unilateral deals at the expense of other European states with the Russians in Moscow, as Ribbentrop and Molotov once did. This explains the following words in the Der Spiegel article, which Der Spiegel explicitly says originate with Merkel's office:
''The Chancellery has continued to insist that a modern-day Yalta conference '-- whereby Ukraine is divided up between Russia and the West '-- is not in the cards.
And it was conspicuous that Merkel's file folder that she had with her during the negotiations didn't contain a single map.
The chancellor, Berlin officials say, is uninterested in taking part in negotiations over the precise route of the demarcation line between the separatist areas and those areas under Kiev's control.''
This nervousness about appearing to cut unilateral deals with the Russians also explains why Der Spiegel focuses almost entirely on the negotiations in Minsk and almost entirely ignores the far more important negotiations that happened a few days before in Moscow, at which the Ukrainians were not present.
It was almost certainly in the talks with Putin in Moscow, where the Ukrainians were not present, that the broad outline of what was formally decided in Minsk was actually agreed. Merkel then flew to Washington to brief Obama and obtain his consent. Poroshenko was then presented in Minsk with what had previously been agreed, leaving him scope only to quibble over the technical details in a way that it is in Merkel's interests to highlight (see below).
Der Spiegel also provides what is probably a fair account of the US view of the negotiations.
I have already explained why the US idea of providing arms to Ukraine is a really bad idea, failing to change the situation on the ground in Kiev's favour whilst committing the US to send military advisers to Kiev in a way that would be seen as a commitment to Kiev by the US that would turn the Ukrainian conflict into a US-Russian proxy war.
The Der Spiegel article shows that this is very much the German view and that Obama privately shares it. As Der Spiegel puts it:
'''...'...the Ukrainians are currently unable to operate such high-tech equipment. They would have to receive extensive training from American advisers. That, though, would essentially make the US a party to the conflict, as Obama well knows'.....''
The Der Spiegel article shows that this is also the Russian view. More interestingly, it also shows that far from being scared by the threat of US weapons being sent to Kiev, some Russian officials actually relish the prospect because of the political and military advantages it would give them. In Der Spiegel's words:
''American weapons deliveries'...'....don't impress Putin one bit. On the contrary: Were US weapons and military trainers to turn up in Ukraine, the Russian people, 85 percent of whom already support Putin, would unanimously stand behind their president, one Kremlin insider, who does not belong to the hawkish camp, says. ''Plus, we would be happy to see American weapons quickly fall into the hands of the separatists as captured loot.''''
The Der Spiegel article admits the Russians entered the negotiations from a position of strength. This again is what we have been saying all along. We have repeatedly said that in the Ukrainian conflict it is Russia that holds all the cards. On the eve of the Minsk negotiations this has become obvious and was the reason why Merkel launched the peace initiative in the first place. As Der Spiegel says:
''The Russians took a tough line. They saw themselves as being in a position of strength, partly because of the situation in Debaltseve.''
Der Spiegel claims Merkel was able to extract one concession from Putin. Der Spiegel claims Putin agreed the forthcoming elections in the rebel regions will be limited to areas the rebel militia was to control in accordance with a ceasefire line agreed on 19th September 2014, and would not take place in territories the rebel militia has captured since the failure of the Ukrainian government's offensive in January.
If Der Spiegel is right about this then this must have been agreed verbally because there is nothing in the text of the agreements that came out of Minsk that refers to it. Der Spiegel probably is right, because as the remainder of the article shows a great deal more was agreed verbally by Putin and Merkel than appears in writing.
In every other respect it was the Russians who got what they wanted and who basically dictated the terms.
The Minsk agreements make no mention of Crimea, implicitly confirming that Merkel now accepts it as Russian and that for Ukraine it is irretrievably lost.
Ukraine is obliged to pass a law before the end of March granting the rebel regions in the Donbass special status within Ukraine. Ukraine is obliged to enact a new Constitution before the end of the year. As I have previously said, this provides a time line for the settlement of the conflict that did not exist previously.
Far more importantly, Der Spiegel says that Ukraine is obliged to agree with the rebels the terms of the new law for the special status of their regions within Ukraine and is also obliged to agree the provisions of the new Constitution with them as well.
Der Spiegel chalks it up as a ''success'' for Poroshenko that he refused to talk to the rebel leaders directly. If however Der Spiegel is right and Poroshenko and the Ukrainian government are now required to agree with the rebels the terms of the law on the special status of their regions and the terms of the new Constitution, then this ''success'' looks extremely hollow.
Even more importantly, Der Spiegel says the two rebel regions are to have a veto over Ukraine's future political orientation, including its joining either NATO or the EU. In Der Spiegel's words:
''Russia has likely already achieved its minimum goal, that of preventing Ukraine from joining NATO or the European Union.
The deal agreed to in Minsk includes a kind of veto right for separatist areas in eastern Ukraine on important fundamental issues.
That right would apply to membership in military alliances and to membership in economic blocks such as the EU or Putin's Eurasian Economic Union''.
These provisions do not appear in writing in the Minsk agreements. If they exist (which, given that the Der Spiegel article is sourced from Merkel's office, they surely do) they must have been agreed verbally by Putin and Merkel, almost certainly during the talks in Moscow that preceded the ones in Minsk.
There would have been no point in asking Poroshenko to sign a document that contained these provisions since for political reasons he could never have signed it. However the Russians have obtained confirmation in writing that they may control Ukraine's border until the new Constitution is agreed. This gives them a powerful tool which they can use to enforce the terms they dictated in Moscow and Minsk, even those that were only agreed verbally with Merkel, if or rather when the Ukrainians try to back out of them.
The talks in Moscow and Minsk also show that Merkel now accepts the reality the two rebel regions in the Donbass cannot be brought back under Kiev's control.
Merkel has agreed a ceasefire line that gives the rebels control of the territory they captured following the failure of the government offensive in January. By doing so Merkel has implicitly accepted the political reality of what lies beyond the ceasefire line: the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.
Der Spiegel says this quite explicitly:
'''...'...it has become clear that the West is willing to accept Ukraine's partition. Ukraine hasn't just lost the Crimean Peninsula, it has now also lost territories in the east.''
Der Spiegel gives a detailed account of the various technical discussions concerning the proposed ceasefire.
Here again it is clear the Russians got everything they wanted.
The new ceasefire line cedes the rebels the territory they have captured since January.
The agreement for the withdrawal of heavy weapons behind respective buffer zones, if implemented, would give local superiority to the rebel militia on the front line by depriving the Ukrainian army of the heavy weapons and artillery it has used to counter them. It would also prevent the shelling by the Ukrainian army of rebel controlled population centres such as Donetsk, Lugansk and Gorlovka.
A disproportionate amount of attention is being given to these technical ceasefire provisions, which as we have discussed previously, will almost certainly never be fully implemented. The far more important political agreements '' discussed above '' have gone unnoticed.
This is because of the secrecy of this process.
We previously discussed how the absence of French and German officials from the negotiations in Moscow was intended to prevent leaks and keep the negotiations private.
From the account Der Spiegel has provided, it appears that the most important agreements made in Moscow and Minsk were verbal, which is another way of keeping them private (though stenographic records and recordings of the conversations that set out these agreements certainly exist).
It is not difficult to understand the reasons for all this secrecy.
Der Spiegel calls the Minsk agreements a success for Merkel. It is difficult to see why. If implemented they mean the end of the West's and the EU's Ukraine project.
The whole purpose of the EU association agreement that began the crisis was to make Ukraine a part of the European Single Market with the ultimate aim of integrating Ukraine with the EU. That would have pulled Ukraine away from Russia.
If the agreements reached in Moscow and Minsk are fully implemented and the rebel regions are granted special status and autonomy within Ukraine, preserving their economic links with Russia, and have a right of veto over Ukraine ever joining the EU, then that objective can never be achieved.
The EuroMaidan ''revolution'', so determinedly supported by the West, will have lost its point and will have failed.
Der Spiegel even explains how Merkel is using the debates about the technical issues to create confusion so as to hide her retreat on the key political issues:
'''.....she has divided up the conflict into a multitude of technical details, with each appearing grotesquely minimal in comparison with what could ultimately happen. ''Where there is a complete lack of trust, you can fight to the death about anything,'' one of her advisors said during the US trip. Merkel's answer is: Then you have to find a solution to each point of conflict, one after the other.''
Der Spiegel justifies Merkel's retreat by invoking Realpolitik. A surprisingly large part of the article is devoted to what almost reads like a lecture on the subject. It can all be summed up by just one paragraph:
''Realpolitik focuses on power and powerlessness. It's about realizing what you can achieve with what means and when it might be smarter to admit your own lack of power. Realpolitik has no illusions, it is bitter and, sometimes, it is brutal.''
Lest there be any doubt that this originates with Merkel herself, the article pointedly refers to her speech at the Munich Security Conference, which as it points out Poroshenko listened to in silence.
For fairly obvious reasons, Realpolitik '' with its admission of powerlessness '' is almost the last justification any Western politician wants to invoke. When a Western politician is forced to invoke Realpolitik to justify a policy, it is an almost certain sign of failure.
The Minsk agreements, both those made in writing and the far more important ones that appear to have been made verbally, do in fact represent the failure of Merkel's earlier policy.
As we have discussed previously, Merkel failed to recognise the Ukrainian conflict as a civil war and treated it instead as a case of Russian ''aggression'' against Ukraine, which she thought she could reverse by imposing sanctions on Russia.
The Der Spiegel article shows that Merkel still sees the conflict as a case of ''aggression'' by Russia. However her bruising encounters with Putin in Milan and Brisbane showed her that Russia would not change its policy.
When it became clear in January that the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian economy were facing disaster, she had no option but to reverse course.
The result is the peace initiative that has resulted in the agreements that were reached in Minsk, which she is now trying to justify by invoking Realpolitik.
Does this however mean that the Ukrainian conflict is coming to an end?
The short answer unfortunately is almost certainly no.
Though it does appear that Putin and Merkel have finally reached an understanding, it is far from certain that they can impose it on the two sides so as to end the war. What happened in Minsk shows why.
Der Spiegel says that on one occasion Putin had to put pressure on the rebel leaders to get them to sign the final agreement (known as the Minsk Memorandum) that came out of the negotiation. The Russians have in fact repeatedly shown that they are prepared to put pressure on the rebels to get them to agree to what they want.
Merkel however is still not able or willing to put analogous pressure on the Ukrainian government.
Not only did Poroshenko refuse to meet the rebel leaders or agree to any reference to federalisation in any document, calling the prospect of future negotiations between the Ukrainian government and the rebel regions into question, but amazingly he even refused to admit that a quarter of his army had been encircled in Debaltsevo.
The result is that no agreement was reached about the situation in Debaltsevo, putting the Ukrainian troops there in an impossible position.
The Ukrainian military refuses to withdraw from Debaltsevo. It cannot remove its heavy weapons from Debaltsevo (as under the Minsk agreements it is obliged to do). Were it to do so they would have to be transported across rebel controlled territory, which could only be done with the consent of the rebels. The removal of the heavy weapons would leave the Ukrainian troops in Debaltsevo unarmed and defenceless.
The rebels therefore have sufficient cause to keep up their attack on Debaltsevo because the Ukrainians are not abiding by the Minsk Memorandum by keeping their heavy weapons and staying there. Since the Ukrainian troops in Debaltsevo are surrounded, their position is militarily untenable and will inevitably collapse.
Poroshenko's refusal to acknowledge reality in Debaltsevo has therefore doomed the Ukrainian troops there. Cut off from relief or re-supply, unable to retreat or give up their weapons and unable to defend themselves effectively, they have been left with no choice but to surrender or die.
Der Spiegel tells us Merkel launched her peace initiative to save the Ukrainian troops in Debaltsevo. Given that this is so, the logical course was for her to take Poroshenko aside, tell him to face reality and warn him that continued Western support was conditional on his doing so. The obligation she took on herself on behalf of the Ukrainian troops in Debaltsevo demanded no less.
Der Spiegel contains no hint that Merkel ever did any such thing even though saving the Ukrainian troops in Debaltsevo was the ostensible purpose of the peace mission. Instead Der Spiegel gives us weak comments such as this
''The world must hope that the government troops trapped in Debaltseve really do lay down their weapons and don't try to fight their way free.''
and this (with specific reference to Debaltsevo)
''The Europeans were trying to protect the Ukrainians from themselves''.
To which all one can say is that it is an astonishing abdication when hope takes the place of policy and that the Europeans are not ''protecting the Ukrainians from themselves'' if they cannot face the Ukrainians with the truth.
The overall conclusion therefore continues to be that the Minsk agreements will not end the Ukrainian conflict. As I have recently discussed, the Ukrainian government has never abided by a single agreement it has made and it will certainly not abide by agreements made verbally and to which it is not a party. Judging by her behaviour over Debaltsevo, it seems that Merkel is still unable or unwilling to exert the necessary pressure on them to do so. The probability, bordering on certainty, is therefore that the conflict will continue.
Minsk does nonetheless represent a watershed.
Germany now recognises that the political objectives the West set itself in Ukraine cannot be achieved and is now looking for ways to limit the damage and to extricate itself from what increasingly looks like a debacle. I say Germany rather than Merkel, since it is clear Merkel has a consensus in Germany behind her.
Germany is not the West. There remain powerful forces in the US and elsewhere still intent on confrontation and escalation. However no one reading the big Western newspapers over the last few weeks can fail to notice the growing sense of weariness and defeat there is about this conflict.
The conflict in Ukraine itself will grind on, probably until the government currently in power in Kiev falls, which will surely happen sooner or later. However, as a crisis in international relations, following the talks in Moscow and Minsk, it appears its peak has passed.
http://russia-insider.com/en/ opinion/2015/02/18/3599
The World Tilts Toward Russia
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:17
Russia Articles, Putin Articles
B/C 300
The World Tilts Toward RussiaBy Brother Nathanael KapnerFebruary 21, 2015(C)
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Or Send Your Contribution To:The Brother Nathanael Foundation, PO Box 1242, Frisco CO 80443E-mail: brothernathanaelfoundation@yahoo.com___________________________________
IT'S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME before a new world order alights upon the geopolitical landscape of the ever-changing global construction.And Russia, extending a hand of friendship, is poised to take the spoils of countries whose hatred of America'--once admired and courted'--has reached a tipping point.
The myth of an ''isolated'' Russia as promulgated by the Jews who rule America is not only ignored by prominent world leaders but is contradicted by their actions.
Whether it's Al-Sisi of Egypt; Xi Jinping of China; Viktor Orban of Hungary; Le Pen of France; Rouhani of Iran; Erdogan of Turkey; Maduro of Venezuela; or Modi of India, a tilting away from Jewmerica to a new orbit of locomotion is in progress.
What do all these leaders have in common?
They affirm traditional pillars of stable society and reject the Jew-implemented destabilizing practice of homosexuality. Putin will have none of it nor the greater part of the ''international community.''
Not only are acts of world leaders disproving Jewmerica's ''isolation'' of Russia, but events in strategic areas show a pulling away from America.
Noteworthy is the recent Houthi takeover of Yemen.
With a regional Axis of Resistancealliance with Iran and Hezbollah, the Houthis ousted the corrupt pro-US government which was supported militarily by the Jew-allied Saudis.
''Death to Israel!'' is reportedly one of the Houthis' rallying cries.
The former government maintains minimal territory and 'Al-Qaeda' controls some portions.
But Houthi control of the eastern side of the Bab El Mandeb Strait''the southern gate of the Red Sea and the strategic and economic link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean''moves Yemen into the Iranian sphere of influence.
Israeli subs and maritime shipping freely navigate through the Bab El Mandeb Strait en route to the Persian Gulf from the Mediterranean'...as well as the vast majority of NATO naval forces heading to various parts East, especially US naval bases in the Indian Ocean.
THUS THREE IMPORTANT maritime choke points in the Middle East: Suez, Bab El Mandeb, and Hormuz are increasingly coming under the Russian sphere of influence via these regional powers. View Houthi RealmHere.
Suez is in the hands of the Egyptians, which just brokered a multi-leveltrade deal with Russia; Bab El Mandeb on the eastern side is in the hands of pro-Iranian Yemenis, while the Strait of Hormuz is dominated by Iran, an ally of Russia.
Concurrently, Egypt is acting as middleman for a Russian arms deal with the Libyan army.
Is the world tilting toward Russia and re-balancing itself as a ''multi-polar'' world? Yup.
And the Jews are gnashing their teeth.
Behind the Putin Invite to Kim Jong-un
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:02
Russian President Vladimir Putin raised many eyebrows in the west recently by confirming that he had invited the pariah North Korean Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, to come to Russia in May. Some saw this as a measure of the degree of desperation of Russia as US and EU economic sanctions take their toll. Far from a signal of desperation, however, it looks to this observer as a very shrewd move that could rob Washington of one of their favorite weapons.
As we noted in an earlier article, ''Why Now North Korea?,'' the rush by the Obama Administration to put new sanctions on North Korea on unproven allegations she was behind recent hacker attacks on Sony Pictures, a Japanese-owned company, stinks of a false flag operation by the usual suspects'--the neo-conservative warhawks increasingly dominating Obama Administration policy since the 2012 war against Qaddafi's Libya. I believe that there are very different reasons behind the rush to punish North Korea.
In a private discussion over dinner at the World Economic Forum at Davos Switzerland back in the 1990's, where I was present as a free-lance journalist, I had occasion to have a fascinating talk with the late James R. Lilley about world events. He was at Davos, as he privately confided, to ''baby sit'' a delegation of generals from China's Peoples' Liberation Army. The year was 1998 as I recall and China's leaders were being wooed by the West.
Over a glass of fine Swiss wine, we talked about China and Asian politics. Perhaps because he was enjoying what he said was a very informed discussion of world politics, he never got around to asking more about who I was. I was fine with that. The talk came to North Korea which then was subject of much consternation over its nuclear weapons program. At one point Lilley blurted a profoundly useful piece of intelligence. He said to me, ''If North Korea did not exist, we would have to create it to give us the excuse to keep our Seventh Fleet in Japan after the end of the Cold War.''
Lilley was no novice to the games of US geopolitics. He, like his old friend George H.W. Bush, had been a member of the Skull & Bones secret society at Yale University. He was fluent in Mandarin having been born to missionary parents in Shanghai, China. He served in the CIA as leading China expert for 30 years and later became US Ambassador to Beijing during the (US-orchestrated) Tiananmen Square student protests of 1989. Lilley knew what Washington Asia politics were.
So with that insider comment in mind, let's look at what could possibly be behind the sudden demonization, yet again, of North Korea.
Putin's invitation and pipeline geopolitics
In terms of foreign policy political and diplomatic initiatives, Russia's Vladimir Putin in recent months has been anything but isolated as Washington's neo-cons would have hoped. He has made brilliant strategic energy deals with China, with India, economic deals with Brazil, with the BRICS states, created the new Eurasian Economic Union with Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia'--the union Ukraine would have joined had the US not stated its violent February 2014 coup in Kiev.
On December 19, a Kremlin spokesman confirmed that President Putin had invited North Korea's 32-year old Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un (I guess of Washington can have a Supreme Allied Commander of Europe NATO, they call have their Supreme Leader). Kim has been invited to attend the especially symbolic 70th anniversary celebration of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9 this year.
Few Americans were ever told by their government or mainstream media that Washington largely owes the then-Soviet Union, which lost at least 26 million of its citizens in World War II, a debt of gratitude for the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. The history of wars is, as Churchill said, written by the victors.
At first glance it might seem Putin is dragging the bottom of the geopolitical barrel, extending an open hand to the world's second most demonized current leader after Putin himself. It would also be Kim's first visit outside his country since assuming the Supreme Leader mantle in 2011.
There are very real economic reasons, however, behind Putin's open hand. Russia would like to bring a new gas pipeline to deliver Russian gas to South Korea. The best way to do that would be via North Korea.
The recent overture to North Korea is no knee-jerk panic move by Russia. It is a carefully-planned part of Putin's ''Eurasian Pivot,'' Russia's strategic reorientation of its trade and economic and political ties from the fruitless western attempts that only bring wars and sanctions from Washington and Brussels, to the Eurasian heartland, the one geopolitical surface of our Earth capable of creating a genuine counterpole to the declining Sole Superpower. Last April, the Russian Duma and Putin approved the cancellation of a significant $10 billion of North Korea's Soviet-era debt. Have you ever heard of a case of the US Treasury writing off anyone's debts?
That represented a write off of some 90% with a remaining $1.09 billion to be repaid during the next 20 years, in equal instalments every six months. The outstanding debt owed by North Korea will be managed by Russia's state development bank, Vnesheconombank. Russia announced that the money could be used to fund mutual projects in North Korea, including a proposed gas pipeline and a railway to South Korea.
Russian nuclear diplomacy
There is another element to the recent warming between Russia and North Korea. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last April North Korea is ready to resume stalled international talks on its nuclear program. North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the U.S. began talks in 2003 to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, but they were suspended after Pyongyang tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.
Then on January 1, Kim Jong-un announced that he was open to ''highest level talks'' with South Korea. In his New Year state TV broadcast, Kim stated, ''We should write a new history in North-South ties. There is no reason not to hold the highest-level talks.'' It was a reply to an offer several days earlier from South Korea's minister in charge of inter-Korean affairs Ryoo Kihl-Jae, who proposed January as a tentative date. The last North-South talks had been in February 2014. Curiously, each time in recent years when relations seem to hint of some rapprochement, some bizarre ''event'' always intervenes to block it. Perhaps the ghost of James Lilley?
Russia as Korean peacemaker?
Interesting in this context is a recent paper by Saker contributor, Larchmonter 445, The Double Helix: China-Russia, noting that there were recent highest level talks in Beijing between Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. That was after Shoigu met with his counterparts in the military and defense ministry of China. The paper posits, ''Imagine if General Shoigu and Premier Li Keqiang were discussing North Korea. Background: Putin has been reaching out to Glorious Leader Kim's regime, and we know the deal Putin would want to get done with Pyongyang's regime: Give up the nukes, and the Double Helix will protect you'...'' China and Russia's nuclear umbrella would obviate the need for the North Korean nuclear arsenal.
That would indeed be a game-changer, one that the Washington warhawks would view with apoplexy. James Lilley would no doubt turn in his grave. As Larchmonter put it,
Russia could be seen as even larger than largest geographically. Her pipelines, highways, airports, seaports and weapons systems would be connecting and protecting nations from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean, as well as from the Eastern Europe borders to the Kurill Islands and Vladivostok, touching China for border crossings at Zabikalsk-Manzhouli and Pogranichy-Suifenhe in Heilongjiang Province along the Black Dragon/Amur River.
Russia and China are the founders of the Eurasian Economic Marketplace of 3.5 billion (half the world). It has a thirty-year initial mission. And during those thirty years they will have built the New Silk Road, the Maritime Silk Road, the Eurasian Economic Belt, and lifted Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Stans of Central Asia, Mongolia, the Southeast Asian nations and probably, fixed parts of Ukraine, and parts of Eastern Europe, some southern European nations and, maybe, some North African nations.
Would that not be a more intelligent and human alternative to the neo-cons and their endless wars, economic depressions, deindustrialization so that the 0.1% of the ultra-rich can enjoy unprecedented power at the expense of us all?
Indeed something very big is underway involving China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea. It is not a new Korean War, that's clear. This is the best explanation I can see for the Obama Administration's renewed sudden demonization of North Korea using the flimsy Sony Pictures hack as pretext.
The new Korean sanctions and demonization are a desperate move by an increasingly desperate cabal that hijacked what was left of US Constitutional democracy after September 11, 2001 when George W. Bush convinced a terrorized US Congress to annul the Bill of Rights with the Patriot Act and other de facto fascist police-state measures in the name of Bush's Holy Crusade against ''terror.'' It looks like 2015 will be a fascinating chapter in world development, perhaps even toward a more harmonic way for human beings to live together without thinking of more ingenious ways to kill and exterminate each other in the name of something no one really understands in the present moral confusion.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
BBC News - Greece debt deal: Reforms will 'combat tax evasion'
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:49
22 February 2015Last updated at 07:48 ET Greece will crack down on tax evasion and streamline its civil service in its bid to secure a bailout extension, minister of state Nikos Pappas says.
The government is working on a package of reforms that it must submit to international creditors on Monday.
If the reforms are approved, Greece will be granted a vital four-month extension on its debt repayments.
Mr Pappas said the reforms being proposed would take the Greek economy "out of sedation".
"We are compiling a list of measures to make the Greek civil service more effective and to combat tax evasion," he told Greece's Mega Channel.
He added that talks this week would be "a daily battle... every centimetre of ground must be won with effort".
The agreement reached on Friday with European finance ministers extends Greece's financial rescue programme by four months - but creditors gave Athens till Monday to come up with a list of reforms.
The reforms must then be approved before eurozone members ratify a bailout extension on Tuesday.
Many analysts have described Friday's agreement as a climb down. On Saturday, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras said in a televised address that his government had "won a battle, not the war".
If the reforms are approved and the deal stands, the immediate risk of Greece running out of money would be removed, giving the country time to negotiate further to change the terms of the bailout.
Greek economy in numbers Unemployment is at 25%, with youth unemployment almost 50% (corresponding eurozone averages: 11.4% and 23%) Economy has shrunk by 25% since the start of the eurozone crisis Country's debt is 175% of GDP Borrowed '‚¬240bn (£188bn) from the EU, the ECB and the IMF Greek crisis deepens amid EU tension
Greece bailout talks explained in 60 seconds
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has said he would work night and day to devise the reforms.
"If the list of reforms is not agreed, this agreement is dead," he said.
The new Greek government was elected by promising to reverse austerity.
It says the conditions imposed on the country by its lenders have had a devastating effect on the economy.
Greece borrowed '‚¬240bn (£188bn) from the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, on the condition that it cut spending and raised taxes to reduce its debt levels.
The economy is now 25% smaller than it was at the start of the financial crisis, with youth unemployment standing at almost 50%.
Flash - Poverty in Germany hits post-reunification high: study - France 24
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 05:20
Latest update : 19/02/2015
(C) DPA/AFP/File | A homeless man lies in a pedestrian zone of Dortmund, Germany, on October 25, 2013BERLIN (AFP) - Poverty in Germany has risen to its highest level since reunification in 1990, with the gap between rich and poor in Europe's top economy getting wider, a study said Thursday.
Some 12.5 million people were classed as poor in 2013, up from 12.1 million a year earlier in the country of about 80 million, the report by Germany's equal welfare association said.
"Poverty in Germany has never been so high and regional fragmentation never so deep as today," said the head of the umbrella organisation, Ulrich Schneider.
Despite the country's robust export-driven economy, Schneider voiced concern that the "gap between rich and poor states in Germany is becoming bigger and bigger".
The study said the northern regions of Berlin, Bremen and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were worst affected, while the south's Bavaria and Baden Wuerttemberg were the best off.
It used a definition based on a person's income being less than 60 percent of the average income, also taking into account household size.
The unemployed and single parents are most at risk, the study highlighted, pointing to more than 40 percent of single parents and almost 60 percent of jobless people in Germany being classed as poor.
And the study warned that the fastest increase of poverty since 2006 had been among pensioners.
Schneider bemoaned a "complete decoupling" between the rise of poverty and Germany's economic development.
Germany has shrugged off turbulence from the eurozone crisis and global tensions such as over Ukraine to continue to post overall growth in recent years and enjoys one of the eurozone's lowest unemployment rates.
The association, known in Germany as the Paritaetischer Wohlfahrtsverband, called for a raise in the basic rate of unemployment benefits as well as support programmes for the long-term unemployed and single mothers.
(C) 2015 AFP
Greek bailout: Germany claims victory as Greece agrees four-month bailout extension
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 14:56
At best, this is a band-aid on a 5 inch laceration wound for the Greeks and the situation as a whole. As the article states, the leaders of Greece did a complete 180 on their promises to the Greek people and they now have a little explaining to do. At the end of the day, and as inconceivable as it is, all roads on the European continent lead back to Berlin and it's Fourth Reich via the Troika.
The package was presented as a deal done by the eurozone countries together, but there has been little doubt throughout the tense and at times angry negotiations that it was Germany which pulled the strings.
Having refused to grant Greece's request of six months' grace on its loans and a rapid rolling back of austerity measures, Germany eventually accepted the belated compromise of a four-month extension.
That means Greece will now not run out of money next month and allows the new government in Athens space to continue negotiating with its creditors for a relaxation of the terms of its debt.
In an indication of how ill-tempered the talks were between Germany's hardline austerity proponent Wolfgang Sch¤uble and his opposite number from Greece, the finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Mr Sch¤uble hinted that he had scored a great victory.
''The Greeks certainly will have a difficult time to explain the deal to their voters,'' he declared.
Several analysts agreed that the result of the talks amounted to a humiliating defeat for Greece.
Essentially, Greece has performed a U-turn on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's declaration that the previous bailout was ''dead'', along with the control of the so-called Troika of the EU, IMF and ECB. Under the deal, the current bailout continues under the auspices of the same international creditor groups.
Full article:Greek bailout: Germany claims victory as Greece agrees four-month bailout extension (The Independent)
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Denmark's shops told they can sell outdated food
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 15:50
Danish food administrators DVFA have altered its regulations so the country's stores no longer have to take products off the shelves after the 'best before' date has been exceeded.
Consumer advisor Camilla Udsen explained that food was fine to be eaten after the 'best before' date so long as it had been stored properly and had not been opened. She said that before now if the date had been past, stores were not permitted to sell a product.
DVFA changed the rules at the beginning of the year to bring Denmark in line with labelling regulations across the EU.
Udsen noted that if the rule change meant Denmark's stores would no longer be binning perfectly good food, it was a good thing. However, she insisted that stores had a responsibility to ensure the products remained good and the fact the expiration date had been exceeded was clearly labelled.
Udsen also pointed out that the new rule only concerned the 'best before' date and not the 'use by' date. Products that have past the latter must be thrown out.
However, Denmark's two largest wholesalers, Dansk Supermarked and Coop, did not approve of the new regulations.
Coop quality manager Karin Froidt said that they did not want anything to do with the change as they always aimed to provide their customers with fresh products and ensure they had a good experience. She noted that the store was known for lowering prices as goods neared their 'best before' date, which had helped reduce waste by 25 per cent.
Shut Up Slave!
French government pushes through Internet censorship law | ITProPortal.com
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:31
Fran§ois Hollande Socialist Party has pushed through new legislation in France, forcing internet service providers to block terrorist or child pornography content within 24 hours, or face potential fines.
The move comes after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, which has changed the mood of the French public towards government control on the internet, allowing this bill to be passed when it previously was shot down.
Every quarter the General Directorate of the National Police will overview offending sites to check if their offending content has been removed, and might ask for a repeal of the ban if the site has changed its ways.
Little resistance was shown against the bill, but some privacy advocates believe this one foot in the door will allow the French government complete control over the narrative, removing freedom of speech.
The new law is part of a larger move in Europe to bring more government control on the internet. The European Union recently voted on a ''terrorist site reporting'' program, allowing the EU to be notified if a site is showcasing terrorist activity or promoting violence.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently tried his own hand at the internet surveillance battle, claiming government and authority should have the right to backdoor internet encryption, a comment even US President Obama didn't agree with.
Labeling something as ''terrorism'' is very subjective, especially when it is the government's police force handpicking the sites. It could turn into a way for police to remove content offending the French government or leaking information.
''With this decree establishing the administrative censorship for Internet content, France once again circumvents the judicial power, betraying the separation of powers in limiting what is the first freedom of all in a democracy'--freedom of speech.'' said digital rights group La Quadrature du Net. ''Website blocking is ineffective since it is easily circumvented. It is also disproportionate because of the risk of over-blocking perfectly lawful content, especially with the blocking technique retained by the Government.''
Poland kicks off unprecedented military spending spree - Yahoo News
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 04:06
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US to Allow Export of Armed Military Drones - ABC News
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 03:28
The Obama administration is amending its regulations for weapons sales to allow the export of armed military drones to friendly nations and allies.
The State Department said Tuesday the new policy would allow foreign governments that meet certain requirements '-- and pledge not to use the unmanned aircraft illegally '-- to buy the vehicles that have played a critical but controversial role in combating terrorism and are increasingly used for other purposes. Recipient countries would be required to sign end-use statements certifying that the drones would not be used for unlawful surveillance or force against domestic populations and would only be used in internationally sanctioned military operations, such as self-defense.
Each sale would be reviewed individually and the pledges would be monitored for compliance, the department said in a statement.
Previously, drone transfers had been governed by regulations that presumed that requests would be denied except in highly unusual circumstances. Certain armed drones '-- those with a range of 186 miles (300 kilometers) and able to carry a payload of 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) '-- will still be subject to those restrictions.
The administration said it was making the changes to ensure that military drones are used responsibly and legally. The new policy is also part of a broader U.S. strategy to cooperate with other nations to formulate global standards for the sale, transfer and use of unmanned aerial systems, it said.
The United States has used drone campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere to target terrorist leaders. The campaigns are run in parallel by the CIA and the Defense Department, and have been sources of controversy because of claims that innocent people have been killed along with targeted individuals.
Drones have become one of the most critical tools on the battlefield, providing troops with eyes in the sky and a weapons platform that can fly around the clock over hotspots and fire missiles without endangering a pilot.
Over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, commanders' requests for drones skyrocketed and the Pentagon has struggled to keep up with the demand.
The U.S. also has shouldered the bulk of the burden in recent military operations such as Libya, Iraq and Syria, providing unmanned aircraft for surveillance and intelligence gathering as well as armed drones for airstrikes when needed. And Pentagon and Air Force officials have long observed that they have been pressed to get drones to all the missions and locations where they are needed.
Providing unmanned aircraft to allies will relieve some of that pressure. Officials did not identify any specific countries that could be in line for drone exports, but some potential nations would include Israel, Egypt and even some of the eastern European countries who have been concerned about the rise and threat of Russia.
Major Ebola drug trial cancelled
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 13:36
As the number of Ebola cases declines, pharma company Chimerix is unable to find sufficient patients for its trial in Liberia of the antiviral drug brincidofovir.
As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa appears to be slowing down, one result is that Durham, North Carolina-based Chimerix has found it difficult to fill a trial intended to test the antiviral drug brincidofovir at a clinic in Monrovia, Liberia.The current rate of Ebola is that there has been fewer than 100 new cases per week in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Chimerix has treated fewer than 10 patients since the study began on January 2, 2015. Due to this low take up, the company says it is canceling the study.Chimerix President and CEO M. Michelle Berrey told The New York Times: ''Without having enough patients there to make any conclusions, it wasn't feasible for us to push forward.''Chimerix is not the only drug company struggling to enroll Ebola patients. Organizers of a Guinean trial to test Fujifilm's antiviral drug Avigan are looking to include additional clinics in order to find enough patients.Meanwhile, as research on the Ebola virus continues, researchers are seeking for more data. Emma Thomson of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research told BBC News: ''A lot of Ebola sequencing has happened but the data hasn't always been uploaded. It's an international emergency so people need to get the data out there to allow it to be analyzed in different ways by different labs.''These thoughts were echoed by Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, in the same BBC feature. He said: ''It would be tragic if, during a crisis like this, data was not being adequately shared with the public health community. The rapid sharing of data could help enable more rapid control of the outbreak.''
10 Facts About Ebola That Are Proven to be Wrong! | Viral Jar
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:59
Ebola is the epidemic that has been the centre of the world lately. It killed so many people and scientists have been looking for a cure for so long. Since it is something really important, there are so many rumours or judgements about it as well. So we wanted to make a list about this very important epidemic for you to be updated. The list below shows the facts about Ebola which are known wrong.
1. The Only Way to Kill Ebola Virus is to Use Expensive DisinfectantsThe only way to protect ourselves from Ebola is to prevent viruses to get into our body: Washing hands with water and soap.
2. You Cant Catch the Virus From Someone Who Died From EbolaThe Ebola virus on person who died can stay as active for a long time, so you should be careful during the funeral.
3. The Ebola Virus is Transported Through AirYou can't catch Ebola from air, the virus is transported with body fluids.
4. You Don't Catch Ebola Virus If You Have a Strong Immune SystemThe Ebola Virus is so strong that even the people with very strong immune systems can catch it.
5. You Cant Catch Ebola With Sexual InterferenceSince the Ebola virus is transmitted by body fluids, you can also catch it with sexual interference.
6. You Can Still Catch Ebola From Someone Who Survived EbolaYou can only catch the virus from someone who is carrying it, not from the ones who survived.
7. The Virus is Brought to the Countries Having Ebola Epidemic By the SanitariansAccording to the study done, the Ebola Virus was first transmitted to humans from the animals carrying the virus.
8. There is a Cure For EbolaEven if there are so many studies done to destroy the virus, there is still not an exact cure for it.
9. Fasting Makes the Treatment EasierNever try to fast if you have Ebola! It only weakens your body that is already very weak rather than helping you get rid of it.
10. For Every Ebola Epidemic, the Death Rate is About 90%In some regions the death rate is 20% whereas the other regions have approximately 90% of death rate. So we can say that the overall death rate is quite lower than 90%.
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West Africa: U.S. Envoy On UN's 120-Day Ebola Progress Report
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 15:46
New York '-- U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador David B. Dunn, U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
Remarks on the Ebola 120-Day Mark Progress Report
Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this important meeting. I also would like to thank the Secretary-General for his remarks and the distinguished briefers for their wise words this morning.
We thank the governments of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and all the partners for their tremendous, dedicated efforts, and fruitful efforts which are a shining example of how together we can confront major global challenges. Support for the long term stability of the affected countries is vital to the region, the continent, and the world.
Mr. President, the United States remains cautiously optimistic that we remain on course to end the outbreak. We believe as well that this is precisely the right time to begin the next phase of the UN's response to Ebola - transitioning UNMEER, which was created as a short-term solution to combat the virus until the UN system was better equipped to respond to the rapid transmission of this disease. Transition planning and preparations must begin now in order to complement the surge planning taking place for the impending rainy season, when we know diseases such as malaria will compound the situation.
While progress continues to be achieved, significant challenges still stand in our path to success. Some communities remain reticent, and adequate surveillance and response capacities are not yet fully in place. We are especially concerned by recent reports citing lack of links between patients and contact tracing lists, as well as attacks against healthcare workers. It is incumbent upon all of us to maintain our sense of urgency and not allow complacency a seat at the table. This is a theme that should be highlighted in our public messaging.
As you may be aware, my government has begun to transition its presence in the region. This transition in no way indicates a lessening of US support and attention to ending the outbreak and rebuilding the affected countries. President Obama has been adamant about this - we will get to zero cases.
We also should draw from the lessons learned from this effort, so that the next time the world is faced with a complex medical-humanitarian crisis, the UN architecture and international community is better prepared. To that end, the US supports the UN's internal review of the response and the lessons learned effort requested by Germany, Norway, and Ghana.
We are encouraged by recovery planning, including the early recovery assessment findings, and look forward to being a part of upcoming discussions regarding how we together can meaningfully regain development ground lost as a result of this devastating virus. Thank you.
Land Destroyer: NSA's SIM Card Scandal Bigger Than You Think
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:46
Stolen encryption keys are just the beginning. US NSA appears to have compromised big telecom, IT manufacturers, online banking, and even passports, starting on the factory floor. February 22, 2015 (Vladimir Platov - NEO) - Recent days have been marked by a record number of news stories regarding the US and its allies trying to establish total control over Internet users.
On February 16, researchers at the Moscow-based security group Kaspersky Lab announced the discovery of the ultimate virus which has virtually infected all spheres of military and civilian computing in more than 40 countries around the world. They've managed to discover a piece of malware that must have been installed on hard disks while they were still being manufactured, and due to its complexity and a certain number of features that it shares with Stuxnet, it's safe to assume that it was created by US secret services.On February 18, The Guardian confirmed that for the last 7 years Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had been sharing personal intelligence data en masse with America's national security agencies, regardless of the fact that it had intercepted millions of foreign citizens' conversations. The ruling of a UK court clearly suggests that these actions were illegal on top of being carried out in violation of the the European Convention on Human Rights.
On February 19, it was announced that the National Security Agency (NSA) along with its British partner in crime ''GCHQ, has manged to steal encryption keys from Gemalto '' the world's largest manufacturer of SIM-cards. This allowed the above named intelligence agencies to tap any phone and intercept data from any mobile device that was using a SIM-card produced by Gemalto. This conspiracy was unveiled by The Intercept, which added that Gemalto was created nine years ago when the French company Axalto merged with Gemplus International which was operating in Luxembourg. Today Gemalto has more that 85 offices across the globe along with a total of 40 factories, working in close cooperation with leading telecommunication corporations, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, along with many others. Representatives of the three aforementioned companies refused to comment on this scandal.
One can easily count German Deutsche Telekom among the customers of the Gemalto group. Hence there is little doubt regarding the involvement of US intelligence in the tapping of Angela Merkel's mobile phone, an incident uncovered back in mid 2014. What is particularly peculiar in this situation is the decision of The Federal Attorney General of Germany ending the investigation of the Chancellor's tapped phone - as reported by Focus Online - on the pretext of ''zero possible outcome of the investigation.'' Well, the claims of the same Focus Online that ''Merkel now has a new cell phone that cannot be tapped,'' looks ridiculous enough, since this brand ''new phone'' uses the same-old Gemalto SIM-card. So the NSA can spy on Madam Chancellor as long as they see fit, while the attorney general sees nothing wrong about it. Well, perhaps, Germany has finally agreed to stand in line with the citizens of other countries and their political and business elite, eager to play the role of laboratory rats in the US intelligence surveillance game.One would be surprised to learn that Gemalto is producing up to 2 billion SIM-cards per year, along with chips for bank cards and identity cards. According to many information security experts, US intelligence agencies, due to the encryption keys they've stolen are able to retrieve any information from mobile devices, bank cards, and/or e-passports.
The Wall Street Journal reported the ''successes'' of US intelligence agencies in retrieving information from millions of US citizens' cell phones back in 2014. Most of America's citizens are under constant watch of US security, due to surveillance systems mounted on light aircraft and drones developed by Boeing, which allows them to collect private data from thousands of mobile phones. In addition to the ability to establish the whereabouts of a person, which can be tracked with the accuracy to within three meters, his phone can be remotely block, while all information stored on it can be easily stolen.
On February 20, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State Jen Psaki in her typical manner complained about how difficult it is for the US to confront thousands of hostile attacks in cyberspace. However, she has never mentioned the above listed facts and Washington's paranoid desire to dominate cyberspace.
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''
AP News : Dutch SIM card maker investigating reported UK-US hack
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:24
Published: YesterdayExterior view of the building housing the head office of Gemalto, which produces "subscriber identity modules", or SIM cards, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Britain's electronic spying agency, in cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency, hacked into the networks of Dutch company Gemalto to steal codes that allow both governments to seamlessly eavesdrop on mobile phones worldwide, according to the documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - A Dutch company that makes SIM cards for cellular phones says it is investigating reports that it was hacked by Britain's electronic spying agency in cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency.
Amsterdam-based Gemalto, which describes itself as the world leader in digital security, said in a statement Friday it could not immediately confirm the reported hack and "had no prior knowledge that these agencies were conducting this operation."
A story posted Thursday on the website The Intercept, based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, said the hack was aimed at stealing codes that would allow both the U.S. and British governments to seamlessly eavesdrop on mobile phones worldwide.
Gemalto says it "will devote all resources necessary to fully investigate" the reported hack.
Hackers Said to Remain Active in U.S. State Department E-Mails - Bloomberg Business
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:33
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. and private security specialists are trying to expel unidentified hackers from the unclassified portion of the U.S. State Department's e-mail system, two officials familiar with the investigation said Thursday.
The problem persists three months after the hackers were first discovered because the intruders' techniques keep shifting, said the officials, who asked for anonymity because the inquiry is classified even though no classified material appears to have been obtained.
The attacks are worrisome because they could enable the hackers to generate false e-mails, delete some real ones or seek a way into classified communications systems, the officials said.
The nature of the attack suggests that it may have originated in Russia, one of the officials said. A former U.S. intelligence official said that country has developed cyber-espionage capabilities that are almost equal to those of the U.S. National Security Agency.
The intrusions coincide with rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia, and hackers linked to the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin have used the same ''phishing'' technique, in which the opening of deceptive e-mail attachments downloads malicious software, to attack other unclassified U.S. government e-mail systems.
So far, investigators from the NSA and private contractors haven't reached a firm conclusion about the intruders' origins, said the two officials involved in the inquiry.
''We have robust security to protect our systems and our information, and we deal successfully with thousands of attacks every day,'' said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, in an e-mail. ''We take any possible cyber intrusion very seriously.''
The Russian embassy in Washington didn't immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment made after normal business hours.
The persistence of the attacks, which were reported on earlier by the Wall Street Journal, comes after the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab published a report saying a sophisticated spying campaign infected tens of thousands of computers worldwide with surveillance software.
Kaspersky didn't explicitly identify the group as being affiliated with the NSA. However, given its sophistication and activities, the group must be backed by a government agency such as the NSA or the intelligence services of Britain, Russia or China, said Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky's global research and analysis team.
To contact the reporter on this story: John Walcott in Washington at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net Justin Blum, Andrew Davis
US spy services 'hacked into sim card maker', based in Amsterdam - DutchNews.nl
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:33
For the first time there is concrete evidence that the US security service NSA hacked a company in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.The information gleaned in the hack will allow the Americans to listen in to foreign telephone traffic without the knowledge of the country involved or the provider, the newspaper says.
The paper bases its claim on an article in online magazine The Intercept, which uses information from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Google Public Policy Blog: A Small Rule Change That Could Give the U.S. Government Sweeping New Warrant Power
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:14
Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
At the request of the Department of Justice, a little-known body -- the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure -- is proposing a significant change to procedural rules that could have profound implications for the privacy rights and security interests of everyone who uses the Internet. Last week,Google filed commentsopposing this change.It starts with the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41, an arcane but important procedural rule on the issuance of search warrants. Today, Rule 41 prohibits a federal judge from issuing a search warrant outside of the judge's district, with some exceptions. The Advisory Committee's proposed change would significantly expand those exceptions in cases involving computers and networks. The proposed change would allow the U.S. government to obtain a warrant to conduct ''remote access'' searches of electronic storage media if the physical location of the media is ''concealed through technological means,'' or to facilitatebotnetinvestigations in certain circumstances. The implications of this expansion of warrant power are significant, and are better addressed by Congress.
First, in setting aside the traditional limits under Rule 41, the proposed amendment would likely end up being used by U.S. authorities to directly search computers and devices around the world. Even if the intent of the proposed change is to permit U.S. authorities to obtain a warrant to directly access and retrieve data only from computers and devices within the U.S., there is nothing in the proposed change to Rule 41 that would prevent access to computers and devices worldwide.
The U.S. hasmany diplomatic arrangementsin place with other countries to cooperate in investigations that cross national borders, including Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs). Google supports ongoing efforts to improve cooperation among governments, and we are concerned that the proposed change to Rule 41 could undermine those efforts. The significant foreign relations issues associated with the proposed change to Rule 41 should be addressed by Congress and the President, not the Advisory Committee.Second, the proposed change threatens to undermine the privacy rights and computer security of Internet users. For example, the change would excuse territorial limits on the use of warrants to conduct ''remote access'' searches where the physical location of the media is ''concealed through technological means.'' The proposed change does not define what a ''remote search'' is or under what circumstances and conditions a remote search can be undertaken; it merely assumes such searches, whatever they may be, are constitutional and otherwise legal. It carries with it the specter of government hacking without any Congressional debate or democratic policymaking process.
Likewise, the change seemingly means that the limit on warrants is excused in any instance where a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is set up. Banks, online retailers, communications providers and other businesses around the world commonly use VPNs to help keep their networks and users' information secure. A VPN can obscure the actual location of a network, however, and thus could be subject to a remote search warrant where it would not have been otherwise.
The Advisory Committee is entertaining a dramatic change to electronic surveillance rules. Congress is the proper body to determine whether such changes are warranted, and we urge the Committee to respect Congress' traditional role in prescribing the substantive rules governing electronic surveillance.
HSBC whistleblower spills Lynch evidence to Senate
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:30
NEW YORK '' The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday conducted a two-hour session with HSBC whistleblower John Cruz in its investigation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch's role in the Obama administration's decision not to prosecute the banking giant for laundering funds for Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists, WND sources have confirmed.
WND was first to report in a series of articles beginning in 2012 charges by Cruz, a former HSBC vice president and relationship manager, based on his more than 1,000 pages of evidence and secret audio recordings.
The staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee focused Wednesday on Cruz's allegations, first reported by WND Feb. 6, that Lynch, acting then in her capacity as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, engaged in a Department of Justice cover-up. Obama's attorney general nominee allowed HSBC to enter into a ''deferred prosecution'' settlement in which the bank agreed to pay a $1.9 billion fine and admit ''willful criminal conduct'' in exchange for dropping criminal investigations and prosecutions of HSBC directors or employees.
On Feb. 12, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had decided to postpone the Senate vote on Lynch's confirmation until the last week of February, when Congress returns from the Presidents Day recess. The decision is widely attributed to allowing Vitter and the Senate Judiciary Committee staff time to pursue the allegations concerning Lynch's role in the HSBC scandal.
Read the explosive backstory inside the HSBC scandal '' how WND first exposed the massive money-laundering scheme, the fallout from the eye-popping discovery and the role Loretta Lynch played in ''Launder-gate.''
Cruz called the $1.9 billion HSBC fine ''a joke,'' explaining to WND that HSBC bank auditors had told him in 2009 that senior managers and compliance officers in New York were fully aware the London-headquartered bank was engaged in a criminal scheme to launder money internationally for Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists.
''The auditors warned me investigating the money laundering could cost me my job,'' Cruz said. ''The auditors told me in 2009 that nobody in the bank was going to go to jail and that HSBC had already put aside $2 billion in reserves to pay the fine they somehow had reason to suspect back then that the Department of Justice would demand to settle the case.''
Cruz argued that a $1.9 billion fine of an international bank the size of Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, the official name of HSBC, amounted to no more than ''a few days operating profit.'' He described it as ''a cost of doing business'' once HSBC had decided to launder money for international criminals.
Senate investigators to hear HSBC recordings
Confidential sources in Washington confirmed to WND that Jason Foster, the chief investigative counsel at the Senate Judiciary Committee, was directing the investigation into Cruz's allegations against Lynch.
Cruz's charges and documentation were brought to Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, before the senator announced Feb. 11 that he was opening his own investigation of Lynch.
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Foster is considered on Capitol Hill to be one of the Senate's best, most experienced investigators. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, he had more than 15 years experience directing fact-finding inquiries for the Senate Committee on Finance, Senate Homeland Security Committee and the House Committee on Government Reform, before becoming chief investigative counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2011.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's staff questioning of Cruz and his attorney focused on approximately 1,000 pages of HSBC customer account records that Cruz turned over to WND early in 2012. The records were pulled from the HSBC computer system before he was fired by HSBC senior management who didn't want to investigate his claim to have discovered illegal money-laundering activity at the bank.
As WND reported in a series of articles beginning Feb. 1, 2012, Cruz was able to document a complex criminal scheme that involved wiring billions of dollars of money for Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists thorough thousands of bogus accounts created through identity theft. The scheme used the names and Social Security numbers of hundreds of unsuspecting current and former customers. It allegedly had the active participation of regional bank managers, branch managers and employees, as well as bank compliance officials at hundreds of HSBC locations throughout the nation. The money ultimately was wired by the bank to undisclosed bank accounts internationally.
Foster, on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has requested that Cruz to submit some 70 hours of conversations Cruz secretly recorded of bank management and compliance officers in New York. He also recorded his conversations with law-enforcement authorities, including the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS.
Cruz played for WND an audio recording he made of a phone call he placed to Jeremy Scileppi, the bureau chief at the office of the Suffolk County district attorney June 25, 2012. Scileppi told Cruz Suffolk County did not want to duplicate other investigations of HSBC money-laundering allegations.
Scileppi explained the Suffolk district attorney had turned over Cruz's documentation to HSBC security personnel, ''so the bank could conduct their own internal investigation,'' as well as to the Brooklyn district attorney's office and to the FBI, a division of the Department of Justice, as is the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.
''We generally back off the investigation if the FBI or another federal agency is involved,'' Scileppi explained. The way it works is that we don't want two different agencies to chase the same squirrel up the same tree from two different sides, because, then, nobody gets the squirrel. The FBI told us to back off because they were working the HSBC money-laundering investigation.''
Cruz: 'DHS stonewalled'
One day after WND's first article on the HSBC money-laundering scandal was published in February 2012, WND received an email from Sgt. Frank J. DiGregorio, a DHS employee in New York.
''I have read your article in WND pertaining to the allegations by John Cruz against HSBC Bank. As a supervisor for Homeland Securities Investigators, I would very much like the opportunity to meet with Mr. Cruz and speak with him,'' DiGregario said.
On Feb. 7, 2012, WND attended a meeting with DiGregorio and Graham R. Klein, special agent for the Department of Homeland Security, in an office building on Manhattan's lower east side that bore no DHS designation, with Cruz attending by telephone.
With Cruz's approval, WND handed over to DHS all the written documentation and audio recordings Cruz had provided, offering with Cruz's permission to assist in the investigation in any way possible.
In a meeting lasting over an hour that Cruz audio-recorded without WND's knowledge, DiGregorio and Klein promised to investigate the evidence and allegations Cruz had presented.
''This is an ongoing investigation,'' DiGregorio told WND at the conclusion of the meeting. ''Cruz made very serious allegations, and it takes time for us to do our work. But we have not forgotten about Cruz, and we will get back to him just as soon as we can.''
DiGregorio explained that as a detective sergeant in the office of the Queens County district attorney, he is currently assigned to Homeland Security Investigations, where he supervises Special Agent Klein.
Subsequent to the meeting, Cruz told WND he was shocked DHS claimed it was their first contact with him.
''Back in 2010, my attorney turned over information regarding HSBC to DiGregorio,'' Cruz said, as reported by WND in an article published May 13, 2012. ''Then, on Feb 7, 2012, Homeland Security said my attorneys never spoke to them, that they didn't know who I am.''
Cruz was shocked.
''DiGregorio called me; he was belittling me,'' Cruz recounted. ''DiGregorio said I was a disgruntled employee, that I was just here for the money. They said, 'Why did it take you two years to come forward?'''
IRS continues to stonewall Cruz
WND reported May 13, 2012, Cruz explained he had also presented his allegations and evidence to Internal Revenue Service Special Agent David Wagner and Supervisory Special Agent Kevin B. Sophia. Both were of the U.S. Department of Treasury, IRS, Criminal Investigation Division.
''I met with them in Denver, Colorado, on April 12, 2012, at the IRS office,'' Cruz said. ''I gave them a computer disc with all the HSBC documents on it. Agent Sophia asked, 'What would make us believe HSBC employees would acknowledge illegal activity?' I told them I recorded everything.''
Cruz also handed over to the IRS two discs with approximately 19 to 20 hours he had recorded of his discussions with HSBC employees concerning his allegations.
Cruz told WND the IRS agents were overwhelmed with the volume and detail of the information he handed over.
''The IRS agents said, 'This is mind-boggling,''' Cruz recounted. ''They told me that if the information on the computer disk and in the audio files was as I represented, the IRS agents were talking about arresting HSBC bank employees.''
Cruz noted the IRS was stunned at the dollar magnitude of the suspicious bank transactions he had documented, noting that billions of dollars in tax revenue was being lost, with bank employees transferring money into and out of bogus accounts set up for illegal gain.
The IRS explained to Cruz that the individuals whose identities may have been stolen to set up the apparently fraudulent accounts would also have to be investigated, to see if they were part of the suspicious activity or merely victims.
Either way, the Social Security numbers associated with the suspicious HSBC accounts turned out to be authentic numbers identified in many cases with present or former customers of the bank. And the billions of dollars traveling through the accounts had never been reported for income tax purposes.
''The IRS denied my request to be a whistleblower in the HSBC case,'' Cruz told WND. ''The IRS said the information I provided did not result in the collection of any fines, so I was not owed any fee by the federal government.''
Cruz: 'I no longer trust DHS or the IRS'
As WND also reported May 13, 2012, Cruz handed over to WND audio recordings he made of his meetings with DHS and IRS officials '' recordings he made without disclosing to the DHS and IRS.
Cruz explained that he no longer trusts even federal law enforcement to do their job investigating and prosecuting HSBC employees who may be involved in illegal bank transactions, as he alleges.
''It's a circle,'' Cruz explained. ''I turn over the information to law enforcement, and law enforcement turns around and gives the information right back to the bank for the bank to conduct their own internal investigation.''
Cruz says he was fired by HSBC for bringing forth his charges.
''This is how the bank and employees in the bank make money,'' he argued, explaining why he was fired instead of being given awards for meritorious service disclosing the suspicious activities. ''It's a lot easier to make money off fraudulent transactions than it is to make money off legal transactions.''
He indicated he was not concerned HSBC and/or its employees might sue him for libel or defamation.
''Sue me,'' he said defiantly, ''sue me all you want. Then bring out the proof. I will ask for every document. I will ask for a lot of documents. I will show that I am right, and I will give every tape recording to the public on air, so they can listen to these individuals talking.''
Cruz explained he taped the conversations with federal law enforcement authorities ''to cover myself.''
''You never know what's going to happen,'' he explained. ''Somebody could say, 'Oh, you're involved.' I need to explain that I'm not involved, but that I reported it. Then, if they deny I reported it, I have the tapes to prove I reported it.''
Cruz affirmed to WND he was accusing by name federal officials in DHS and IRS, as well as officials in the district attorneys offices in Suffolk County and Queens County, New York, of not taking steps to stop immediately what he alleges is money laundering billions of dollars in the United States around the world.
He noted his contact with the IRS was relatively recent, and he has reason to believe the IRS has opened an investigation.
IRS agents Wagner and Sophia did not return WND calls for comment.
HSBC 'a criminal organization'
Cruz began working at HSBC Jan. 14, 2008, as a commercial bank accounts relationship manager and was terminated for ''poor job performance'' on Feb. 17, 2010, after he refused to stop investigating the HSBC criminal money-laundering scheme from within the bank.
In his position as a vice president and a senior account relationship manager, Cruz worked in the HSBC southern New York region, a which accounts for approximately 50 percent of HSBC's North American revenue. He was assigned to work with several branch managers to identify accounts to which HSBC might introduce additional banking services.
Cruz told WND he recorded hundreds of hours of meetings he conducted with HSBC management and bank security personnel in which he charged that various bank managers were engaging in criminal acts.
''I have hours of hours of recordings, ranging from bank tellers, to business representatives, to branch managers, to executives,'' he said. ''The whole system is designed to be a culture of fraud to make it look like it's a legal system. But it's not.''
Cruz explained that after many repeated efforts, he gave up on the idea that HSBC senior management or bank security would pursue his allegations to investigate and stop the wrongdoing.
''My conclusion was that HSBC wasn't going to do anything about this account, because HSBC management from the branch level, to senior bank security, to executive senior management was involved in the illegal activity I found,'' he said.
After repeated attempts to bring the information to the attention of law enforcement officers, Cruz hit a brick wall until WND examined his documentation and determined his shocking allegations were sufficiently substantiated.
''HSBC is a criminal organization,'' he stressed. ''It is a culture of crime.''
In 2011, Cruz published a book about his experience with HSBC, titled ''World Banking World Fraud: Using Your Identity.''
Note: Media wishing to interview Jerome Corsi, senior staff writer for WND, please contact us here.
Agenda 21
Republicans To Investigate Climate Data Tampering By NASA | The Daily Caller
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:27
Daily Caller News Foundation
2:16 PM 02/20/2015
Are government climate agencies tampering with climate data to show warming? Some Republicans think so. California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says to expect congressional hearings on climate data tampering.
Rohrabacher serves as the vice chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over NASA and other agencies that monitor the Earth's climate.
Rohrabacher has long been critical of the theory of man-made global warming. Lately, the California Republican has criticizing NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for allegedly tampering with temperature data to create an artificial warming trend. Such data is then used to justify regulations aimed at curbing fossil fuel use and other industrial activities.
Rohrabacher isn't the only one to call for hearings on the science behind global warming. Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe has also promised to hold hearings on global warming data.
''We're going to have a committee hearing on the science,'' said Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. ''People are going to hear the other side of the story.''
For years, those skeptical of man-made global warming have argued that government agencies are altering raw temperature data to create a warming trend. Allegations of tampering have increased as satellite temperature readings show much less warming than land and ocean-based weather stations show.
Science blogger Steven Goddard (a pseudonym) has been a major critic of NASA's and NOAA's temperature measurements. Goddard points out that NOAA's National Climatic Data Center makes the present look warmer by artificially cooling past temperatures to show a warming trend.
''NCDC pulls every trick in the book to turn the US cooling trend into warming. The raw data shows cooling since the 1920s,'' Goddard told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview last month.
''NCDC does a hockey stick of adjustments to reverse the trend,'' Goddard said. ''This includes cooling the past for 'time of observation bias' infilling missing rural data with urban temperatures, and doing almost nothing to compensate for urban heat island effects.''
NOAA does make temperature adjustments, but it argues such adjustments are necessary to remove ''artificial biases'' in surface temperature data. The biggest adjustment made by NCDC scientists is cooling past data to take into account the fact that there was a big shift from taking temperature readings in the afternoon to the morning.
''We get a lot of people questioning our data adjustments,'' Thomas Peterson, NCDC's principal scientist, told TheDCNF. There was an ''artificial cool bias in the data,'' Peterson said.
Switching the time of the day temperatures were taken from the afternoon, when temperatures are warmer, to the morning, when temperatures are cooler, caused a cooling bias in the data. Temperature data from nearby weather stations was used to help create a baseline temperature for different regions.
But there are some drawbacks in surface temperature readings from a few thousand weather stations, boats and buoys spread out across the world. Peterson said the weather station system is ''only really good for the U.S.''
''The main problem is where there are a few stations in the middle of nowhere.'' Peterson said, specifically referring to weather station data problems on St. Helena Island.
UK Telegraph writer Christopher Booker joined the fray recently, using work by Goddard and other bloggers to criticize climate agencies for data tampering.
''Of much more serious significance, however, is the way this wholesale manipulation of the official temperature record'... has become the real elephant in the room of the greatest and most costly scare the world has known,'' Booker wrote. ''This really does begin to look like one of the greatest scientific scandals of all time.''
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Dude named Ben
Congressman Lynn Westmoreland : Press Releases : 80,000 Lost Lerner Emails Recovered By IRS Watchdog
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 07:26
WASHINGTON, D.C. '' Last week some 80,000 emails to and from former IRS executive Lois Lerner were recovered by the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) watchdog agency, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Both the former IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner and current IRS Commissioner John Koskien have testified before Congress that these emails were ''permanently lost'' and they went to ''great lengths'' to recover them. The newfound emails that were previously said to be ''destroyed'' raise serious questions and concerns about the truthfulness of the IRS throughout the investigation. Below is Congressman Westmoreland's statement.
''It's time for the administration to come clean,'' stated Westmoreland. ''It is very obvious the IRS is attempting to cover something up. Their definition of 'great lengths' must be vastly different than mine, and fits in the pattern of the administration's constant inability to produce documents to Congress. The American people deserve to know the truth about this targeting scandal and I hope that these 80,000 emails will provide answers to two year old questions.
''Congress has a constitutional responsibility to provide oversight of the Executive Branch and to seek the truth on behalf of the American people. That is a responsibility I take very seriously. This administration has been ridden with scandals and cover ups, and my colleagues and I will continue to search for the truth to hold those involved responsible.''
War on Weed
PETER HITCHENS: The real mind-blowing terror threat in our midst is cannabis | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:47
By Peter Hitchens for The Mail on Sunday
Published: 19:01 EST, 21 February 2015 | Updated: 03:21 EST, 22 February 2015
Copenhagen killer Omar El-Hussein had twice been arrested for cannabis possession
Can you put two and two together? Have a try. The authorities, and most of the media, cannot.
Did you know that the Copenhagen killer, Omar El-Hussein, had twice been arrested (and twice let off) for cannabis possession? Probably not.
It was reported in Denmark but not prominently mentioned amid the usual swirling speculation about 'links' between El-Hussein and 'Islamic State', for which there is no evidence at all.
El-Hussein, a promising school student, mysteriously became so violent and ill- tempered that his own gang of petty criminals, The Brothers, actually expelled him.
Something similar happened in the lives of Lee Rigby's killers, who underwent violent personality changes in their teens after becoming cannabis users.
The recent Paris killers were also known users of cannabis. So were the chaotic drifters who killed soldiers in Canada last year. So is the chief suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013.
I might add that though these are all Muslims, who for rather obvious reasons are to be found among the marginalised in Europe and North America, it is not confined to them.
Jared Loughner, who killed six people and severely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona in 2011, was also a confirmed heavy cannabis user. When I searched newspaper archives for instances of violent crimes in this country in which culprits were said to be cannabis users, I found many.
One notable example was the pointless killing of Sheffield church organist Alan Greaves, randomly beaten to death by two laughing youths on Christmas Eve 2012. Both were cannabis smokers.
By itself, the link is interesting. I wonder how many other violent criminals would turn out to be heavy cannabis users, if only anyone ever asked.
But put it together with The Mail on Sunday's exclusive story last week, showing a strong link between cannabis use and episodes of mental illness.
And then combine it with the confessions of two prominent British Left-wing figures, the former Tory MP and BBC favourite Matthew Parris, and Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow, who both tried 'skunk' cannabis (by far the most commonly available type in the Western world) for a TV documentary.
Two people were killed by the gunman in separate incidents across the Danish capital. Above, Krudttonden cafe which was ravaged by 200 bullets when he opened fire on a free speech event
Mr Parris wrote: 'The effect was stunning '' and not (for me) in a good way. Short-term memory went walkabout. I would forget what I was talking about even while talking. I became shaky. Time went haywire.'
But immediate effects are one thing. What about long-term use? Mr Parris recounted that he had 'too many friends' for whom cannabis had seemed destructive. He quoted one as saying: 'I think it changed me permanently as a person.'
He said his mainly socially liberal friends, including health workers, generally agreed that 'heavy use of cannabis, particularly skunk, can be associated with big changes in behaviour'.
Jon Snow said simply: 'By the time I was completely stoned, I felt utterly bereft. I felt as if my soul had been wrenched from my body.
'There was no one in my world. I was frightened, paranoid, and felt physically and mentally wrapped in a dense blanket of fog. I've worked in war zones, but I've never been as overwhelmingly frightened as I was when I was in the MRI scanner after taking skunk. I would never do it again.'
Tributes left to the gunman's victims flooded the ground outside a synagogue. Dan Uzan was shot in the head as he watched the door of a Bat Mitzvah
This is not some mild 'soft' thing. It is a potent, frightening mindbender. If it does this to men in late middle age who are educated, prosperous, successful and self-disciplined, what do you think it is doing to all those 13-year-olds who '' thanks to its virtual decriminalisation '' can buy it at a school near you, while the police do nothing?
And yet it is still fashionable in our elite to believe that cannabis should be even easier to get than it already is.
It is hard to think of a social evil so urgently in need of action to curb it. Why is nothing done? Need you ask?
Led into another disaster by a bunch of ignorant poseurs
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon pictured above
The wild warmongering of our Government and our elite grows louder as our Armed Forces grow smaller.
Are these people up to the job? Can they read a map? Do they know any history? Do they have a clue what they are doing?
As you listen to the Defence Secretary's bizarre raging about the Russian threat, remember that our Army is now even tinier than the token force Hitler allowed Vichy France to keep after 1940.
Under David Cameron, both the Army and the Navy have, in the past few years, thrown away huge amounts of valuable equipment, and got rid of a vast body of experienced men who cannot be replaced.
So why the belligerence? They surely do not intend to be tested. If they really believed that Russian tanks were about to roll into Riga, then we would be rearming like anything, not disarming as fast as we can.
So they don't believe it. So why should we believe them? I used to scorn the Left-wing idea that small politicians sought conflict abroad because it made them look big at home.
But our Government's amazing decision to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi seems to me to show that these clueless beings really are that bad.
They had no idea what they were doing, and now stand, dumb and amazed, as the country they claimed to be liberating descends deeper and deeper into murder, theft and fanaticism.
Even if they don't care about that, they must surely worry about the resulting disaster, the unstoppable flight of countless economic migrants from Libya's lawless coasts across the Mediterranean and on, across and throughout a borderless EU.
This, not terrorism, is how the Islamisation of Europe will come about, sooner than most people think.
It is this act of folly that we should be investigating, not the long-ago Iraq War. And these people should be banned from any further bloviating about war or foreign policy till an independent report on the Libya disaster has been published, and we know in detail that we are governed by third-rate, ignorant poseurs.
How can killing 350,000 be right?
If it was wrong (as it was) for the Germans to kill 43,000 British civilians by deliberately bombing their homes, why was it not also wrong for us to kill 350,000 German civilians by deliberately bombing their homes?
If you can't answer this, then please don't bother writing me rude, thoughtless letters because I '' even more than the Archbishop of Canterbury '' think we shouldn't have engaged in this form of warfare.
This flock of easily-led sheep looks so familiar...
As I watched the new Aardman animation, Shaun The Sheep '' The Movie, and its flock of all-too-easily led and conformist woolly creatures, I struggled to work out who they reminded me of.
Then it came to me in a flash '' Britain's monstrous regiment of political journalists.
The animals which feature in the new Aardman animation, Shaun The Sheep - The Movie, are just like Britain's monstrous regiment of political journalists
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Trains Good, Planes Bad (whoo hoo!)
Warning over toxic fumes in plane cabins - Telegraph
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:28
Frank Cannon, the lawyer for Mr Westgate's case, said: ''This report is dynamite. It is the first time a British coroner has come to the conclusion that damage is being done by cabin air, something the industry has been denying for years.''
Mr Cannon said he was acting for approximately 50 other aircrew allegedly affected by the syndrome, working for airlines including Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Thomas Cook and easyJet. He is also representing two passengers.
Commercial passenger planes have a system which compresses air from the engines and uses it to pressurise the cabin. But it can malfunction, with excess oil particles entering the air supply.
In a confined space, with the air recirculated, the cumulative effect on frequent fliers, especially aircrew, can be harmful, the coroner said.
Mr Westgate, a senior first officer, died in 2012 after claiming he had been poisoned by toxic cabin fumes.
In his ''prevention of future deaths report'', produced last week, the coroner says that examinations of Mr Westgate's body ''disclosed symptoms consistent with exposure to organophosphate compounds in aircraft cabin air''.
In the report, sent to the chief executive of BA and the chief operating officer of the Civil Aviation Authority, the coroner raises five ''matters of concern'', including that ''organophosphate compounds are present in aircraft cabin air''; that ''the occupants of aircraft cabins are exposed to organophosphate compounds with consequential damage to their health'' and that ''impairment to the health of those controlling aircraft may lead to the death of occupants''. He also says there is no real-time monitoring to detect failures in cabin air quality and that no account is taken by airlines of ''genetic variation in the human species that would render individuals '... intolerant of the exposure''.
He demands that BA and the CAA respond to the report within eight weeks, setting out the action they propose to take. The report, made under regulation 28 of the Coroners' Investigation Regulations 2013, is not a full verdict from an inquest, which has yet to be held in this case.
Tristan Loraine, a former BA captain who claims toxic air poisoning forced him to leave his job, said: ''I took ill-health retirement only a year after completing the Iron Man triathlon. I had about 10 medical experts give their view to the CAA that I was suffering from ill-health effects of contaminated air.
''From the minute I got sick until when I left the airline, I never saw a BA employee.''
Mr Loraine, who is making a documentary about the issue, said he had been left with numbness in his fingers and feet and that he sometimes found it difficult to recall information. He said that a friend in BA '-- not Mr Westgate '-- had suffered the same symptoms, continued to fly and died from a brain tumour aged 44.
Mr Cannon said: ''There are major crashes where we suspect the only plausible explanation is that the crew were suffering from cognitive dysfunction. More commonly, it causes incredible misery '-- very fit, intelligent and motivated people fall over sick. The first thing BA and other airlines have to do is recognise and take care of their injured aircrew.''
Most passengers who fly only occasionally will not be affected by the problem, but some frequent travellers who are genetically susceptible to the toxins could fall ill, with around 10 per cent of the population affected. Their bodies are unable to detoxify quickly enough and an accumulation of toxic material over time becomes dangerous. The main vulnerability is suffered by aircrew, who spend much of their lives on board.
Official records from the Civil Aviation Authority show that oxygen masks are being used by pilots and crew at the rate of at least five times a week to combat suspected ''fume events''.
The official safety watchdog, the Air Accident Investigation Branch, has called for aircraft to be fitted with equipment to detect any contamination of cabin air.
A spokesman for BA said it could not comment on the case, but would consider the coroner's report and respond. The airline cites independent studies commissioned by the Department for Transport, which found ''no evidence that pollutants occur in the cabin air at levels exceeding available health and safety standards''.
The Government's position is that ''concerns about significant risk to the health of airline passengers and crew are not substantiated''. A spokesman for the CAA said it would consider the report in detail but claimed it was ''nothing that passengers or crew should be overly concerned about''.
Mr Cannon said: ''I see this as an impending tsunami for the airline industry '-- it's been ignored for so long.''
The disclosure of Mr Payne's report comes ahead of a meeting in London this week of a group set up by the International Transport Workers' Federation to examine the issue of contaminated air on planes. A spokesman for the ITF said: ''There is growing published evidence of the toxicity of these oil fumes and the increase in reported fume incidents in which flight safety was compromised because of crew member impairment.''
Ministry of Truth
The GDELT Project
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 04:28
The GDELT ProjectVisualization credit GDELT Project.
A Global Database of SocietySupported by Google Ideas, the GDELT Project monitors the world's broadcast, print, and web news from nearly every corner of every country in over 100 languages and identifies the people, locations, organizations, counts, themes, sources, and events driving our global society every second of every day, creating a free open platform for computing on the entire world.
The GDELT Project is a realtime network diagram and database of global human society for open research
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
Watching The Entire World
GDELT monitors the world's news media from nearly every corner of every countryin print, broadcast, and web formats, in over 100 languages,every moment of every day.
Global ReachGDELT monitors print, broadcast, and web news media in over 100 languages from across every country in the world to keep continually updated on breaking developments anywhere on the planet. Its historical archives stretch back to January 1, 1979 and update daily (soon to be every 15 minutes). Through its ability to leverage the world's collective news media, GDELT moves beyond the focus of the Western media towards a far more global perspective on what's happening and how the world is feeling about it.
Emerging MediaFrom the Global Twitter Heartbeat to the SyFy Opposite Worlds Show (and many more to be announced shortly) we are exploring how social media is used around the world and how people and societies express themselves and talk about the world online. As these projects increase our collective understanding of the social sphere and especially how it is used in the non-Western world, we will be increasingly integrating social media into GDELT's monitoring streams.
Historical BreadthIn the words of George Santayana "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - history is highly cyclic and contemporary events are often deeply rooted in historical contexts, making the understanding of the past of critical importance to interpreting the present. Already GDELT is the first truly multi-decade global event database and through an array of collaborations and partnerships we are expanding GDELT's coverage all the way back to the year 1800, which, when complete, will offer more than two centuries of codified global history.
TranslationEven the largest teams of human translators cannot read and translate every word published by the world's news media each day. In partnership with Google, we are leveraging Google Translate for Research to augment human translation of the world's news media to eventually translate the entire world's news media in realtime 24/7/365. Already, our pilot system is finding that 75% of the material in the non-English news media appears nowhere else in the world.
"The GDELT Project is an initiative to construct a catalog of human societal-scale behavior and beliefs across all countries of the world, connecting every person, organization, location, count, theme, news source, and event across the planet into a single massive network that captures what's happening around the world, what its context is and who's involved, and how the world is feeling about it, every single day."With support form the US Institute of Peace, the GDELT Global Conflict Dashboard provides a live interactive map of global protests and unrest around the world each day.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
As part of the new GDELT Global Knowledge Graph 2.0 system, the Global Content Analysis Measures (GCAM) suite assesses over 2,200 emotions and themes from every article, allowing you to explore everything from anxiety to smugness to passivity to vanity.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
Published the day before President Yanukovych fled the country, this map offers an interactive visualization of protests and violence against civilians in the country, showing both the spread of unrest at that point across the country, and the significant and growing restlessness of Crimea, foreshadowing its ultimate breakaway from the mainland.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
Computing on The Entire World:Events & Networks
GDELT uses some of the world's most sophisticated natural languageand data mining algorithms to extract more than 300 categoriesof "events" and the networks of people, organizations, locations,themes, and emotions that tie them together.
Monitoring nearly the entire world's news media is only the beginning - even the largest team of humans could not begin to read and analyze the billions upon billions of words of new information published each day. GDELT uses some of the world's most sophisticated computer algorithms, custom-designed for global news media, running on "one of the most powerful server networks in the known Universe", to create a realtime computable record of global society that can be visualized, analyzed, modeled, examined, and even forecasted. Two datasets are created, one codifying physical activities around the world in over 300 categories, and one recording the people, places, organizations, and themes underlying those events and their interconnections.
GDELT Event DatabaseThe GDELT Event Database records over 300 categories of physical activities around the world, from riots and protests to peace appeals and diplomatic exchanges, georeferenced to the city or mountaintop, across the entire planet dating back to January 1, 1979 and updated daily (soon every 15 minutes).
Essentially it takes a sentence like "The United States criticized Russia yesterday for deploying its troops in Crimea, in which a recent clash with its soldiers left 10 civilians injured" and transforms this blurb of unstructured text into three structured database entries, recording US CRITICIZES RUSSIA, RUSSIA TROOP-DEPLOY UKRAINE (CRIMEA), and RUSSIA MATERIAL-CONFLICT CIVILIANS (CRIMEA).
Nearly 60 attributes are captured for each event, including the approximate location of the action and those involved. This translates the textual descriptions of world events captured in the news media into codified entries in a grand "global spreadsheet" that can be mapped to explore and understand evolving situations like Ukraine or Nigeria or broader topics like global protest trends.
GDELT Global Knowledge GraphMuch of the true insight captured in the world's news media lies not in what it says, but the context of how it says it. The GDELT Global Knowledge Graph compiles a list of every person, organization, company, location, and over 230 themes and emotions from every news report, using some of the most sophisticated named entity and geocoding algorithms in existance, designed specifically for the noisy and ungrammatical world that is the world's news media.
The resulting network diagram constructs a graph over the entire world, encoding not only what's happening, but what its context is, who's involved, and how the world is feeling about it, updated every single day.
Visualize the Global Conversation in a single glance, make World Leader Wordclouds, or explore the connections among Iran's leadership or the evolving narrative around Edward Snowden. You can even drill into reaction to key policy decisions like Syria and Ukraine and leadership assessment. Subscribe to the World Leaders Index to receive a daily summary report of how the world's heads of state are being portrayed in the world's news media.
"GDELT is designed to help support new theories and descriptive understandings of the behaviors and driving forces of global-scale social systems from the micro-level of the individual through the macro-level of the entire planet by offering realtime synthesis of global societal-scale behavior into a rich quantitative database allowing realtime monitoring and analytical exploration of those trends."The GDELT Daily Trend Report is a free daily PDF report that summarizes the latest developments and emerging trends in conflict across the globe, delivering the world to your inbox each morning. For the top 10 countries exhibiting the greatest increase towards conflict over the past 48 hours, one-pager Country Detail briefings draw from both the GDELT Event Database and GDELT Global Knowledge Graph to produce maps, charts, and tables summarizing what's going on, who's involved, its context, and its significance.
Photo credit GDELT Project.
The GDELT World Leaders Index is a free daily PDF report that ranks the world's heads of state each morning according to the average tone of all monitored global news coverage mentioning them in the previous 48 hours. In essence, it is a popularity index that ranks world leaders from most to least popular and how their popularity is changing over time.
Photo credit GDELT Project.
Photo credit Georgetown University.
Querying, Analyzing and Downloading
The entire GDELT database is 100% free and open and you candownload the raw datafiles, visualize it using theGDELT Analysis Service, or analyze it at limitless scale with Google BigQuery.
GDELT Analysis ServiceThe GDELT Analysis Service is a free cloud-based service that offers a variety of tools and services to allow you to visualize, explore, and export both the GDELT Event Database and the GDELT Global Knowledge Graph. This is a great way to get started exploring GDELT and what it can do for you, even if you don't have a technical background.
Google BigQueryThe entire quarter-billion-record GDELT Event Database is available in Google BigQuery, updated daily. You can query, export, and even conduct sophisticated analyses and modeling of the entire dataset using standard SQL, with even the most complex queries returning in near-realtime.
DownloadAdvanced users and those with unique use cases can download all of the underlying records in CSV format. The GDELT Event Database alone is more than 100GB, and few software packages can deal with even small subsets of the database, so most users will likely wish to use the GDELT Analysis Service or Google BigQuery.
"GDELT's evolving ability to capture ethnic, religious, and other social and cultural relationships will offer profoundly new insights into the interplay of group behavior over time, offering a rich new platform for understanding patterns of social evolution, while GDELT's realtime nature will expand current understanding of social systems beyond static snapshots towards theories that incorporate the nonlinear behavior and feedback effects that define human interaction and greatly enrich fragility indexes, early warning systems, and forecasting efforts."The GDELT Analysis Service TimeMapper Visualizer allows you to search the full quarter-billion-record GDELT event database for events matching your search criteria and get back a time-coded Google Earth .KML file that allows you to explore the results over both time and space simultaneously - here all events in Nigeria in Spring 2014 are seen.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
The GDELT Analysis Service Word Cloud Visualizer allows you to rapidly construct a "word cloud" visualization using the GDELT Global Knowledge Graph - this Washington Post article describes the insights gained from creating a word cloud representing every head of state in March 2014.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
The GDELT Analysis Service Network Visualizer allows you to rapidly construct network diagrams from the GDELT Global Knowledge Graph, creating interactive browser-based network displays, "centrality" and "influencer" rankings - here the network of key influencers in the Nigerian Oil & Gas industry is seen.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
The GDELT Blog
The GDELT Blog is the official one-stop repository for thelatest news, announcements, information, and applicationsof the world's largest open research platform on human society.
GDELT's Home in the BlogosphereThe Official GDELT Project Blog is the best place to keep track of all of the latest news, announcements, information, developments, latest features and releases, and new applications and media coverage of the GDELT Project. Its basically GDELT's home in the blogosphere!
The blog is also where we feature a steady stream of examples showcasing projects that use GDELT in new and innovative ways as well as "getting started" examples that show you how to perform basic analyses using GDELT, from mapping to modeling. Want to see an example of how to apply one of the tools in the GDELT Analysis Service? The blog offers examples of how to use each tool and the kinds of analyses they support.
Do you have a cool new application or visualization you've built using GDELT? Writing a paper or analysis using GDELT? Hosting a hackathon using it? Have an awesome new analysis or visualization software package you used GDELT to show off? Write a great story about GDELT or using GDELT? Drop us an email and we'd love to feature it on our blog!
"A global societal observatory for research on global society. Mapping the People, Organizations, Themes, Emotions, and Events Driving Global Events."The GDELT Global Knowledge Graph was used to visualize the "tone" (very positive to very negative) of national media discourse around the Affordable Healthcare Act, create a sequence of heatmaps charting the darkening stormclouds of public opinion.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
All 675 million references to the more than 69 million events captured by GDELT for 2012-2013 were scanned for global patterns in Material Conflict in 2013 compared with 2012, resulting in the largest event-based annual country ranking ever created. A 172-page report was compiled with a one-page country brief for every country, providing a series of maps, charts, graphs, and other visualizations identifying the major emerging patterns of unrest across the world in 2013.
Visualization credit GDELT Project.
Get Started!"The World Right Now, This Moment"What are you waiting for? Welcome to the "computable earth" where you can compute on global society itself!
Get Started
A massive database now translates news in 65 languages in real time | Gigaom
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 04:33
I have written quite a bit about GDELT (the Global Database of Events, Languages and Tone) over the past year, because I think it's a great example of the type of ambitious project only made possible by the advent of cloud computing and big data systems. In a nutshell, it's database of more than 250 million socioeconomic and geopolitical events and their metadata dating back to 1979, all stored (now) in Google's cloud and available to analyze for free via Google BigQuery or custom-built applications.
On Thursday, version 2.0 of GDELT was unveiled, complete with a slew of new features '-- faster updates, sentiment analysis, images, a more-expansive knowledge graph and, most importantly, real-time translation across 65 different languages. That's 98.4 percent of the non-English content GDELT monitors. Because you can't really have a global database, or expect to get a full picture of what's happening around the world, if you're limited to English language sources or exceedingly long turnaround times for translated content.
For a quick recap of GDELT, you can read the story linked to above, as well as our coverage of project creator Kalev Leetaru's analyses of the Arab Spring and Ukrainian crisis and the Ebola outbreak. For a deeper understanding of the project and its creator ''who also helped measure the ''Twitter heartbeat'' and uploaded millions of images from the Internet Archive's digital book collection to Flickr '-- check our Structure Show podcast interview with Leetaru from August (embedded below). He'll also be presenting on GDELT and his future plans at our Structure Data conference next month.
An time-series analysis of the Arab Spring compared with similar periods since 1979.
Leetaru explains GDELT 2.0's translation system in some detail in a blog post, but even at a high level the methods it uses to achieve near real-time speed are interesting. It works sort of like buffering does on Netflix:
''GDELT's translation system must be able to provide at least basic translation of 100% of monitored material every 15 minutes, coping with sudden massive surges in volume without ever requiring more time than the 15 minute window. This 'streaming' translation is very similar to streaming compression, in which the system must dynamically modulate the quality of its output to meet time constraints: during periods with relatively little content, maximal translation accuracy can be achieved, with accuracy linearly degraded as needed to cope with increases in volume in order to ensure that translation always finishes within the 15 minute window. In this way GDELT operates more similarly to an interpreter than a translator. This has not been a focal point of current machine translation research and required a highly iterative processing pipeline that breaks the translation process into quality stages and prioritizes the highest quality material, accepting that lower-quality material may have a lower-quality translation to stay within within the available time window.''
In addition, Leetaru wrote:
''Machine translation systems . . . do not ordinarily have knowledge of the user or use case their translation is intended for and thus can only produce a single 'best' translation that is a reasonable approximation of the source material for general use. . . . Using the equivalent of a dynamic language model, GDELT essentially iterates over all possible translations of a given sentence, weighting them both by traditional linguistic fidelity scores and by a secondary set of scores that evaluate how well each possible translation aligns with the specific language needed by GDELT's Event and GKG systems.''
It will be interesting to see how and if usage of GDELT picks up with the broader, and richer, scope of content it now covers. With an increasingly complex international situation that runs the gamut from the climate change to terrorism, it seems like world leaders, policy experts and even business leaders could use all the information they can get about what's connected to what, who's connected to whom and how this all might play out.
Shadow Puppet Theatre
White House Picks New Director for Embattled Secret Service - The Intercept
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:20
Joseph Clancy has been picked to be the new Secret Service director, sources told The Intercept. The White House press secretary confirmed the appointment. Clancy has been acting director of the agency since October.
The previous director of the long embattled agency stepped down after a series of security lapses, including an incident during which an intruder rushed the White House grounds and walked through the front door and all the way to the East Room before being stopped. That director, Julia Pierson, left in October. She herself was the subject of investigation by the DHS office of Inspector General. The agency's numerous security breaches were the focus of congressional hearings and oversight investigations during her tenure, and during that of her predecessor Mark Sullivan.
At ''a rather difficult time'' for the Secret Service, Clancy ''has a lot of credibility inside the agency,'' White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. He would not answer questions about other candidates for the job.
Photo: Susan Walsh/AP
Joseph Clancy (Secret Service) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:21
Joseph "Joe" P. Clancy is an American law enforcement official. He is the Director of the United States Secret Service. Clancy served as head of the agency's presidential protection division until 2011, when he retired and became director of corporate security for Comcast.[1] He was appointed to the position of acting director following the resignation of Julia Pierson on October 1, 2014.
During his work on the presidential protection details he was able to achieve a close bond with President Barack Obama, and is well regarded by the White House. Clancy was part of the Secret Service protective detail that jogged with President Bill Clinton in the early days of the Presidency of Bill Clinton.[2]
Clancy grew up in the Philadelphia area. He graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania, then attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he excelled on West Point's football team. He transferred to Villanova University and graduated in the late 1970s.[3]
After spending a few years as a history teacher at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia,[4] he joined the Secret Service in Philadelphia in the 1980s. Subsequently, he worked in the New York field office, directing a team of agents that conducted major investigations. He was in charge of security at national special events before joining the president's protective detail.[5] He lives in the Philadelphia area[6] with Andrea, his wife of 31 years, and four children.[7]
^Johnson, M. Alex (October 1, 2014). "New Secret Service Head Joe Clancy Personally Led Obama Security". NBC News. Retrieved October 1, 2014. ^Garrett, Major (October 1, 2014). "Meet the acting Secret Service chief". CBS News. Retrieved October 3, 2014. ^Rappeport, Alan (October 1, 2014). "Retired Veteran of President's Detail Will Temporarily Lead Secret Service". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2014. ^Fiorillo, Victor Fiorillo (October 1, 2014). "Comcast's Joseph Clancy Is Now Secret Service Chief". Philly Magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2014. ^Rappeport, Alan (October 1, 2014). "Retired Veteran of President's Detail Will Temporarily Lead Secret Service". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2014. ^Hicks, Josh (October 1, 2014). "Meet Joseph Clancy, the new acting Secret Service chief". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2014. ^Joseph P. Clancy. Director (Acting) United States Secret Service. secretservice.gov
Hillary's State Department Won Deals for Clinton Foundation Donors | Washington Free Beacon
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 04:21
Donating large sums of money to the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation is one of the many fun ways a corporation, billionaire, or foreign government can curry favor with the Clinton dynasty.
While the media was busy obsessively hyperventilating over Rudy Giulian's comments about President Obama's lack of love for America, the Wall Street Journalreported that, during her time as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton helped promote the interest of large U.S. corporations, many of which have donated larges sums of money to the Clinton Foundation:
Among recent secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton was one of the most aggressive global cheerleaders for American companies, pushing governments to sign deals and change policies to the advantage of corporate giants such as General Electric Co. , Exxon Mobil Corp. , Microsoft Corp. and Boeing Co.
At the same time, those companies were among the many that gave to the Clinton family's global foundation set up by her husband, former President Bill Clinton. At least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during her tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public and foundation disclosures.
As Mrs. Clinton prepares to embark on a race for the presidency, she has a web of connections to big corporations unique in American politics'--ties forged both as secretary of state and by her family's charitable interests. Those relationships are emerging as an issue for Mrs. Clinton's expected presidential campaign as income disparity and other populist themes gain early attention.
Many of these corporations also contributed generously to Hillary Clinton's first presidential run in 2008. For example:
Microsoft ($202, 269)General Electric ($167,921)Boeing ($61,964)Exxon ($20,348)Microsoft really stands out for its decision to purchase access to the Clintons through yet another channel by donating at least $100,000 to the Center for American Progress, an organization whose former chairman, John Podesta, is expected to play a leading role in Hillary's 2016 campaign.
Hillary 2016
Six Week Cycle
Defence portrays accused as inept schmoes
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:35
John Norris isn't done yet with his cross examination of the undercover FBI agent who is the key witness in the trial of two men accused of terrorism charges in the alleged plot to attack a Via passenger train.
Thus it may be too soon to say what is the end game of Norris, who represents accused plotter Raed Jaser. But part of his defence, it appears, is that Jaser and his co-accused, Chiheb Esseghaier, were a pair of schmoes who were all over the map with their terrorist plans, too inept and full of baloney to pose a real danger, and further that his guy at least, Jaser, wasn't serious anyway and was just trying to put the arm on the purportedly rich agent for money.
In fact, during one lengthy conversation between Jaser and the agent, part of which was played for Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Code and the jury in a Toronto courtroom Tuesday, Jaser appeared to treat the agent as an ATM, now outright asking him to support a Muslim woman who was allegedly in need of an apartment, now suggesting that another friend of his who routinely gave most of his money away to charity might also be a worthy recipient of largesse.
The two men are pleading not guilty.
The FBI agent came equipped with a "legend," a cover story that had him posing as a wealthy American Muslim businessman who was supportive of jihad. He first approached Esseghaier, a Montreal PhD student who later introduced him to Jaser, who lived in Toronto and worked in the taxi industry.
All this unfolded in the summer and fall of 2012, with the two men arrested in April 2013 after a lengthy cross-border investigation.
There's little question the men had different ideas.
Esseghaier claimed to be operating on the loose instructions of a man he met in Iran, whom he believed had links to al-Qaida, and even to Osama bin Laden, and whom he called in his flowery way "The Responsible One." It was this man, Esseghaier told the agent, who first suggested he bring down a railway bridge or poison the food at a Canadian military base.
But Esseghaier was toying with an idea of his own, too - somehow blowing up Yellowstone National Park in the United States by making a dormant volcano explode.
He told the agent about it shortly after they first met and initially, the agent said, was passionate about it. But then, as the agent added wryly, Esseghaier is "passionate about everything." He soon abandoned the idea as too difficult, the agent said, and the poisoning plan went the same way - "It had some problems," as the agent said, particularly when the only cook Esseghaier knew stopped taking his calls.
He soon focused again on the plan to derail the New York-Toronto passenger train by cutting a five-or six-metre hole in the tracks over a Scarborough, Ont., bridge.
He talked excitedly about the number of casualties several times, the agent said, conversations he told Norris he found very troubling.
But after the three were spotted by police while on a reconnaissance mission to scout out the bridge, Jaser soon decided he wanted nothing to do with the train plot and never spoke to the agent again.
But he, too, had a plan up his sleeve, court has heard - he thought it made more sense to concentrate on more prominent targets, such as wealthy and prominent Jews, by finding a sniper who could pick off people at the city's annual Gay Pride parade.
So the two certainly had their differences over which alleged plot was better and their styles were different, too, with Esseghaier the more rash and florid personality, Jaser more subdued - just, in fact, as they appear in court.
And even the alleged train plot was flawed; as it turned out, the bridge the trio scouted and planned to use was east of the city and the New York train approaches the city from the west and would never have crossed it in any case.
But does any of that mean Esseghaier and Jaser weren't to be taken seriously and weren't actively conspiring? I was reminded of what Ontario Superior Court Justice John Sproat, who presided over some of the trials of the Toronto 18 terror case in Brampton a few years ago, once said in a pre-trial ruling.
"Put differently," he wrote in that instance, "the charge is participation in terrorist activities, not participation in terrorist activities on an epic scale."
History, Judge Sproat also said, is "replete with examples of how dangerous even a lone gunman, particularly with a misguided sense of mission or importance, can be."
2013 VIA Rail Canada terrorism plot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:34
Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were charged on 23 April 2013 by the Crown under special consent of the Attorney General of Canada, pursuant to section 83.24 of the Criminal Code of Canada. George Dolhai, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, entered charges under the Criminal Code of Canada against the two suspects.
Pursuant to section 83.24 of the Criminal Code I, the undersigned, George Dolhai, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Deputy Attorney General of Canada do consent to the commencement of proceedings against Chiheb ESSEGHAIER and Raed JASER in respect of the following offences:
1. Chiheb ESSEGHAIER and Raed JASER, between April 1st 2012 and September 25th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario, and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec, and elsewhere, did conspire, the one with the other, to interfere with transportation facilities contrary to section 248 of the Criminal Code of Canada, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
2. Chiheb ESSEGHAIER and Raed JASER, between April 1st, 2012 and September 25th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did conspire, the one with the other, to murder persons unknown contrary to section 235(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
3. Chiheb ESSEGHAlER between April 1st, 2012 and September 25 th 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity. thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
4. Chiheb ESSEGlWER, between September 25th, 2012 and December 31st 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
5. Raed lASER, between April 1st 2012 and September 25th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
6. Chiheb ESSEGHAIER, between September 7th, 2012 and December 20th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly instruct, directly or indirectly, any person to carry out any activity for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, contrary to section 83.21 of the Criminal Code of Canada."[38]
Follow the Pipe$
Egypt 'doesn't mind' Israeli gas - Economy - Business - Ahram Online
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:08
A week after Reuters broke the news of talks between the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) and the American Noble Energy Company, which operates Israeli gas fields, the Ministry of Petroleum appears to publicly support a new policy that would allow the importation of Israeli gas.In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel. Despite full diplomatic relations, official niceties and, many years later, US-encouraged commercial and business agreements between the two former enemies, normalisation with Israel remained taboo and was rejected by the wider public.
So when former president Hosni Mubarak approved a 20-year agreement to export Egyptian gas to Israel in 2005 it caused a political uproar that continued until his ouster in February 2011.
Not only was Egypt pumping natural gas directly to Israel, it was doing so at below-market prices through East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), then co-owned by Mubarak 's friend Hussein Salem and former Israeli Mossad agent Yossi Maiman, who then sold the gas to Israel at higher rates, pocketing the difference.
In the aftermath of the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011, Egypt unilaterally terminated this agreement, citing failures by the Israeli side to meet payment deadlines in violation of the contract.
The decision was met with relief and a sense of revolutionary achievement, but things did not end there. When Mubarak was referred for trial in 2011, the gas deal was added to the corruption charges (a Cairo court dismissed the charges three months ago because the charges were too old to fall within its jurisdiction.)
More than four years later, Egyptian officials are negotiating a reversal of the gas deal through the very same pipeline that exported the gas to Israel, according to Reuters and official statements attributed to top-level officials in the ministry of petroleum.
The sub-headline of the pro-government Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper 's lead story on 3 February proclaimed: "Egypt to confront summer blackouts with Israeli gas. " On 7 February the same newspaper quoted a minister who refused to be named as saying that Egypt "doesn 't mind importing gas from Israel."
He added that the "sovereign authorities, " an euphemism for the military, intelligence and presidency, had followed the talks between EGAS and Noble Energy but had not yet given them the go-ahead for an agreement.
Officials in the Ministry of Petroleum and EGAS could not be reached for comment.
The cautiousness of the gradual and not yet final announcement of the news is an acknowledgment of the political sensitivities involved in this U-turn. The opacity and secrecy surrounding the talks provides scarce information, which critics say is reminiscent of deals under Mubarak.
"I hope we don 't repeat the mistakes of the past, " said Nasserist columnist Abdallah Al-Senawi, a supporter of president Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.
"[Mubarak 's] relations and normalisation with Israel were never debated, no one was held accountable, and the truth was never fully disclosed to the public. Today we are reversing the equation and there are so many unanswered questions about the political and business aspects of importing Israeli gas. "
What prices are being discussed? Do they meet international standards? Are there alternatives to Israel? And what are the channels for serious debate in the absence of a parliament in Egypt were some of the questions Al-Senawi asked. The first parliament elected after Mubarak's ouster was dissolved in June 2012.
Egypt 's energy crisis began in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising with gas production companies reducing exploration and therefore production. Existing gas fields, which have an average lifespan of five to six years, are aging and aren 't being maintained. Between increasing demand and dwindling supply a gap has emerged.
Attempts to address this gap by supplying power stations with fossil fuel only partially solved the problem because a significant portion of these stations operate with gas.
Energy shortages then led the government to redirect all available gas to the domestic grid, stripping international gas companies BG and the Spanish-Italian Union Fenosa Gas (UFG), which own and operate the country 's two liquefaction plants jointly with EGAS, of their shares.
Lacking the necessary supplies to keep their business going, UFG 's liquefaction plant in the Delta governorate of Damietta fell idle in 2012. In 2013, UFG filed a complaint with the International Chamber of Commerce, accusing the Egyptian government of failing to commit to its agreement by failing to supply gas.
EMG, the company operating the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline, had already filed an arbitration case against Egypt demanding $8 billion in compensation for cancelling the supply of gas to Israel in 2011.
In 2013, serious debate in the gas business focused on Israel, by now a gas-producing country, as the answer to such problems. Perceived as being faster and easier to import natural gas from Israel, which also needs a market as large as Egypt 's, UFG signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the Israeli Tamar gas field to supply it with gas.
BG followed with a LOI with partners in the Israeli Leviathan gas field. However, for such letters to become fully-fledged agreements and come into effect they have to be approved by the Egyptian regulator.
Faced with significant fines in the two arbitration cases and the serious implications of the worsening energy crisis, Egypt responded by placing three conditions on the deals: resolving the arbitration cases against Egypt, clinching a value-added agreement with the government, and the approval of the "sovereign authorities."
The new development now is that Egyptian officials are talking to Noble Energy, a sign that long-term agreements with partners in the Israeli gas fields are close to realisation.
According to an informed source in one of the international gas production companies involved in the talks, the discussions are about importing seven billion cubic metres of natural gas daily to Egypt in a long-term agreement of 15 years.
If the parties agree to export the Israeli gas via the existing offshore pipeline it could start flowing into Egypt 's grid as early as this summer. But because Israel doesn 't have an immediate surplus to cover Egypt 's needs so soon, the quantities will be small.
"Israel won 't be able to supply Egypt with the required volumes before the end of 2016 or 2017, " said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.
The period between 2015 and 2017 "will be the darkest in Egypt, " the source added.
Noble Energy, the partner in Tamar and Leviathan, wants to construct two additional conduits under the sea and underground between Israel and Egypt to ensure a consistent and safe supply. The existing offshore pipeline that largely extends across North Sinai has been attacked multiple times by militants since 2011.
However, the idea of two additional pipelines was not conceived just to restore the level of gas production before the crisis emerged in Egypt. Because Israel 's gas surplus needs to be liquefied in order to be exported to Europe, it wants to do so via Egypt 's two liquefaction plants.
Egypt 's gas production companies typically produced 4.7 billion cubic metres daily while the country needs seven billion cubic metres. The difference was compensated by mazot (liquefied fuel.)
There is now no known government strategy to address the fearful blackouts of the approaching summer, which are expected to be worse than during the previous one. And it appears that for now the government is resorting to Arab nations for help in managing the year ahead.
In December, Algeria agreed to export six natural liquefied gas shipments of 850,000 cubic metres each to Egypt during 2015. The Ain Sokhna Port at the Suez Canal was identified as the most suited to receive these shipments, but the terminal isn't ready yet thus delaying their arrival.
However, suffering from an increase in domestic consumption, Algeria has reduced its gas exports since 2005 and isn 't viewed as a future gas provider to Egypt.
Egypt is engaged in talks with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to import petroleum products to cover the energy gap this year, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm,which did not cite figures.
This might delay an expected backlash resulting from signing a long-term agreement to import Israeli gas.
"Egypt 's opposition groups are overstretched with serious domestic issues and aren't paying attention to this development or don 't want to get into a confrontation with the authorities for now," said Wael Gamal, an economics columnist and researcher.
"So the timing is in the government's favour to go ahead with an agreement now if it wants."
But this will not prevent questions about the impact of the dependence on Israeli gas as a main source of energy on Egypt 's national security, Gamal added.
There are also questions that run deeper, to the psychological barrier many Egyptians still feel about Israel.
"How is one supposed to feel after drinking a cup of tea made on a stove operated by Israeli gas?" Samer Atallah, a professor of economics at the American University in Cairo, asked on Twitter.
*This story was first published in Ahram Weekly
Short link:
Lawmakers could approve $395 million Chinese loan to expand Route 32 as early as this week '-- The Tico Times
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 03:14
A $395 million loan from China would help finance expansion of 107 kilometers of Route 32, the main highway from Costa Rica's capital to the Caribbean coast.
The administration of President Luis Guillermo Sol­s is moving to expedite approval of a Chinese loan to fund the expansion of Costa Rica's Route 32, the main highway connecting San Jos(C) and the Caribbean province of Lim"n.
Last Saturday, Presidency Minister Melvin Jim(C)nez announced the decision to table from the Legislative Assembly's agenda 16 bills currently ahead of the Chinese loan package to allow lawmakers to start discussing the measure.
On Monday morning, President Sol­s promised to include in the 2016 national budget approximately $20 million needed to pay for the expropriation of land and the relocation of public utilities along the route. Later that day, lawmakers passed all procedural motions regarding the bill, paving the way for its first round of voting.
Sol­s' announcement eliminated the main obstacle for lawmakers to approve a $395 million loan from China to expand the highway to four lanes along 107 kilometers. The figure represents 85 percent of the project's $465 million cost, with the Costa Rican government funding the remaining $70 million.
The deadline for approval of the loan in a second and final round of debate is Feb. 28, a date set by China to maintain the loan's current conditions, including a fixed interest rate of 6 percent for 20 years.
Public Works and Transport Minister Carlos Segnini on Monday said he is confident the loan can be approved before that deadline to avoid driving up the cost of the project.
Lawmakers who oppose the loan's approval have doubts about the conditions of the agreement. China has demanded the project be developed entirely by China Harbour Engeenering Company (CHEC) using only Chinese workers.
One of the loan's most vocal opponents is Citizen Action Party lawmaker Otton Sol­s, who said he opposes hiring CHEC, which he noted has drawn scrutiny on several occasions by the World Bank for breach of contracts.
''I would agree that China has the prerogative to choose the company that carries out the project if they were donating the funds. But what we are discussing here is a commercial loan, meaning Costa Rica should be the one selecting the company to develop the project,'' Sol­s said last week.
The expansion of Route 32 is key to the country's business sector as some 80 percent of Costa Rica's exports leave the country via Caribbean docks.
Obama Nation
Is your Form 1095-A correct? | HealthCare.gov
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:27
February 20, 2015If you enrolled in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2014, you should've received an important tax statement in the mail, called Form 1095-A. This statement has information you need to fill out your 2014 federal income tax return.
Most people received a correct Form 1095-A. However, if we contact you because your Form 1095-A is incorrect, here's why. Some forms included the monthly premium amount of the second lowest cost Silver plan for 2015 instead of 2014, which needs to be corrected. The incorrect amount is listed in Part III, Column B of the Form 1095-A. We're working quickly to resolve this and any other issues with the 1095-A forms. This does not mean that your tax credit was incorrect; this is purely an error in what was printed on the form.
If your form is affected by this issue, you'll get a call and email from us in the next few days, and you will get a message in your Marketplace account here on HealthCare.gov. Once you log in, you should select your 2014 application, and then select "Tax forms." You will see a message letting you know if your 1095-A form is being corrected. This is also where you will find your corrected form when it is completed. When the corrected form is ready, we'll send a message to your Marketplace account. All corrected forms should be available by early March.
If your form was incorrect, please wait to file your 2014 Federal income taxes.
We encourage you to wait to file until you get your corrected Form 1095-A. If you can't wait, and want to find the amount of the second lowest cost Silver plan that applied to your household in 2014, you have 2 options:
Already filed your taxes using the incorrect Form 1095-A?
Additional information will be provided shortly.
Out There
Former Austinite could be one of the first people to live on Mars - CultureMap Austin
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 04:16
Sonia Van Meter is many things: a political consultant, a wife, a step-mother ... and a potential resident of Mars. Yes, you read that right.
Mars One, a privately funded organization based in the Netherlands, hopes to establish a permanent human colony on Mars within the next 10 years. And on Monday, the organization announced the 100 finalists for its first mission. Van Meter, an Austinite until just recently, is one of them.
"If we can look up from Earth and know that human beings are living on another planet, will we ever again be able to tell ourselves that there is anything we can't do?" Van Meter asks in her original audition tape for the Mars One mission.
If chosen, Van Meter will have to leave her director's position at Austin-based Stanford Caskey, her family and her home planet for good. The potential colony will be a permanent one, meaning the Mars One crew will not be returning to Earth.
There are still a few obstacles that Van Meter must face before she can call Mars her new home. Dubbed the "Mars 100," Van Meter and the rest of the finalists will take on a series of team-building tests and simulations, all of which will be the focus of a reality series.
In a moving column in Texas Monthly, Van Meter's husband Jason Stanford discusses the potential voyage, and the loss of his wife.
"I will mourn her a million times before she dies. I will not like any of this, but I love her, and this is a horizon worth crossing," Stanford writes. "Like those astronaut wives before me, I will man up."
Stanford points out that Van Meter's passion for the mission and the inspiration she draws from our planetary neighbor is what makes the difficulty worth it. "Space exploration inspires me, not just because of what we find out there, but what we discover about ourselves in the process," says Van Meter in her audition tape.
For Van Meter, the opportunity is all about the journey. "If we can look up from Earth and know that human beings are living on another planet, will we ever again be able to tell ourselves that there is anything we can't do?"
Uncertainties still face the Mars One mission. The foundation must raise enough money to fund the project, in addition to building a spaceship. Watch the trailer for the Mars One reality series below.
Mars One Business Model - Finance and Feasibility - Mars One
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 04:16
Mars One will be humankind's mission to Mars.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, the whole world was watching. In the next decade, about four billion people will have access to video images. Mars One expects that virtually every one of them will watch when the first humans land on Mars.
Mars One intends to gain funds to send humans and cargo to Mars by using a variety of ways. As Mars One is a private and not a governmental initiative, it gives anyone interested in the mission the possibility to cooperate in realising the mission. The targeted means of funding are as follows:
Exclusive partnershipsSponsorshipsSales of broadcasting rightsInvolvement with high net worth individualsRevenues from Intellectual PropertyCrowdfundingAs a comparison, the revenues from sponsorships and broadcasting rights for the Olympic games can be found in the table below. In this table you can see how much revenue is generated by the Olympics per four year period. Each four year period includes three weeks for the Summer Olympics, and three weeks for the Winter Olympics.
Back to the FAQ overview
UFO at the bottom of the Baltic Sea cuts off electrical equipment when divers get within 200m | Earth. We are one.
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 02:40
The divers exploring a 'UFO-shaped' object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea say their equipment stops working when they approach within 200 meters of the object.
Professional diver Stefan Hogerborn, part of the Ocean X team which is exploring the anomaly, said some of the teams' cameras and satellite phones would refuse to work when directly above the object, and would only work once they had sailed away. He is quoted as saying:
''Anything electric out there, and the satellite phone as well, stopped working when we were above the object. And then when we got away about 200 meters, it turned on again, and when we got back over the object it didn't work.''
Hefty trajectory: The Swedish diving team noted a 985-foot flattened out 'runway' leading up to the object, implying that it skidded along the path before stopping but no true answers to this are clear.
Diver Peter Lindberg said: ''We have experienced things that I really couldn't explain and I have been the team's biggest skeptic regarding these different kind of theories.''
He continues..
''I was kind of prepared just to find a stone or cliff or outcrop or pile of mud but it was nothing like that, so for me it has been a missing experience I must say.''
Member Dennis …sberg said: ''I am one hundred percent convinced and confident that we have found something that is very, very, very unique.''
''Is it a meteorite or an asteroid? Or a volcano? Or a base from say, a U-boat from the Cold War which has manufactured and placed there? Or if it is a UFO?
Well, honestly, it has to be something.''
The quotes were first reported at NDTV. DailyMail also reached out to the Ocean X team for clarification.
The team did get some pictures, such as these soot-covered rocks that encircled an egg-shaped hole which went into the object at its center, and have no idea what any of it means.
No clarification: The divers made their sonar discovery public but waited a year to make the dive because they had to gather enough funding.
Landing spot: The exact coordinates of the object have not been released, but it is confirmed to be somewhere at the bottom of the Botnia Gulf in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden.
The object was first found in May of 2011, but because of a lack of funding and bad timing, they have were not able to pull a team together to see for themselves '' just the strange, metallic outline and a similar disk-shaped object about 200 metres away.
During their visit, the team saw a 985-foot trail that they described as ''a runway or a downhill path on the seabed with the object at the end of it''.
The sonar picture of the unidentified object resembles the famed Star Wars ship the Millennium Falcon.
As it was before the recent dive, the story behind the object is anyone's guess, from a ''plug to the inner world'' to the Millennium Falcon ship from Star Wars.
While the Ocean Explorer team is understandably excited about their potentially earth-shattering find, others are slightly more sceptical and are questioning the accuracy of the sonar technology.
In the past, such technology has confused foreign objects with unusual, but natural rock formations.
Part of the trouble they face is that they have no way of telling what is inside the supposed cylinder, whether it is filled with gold and riches, some sort of energy source, or simply aged sedimentary particles.
The Baltic Sea is a treasure trove for shipwreck hunters. An estimated 100,000 objects are thought to line the cold seas' floor.
The company has created a submarine that they hope will appeal to tourists and wannabe shipwreck hunters who will pay to take a trip down to the bottom of the Baltic Sea to see it for themselves.
The Ocean Explorer team's sonar pictures show that the object is a massive cylinder with a 60 metre diameter and a 400 metre-long tail. A similar disk-shaped object was also found about 200 metres away.
Unidentified Object: Shipwreck divers are completely perplexed by the oddly-shaped object that they found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
Tourist trips: Diver Peter Lindberg is hoping to take tourists down in this submarine to see the object.
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Source: DailyMail
VIDEO-Thousands attend anti-Maidan march in Moscow | euronews, world news
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:41
Thousands turned out for a rally in Moscow to condemn the popular uprising in Ukraine's Maidan Square, which ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych one year ago.
Chanting the slogan ''We won't forget! We won't forgive!'' police say around 35,000 people attended the rally which was heavily promoted by state media.
''(I'm here) to support Russia indeed. Finally maybe in the close future the war could come here. Of course America supports all this, NATO as well, it's clear. I am ready to go to war but what war will it be?'' asked one of the demonstrators.
Banners carrying anti-EU, anti-NATO and anti-American slogans were also on display.
Twitter users pointed to another banner which mocked learning disabilities.
''If we didn't have Putin it would be Maidan here already. And when I saw how he manages all of this I'm very proud. You see I bought a jumper with Putin on, I bought immediately! My friends did not believe it, they said: ''Hey, but you voted for another guy!'' I said: No, Putin is our man today, Putin is our president!''
Despite the fervour of some protesters, Russian internet forums spoke of payments being handed over for attendance as well as some educational institutes forcing students and employees to turn up. Journalists noted the number of buses near Red Square.
The previous night saw a pro-Maidan protest, where at least five people were detained and then later freed.
It came as Kyiv held a series of memorials to those who died in the protests in February 2014.
Since the uprising, Russia annexed Crimea. The conflict in the east of Ukraine has claimed more than 5,600 lives and led to heightened tensions between Moscow and the West.
VIDEO-Clinton Says Obama Muslim Rumor Not True ''As Far As I Know'' - ABC News
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:03
Mar 2, 2008 11:03pm
Interesting item starting to circulate on the web tonight like on AndrewSullivan.com'...
On 60 Minutes, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, was asked about rumors that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is a Muslim.
She took a hardline stance against the rumor'...then seemed to walk it back, injecting a note of ambivalence.
Watch it HERE.
Here's how the exchange went.
STEVE KROFT: You don't believe that Senator Obama's a Muslim?
HILLARY CLINTON: Of course not. I mean that's, you know, that, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says, and, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.
KROFT: You said you take Sen. Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim'...
CLINTON: Right, right..
KROFT: '...you don't believe that he's a Muslim.
CLINTON: No! No! Why would I? There's nothing to base that on. As far as I know.
"As far as I know"?
To be fair, Clinton went on to say that having "been the target of so many ridiculous rumors'... I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time."
That said, it's the "as far as I know" that has some Obama supporters up in arms.
(Like the one who posted the clip on Youtube under the header: "Hillary Clinton Stokes False Rumors about Obama's Faith".)
I guess the question is how would this look if the shoe were on the other foot.
Let's try just one of any number of ridiculous anti-Clinton smears.
HYPOTHETICAL STEVE KROFT: You don't believe that Senator Clinton killed Vince Foster?
HYPOTHETICAL BARACK OBAMA: Of course not. I mean that's, you know, that, there is no basis for that. You know, I take her on the basis of what she says, and, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.
HYPOTHETICAL KROFT: You said you take Sen. Clinton at her word that she didn't kill Vince Foster'...
HYPOTHETICAL KROFT: '...you don't believe that she killed Vince Foster.
HYPOTHETICAL OBAMA: No! No! Why would I? There's nothing to base that on. As far as I know.
And lest we forget this context, from the perspective of Obama supporters: two Clinton campaign volunteer coordinators in Iowa were asked by the Clinton campaign to resign after it came out that they had circulated those insane Obama-is-a-Muslim-Manchurian-candidate emails.
What say you?
- jpt
VIDEO-Kerry Says 'Gullible' ISIS Recruits Attracted by Perception of Glamor and Success, Not Religious Fervor | MRCTV
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 06:05
Foreign recruits joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are not being targeted for their religious fervor but because they are gullible enough to believe the cause is glamorous and successful, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.
VIDEO-Susan Rice: 'Who Better Than a Mother to Spot Unusual Behavior in Her Child and Intervene?' | MRCTV
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 05:53
In a speech at the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Thursday said part of the strategy to combat terrorism is training women - especially mothers - to recognize the signs of recruitment and radicalization in their own families.
VIDEO-Netanyahu Says Israel Does Know What's in the Proposed Iran Nuclear Deal '' And it's Bad | MRCTV
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 05:45
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has pushed back at the inference that his government does not know the details of a proposed negotiated agreement on Iran's nuclear program, saying it does know, and that the proposal offers "a bad deal, a dangerous deal."
VIDEO-WH on Comey Snub: Didn't Want to Be 'Overly Focused on Law Enforcement' | MRCTV
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 05:25
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that FBI Director James Comey was not invited to the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, because they didn't want the perception that the conference "was overly focused on law enforcement tactics."
VIDEO-NBC Expert: Jihadis Aren't Necessarily 'Disaffected,'Unemployed' | MRCTV
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 05:10
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
The 20 February 2015 edition of NBC Nightly News surprisingly (and perhaps, unwittingly) contradicted President Obama and his administration's talking point that providing "job opportunities for these people" will discourage Muslims from joining terrorist groups. Correspondent Katy Tur's report on three British teenagers who may have traveled to Syria to join ISIS featured a counterterrorism expert who underlined that "they're not the disaffected. They're not necessarily unemployed youth. Instead, we're seeing educated young women who are engaged in politics."
VIDEO- Psaki Cites 250 Violations Minsk. 19 Feb 2015 (Ukraine) - YouTube
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:14
VIDEO- French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on the ''intolerable rise of anti-Semitism in France.'' - YouTube
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:03
VIDEO- Anti-Defamation League Official Blames White Supremacy For Terrorism At White House Event - YouTube
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 02:57
VIDEO-Chilling 'Slenderman' interrogation tapes released - CNN Video
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 02:10
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VIDEO: Greece upbeat on debt deal
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:29
Eurozone finance ministers have granted Greece a conditional four-month extension of its international bailout.
Greece has agreed to submit a list of reforms by Monday to be assessed by its lenders. The deal will be finalised by eurozone ministers on Tuesday.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said it was a fair deal for Europe.
''We genuinely and faithfully targeted one objective, and that was the interests of the average European,'' he said.
VIDEO-Weekly Address: We Should Make Sure the Future Is Written by Us | The White House
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:17
February 21, 2015 | 2:48 | Public Domain
In this week's address, the President underscored the importance of continuing to grow our economy and support good-paying jobs for our workers by opening up new markets for American goods and services.
Download mp4 (104MB) | mp3 (6MB)
VIDEO-West Wing Week: 02/20/15 or, ''Hello, 'Chiberia!''' | The White House
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:11
February 20, 2015 | 4:28 | Public Domain
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President spent time in sunny San Francisco and subzero Chicago, spoke at two different summits on two different coasts, and named three new national monuments.
VIDEO-President Obama Designates Three New National Monuments | The White House
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:25
February 19, 2015 | 25:16 | Public Domain
At Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago, the President speaks at the designation of three new National Monuments, February 19, 2015.
Download mp4 (933MB) | mp3 (61MB)
VIDEO-Crispin Porter + Bogusky Breaks New Ads for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese | Adweek
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:19
Can Kraft Macaroni & Cheese credibly market itself as healthful?
That's a core question behind new TV and digital ads from Crispin Porter + Bogusky that tout the brand's protein quotient ("nine grams of protein per serving"), albeit with the same playful tone of its longstanding "You Know You Love It" campaign.
It's not a heavy sell, as only some ads this year will play up protein. Indeed, of three TV spots rolling out this month, just one, "Pots Galore," which features a young couple and breaks next week, employs that strategy.
But, of course, competitors like Annie's play up their ingredients in a bid to appeal to health-conscious parents, so why shouldn't Kraft?
The new direction, which Kraft unveiled first to Adweek, stems from the misgivings of millennial parents, who don't think their children are eating enough protein, said Sara Braun, a senior marketing director on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. "It's about making sure that these parents have the nutritional reassurance they need to feel better about serving Kraft Mac and Cheese," explained Braun. Or, as CP+B executive creative director Adam Chasnow put it, "We look at it as, this is really good news.
Still, one strategic planner questions why Kraft is employing a healthful message at all, given its well-established'--and cherished'--identity as comfort food.
"The comfort food angle of Kraft has always been very powerful for them. I don't think they can become what they're not," said Domenico Vitale, founder of People Ideas & Culture and a former head of strategy at Lowe and Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners. "I don't think anyone will ever buy it as a healthy food."
Braun acknowledged as much but defended the new micro-strategy as measured and in proportion to the brand's macro-positioning as fun food that parents love as much as kids. That big picture approach is loud and clear in the other new TV ads: "Airplane Detour," in which a mom steers a spoonful of mac and cheese away from her baby and into her mouth, and "Young at Heart," where comic actress Estelle Harris (George's mom on Seinfeld) commandeers the kids' table at a family dinner to get more of the dish.
"It's definitely [about] striking a balance because we have heard time and time again from our consumers that they don't think of macaroni and cheese as a health food," Braun said. "But in today's food environment, they just want to feel better about it." She added that the amount of protein per 2.4 ounce serving "is nothing new. But it's new news to our consumers."
Fair enough, said Katherine Wintsch, CEO of The Mom Complex. Wintsch liked the humor of "Pots Galore," in which a husband in a kitchen flashes his knowledge of protein to his wife, but she wished the ad went further to put the nine grams in context.
"If I'm not studying labels, I don't know if that's good or bad'--or high or low," Wintsch said. "I think the spot is funny, but I think the claim could be more easily digestible and not as basic."
Braun declined to reveal media spending behind this year's ads, which also includes marketing around new Star Wars and Minions shapes. Typically, however, the brand spends $35-40 million annually on media, according to Kantar Media.
VIDEO-President Obama Speaks at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism | The White House
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:25
February 18, 2015 | 33:16 | Public Domain
At the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., the President delivers remarks at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, February 18, 2015.
Download mp4 (1230MB) | mp3 (80MB)
VIDEO-AUDIO-FPI Conference Call: ISIS and the AUMF: Framing the Debate | Foreign Policy Initiative
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:13
Speakers:Thomas DonnellyAmerican Enterprise Institute
Vance SerchukCenter for a New American Security
ModeratorDr. David AdesnikForeign Policy Initiative
Speaker Biographies
Thomas Donnelly, a defense and security policy analyst, is the codirector of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of numerous articles, essays, and books, including Operation Just Cause: The Storming of Panama and Clash of Chariots: A History of Armored Warfare. He is currently at work on Empire of Liberty: The Origins of American Strategic Culture. From 1995 to 1999, he was policy group director for the House Committee on Armed Services. Donnelly also served as a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and is a former editor of Armed Forces Journal, Army Times, and Defense News. He holds an M.I.P.P. from the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from Ithaca College.
Vance Serchuk is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Since August 2013, he has been executive director of the KKR Global Institute, based in New York. He previously served for six years as senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and as a professional staff member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Prior to working in the Senate, Vance was a research fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. During the first half of 2013, he was a Council on Foreign Relations-Hitachi International Affairs Fellow based in Tokyo and wrote a monthly column on foreign affairs for the Washington Post. Vance's writings have also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University, holds a JD from Yale Law School, and was a Fulbright scholar in the Russian Federation. He is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Dr. David Adesnik is the policy director at the Foreign Policy Initiative, where he focuses on defense and strategy issues. Previously, Dr. Adesnik was a visiting fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. For two years, he served as deputy director for Joint Data Support at the U.S. Department of Defense, where he focused on the modeling and simulation of irregular warfare and counterinsurgency. Dr. Adesnik also spent several years as research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia. His work has been published in Foreign Policy, The Weekly Standard, The National Review, The Washington Free Beacon, The Washington Quarterly, Forbes.com, FoxNews.com and The Daily Caller. Dr. Adesnik holds a doctorate and master's degree in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He received a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University.


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Agenda 21

Bill Nye Science guy SNOW IMAGES with Joy Reid MSNBC-Climate Hysteria.mp3


Josh Earnest on Comey-1-not invited-Social media.mp3
Josh Earnest on Comey-2-not invited-combatting-countering-BOSS.mp3
Kerry -2-Its YOUR gullible kids seeking glamour.mp3
Kerry Suggests What Motivates Terror Recruits.mp3
Maddow -Linda Sarsour of the National Network for Arab American Communities.-BUBBLING UP.mp3
NBC Expert on your daughters becoming jihadis.mp3
Oren Segal-Anti-Defamation League's Extremism center-95% right wing.mp3
Reiner-Nye-Elahe Izadi-Bill Maher-Jews to Israel.mp3
Susan Rice mothers detect jihadi kids.mp3


Greek FM upbeat on deal.mp3


Psaki & Matt on 250 Minsk violations Propahganda OSCE.mp3
Thousands attend anti-Maidan march in Moscow.mp3

JCD Clips

ashly carter.mp3
CCTV and china loves Mugabe.mp3
chinese marketing flock to japan for toilet seats.mp3
cinese marketing summary of fixes.mp3
curious screaming guy in report on syria.mp3
east coast chill.mp3
islamic versus extremism terminology.mp3
local report on the three girls.mp3
RT needling the UK about freedome of speech.mp3
south sudan chilsd abductions.mp3
spielberg versus god.mp3
syria part two lisssts ARCHIVE.mp3
three girls story developing.mp3
UN GUY with the lisssts.mp3
WTF shields on isis.mp3

War on Drugs

Clinton to Mexico-we ran it overland wtf.mp3
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