699: 50 Shades of Terror

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 58m
February 26th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Adam Johnson, Sir Felix Cornici, Sir Gene Naftulyev Baron de Marriott Sherrif of Texas, Richard Moffatt

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Gordon Walton, Sir Face of Fema 5, Yousef Hegazi, Sir Metal Mike Underwood, Jørgen Andersson

Cover Artist: MartinJJ

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Typhoid Mary
Mary Mallon (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938), better known as Typhoid Mary, was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. She was presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook.[1] She was twice forcibly isolated by public health authorities and died after a total of nearly three decades in isolation.
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Magnetic Loop antenna
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Notice to Congress -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Libya
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:31
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 23, 2015
NOTICE- - - - - - -CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO LIBYA
On February 25, 2011, by Executive Order 13566, I declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, his government, and close associates, who took extreme measures against the people of Libya, including by using weapons of war, mercenaries, and wanton violence against unarmed civilians. In addition, there was a serious risk that Libyan state assets would be misappropriated by Qadhafi, members of his government, members of his family, or his close associates if those assets were not protected. The foregoing circumstances, the prolonged attacks, and the increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge in other countries caused a deterioration in the security of Libya and posed a serious risk to its stability. The situation in Libya continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and we need to protect against the diversion of assets or other abuse by certain members of Qadhafi's family and other former regime officials. For this reason, the national emergency declared on February 25, 2011, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond February 25, 2015. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13566.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
BARACK OBAMA
Letter -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Libya
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:31
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 23, 2015
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:) Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13566 of February 25, 2011, with respect to Libya is to continue in effect beyond February 25, 2015. Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, his government, and close associates took extreme measures against the people of Libya, including by using weapons of war, mercenaries, and wanton violence against unarmed civilians. In addition, there was a serious risk that Libyan state assets would be misappropriated by Qadhafi, members of his government, members of his family, or his close associates if those assets were not protected. The foregoing circumstances, the prolonged attacks, and the increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge in other countries caused a deterioration in the security of Libya, posed a serious risk to its stability, and led me to declare a national emergency to deal with this threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The violence that has spread throughout the country, resulting in the evacuation and temporary relocation of U.S. Embassy personnel, demonstrates the continued insecurity and threat to regional stability caused by the ongoing conflict in Libya. Much of the current conflict is over power and access to Libya's resources, and we run the risk of further destabilization if sanctions do not remain in effect. We continue to encourage Libyans to engage in dialogue and cease violence. Those that reject dialogue and obstruct and undermine Libya's democratic transition must be held accountable, which is why we worked with the U.N. Security Council to pass U.N. Security Council Resolution 2174 in August 2014 to address threats to Libya's peace, security, and stability. While we work with the international community to identify those individuals who pose a threat to Libya's democratic transition, we must also continue to ensure that the appropriate sanctions remain in place. The situation in Libya continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and we need to protect against the diversion of assets or other abuse by certain members of Qadhafi's family and other former regime officials. Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Libya.
Sincerely, BARACK OBAMA
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Theodore Kasczinski "Industrial Society and Its Future"
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''699, 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.
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PR
KiwiCam's renewal of cool domains
Hi Adam
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It's already directing to your NA page, and just a reminder that I also have
these two which I will also continue to pay for indefinitely:
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http://curryanddvorakconsultinggroup.com
It's easy to forget the double D's
I just thought I'd let you know.
Kind regards
Kiwi Cam
Caliphate!
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Elementary Students Taken Ill After Googling 'ISIS' In Class | japanCRUSH
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 09:01
With ISIS currently dominating the news, it's no surprise that even young kids would let curiosity get the best of them and decide to do a quick Google search on the topic.
However, this week some elementary school students got more than they bargained for when they googled ''ISIS'' during class and ended up seeing disturbing photos of the dead body of Goto Kenji, the Japanese journalist who was murdered by ISIS in Syria last month. Among the students who viewed the pictures, 11 reportedly became physical ill.
On 2ch, where such shocking and disturbing content is often found and distributed, many users voiced the opinion that that these kids were too weak and that viewing such gross images was necessary to build up a tolerance towhatever nastiness these kids might encounter in real life.
From Yahoo! Japan:
The Kuwana City Board of Education in Mie Prefecture has reported that at school on February 18th, 18 elementary school students viewed images of what are allegedly the remains of Goto Kenji, who was killed by the radical Islamist group ISIS, and that 11 of those students had complained of feeling ill.
According to the Education Committee, the 18 students were surfing the web on their own during their Integrated Studies class and looked up the images. The class was conducted with students coming and going between the computer room and the normal classroom and the teacher was in the classroom at the time. After viewing the images, 11 students went to the school nurse's office saying they ''felt ill''. Two of the students were met by their guardians when school let out.
Members of the school visited the homes of all the students in the class and explained what happened. The school counselor was there to provide students with emotional support.
Comments from 2ch.net:
ã‚ãƒã‚¼ãƒ"チãƒ"バックブリーã‚ー(å¥è‰¯ç'Œ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
The first graphic image I saw online was enough for me.
ミドãƒã‚­ãƒƒã‚¯(大å†ç'Œ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼ :
They should re-do the class by forcing them to watch the movie ''Barefoot Gen'' [''Barefoot Gen'' is a well known anti-war manga].
ã‚ãƒã‚¼ãƒ"チãƒ"バックブリーã‚ー(dionè>>)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
Suicide bombers, huh?
ãƒã‚¤ãƒ'ãƒ"グãƒãƒƒãƒ‰ãƒãƒƒãƒ(æ'±äº¬éƒ½)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼
There have been times where I've seen a hasu collage and lost my appetite for a while [A ''hasu collage'' is a series of graphic or disturbing images meant to shock the viewer]
キãƒ"グã‚"ãƒ"グãƒ(C)リã‚ッãƒ(三重ç'Œ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
They're too weak.I suppose if they saw a traffic accident they'd die?
è†'é'­å¸¯å›ºã‚(宮崎ç'Œ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
More importantly, what's up with the lack of browsing restrictions on elementaryschool computers?
ミドãƒã‚­ãƒƒã‚¯(SB-iPhone)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
These brats are weak w
æ¥æ‰æ-->>æ'ƒ(æ'±äº¬éƒ½)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼ :
I was the same the first time I saw a graphic video on 2ch. But people can learn to handle it. Now I just think ''Huh, so that's what organs look like''.
テキサスクローバーホーãƒãƒ‰(ç...äº•ç'Œ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼ :
ISIL: ''We did it! They're shaking in their boots! Mission accomplished!''
16文キック(中国å'°æ–¹)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
Just make it so that these kids can't end up on any dangerous websites.
シューティãƒ"グスã‚ープレス(沖ç¸ç'Œ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼ :
I wonder if it will leave any lasting effects on their mental state.
TEKKAMAKI(ã‚わらかéŠèŒ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼ :
Death from illness, accidental death, murder'...death is natural.If you make too many things taboo, you won't be able to face death even as an adult.
ナガã‚ロックII(神å¥å·'ç'Œ)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
I think it's good to build up a tolerance to these things.
ローリãƒ"グソバッãƒ(新疆ã‚...イグãƒè‡ªæ²>>区)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
To become ill from that amount of graphic violence'...I'm worried whether or not they'll be able to become outstanding 2-channers in the future.
リバースネックブリーã‚ー(æ'±æ—¥æ'¬)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼ :
Kids should be banned from the Internet until they're old enough to have their Coming of Age Day
ジャãƒ"ãƒ--ãƒ"グDDT(京都åº')¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼ :
It's because they haven't built up a tolerance through Barefoot Gen that they're like this [Barefoot Gen was controversially removed from open-access shelves for elementary school students in August 2013]
イスæ-->>æ'ƒ(dionè>>)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
So they're going to be 5th graders? Since I was in second grade, I used to be shown graphic pictures of the nuclear bombings, but it was no big deal.
腕ひしぎ十字固め(SB-iPhone)¼ ¼¼(^o^)¼:
Don't they have any amount of tolerance whatsoever?
Finse omroep gaat Koran integraal uitzenden | NU - Het laatste nieuws het eerst op NU.nl
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:05
Dat heeft de omroep op zijn website bekendgemaakt. Het is een volstrekt uniek initiatief, stelt de zender.
De Koran wordt in zestig afleveringen van een half uur uitgezonden. Het doel van het bijzondere project is de kennis bij de Finnen over de Koran en de islamitische cultuur te verbeteren.
Elke aflevering wordt voorafgegaan door een discussie tussen een gezaghebbende Finse imam en de vertaler van de tekst. Hierin verklaren de twee mannen de religieuze en historische context van de passsages die daarna worden voorgelezen.
Het heilige boek, dat als leidraad dient voor meer dan een miljard moslims, is 1400 jaar oud.
Door: NU.nl
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Rift Among Charlie Hebdo Staff on Future of Newspaper Enriched by Tragedy - WSJ
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:35
PARIS'--Less than two weeks after the terror attack that devastated their newsroom, Charlie Hebdo's surviving staff members gathered in a borrowed conference room to discuss an unexpected dilemma.
The satirical newspaper, once on the edge of bankruptcy, was selling millions of copies, and many on its staff were suddenly demanding that it become a cooperative to give everyone a say in how to use the resulting windfall.
''It's...
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Decimate - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:02
dec·i·mat·eddec·i·mat·ing
Full Definition of DECIMATEtransitive verb
1
: to select by lot and kill every tenth man of
2
: to exact a tax of 10 percent from
See decimate defined for English-language learners Examples of DECIMATEThis kind of moth is responsible for decimating thousands of trees in our town.Budget cuts have decimated public services in small towns.Origin of DECIMATELatin decimatus, past participle of decimare, from decimus tenth, from decem tenFirst Known Use: 1660
Related to DECIMATESynonymsannihilate, cream, destroy, demolish, desolate, devastate, do in, extinguish, nuke, pull down, pulverize, raze, rub out, ruin, shatter, smash, tear down, total, vaporize, waste, wrack, wreckAntonymsbuild, construct, erect, put up, raise, rear, set upRhymes with DECIMATEabdicate, abnegate, abrogate, acclimate, acerbate, acetate, activate, actuate, acylate, adsorbate, advocate, adulate, adumbrate, aggravate, aggregate, agitate, allocate, altercate, ambulate, amputate, animate, annotate, annulate, antedate, antiquate, apartheid, apostate, approbate, arbitrate, arcuate, arrogate, aspirate, auscultate, automate, aviate, bantamweight, Bering Strait, bifurcate, billingsgate, bipinnate, boilerplate, bombinate, brachiate, buffer state, cabinmate, cachinnate, calculate, calibrate, caliphate, candidate, cannulate, cantillate, capitate, captivate, carbonate, carbon-date, carinate, carload rate, castigate, catenate, cavitate, celebrate, cerebrate, chlorinate, circinate, circulate, city-state, client state, cogitate, colligate, collimate, collocate, commentate, commutate, compensate, complicate, concentrate, condensate, confiscate, conglobate, conjugate, consecrate, constellate, consternate, constipate, consummate, contemplate, copperplate, copulate, coronate, correlate, corrugate, coruscate, counterweight, crepitate, criminate, cruciate, cucullate, culminate, cultivate, cumulate, cuneate, cupulate, cuspidate, cyclamate, Davis Strait, deaerate, decollate, decorate, decussate, defalcate, defecate, deflagrate, dehydrate, delegate, demarcate, demonstrate, denigrate, Denmark Strait, depilate, deviate, deprecate, depredate, derivate, derogate, desecrate, desiccate, designate, desolate, desquamate, detonate, devastate, deviate, digitate, diplomate, discarnate, dislocate, dissertate, dissipate, distillate, divagate, dominate, double date, edentate, educate, elevate, elongate, eluate, emanate, emigrate, emirate, emulate, enervate, ephorate, escalate, estimate, estivate, excavate, exchange rate, exculpate, execrate, expiate, explicate, expurgate, exsiccate, extirpate, extricate, exudate, fabricate, fascinate, fashion plate, featherweight, fecundate, federate, fenestrate, festinate, fibrillate, first estate, flagellate, flocculate, fluctuate, fluoridate, foliate, formulate, fornicate, fourth estate, fractionate, fragmentate, fulminate, fumigate, fustigate, geminate, generate, germinate, glaciate, Golden Gate, graduate, granulate, gratulate, gravitate, heavyweight, hebetate, herniate, hesitate, hibernate, Hudson Strait, hundredweight, hyphenate, ideate, imamate, imbricate, imitate, immigrate, immolate, impetrate, implicate, imprecate, impregnate, incarnate, increate, incubate, inculcate, inculpate, incurvate, indagate, indicate, indurate, infiltrate, in-line skate, in-migrate, innervate, innovate, insensate, inspissate, instigate, insulate, interstate, intestate, intimate, intonate, intraplate, inundate, invocate, iodate, irrigate, irritate, isolate, iterate, jubilate, juniorate, lacerate, laminate, Latinate, laureate, legislate, levigate, levitate, liberate, license plate, liquidate, litigate, littermate, lubricate, macerate, machinate, magistrate, marginate, margravate, marinate, masticate, masturbate, maturate, mediate, medicate, meditate, meliorate, menstruate, microstate, micturate, middleweight, militate, mithridate, mitigate, moderate, modulate, motivate, multistate, mutilate, nation-state, nauseate, navigate, neonate, nictitate, niobate, nominate, numerate, obfuscate, objurgate, obligate, obovate, obviate, on a plate, operate, opiate, orchestrate, ordinate, oscillate, osculate, out-migrate, out-of-date, overstate, overweight, ovulate, paginate, palliate, palpitate, paperweight, patinate, peculate, penetrate, pennyweight, percolate, perennate, perforate, permeate, perpetrate, personate, police state, pollinate, populate, postulate, potentate, predicate, procreate, profligate, promulgate, propagate, prorogate, pullulate, pulmonate, punctuate, quantitate, rabbinate, radiate, real estate, recreate, re-create, reinstate, relegate, relocate, remonstrate, renovate, replicate, reprobate, resonate, retardate, retranslate, roller-skate, roseate, rubricate, ruinate, ruminate, runagate, running mate, rusticate, sagittate, salivate, sanitate, satiate, saturate, scintillate, second-rate, segregate, self-portrait, separate, sequestrate, seriate, sibilate, silver plate, simulate, sinuate, situate, speculate, spoliate, stablemate, starting gate, steady state, stimulate, stipulate, strangulate, stridulate, stylobate, subjugate, sublimate, subrogate, subulate, suffocate, sultanate, Sunda Strait, supplicate, surrogate, syncopate, syndicate, tablemate, tabulate, target date, terminate, tessellate, tªte- -tªte, thirty-eight, titillate, titivate, tolerate, transmigrate, transudate, tribulate, tribunate, trifurcate, trilobate, tripinnate, triplicate, tunicate, turbinate, ulcerate, ululate, umbellate, uncinate, underrate, understate, underweight, undulate, ungulate, urinate, vaccinate, vacillate, validate, valuate, variate, vegetate, venerate, ventilate, vertebrate, vicarate, vindicate, violate, vitiate, water gate, Watergate, welfare state, welterweightLearn More About DECIMATE div iframe {background: white !important;border: 0;height: 721px; /* changed from 790px to maintain 16:9 aspect ratio. */margin: 0;padding: 0;width: 1282px; }#video-overlay .overlay-content > div {border: 0;box-shadow: 1px 0 10px #222222;height: 721px; /* changed from 790px to maintain 16:9 aspect ratio. */margin: 0 auto;padding: 0;width: 1282px;position: relative;top: 50%;/* Firefox */top: -moz-calc(50% - 360px);/* WebKit */top: -webkit-calc(50% - 360px);/* Opera */top: -o-calc(50% - 360px);/* Standard */top: calc(50% - 360px);}.small-desktop #video-overlay .overlay-close-btn {margin-left: 955px !important;}.small-desktop #video-overlay .overlay-content > div iframe {height: 562px !important;width: 1000px;}.small-desktop #video-overlay .overlay-content > div {height: 562px !important;width: 1000px;/* Firefox */top: -moz-calc(50% - 281px);/* WebKit */top: -webkit-calc(50% - 281px);/* Opera */top: -o-calc(50% - 281px);/* Standard */top: calc(50% - 281px);}.small-desktop.tiny-desktop #video-overlay .overlay-close-btn {margin-left: 705px !important;}.small-desktop.tiny-desktop #video-overlay .overlay-content > div iframe {height: 422px !important;width: 750px;}.small-desktop.tiny-desktop #video-overlay .overlay-content > div {height: 422px !important;width: 750px;/* Firefox */top: -moz-calc(50% - 211px);/* WebKit */top: -webkit-calc(50% - 211px);/* Opera */top: -o-calc(50% - 211px);/* Standard */top: calc(50% - 211px);}.small-desktop #video-overlay.tiny-desktop .overlay-close-btn {margin-left: 955px !important;}/* Small Screens ------------- *//*@media only screen and (max-device-height: 900px) {#video-overlay .overlay-content > div {top: 0 !important;}}*//* Tablets (landscape) 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How ISIS Games Twitter - Atlantic Mobile
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:15
Pete Simon/FlickrThe advance of an army used to be marked by war drums. Now it's marked by volleys of tweets.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni militant group that seized Iraq's second-largest city last week and is now pledging to take Baghdad, has honed this new technique'--most recently posting photos on Twitter of an alleged mass killing of Iraqi soldiers. But what's often overlooked in press coverage is that ISIS doesn't just have strong, organic support online. It also employs social-media strategies that inflate and control its message. Extremists of all stripes are increasingly using social media to recruit, radicalize and raise funds, and ISIS is one of the most adept practitioners of this approach.
One of ISIS's more successful ventures is an Arabic-language Twitter app called The Dawn of Glad Tidings, or just Dawn. The app, an official ISIS product promoted by its top users, is advertised as a way to keep up on the latest news about the jihadi group.
Hundreds of users have signed up for the app on the web or on their Android phones through the Google Play store. When you download the app, ISIS asks for a fair amount of personal data:
J.M. BergerOnce you sign up, the app will post tweets to your account'--the content of which is decided by someone in ISIS's social-media operation. The tweets include links, hashtags, and images, and the same content is also tweeted by the accounts of everyone else who has signed up for the app, spaced out to avoid triggering Twitter's spam-detection algorithms. Your Twitter account functions normally the rest of the time, allowing you to go about your business.
Tweets Sent by ISIS's Social-Media App Over a 2-Hour Period
J.M. BergerThe app first went into wide use in April 2014, but its posting activity has ramped up during the group's latest offensive, reaching an all-time high of almost 40,000 tweets in one day as ISIS marched into the northern Iraqi city of Mosul last week. On Sunday, as the media reported on the group's advance toward Baghdad, hundreds of Dawn app users began sending thousands of tweets featuring an image of an armed jihadist gazing at the ISIS flag flying over the city, with the text, ''We are coming, Baghdad'' (see below).
The volume of these tweets was enough to make any search for ''Baghdad'' on Twitter generate the image among its first results, which is certainly one means of intimidating the city's residents.
J.M. BergerThe app is just one way ISIS games Twitter to magnify its message. Another is the use of organized hashtag campaigns, in which the group enlists hundreds and sometimes thousands of activists to repetitively tweet hashtags at certain times of day so that they trend on the social network. This approach also skews the results of a popular Arabic Twitter account called @ActiveHashtags that tweets each day's top trending tags. When ISIS gets its hashtag into the @ActiveHashtags stream, it results in an average of 72 retweets per tweet, which only makes the hashtag trend more. As it gains traction, more users are exposed to ISIS's messaging. The group's supporters also run accounts similar to @ActiveHashtags that exclusively feature jihadi content and can produce hundreds of retweets per tweet.
ISIS uses hashtags to focus-group messaging and branding concepts.As a result of these strategies, and others, ISIS is able to project strength and promote engagement online. For instance, the ISIS hashtag consistently outperforms that of the group's main competitor in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, even though the two groups have a similar number of supporters online. In data I analyzed in February, ISIS often registered more than 10,000 mentions of its hashtag per day, while the number of al-Nusra mentions generally ranged between 2,500 and 5,000.
ISIS also uses hashtags to focus-group messaging and branding concepts, much like a Western corporation might. Earlier this year, ISIS hinted, without being specific, that it was planning to change the name of its organization. Activists then carefully promoted a hashtag crafted to look like a grassroots initiative, demanding that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declare not an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, but the rebirth of an Islamic caliphate. The question of when and how to declare a new caliphate is highly controversial in jihadi circles, and the hashtag produced a great deal of angry and divisive discussion, which ISIS very likely tracked and measured. It never announced a name change.
Media attention has focused, not unreasonably, on ISIS's use of social media to spread pictures of graphic violence, attract new fighters, and incite lone wolves. But it's important to recognize that these activities are supported by sophisticated online machinery. ISIS does have legitimate support online'--but less than it might seem. And it owes a lot of that support to a calculated campaign that would put American social-media-marketing gurus to shame.
Next Article
Is ISIS's Social-Media Power Exaggerated? - Atlantic Mobile
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:27
Sean MacEntee/Flickr''Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL deliberately target their propaganda in the hopes of reaching and brainwashing young Muslims, especially those who may be disillusioned or wrestling with their identity,'' President Obama said last week in remarks wrapping up a Washington summit on Countering Violent Extremism. ''The high-quality videos, the online magazines, the use of social media, terrorist Twitter accounts'--it's all designed to target today's young people online, in cyberspace.''
The remarks reflected what's become something of a truism as the media routinely reports on ISIS's ''slick'' propaganda apparatus, Westernrecruits becoming radicalized through social media, and the U.S. government's sluggishness'--or outright ineptitude'--in fighting back on the Internet. The State Department has a Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications with a team dedicated to countering "terrorist propaganda and misinformation about the United States across a wide variety of interactive digital environments," which, it admits on the department's website, "had previously been ceded to extremists." That office, as The New York Times recently reported, is slated for expansion. The online information war was a focus of last week's summit.
Related StoryHow ISIS Games Twitter
But what if ISIS's much-hyped social-media juggernaut isn't as important as all of these measures suggest?
''We know it has the potential to influence, but exactly how and at what levels are quite unknown,'' Anthony Lemieux, an associate professor of communication at Georgia State University, wrote in an email. Lemieux is researching that very question, but in the meantime it's difficult to find a reliable estimate of how many ISIS fighters have been radicalized and recruited primarily through social media. Max Abrahms, a political-science professor and terrorism specialist at Northeastern University, suspects the number is lower than many people believe. ''There are other groups'''--such as Boko Haram in Nigeria'--''that have rapidly expanded their membership size in the absence of social media,'' he pointed out to me. "Battlefield success is a better predictor" of group size than is social-media activity, Abrahms said. If, as some contend, ISIS's battlefield momentum has already stalled, its recruitment could suffer even as its social-media activity remains constant.
In tandem with its military successes, ISIS has also likely benefited from an influx of foreign fighters to Syria that predates the group's blitzkrieg in the summer of 2014. A record number of foreigners had already joined a variety of Syrian rebel groups by mid-2013, a full year before ISIS captured the Iraqi city of Mosul and began consolidating territory across the Syria-Iraq border. At the time, Thomas Hegghammer, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, acknowledged the role of social media in "the scale and speed of the mobilization." But, he continued, "this does not mean that social media in and of itself drives recruitment." Citing poorly policed borders and ease of travel to Syria, Hegghammer theorized: "The bottom line is that record numbers of foreign fighters are going to Syria because they can." Since then, ISIS's victories, among other factors, have enabled the organization to eclipse other rebel groups in terms of recruitment.
Western policymakers are quite reasonably preoccupied with ISIS's recruitment of jihadists from Europe and the United States. But by far the biggest suppliers of the Islamic State's foreign fighters are Middle Eastern and North African countries, particularly Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, where broadband access lags behind access rates in the West. Among those who are online, according to a Soufan Group study of foreign fighters in Syria, potential recruits in the Levant and the Gulf "are interconnected within self-selected bubbles, and are isolated from anything outside." This implies both that social media helps ISIS amplify its message among closed groups that are already receptive to it, and that there are limits to how far that message can spread beyond those circles.
"We know it has the potential to influence, but exactly how and at what levels are quite unknown."ISIS does have an enthusiastic base of supporters on English-language Twitter. But there's a major difference between retweeting beheading videos or trolling the State Department and actually going to fight for the Islamic State. (For example, one vocal online propagandist for ISIS was revealed last December to be a corporate executive living in Bangalore, India.) According to official estimates cited in The New York Times, 150 people have ''traveled, or tried to travel, to fight in Syria from the United States.'' It's not clear how many people actually succeeded in doing so. But it's hard to imagine social media being the decisive factor in the decision to leave, say, suburban Colorado for Syrian battlefields, even if social media proved helpful in planning the trip. The causal relationship could just as easily work in the opposite direction: People engage with ISIS through social media because they're already radicalized, rather than getting radicalized through social media.
Perhaps it's the novelty of ISIS's social-media operation, or its status as a major source of information about an otherwise largely opaque enemy and war zone, that make the group's tweets seem excessively threatening. The recent report that ISIS produces a large volume of social-media chatter'--90,000 "tweets and other social media responses every day," by the Times's estimate, which may be conservative'--doesn't actually say much about the role those communications play in terrorist recruitment.
As Brian Jenkins of the Rand Corporation noted in a 2011 study of "homegrown" extremists in the United States, reaching potential recruits online "does not mean radicalizing, and radicalizing does not mean recruitment to violent jihad." He also noted that while the Internet could "serve as a source of inspiration ... it may also become a substitute for action, allowing would-be terrorists to engage in vicarious terrorism while avoiding the risks of real action." Similarly, J.M. Berger, a Brookings analyst who studies extremists' use of social media, observed in 2011, "There is a tremendous amount of radical activity online. Very little of that activity will translate into real-world threats." Writing in The Atlantic, Berger also pointed out that even the volume of this activity may be less than meets the eye, since ISIS uses a number of techniques, including automated tweets and organized efforts to trend certain hashtags, to give the impression of a larger network of online support.
ISIS is surely a formidable force. Offline, the group is now estimated to be 30,000-strong or bigger. But the roots of its expansion probably don't lie on the virtual battlefield. More likely, they're on the real one.
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Media outlets identify 'Jihadi John' - Al Jazeera English
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:38
In ISIL videos, the masked man appears to have carried out the beheadings of three Americans and two Britons [AP]
Media outlets have identified "Jihadi John" - the suspect featuring in several Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant beheading videos - as Mohammed Emwazi from London.
The Washington Post newspaper named Emwazi and said he was a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.
The BBC later said it too had learned that Emwazi was the suspect in question.
Police declined to comment on the reports.
"We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage or give an update on the progress of this live counterterrorism investigation," said Commander Richard Walton of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command in a statement.
In videos released by ISIL, the masked, black-clad man brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have carried out the beheadings of three Americans and two Britons.
The Washington Post said Emwazi was believed to have travelled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined ISIL.
Source: Reuters
Leadership / About Us / Ford Foundation
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:35
Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, the second largest philanthropy in the United States with over $11 billion in assets and $500 million in annual giving. The foundation is based in the United States and operates worldwide, with ten offices in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America.
For more than two decades Darren has been a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, starting with a local community and economic development initiative in Harlem, then shifting to global work on an array of social justice issues, including human rights, urban development, free expression, and more. His career in the social sector followed a decade in international law and finance.
Before being named president in 2013, Darren served as the foundation's vice president for Education, Creativity and Free Expression, where he shaped more than $140 million in annual grant-making around the world, covering areas as diverse as media and journalism, arts and culture, sexuality and reproductive health and rights, educational access and opportunity, and religion.
He was a driving force behind initiatives such as JustFilms, one of the largest documentary film funds in the world, and public-private collaborations such as ArtPlace, which supports cultural development in cities and rural areas in America. He also oversaw the foundation's regional programming in four offices based in Africa and the Middle East.
Prior to joining the Ford Foundation in 2010, Darren was vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he led both domestic and global programs. Beginning in 2002, he helped guide the foundation's programs in education, civil rights, workforce development and program related investments. He also supervised Rockefeller's foreign offices, initiated new programming in urban development and arts and culture, and led its post-Katrina New Orleans Recovery Program.
Darren entered the nonprofit sector as chief operating officer for the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community development organization in Harlem. There he led efforts to develop over 1,000 units of housing for low and moderate-income families, was involved in two of Harlem's largest privately financed commercial projects in 30 years, and oversaw the development of the first public school built in New York City by a community organization.
Darren began his career in 1986 at the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. In 1988, he joined the Union Bank of Switzerland, where he spent seven years in the capital markets division. After leaving UBS, Darren worked for a year as a full-time volunteer at The Children's Storefront, an elementary school serving low-income families in Harlem.
He is a 1982 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and its School of Law in 1986. He is a member of the boards of the Arcus Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Friends of the High Line, the New York City Ballet, and the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Born in a charity hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana, and raised in Goose Creek, Texas, he benefited tremendously from the leadership of opportunity-building philanthropies like the Ford Foundation that championed ideas like Head Start, the Pell Grant, diversity in higher education and community development corporations.
Passionate about his adopted city of New York, he lives in Manhattan with his partner, David Beitzel, a contemporary art dealer in Chelsea, and their English bulldog, Mary Lou.
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ISIS have fetish for kinky underwear, Viagra, and 'abnormal sex' '' report '-- RT News
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 20:52
Published time: February 18, 2015 20:52Edited time: February 20, 2015 06:56Muslim women in ISIS-controlled Syria (Reuters/Stringer)
''Perverted'' ISIS fighters in the Syrian stronghold of Raqqa indulge in ''brutal and abnormal'' sexual practices, in sharp contrast with the austere religious image they try to project, claims a new report compiled by local activist journalists.
''A large section of ISIS members suffer from sexual anomalies and brutal instinctive desire for sex, except for sadism and perversion which they [are] carrying already,'' alleges the online report, produced by well-known underground citizen journalism group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RSS).
Among the laundry list of purported perversions is the purchase of ''strange underwear,'' marrying ''more than one wife, during short periods'' and the ''search for blue pills in order to increase their strength to have more sex.''
READ MORE: 'Beheaded, crucified, buried alive': UN slams ISIS for killing Iraqi children
''Many cases that have been recorded from hospitals and physicians, about women who have been subjected to sexual practice in a brutal and abnormal manner,'' says Abu Mohammed, the activist author, operating under a pseudonym.
But beyond the dark, headline-grabbing details, emerges a complex picture of an increasingly oppressive society, in which jihadist fighters enjoy untrammeled power over women.
The report says that by offering high dowries in a war-plagued city dependent on ISIS largesse, and threatening to kidnap women who refuse, ISIS fighters are able to have the pick of local brides. Some of the families have consciously sought out ISIS fighters as potential husbands for their daughters, to ensure safety and financial well-being. A diagram from Sound and Picture, an anti-ISIS resource, shows that over 500 marriages have been conducted by ISIS fighters in Syria, with almost a third of them to women under the age of 18.
Meanwhile, those women who attempt to lead an independent lifestyle are subjected to highly strict Islamic tenets, enforced by the Hisbah, the ISIS moral police.
The new Saudi-style rules force women to leave the house only when accompanied by a guardian '' usually a close male family relative '' and find employ exclusively under the supervision of such a guardian. Universities and other higher education institutions have been shut down by the militants, and women are discouraged from traveling elsewhere to continue their studies.
When a woman does manage to leave the house, she is forced to wear Hisbah-prescribed Islamic dress, which forces her to wear a double-layered veil, a loose abaya, or cloak, and gloves, to make sure that no piece of skin can be seen by anyone.
While the report carries only unverified assertions it tallies closely with both recent eyewitness accounts from the area, and the ISIS guide to women's lifestyles, published last month.
A report in the Guardian, published on Tuesday, said that women who attempted to disobey with the above rules, either had their homes raided by the Hisbah, or were taken to a special police station, to have the rules explained to them, until they could be picked up by a guardian, though there have been reports of women having acid poured on their face for not covering up.
The notorious guide, which comes from the all-female al-Khanssaa Brigade, also said that women from the age of nine were eligible for marriage and that Islamic women should not ''try to uncover the secrets of nature and reach the peaks of architectural sophistication."
READ MORE: 'Horrors of sexual violence': Yazidi women forced into slavery, commit suicide, Amnesty says
The treatment of Sunni Muslim women under the self-proclaimed caliphate is still better than the widespread abuse meted out to Yazidi, Christian and Shia captives.
A UN report earlier this month accused the militant group of ''systematic'' atrocities, including ''several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.''
Released Yazidi captives have also told numerous stories of slave auctions, widespread rape and other violations.
An official guide to those, published last year, said that they could be sold as slaves, and used for sexual gratification from any age, in accordance with Islamic scripture.
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The Islamic State threatens to come to Rome; Italians respond with travel advice - The Washington Post
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:34
In a recently released video that showed the killing of 21 Christians in Libya, all but one of them Egyptian, the Islamic State issued an ominous warning: ''Today we are south of Rome,'' one masked militant said. ''We will conquer Rome with Allah's permission.''
To make matters worse, Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, pointed out that supporters of the Islamic State have begun using a hashtag to warn of their plan to reach "Rome."
Exactly what "Rome" means to the Islamic State is unclear -- some experts say it may actually be a reference to the United States or Turkey, or even the West in general. But Italy is worried. Libya is just a short boat ride across the Mediterranean. Thousands of refugees already make this journey to Italian shores every year. What's to stop the Islamic State?
As word of spread across the Italian media, Rome residents took the opportunity to respond to the Islamic State. And they did so in an especially Roman way.
With warnings about the traffic.
(Translation: Remember snow tires or chains if you take the highway. Otherwise we sequester the tank.)
With food recommendations.
A whole load of general complaints about their domestic woes.
And plenty of references to a recent soccer match against a Dutch team.
(Translation: Unfortunately for them, Feyenoord fans have arrived already)
By this point, the Italian responses to the hashtag far outweigh any from Islamic State supporters, and some Italian publications are beginning to wonder how notable the hashtag was to begin with.
But the response does serve as a useful reminder: Italians may be scared of apocalyptic Islamic State warnings, but in their day-to-day life, they have many other issues on their minds.
Related coverage:
- The misguided debate about how 'Islamic' the Islamic State is
- The Islamic State 'caliphate' is in danger of losing its main supply route
- The Islamic State's atrocities
- The Islamic State is failing at being a state
- The Islamic State was dumped by al-Qaeda a year ago. Look where it is now.
Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
Swiss Guard Commander on ISIS Threat to Pope: 'We Are Ready to Intervene'
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 23:36
Posted by CNA/EWTN NEWS on Tuesday Feb 24th, 2015 at 8:45 AM
In an interview with an Italian newspaper, Commander Christoph Graf responded to threats from Islamic militants, who stated in a recent video, 'We will conquer Rome.'
VATICAN CITY '-- The commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard says the group of soldiers charged with protecting the Pope is on high alert and ready to act if any threat from the Islamic State group materializes.
''We are ready to intervene. Our job is security, and as gendarmes, we are well organized. We are ready if anything happens,'' said Cristoph Graf.
At age 54, Graf is married with two children. Yet he and the other members of the Swiss Guard are willing to lay down their lives to protect the Holy Father.
In an interview with the Italian daily newspaper Il Giornale, published on Feb. 18, Graf responded to threats from Islamic militants, who stated in a recent video, ''We will conquer Rome.''
''We have asked the guards to be on higher alert, to watch how people are moving. We can't do more than that,'' Graf said.
The Swiss Guard was established by Pope Julius II in 1506.
Its first real test came on May 6, 1527, during the sack of Rome, when 147 Swiss Guards died fighting against the troops of Emperor Carlos V to allow Pope Clement to escape. The few dozen guards that survived escorted the Holy Father to safety.
In memory of that day, new Swiss Guards are sworn in on May 6 each year, taking an oath to defend the pope with their very lives.
Graf also stressed the importance of information to prevent potential attacks. He referenced the Jan. 7 massacre at the headquarters of a French newspaper that had published offensive images of the Prophet Muhammad.
''What happened in Paris could happen here, and it cannot be prevented without intelligence based on accurate information,'' he said.
Reflecting on his own appointment as commander of the Swiss Guard, Graf said, ''The Pope asked me if I was willing, and I could have said 'No.' But I think this is a mission, and I answered, 'Yes,' because I see this as the Lord's work. I know there are several crosses to carry, but I trust in God's help.''
Asked if the Holy Father is afraid, he replied, ''I don't think the Pope is afraid of anything. '... Anything can happen, but you can see that he is not afraid.''
Commenting on the future of the Swiss Guard, the commander said that there may be difficulty in recruiting new members but that it will ultimately ''depend on the situation of the Church and the faith and on the issue of the low birth rate.''
Militant threatens to throw 'homosexuals from the Leaning Tower of Pizza' - Independent.ie
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:25
Jon Stone
Published 22/02/2015 | 19:20
Islamic State militants have threatened to take over Rome and throw "homosexuals from the Leaning Tower of Pizza".
Italians have responded with ridicule after an ISIS supporter referred to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa landmark incorrectly on twitter.
The ISIS supporting Twitter account - belonging to someone identifying as Abu Abdullah Britani - tweeted: ''#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome, we will conquer & establish the justice of #shariah. We will use your leaning tower of pizza to throw off homosexual''.
Another message posted on a Twitter account linked to the terror group, vowed to bring sharia law to Italy.
Italians and other Twitter users hit back, and using the hashtag #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome they offered the jihadi travel advice for his purported visit to Rome.
Most of the advice featured complaints about the city's municipal government or gripes about its transport network, including a looming transportation strike and traffic jams.
Abu Abdullah Britani later deleted the post and responded: "People may laugh at a typo but the reality is going to hit home when #IS does reach Rome and things to kick off."
"A typo/auto correct on a tweet aint gnna take the seriousness away, we still will come n conquer Rum," he later added.
Independent News Service
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Terrorists luring followers through pancake propaganda, according to national security review
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:04
(C) Rex Features A new national security review has found Islamist extremists are tempting new followers with pancakes.
Terrorists are serving up pancake recipes to win over new followers.
That is one of the conclusions of a national security review released by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday.
The review report said terror groups such as Islamic State were using "highly targeted messages to appeal to vulnerable audiences".
The report gives the example of IS releasing a pancake recipe "designed to feed jihadists after a hard day of fighting".
A rough translation of the recipe website says the pancakes are quickly and easily prepared and best eaten with honey.
"Can supply to mujahideen (fighters) before scurrying out onto the fighting fronts and extend the mujahideen energy and power, God willing.
"Serve them to heroes."
IS has also released a guidebook to help young mothers raise a "Mujahid child".
"Don't wait until they are seven to start, for it may be too late by then," it says.
The federal government is looking at ways to counter such propaganda, in consultation with Islamic communities.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COUNTER-TERRORISM REVIEW
* The government quarantine security agencies such as ASIO, the AFP and ASIS from its efficiency dividend
* Develop a new counter-terrorism strategy in close consultation with states and territories
* Appoint a National Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator to chair a new counter terrorism group advising government
* Seek state and federal agreement on a new Counter Violent Extremism strategy to tackle radicalisation in Australia
* Establish and expand community and public-private partnerships to better reach at risk and radicalised individuals
* That the Attorney-General's Department coordinate the government response to foreign fighters returning to Australia
More in NewsUp NextMore in News
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US Senate Resolution Urges Gov't to Address Rising Anti-Semitism in Europe
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:20
US03:03 26.02.2015(updated 03:37 26.02.2015)
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) '-- US Senator Robert Menendez announced a bipartisan resolution in the US Senate that condemns rising Anti-Semitism in Europe, and urges the US government to work closely with the European Union to address the issue, according to a statement by Senator Menendez's press office.
''Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we are witnessing an alarming rise in anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe that must be condemned and addressed,'' Menendez said in the statement. ''This Resolution firmly recommits the United States and its European allies to combat anti-Semitism with even greater resolve, vowing to never again allow the atrocities of the past to be repeated.''
The resolution was co-sponsored by 52 senators and supported by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America and other organizations, the statement said.''This resolution reaffirms the need for action and change to ensure that Jews in Europe and throughout the world, along with those of all faiths, are free from persecution based on religious beliefs,'' US Senator Barbara Mikulski said.
In January, Islamic extremists killed the editor-in-chief and several journalists of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. In the days following the attack, a gunman shot dead a police officer and killed four hostages at a Jewish food shop in the French capital.
French President Francois Hollande called the assault a ''dreadful anti-Semitic attack."
In March 2012, a rampage at a Jewish school in southwestern France killed four, including three children. In May 2014, a gunman killed four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
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Trial of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Tsarnaev Set for March 4
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:20
US03:24 26.02.2015(updated 03:58 26.02.2015)
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) '' The start of the trial against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is scheduled for March 4, the Massachusetts Attorney's Office has announced.
"Tsarnaev trial to start on Wednesday, March 4th in Boston," US Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said on its official Twitter page Wednesday evening.
Earlier this week, a US District Court official for the District of Massachusetts told Sputnik that the jury selection for the trial will likely finish this week.
The court will also hear pending motions that need to be resolved before it commences with evidence presentations ahead of next week's opening trial statements, the official said.
Jury selection for the Tsarnaev trial began on January 5, but it has been slow due to repeated weather delays and to ensure that impartial jurors are selected. Tsarnaev's defense lawyers have sought to change the location of the trial away from the Boston area, arguing the pool of potential jurors would be biased by media coverage and the impact the bombing had on the community. The court denied the defense's motion.Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar, who faces 30 charges, half of which carry the death penalty. In his first public court appearance in July, 2013, he pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
US District Judge George O'Toole, who is overseeing the trial, said at the beginning of jury selection that should Tsarnaev be convicted, the jury will decide on whether or not to impose the death penalty.
The Boston Marathon bombings, which took place on April 15, 2013, killed three people and injured more than 260. US law enforcement identified Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan as suspects. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police four days after the terrorist attack.
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Six Week Cycle
Three New York men sought to join Islamic State, FBI says - BBC News
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:07
The Islamic State made a lightning offensive in Iraq and Syria in 2014 The FBI has arrested three foreign nationals living in Brooklyn who agents say sought to join the Islamic State.
Two of the men had threatened to kill police officers and FBI agents in the US if they were unable to travel to Syria, the FBI said.
The men came to the authorities' attention after they posted to Uzbek-language websites in recent months.
In one post, they pledged to kill US President Barack Obama, the FBI said.
Abdurasul Juraboev, 24, and Abror Habibov, 30, both of Uzbekistan; and Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, of Kazakhstan, were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation.
The defendants violated the true tenets of their faith in pursuit of their radical, violent agendaDiego G Rodriguez, FBIMr Saidakhmetov was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York on Tuesday, as he tried to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
Mr Juraboev bought a plane ticket to travel from New York to Istanbul next month, federal prosecutors said.
The third suspect, Mr Habibov, is accused of helping to fund Mr Saidakhmeto's efforts to join the Syrian jihadists, prosecutors said.
FBI said Mr Saidakhmetov had worked for Mr Habibov, who operates mobile-phone repair stands in malls in several cities.
"I am in USA now but we don't have any arms. But is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here?" Juraboev wrote on the Uzbek-language website, according to the court papers.
"What I'm saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of infidels."
Two of the men were arraigned in New York on Wednesday Mr Saidakhmetov told an FBI informant that he planned to go Syria but he would still carry out attacks if he was unable to go.
"We will go and purchase one handgun ... then go and shoot one police officer. Boom ... Then we will go the FBI headquarters, kill the FBI People," Saidakhmetov told the informant.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
"The defendants violated the true tenets of their faith in pursuit of their radical, violent agenda," said Diego G Rodriguez of the FBI's New York Field Office.
Figures suggest more than 20,000 foreigners have joined the conflicts in Iraq and Syria in the last three years, with as many as 4,000 from Western Europe.
This week, UK police said three missing London teenagers flew to Turkey to join Islamic State militants. It is believed that they have now crossed into Syria.
"The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies," US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, announcing the arrests.
NYTimes patsy description
"Two young men living in Brooklyn were arrested on Wednesday and charged with plotting to travel thousands of miles to fight under the banner of the Islamic State, the terrorist organization that has seized a wide expanse of Syria and Iraq.
"A third Brooklyn man was charged with helping organize and fund their activities.
"A confidential informer paid by the government played a key role in the investigation, court documents show. Defense lawyers have criticized the government’s reliance on such informers in similar cases, saying they may lure targets into making plans or statements more extreme than they would on their own. And in some cases, the charging documents’ picture of the credibility of the threat has turned out to be overstated."
My main reason for mailing this to you is that last paragraph: it surprises me that TNYT would dare to come so close to No-Agenda thinking, and they don't appear to be belittling it or dismissing it. I have no doubt these three guys are a bunch of toothless, homeless retards picked up for vagrancy under some bridge, shivering in the cold, and pressed into service. Chalk up another victory for the DHS as they pursue their battle for the budget.
CYBER!
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CIA looks to expand its cyber espionage capabilities - The Washington Post
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 02:38
CIA Director John Brennan is planning a major expansion of the agency's cyber-espionage capabilities as part of a broad restructuring of an intelligence service long defined by its human spy work, current and former U.S. officials said.
The proposed shift reflects a determination that the CIA's approach to conventional espionage is increasingly outmoded amid the exploding use of smartphones, social media and other technologies.
U.S. officials said Brennan's plans call for increased use of cyber capabilities in almost every category of operations '-- whether identifying foreign officials to recruit as CIA informants, confirming the identities of targets of drone strikes or penetrating Internet-savvy adversaries such as the Islamic State.
Several officials said Brennan's team has even considered creating a new cyber-directorate '-- a step that would put the agency's technology experts on equal footing with the operations and analysis branches, which have been pillars of the CIA's organizational structure for decades.
U.S. officials emphasized that the plans would not involve new legal authorities and that Brennan may stop short of creating a new directorate. But the suggestion underscores the scope of his ambitions, as well as their potential to raise privacy concerns or lead to turf skirmishes with the National Security Agency, the dominant player in electronic espionage.
''Brennan is trying to update the agency to make sure it is prepared to tackle the challenges in front of it,'' said a U.S. official familiar with the reorganization plan. ''I just don't think you can separate the digital world people operate in from the human intelligence'' mission that is the CIA's traditional domain.
Like others, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal decision-making.
The expanded emphasis on cyber is part of a broader restructuring envisioned by Brennan that is expected to break down long-standing boundaries between the CIA's operations and analysis directorates, creating hybrid ''centers'' that combine those and other disciplines.
Brennan is expected to begin implementing aspects of his plan this month, officials said. He recently met with senior members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to outline the proposed changes.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd declined to comment, saying that ''final decisions have not yet been made with respect to agency reorganization efforts.'' In a notice to the CIA workforce last year, Brennan said that he had become ''increasingly convinced that the time has come to take a fresh look at how we are organized.''
The changes are designed to replicate the model of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, which has surged in size and influence since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The restructuring could lead to new reporting lines for thousands of CIA employees, as long-standing units such the Latin America and Near East divisions give way to new centers that combine analysis, collection and covert operations.
The National Clandestine Service and the Directorate of Intelligence '-- the formal names for the operations and analysis branches '-- would continue to exist, but would focus more on developing talent and resources that could be distributed to the new centers.
''It would be a huge deal,'' said Michael Allen, a former White House and congressional aide who wrote a 2013 book about intelligence reform. Unlike at the FBI and other security agencies, Allen said, ''there hasn't been wholesale structural reform in the CIA post-9/11.''
Former officials who are familiar with the plan said it has caused generational friction within the CIA's ranks, with longtime officers resisting changes that younger employees are more eager to embrace.
The head of the clandestine service recently resigned, in part over objections to the scope of Brennan's plan, officials said. Brennan quickly replaced him with a longtime officer who had led an internal review panel that broadly endorsed the director's reform agenda.
Although limited compared with the larger NSA, the CIA has substantial cyber capabilities. Its Information Operations Center, which handles assignments such as extracting information from stolen laptops and planting surveillance devices, is now second only to the Counterterrorism Center in size, former officials said.
The CIA also oversees the Open Source Center, an intelligence unit created in 2005 to scour publicly available data, including Twitter feeds, Facebook postings and Web forums where al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups post material.
Brennan hopes to make the use of such capabilities more pervasive, U.S. officials said, ensuring that expertise and tools that now reside in the Information Operations Center are distributed across the agency.
The move comes at a time when the CIA has struggled to gain traction against adversaries '-- including the Islamic State and the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group '-- that recruit and communicate extensively online but operate in combat zones that CIA officers are generally not able to enter.
But officials said digital changes have transformed even the most conventional cloak-and-dagger scenarios. Secrets that were once obtained by recruiting a source or meeting in a safe house increasingly reside in clouds of digital transmissions that surround espionage targets.
To recruit a Russian spy, ''you may need to manipulate someone's e-mail, read someone's e-mail and track the whereabouts of the FSB,'' a former official said, referring to the Russian security service. ''Cyber is now part of every mission. It's not a specialized, boutique thing.''
Beyond elevating the role of the Information Operations Center, U.S. officials said, Brennan is seeking to ensure that the agency is not lagging in other areas, such as counterintelligence work and the CIA's internal e-mail system.
Brennan provided only broad outlines of his plan in recent congressional meetings, which excluded all but the four highest-ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence panels. A senior U.S. intelligence official said some senior NSA executives remain in the dark on Brennan's cyber ambitions.
In recent years, the CIA has collaborated extensively with the NSA on a range of covert programs, including its drone campaign against al-Qaeda. Documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that e-mails and cellphone signals intercepted by the NSA were used to confirm the identities of targets in strikes.
But the CIA also has fought budget and bureaucratic battles to maintain its standalone capability, prompting some to view the latest push as an attempt to capi­tal­ize on Washington's growing alarm over cyberthreats '-- and the corresponding shifts in federal budgets.
Former CIA officials said that the agency is mainly concerned about having direct control over the cyber components of its operations and that Brennan's plans would not encroach on the global surveillance programs run by the NSA. Nor would they interfere with the work of a new agency the Obama administration is creating to fuse intelligence on cyberattacks.
Brennan's push to expand the CIA's cyber capabilities is ''entirely appropriate, even overdue,'' said Stephen Slick, a former CIA official who directs the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas at Austin. ''Advances in digital technology are having a revolutionary impact on the intelligence business, and it's important for CIA to adapt its collection and covert action missions to account for the new opportunities and dangers.''
Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate contributed to this report.
Greg Miller covers the intelligence beat for The Washington Post.
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Presidential Memorandum -- Establishment of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:45
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 25, 2015
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY THE DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY SUBJECT: Establishment of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct as follows: Section 1. Establishment of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center. The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) shall establish a Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC). Executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall support the DNI's efforts to establish the CTIIC, including by providing, as appropriate, personnel and resources needed for the CTIIC to reach full operating capability by the end of fiscal year 2016. Sec. 2. Responsibilities of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center. The CTIIC shall: (a) provide integrated all-source analysis of intelligence related to foreign cyber threats or related to cyber incidents affecting U.S. national interests; (b) support the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, the National Cyber Investigative Joint TaskForce, U.S. Cyber Command, and other relevant United States Government entities by providing access to intelligence necessary to carry out their respective missions; (c) oversee the development and implementation of intelligence sharing capabilities (including systems, programs, policies, and standards) to enhance shared situational awareness of intelligence related to foreign cyber threats or related to cyber incidents affecting U.S. national interests among the organizations referenced in subsection (b) of this section; (d) ensure that indicators of malicious cyber activity and, as appropriate, related threat reporting contained in intelligence channels are downgraded to the lowest classification possible for distribution to both United States Government and U.S. private sector entities through the mechanism described in section 4 of Executive Order 13636 ofFebruary 12, 2013 (Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity); and (e) facilitate and support interagency efforts to develop and implement coordinated plans to counter foreign cyber threats to U.S. national interests using all instruments of national power, including diplomatic, economic, military, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement activities. Sec. 3. Implementation. (a) Agencies shall provide the CTIIC with all intelligence related to foreign cyber threats or related to cyber incidents affecting U.S. national interests, subject to applicable law and policy. The CTIIC shall access, assess, use, retain, and disseminate such information, in a manner that protects privacy and civil liberties and is consistent with applicable law, Executive Orders, Presidential directives, and guidelines, such as guidelines established under section 102A(b) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, Executive Order 12333 of December 4, 1981 (United States Intelligence Activities), as amended, and Presidential Policy Directive-28; and that is consistent with the need to protect sources and methods. (b) Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the DNI, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, theDirector of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of the National Security Agency shall provide a status report to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism on the establishment of the CTIIC. This report shall further refine the CTIIC's mission, roles, and responsibilities, consistent with this memorandum, ensuring that those roles and responsibilities are appropriately aligned with other Presidential policies as well as existing policy coordination mechanisms. Sec. 4. Privacy and Civil Liberties Protections. Agencies providing information to the CTIIC shall ensure that privacy and civil liberties protections are provided in the course of implementing this memorandum. Such protections shall be based upon the Fair Information Practice Principles or other privacy and civil liberties policies, principles, and frameworks as they apply to each agency's activities. Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals. (b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. (c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. (d) The DNI is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
BARACK OBAMA
FACT SHEET: Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:47
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 25, 2015
Today, the President directed the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to establish the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC). The CTIIC will be a national intelligence center focused on ''connecting the dots'' regarding malicious foreign cyber threats to the nation and cyber incidents affecting U.S. national interests, and on providing all-source analysis of threats to U.S. policymakers. The CTIIC will also assist relevant departments and agencies in their efforts to identify, investigate, and mitigate those threats.
Purpose
Cyber threats are among the gravest national security dangers to the United States. Our citizens, our private sector, and our government are increasingly confronted by a range of actors attempting to do us harm through identity theft, cyber-enabled economic espionage, politically motivated cyber attacks, and other malicious activity. As with our counterterrorism efforts, the United States Government is taking a ''whole-of-government'' approach to defend against and respond to these threats. In creating the CTIIC, the Administration is applying some of the hard-won lessons from our counterterrorism efforts to augment that ''whole-of-government'' approach by providing policymakers with a cross-agency view of foreign cyber threats, their severity, and potential attribution.
The CTIIC will provide integrated all-source intelligence analysis related to foreign cyber threats and cyber incidents affecting U.S. national interests; support the U.S. government centers responsible for cybersecurity and network defense; and facilitate and support efforts by the government to counter foreign cyber threats. Once established, the CTIIC will join the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), and U.S. Cyber Command as integral parts of the United States Government's capability to protect our citizens, our companies, and our Nation from cyber threats.
Authority
The CTIIC is being established under authority granted to the DNI by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to create intelligence centers. The creation of the CTIIC does not grant the Intelligence Community any additional authority to collect intelligence or conduct intelligence operations. Nor will the CTIIC directly engage U.S. private sector entities to provide, receive, or obtain any information about cyber threats.
Relationship to Other Cybersecurity Centers
The CTIIC will not be an operational center. It will not collect intelligence, manage incident response efforts, direct investigations, or replace other functions currently performed by existing departments, agencies, or government cyber centers. Instead, the CTIIC will support the NCCIC in its network defense and incident response mission; the NCIJTF in its mission to coordinate, integrate, and share information related to domestic cyber threat investigations; and U.S. Cyber Command in its mission to defend the nation from significant attacks in cyberspace. The CTIIC will provide these entities, as well as other departments and agencies, with intelligence needed to carry out their cybersecurity missions.
Organizational Structure
The President has directed the DNI, in cooperation with other government agencies, to refine the CTIIC's mission, roles, and responsibilities, ensuring that those roles and responsibilities are appropriately aligned with other presidential policies as well as existing policy coordination mechanisms. For example, it is anticipated that the CTIIC will be a critical participant in the interagency Cyber Response Group, support the National Security Council in carrying out its cybersecurity responsibilities, and have a close partnership with all departments and agencies that perform cybersecurity functions in the government.
No decisions have been made regarding the CTIIC's specific location, but the current plan is to locate the CTIIC in the Washington, DC metro area in an existing Intelligence Community facility. The DNI is in the process of developing the CTIIC's organizational structure; we expect that it will be small, consisting of approximately 50 government personnel drawn from relevant departments and agencies.
Privacy and Civil Liberties
The CTIIC will perform its functions consistent with applicable policy and legal frameworks and in a manner that protects privacy and civil liberties. The CTIIC shall access, retain, use, and disseminate such information, in a manner that protects privacy and civil liberties and is consistent with applicable law, Executive Orders, Presidential directives, and guidelines, such as guidelines established under section 102A(b) of National Security Act of 1947, as amended, Executive Order 12333 of December 8, 1981 (United States Intelligence Activities), as amended, and Presidential Policy Directive-28; and that is consistent with the need to protect sources and methods. Agencies providing information to the CTIIC shall ensure that privacy and civil liberties protections are provided in the course of implementing the memorandum that the President issued today. Such protections shall be based upon the Fair Information Practice Principles or other privacy and civil liberties policies, principles, and frameworks as they apply to each agency's activities.
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NSA staffers rake in Silicon Valley cash | TheHill
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:39
Former employees of the National Security Agency are becoming a hot commodity in Silicon Valley amid the tech industry's battle against government surveillance.
Investors looking to ride the boom in cybersecurity are dangling big paydays in front of former NSA staffers, seeking to secure access to the insider knowledge they gained while working for the world's most elite surveillance agency.
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With companies desperate to protect their networks against hackers, many tech executives say the best way to develop security products is to enlist the talents of people who have years of experience cracking through them.''The stories he could tell,'' venture capitalist Ray Rothrock recalled about his meetings with a former NSA employee who founded the start-up Area 1 Security. ''They come with a perspective that nobody in Silicon Valley has.''
NSA alums are following the money, uprooting companies they founded on the East Coast for the deeper investment pools of California's tech hub.
Early-stage funding for cyber start-ups was expected to nearly double for the second year in a row in 2014, topping $800 million, according to the research group PrivCo.
''Networks on the West Coast are quite substantial,'' said Jay Kaplan, one of the former NSA employees behind Synack, a security firm that launched from Boston in May 2013 but soon packed up for the West Coast.
The move was ''pretty key to gaining a foothold in the market,'' Kaplan said. From the ability to ''meet up regularly'' with investors to the ''plethora'' of tech-savvy potential employees, Kaplan said he and his co-founders have ''never looked back.''
Just last week, Synack revealed it had raised $25 million in Series B venture capital funding, nearly tripling the $9 million it brought it during Series A fundraising last year. The company's revenue has grown 90 percent over the past year.
''I think it was a great decision,'' Kaplan said of the move.
On the surface, Silicon Valley and the Beltway often appear at odds.
''[Venture capitalists] don't like to fly to D.C. very often,'' joked Rothrock, who backs multiple NSA alum-founded start-ups, including Synack.
Tensions between the tech industry and Washington have been running high since former contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified documents that disclosed the NSA was tapping into Google and Yahoo's overseas cables to collect information stored on their data centers.
Those and numerous other revelations about the activities of the NSA have outraged technology executives, spurring a massive lobbying campaign aimed at curbing the agency's activities.
NSA leaders also have a philosophically different approach to encryption than many in the tech and civil liberties community. NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers advocates a legal framework that gives the government access to data, while companies like Apple are pursuing encryption that could lock out federal investigators.
''Sophisticated buyers understand that former employees of the NSA no longer work for the NSA,'' said David Cowan, a partner with Bessemer Venture Partners who is managing at least four recent investments in NSA alum-backed cyber start-ups.
''You might be surprised that their politics represent the same spectrum as the rest of the population,'' Cowan added. ''There are people who love Snowden and there are people who hate Snowden.''
Regardless of their views on surveillance, the NSA staffers have reason to thank Snowden '-- the whistleblower's disclosures about government surveillance have given their resumes cache.
It's helped create ''that imprimatur of the NSA brand,'' Rothrock said.
''If anything, the disclosures just give you additional credibility,'' Kaplan said.
It became ''a little bit easier to talk about this stuff,'' he added. ''In the past, people didn't talk about it.''
For the ex-NSA crowd, war stories about working in the government provide something of a competitive advantage.
''If you talk to these guys,'' Rothrock said, ''you kind of get an edge.''
Several investors described NSA-trained entrepreneurs as ''mission-focused,'' a rare trait in California.
''Mission meaning, 'We're going to storm that hill,' and the means by which you storm it is what they invent,'' Rothrock said. ''Whereas sometimes an entrepreneur just thinks a great product solves the problem.''
''It is so difficult to find that kind of expertise,'' Cowan added.
With Silicon Valley seeking a bigger voice in politics, it increasingly has a need for former government hands with connections in Washington '-- something NSA employees can provide in spades.
''The people they know, the access they have; they know the chain of command at the NSA,'' Rothrock said.
Former staffers who have founded start-ups in the Beltway say they are taking note of the opportunities out West.
''We actually considered moving out to Silicon Valley,'' said Will Ackerly, an eight-year NSA vet who co-founded encryption firm Virtru in 2012.
The company decided to stay in D.C., because it draws on a mix of funders and hires mostly employees and contractors with NSA backgrounds, but Ackerly wouldn't rule out a coastal switch.
''Never off the table,'' he said.
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US offers highest-ever cybercrime reward for arrest of Russian hacker | US news | The Guardian
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 23:39
FBI assistant director for cyber security Joseph Demarest listens while US attorney David Hickton speaks during a briefing on Evgeniy Bogachev. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
The US State Department and FBI have announced a $3m reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Russian national Evgeniy Bogachev, the highest bounty US authorities have ever offered in a cyber case.
Related:US accuses Russian hacker Evgeniy Bogachev of $100m fraud
The FBI also issued a ''Wanted'' poster for Bogachev, who is charged in the United States with running a computer attack network called GameOver Zeus that allegedly stole more than $100m from online bank accounts.
Bogachev has been charged by federal authorities in Pittsburgh with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in connection with his alleged role as administrator of GameOver Zeus.
He also faces federal bank fraud conspiracy charges in Omaha, Nebraska related to his alleged involvement in an earlier variant of Zeus malware known as Jabber Zeus.
Bureau officials said on Tuesday they believed Bogachev was still in Russia. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
Joseph Demarest, head of the FBI's cyber-crime division, said the agency is aware of 60 different cyberthreat groups linked to nation-states. He did not identify which countries were believer to be behind these groups.
Demarest said that Russia's internal security agency, the FSB, had recently expressed tentative interest in working with US authorities on investigating cybercrimes. He did not link the offer of cooperation to the Bogachev case.
China has not expressed any interest in cooperating with the United States on cybercrimes, he said. Last November, the United States indicted five Chinese military officers and accused them of hacking into US nuclear power, metals and solar products industries.
Demarest said the FBI learned within a month of Sony Pictures' first report of a large-scale cyber-attack that North Korea was behind it.
''We were absolutely positive in a very short period of time'' that the North Korean government was behind the attack, he said.
Despite assertions from some security experts that the Sony Pictures hackers might have had help from one or more insiders at the studio, Demarest said investigators had found no evidence to back up such claims.
The FBI had learned of ''over 100 major'' cyber-attacks in 2014, Demarest said, adding that evidence of insider collusion had turned up in ''less than a handful'' of those cases.
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BillCaseyHoneyPot
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:46
23 February 2015
BillCaseyHoneyPot
A sends:
Drudge linked 2-22-2015 to a WashPost article on Stingray. Late last night, there were several strange comments to that article. I saved some of them, attached. Regrettably, I didn't capture all of the comments. They have now all been moderated out of the comments. Commenter "BillCaseyHoneyPot" had several comments that, it seemed, someone in intel would appreciate. They were direct taunts to the paper and intelligence agencies and were either ramblings or really meant something.
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Packet Equality
Net Neutrality's Technical Troubles - IEEE Spectrum
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:45
Image: iStockphoto
After years of fence-sitting, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has come down strongly in favor of Net neutrality, which in some sense must mean the equal treatment of all Internet data packets. The FCC plans to vote on a proposal on 26 February.
What, however, does equal treatment mean? The Net needs to manage its diverse traffic, just as a city must manage the flow of pedestrians, bicycles, buses, delivery trucks, cars, and the occasional emergency vehicle on its streets. Any general rule must affect some kinds of traffic differently from the others, which is why you have car-friendly roads, bike lanes, and malls given over entirely to foot traffic.
Everyone who suffers from Internet traffic jams has a favorite villain. Streaming-video watchers blame carriers for throttling data flow to their phones or computers. Real-time gamers howl that delays and losses in data transmission hobble their competitive performance. This problem is so bad that Riot Games, maker of the popular League of Legends, plans to build a dedicated high-performance gaming network.
The stakes are rising with the promise of new Net applications, such as communication among autonomous vehicles. Also at stake is the future of wire-line telephone service, which FCC chairman Tom Wheeler wants to shift from aging landline networks to the Internet.
Yet so far the debate has centered on policy, law, and finance, as if the network itself were a given. It is not.
''There's a lot of complexity here at a technical level that is absolutely lost in the policy conversations,'' says Fred Baker, a distinguished engineering fellow at Cisco Systems and former chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force. Getting the technology right is crucial for the future of the Net.
The fundamental technical challenge is getting the Net to carry traffic that it was never meant to handle. Internet packet switching was designed for digital file transfers between computers, and it was later adapted for e-mail and Web pages. For these purposes the digital data does not have to be delivered at a specific rate or even in a specific order, so it can be chopped into packets that are routed over separate paths to be reassembled, in leisurely fashion, at their destinations.
By contrast, voice and video signals must come fast and in a specific sequence. Conversations become difficult if words or syllables go missing or are delayed by more than a couple of tenths of a second. Our eyes can tolerate a bit more variation in video than our ears can tolerate in voice; on the other hand, video needs much more bandwidth.
Voice and video can be converted into series of packets coded to identify their contents as requiring transmission at a regular rate. For telephony, the packet priority codes are designed to keep the conversation flowing without annoying jitter'--variations in when the packets are received. Similar codes help keep video packets flowing at the proper rate.
In practice, these flow controls are not crucial in today's fixed broadband networks, which generally have enough capacity to transmit voice and video. But mobile apps are a different story.
''Wireless has a lot of stuff moving around, so it needs much tighter management than wire line,'' says a senior engineer at Nokia Networks, where he is responsible for innovation. (Like a number of sources cited here, he spoke anonymously, as carriers and equipment makers are reluctant to discuss proprietary network management techniques.)
To understand more, we will dig into the details of voice telephony, which despite its low bandwidth is particularly time sensitive.
Conventional telephony uses circuit switching to directly connect two phones to each other with an audio bandwidth of 300 to 3,400 hertz, good enough for reasonably intelligible speech. The modern landline phone system digitizes that audio signal into a stream of 64,000 bits per second, which can be combined with many other calls on the same carrier, a technique called time-division multiplexing. Cellphones are also circuit switched, but digital speech compression is used to fit more calls into the limited radio spectrum, which reduces voice quality. Both landline and cellular phones feed into the same backbone telephone network.
Carriers, with the FCC's backing, propose to abandon the old twisted-pair copper wire lines, which have become a maintenance headache. To replace landlines, the carriers want to convert 64-kilobit voice channels into packets, which can be sent from home or office Internet connections over the Internet's fiber-optic backbone'--along with wireless conversations'--more efficiently than over the existing backbone phone network.
Though this method does not provide a dedicated voice channel, it can still usually make the digital voice services act the same and sound as good as a landline. In fact, cable systems and Verizon's FiOS fiber system already offer ''digital voice'' services, which send packets over the carrier's broadband lines to the backbone phone network, where they are converted into 64-kb voice channels. That works well because fixed broadband access networks, like those operated by the cable systems and Verizon, usually have plenty of capacity for connecting to the backbone phone system.
Image: Roy Carubia
However, calls on Skype and other Voice over IP (VoIP) services aren't nearly so reliable, because they go over the carriers' broadband lines to the Internet rather than to the backbone phone network. Internet traffic is more vulnerable to bottlenecks, where packets may suffer jitter, be delayed, or be lost entirely.
The human hearing system does not tolerate these flaws well because of its acute sense of timing. Twenty milliseconds of sudden silence can disturb a conversation, says speech researcher Harry Levitt, the CEO and chief scientist at Sense Synergy, in Bodega Bay, Calif. The longer the round-trip transit time, or latency, the more likely people are to talk over each other. Calls bounced off geosynchronous satellites never took off, in part because people couldn't stand the quarter-to-half-second round-trip time. But such satellites work fine for data traffic.
The Internet discards packets that arrive after a maximum delay, and it can request retransmission of missing packets. That's okay for Web pages and downloads, but real-time conversations can't wait. Software may skip a missing packet or fill the gap by repeating the previous packet. That's tolerable for vowels, which are long, even sounds, so a packet lost from the middle of ''zoom'' would go unnoticed. But consonants are short and sharp, so losing a packet at the end of ''can't'' turns it into ''can.'' Severe congestion can cause whole sentences to vanish and make conversation impossible.
Such congestion is most serious on wireless networks, and it also already affects fixed broadband and backbone networks. Consumers frustrated by long video-buffering delays sometimes blame cable companies for intentionally throttling streaming video from companies like Netflix. But in 2014 the Measurement Lab consortium reported that the real bottlenecks are at interconnections between Internet access providers and backbone networks. ''I suspect there is very little throttling within the United States,'' says Measurement Lab researcher Collin Anderson.
The study measured data rates of broadband traffic in major urban centers including Dallas, New York City, and Los Angeles over much of 2013 and 2014. It reported ''sustained performance degradation'' when traffic from AT&T, Comcast, Centurylink, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon went through interconnections with three major backbone transit carriers: Cogent Communications, Level 3, and XO Communications. The degradation repeated when traffic passed between the same pairs of carriers.
Here's how bad it got: For nearly a year, median download rates failed to reach 4 megabits per second for customers of Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon who were connected to the test system through Cogent in New York City. The download rate varied daily, peaking in the low-traffic wee hours of the morning and crawling at peak usage times in the late afternoon and evening. In January 2014, peak-hour download rates for Comcast and Verizon customers dropped below the 0.5 Mb/s that the FCC considers the minimum rate usable for Web browsing. Then in late February 2014, the median download rate jumped above 12 Mb/s.
Those particular bottlenecks were low-capacity connections between Cogent and the carriers. But the root cause, says Anderson, ''is not one culprit, not one transit provider, not one access ISP. This is a systemic issue.'' It arises from business agreements that specify traffic volume and payment for service, the details of which are confidential. Those bottlenecks affect third-party VoIP services like Skype'--which route their traffic through the Internet'--but not carrier digital voice services, which connect to the backbone telephone network.
Image: Roy Carubia
Wireless networks have their own internal congestion, which results from sharing a limited radio spectrum among many users. In 2G and 3G wireless systems, data and voice traffic are kept apart; they shunt the data over the Internet and the voice over a circuit-switched network linked to the backbone. The first 4G LTE phones sent data over the new LTE network but used the old 3G network for voice. Now carriers are phasing in a new generation of 4G LTE phones that use a protocol called Voice over LTE (VoLTE) that converts voice directly to packets for transmission on 4G networks along with data. VoLTE phones have an audio bandwidth of 50 to 7,000 Hz, twice that of conventional phones, which is supplied by a service called HD voice. VoLTE phones also use network management tools to manage the flow of time-sensitive packets.
Engineers decided that the best way to manage traffic flow was to label each packet with codes based on the time sensitivity of the data, so routers could use them to schedule transmission. Everyone called them priority codes, but the name wasn't meant to imply that some packets were more important than others, only that they were more perishable, Baker says. It's like the difference between a shipment of fresh fruit and one of preserves.
Here's a set of such codes that the IEEE P802.1p task force defined in 1998 for local area networks. The highest priority values are for the most time-sensitive services, with the top two slots going to network management, followed by slots for voice packets, then video packets and other traffic.
Talk Is Not Cheap For Internet Traffic ManagersPCPPriorityAcronymTraffic types10 (lowest)BKBackground01BEBest Effort22EEExcellent Effort33CACritical Applications44VIVideo, < >55VOVoice, < >66ICInternetwork Control77 (highest)NCNetwork ControlSource: http://standards.ieee.org/getieee802/download/802.1Q-2005.pdf, page 282, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_P802.1p
Although these codes have been accepted as potentially useful, industry sources tell IEEE Spectrum that they haven't been widely used for wire line, fiber broadband, or the backbone Internet. Those systems generally have adequate internal capacity.
The packet coding built into LTE and VoLTE is a different matter because that traffic goes over wireless networks, which do have limited internal capacity. The LTE packet coding standard reflects the mobile environment and the introduction of new services. It assigns a special priority code to real-time gaming traffic, which requires very fast transit times to keep competition even. It also divides video into two classes with distinct requirements. Real-time ''conversational'' services such as conferencing and videophone are similar to voice telephony in that delays degrade their usability. Buffered streaming video can better tolerate packet delays because it is not interactive.
Here are the LTE codes:
QCIResource TypePriorityPacket Delay BudgetPacket Error Loss RateExample Services1GBR2100 ms10-2Conversational Voice24150 ms10-3Conversational Video (live streaming)3350 ms10-3Real-Time Gaming45300 ms10-6Non-Conversational Video (buffered streaming)5Non-GBR1100 ms10-6IMS Signaling66300 ms10-6Video (Buffered Streaming)TCP-based (e.g., web, e-mail, chat, FTP, point-to-point file sharing, progressive video, etc.)77100 ms10-3VoiceVideo (Live Streaming)Interactive Gaming88300 ms10-6Video (Buffered Streaming)TCP-based (e.g., web, e-mail, chat, FTP, point-to-point file sharing, progressive video, etc.)99These new Net management tools allowed carriers to improve their existing services and offer new ones. Carriers now boast of the good voice quality of VoLTE phones, after years of ignoring the poor sound of 2G and 3G phones. Premium-price services could follow, such as special channels for remote real-time control of Internet of Things devices.
Yet the differential treatment of packets worries advocates of Net neutrality, who fear that carriers could misuse those technologies to limit customer access to sites and services.
The central tenet of Net neutrality is that carriers should not discriminate among the services they carry. That way the cable companies, for instance, won't be able to throttle Netflix just because it competes with their own video programming.
But Net neutrality means different things to different people. Some want equal treatment for all bits; others merely want equal treatment for all information providers, which would then be free to assign priorities to their own services. Still others say that carriers should be able to charge extra for premium services, but not to block or throttle access. Each approach has different implications for network management.
Treating all bits equally has become a popular mantra. It says just what it means, giving it a charming simplicity that leaves little wiggle room for companies trying to game the system. Championed by the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the purists' position seems to be gaining advocates.
Yet its philosophical clarity could come at the cost of telephone clarity. ''LTE uses expedited forwarding services and [packet] priority to reduce jitter, which reduces voice quality,'' says Cisco's Baker. But that involves giving some bits priority over others. And all telephone traffic could be affected if the FCC pursued its plan to shift wire-line phone service to the Internet.
Some observers doubt that Net neutrality purists mean what they say. Yet Jeremy Gillula, a technologist for EFF, says ''network operators shouldn't be doing any sort of discrimination when it comes to managing their networks.'' One reason is that EFF advocates the encryption of Internet traffic, and as Gillula points out, encrypted data can't be examined to see whether it should get priority. Moreover, he adds, ''by allowing some packets to be treated better than others, we're closing off a universe of new ways of using the Internet that we haven't even discovered yet, and resigning ourselves to accepting only what already exists.''
Other advocacy groups take a less restrictive approach. ''We realize that the network needs management to provide the desired services,'' says Danielle Kehl, a policy analyst for the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute. ''The key is to make sure network management is not an excuse to violate Net neutrality.'' Thus they would allow carriers to schedule conversational video packets differently than those carrying streaming video, which is less time sensitive. But they would not allow carriers to differentiate between streaming video packets from two different companies.
A key argument for this approach is the 2003 observation by Tim Wu, now a Columbia University law professor, that packet switching inherently discriminates against time-sensitive applications. That is, packet switching without Net management can't prevent degradation of time-sensitive services on a busy network.
President Obama largely followed this lead in his November 2014 speech advocating Net neutrality. He did not say that all bits should be treated equally but specified four rules: no blocking, no throttling, no special treatment at interconnections, and no paid prioritization to speed content transmission.
The industry's view of Net neutrality has another key difference'--it should allow companies to offer premium-priced services. A Nokia policy paper says that users should be able to ''communicate with any other individual or business and access the lawful content of their choice free from any blocking or throttling, except in the case of reasonable network management needs, which are applied to all traffic in a consistent manner.'' But the paper adds that ''fee-based differentiation'' should be allowed for specialized services, as long as it is transparent.
Carriers like this approach because adding premium services would give them a financial incentive to improve their networks. Critics counter that offering an express lane to premium customers could relegate other users to the slow lane, particularly in busy wireless networks. A crucial issue to be resolved is who pays for premium service.
The big technology question in the debate over Net neutrality is which approach to packet management would give the best performance now and in the future.
''Networks just plain don't work worth s--t if you literally treat every packet exactly the same as every other packet,'' said one engineer, who asked not to be named. Cisco's Baker put it more delicately, saying that equal treatment for all packets ''would be setting the industry back 20 years.''
That's particularly true of wireless networks, where high demand and limited bandwidth make network management crucial. Take away priority coding and you break VoLTE, the first technology to offer major improvements in cellular voice quality. And without VoLTE or a similar packet-management scheme, there's no obvious way to realize the FCC's tentative plan to move wire-line telephony onto the Internet without degrading voice quality to cellphone level.
Other proposed services also depend on priority coding. ''If the Internet of Things develops, a lot of applications will require accurate real-time data to work well,'' says Jeff Campbell, vice president of global policy and government affairs at Cisco. Telemedicine, teleoperation of remote devices, and real-time interaction among autonomous vehicles could be problematic if data packets could get stalled at peak congestion times.
Some analysts argue that packet scheduling could throttle other traffic by limiting the unscheduled bandwidth. But others counter that this should not be a problem in a well-designed network, one with adequate capacity and interconnections.
As undemocratic as packet scheduling may be, it seems the best technology available for delivering a mixture of time-sensitive and -insensitive services. ''Some Net neutrality advocates are convinced that any kind of management will create bad results, but they're not willing to accept that having no management will also have bad results,'' says a senior Nokia engineer.
So, Internet purists take heed: Traffic management is as vital on the Internet as it is on streets and highways.
Tom Wheeler tweaks net neutrality plan after Google push - Brooks Boliek - POLITICO
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 01:56
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has made some last-minute revisions to his net neutrality plan after Google and public interest groups pressed for the changes, according to sources at the commission.
Google, Free Press and New America's Open Technology Institute last week asked the commission to revise language they said could unintentionally allow Internet service providers to charge websites for sending content to consumers. Such a scenario could open the door to an avalanche of new fees for Web companies and threaten their business models.
Story Continued Below
Google executives on Feb. 19 called aides to Wheeler and staffers for the FCC's two other Democratic commissioners '-- Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel '-- to make their case, according to a company disclosure. Clyburn has been the most vocal proponent of the revisions inside the commission, the sources said.
The exact scope of the language changes '-- which came to light a day before the FCC is scheduled to vote on the rules '-- wasn't immediately clear. They do not appear to alter the main thrust of Wheeler's proposed order, which would regulate broadband like a public utility to ensure Internet providers treat all Web traffic equally. The commission's Democratic majority is expected to approve the order over objections of Republicans who say the rules are heavy handed and will harm investment.
The last-minute revisions, however, demonstrate the growing influence of Google, which has become a major lobbying presence in Washington. Advocacy groups like Free Press have also been active in the net neutrality debate, pushing the FCC chairman toward the tough rules that he ultimately adopted.
The offices of Wheeler, Clyburn and Rosenworcel declined to comment, and a Google spokeswoman said the company has no knowledge of changes made by the commission.
Much of the late-stage negotiating at the FCC is among the three Democrats. Wheeler needs Clyburn and Rosenworcel to support the his net neutrality plan because the FCC's two Republicans oppose it.
GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai confirmed in a tweet Wednesday that he plans to vote against the rules. Pai's message indicated Wheeler's net neutrality plan is now 317 pages instead of his earlier count of 332 pages. Commissioner Michael O'Rielly hasn't tipped his hand on the vote but has consistently criticized the proposal.
While Google is the biggest corporate name that pushed for the revision, other, smaller tech companies and the trade group Internet Freedom Business Alliance have also raised questions about the language in question.
Inside Obama's net fix | WashingtonExaminer.com
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:24
These facts are indisputable, so they're simply disregarded by the Internet regulation advocates campaigning for net neutrality. Among the arguments they use to make their case are that some foreign cities and small nations have built extremely speedy residential networks; many of these offer Internet services for a fraction of U.S. prices; rural American communities have slower and less reliable networks than cities do; and many older people have no interest in venturing onto the Internet at any price.
A core problem with these arguments is that they are, in truth, unrelated to net neutrality.
The FCC says it's not passing new rules in hopes of improving the Internet but to preserve it as it is with ''light touch regulations.'' The agency is taking action because courts have voided all but a sliver of its three previous sets of rules. And President Obama raised the stakes by publicly urging the FCC to impose the ''strongest possible rules'' on the Internet to fill the regulatory vacuum.
The new net neutrality rules were reportedly formulated by a ''shadow FCC'' operating within the White House that actively thwarted the will of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the former investor and lobbyist who heads the agency. This has sparked congressional investigations into whether the White House improperly interfered with the FCC, which is officially independent. It has also prompted Congress to hold hearings about a pair of identical ''Internet openness'' bills in the two chambers that endorse net neutrality but clarify and reduce the FCC's power and control over the Internet.
Rarely has a wonky feature of telecom policy generated such drama. The FCC rules will certainly be challenged in court, and Congress will just as certainly press forward with its efforts to shield the FCC from White House control. Internet policy will become a prominent issue in the 2016 presidential election, nearly 50 years after the Internet was born.
A brief history of the InternetThe Internet traces its roots to the 1960s, when researchers in America and Britain invented ''packet switching,'' a nimble method of managing network capacity. The telephone network manages capacity by subdividing the total pool of bandwidth into pieces just large enough to handle a phone call and handing them out on demand. Even in its modern, digital form, the telephone network does pretty much what it did when Lily Tomlin's Ernestine put through calls with plugs and jacks on a switching panel.
Packet switching does something so radical that most engineers doubted it would even work: It assigns all of its capacity to each user on demand, for short periods of time just long enough for the sender to transmit 1,500 bytes of information or less. This information unit, the packet, contains the addresses of the sender and the recipient, so the network is free to deliver it as it sees fit.
It might subdivide the packet into smaller pieces and send them in parallel over different paths, common practice on the French CYCLADES network that predates the American Internet. Or it could combine packets with other packets and send them over a very high capacity path. It could even send identical copies of the packet over multiple paths at the same time, which would be useful if, for example, a nuclear attack had knocked out portions of the nationwide network. Thus, packet switching replaces telephone operators with computers, harnessing computer power to deliver an unprecedented degree of flexibility and performance.
The first large packet network, the Defense Department's ARPANet, was deployed in 1969; it became the largest and most important part of the Internet in 1983. The early Internet was restricted to government contractors and research institutions and bound by an ''acceptable use policy'' forbidding commerce, but the Clinton administration privatized the Internet and opened it to commerce in the mid-1990s.
Because cellular data, digital subscriber line service, cable modems, and wi-fi were invented at roughly the same time as privatization, the essential elements of a communications revolution were in place by the turn of the century.
One network to rule them allThe virtue of packet switching is its ability to support a wide range of computer activities over a variety of media, which is why we can stream TV shows, send email, and surf the Web from laptops, smartphones, and iPads over mobile networks, DSL, cable, or wi-fi without sweating the details. But packet switching does have a drawback. While it can support a wide range of content retrieval activities with a high probability of success, it can be dismal at guaranteeing the rapid delivery of any individual packet. Because each packet takes the network's entire capacity, packet networks are fully congested for the duration of each packet. If multiple users wish to transmit at roughly the same time, each must take a number and wait for a turn.
Because a movie consists of roughly a million packets over the span of a couple of hours (or more, if the film features Hobbits or conspiracies), the delivery time of each individual movie packet doesn't matter much. Phone calls or similar applications such as video conferencing can, by contrast, be frustrating over the Internet. Skype and Vonage generally work well, but very frequently users encounter inaudible signals. Internet telephone calls work better on high-speed connections, but even at the unusually high rate of 100 Mbps, the laws of probability occasionally produce moments of chaos. Video streaming services aggravate the problem by delivering packets in clumps rather than with uniform spacing.
Network operators can take affirmative steps to improve the quality of Internet calls without degrading the perceived quality of movies. Because Oliver Stone's "Nixon" runs three and a half hours, a broadband Internet service can delay the Amazon Instant stream of many of its two million packets by a fraction of a second in order to deliver a Skype packet before it expires, some two-tenths of a second after it was created. Broadband networks handle some packets that must be delivered in tenths of a second to be useful as well as packets that aren't relevant for minutes or hours. So it is absurd to treat all packets equally.
Inflicting a tiny delay on a movie is of less consequence than, say, erasing part of a conversation. Given a choice, users would certainly like their broadband service providers to do this for them. So why don't they? You may think the failure of broadband Internet service to meet Skype users' needs is driven by greed or indolence, which is what critics say. But the answer lies in another quarter altogether.
Regulation vs. innovationThe hallmark of the White House's broadband Internet service regulations is network neutrality, which is the idea that all packets should be handled equally. While you may prefer your Skype packets to take precedence over your movie packets on the occasions when the two are in conflict, the service provider can't do this without looking into the packets to see what application created them. As Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig said in his book Code, the most important rule of net neutrality is that the network must operate blindly, without bias or favor: ''Like a daydreaming postal worker, the network simply moves the data and leaves its interpretation to the applications at either end.''
Lessig proteges Tim Wu, coiner of the term ''net neutrality," and Barbara van Schewick, the FCC's most dedicated lobbyist, have modified Lessig's rule in modest ways, but a prohibition against preferential treatment remains intact in both of their current formulations.
Broadband Internet service providers understandably do not want to offer services that break the law and popular notions of Internet correctness. Some foreign Internet services manage packet streams intelligently, but mainstream U.S. firms have shied away from providing such services since the FCC's infamous 2008 ruling against Comcast on a complaint brought by Vuze, a video streamer that produces a version of the BitTorrent protocol.
Vuze complained that Comcast was interfering with its users' abilities to share movies on personal computers on the Comcast network. The accusation was at least partially true, but for reasons the FCC failed to uncover, Comcast reduced the amount of upstream bandwidth BitTorrent clients were able to use in a somewhat crude attempt to deal with problems BitTorrent caused for Vonage users.
Comcast offers a telephone service of its own which is unaffected by Internet applications because it uses a dedicated path from the home to the telephone network. Vonage shares capacity with other Internet applications, and Comcast found itself in a pickle in 2007 when it was deluged with customer service calls from disgruntled Vonage users who suspected Comcast was degrading their service to make them switch to Comcast's voice service.
Comcast knew that interfering with Internet telephony was forbidden since the FCC had already sanctioned Madison River Communications, a North Carolina phone company, for blocking access to Vonage in 2005. The Madison River action had been based on the Internet Policy Statement devised by former Chairman Michael Powell that was never adopted as a formal rule.
When Comcast engineers found that the Vonage complaints were coming from neighborhoods with high BitTorrent use, it reduced the bandwidth BitTorrent could consume by injecting forged packets that told BitTorrent to disconnect some of the dozens of upstream connections it maintained. Comcast didn't prevent BitTorrent users from sharing their movies with others, but it did reduce the amount of bandwidth they could take. The system employed by Comcast was a stopgap until the deployment of faster, next-generation broadband equipment that had been delayed for reasons over which Comcast had no control.
The FCC ordered Comcast to stop disconnecting BitTorrent streams. The company had already done so before the agency issued the order. But Comcast then sued the FCC and won because the agency's action was predicated on an unpublished rule. Following this court decision and Congress' refusal to pass a net neutrality bill before the 2010 election, the FCC published its third iteration of Internet regulations, the Open Internet Order of 2010. This was challenged by Verizon and largely voided by the D.C. Circuit in January 2014 on jurisdictional grounds, which brings us to where we are now.
80 years of communications lawThe FCC's mission is to implement the Communications Act of 1934, that defines the general framework of ''communication by wire and radio'' within the U.S. For historical reasons, the law is organized into several technology-dependent categories, known as ''titles."
Title I relates to information services, which are those that store, retrieve or process information '-- in essence, anything that's done with a computer. Title II covers the common carrier wired telephone network, Title III is for the mobile voice and data network, and Title VI is cable TV.
There is limited cross-pollination between the titles. Voice services provided over mobile and cable networks are classified as Title II services because they interface with the telephone network, but voice services provided over the Internet are regulated under Title I.
In addition to the six titles, Section 706 of the Act deals with promoting ''advanced telecommunications capability,'' which is generally taken to mean broadband networks. Section 706 orders the FCC to survey the build-out of broadband networks and take necessary deregulatory actions to speed up deployment if it finds progress too slow.
Congress last updated the law in 1996, when it passed a Telecommunications Act that tried to create competition for local phone service. It failed to achieve its principal objective, but it is most remarkable for its almost complete failure to mention the Internet.
Because there is not a Title VII on regulating the Internet, the FCC has jumped through hoops to find the legal authority to regulate it. When phone companies initially offered DSL service, they volunteered to have this new service regulated under Title II. They gravitated in this direction to secure common carrier immunity from liability for the unlawful behavior of users, such as piracy and libel. Title II also meant making lines available to competitors at prices set by regulators, but this provision didn't hold up in court.
Cable Internet took a different route. It had been classified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as a common carrier in 2000 before any FCC ruling on its status. In 2002, however, the FCC issued a ruling that it was actually an information service because Internet services process substantial amounts of information (packet switching is a rich exercise in information processing by itself). The Ninth Circuit wasn't happy with the FCC's judgment, but the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that it was the agency's call to make.
Justice Antonin Scalia, who had worked on telecommunications policy in the Nixon White House, dissented, much to the glee of today's leftist net neutrality advocates. But a dissent is a minority opinion.
The 2008 FCC order in the Comcast matter was quickly overturned because the Internet Policy Statement wasn't an actual regulation. Most of the 2010 Open Internet Order was overturned because it attempted to impose a Title II regulation on a Title I service, the stipulation that broadband service providers ''prophylactically'' ban the kind of packet discrimination that permits phone services to co-exist peacefully with video streaming.
But the FCC scored a major victory in winning court approval for a creative reading of its Section 706 authority to accelerate the build out of ''advanced telecommunication capability'' by pre-emptively banning the use and/or sale of network management capabilities that would allow a diverse array of applications to co-exist on common networks. Venturing onto thin ice, the court bought the FCC's contention that networks should strive to become faster but not smarter.
The tortured path to the 2015 orderThe court offered the FCC two paths to a legally valid net neutrality rule. It could rely on its Section 706 authority, as it had in a previous order on mobile data services, or it could attempt to reclassify broadband Internet service under the common carrier title. Classification is not supposed to be an exercise that the commission undertakes with an eye to expanding its own power. The FCC is, rather, supposed to examine the nature of a service and determine where it best fits within the confines of the law. Classification should be a factual judgment, not a policy choice.
The law is actually more complicated than this, because the 1996 Act gave the FCC a special authority known as ''forbearance'' that allows it to refrain from applying specific portions of an existing title to a new service. Thus, it has a choice between assigning broadband to Title I (information services), Title II (common carrier telephone networks), or to a subset of Title II left over after some portions of the law are excluded by the forbearance power. Some commenters describe Title II with forbearance as a ransom note, since it cuts and pastes parts of the law into an entirely new configuration. But there's no doubt that Congress did in fact give the FCC this power.
Largely because Title II has spawned so much litigation '-- there have been literally thousands of cases in the courts and before the FCC '-- Wheeler was reluctant to apply it to broadband networks. From February to June of last year, his speeches indicated that he would use the FCC's new Section 706 authority to fashion a third way on net neutrality that would refrain from ''prophylactic bans'' on smart network management practices in favor of a more permissive approach. He signaled willingness to permit bargaining between content providers such as Netflix and communication apps like Skype and Vonage on the one side and broadband Internet service providers on the other.
Wheeler has been a long-time participant in the Internet policy conferences held at the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, arguably the premier venue for Internet policy discourse in America. Tim Wu introduced the notion of net neutrality at a Flatirons event; Powell unveiled his Internet Policy Statement in Boulder; and the center's director, Phil Weiser, co-wrote a paper laying out a ''Third Way on Net Neutrality'' after Wu and Powell had expressed their positions. Wheeler's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued last May owes a heavy debt to the Weiser paper.
Through the summer and early autumn it appeared that Wheeler would draft a new Open Internet order relying on Title I and Section 706 consistent with the third way. This would permit bargaining for customized delivery services as long as baseline network quality was sufficient for users to enjoy the benefits of common applications such as web surfing, email, and video streaming. Common applications would need to work well before providers could offer special treatment to leading-edge applications that we've yet to see on the Internet, such as immersive video conferencing, high definition voice, and accelerated gaming.
Unfortunately, cracks began to appear in Wheeler's resolve after he briefed Democrats on Capitol Hill just before the commission's notice was published. Someone, either an FCC staffer or a member of Congress, leaked a distorted version of the notice to the Wall Street Journal. Press speculation led to the creation of an Internet meme to the effect that the FCC planned to permit Internet service providers to collect ransom from small businesses under threat of relegating them to ''slow lanes'' if they didn't pay up. This story proved to be a boon to technically illiterate bloggers and journalists assigned to the Internet beat. Many bloggers announced that the FCC proposed to allow the Internet providers to extort small businesses. Sadly many credulous readers believed them; many filed comments with the FCC protesting what was an entirely fictional plan.
The Netflix sagaThe effects of the vindictive leak were exaggerated by a tale of woe that figured heavily in the ginned-up reaction to Wheeler's plan. A little more than a year ago, Netflix users in many parts of the country experienced a service meltdown. Instead of seeing their movies and TV reruns flow seamlessly across their screens as they always had, they were jarred by frozen images, erratic delays, and disconnections. Netflix had created this problem itself by poor planning and was ultimately bailed out by the large Internet service providers, but not without cash payments and a great deal of complaining.
The underlying cause of the Netflix catastrophe was a hasty attempt to realign the middlemen of a complex entertainment delivery process. Netflix delivers video content to ISPs in ''Internet peering centers,'' gigantic buildings in major cities where dozens of Internet companies rent floor space in order to exchange packets according to bilateral agreements. These deals are lifesavers, but critics are more likely to describe them as extortion because they're not aware of the flow of payments between Internet firms. The story is hard to tease out of popular narrative because it centers on a portion of the Internet few understand, even within the FCC.
Netflix was able to overcome the problem by negotiating special deals for its massive traffic load '-- a third of all traffic on the Internet comes from Netflix '-- with AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. But the deals weren't free, just as the middlemen Netflix eliminated by going direct to the large Internet providers weren't free, either. The financial details are shrouded by non-disclosure agreements, but most experts estimate that Netflix's communication costs are now lower than they've ever been because the company was able to bypass the middlemen and negotiate its own deals at the source. This is a typical trajectory for successful Internet content merchants.
Apple is undergoing the same transformation today to meet demand for its immensely popular iTunes service, but without any of the drama that colored the Netflix transition. Amazon and YouTube built their own acceleration facilities a decade ago, again without fanfare. These other companies didn't wait until their traffic loads outstripped the Internet's capacity before changing their delivery method as Netflix did. The lesson here is to plan for growth instead of lurching from crisis to crisis.
But the Netflix story combined with media distortion of the third way created the appearance that Netflix was being held hostage to the kind of bargaining contemplated by Wheeler's notice.
The November shellackingDespite voters' sharp rebuke to President Obama and the Democrats in the 2014 midterms, the president went on the offensive with a slew of orders only a few hours after a chastened talk about bipartisanship. Obama almost appeared to be trolling Republicans in hopes of provoking an over-the-top backlash that would undermine the ''party of grownups'' image that had been key to the midterm success.
This campaign of provocation culminated in a YouTube video encouraging Wheeler to impose the ''strongest possible rules'' on the Internet instead of the third way ''light touch'' he was refining. Wheeler appeared blind-sided by the president's message, which amounted to an order, and he buckled. Forced to explain his change of position, Wheeler offered two ambiguous stories. The first, presented as an epiphany, stressed the success of mobile networks under Title II and glossed over the fact that mobile data service was classified under Title I by the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
The second story was even more puzzling. Wheeler had been hired by a personal computer company called NABU after IBM had released its PC and Apple had introduced the Macintosh. NABU's PC used an older-generation central processing unit, the eight-bit Z80, and an obsolete operating system that had been the precursor to Microsoft's PC-DOS. The NABU machine attached to a TV set and to a one-way cable network that continually downloaded an uncontrollable stream of applications and other content. Wheeler negotiated deals with 40 cable networks to support the NABU machine, but none of these placements spurred significant sales because the overall value proposition for the NABU PC was too weak. Like so many others in the early personal computer era, the company went bust. In an op-ed in Wired, Wheeler blamed NABU's failure on too little network openness rather than too little computer performance.
Technical reactionSo, with these flimsy justifications, the US has arrived at a turning point in the development of the web. The present direction of Internet regulation threatens the ability of networks to advance. Supporters of Title II regulation may be well-schooled in telecom law, but few grasp the strengths and weaknesses of Internet technology. The engineering community is concerned about improper regulation, hence luminaries such as the Internet's lead inventor Bob Kahn and networking pioneer Dave Farber have spoken out on the risk of regulatory overreach. IEEE Spectrum, a publication of the largest professional organization of computer engineers, has just published a detailed critique of the chilling effects of neutrality regulations on the growth of the Internet, ''Net Neutrality's Technical Troubles.'' Ironically, the first victims of the White House's ''strongest possible rules'' imported from the annals of telephone regulation will be the Internet phone calls carried by Skype and Vonage.
The Internet as we know it today is a distillation of ideas developed around the world by both public and private sector researchers supported by investments from both public and private sources. Most of the magic comes from the profit-driven private sector. As amazing as the Internet is today, it still falls short of its potential.
It's a certainty that the rules imposed on Wheeler will slow the Internet's rate of progress and lock in current applications. Congress can take steps to undo the damage about to be inflicted '-- and it should.
Richard Bennett is a co-inventor of wi-fi and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Winners and losers: A breakdown ahead of the net neutrality vote
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 23:26
What's This?
Image: Mashable composite. Darren Greenwood/Corbis
By Jason Abbruzzese2015-02-25 19:23:53 UTC
We're just a day away from the Federal Communications Commission's vote on major changes to how the regulator handles broadband Internet and the companies behind it.
Just about every indication is that the FCC will pass the changes on a 3-2 vote, split per usual between the Democratic majority and Republican minority.
A quick reminder: if passed, the proposal would allow the FCC to watch over the broadband industry in a similar fashion to utilities, which are highly regulated. It would also allow the FCC to ensure net neutrality, preventing Internet fast lanes.
This notion has created a sharp division between supporters and critiques. Let's take a look at who is projected to come out on top, starting with...
The losersInternet Service ProvidersTitle II is among the worst nightmares of ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Under the new rules, they will be subject to far more regulation and be forced to operate with far more transparency.
The ISPs have argued that Title II regulations will make it borderline impossible to invest in much-needed Internet infrastructure. The move, they have argued, is just bad for business. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has rebutted those claims.
There's a silver lining for ISPs. Wheeler has made it clear that the most aggressive pieces of the new regulation '-- the ability to control pricing and force companies to share their local infrastructure '-- will not be applied to broadband providers.
That tweak was enough to cheer investors. Shares in broadband providers rose after details of the plan emerged.
RepublicansIt's not a huge loss, but it will still sting.
Republicans generally oppose industry regulation, and broadband Internet has been no different. While not necessarily a topic that is going to headline the next election, politicians have slowly been taking sides on the issue.
Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, had one of the most notable proclamations about net neutrality.
While there had been some talk of Republicans mounting opposition and possibly floating some legislation on the issue, those hopes seem to have flamed out.
Still, anger on the issue continues to percolate among those on the right. Conservative id Matt Drudge summed it up on Tuesday night.
Wireless providersIt came as a bit of a surprise when Wheeler revealed that the new net neutrality proposal would also apply to wireless Internet.
Previous incarnations of net neutrality regulation (there have been two, both struck down by the courts) had only applied to landline Internet. The new plans would change this, bringing the Internet transferred to your phone over wireless networks under the same rules as your home Internet.
This means that some existing deals will come under scrutiny, such as T-Mobile's program that allows users to stream music without it counting against data caps.
It also means that wireless Internet will be under closer scrutiny from the FCC. Wheeler has already shown he is not shy to go after companies. He has already challenged Verizon and T&T on the throttling of user speeds.
WinnersContent providersIf you send stuff over the Internet, you're pretty psyched about this vote.
With the new rules in place, content companies like Netflix and Hulu will have something of a guarantee that they will get fair access to Internet users. Just about every single Internet company in existence wrote a letter or published a blog post in support of net neutrality.
This means that for years ahead, these companies can plan for the future being somewhat secure in the knowledge that they will be able to distribute their content. However, it is important to note that this vote will not put the issue of net neutrality to rest. A new FCC under a different president could roll this change back.
Net neutrality activistsChalk one up for the activists.
When the FCC first voted to consider new Internet regulation, activists showed up to the meeting and even made it into the FCC's meeting room. They demanded reclassification under Title II, yelling for it even as security removed them from the room.
Since then, they have written letters to just about everybody. A call to action by John Oliver helped. As did support from President Barack Obama.
But here we are. About nine months later and the changes that those activists fought for are poised to be put in place.
President ObamaThe president has talked a big game on net neutrality, repeatedly advocating for it in speeches. His actions haven't always given the sense that he was serious about the issue.
The most notable move that called into question the president's commitment to net neutrality also happened to be the most impactful '-- the appointment of Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman.
Wheeler had previously worked as a lobbyist for the cable and telecom industries, which have generally opposed net neutrality. The choice was roundly criticized by just about everyone except the industry players.
Wheeler is now poised to establish the strictest net neutrality rules ever seen. That's a win for the president.
LawyersIt is just about a foregone conclusion that this will end up back in court, just like the last two FCC efforts.
Topics: Barack Obama, Business, FCC, Media, Net Neutrality , tom wheeler
On U.S. net neutrality rules, 11th-hour push against vague rule | Reuters
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:38
By Alina Selyukh
WASHINGTONFri Feb 20, 2015 4:49pm EST
WASHINGTON Feb 20 (Reuters) - As the U.S. Federal Communications Commission prepares to vote on new rules for high-speed Internet service, one aspect of the rules is drawing criticism from both opponents and proponents of tighter regulation.
The FCC, which is set to vote next week to regulate Internet service providers more like traditional telephone companies, has introduced a so-called "general conduct" provision in the latest version of the rules that aim to ensure net neutrality, the principle that all web traffic should be treated equally.
In the general conduct provision, the FCC will say that Internet providers' actions cannot be harmful to consumers or content providers, and will outline seven elements that the regulators would consider in reviewing potential violations of that standard, agency officials have said.
But the Internet providers, who reject the tougher regulatory regime, as well as advocates of stronger regulation, both say that this general conduct provision is too vague. They have made a last-ditch effort to push for changes, according to FCC disclosures, filings and interviews with lobbyists and activists.
Although the FCC has not publicly disclosed specifics of the seven factors, an FCC spokeswoman told Reuters that three of those guidance criteria are related to impact on competition, innovation, and free expression.
Industry sources say the other four criteria focus on impact on broadband deployment and investments; whether actions in question are specific to some applications and not others; whether they comply with industry best standards and practices; and whether they take place without the awareness of the end-user, the Internet subscriber.
Telecom and cable lobbyists say the rules' vague guidelines could effectively require the companies to consult the FCC every time they want to create a new service, to make sure it doesn't run afoul of the rule.
Net neutrality advocates for their part, worry that the rules will lack clarity for both the Internet providers and potential complainants, making them harder to administer and potentially leading to arbitrary interpretation.
RARE AGREEMENT BY TWO SIDES
"A 'general conduct rule,' applied on a case-by-case basis with the only touchstone being whether a given practice 'harms' consumers or edge providers, may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of 'harm' (for those who can afford to engage in it)," the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a net neutrality advocate, said in a filing submitted on Thursday.
The shared concern by industry groups and activists is a rare example of the two sides being aligned in the long-running debate over whether Internet service providers should be subject to tighter regulation.
Net neutrality advocacy groups have for years sought stricter regulations, including a ban on Internet providers blocking or unfairly slowing down any web content or providing faster access in return for payment.
Companies say they don't oppose those specific rules, but that a stringent new regulatory regime would stifle investment.
The Federal Communications Commission will vote on the new rules on Feb. 26. Lobbyists say the FCC is unlikely to change the general conduct rule so late before the vote, but the matter is expected to spill over into Congress, where Republican lawmakers hope to counter FCC's regulations with new laws. (Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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Dear FCC: Rethink The Vague "General Conduct" Rule | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:37
For many months, EFF has been working with a broad coalition of advocates to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new Open Internet rules that would survive legal scrutiny and actually help protect the Open Internet. Our message has been clear from the beginning: the FCC has a role to play, but its role must be firmly bounded.
Two weeks ago, we learned that we had likely managed the first goal'--the FCC is going to do the right thing and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, giving it the ability to make new, meaningful Open Internet rules. But we are deeply concerned that the FCC's new rules will include a provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion: the so-called ''general conduct rule.''
According to the FCC's own "Fact Sheet," the proposed rule will allow the FCC to review (and presumably punish) non-neutral practices that may ''harm'' consumers or edge providers. Late last week, as the window for public comment was closing, EFF filed a letter with the FCC urging it to clarify and sharply limit the scope of any ''general conduct'' provision:
[T]he Commission should use its Title II authority to engage in light-touch regulation, taking great care to adhere to clear, targeted, and transparent rules. A ''general conduct rule,'' applied on a case-by- case basis with the only touchstone being whether a given practice ''harms'' consumers or edge providers, may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of ''harm'' (for those who can afford to engage in it). What is worse, it could be abused by a future Commission to target legitimate practices that offer significant benefits to the public . . .
Accordingly, if the Commission intends to adopt a ''general conduct rule'' it should spell out, in advance, the contours and limits of that rule, and clarify that the rule shall be applied only in specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, if a recent report from Reuters is correct, the general conduct rule will be anything but clear. The FCC will evaluate ''harm'' based on consideration of seven factors: impact on competition; impact on innovation; impact on free expression; impact on broadband deployment and investments; whether the actions in question are specific to some applications and not others; whether they comply with industry best standards and practices; and whether they take place without the awareness of the end-user, the Internet subscriber.
There are several problems with this approach. First, it suggests that the FCC believes it has broad authority to pursue any number of practices'--hardly the narrow, light-touch approach we need to protect the open Internet. Second, we worry that this rule will be extremely expensive in practice, because anyone wanting to bring a complaint will be hard-pressed to predict whether they will succeed. For example, how will the Commission determine ''industry best standards and practices''? As a practical matter, it is likely that only companies that can afford years of litigation to answer these questions will be able to rely on the rule at all. Third, a multi-factor test gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence.
We are days away from a final vote, and it appears that many of the proposed rules will make sense for the Internet. Based on what we know so far, however, the general conduct proposal may not. The FCC should rethink this one.
Agenda 21
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Non-Quote of the week '' what the IPCC didn't say about Pachauri's looming sex scandal | Watts Up With That?
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:18
Pachaur's lawyer sought anticipatory bail on grounds of his illness and on merits of the case.
To this, the court inquired about Pachauri's health and asked his counsel what kind of illness does Pachauri have. Appearing for Pachauri, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra said, ''We have submitted all the medical records regarding his illness which include cardiac issues and UTI.''
''UTI'' is Urinary Tract Infection? No mention of dementia. At least he didn't plead sex addiction and go into celebrity rehab.
As one commenter observed:
As his health is so poor , he should resign from all international committees immediately and stop the hectic travel schedule he followed so far! Take full rest either in a nursing home or in custody!
I am unfamiliar with Indian law, but in general such charges are known as Sexual Harassment of Employee Allegations, and go by the acronym ''SHEA''. There are of course different levels or gradations to such allegations, which can be quite numerous and difficult to remember.
Reportedly Pachauri is negotiating a deal with the court to avoid a trial. It would involve appearing in a public service campaign to warn people about the intricacies of Indian sexual harassment law (among other things reminding them that ''harass'' is one word rather than two). The campaign is tentatively titled ''50 Grades of SHEA''.
More Women Accuse Pachauri | NoFrakkingConsensus
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:19
February 22, 2015 at 11:49 am
Additional women are stepping forward with tales of inappropriate behaviour on the part of Rajendra Pachauri, who has chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2002.
click for source
An Indian newspaper, The Hindu, has a headline today that reads: Another ex-TERI staff speaks up against Pachauri. Rajendra Pachauri has led The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for the past 34 years. For the past 13, he has also been chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Yesterday, the IPCC announced that Pachauri won't be attending an upcoming meeting in Nairobi ''because of issues demanding his attention in India.''
What began as a police complaint by a single female subordinate now appears to be snowballing. A second woman alleges that she was similarly harassed by Pachauri while employed by TERI a decade ago. In a letter read out by the first complainant's lawyer at a press conference, Pachauri's new accuser says:
A sexual harasser ten years back and a sexual harasser now. He did it to me ten years back and he has done it to her now. I and many other female colleagues who have worked at the same work place as the woman have at some point in their life faced sexual harassment at the hands of this man.
The Hindusays police plan to interview the woman.
Meanwhile, a story in the Calcutta-based Telegraphsuggests that Pachauri has long treated female staff members ''like little girls'' by lifting them off the ground as one might do with toddlers in North America. Based on the above two women's accounts, plus ''interviews with two long-term [TERI] employees,'' the article implies that physical contact and sexual innuendo have long been part of Pachauri's modus operandi.
Vrinda Grover, a New Delhi-based lawyer who specializes in women's issues, told The Telegraph that others have contacted her with similar tales: ''I know of at least three such cases, and the pattern is the same in every case.''
According to the above media reports, Pachauri's sexually-laden behaviour is ''common knowledge'' at TERI. The police complaint by the 29-year-old woman apparently:
also refers to alleged incidents that happened on the rooftop garden of the Teri office where, she said, Pachauri ''lifted female employees as if they were little girls. Some would run away seeing him approach them.''
The Telegraph tells us that, according to another ''former employee who did not want to be named,'' it is normal for female staffers to
get calls on their personal mobile numbers [from Pachauri], enquiries on their personal lives, invitations for wine and dinners, handholding and kisses.
Pachauri is also allegedly in the habit of assigning female employees nicknames which he then uses to address them rather than their proper, formal names.
Sanjeev Sabhlok, a Melbourne-based economist and Indian political activist, advised me by e-mail yesterday that while the lives of educated Indian women have improved dramatically in recent years:
it remains a brave decision for the [29-year-old complainant] to go public and I commend her commitment to hold people in high places to account. It is time for Indian women to stand up for themselves and fight the (chronic) sexual harassment they face at work.
He says the kind of behaviour of which Pachauri stands accused is not unusual amongst high-ranking Indian males, and that:
It is time for change in India. Women's freedom, dignity and rights matter. They are individuals and can't any longer be treated as chattel by men in powerful places. I hope other Indian women will come out in support for this women [sic] '' who has dared to take on one of India's most powerful men.
Similar remarks appear on Sabhlok's blog here.
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see also:
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Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book,Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. SeeAmazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.
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Entry filed under: ethical & philosophical, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri. Tags: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, sexual harassment.
Woman #2's Story | NoFrakkingConsensus
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:34
February 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm
Rajendra Pachauri's TERI institute appears to be a workplace in which female employees are continually groped, pestered, and invited to spend private time with the boss.
In 2007, Nature published a lengthy profile of Rajendra Pachauri. Written by Gabrielle Walker, it says Pachauri's staff ''love him'' and consider him a ''hero.'' Click for a PDF of that article.
The complete text of a statement authored by a second woman who claims she was victimized by Rajendra Pachauri can be read online here. It includes a long list of disturbing allegations against the head of the TERI institute and chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Pachauri, aged 74, denies accusations described in a police complaint filed on February 13 by a 29-year-old TERI employee. He says the print-outs of text messages and e-mails included in that complaint are the work of ''unknown cyber criminals.'' We are meant to believe that hackers have been in control of Pachauri's electronic devices for more than 17 months.
This second woman's statement is highly inconvenient to Pachauri's explanation, since it describes his alleged behaviour ten years ago. Presumably, his phone hasn't been hacked for a full decade. Even if that were the case, the vast majority of these allegations have nothing to do with electronic devices.
Instead, they paint a picture of a workplace in which the man in charge views female subordinates as his personal dating pool. Ongoing harassment, unwelcome physical contact, and demeaning treatment is apparently the norm.
For at least a decade, TERI appears to have been a workplace whose most senior official felt entitled to call women on their personal mobile phones after hours and during holidays. In which women were asked personal questions about their love life. In which they were continually groped, pestered, and invited to spend private time with Pachauri. And in which their complaints to other TERI personnel were brushed aside.
In her statement, Woman #2 mentions the following:
physical advancessexual innuendoslifting female employees into the air (some ran away, some ''coyly obliged,'' some cringed, some cussed under their breath)references by Pachauri to his athletic prowess/virilitycalls to personal mobile phone numbers after hours and on holidaysinquires about personal lives with boyfriends and husbandsinvitations for wine and dinnerhand-holdinghuggingkissingthe use of a nickname rather than her proper namethe promise of a pool membership if she'd join him for weekend swimsafter her resignation, a threat that she might not be permitted to leave the country due to the intercession of his friendsWoman #2 says that, 10 years ago, she talked to TERI colleagues
including the women who comprised the [Human Resources] team, about doing a joint petition, an internal complaint. Seeing that the women at [Human Resources] were themselves subjected to such harassment did not instill much confidence in the exercise but it would at least go on record'... [ellipses in original]
Woman #2 continues:
Having mustered some courage, I complained to the then administrative head, essentially the side-kick to [the] Big Boss. Side-kick refused to believe me, saying that I may have misread [Pachauri's] warmth, that such things had never been reported, requested me to end the matter there and started to show me a meditative, self-help magazine that he subscribed to.
Around that time, I gained admission at a university abroad. Since I quit the organisation, I was relieved that this was the end of this ugly episode.
Not quite. When he saw my resignation letter, [Pachauri] threatened: ''From the airport to the University you are headed to, I have friends at every step. Let's see if you manage to leave the country.''
All this happened ten years back. So why am I speaking up now? I had little courage then, but it feels like I have more now'... [bold added; ellipses in original]
In 2007, shortly after Woman #2 had escaped TERI, Nature published a glowing profile of Pachauri. Written by Gabrielle Walker, it assured us that ''his staff love him.'' She describes a dramatically different workplace '' one in which Pachauri is ''a hero to his employees.''
One wonders what the female subordinates on whom this man has allegedly been preying thought when they read such words.
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see also:
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Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book,Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. SeeAmazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.
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Entry filed under: ethical & philosophical, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri. Tags: Gabrielle Walker, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, sexual harassment.
Pachauri gets relief till Thursday - The Times of India on Mobile
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:32
NEW DELHI: TERI director general R K Pachauri, accused of sexually harassing a woman employee, was on Monday granted interim protection from arrest till February 26 by a trial court. Considering Pachauri's anticipatory bail plea, the court also issued notice to investigating officer (IO) of the case and sought his response on Pachauri's application by February 26.Pachaur's lawyer sought anticipatory bail on grounds of his illness and on merits of the case.
To this, the court inquired about Pachauri's health and asked his counsel what kind of illness does Pachauri have. Appearing for Pachauri, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra said, "We have submitted all the medical records regarding his illness which include cardiac issues and UTI."
Pachauri moved the trial court for relief following the direction of Delhi high court, which had on February 19 given him interim protection till Monday. However, advocate Prashant Mendiratta, appearing for the complainant, asked the court to put up the matter for hearing.
pachauri resignation letter
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:31
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ipcc pachauri resignation press release
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:28
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RK Pachauri to be summoned by police soon
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:25
Courtesy: Mail Today
RK Pachauri to be summoned by police soon
Mail Today Bureau New Delhi, Saturday, February 21, 2015
RK Pachauri
Facing harassment charges by a woman colleague since September 2013, The Energy Research Institute (TERI) director general R. K. Pachauri is likely to be summoned by the south district police soon after the complainant deposes before a magistrate, sources say.
The 29-year-old woman, working as a research associate in Pachauri's office, has mentioned his "obsession towards me" and "perverted mind" in the FIR, filed at the Lodi Colony PS on Wednesday afternoon. The police have booked Pachauri for molestation, stalking, sexual harassment (Sections 354, 354A and 354D of the IPC).
Mail Today contacted Pachauri's lawyer Pavan Duggal, who said: "We have no comments to offer as the matter is sub judice."
The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed the NGO chief to approach a lower court to seek anticipatory bail and stayed his arrest till February 23. It also modified its order on Wednesday and allowed the media to report on the case.
According to the FIR, the woman joined Pachauri's office on September 1, 2013, and was in awe of him. He initially pretended to be friendly towards her, but the situation soon changed into "repeated requests for a romantic and physical relationship" with him. "All his actions and words towards me had underlying sexual overtones over phone, messages and emails." He allegedly refused to give up despite her telling him several times that she wasn't interested in any such relationship.
"On many occasions, Dr Pachauri forcibly grabbed my body, hugged me, held my hands, kissed me and touched my body in an inappropriate manner," the complainant told the police.
She said she had told him clearly to stop such acts as she found it "extremely vulgar and repulsive", but he didn't heed her protests.
Mail Today reproduces a series of exchanges between Pachauri and the complainant:
Pachauri's SMS on September 7, 2013, at 9.22 pm: "My life, your good wishes have brought me safely home. Will ever your love bring me safely into my real home - your warm heart!
On September 8, 2013, at 2.32 pm: "I shall try to suppress my human feelings, and live with a sad restraint on my words and actions. Never to make you uncomfortable or stressed on my account ."
On September 17, 2013, at 10.28 pm: "I never want to make you uncomfortable even if it requires curbing my own instincts."
Woman's SMS the same evening, two minutes later: "Hi Dr Pachauri, yes I do get a little embarrassed and also feel overwhelmed."
Woman's SMS on October 1, 2013, at 9.38 pm: "As a 21st century woman (I) deserve the right to say that you kindly shouldn't try and or just hold me close or kiss me. I just got to the Metro."
At 10.01 pm: "I ain't and don't wish to be just a pretty face in your office. That hurts and is a bit demoralising. I'm much inexperienced and nowhere near where you are. I will never do anything out of line with my conscience or take advantages."
Pachauri's SMS on October 1, 2013, at 10.06 pm: "That is an unkind cut. And you need not feel responsible about sending me a message when you reach home. I am sorry for my actions. I shall be very very restrained now. I am not a cheap philanderer as you are trying to convey."
Pachauri's SMS six minutes later: "And just to prove to you how much I love you, I shall go on a fast after the cricket match tomorrow. I will break the fast only when you tell me that you believe I love you with sincerity and unfathomable depth."
At 10.21 pm: "All right we have our respective perceptions which differ, and we can live with them and also let live. Perhaps some day you would know how sweet and sublime my feelings for you are! I shall not call off my fast till you fully believe that sacred truth."
The woman's reply the very next minute: "I do believe you and you know it but I felt a little violated. Please you are not to grab me and or kiss me."
Pachauri's SMS on October 1, 2013, at 10.28 pm: "All right! I've got the message. I wish you would see the difference between something tender and loving and something crass and vulgar. You obviously don't! So I shall slink away and withdraw! Farewell my sweet (her name). But I insist on the fast just to hear you say that you believe I really love you."
At 10.35 pm: "Besides I want to punish myself for alienating you!"
At 10.36 pm: "And losing the most wonderful girl I've ever met."
Pachauri's SMS on October 2, 2013, at 4.57 pm: "I hope you are cool and far from nervewrecked! If it is any comfort at all I want to assure you that I love you in the most sublime, wholesome and genuine way. Never would I do anything to you or for you that you don't consider supremely beautiful!"
Her reply three minutes later: "I am a little less nerve-wrecked now and I hope you eat something soon. Have a good trip to Poland Dr. Pachauri and I'll see you next week. Best regards."
Excerpts from Pachauri's email to the woman on October 10, 2013: "Dearest (her name), Have been up since 2 am. One thought has been bothering me, which may of course give you relief and comfort. I find it very difficult now to hug you. What haunts me are your words from the last time that I 'grabbed' your 'body'. That would apply to someone who would want to molest you. I have loved you in soul, mind and heart. Yes, I would love you physically, only because I love you in all the other aspects. I, therefore, would find it difficult to touch you except to kiss your hand. But perhaps that is just what you wanted. Still very much in love but from a distance."
Email of Oct 15, 2013; 5.53 pm: "Here I am sitting and chairing an IPCC meeting and surreptitiously sending you messages. I hope that tells you of my feelings for you!"
Email on Nov 14, 2013: "Dearest meri jaan, you came to me at the loss of your earlier job as a measure of desperation. In the context of your injury, what faith have you shown in me? You have been going to the gym against my explicit advise. Even you must know that even if I don't marry you, I am yours for life." The woman's email on Nov 24; 3.22 pm: "If you have the hots for someone you do. It doesn't mean you love them. Love is different. Sex is beautiful and enjoyed only when you are with the right person, I can't love everyone. You have had two one-night stands. I have only gone to bed with whom I have dated, not just had sex with someone I have had one dinner with."
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White House: Don't Mention Temperature When Analyzing Global Warming | The Daily Caller
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:30
Daily Caller News Foundation
11:37 AM 02/25/2015
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First rule about global warming: don't talk global warming.
The White House quietly released a draft guidance telling federal agencies to consider the impact more carbon dioxide emissions will have on the environment, but only in terms of how much more carbon dioxide will be emitted.
When conducting environmental impact analyses on rules and projects, federal agencies should only talk about carbon dioxide emissions increases '-- not things like potential increases in temperature, precipitation, storm intensity and other environmental impacts that scientists warn about.
''In light of the difficulties in attributing specific climate impacts to individual projects, [Council on Environmental Quality] recommends agencies use the projected [greenhouse gas] emissions and also, when appropriate, potential changes in carbon sequestration and storage, as the proxy for assessing a proposed action's potential climate change impacts,'' the White House wrote in its guidance federal regulatory agencies conducting environmental reviews.
Why is that? Federal environmental assessments will likely show regulations have a negligible impact on the environment in terms of temperature rises, sea level rises and such '-- indeed if every industrialized country stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, temperatures would only be reduced 0.21 degrees Celsius by 2100.
''CEQ recognizes that many agency [National Environmental Policy Act] analyses to date have concluded that [greenhouse gas] emissions from an individual agency action will have small, if any, potential climate change effects,'' the White House wrote.
Basically the White House is telling agencies not to make any predictions about how much an individual project or program will impact the environment through global warming because there's too much uncertainty.
''In other words, it would prove that the assessment of climate change impacts of federal actions, as directed by the CEQ, to be a complete and utter waste of time,'' writes Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, climate scientists with the libertarian Cato Institute.
The Cato scientists argue the White House's order to agencies not to consider the actual environmental impacts of global warming allows the government to hide how little its actions will actually impact the climate.
Michaels and Knappenberger say climate models, which the federal government has spent billions of dollars developing, can be used to quantify the environmental impacts from higher carbon dioxide emissions.
But what the Obama administration doesn't want you to see is just how small an impact individual federal actions will have on temperature increases, sea level rises, precipitation and other factors.
''So instead of assessing actual climate impacts (of which there are none) of federal actions, the CEQ directs agencies to cast the effect in terms of greenhouse gas emissions'--which can be used for all sorts of mischief,'' write Michaels and Knappenberger. ''For example, see how the EPA uses greenhouse gas emissions instead of climate change to promote its regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.''
The EPA says its rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030 will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 555 million metric tons per year in 15 years '-- sounds like a lot, but it will have a negligible impact on global temperatures.
Even if the EPA got rid of carbon dioxide from all power plants currently operating, global temperature rises by 0.03 degrees Celsius by 2100.
''Government action occurs incrementally, program-by-program and step-by-step, and climate impacts are not attributable to any single action, but are exacerbated by a series of smaller decisions, including decisions made by the government,'' the White House wrote.
''Therefore, the statement that emissions from a government action or approval represent only a small fraction of global emissions is more a statement about the nature of the climate change challenge, and is not an appropriate basis for deciding whether to consider climate impacts under [the National Environmental Policy Act],'' the White House added.
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Putin Warns That Gas Supplies To Europe Could Suffer In 3 Or 4 Days If Kiev Fails To Pay | EMerging Equity
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:10
Russia will cut off gas supplies to Ukraine if Kiev fails to pay in ''three or four days'' and ''will create a problem'' for gas transit to Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters following talks with the president of Cyprus on Wednesday, RT reports.
''Gazprom has been fully complying with its obligations under the Ukraine gas supply contract and will continue doing that.''
''The advance payment for gas supply made by the Ukrainian side will be in place for another three to four days. If there is no further prepayment, Gazprom will suspend supplies under the contract and its supplement. Of course, this could create a certain problem for [gas] transit to Europe to our European partners.''
According to the report, Putin expressed hope that the situation would not come to that and stressed that ''it depends on the financial discipline of our Ukrainian partners.''
On Tuesday, Gazprom's CEO Aleksey Miller reminded Ukraine's state-owned Naftogaz of the gas prepayment as he said that Ukraine hadn't paid for its March deliveries and warned that Kiev was risking an early termination of the advance settlement and a supply cutoff.
''It takes about two days to get payment from Naftogaz deposited to a Gazprom account. That's why a delivery to Ukraine of 114 million cubic meters will lead to a complete termination of Russian gas supplies as early as in two days, which creates serious risks for the transit to Europe.''
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Ida Oscar Win Sparks Debate About Role of Poles in Holocaust / Sputnik International
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:59
Europe21:57 25.02.2015(updated 22:09 25.02.2015)
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Pawel Pawlikowski's film Ida's Oscar win on Sunday has sparked a debate about the role of Poland in WWII and the relationship between Poles and Jews since then."It shows history in a distorting mirror, and portrays Poles as anti-Semites. This is a false image. Germans were the anti-Semites, Germans committed the mass murders," historian Tadeusz Pluzanski told Polish news daily wPolityce. "The world again saw and awarded a film which shows Poles in an unfavorable light. This is a pedagogy of shame which we have been fed for a long time, and which we impose on ourselves."
The film, which portrays a Polish woman who is aspiring to be a nun in 1960s Poland, has a scene in which her birth parents and brother are killed by a Polish man during WWII, who then acquires their farm. In Israel, the film received a fitting response.
"Poland is the only major country in Eastern Europe that has not passed legislation to address the loss of Holocaust-era property. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish homes were simply taken and no compensation ever paid," Chair of Operations for the Jewish Restitution Organization, Gideon Taylor wrote in the Times of Israel. "Yet Poland was alone among [Eastern bloc] countries in not addressing the issue in any kind of national framework."In January the Polish Anti-Defamation League, a Polish nationalist group which seeks to "protect the good name" of Poles and Poland, circulated a petition against the film, demanding that the director added contextual captions that explain that Poles were also mass-murdered during WWII and that many Poles sheltered Jews from Nazis.
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Ukraine Ceasefire Holding, But US Keeps Threatening Russia
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:03
Secretary of State John Kerry angrily condemned Russia today, insisting they are violating the terms of the Minsk ceasefire and threatening to impose more US sanctions on the nation.
That's not generally news, it's a virtual daily occurrence that some top US official does so. What is news is that the Minsk ceasefire is holding up incredibly well, and that the day came and went without even a single death.
The big violation of the Minsk deal is coming from the US-backed Poroshenko government, which is refusing to follow through on a promise to withdraw heavy weapons from the frontline, despite the rebels beginning such pullbacks this weekend.
The Obama Administration's cynical interpretation of the situation in Ukraine is unsurprising, as they were openly opposed to the Minsk talks in the first place. The US is now making a big deal of parading military vehicles along the Estonian-Russian border, all the while insisting it is Russia, which helped negotiate the ceasefire that ended the killing in eastern Ukraine, that is being ''aggressive.''
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Ukraine's Economy Collapsing
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:07
Ukraine 's central bank said it has banned banks from buying foreign currency for their clients until the end of the week, as businesses attempt to move their cash out of the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia. Specifically, the National Bank introduced a three-day ban on foreign-exchange purchases by companies through banks, and limited the banks' purchases to 0.5% of their capital.Hours after the measure was announced, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called for an emergency session of parliament to pass economic and financial measures designed to secure financing from the International Monetary Fund.
Yatsenyuk slammed the central bank for making the decision ''without any consultation,'' saying that he'd found out about the measure from the Internet. ''It clearly doesn't add to the stability of the national currency that the National Bank is responsible for,'' he said.
The Ukranian currency has already lost more than half its value, relative to the dollar, since the start of the year.
On another front in the country's deteriorating economic situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Moscow may halt natural gas supplies.
Earlier this week, Russian state gas company OAO Gazprom warned that supplies to the EU were at ''serious risk,'' after it said Ukraine had failed to make a payment for new shipments. Gazprom said that the remaining volumes that have already been prepaid would last for just two days.
The EU is trying to convene a three-way meeting with the Ukrainian and Russian energy ministers to resolve the conflict.
This is going to be one expensive mistress that the US has decided to jump into bed with.
--RW
(reports via WSJ, chart via XE.com)
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A Wanted Man at Home, Saakashvili Lobbies Washington for Arms for Ukraine
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:24
Europe03:57 26.02.2015(updated 04:58 26.02.2015)
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While US President Barack Obama's administration declared publicly that it hasn't made a decision about sending lethal military aid to Ukraine, and European powers as well as Russia have warned Washington against doing so, Beltway hawks are getting another blast of warmongering adrenaline from a man who led his country to a disastrous war in 2008 and now seems eager to push Ukraine into an open confrontation with Russia.
Saakashvili's closest friends in Washington: ever looking for a place to send US troops, Senator John McCain and his sidekick Sen. Lindsay Graham have long been advocating for sending arms in support of Petro Poroshenko's government in Kiev. Western powers failing to come to Ukraine's aid ''are legitimizing the dismemberment of a sovereign nation in Europe for the first time in seven decades,'' they wrote in a joint statement.
However, Saakashvili '-- who has recently become an adviser to Ukrainian President Poroshenko '-- is looking to expand the number of supporters ready to arm Kiev.
Obviously, in the name of democracy and progress.
"[N]ever have so many [U.S.] lawmakers agreed to meet with me, even when I was president:'' he posted on Facebook about the trip. ''34 meetings in three days."
Calling Ukraine ''today's West Berlin,'' Saakashvili painted the conflict in unequivocal terms in a Feb. 24 op-ed in the Washington Post, appearing just in time for him to meet with US lawmakers.
''What is being decided in Ukraine '-- the largest country in Europe '-- is whether the post-Soviet space will be allowed to free itself from a vicious cycle of inefficiency, corruption, violence and failed governments to build instead modern, open, democratic societies,'' he wrote.
While Saakashvili is on an international tour to drum up military aid, his own country has sought to have him extradited from Ukraine to face charges of abuse of authority.
Ukraine has so far refused Georgia's extradition request, and Saakashvili has called the charges politically motivated and ''a farce.''
Though the charges relate to abuses of power from earlier in his presidency, Saakashvili also came under fire from the European Union for his role in the 2008 war with Russia which led to Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
The EU-commissioned report blamed Saakashvili for starting the conflict due to his "penchant for acting in the heat of the moment.'' The report further dismissed claims that Russia had attacked prior to Georgia's bombardment of the Southern Ossetian town of Tskhinvali, the first confrontation of the war.
"It is not possible to accept that the shelling of Tskhinvali with Grad multiple rocket launchers and heavy artillery would satisfy the requirements of having been necessary and proportionate," the 2009 report concluded.
Saakashvili was elected in 2004 and held office until 2013, with strong support from the United States. The opposition Georgian Dream coalition won the country's 2012 parliamentary elections, while the United National Movement, the ruling party since the Rose Revolution in 2003 and led by former President Saakashvili, became its rival. A year later, Giorgi Margvelashvili from Georgian Dream won the presidency, replacing Saakashvili. Immediately after losing presidential immunity, Saakashvili fled the country and since then has refused to return to Georgia to face the trial.
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''We Are Staying in Russia'' '' Discovery Channel CEO
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:41
SOURCE:http://news.yahoo.com/discovery-ceo-staying-russia-despite-turbulence-050035658.html;_ylt=AwrBEiSrfepUxw0APsXQtDMD
SEE ALSO: Hollywood Still Tops Of Russia's Box Office
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Discovery CEO: ''We Are Staying in Russia'' Despite ''Turbulence''Feb 19, 2015
Despite a weak economy, the ruble crisis, a ban on pay TV advertising for foreign networks and new restrictions on foreign ownership, Discovery Communications is committed to operating in Russia.
CEO David Zaslav on Thursday told the cable networks company's fourth-quarter earnings call that ''we have conviction in Russia.'' He added: ''We have a big business there, we have great brands. There are some challenges in terms of the politics '... by the end of year we need to restructure where we only own 20 percent of the entity. But there has been a lot of interest in our brands, in our content, in getting us value for that.''
Zaslav added that ''there have also been some green shoots'' around president Vladimir Putin ''looking again at pay TV.'' Zaslav has said that the Discovery Channel is Putin's favorite TV network.
Concluded the Discovery CEO: ''For us, we think Russia is a long-term growth market. There is certainly a lot of turbulence there. But our cost of content is very low. We have a huge amount of content in the Russian language that is already there and relationships. While others are saying 'let's invest less internationally and let's walk away from Russia,' we are staying in Russia, and we are continuing to push very hard on international.''
Discovery CFO Andy Warren said on the call that the Russian pay TV ad ban and other issues had a ''significant'' impact on the company's 2015 financial guidance. ''The difficult geopolitical situation in Russia'' affects the company's 2015 revenue guidance range by approximately $50 million, ''driven by the cable ad sales ban as well as [the need to] renegotiate several pre-existing affiliate contracts in the region,'' he said.
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SnowJob
Secrecy around police surveillance equipment proves a case's undoing - The Washington Post
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:13
By Ellen Nakashima,TALLAHASSEE '-- The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison.
But before trial, his defense team detected investigators' use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device '-- a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay '-- to the attorneys.
Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain.
Today, 20-year-old McKenzie is serving six months' probation ­after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. He got, as one civil liberties advocate said, the deal of the century. (The other two defendants also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to two years' probation.)
McKenzie's case is emblematic of the growing, but hidden, use by local law enforcement of a sophisticated surveillance technology borrowed from the national security world. It shows how a gag order imposed by the FBI '-- on grounds that discussing the device's operation would compromise its effectiveness '-- has left judges, the public and criminal defendants in the dark on how the tool works.
That secrecy, in turn, has hindered debate over whether the StingRay's use respects Americans' civil liberties.
''It's a terrible violation of our constitutional rights,'' asserted Elaine Harper, McKenzie's grandmother, who raised the young man. ''People need to know '-- the public needs to know '-- what's going on.''
The StingRay is a box about the size of a small suitcase '-- there's also a handheld version '-- that simulates a cellphone tower. It elicits signals from all mobile phones in its vicinity. That means it collects information not just about a criminal suspect's communications but also about the communications of potentially hundreds of law-abiding citizens.
The Tallahassee police used the StingRay or a similar device in more than 250 investigations over a six-year period, from mid-2007 through early 2014, according to a list of cases compiled by the Tallahassee Police Department and provided to the American Civil Liberties Union.
That's 40 or so instances a year in a city of 186,000, a surprisingly high rate given that the StingRay's manufacturer, Harris Corp., has told the Federal Communications Commission that the device is used only in emergencies. At least 48 state and local law enforcement agencies in 20 states and the District of Columbia have bought the devices, according to the ACLU.
The secrecy surrounding the device's use has begun to prompt a backlash in cities across the country. In Baltimore, a judge is pushing back against the refusal of police officers to answer questions while testifying. In Charlotte, following a newspaper investigation, the state's attorney is reviewing whether prosecutors ­illegally withheld information about the device's use from defendants.
In Tacoma, Wash., after a separate newspaper investigation found that judges in almost 200 cases had no idea they were issuing orders for the StingRay, the courts set new rules requiring police to disclose the tool's use. The state legislature is weighing a bill to regulate police use of the equipment.
The FBI and Tallahassee police say that the device is used only with an appropriate court order and that they do not collect the content of calls or text messages. The FBI also said it retains only location data that is relevant to an investigation and immediately discards all other data.
So far, there is virtually no case law on how the Fourth Amendment '-- which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures '-- should apply to this technology.
Pot purchase gone wrong
The robbery, judging from police reports, legal documents and interviews, was small-time.
At about 6 p.m. on March 4, 2013, McKenzie, then 18, and two friends met a young man named Jamal Williams at a local Taco Bell. They had set up a deal to buy some marijuana from Williams, whom McKenzie had first met at a party, with the intent of robbing him of the dope.
During the robbery, one of McKenzie's buddies pulled what appeared to be a 9mm handgun out of his pocket, pointed it at Williams and demanded ''everything you got.''
The other friend removed what looked to be a shotgun from the trunk of a car and leveled it at Williams. ''I'm not scared to put a hole in you,'' he said, Williams recalled.
Both weapons were BB guns. But they scared Williams enough that he gave the men the pot, left behind his iPhone and fled in a car driven by a friend who had escorted him to the Taco Bell.
That evening, Williams reported to police that he had been robbed of cash and his phone when he tried to buy marijuana from some dealers he did not know. Later he admitted that he, in fact, was the seller and assessed the stolen pot's value at $130.
The police had little to go on beyond vague descriptions of the three men, a license-plate number and a cellphone number that McKenzie had provided. A check of the tag number turned up nothing. McKenzie had not given his real name.
The day after the robbery, the police obtained a court order from a judge to authorize Verizon to hand over data collected from cell towers that would show the approximate locations where the phone in question had been used.
Two days after the robbery, shortly after 4 a.m., several police officers drove to a house at 3197 Springhill Rd., on the south side of town, and set up surveillance.
About 6 a.m., McKenzie left the house, got into his car and pulled away. The officers tailed him past Sam's Tires and Repairs, past the Family Dollar store, past Jerusalem Baptist Church, past Tony's Gas. Three and a half miles later, they pulled him over. The youth, a senior looking to graduate, had been on his way to school, which began at 6:45 a.m.
The police found some marijuana and zip-top bags in the car. They detained McKenzie and took him to the police station. He confessed, giving police the names of his two friends and showing investigators where they lived. All three were charged with robbery with a deadly weapon.
Tracing a phone's location
Months passed. The case dragged along.
In November 2013, after McKenzie's original lawyer dropped out, his case was assigned to a public defender, Carrie McMullen. Around that time, the attorney for one of the co-defendants began to wonder: How did the police figure out that McKenzie was at 3197 Springhill Rd. that morning?
McMullen's office hired a lawyer with technology expertise. John Sawicki, the expert, produced a map on which he plotted all the locations provided by Verizon, and they clumped in three different areas of town.
Cell-tower data can show general geographical areas where a phone was used, but ''they will not tell you he's in House X,'' Sawicki said. ''That's how imprecise it is.''
In March, the defense team deposed police investigator Robert Newberry. The lawyers tried to get Newberry to explain how the police zeroed in on 3197 Springhill Rd. He mentioned the cell-tower records and then, under probing, acknowledged that they had not been sufficient on their own to locate the suspect.
He said a ''Sergeant Corbitt'' in the department's technical operations unit had identified the phone's location. ''He would have to tell you how he got to that,'' Newberry said, referring to Christopher Corbitt, who handles electronic surveillance operations.
There were other questions about whether the police had reasonable suspicion to pull McKenzie over. The descriptions Williams gave of the suspects were vague, and in fact, none closely matched McKenzie's appearance.
The descriptions fit ''two-thirds of the young black males living on the south side of town,'' Sawicki said.
Newberry could not fully explain how Corbitt determined the phone's location. ''I can't address it because I don't know the magic behind it,'' he said.
In April, the defense team deposed Corbitt. He told the attorneys that he turned up the address on Springhill Road by running phone numbers that the suspect's phone had dialed through a subscription database, called Accurint, that helps law enforcement agencies locate individuals through data such as phone numbers, property records and court records.
But how did he know that the phone was in the house at 6 in the morning? The phone was a ''burner'' '-- one not registered under McKenzie's name.
''We do have specific equipment that allows us to .'‰.'‰. direction-find on the handset, if necessary,'' Corbitt said.
''What is that, and how does that work?'' McMullen asked.
''I can't go into that,'' he said. ''Due to [a] nondisclosure agreement with the FBI, we're not able to get into the details of how the equipment operates.''
He acknowledged that the device was a cell-tower simulator.
He also acknowledged that the device, whose model name he could not give, was used to ''assist in locating or determining the person in possession'' of the cellphone, and that it could elicit signals from a target's phone even when the phone was not in use.
''It is not nearly as invasive or as sinister as it is sometimes characterized to be,'' he said.
''I so wish that I could tell you how this equipment operates, because I think I could put so many people at ease,'' Corbitt said. ''Unfortunately, I am not able to do that.''
He said that if the defense wanted more specific information, then he had ''a specific protocol'' to follow requiring him to notify the FBI and the Justice Department.
The Tallahassee police declined to comment for this article.
'100 percent' reliable
In June, in response to a motion for public access by the ACLU, the state released a transcript from a closed court hearing in 2010 relating to a Tallahassee rape case in which Corbitt testified that he had used a cell-site simulator to identify a suspect in an apartment complex. ''In essence, we emulate a cellphone tower,'' he said. ''We force that handset to register with us. We identify that we have the correct handset and then we're able to '-- by just merely direction-finding on the signal emanating from that handset '-- we're able to determine a location.''
He noted that the equipment ''is evaluating all the handsets in the area.''
''Using portable equipment,'' he said, ''we were able to actually basically stand at every door and every window in that complex and determine, with relative certainty .'‰.'‰. the particular area of the apartment that that handset was emanating from.''
He said the Tallahassee police began using the device in the spring of 2007. From that point until August 2010, he said, the police had used it ''200 or more times'' to locate a cellphone.
How reliable was it? ''Truthfully,'' he said, ''100 percent.''
In September, McMullen drew up a motion to suppress the evidence obtained against McKenzie prior to his arrest, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the use of the StingRay. She argued that the police had not obtained a warrant based on probable cause to use the device.
''By scooping up all manner of information from a target cellphone, as well as nearly all cellphones in the general area, a StingRay device engages in exploratory rummaging,'' she wrote.
McMullen also argued that the order the police did obtain not only failed to meet the requirements of a warrant but was also obtained without telling the judge that it would be used to operate a StingRay.
Then, in October, McMullen sought a subpoena to compel Corbitt to show the device in court. In November, Florida Circuit Court Judge Frank Sheffield held a hearing on the issue.
The state's attorney, Courtney Frazier, argued that details of the equipment's operation were protected from disclosure under a law enforcement exception to the state open-records law.
Sheffield broke in. ''What right does law enforcement have to hide behind the rules and to listen in and take people's information like the NSA?'' he said.
Frazier protested that the information about the device was sensitive and that disclosure could inhibit the police's ability to catch criminals.
''Inhibiting law enforcement's rights are second to protecting mine!'' Sheffield thundered, gesturing with both hands and fixing his gaze on the prosecutor.
On Dec. 2, Sheffield signed the subpoena forcing Tallahassee police to show the device they used.
Two days before Corbitt was due to show up with the device, McMullen received notice of the plea deal from the prosecutor. She had never gotten such a sweet deal on a case.
The defense attorneys were disappointed that they would not see the device, but they couldn't refuse the plea bargain.
''How do you not take it?'' Sawicki said. ''How do you take these kids' future away?''
Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.
That was Snowden's girlfriend on stage for 'Citizenfour' win at the Oscars
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:41
What's This?
L to R: Dirk Wilutzky, Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Lindsay Mills onstage during the 87th Annual Academy Awards on Feb. 22, 2015.Image: Kevin Winter
By Megan Specia2015-02-23 18:09:30 UTC
When the journalists behind the documentary Citizenfour took to the stage to the accept the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature on Sunday, they stood alongside a young woman who you may not have recognized.
Lindsay Mills has been central to the life of whistleblower Edward Snowden, on whom the film is focused. The two have been dating for X years.
The award-winning film, directed by Laura Poitras, charts the initial meeting in Hong Kong with Poitras, journalist Glenn Greenwald and Snowden, who leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents on a domestic surveillance program targeting Americans' phone and email records. Both Poitras and Greenwald accompanied Mills to accept the award.
Mills, Snowden's girlfriend, lived with him in Hawaii and later joined Snowden in Moscow, where he has been granted asylum since the revelations came to light in June 2013. She has been living with him in Russia since 2014.
Mills' life was thrown into the spotlight after Snowden leaked the NSA documents, but she has largely flown under the radar since then, occasionally being photographed alongside Snowden in Moscow.
On Sunday night, she represented Snowden onstage; if Snowden steps foot on U.S. soil, he faces several charges under the Espionage Act.
Poitras thanked Snowden for his "courage" and dedicated the award to the whistleblowers of the world.
"The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don't only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself," she said in the acceptance speech. "When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control."
Greenwald applauded Mills' bravery and called her an "impressive woman" in a tweet he sent shortly after. On the red carpet prior to the shot, Greenwald said that Snowden would be watching the awards ceremony.
Snowden made a statement on the win through the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents him.
When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I'm grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.
In a conversation with the ACLU before the win for Best Documentary Feature, Poitras touched on her motivations for making the film, which delves into Snowden's journey as a person as his revelations come to light.
"I made a film about him because I felt it was important to understand why such a young person '-- with so much ahead of him, 29 years old, making a good salary with a partner that he loved '-- would risk everything," Poitras said.
After the winners left the stage, Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris quipped that ''Edward Snowden couldn't be here, for some treason.''
Though Harris' flippant joke resonated with the crowd and viewers, Snowden is not, in fact, being charged with treason. Rather, he faces charges of theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
Topics: citizenfour, edward snowden, Entertainment, Film, Academy Awards (Oscars), U.S.
EuroLand
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EU unveils vast plan to merge 28 energy markets
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:33
(C) J.G. Domke/Bloomberg News EU unveils vast plan to merge 28 energy markets
BRUSSELS '-- The European Union's executive has unveiled a vast plan to boost coordination between the EU's 28 national energy markets to wean Europe off unstable Russian gas supplies and provide cheaper energy for consumers.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic on Wednesday called it "undoubtedly the most ambitious energy project" since the inception of the EU over half a century ago. He believes that improving links across borders in Europe's energy grid could save businesses and consumers up to 40 billion euros ($45.4 billion) a year.
A more energy-independent Europe will also increase the EU's political options in eastern Europe.
Europe imports 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia, half via pipelines through conflict-torn Ukraine, and it could to take years of investment to reduce that dependency. Ukraine and Russian energy monopoly Gazprom have been embroiled in numerous gas price wars, which have hit supplies in Europe over the past years.
"Our dependence on external energy resources has affected our ability to conduct an independent foreign policy," warned the leader of the European Parliament's liberal ALDE group, Guy Verhofstadt.
He said that an ambitious energy project will create jobs, tackle climate change and hit Russian President Vladimir "Putin where it hurts most."
Sefcovic said the EU would work closely with neighbors like Algeria, Turkey and Norway to help diversify sources of supply.
Environmental groups were quick to criticize the plan, saying it focuses too much on Russia and fossil fuels rather than renewable energy sources.
"We keep hearing repetitions of gas, gas, gas," said Brook Riley from Friends of the Earth Europe. "The EU risks throwing hundreds of billions of euro into pipelines that it will have to decommission almost as soon as they come online because they contribute to climate change."
The proposals will form the basis for future legislation. As a first step, EU environment ministers will debate them on March 6.
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Europese Commissie wil inspraak in energiedeals met sterke landen | Europese Unie | de Volkskrant
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:18
De grotere rol die de Commissie vraagt bij de inkoop van energie is een van de meest omstreden voorstellen in haar woensdag gepresenteerde plan voor een Europese Energie Unie. Een soortgelijk idee van de vorige Commissie werd in 2012 door de lidstaten van tafel geveegd als ongewenste inmenging met nationale bevoegdheden. Sefcovic hoopt dat de landen dit keer akkoord gaan, nu afgelopen jaar duidelijk is geworden hoe Poetin de westerse afhankelijkheid van Russisch gas gebruikt als wapen in de strijd rond Oekra¯ne.
De lidstaten hoeven alleen achteraf - na het sluiten van een gascontract met landen buiten de EU - de Commissie te informeren over de inhoud. Bij eventuele strijdigheid met Europese wetten moet de Commissie dan naar het Hof van Justitie in Luxemburg om veranderingen af te dwingen, een tijdrovende en complexe zaak.
'De Commissie moet in het onderhandelingsteam zitten', zei Sefcovic woensdag in antwoord op vragen. Hij wil openheid over de prijs van het gas, de hoeveelheden en de voorwaarden. Niet alleen om schending van de EU-wetten te voorkomen, maar ook om 'ongepaste druk' van de gasproducenten tegen te gaan. Om deze bevoegdheid te krijgen, heeft Sefcovic de instemming van de lidstaten en het Europees Parlement nodig.
E(C)n Europese energiemarktDe Energie Unie die de Commissie voor ogen heeft, moet de 28 nationale energiemarkten integreren tot (C)(C)n Europese energiemarkt. Sefcovic sprak over de grootste Europeanisering van het energiebeleid sinds de oprichting van de Europese Gemeenschap voor Kolen en Staal in 1951. Volgens de Commissie betalen burgers en bedrijven de prijs van de huidige versnipperde energiemarkt in de vorm van hoge energieprijzen, verouderde infrastructuur en afhankelijkheid van dubieuze energieleveranciers. Een ge¯ntegreerd energienetwerk - waarmee de pieken en dalen in de energieproductie en energievraag in de lidstaten worden opgevangen - zou de EU-burgers tot 40 miljard euro per jaar schelen.
Naast co¶rdinatie bij de energie-inkoop wil de Commissie dat de lidstaten snel grensoverschrijdende gaspijpen en hoogspanningskabels aanleggen. Het gaat om miljardeninvesteringen die maar voor een klein deel uit de EU-begroting kunnen worden betaald. De Commissie pleit verder voor meer energiebesparing (driekwart van de huizen is niet goed ge¯soleerd) en de opwekking van duurzame energie. Schaliegas en nucleaire energie blijven een optie, daarover neemt de Commissie geen nieuw standpunt in.
'Serieuze stap'De grote partijen in het Europees Parlement zijn te spreken over de Commissievoorstellen. De christen- en sociaal-democraten noemen de Energie Unie een 'serieuze stap' om energie goedkoper en groener te maken. D66 mist het 'gevoel van urgentie' en wil dat de lidstaten snel doorpakken. Volgens GroenLinks zet de Commissie de EU-landen op een dood spoor: er wordt geen keuze gemaakt voor een echt schone en duurzame energievoorziening.
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GeenStijl: 'Griekse' hervormingsplannen geschreven door EU
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:53
LOL. Wat een EUpische faal. De Grieken bukten afgelopen vrijdag ondanks hun grote woorden en mooie beloftes t"ch voor Brussel, en stemden in met nieuwe bezuinigingen. MinFin Varoufakis moest uiterlijk gisteren een brief inleveren bij de EU waarin hij zou toelichten waarop hij precies zou gaan korten in Griekenland. Brief kwam, gisterenavond laat, en nu blijkt hij doodleuk geschreven te zijn door Declan Costello, een eurocratische boekhouder die voor de Europese Commissie werkt. Ontmaskerd door een amateuristische auteursfout, maar de Brusselse bureaucratische dictatuur strikes again. Uiteraard is de EU het helemaal eens met de plannen van de EU:UPDATE: Don Dijs de Destroyer of Democracies live bij Kale Bats Wester om 15u15 achter deze link.UPDATE: Oei. IMF niet akkoord met "Griekse" plannen?UPDATE: Draghi vindt de plannen ook niks. Van Rossem | 24-02-15 | 15:00 | Link |
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Frankrijk ontwijkt opnieuw de EU-begrotingsdiscipline
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:12
ANALYSE Frankrijk heeft weer twee jaar uitstel om de begro ting op orde te brengen. Dat toont aan dat de euro landen elkaar nog steeds niet kunnen aanpakken.
Opnieuw krijgt Frankrijk extra tijd om zijn begroting op orde te brengen. Twee jaar extra zelfs, tot 2017, besloot de Europese Commissie woensdag. Ook Itali en Belgi ontlopen een strafprocedure, ondanks hun torenhoge staatsschuld. Breekt deze Commissie onder voorzitterschap van Juncker met de begrotingsdiscipline, de erfenis van 'budgettsaar' Rehn?
De verantwoordelijke Commissarissen Dombrovskis (Euro) en Moscovici (Economische en Financile Zaken) vinden van niet. Ja, Frankrijk hoeft pas in 2017 zijn financieringstekort onder het voor eurolanden geldende plafond van 3 procent te duwen. Maar tegelijkertijd moet het dit jaar 4 miljard euro (0,2 procent van zijn bruto binnenlands product) extra bezuinigen. De plannen daarvoor dienen binnen 3 maanden op tafel te liggen. Blijft Parijs in gebreke, dan heeft dat 'consequenties', waarschuwde Dombrovskis. Een boete lijkt dan onvermijdelijk.
UitstelbesluitMoscovici benadrukte dat het uitstelbesluit het resultaat is van 'intensief overleg' tussen Brussel en Parijs. Van belang is dat premier Valls zijn best doet - hij omzeilde onlangs het parlement - om hervormingen van de arbeidsmarkt door te drukken. Daarnaast heeft de Franse minister van Financin Sapin zich in een brief vastgelegd op het tekort voor 2017, voor wat het waard is. Juncker heeft steeds benadrukt dat 'Brusselse dictaten' de EU economisch niet verder helpen. Regeringen moet zelf de verantwoordelijkheid nemen, zij het af en toe onder wat druk uit Brussel.
Doorslaggevend voor de Commissie was echter dat geen uitstel of maar (C)(C)n jaar, Frankrijk voor een explosieve bezuinigingsopdracht had gesteld: ruim 20 miljard euro in 2015 (C)n 2016. Het zou de nekslag zijn voor de toch al stagnerende Franse economie meent de Commissie en dat wil ze niet voor haar rekening nemen. Juncker werd Commissievoorzitter met de belofte van groei en banen.
BegrotingstsaarErg veel verschilt deze aanpak niet met die van de vorige Commissie, waar 'begrotingstsaar' Rehn over de hardheid van de euro waakte. Ook Rehn verleende in 2013 twee jaar uitstel aan Frankrijk. En met hetzelfde argument: banen boven bezuinigen. Hij kreeg er complimenten voor van de toenmalige Franse minister van Financin: Moscovici. Nederland profiteerde in 2013 overigens ook van deze souplesse met een jaar respijt om de begrotingsnorm te halen.
Juncker, Moscovici en Dombrovskis zetten de lijn van Rehn niet alleen voort, ze doen het explicieter. In een recent rapport zocht de Commissie-Juncker de grenzen op van de flexibiliteit die het Stabiliteitspact biedt. Dat kan omdat anders dan in 2011 en 2012 de euro niet meer wankelt.
Wat het herhaalde uitstel voor Frankrijk vooral aantoont, is dat de eurolanden elkaar nog steeds niet tijdig bij het financile nekvel kunnen pakken. De adviezen die de Commissie de eurolanden elk jaar geeft om begrotingsproblemen te voorkomen, zijn niet afdwingbaar. En de lidstaten, met Nederland in de voorste linies, voelen er niets voor deze aanbevelingen in opdrachten om te zetten.
'Dit is Europa met twee maten''Een rechtvaardig besluit', zegt minister Dijsselbloem van Financin over de twee jaar extra die de Commissie aan Frankrijk geeft om het financieringstekort terug te dringen. Net als premier Rutte benadrukt Dijsselbloem dat Nederland eerder ook uitstel kreeg.
De bewindslieden zien het respijt als een laatste kans: als Parijs nu niet levert, is een miljardenboete onvermijdelijk. 'Het is duidelijk dat Frankrijk er nog niet is', aldus Dijsselbloem. Rutte: 'Ik ben niet ontevreden over de Commissie, maar wel over Frankrijk.'
VVD, CDA en D66 toonden zich zeer kritisch. D66-leider Pechtold: 'Dit is Europa met twee maten. Als we hard zijn voor de Grieken, als Nederland zelf streng hervormt, dan moet ook Frankrijk zich aan de afspraken houden.'
De beslissing van de Commissie wordt volgende maand door de Europese ministers van Financin besproken. De kans dat die van tafel gaat is klein: daarvoor moet tweederde van de ministers tegenstemmen. Deze verzwaarde stemprocedure is mede onder druk van Nederland ingesteld, uit vrees dat Commissie-besluiten sneuvelen in een politiek spel.
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After 75 Years, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" Will Be Re-Printed In Germany
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:52
Times, they are a'changing. For the first time in 75 years, according to multiple reports, CBS News reports, a new edition of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" will be bound for sale in bookstores in Germany. While the book, long known as "the Nazi bible," is widely available in the U.S. and much of the English-speaking world, it was for years banned from being reprinted in Germany over fears it would reignite the passions that plunged the country into World War II. Still, amid rising anti-semitism across Europe and a surge in nationalism, the timing is odd and as the head of Munich's Jewish community exclaimed, "this book is most evil."
As CBS News reports, researchers are on track to finish roughly 4,000 annotations and historical notes to accompany a new German-language edition of Hitler's manifesto, ''Mein Kampf,'' to be published in January 2016...
The book has long been known as "the Nazi bible," and was for years banned from being reprinted in Germany over fears it would reignite the passions that plunged the country into World War II.
Times change, however, and it now appears a new edition of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" will be bound for sale in bookstores in Germany for the first time in 75 years, according to multiple reports.
The state of Bavaria has owned the German copyright to the book and has legally blocked attempts to print it, reports The Washington Post. In December, however, the copyright expires.
...
Hitler wrote the book - its English translation is "My Struggle" - after he was jailed in the aftermath of the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. After the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, the book became a best-seller that made Hitler rich. Copies of it were given free to every German soldier and newlywed couple, bolstering circulation that reached around 10 million copies.
Germany is one of the few countries to ban the reprinting of the book, while also tightly regulating its sale. "Mein Kampf" is widely available in the U.S. and much of the English-speaking world, as well as some of the Bundesrepublik's neighbors.
Regardless, many are wary of letting Germans freely find copies of the book again, especially amid the growing anti-Semitism they are struggling to tamp down.
"This book is most evil; it is the worst anti-Semitic pamphlet and a guidebook for the Holocaust," Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Jewish community in Munich, told Time magazine.
* * *
The push from historians to release the book in a controlled way has been underway for some time. Many have argued that by not allowing its free release, it has given rise to lots of myths about the rambling and highly subjective tome from the Nazi leader.
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prison exchange netherlands
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:19
maandag 23 februari 2015, 11:41De komst van Noorse gevangen naar Nederlandse cellen is helemaal rond. Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie Fred Teeven tekent maandag 2 maart een verdrag met de Noorse minister van Justitie Anders Anundsen.Nederland kampt met een overschot aan cellen, Noorwegen met een tekort. Noorwegen en Nederland zijn overeengekomen dat 242 Noorse gedetineerden worden vastgezet in de gevangenis Norgerhaven in Veenhuizen. Nederland heeft ook al Belgische veroordeelden ondergebracht in Tilburg.
Het verdrag moet nog wel officieel worden goedgekeurd door de parlementen van beide landen. Voor de ondertekening zijn ook ambassadeurs van nog andere landen uitgenodigd. Die landen zijn mogelijk ook ge¯nteresseerd in het overbrengen van gevangenen naar ons land.
Brandweer: Door bezuinigingen komt veiligheid in geding - nrc.nl
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:11
NIJMEGEN - In een voormalig kloostergebouw aan de Groesbeekseweg in Nijmegen is woensdag een grote brand uitgebroken. In het gebouw wonen volgens regionale media rond de 50 mensen, voornamelijk studenten. De brandweer blust een brand in een voormalig kloostergebouw in Nijmegen waar woensdag een grote brand is uitgebroken. Foto ANP/ Piroschka van de Wouw
Brandweerlieden maken zich grote zorgen: driekwart van hen vindt dat hun eigen veiligheid en die van burgers is afgenomen sinds in 2010 de korpsen worden gereorganiseerd. Wegens bezuinigingen en ontslagen zouden er bij een brand vaak te weinig professionele mensen uitrukken, bijna de helft noemt de risico's die hierdoor zijn ontstaan 'onaanvaardbaar'.
Te weinig brandweerliedenDat blijkt uit een onderzoek van vakbond Abvakabo FNV en EenVandaag onder 589 professionele brandweerlieden. Sinds 2010 worden de korpsen gereorganiseerd, omdat ze per 1 januari van dit jaar verplicht zijn regionaal samen te werken. De korpsen vallen nu niet langer onder gemeenten, maar onder veel grotere zogenaamde veiligheidsregio's. In sommige regio's werden brandweerlieden ontslagen, en brandweerlieden die met pensioen gingen werden niet vervangen voor nieuwe krachten. Volgens 51 procent zijn er nu te weinig beroepsmensen om alle taken goed te kunnen vervullen, meldt Abvakabo FNV.
Experimenteren met minder brandweerliedenDe brandweerlieden hebben kritiek op de 'experimenten' met de bezetting op de brandweerwagens. De wagens zouden uitrukken met te weinig brandweerlieden, en er zouden meer vrijwilligers worden ingezet om beroepskrachten te vervangen. Een anonieme brandweerman zegt op de website van Abvakabo FNV:
''Ik ga niet naar binnen (in een brandend huis, CS) als we met minder dan zes personen zijn. Dat risico is voor mezelf echt te groot.''
Bij EenVandaag klagen anonieme brandweerlieden over langere aanrijtijden omdat de regio te groot is, over oude brandweerpakken, minder ervaren vrijwilligers, over bureaucratie. Uit het onderzoek blijkt dat 56 procent vindt dat de managementlaag veel te groot is geworden, volgens acht op de tien brandweerlieden luistert de korpsleiding niet of onvoldoende naar het personeel op de werkvloer.
Ook vrijwillige brandweer niet blijVoor het onderzoek werden ook 1.259 mensen van de vrijwillige brandweer ondervraagd. De meerderheid kan zich vinden in het standpunt van de beroepscollega's. Ook de vrijwilligers geven aan dat de veiligheid van burgers is afgenomen. Bovendien zou de groep vrijwillige brandweerlieden minder gemotiveerd zijn door de toegenomen werkdruk sinds de regionalisering. E(C)n op de vijf vrijwilligers heeft door de hervormingen overwogen te stoppen of heeft dat inmiddels gedaan.
Minister van Veiligheid en Justitie Ivo Opstelten heeft volgens EenVandaag in een schriftelijke reactie laten weten met de veiligheidsregio's in overleg te gaan. Abvakabo FNV heeft een online meldpunt opgezet waar brandweerlieden anoniem incidenten en bijna-incidenten kunnen melden.
Geplaatst in:Beleid & BestuurPersoneel & OrganisatieZorg & WelzijnLees meer over:Abvakabo FNVbezuinigingenbrandweeropsteltenreorganisatieveiligheidveiligheidsregio
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Eric Schnurer | Virtual States Come Online | Foreign Affairs
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:54
Last December, Estonia took the unprecedented step of offering any person in the world a chance to become an Estonian e-resident, a title that grants the holder access to many of the country's top-notch online government services. Acquiring this status would allow, say, an Indian entrepreneur to establish an Estonian company that he runs from Dubai but which does the bulk of its business in Spain; he'd also be able to use his electronic signature to execute contracts with customers throughout the European Union'--and pay no taxes by keeping his profits in Estonia. No wonder that 13,000 people have signed up to beta-test the program in its first nine weeks of operation, and 500 people have already received their e-residency cards.
The Estonian government has touted the program as a way to attract foreign entrepreneurs. But in launching the effort, Estonia has also laid claim to a growing new market that could transform the global economy: public services. In the future, governments, like transnational businesses, will transcend national borders, offering services, attracting customers, and deriving revenues without regard to physical territory. That would allow states to turn public goods into virtual business ventures'--an opportunity that some creative countries, especially smaller ones such as Estonia, are already seizing.
WELCOME TO E-STONIA
Estonia has had to make great strides in the realm of virtual geography because its physical geography is challenging. This small Baltic country of only 1.3 million people sits wedged between Russia and the West. When it regained independence in 1991, after 50 years of Soviet domination, the country inherited two interrelated, dangerous shortfalls: decrepit infrastructure, especially when it came to IT, and a weak administrative structure. Estonia needed to quickly find a way to deliver effective governance. And for that, as Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves recently explained, it had to ''make up for the lack of human resources through automatization.''
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>> Ken Silverstein resigns from Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, blasts 'dishonest' leadership JIMROMENESKO.COM
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:10
Investigative reporter Ken Silverstein has resigned from First Look Media's The Intercept after 14 months, saying he and others were hired ''under what were essentially false pretenses [by being] told we would be given all the financial and other support we needed to do independent, important journalism, but instead found ourselves blocked at every step of the way by management's incompetence and bad faith.''
He adds:
The most telling example, was what happened to [First Look Media site] Racket. I won't repeat that whole story but I will say that after the company forced Matt Taibbi to resign '-- and they left him no choice '-- and then told the rest of the staff that perhaps we could all continue working on a version of Racket without Matt.
None of us really believed it and in the end it was clear First Look had no intention of proceeding with such a project, it just a game it played so Pierre Omidyar and other people in the corporate leadership would look like they seriously cared about the Racket staff when in fact they clearly didn't.
Silverstein's story about his time at the Omidyar-owned news site is set to ''Friends Only'' on Facebook, but the former Harper's Washington editor gave me permission to share it with Romenesko readers. His posts begin after the jump./CONTINUES
From Ken Silverstein's Facebook wall:
February 20 at 6:12pmI quit my job and my kids are good with that and I am at the Wizards-Cavaliers game with my son and a friend. The seats are not great but I guess on balance the day is OK.
Ken Silverstein
February 20 at 10:26pmYou know what's cool about being a former employee of First Look/The Intercept? That Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Betsy Reed and Pierre Omidyar all believe in Free Speech and the First Amendment so they won't mind my writing about my time working for and with them. Tentative title: ''Welcome to the Slaughterhouse.''
February 20 at 11:39pmI have to go to sleep soon but before I forget, you know what my favorite part of working for First Look was? Last year's holiday party when two of our fiercely independent staffers ''interviewed'' Pierre Omidyar and asked him what he did in the morning. Since you are all hanging on the edge of your seats, he drinks tea and reads stuff, the NYT and other things and then The Intercept was about #5 (he claims). And for the record, I boycotted this embarrassing affair and sat in a conference room with two other people, one who no longer works there and one who may or may not. It's hard to keep track. What a joke.
February 21 at 11:34amWow, it is amazing how good it feels not to work for The Intercept. And what feels even better is the incredible support I have received from friends and editors (some editors who are friends). I have lots of work lined up and the day could not be better. Also, just one last comment on First Look Media: The fact that that it hired so many talented people to create Racket and spent millions of dollars on it and in the end fired everyone and Racket never published a single story is probably the greatest squandering of money and example of criminal ineptitude in the history of modern journalism. Again, what a pathetic joke. Oh yeah, I was not originally hired to work at Racket and didn't get fired, so I am not including myself in the group of ''talented'' people I mentioned above. Thanks again everyone.
February 22 at 10:24amSo this will be my last post about First Look. First, let me say I've had a great weekend enjoying by status as a former FL employee and hanging out with my son and talking to friends and otherwise having a fine time. Though it may appear otherwise, I am not blindly lashing out at FL. My prior posts reflect the anger and disillusionment I feel towards the company, and my anger and disillusionment is shared by many former employees. I am one of a many employees who was hired under what were essentially false pretenses; we were told we would be given all the financial and other support we needed to do independent, important journalism, but instead found ourselves blocked at every step of the way by management's incompetence and bad faith'....
February 22 at 12:05 p.m.What's also pretty cool is that it looks like I'll be working on a story for Deadspin, which is just about my favorite publication. And I keep getting contacted by other places that want me to write for them. I mean, I already have enough work for most of the year but I'll also need to find things to do in 2016 so this is great.
Silverstein posted in his comments section:
I started at FL on December 30, 2013 and was barely able to publish last year and even when I began publishing more often '--starting only last December '-- it was a struggle every step of the way. The problems were partly due to mismanagement but even more, as I have suggested, to the dishonesty of the leadership and its willingness '-- even eagerness '-- to shamelessly lie to its own employees. The most telling example, was what happened to Racket. I won't repeat that whole story but I will say that after the company forced Matt Taibbi to resign '-- and they left him no choice '-- and then told the rest of the staff that perhaps we could all continue working on a version of Racket without Matt. None of us really believed it and in the end it was clear FL had no intention of proceeding with such a project, it just a game it played so Pierre Omidyar and other people in the corporate leadership would look like they seriously cared about the Racket staff when in fact they clearly didn't'...
Then, when the company pulled the plug some months back, it fired the remaining staff and told them to clear out of the office immediately, that very day, to take their things and get out and FL would generously give them one month severance. I am pretty sure the Koch Brothers treat fired workers with greater respect. (I should note here that everyone but me was fired. I was transferred to The Intercept and still feel badly about accepting that position, at the time I worried that my daughter would not be able to continue at college and that in general the financial blow of resigning would be so impactful that I should keep working for FL. So I have my own guilt here, for not having the courage to do the right thing back then, which was to quit immediately.)
I was just told by a former Racket staff that it was three months severance so if everyone got that I apologize for the error. Either way, it was a pitiful amount given that Omidyar (estimated wealth: $8.2 billion) personally promised that he would treat everyone with dignity and that a number of employees took big risks to go to work for him, and got burned in the process.
But let me just say that while I admire them both, Matt is definitely more likable than Glenn. Glenn's role at FL is troubling in some ways, especially standing by silently (as far as I can tell) and tolerating the terrible actions of corporate management. Glenn's work is excellent but Matt would never put up with the bullshit from management that Glenn has.
I don't want to implicate anyone in what I have done but I want to say that it was a privilege and pleasure to have worked with the great reporters and editors at Racket, even though we were never able to produce a single story. So thanks to Edith Zimmerman, who has become a great friend during the past month and a pillar of support, Alex Pareene, Matt Taibbi, Elle Reeve, Sam Roudman and Katia Bachko. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anyone, I know there are just a couple of people I deliberately left off this list. In any case, I don't regret any of the prior posts, I just wanted to explain why I put it all out there.
When we were all at Racket, we joked that we should have the courage to write whatever we wanted and not worry about whether FL liked what we did or whether we offended potential future employers. And at bottom, that is the true formula to produce fearless, independent journalism. You will never produce fearless, independent journalism if you live in fear of angering your media boss and pull your punches to please him/her, or to please your sources or even your friends. So I hope you all feel as good and free and liberated this Sunday as I do and enjoy the rest of your day. (And apologies for any typos, I don't have a proofreader.)
* October 2014: Matt Taibbi leaves First Look Media (nymag.com)* November 2014: John Cook quits First Look Media and returns to Gawker (huffingtonpost.com)
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After MSNBC Axes Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid's Shows, Is Chris Hayes Next? - The Daily Beast
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 01:37
Ch, ch-anges02.19.15
As its afternoon shows hosted by Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid are canceled due to poor ratings, MSNBC is reportedly planning to replace Chris Hayes with Rachel Maddow.
It was hardly a surprise Thursday when ratings-challenged MSNBC announced the cancellation of the poor-performing afternoon programs hosted by Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid after less than a year, with veteran news anchor Thomas Roberts stepping in to preside over the two-hour block from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Until a permanent replacement is named for Roberts' 5:30 a.m. program Way Too Early, the 6 a.m. Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will temporarily take up the slack by starting a half-hour earlier.
But according to knowledgeable sources at the Comcast-owned cable network, Thursday's moves were only the opening salvo in a wider programming shakeup.
In the relatively near term, two well-placed sources predicted to The Daily Beast, Chris Hayes will be relieved of his weak-performing 8 p.m. show All In, to be replaced by the current 9 p.m. host of The Rachel Maddow Show, while a talent search is underway to fill the prime-time slot to be vacated by Maddow.
An MSNBC spokesperson'--who tried put a happy face on the demotions with talk of prime-time specials and ''multiplatform'' national reporting for the still-employed Farrow and Reid'--declined to comment on the Hayes-Maddow scenario.
In the longer term, these sources said, the Rev. Al Sharpton'--a larger-than-life personality who attracts a 35 percent African-American audience but continues, after 3½ years of nightly practice, to wrestle with his Teleprompter'--could eventually be moved from his weeknight 6 p.m. slot to a weekend time period, as MNSBC President Phil Griffin attempts to reverse significant viewership slides by accentuating straight news over left-leaning opinion.
''Everybody in the food chain from top to bottom understands that the Olbermann era is over,'' said an MSNBC source, referring to the glory days during George W. Bush's administration when incendiary liberal Keith Olbermann regularly attracted a million viewers'--many of them seeking refuge from White House and Republican talking points.
The MSNBC source said, ''Going left was a brilliant strategy while it lasted and made hundreds of millions of dollars for Comcast, but now it doesn't work anymore...The goal is to move away from left-wing TV.''
Olbermann, who these days hosts a sports program on ESPN, made his bones by blistering Bush and feuding with Fox News star Bill O'Reilly'--the No. 1 rated cable news personality--and acrimoniously departed from MSNBC in February 2011 for former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV, from which he was fired a year later.
Griffin'--who has been forced to deal with a number of awkward personnel issues during his 7-year leadership of the cable outlet, notably the firings of Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin for ugly verbal spewings'--had high hopes for Farrow and Reid last year when he inserted their shows into the daytime lineup.
''I'm confident the changes and additions to our lineup will strengthen the flow of our programming,'' Griffin wrote in a staff memo heralding their arrival last year.
MSNBC remains a reliable money-maker for Comcast, since much of its revenue is generated not by viewership but by cable subscription fees.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, he was clearly smitten with Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (or Frank Sinatra, depending), then a precocious 26-year-old who was largely untested on camera.
''Within 20 minutes, it was 'Holy Cow!' I knew,'' Griffin said, describing their first meeting. ''I'd wondered, is this guy for real? Is he a freak? And he walked in and we had the greatest conversation about where media is going'--and that is critical. We've got to be at the forefront of it, and if we're not, we're going to lose.''
Discussing his choice of Reid, then 44, he said: ''Joy is a really thoughtful journalist and analyst, and she's found real success on this network. She's formidable on-air and very smart. She fits our sensibility and our audience really connects with her. She's a natural.''
Alas, their programs tanked in both overall ratings and the all-important 25-to-54 viewer age demographic, on which advertising rates are set.
In the Nielsen period ending Tuesday, Farrow's ratings reflected a 70-percent loss in the key demographic over the same period a year ago when Andrea Mitchell anchored the 1 p.m. time slot.
Reid did slightly better, losing 67 percent of the 25-to-54 viewership that had watched Tamron Hall.
Hayes, a writer on the Nation magazine who had frequently substituted for Maddow, was never going to mount a serious challenge to O'Reilly, yet he managed to fall short of even modest expectations, regularly coming in dead last against CNN's Anderson Cooper and HLN's Nancy Grace.
A year ago, however, Griffin stoutly defended Hayes. ''I'm committed to Chris Hayes at 8 o'clock,'' he told The Daily Beast. ''The line is straight up, and I couldn't be happier with where we are. I'm glad, because I put him there.''
Now, not so much.
Still, for all its ratings troubles, MSNBC remains a reliable money-maker for Comcast, since much of its revenue is generated not by viewership but by cable subscription fees.
The troubles at MSNBC are a minor irritant within the NBC Universal News Group compared with the shocking flameout of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams over his public embellishments concerning his journalistic adventures. Williams's interim replacement, Lester Holt, so far is holding his own.
That gives Griffin breathing room while he tries to remake the cable outlet, which has been falling backward even as it trumpets the ironic slogan, ''Lean Forward.''
''Phil,'' said an insider, ''is in no particular hurry.''
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VA Secretary Robert McDonald Caught on Video Making Big False Claim About His Military Service | Video | TheBlaze.com
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:41
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald falsely claimed he served in special operations forces during an exchange with a homeless military veteran that was caught on video earlier this year. McDonald's spent most of his five-year military career with the 82nd Airborne Division, the Huffington Post reported on Monday.
U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, center, speaks while surrounded by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, left, R-Fla., Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Kathleen Fogarty, Director of the James A. Haley Medical Center during a news conference after a visit to the James A. Haley Medical Center, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. McDonald also met with veterans while touring the facility. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
In a video package published by CBS News on Jan. 30, a homeless veteran is seen telling McDonald that he served in special forces.
''Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!'' McDonald replied.
The VA secretary told the Huffington Post on Monday that he has ''no excuse'' for claiming he was in special forces.
''I was not in special forces. What I said was wrong,'' he added.
''I reacted spontaneously and I reacted wrongly, [with] no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is.''
The Huffington Post has more on McDonald's military career and why special forces are so elite:
U.S. special operations forces (SOF) are composed of exhaustively trained and highly capable troops from each military service, including the Green Berets, Army Rangers, Delta Force and Navy SEALs '-- but not the 82nd Airborne. They are certified to undertake the most dangerous and delicate missions, including, famously, the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Special operators are a close-knit community deeply hostile to outsiders who try to claim the coveted mantle of special operations.
['...]
In fact, McDonald never served in special forces. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975, completed Army Ranger training and took courses in jungle, arctic and desert warfare. He qualified as a senior parachutist and airborne jumpmaster, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until he retired from military service in 1980. While he earned a Ranger tab designating him as a graduate of Ranger School, he never served in a Ranger battalion or any other special operations unit.
Retired Army Col. Gary Bloomberg called McDonald's false claim a ''boneheaded statement.''
He also asked, ''Is this what we want from our senior government officials?''
Read the full report here.
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Chiner$
EMAIL: China Update
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:44
Hi Adam and JohnMy wife and I are currently visiting family in mainland China for Chinese new years , and we wanted to add a few details to yours and Johns China segment on show 699. The ghost cities are real and there are many but thats just the tip of the spear. Every small and medium sized city here (hundreds of thousand / millions of people) are running artificial building booms. Three years ago the city we are in now completed a massive river walk strip mall project that goes on for 10 city blocks in the downtown core, and its only about 20% occupied, Its a complete failure, and now another much larger mall is being built in the middle of nowhere. Everywhere you look there are massive skyscraper sized condo developments and they are mostly empty. The reason for all of this over development is that state run companies are at the helm and Chinese tax payers are on the bill for these scam projects, where the only people making any money are the developers (who are usually relatives or friends of government officials). As far as the Chinese buying foreign products goes, that is even more true than John has led on. Everybody here will only buy Chinese shit if they have to. The thing is, after the Chinese baby powder milk scandal a few years back people trust nothing made in China. Foreign food brands, clothing, cars, beer, alcohol, toothpaste, milk power!! you name it, Chinese want foreign made goods, they especially harbor a love for everything American. I had to write you this email because your banker friend is right, something has got to give, the question is when? We both love the show and contribute monetarily from time to time, Sometimes I make artwork for the show and you have picked a few of mine (alexandernorrie / pewdiepie) THANKS!!Sorry about the break up Adam :^( we and legions of your loyal fans have your back forever! What you guys do is without a doubt one of the most heroic endeavors being attempted in this modern day dystopian reality.Thanks a billionLove Alex and Shanshan NorrieP.S.Have you ever heard of Benjamin Fulford and the white dragon society blog? It is an interesting read, and gives us a lot of hope that things might just change for the better (even if it is probably just a fiction) sometimes Fulford is on the exact same track as NA meh!?! http://hipknowsys.blogspot.com/2015/02/benjamin-fulford-february-9-2015.htmlP>P>SHappy New Year > xin lian kuai le
LGBBTQQIAAP
Housing for LGBBBTQQIAAP
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 01:40
Housing154 Church StreetOpen House is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities. The goals of Open House include generating interest in a celebration of queer life from the social to the political to the academic. Open House works to create a Wesleyan community that appreciates the variety and vivacity of gender, sex and sexuality.
Lead Paint DisclosureHousing built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Lead from paint, paint chips, and dust can pose health hazards if not taken care of properly. Lead exposure is especially harmful to young children and pregnant women. Before renting pre-1978 housing, landlords must disclose the presence of known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the dwelling. Tenants must also receive a Federally approved pamphlet on lead poisoning prevention. The pamphlet may be viewed at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/lead/library/enforcement/pyf_eng.pdf. The University recognizes that any housing built prior to 1978 may contain lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards. By accepting your housing contract, you are affirming that you have reviewed the pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead In Your Home.
All Wesleyan housing was built before 1978 with the exception of the following: Bennet Hall, Fauver Apartments, 19 Fountain Avenue, 20 Fountain Avenue, 25 Fountain Avenue, 231 Pine Street, and 14 Warren Street.
Lead Paint Reports for 154 Church Street
Floor PlansApplications
Haiti
AP News : Officials in Haiti celebrate completion of Marriott hotel
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 23:32
Published: 51 minutes agoPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - A second international-branded hotel opened Tuesday in the Haitian capital in what backers of the project and officials hope will be a spur to further economic development in the impoverished country.
The 175-room Marriott Port-au-Prince is a four-star hotel geared primarily toward travelers looking to do business in Haiti, said Denis O'Brien, chairman of Digicel, the telecommunications company that developed the project adjacent to its Haiti headquarters in the Turgeau neighborhood of the capital.
"If a foreign direct investor is going to Haiti, they have to have a good first impression," O'Brien, whose company is the largest private employer in Haiti, said in an interview before the event. "Normally, American foreign direct investors like to stay in an American-branded hotel."
Digicel invested $45 million and contracted with Marriott to operate it. O'Brien, an Irish billionaire whose company recently completed building 150 schools in Haiti and restored the historic Iron Market that was damaged in the January 2010 earthquake, said the hotel will directly create about 200 jobs, but that he hopes it will lead to more.
A ceremony to mark the opening of the hotel drew President Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Evans Paul and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Actor Sean Penn, who has been criticized for what some felt was an insensitive joke about Mexican-born Oscar-winner Alejandro Inarritu's immigration status during at the Academy Awards on Sunday, also attended the event but declined to speak with The Associated Press.
In March 2013, the Best Western in the Petionville district of the capital became the first internationally branded hotel since Holiday Inn left in 1998 as the country's tumultuous political situation caused the collapse of the economy. Last year, Hilton Worldwide announced it would open a hotel in the country in 2016.
Follow the Pipe$
Get Ready for $10 Oil - Bloomberg View
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 06:03
At about $50 a barrel, crude oil prices are down by more than half from their June 2014 peak of $107. They may fall more, perhaps even as low as $10 to $20. Here's why.
U.S. economic growth has averaged 2.3 percent a year since the recovery started in mid-2009. That's about half the rate you might expect in a rebound from the deepest recession since the 1930s. Meanwhile, growth in China is slowing, is minimal in the euro zone and is negative in Japan. Throw in the large increase in U.S. vehicle gas mileage and other conservation measures and it's clear why global oil demand is weak and might even decline.
Oil Prices
At the same time, output is climbing, thanks in large part to increased U.S. production from hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling. U.S. output rose by 15 percent in the 12 months through November from a year earlier, based on the latest data, while imports declined 4 percent.
Something else figures in the mix: The eroding power of the OPEC cartel. Like all cartels, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is designed to ensure stable and above-market crude prices. But those high prices encourage cheating, as cartel members exceed their quotas. For the cartel to function, its leader -- in this case, Saudi Arabia -- must accommodate the cheaters by cutting its own output to keep prices from falling. But the Saudis have seen their past cutbacks result in market-share losses.
So the Saudis, backed by other Persian Gulf oil producers with sizable financial resources -- Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- embarked on a game of chicken with the cheaters. On Nov. 27, OPEC said that it wouldn't cut output, sending oil prices off a cliff. The Saudis figure they can withstand low prices for longer than their financially weaker competitors, who will have to cut production first as pumping becomes uneconomical.
What is the price at which major producers chicken out and slash output? Whatever that price is, it is much lower than the $125 a barrel Venezuela needs to support its mismanaged economy. The same goes for Ecuador, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran and Angola.
Saudi Arabia requires a price of more than $90 to fund its budget. But it has $726 billion in foreign currency reserves and is betting it can survive for two years with prices of less than $40 a barrel.
Furthermore, the price when producers chicken out isn't necessarily the average cost of production, which for 80 percent of new U.S. shale oil production this year will be $50 to $69 a barrel, according to Daniel Yergin of energy consultant IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Instead, the chicken-out point is the marginal cost of production, or the additional costs after the wells are drilled and the pipes are laid. Another way to think of it: It's the price at which cash flow for an additional barrel falls to zero.
Last month, Wood Mackenzie, an energy research organization, found that of 2,222 oil fields surveyed worldwide, only 1.6 percent would have negative cash flow at $40 a barrel. That suggests there won't be a lot of chickening out at $40. Keep in mind that the marginal cost for efficient U.S. shale-oil producers is about $10 to $20 a barrel in the Permian Basin in Texas and about the same for oil produced in the Persian Gulf.
Also consider the conundrum financially troubled countries such as Russia and Venezuela find themselves in: They desperately need the revenue from oil exports to service foreign debts and fund imports. Yet, the lower the price, the more oil they need to produce and export to earn the same number of dollars, the currency used to price and trade oil.
With new discoveries, stability in parts of the Middle East and increasing drilling efficiency, global oil output will no doubt rise in the next several years, adding to pressure on prices. U.S. crude oil production is forecast to rise by 300,000 barrels a day during the next year from 9.1 million now. Sure, the drilling rig count is falling, but it's the inefficient rigs that are being idled, not the horizontal rigs that are the backbone of the fracking industry. Consider also Iraq's recent deal with the Kurds, meaning that another 550,000 barrels a day will enter the market.
While supply climbs, demand is weakening. OPEC forecasts demand for its oil at a 14-year low of 28.2 million barrels a day in 2017, 600,000 less than its forecast a year ago and down from current output of 30.7 million. It also cut its 2015 demand forecast to a 12-year low of 29.12 million barrels.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency reduced its 2015 global demand forecast for the fourth time in 12 months by 230,000 barrels a day to 93.3 million and sees supply exceeding demand this year by 400,000 barrels a day.
Although the 40 percent decline in U.S. gasoline prices since April 2014 has led consumers to buy more gas-guzzling SUVs and pick-up trucks, consumers during the past few years have bought the most efficient blend of cars and trucks ever. At the same time, slowing growth in China and the shift away from energy-intensive manufactured exports and infrastructure to consumer services is depressing oil demand. China accounted for two-thirds of the growth in demand for oil in the past decade.
So look for more big declines in crude oil and related energy prices. My next column will cover the winners and losers from low oil prices.
To contact the author on this story:A Gary Shilling at insight@agaryshilling.com
To contact the editor on this story:James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net
Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill | TheBlaze.com
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:37
President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL oil pipeline approval bill on Tuesday, following through on his threat after it passed the Republican-controlled House and Senate.
The White House notified the Senate of the veto Tuesday afternoon. It marks Obama's first veto since Republicans won control of Congress in November, and the third overall of his presidency.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Obama in a message to the Senate said Congress had tried to ''circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.''
''The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously,'' Obama said. ''But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest '-- including our security, safety, and environment '-- it has earned my veto.''
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier Tuesday that the president's veto was based entirely on waiting for the State Department to complete its review of the pipeline project.
He said it's ''certainly is possible'' that Obama could support the pipeline in the future if the State Department concludes it will not harm the environment.
The State Deparment's review has been going on for 2,300 days, which Earnest admitted during the press briefing as ''in-depth.''
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Obama's veto a ''national embarrassment.''
''The president's veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a national embarrassment,'' Boehner said in a statement. ''It's embarrassing when Russia and China are plowing ahead on two massive pipelines and we can't get this one no-brainer of a project off the ground.''
The office of House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted that the Senate would vote on an override ''soon,'' though it's unlikely Republicans could mount the necessary votes.
Shut Up Slave!
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The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site' | US news | The Guardian
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 22:42
While US military and intelligence interrogation impacted people overseas, Homan Square '' said to house military-style vehicles and even a cage '' focuses on American citizens, most often poor, black and brown. 'When you go in,' Brian Jacob Church told the Guardian, 'nobody knows what happened to you.' Video: Phil Batta for the Guardian; editing: Mae Ryan
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago's west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.Shackling for prolonged periods.Denying attorneys access to the ''secure'' facility.Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square ''interview room'' and later pronounced dead.
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the ''Nato Three'', was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.
Related:Chicago's Homan Square 'black site': surveillance, military-style vehicles and a metal cage
''Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,'' Church told the Guardian on Friday. ''It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It's a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what's happened to you.''
The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square '' said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage '' trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.
''It's sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place '' if you can't find a client in the system, odds are they're there,'' said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.
''This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,'' Taylor said, ''of violating a suspect or witness' rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.''
Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department did not respond to the Guardian's questions about the facility. But after the Guardian published this story, the department provided a statement insisting, without specifics, that there is nothing untoward taking place at what it called the ''sensitive'' location, home to undercover units.
''CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD's Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property,'' the statement said, something numerous attorneys and one Homan Square arrestee have denied.
''There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square,'' it continued.
The Chicago police statement did not address how long into an arrest or detention those records are generated or their availability to the public. A department spokesperson did not respond to a detailed request for clarification.
When a Guardian reporter arrived at the warehouse on Friday, a man at the gatehouse outside refused any entrance and would not answer questions. ''This is a secure facility. You're not even supposed to be standing here,'' said the man, who refused to give his name.
A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.
But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.
''They just disappear,'' said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, ''until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.''
'Never going to see the light of day': the search for the Nato Three, the head wound, the worried mom and the dead man'They were held incommunicado for much longer than I think should be permitted in this country '' anywhere '' but particularly given the strong constitutional rights afforded to people who are being charged with crimes,'' said Sarah Gelsomino, the lawyer for Brian Jacob Church.Photograph: Phil Batta/GuardianJacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours '' and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage '' before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.
In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.
''Essentially, I wasn't allowed to make any contact with anybody,'' Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.
Church's left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.
''I had essentially figured, 'All right, well, they disappeared us and so we're probably never going to see the light of day again,''' Church said.
Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly, known as the 'Nato Three'.Photograph: AP/Cook County sheriff's officeThough the raid attracted major media attention, a team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of ''active searching'', Sarah Gelsomino, Church's lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a ''major stink'' with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.
They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking.
After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of ''mob action''.
It's almost like they throw a black bag over your head and make you disappear for a day or two
Brian Jacob ChurchThe access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church's experience there was not.
Three attorneys interviewed by the Guardian report being personally turned away from Homan Square between 2009 and 2013 without being allowed access to their clients. Two more lawyers who hadn't been physically denied described it as a place where police withheld information about their clients' whereabouts. Church was the only person who had been detained at the facility who agreed to talk with the Guardian: their lawyers say others fear police retaliation.
One man in January 2013 had his name changed in the Chicago central bookings database and then taken to Homan Square without a record of his transfer being kept, according to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago's First Defense Legal Aid. (The man, the Guardian understands, wishes to be anonymous; his current attorney declined to confirm Solowiej's account.) She found out where he was after he was taken to the hospital with a head injury.
''He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,'' Solowiej said. ''He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.''
Bartmes, another Chicago attorney, said that in September 2013 she got a call from a mother worried that her 15-year-old son had been picked up by police before dawn. A sympathetic sergeant followed up with the mother to say her son was being questioned at Homan Square in connection to a shooting and would be released soon. When hours passed, Bartmes traveled to Homan Square, only to be refused entry for nearly an hour.
An officer told her, ''Well, you can't just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you're making people very nervous,'' Bartmes recalled. Told to leave, she said she would return in an hour if the boy was not released. He was home, and not charged, after ''12, maybe 13'' hours in custody.
On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found ''unresponsive inside an interview room'', and pronounced dead. After publication, the Cook County medical examiner told the Guardian that the cause of death was determined to be heroin intoxication.
Homan Square is hardly concerned exclusively with terrorism. Several special units operate outside of it, including the anti-gang and anti-drug forces. If police ''want money, guns, drugs'', or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago's streets, ''they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,'' Hill said.
'That scares the hell out of me': a throwback to Chicago police abuse with a post-9/11 feel'The real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,' criminologist Tracy Siska told the Guardian.Photograph: Chandler West/GuardianA former Chicago detective and current private investigator, Bill Dorsch, said he had not heard of the police abuses described by Church and lawyers for other suspects who had been taken to Homan Square. He has been permitted access to the facility to visit one of its main features, an evidence locker for the police department. (''I just showed my retirement star and passed through,'' Dorsch said.)
Transferring detainees through police custody to deny them access to legal counsel, would be ''a career-ender,'' Dorsch said. ''To move just for the purpose of hiding them, I can't see that happening,'' he told the Guardian.
Richard Brzeczek, Chicago's police superintendent from 1980 to 1983, who also said he had no first-hand knowledge of abuses at Homan Square, said it was ''never justified'' to deny access to attorneys.
''Homan Square should be on the same list as every other facility where you can call central booking and say: 'Can you tell me if this person is in custody and where,''' Brzeczek said.
''If you're going to be doing this, then you have to include Homan Square on the list of facilities that prisoners are taken into and a record made. It can't be an exempt facility.''
Indeed, Chicago police guidelines appear to ban the sorts of practices Church and the lawyers said occur at Homan Square.
A directive titled ''Processing Persons Under Department Control'' instructs that ''investigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process,'' and arrestees must be allowed ''a reasonable number of telephone calls'' to attorneys swiftly ''after their arrival at the first place of custody.'' Another directive, ''Arrestee and In-Custody Communications,'' says police supervisors must ''allow visitation by attorneys.''
Attorney Scott Finger said that the Chicago police tightened the latter directive in 2012 after quiet complaints from lawyers about their lack of access to Homan Square. Without those changes, Church's attorneys might not have gained entry at all. But that tightening '' about a week before Church's arrest '' did not prevent Church's prolonged detention without a lawyer, nor the later cases where lawyers were unable to enter.
The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.
On a smaller scale, Homan Square is ''analogous to the CIA's black sites,'' said Andrea Lyon, a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School. When she practiced law in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, ''police used the term 'shadow site''' to refer to the quasi-disappearances now in place at Homan Square.
I've never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and hold somebody before booking for hours and hours
James Trainum, former detective, Washington DC''Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they'd been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,'' said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. ''And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.''
Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.
''I've never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,'' said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.
Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago's secretive interrogation and holding facility: ''It's very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,'' Solowiej said.
Church said that one of his more striking memories of Homan Square was the ''big, big vehicles'' police had inside the complex that ''look like very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.''
Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.
Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantnamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.
''The real danger in allowing practices like Guantnamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,'' Siska said.
''They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That's how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.''
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CNN heeft onze Zwarte Piet nu al in het vizier - AD.nl
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:58
Voor Roger Ross Williams kan de discussie over Zwarte Piet niet vroeg genoeg beginnen. De Amerikaanse documentairemaker van CNN bereidt een film voor over dit 'dirty, little secret', waar Nederland volgens hem nog grote economische gevolgen van zal ondervinden.
Hoe meer hij zich verdiept in het verschijnsel Zwarte Piet, hoe schokkender hij het vindt. Roger Ross Williams (41) is een gelouterde documentairemaker in de Verenigde Staten, niet in de laatste plaats omdat hij 5 jaar geleden een Oscar won met zijn film Music by Prudence, over een gehandicapte Zimbabwaanse muzikante.
De oud-winnaar liet het Oscar-evenement dit keer schieten om in Amsterdam aan zijn film te werken. De CNN-documentaire over Zwarte Piet moet eind dit jaar te zien zijn. Zaterdag filmde Williams in de hoofdstad een bijeenkomst van de actiegroep Kick Out Zwarte Piet, waar tegenstanders van Zwarte Piet brainstormden over acties in dit jaar.
Nederland is geen vreemd terrein voor Williams; de liefde drijft hem de laatste jaren steeds vaker naar Amsterdam. ,,Ik probeer nu ook een eigen productiemaatschappij van de grond te krijgen en me hier een deel van het jaar te vestigen."
Hij vervolgt: ,,Ik had de afgelopen jaren wel iets van het bestaan van Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet meegekregen, maar nog niet veel. Vorig jaar was ik hier voor het eerst in de sinterklaasperiode en toen ben ik me erin gaan verdiepen. Ik postte foto's van Zwarte Piet op mijn eigen facebookpagina en vanuit Amerika kreeg ik de ene na de andere geschokte reactie.''
Tijdens het internationaal documentairefestival IDFA in Amsterdam van november raakten Williams en zijn Amerikaanse collega's niet uitgepraat over Zwarte Piet. (C) getty.GeheimTijdens het internationaal documentairefestival IDFA in Amsterdam van november raakten Williams en zijn Amerikaanse collega's niet uitgepraat over Zwarte Piet. ,,Het hoofd van CNN's filmafdeling zei bij een drankje: 'Hier moet je echt een documentaire over maken. Dit moet de wereld weten'. En dat vind ik ook.''
Koloniaal Williams maakt er geen geheim van dat hij persoonlijk geraakt wordt door de helper van Sinterklaas. ,,Ik vind het een beledigende karikatuur, die rechtstreeks verbonden is aan het koloniale verleden van Nederland - waar hier al amper over gesproken wordt. Maar het is met name zo schokkend omdat de rest van de wereld Nederland als progressief land ziet. Amerikanen die afbeeldingen van Zwarte Piet zien, zijn niet alleen in shock; ze geloven het ook niet. Vooral niet dat Zwarte Piet zo wijdverbreid is, dat dit (C)(C)n van de grootste nationale feesten is. In een bepaald opzicht is hij het dirty little secret van Nederland, want het is ook niet zo dat jullie deze traditie vol trots uitdragen over de rest van de planeet.''
PraktijkenWilliams verwacht dat Nederland iets zal merken van zijn film: ,,Als de wereld deze praktijken ziet, kan dat grote gevolgen hebben voor het toerisme en dus ook voor de economie. En vooral voor de manier waarop naar jullie land gekeken wordt door mensen uit andere landen. Dat beeld van een uiterst progressief land zal moeten worden bijgesteld.''
Met zijn camera- en geluidsman gaat Williams niet alleen langs bij de tegenstanders van Zwarte Piet. ,,We willen natuurlijk beide kanten belichten, dus we komen ook bij de mensen van het Pietengilde en van de Stichting Sinterklaas Centrale, hier in Amsterdam. En ik interview politici, ik probeer nog bij burgemeester Eberhard van der Laan binnen te komen. Ik wil vooral begrijpen wat er gebeurt, hoe de traditie er tot in detail uitziet. Ik wil het hele verhaal laten zien, dat is belangrijk.''
Hier moet je echt een documentaire over maken. Dit moet de wereld weten
Roger Ross Williams, documentairemakerJouw mening telt!Meld je aan om een reactie te plaatsen!
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Real News
Oscar-Winning Imitation Game Writer Graham Moore: "I'm Not Gay"
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:11
You may have thought that Imitation Game writer Graham Moore's acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay last night was his way of sharing his experiences as a young gay man who tried to commit suicide because he felt like he "didn't belong." You may have thought his "Stay weird," credo was his It Gets Better '15 Remix. You'd be wrong.
Graham Moore is not gay.
Graham Moore is not gay.
Graham Moore is not gay.
Buzzfeed interviewed Moore after the Oscars and here's what he said about not being gay:
I'm not gay, but I've never talked publicly about depression before or any of that and that was so much of what the movie was about and it was one of the things that drew me to Alan Turing so much. I think we all feel like weirdos for different reasons. Alan had his share of them and I had my own and that's what always moved me so much about his story.
So that's weird. That's different. That makes Moore a man of his word.
[Image via Getty]
Science!
After 8 centuries, rats exonerated in spread of Black Death. Gerbils implicated. - The Washington Post
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 23:37
After nearly eight centuries of accusing the black rat for spreading the bubonic plague, scientists say they have compelling evidence to exonerate the much-maligned rodent. In the process, they've identified a new culprit: gerbils.
It's always the cute ones you have to watch out for, isn't it?
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, climate data dating back to the 14th century contradicts the commonly held notion that European plague outbreaks were caused by a reservoir of disease-carrying fleas hosted by the continent's rat population.
''For this, you would need warm summers, with not too much precipitation,'' Nils Christian Stenseth, an author of the study, told the BBC. '''... And we have looked at the broad spectrum of climatic indices, and there is no relationship between the appearance of plague and the weather.''
Instead, the fearsome ''Black Death,'' as the epidemic was known, seemed curiously tied to the climate in Asia. Analysis of 15 tree-ring records, which document yearly weather conditions, shows that Europe always experienced plague outbreaks after central Asia had a wet spring followed by a warm summer '-- terrible conditions for black rats, but ideal for Asia's gerbil population. Those sneaky rodents and their bacteria-ridden fleas then hitched a ride to Europe via the Silk Road, arriving on the continent a few years later to wreak epidemiological havoc.
The findings absolve Europe's black rats of responsibility for the deaths of more than 100 million people in the ''second plague pandemic,'' which began with the Black Death in the mid-14th century and recurred until the 1800s. They also explain why the disease popped up intermittently century after century, rather than lingering on the continent as long as rats were around to carry it.
This isn't the first time scientists have challenged a popular understanding of the disease. Last year, researchers examining plague DNA found in 25 14th-century skeletons said they found evidence that the disease was airborne rather than distributed via flea bites.
So Stenseth says his team will fact-check their findings by analyzing DNA from a variety of ancient European skeletons. If the samples show significant genetic variation across time, that would indicate successive outbreaks were caused by newly arrived waves of the disease rather than a resurgence from the continent's rat reservoir.
''If we're right, we'll have to rewrite that part of history,'' Stenseth said.
And hundreds of elementary school classrooms will have to rethink their class pet.
More from Morning Mix
Rare photos from the golden age of space explorationHow 19 frightened manatees were rescued from a drainpipe in Fla.How Stephen Hawking, diagnosed with ALS decades ago, is still aliveRipping Patricia Arquette to shreds
Vaccine$
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Brits Demand 'Game Changer' HIV Pill Be Made Available Through NHS
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:22
News02:49 26.02.2015(updated 03:04 26.02.2015)
12310
A major UK trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) found that the drug can cut the risk of HIV infection among gay men considered to be at high risk by 86%, the Independent reported.
Leading specialists have called the findings ''extremely exciting'' and a ''game-changer.''
In the UK, infection rates among men who have sex with men remain high, despite major advances in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Now, with such promising findings from the government-funded trial, people are campaigning for the NHS to offer PrEP for free.
Now the NHS has to determine if the pills, which will cost £423 per month for each patient, can be cost-effective, and what the criteria should be for accessing them, the Independent reported.
PrEP has been available to at-risk groups in the United States since 2012.
More than 500 HIV-negative men in six cities across England took part in the study. The men were sexually active and had recently had unprotected sex.
The pill used in the trial, Truvada, is a combination of two antiretroviral drugs which has previously been used to treat HIV infection.
Among the 276 men given PrEP immediately, there were only three HIV infections in the first year of the study, compared with 19 among the deferred group, the Independent reported.
Those lobbying for the NHS to provide the drug to high-risk groups say doing so would result in long-term financial savings.
A one-month supply of Truvada, developed by Gilead, costs £423 total.
''During the study period there were 19 HIV infections in the group not taking PrEP,'' Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, told the Independent. ''If we can stop people getting HIV by giving them PrEP, we have an ethical duty to do so.
''Furthermore, over the course of their lifetime, the treatment of those 19 men will cost the NHS nearly £7 million. So the financial argument is clear, as is the ethical one: PrEP needs to be available on the NHS as soon as possible for all those who need it.''
Taking the drug did not lead men to change their use of condoms, which was evidenced by sexually transmitted infection rates that were similar in both groups.
''Concerns that PrEP would not work so well in the real world were unfounded,'' said Sheena McCormack, professor of clinical epidemiology at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London.
''These results show there is a need for PrEP, and offer hope of reversing the epidemic among men who have sex with men in this country. The findings we've presented today are going to be invaluable in informing discussions about making PrEP available through the NHS.''
An estimated 2,800 gay men acquired HIV in the UK in 2013. Six percent of gay and bisexual men are now living with HIV; that number rises to 13% in London.
The pill would probably only be made available to high-risk people '' those who are having sex with several partners, sometimes unprotected, the Independent reported.
About 18,000 men who have sex with men are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection each year. If around 25% of those men were likely to benefit from PrEP, that would equal 4,500 people taking PrEP a year, at a total cost of £22.8 million.
The NHS has to compare that cost to the lifetime cost of treating someone with HIV, which is estimated to be as high as £360,000 per person. The NHS also already provides expensive drugs to stop the infection from developing in people recently exposed to the virus.
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Study: Pills Before and After Sex Can Help Prevent HIV
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:59
SEATTLE (AP) '-- For the first time, a study shows that a drug used to treat HIV infection also can help prevent it when taken before and after risky sex by gay men.
The results offer hope of a more appealing way to help prevent the disease beyond taking daily pills and using condoms, although those methods are still considered best.
The study, done in France and Canada, is the first to test "on demand" use of Truvada, a pill combining two AIDS drugs, by people planning to have risky sex. The uninfected men who took it were 86 percent less likely to get HIV compared to men given dummy pills.
"That impressed me," Dr. Scott Hammer said of the size of the benefit. He is an AIDS specialist at Columbia University in New York and heads the Retrovirus Conference going on in Seattle, where the results were discussed Tuesday.
Daily Truvada pills are used now to prevent HIV infection in people at high risk for it, and studies show the drug helps even when some doses are skipped. Health officials have been leery of billing it as a "chemical condom" out of fear that people will not use the best prevention methods, but many won't use condoms all the time or take daily pills.
The study of Gilead Science's Truvada was led by the French national HIV research agency.
Men were given fake or real Truvada and told to take two pills from two to 24 hours before sex, a third pill 24 hours later, and a fourth pill 48 hours after the first dose. The men also were given condoms and disease prevention counseling.
The study was stopped early, in November, after 400 men were enrolled and researchers saw that the drug was working; there were two new HIV infections among those on Truvada and 14 in those on dummy pills. The two infections in the Truvada group were in men who stopped using the pills after more than a year in the study.
The drug was safe, but nausea and diarrhea were more frequent among men who used it. Only one stopped using it because of side effects.
Dr. Susan Buchbinder, an AIDS specialist at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, called the results exciting but warned that it can't be assumed they would apply to male-female sex, because different types of sex expose partners to differing amounts of virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends daily Truvada pills for prevention, and many men in the French study ended up taking them nearly that often because of how frequently they had sex, said the CDC's HIV prevention chief, Dr. Jonathan Mermin.
"We need all the options we can get" for preventing HIV infection, Mermin said. "People choose different prevention methods. What we want is for them to choose effective ones and to use them regularly."
One advocate for wider use of prevention pills '-- Damon Jacobs, a New York City psychotherapist '-- agreed.
For years, the public health message was "condoms only, condoms only, condoms only," he said in a speech at the conference. "People are having sex for pleasure" and need alternate ways to reduce their risk, Jacobs said.
A second study presented at the conference by the U.K. Medical Research Council found that daily use of Truvada cut the risk of infection by 86 percent in a "real world" test of gay men aware they were taking Truvada for HIV prevention.
Researchers assigned 545 gay men to get Truvada right away or a year later. The study was stopped in October after HIV infections occurred in only three men given Truvada but in 19 of those assigned to get it after a year.
As in the French study, rates of other sexually spread diseases were similar in both groups, leading researchers to conclude that use of the prevention pills was not increasing risky behavior.
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Nu legaal: E(C)n baby uit drie ouders | Spitsnieuws.nl
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:49
M. van Sas | 24-02-15 | 22:39 '--
Groot-Brittanni kan als eerste land ter wereld een speciale ivf-techniek invoeren. De techniek, waarbij DNA van een tweede vrouw wordt gebruikt, zorgt ervoor dat het kind gespaard blijft van bepaalde erfelijke ziekten. Het Britse Hogerhuis ging vandaag zoals verwacht akkoord met een wetsverandering die invoering van de techniek mogelijk maakt.
Lees ook: Moeder maakt moedermelkporno, kind verhongert
Het Hogerhuis gaf het groene licht na een debat van drie uur. Bij de techniek wordt het klein deel van het DNA van de moeder vervangen door dat van een donormoeder. Bepaalde ziekten worden dan niet doorgegeven door de moeder via dat zogenoemde mitochondriaal DNA.
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PedoBear
Newspaper headlines: Sir Cliff inquiry widens, and a Helmand hero - BBC News
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:04
31 front and back pages on the new #tomorrowspaperstoday Facebook page: https://t.co/RItvr9YdgXhttp://t.co/yBuMkZ72ig
2 hours ago
Thursday's Sun back page:Demon Berba!#tomorrowspaperstoday#bbcpapers#ARSvMON#AFChttp://t.co/rFkE2AMDwR
2 hours ago
Thursday's Sun front page:The fallen Madonna#tomorrowspaperstoday#bbcpapers#BRITAwardshttp://t.co/IaMeapRRqf
2 hours ago
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO- Susan Rice Laughs Uncontrollably When Charlie Rose Mentions Ukraine's 'Humiliating' Retreat - YouTube
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:33
VIDEO-IS militant 'Jihadi John' named as Mohammed Emwazi from London - BBC News
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:56
The masked Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John", who has been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of Western hostages, has been named.
He is Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British man in his mid-20s from west London, who was previously known to British security services.
They chose not to disclose his name earlier for operational reasons.
Emwazi first appeared in a video last August, when he apparently killed the American journalist James Foley.
He was later thought to have been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British taxi driver Alan Henning, and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter.
(Clockwise from left) Islamic State victims James Foley, Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig, Alan Henning, Kenji Goto and Steven Sotloff 'The Beatles'In each of the videos, the militant appeared dressed in a black robe with a black balaclava covering all but his eyes and top of his nose.
Speaking with a British accent, he taunted Western powers before holding his knife to the hostages' necks, appearing to start cutting before the film stopped. The victims' decapitated bodies were then shown.
Earlier this month, the militant featured in a video in which the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto appeared to be beheaded.
Hostages released by IS said he was one of four British jihadists guarding Westerners abducted by the group in Syria. They were given the nicknames "John", "Paul", "George" and "Ringo" by their captives, and were known collectively as "the Beatles".
Analysis: Dominic Casciani, BBC News
We don't know exactly when the British or the American security services worked out that the masked man in the killing videos was Londoner Mohammed Emwazi - and nobody in official security circles is going to comment on how they got to that conclusion.
But we do know that he was, to use the jargon, a "person of interest" to MI5 going back to at least 2010 because he features in semi-secret court cases relating to extremism overseas and back in the UK.
A UK court document said Mohammed Emwazi was part of an extremist network linked to al-Shabab Emwazi has been previously described as a member of a network involving at least 13 men from London - and at least two of them were subjected to house arrest control orders or T-Pims. One absconded. Another was killed in a drone strike. The chances of Emwazi ever returning to the UK are vanishingly small.
Profile: Mohammed Emwazi
Follow Dominic at @BBCDomC
Emwazi is understood to be about 27 years of age.
Friends told the Washington Post that he was raised in a middle class area of West London and studied computer programming at the University of Westminster. He would on occasion pray at a mosque in Greenwich, they said.
The university confirmed Emwazi had left six years ago, adding: "If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened."
Emwazi's friends told the Washington Post they believed he started to be radicalised after travelling to Tanzania in May 2009 following his graduation.
Journalists gathered outside a home in London where Mohammed Emwazi is believed to have once lived He and two friends had planned to go on a safari, but once they landed in Dar es Salaam, they were detained by police and held overnight, they said.
Emwazi then ended up flying to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, where he claimed to be met by British intelligence agents from MI5 who accused him of trying to travel to Somalia, where the jihadist group al-Shabab operates. He denied the accusation and said the agents had tried to recruit him before allowing him to return to the UK.
The incident is apparently described in a report published the following year by the Independent. It identified Emwazi as Muhammad ibn Muazzam.
'Live investigation'Emwazi later moved to Kuwait, where he got a job at a computer company. But on a visit to London in 2010, he was detained by British counter-terrorism officials and prevented from flying back to Kuwait, his friends said.
It is believed he was known to security services in the UK and the US before leaving for Syria and was linked to a man with connections to al-Shabab, says the BBC's Dominic Casciani.
"I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started," Emwazi wrote in a June 2010 email quoted by the Washington Post.
"[But now] I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London," he added. "A person imprisoned and controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace and country, Kuwait."
The Washington Post said Emwazi was believed to have travelled to Syria around 2012 and later joined Islamic State, which has declared the creation of a "caliphate" in the large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq it controls.
British police declined to comment on the reports, citing the "live counter-terrorism investigation".
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron would not confirm or deny reports that Emwazi was Jihadi John, adding that the police and security services were working hard to find those responsible for the murder of the British hostages.
A White House spokeswoman referred journalists to the UK authorities.
The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington says the FBI went on record last September to confirm it knew who Jihadi John was. However, US officials said this month they would not name him as they believed this would be the best strategy for finding him and bringing him to justice.
Jihadi John sightingsAugust 2014: Video in which US journalist James Foley is apparently beheaded2 September 2014: Video in which US journalist Steve Sotloff is apparently beheaded13 September 2014: Video in which British aid worker David Haines is apparently beheadedOctober 2014: Video in which British aid worker Alan Henning is apparently beheadedNovember 2014: Video in which Jihadi John is shown killing a Syrian soldier in a mass beheading, which also shows body of US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter Kassig20 January 2015: Video in which Jihadi John is seen standing alongside two Japanese hostages and demanding a ransom in exchange for their release31 January 2015: Video released appearing to show Jihadi John beheading Japanese hostage Kenji Goto
VIDEO-ISIS present in all 50 states, FBI director says | abc7chicago.com
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:41
CHICAGO (WLS) --
The ABC7 I-Team looked into ISIS terrorists in the United States- not just a smattering of potentially violent radicals, but terrorists present in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and all 50 states.In less than two years, ISIS has gone from a terror start-up overseas to what FBI Director James Comey calls a "chaotic spider web" in the US, with young Muslim men being radicalized in Illinois and the 49 other states. Comey suggests ISIS uses social media like a job fair. That's how he says terrorists snagged three New York men facing ISIS charges.
"Those people exist in every state. I have homegrown violent extremist investigations in every single state. Until a few weeks ago there was 49 states. Alaska had none which I couldn't quite figure out. But Alaska has now joined the group so we have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states," Comey said.
In Chicago, there are several current federal cases of teenagers being recruited online by ISIS, buying plane tickets to travel overseas; plans interrupted by U.S. counter-terrorism agents, in some instances at O'Hare Airport.
In New York City Wednesday, the latest plot - to blow up Coney Island - is a scheme authorities say by three Brooklyn men now in federal custody. According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, the men - ages 19, 24 and 30, from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan - planned to train with militants in Syria. They also hoped to shoot police officers, FBI agents or military members in the US and even talked of assassinating President Obama, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say they were lured by ISIS, a pitch Comey said is common.
"Slick propaganda through social media that goes like this: 'Troubled soul, come to the caliphate, you will live a life of glory, these are the apocalyptic end times, you will find a life of meaning here fighting for our so-called caliphate and if you can't come, kill somebody where you are.' That is a message that goes out to troubled souls everywhere," Comey said.
"There are vultures on social media who try to take advantage of our children," said Omer Mozaffar, a Loyola University Muslim chaplain.
Even as terrorists use social media to recruit, federal investigators also use it to catch suspected terrorists. In the New York case, one of the suspects is said to have posted threats against President Obama on an overseas website friendly to ISIS. Late Wednesday afternoon he and the two accomplices were all ordered held without bond.
(Copyright (C)2015 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
VIDEO-NBC and CBS Use Mall Terror Threat to Hammer GOP Over DHS Funding Fight | MRCTV
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:57
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
On Monday, both NBC's Today and CBS This Morning used a terrorist threat against the Mall of America in Minneapolis to hit the Republican Congress over the Department of Homeland Security funding fight.
On Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker concluded her report on the security concerns by declaring: "Meanwhile, the clock is ticking with Congress locked in a bitter battle over how to fund DHS. If Congress can't resolve its differences by Friday, the agency that oversees much of the nation's security operations will run out of money."
VIDEO-Sen. Graham: 'I've Never Seen More' Terrorist Groups with Ability to Strike US 'Than I Do Today' | MRCTV
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:52
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopolous" that he's never seen more terrorist groups "with more safe havens," money and ability to strike the U.S. than he does today, and that's because of President Barack Obama's failed foreign policy.
VIDEO-WH Downplays Mall Threat from DHS Secretary | MRCTV
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:40
By escheiner | February 24, 2015 9:20am ET 11 viewsIf the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
After DHS Secretary Hyped Mall Threat, White House Repeatedly Downplays It See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/after-dhs-secretary-hyped-mall-threat-white-house-repeatedly-downplays-it
VIDEO-Kerry Says New Religious Freedom Ambassador Will Have Direct Access to Him, 'Anytime' | MRCTV
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:59
Secretary of State John Kerry assured a Republican lawmaker Wednesday that that newly sworn-in ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom will have direct access to him, after concerns about the position's relative junior status in the State Department.
VIDEO- Kerry Agrees Russians Are Lying About Ukraine - YouTube
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:54
VIDEO- Kerry says US falling behind in media strategy, asks for more money to counter RT - YouTube
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 03:33
VIDEO- Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi (1943) - WW2 Animated Propaganda Film by Walt Disney - YouTube
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 03:30
VIDEO- 3 Nabbed in NY, Florida in Plot to Join IS - YouTube
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 03:21
VIDEO-Senior State Dept. official arrested for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor | Fox News
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 03:03
A senior State Department official in charge of federal counterterrorism programs was arrested Tuesday afternoon for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor, Fox News has learned.
Fairfax County Police officials say Daniel Rosen was arrested by a county detective about noon at his Washington, D.C. home after he allegedly sought to arrange sex with a minor. The detective, a female officer working in the county's Child Exploitation Unit, had been posing as the minor in online exchanges with Rosen, police said.
Rosen, who is the director of counterterrorism programs and policy at the State Department, was arrested and transported to a D.C. jail and charged with one count of Use of a Communications Device to Solicit a Juvenile.
He appeared Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court and waived extradition to Virginia. An online court record did not list an attorney for him, and a message seeking comment left by The Associated Press on Wednesday at a telephone number associated with his address was not immediately returned.
County police said typically, employers are notified of an arrest like this, and the State Department was indeed notified in this case. The department was moving to put Rosen on leave after the arrest.
Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Tuesday, "We are aware that a State Department employee has been arrested and charges have been issued.
"For issues related to Department personnel and for privacy reasons, we are not able to confirm the identity of the individual or specific charges. His security clearance will be suspended and he will be put on administrative leave while this proceeds to its end through any judicial process. We are following standard procedure in this case."
A source with Diplomatic Security, the law enforcement agency housed within the Department of State, told Fox News that law enforcement officers were "hitting [Rosen's] phones," meaning that a search warrant had been issued so police could examine the devices for additional evidence.
A State Department source on Wednesday downplayed Rosen's role in his bureau. "Dan Rosen was not responsible for homeland security and foreign policy strategy and issues; he was simply one of many office directors in the State Department's counterterrorism bureau," the source said.
Police won't say who initiated the contact in the sting operation that led to his arrest. A spokesman for the Fairfax County police said the department has a proactive child exploitation unit that makes as many as 100 arrests per year of people allegedly seeking sex with minors.
"We are not making overtures," the spokesman said. "We're in a number of chatrooms and sites. We go where the kids go and so do the bad guys."
Born in May 1970, Rosen is a resident of the District of Columbia. His LinkedIn page states that he has occupied his present position at the State Department since August 2008.
In a speech in Feb. 2012 at a seminar hosted by The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies' International Center for Terrorism Studies, Rosen, while discussing terrorism, talked about the lure of young people into extremism. ''It's not about public diplomacy, it's not about improving the U.S. image,'' he said. ''It's about reaching out to a pretty well-defined and pretty narrow audience, and that's people that could be persuaded into crossing the boundaries between sympathy and action.''
Fox News' Ryan O'Malley and Doug McKelway and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show "The Foxhole."
VIDEO-Donald Trump 'Seriously' Considering 2016 Presidential Bid | Crooks and Liars
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:05
Should we add the name Donald Trump to the GOP clown car for the 2016 GOP presidential primary? That's what he wants Republican saps to believe anyway.
I was on Twitter and saw this from Robert Costa:
That made me laugh out loud. The King of the Birthers is at it again. Only Trump's ego is big enough to believe he'd be a viable candidate for the presidency. But it would add some much needed flair to the Republican debates since Reince Priebus is doing all he can to try and control them as much as possible after a disastrous 2012 primary season that was more embarrassing than anything else for the GOP.
WaPo: Trump says he is serious about 2016 bid
This time, Donald J. Trump says, he really means it.
The billionaire real-estate mogul '-- long amounting to a one-man sideshow in GOP presidential politics '-- said in an interview Wednesday that he is ''more serious'' than ever about pursuing a run for the White House in 2016.
In recent days, Trump said, he has hired staffers in key primary states, retained an election attorney and delayed signing on for another season as host of NBC's ''The Celebrity Apprentice'' because of his political projects.
''Everybody feels I'm doing this just to have fun or because it's good for the brand,'' Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. ''Well, it's not fun. I'm not doing this for enjoyment. I'm doing this because the country is in serious trouble.''
Did you know I have a bridge to sell C&L readers? All I can say is, O , Lord, please make it happen!
As part of his preparations, Trump met Monday in New York with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, telling him that he was actively mulling a presidential run, according to people familiar with the conversation. Priebus, who will remain neutral in the 2016 primaries, took the meeting because of Trump's status as a prominent donor to the RNC.
VIDEO-Gen. John Allen: Islamic State has lost half of its leaders in Iraq - The Washington Post
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 23:36
U.S. intelligence shows that half of the Islamic State's leaders in Iraq have been killed, but there is still a long fight ahead to render the group irrelevant, the retired U.S. general in charge of the international coalition to counter the militants told Congress on Wednesday.
''We have pretty good intelligence on this matter,'' Gen. John Allen said of the number of militant commanders killed. ''In the process of tracking the elements within the senior echelons of [Islamic State's] leadership, we have been tracking and systematically as we are able to find them, deal with them.''
Allen's testimony follows a meeting in Kuwait this week in which new Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and a group of more than 30 senior U.S. diplomats and military commanders held a wide-ranging debate about how the militants should be targeted in the future. Allen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Islamic State cannot be eliminated entirely, but must be countered and targeted to the point that it does not pose a threat to the future of Iraq.
''We're not going to eradicate or annihilate ISIL,'' Allen said, using one of the acronyms for the group. ''Most of these organizations that we have dealt with before, there will be some sort of residue of that organization for a long period of time to come. But we don't want it to have operational capabilities that create the opportunity for it threaten the existence of Iraq or other states in the region.''
In his prepared testimony, Allen said the last six months ''have amply demonstrated that ISIL is little more than a criminal gang and death cult, which now finds itself under increasing pressure, sending na¯ve and gullible recruits to die by the hundreds.'' But under questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson (R.Wis.), he added that the coalition is now tracking more Islamic State militants than ever.
Part of that is because the militants are being monitored in new ways, but the number of foreign fighters flowing into the region is also up because the belief is still there that a Caliphate '-- a new Islamic nation '-- run by the militants will be created, Allen said.
''That has created in some respects a magnetism for those elements that want to be a part of this, that want to support this emergence within their own sense of their faith,'' Allen said. ''And so that has created a recruiting opportunity for ISIL that they did not have before.''
Turning the tide will require showing that the Islamic State does not have the capacity to hold territory. That will take time, and require breaking up their units with military force and reducing the attractiveness of the group to potential recruits, he said.
Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.
VIDEO-New Jersey Home 'Disintegrated' in Gas Explosion, 15 Injured | NBC 10 Philadelphia
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:29
Officials released dashcam video of a gas explosion that destroyed an Ocean County, New Jersey home and injured 15 people. (Published Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015)
Police released dashcam video of a gas explosion that leveled an Ocean County, New Jersey, home, injured 15 people, and shook homes in every direction Tuesday morning, including one of a young mother.
"My windows blew out of my house, and I dropped, and I covered my daughter, because she was next to me," said Stafford Township resident Melissa Lewis. "I stood up, and I heard them screaming outside, and there were people being taken to the ambulance."
Police received the initial call for an odor inspection in the Cedar Run neighborhood of the township near U.S. Route 9 around 8:55 a.m., about an hour and a half before the blast occurred, according to Stafford Township Police Capt. Tom Dellane.
Officers, firefighters and emergency crews who were dispatched to the neighborhood, quickly confirmed a gas leak, called in the New Jersey Natural Gas Company and evacuated 75 nearby homes.
300 Homes Still Without Gas After ExplosionNBC10's Matt DeLucia is tracking the latest developments of a gas explosion in Stafford Township that destroyed a house on Oak Avenue, left some 300 homes without power and left two people in critical condition. (Published Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015)
Gas company employees were working on finding the source of the leak diagonally across from Lewis' home on Oak Ave. when the blast occurred, completely destroying one home and damaging many others. Dashcam video from a Stafford Township police cruiser shows the blast as it happened as workers and firefighters were next to the house.
"The house has been disintegrated," said Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora.
Seven gas workers were injured in the explosion, said NJ Natural Gas Spokesperson Mike Kinney. One suffered extremely critical injuries and required CPR at the scene. That man and another gas worker were medevaced to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center's Trauma Unit where they remained in critical condition, said Kinney.
NJ Gas Explosion InvestigationNBC10's George Spencer digs deeper into Tuesday's gas explosion in Ocean County, which occurred only eight days before the first anniversary of another gas explosion in Ewing Township, Mercer County that killed a resident. We compare the timelines of the two explosions and the companies involved. (Published Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015)
Six firefighters also suffered minor injuries, most experiencing concussion-like symptoms. They were transported to Southern Ocean Medical Center. All but one were treated and released, said Stafford Twp. Volunteer Fire Chief Jack Johnson
Two EMTs were also taken to Southern with minor injuries and were released.
As SkyForce10 hovered over the scene, debris could be seen scattered all over the place as some trees in the area burned. Only the home's foundation remained.
"I saw pieces of house floating all over my yard," Lewis said. "The insulation was all over the place and you could see the ambulances and people running around and there were big flames coming from the house."
Neighbors React to NJ House ExplosionNeighbors described the impact of a house explosion in Stafford Township, New Jersey Tuesday. (Published Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015)
The blast could be felt up to one mile away, said officials.
Gas and electricity to nearly 300 homes were turned off and police urged people to avoid the area.
"We're working on a plan to restore that service, but that plan will take time," said Kinney.
How much time is unknown.
Spodofora urged residents who smelled gas in their homes to open all their windows, report it to police and leave the area immediately.
"The gas is kind of hanging in there," said Spodofora.
The Marlton Area Office of OSHA investigated exactly what caused the blast.
Officials announced NJ Natural Gas Company workers restored gas service to Oak Avenue around midnight but that doesn't mean the gas is back on in each home. Residents must be inside their home in order to get restored.
Neighbors React to NJ House ExplosionNeighbors described the impact of a house explosion in Stafford Township, New Jersey Tuesday. (Published Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015)
Stafford Police officers remained in the area throughout the night.
Published at 10:46 AM EST on Feb 24, 2015
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton Blames 'Different Media' For Dividing Country - Breitbart
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:56
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained that ''different media'' are dividing the country, making it impossible for people to even have a conversation with each other.
Clinton made her remarks yesterday in an interview with Re/Code's Kara Swisher. She criticized America's ''partisan bunkers'' for getting in the way of confronting tough issues like racism, sexism and homophobia.
''Nobody wants to associate with anybody who doesn't agree with them politically,'' she said. ''You can't have a conversation, people won't listen to each other, they listen to different media, and those different media (outlets) tell different stories about the very same thing that you're watching unfold in front of your eyes.''
The lack of common ground, Clinton asserted, was making it more difficult to get things done politically.
''You cannot run a great country like that, and this is the greatest country and it's time we start acting like it and working like it again,'' she said.
After waging partisan battles in the White House as First Lady, Clinton explained that she learned to be less partisan when she was elected a senator from New York.
''When I worked in the Senate I was very much somebody who would work across the aisle, look for opportunities to do that,'' she said. ''Because I don't think I have all the right ideas, I don't think my party has all the right ideas.''
VIDEO-Ron Howard's 'The Good Lie' at Center of Exploitation Lawsuit by Sudanese Refugees - The Hollywood Reporter
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:54
In Atlanta, Georgia, thousands of miles away from a war-ravaged homeland, there exists a community of Sudanese refugees. Many of these individuals have been dubbed the "Lost Boys of Sudan" by aid workers who have likened them to the wandering youth in Peter Pan. Many of the refugees survived starvation, disease and militia attacks in Darfur, and when civil war broke out in Ethiopia around a refugee camp, they came to America.
What happened before they made their way to the Land of Opportunity is said to have been featured in the 2014 feature film The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon and produced by notables like Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. What happened after they settled in Atlanta is now the subject of a potentially groundbreaking 101-page lawsuit filed on Thursday by 54 Sudanese refugees against producers of the film including Imagine Entertainment, Alcon Entertainment, Black Label Media and Reliance Big Entertainment.
"The refugees partnered with Defendants to create The Good Lie's script, in part, based upon their promise that a non-profit foundation organized and run by the refugees would be the sole beneficiary of any fundraising efforts associated with The Good Lie," states the lawsuit. "However, neither the refugees nor their Foundation have been compensated in any fashion for sharing their traumatic personal stories and assisting with the creation of the script for The Good Lie."
Read more'The Good Lie': Toronto Review
This is no ordinary tale of alleged Hollywood exploitation. Together with the Foundation for Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, the 54 Sudanese refugees are making a bold claim of joint authorship that could recast the way that scriptwriters do research on projects. They are also coming to a federal court with allegations that producers set up a joint venture to their benefit. And they apparently have videotape of some of their discussions with producers in advance of the October 2014 release of The Good Lie.
According to the complaint, the story of what happened to these refugees in America dates back to 2002, when six of them were hired to work on the movie Tears of the Sun, starring Bruce Willis. After filming, Gam Day Awino, Gabriel Gai Magok and Nathaniel Chol Nyok traveled to Los Angeles and met with Bobby Newmyer, a film producer at Outlaw Productions.
The three say they shared their life stories, and Newmyer allegedly responded, "We can make this into a movie."
Newmyer tapped Margaret Nagle, whose work for Boardwalk Empire was nominated for an Emmy, to write a script, and Newmyer and Nagle together traveled to Atlanta.
"While some common elements of the Lost Boys' story were publicly available, Newmyer and Nagle wanted to create a movie with real, personal and emotional details otherwise unavailable to the public at large," says the lawsuit. "Newmyer and Nagle needed the details from the Lost Boys' personal stories and permission to use those details in a screenplay and subsequent film."
In Atlanta, discussions arose about compensation, and according to the complaint, some of the Sudanese refugees said they wouldn't cooperate without reaching an agreement. Newmyer and Nagle allegedly came up with an offer to pay them $55,000 immediately, to have their stories used as a catalyst to raise funds for a new foundation, and to "not allow the script to be used for a film unless and until the Contributing Lost Boys consented after reaching an agreement as to compensation with the future filmmakers/studios."
Read moreICM Partners, United Talent Agency Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit for Poaching Clients
At that point, more than a decade ago, The Good Lie was still in its formative stages. The refugees gave interviews, but no script was ready and no studio was involved. But the plaintiffs say they nevertheless reached the terms of a joint venture. The supposed contract appears to have been an oral one.
Eventually, a script was written, and it's described as incorporating substantial elements from those interviews. The title of The Good Lie, for instance, is said to refer to a lie once told by Awino's friends to would-be-captors that saved his life.
In 2013, eight years after Newmyer died of a heart attack, Outlaw Productions sold rights to Nagle's script to Paramount Pictures, according to the complaint. Rights were then resold to Reliance and Imagine, with Black Label Media coming on board to produce as well. The suing Sudanese natives say they never gave consent.
Filming began in Atlanta in early 2013, and the plaintiffs say they learned about the movie through other Sudanese refugees hired as extras. "The Contributing Lost Boys were shocked that their story was being produced because they trusted Nagle to keep her promise and comply with the terms of the Joint Venture Agreement," says the lawsuit.
This led to a meeting on April 15, 2013, between representatives of the refugees on one side and Molly Smith of Black Label Media and Karen Sherwood of Imagine Entertainment on the other. The plaintiffs say they have a videotape of what occurred.
Sherwood and Smith both mentioned a scholarship donation, says the lawsuit. Smith reportedly also stated, "The most important thing that was said here today was you asked a question, 'Do you feel we should be compensated for your story?' And, the answer I can say, because it's my company and my studio, is absolutely.''
A few weeks after the meeting, Smith allegedly called one of the members of the Foundation for Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan with a $1 million offer.
Soon, the Foundation involved a lawyer, who attempted to negotiate.
The producers had their own attorneys respond, "Our clients have never agreed to pay any law firm, Lost Boy, or organization for Black Label Media's own copyrighted work.''
The Good Lie came out, the so-called "contributing lost boys" recognized their stories on screen, and now comes the lawsuit against the producers with more than two dozen pages detailing exactly what the refugees say they told the screenwriter in interviews.
The lawsuit asserts many claims '-- including breach of the joint venture agreement, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion of plaintiffs' ideas, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, promissory estoppel, etc. '-- but what makes this lawsuit noteworthy even beyond the allegations of the Hollywood exploitation of Sudanese refugees is an ambitious attempt at a declaratory judgment over authorship.
Represented by attorney Jason Graham, the plaintiffs say "the express purpose of the interviews was to provide Nagle with background, stories, facts, and material for the Screenplay," and while it's not uncommon for script writers to conduct this sort of research, the lawsuit makes the case why The Good Lie couldn't use these interviews without permission.
The interviews are said to possess the "modicum of creativity" necessary for being copyrighted. Further, because the interviews were taped, they are said to be "fixed in any tangible medium of expression." Finally, because of the conditions put on the interviews, and the claim that the contributions made by the refugees are "inseparable rather than interdependent," Nagel's interviews are argued to be a "joint work."
The theory seems adventurous and probably problematic to screenwriters (not to mention journalists), but assume for a moment that's true.
Next, the lawsuit states that "joint authors do not have an unfettered license to use original material provided by other joint authors without consent."
Actually, co-authors are usually assumed to have the ability to make nonexclusive licenses as long as they account to one another. Then again, considering that Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in Innocence of Muslims, has thus far prevailed in asserting a copyright interest in her performance in the film, maybe all bets are off? Especially given that the Sudanese plaintiffs are also bringing a sympathetic story to a courtroom?
Imagine Entertainment wouldn't comment about the lawsuit while Alcon Entertainment hasn't yet responded to a request.
This lawsuit, if it doesn't settle, will likely be a closely watched one with implications.
"These issues don't usually come up because usually things are written down," says Mark Jaffe at Tor Ekeland. "Garcia should have been the lesson. I know that independent filmmakers struggle with the paperwork, but these are sophisticated filmmakers."
Update: Black Label Media gave us this statement:
"We are very proud of our film, The Good Lie, which was inspired by the stories of thousands of Lost Boys and Girls living here in America. We are equally proud of the great charitable endeavors of the Good Lie Fund, which was created by the filmmakers to support organizations of Lost Boys and Girls both here in America and in Africa. To date the fund has distributed in excess of $500,000 for the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, as well as for many of the accredited 501c3 charitable organizations who support Lost Boys and Girls here in America. We have been fortunate to have the support of countless Lost Boys and Girls throughout the United States who have supported this Film and the Good Lie Fund. Regrettably, the Plaintiffs and their attorneys have made claims that are not supported by the facts or the law. These claims have no merit and will be addressed in due course by the Court. "
Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.comTwitter: @eriqgardner
VIDEO-Watch: Sheila Jackson Lee just admitted something that other Democrats have refused to | TheBlaze.com
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:29
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on Tuesday admitted that Democrats in the Senate are blocking a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security '-- something that many other Democrats have been unable to say in public.
''Last night, the Senate rightly so, the Democrats held up and blocked, and the bill was not successful, to have [DHS] funding tied to the elimination of the executive'... actions,'' Jackson Lee said on C-SPAN. ''Rightly so.''
Jackson Lee admitted easily what Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson couldn't over the weekend, when he was asked about Democrats blocking the bill. ''Democrats are not blocking debate,'' he said on Fox News.
Democrats have blocked the DHS funding bill five times, including in a Monday night vote that gave the Senate just four days to find a way forward before DHS funding expires on Friday.
As Jackson Lee noted, Democrats oppose the DHS bill because it includes language to defund President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. Democrats have said Republicans should not be combining the two issues, and have said a federal court's recent decision to block Obama's action should allow Republicans to remove the immigration language from the bill.
''You would almost say that that bill is moot, because there is a court proceeding as we speak, and the court has rendered a temporary judgment,'' Jackson Lee argued.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday he would try another way to attack Obama's immigration plan, in a bid to draw out more Democratic senators who have said they oppose Obama's move. Jackson Lee she welcomed what could be a decision to vote on a ''clean'' DHS spending bill, but McConnell has yet to say this will happen.
VIDEO-Tumblr CEO: Net neutrality rules like Bill of Rights
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 23:13
Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp told CNBC on Tuesday that net neutrality rules proposed by the FCC will ensure "a free, open marketplace of services."
"I think [it's] a bright line rule that sort of spells out the principles that we believe in, I think the Bill of Rights, is a good thing," he said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
"The way that we see the most innovation is sort of separating the layers of the stacks, making sure there's a competitive market for carriers," said Karp, whose blogging site was purchased by Yahoo for $1.1 billion nearly two years ago.
"Then on top of that," he continued, "you have a free, open marketplace of services that count on a neutral Internet to build their platforms."
In November, President Barack Obama urged the FCC to take up the "strongest possible rules" to make sure all Internet traffic is treated equally.
Before the Karp interview, FCC Chairman Michael Powell told "Squawk Box" the proposed rules were an example of the Obama administration's meddling in private enterprise. The FCC is expected to vote on the rules on Thursday.
Read MoreEx-FCC chief shocked by Obama net rules meddling
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VIDEO- "Counter-Tourism" | Al Sharpton VS the Teleprompter #3 - YouTube
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:25
VIDEO-Jordan training camp for Islamic State fight leaked by Pentagon in latest gaffe - Washington Times
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 19:07
The Pentagon let slip that one of its training camps to help fight Islamic State terrorists is in Jordan '-- information the pro-U.S. kingdom had specifically requested be kept private, and the latest gaffe in a series of sensitive leaks coming out of the Department of Defense.
In order to hide its flub, which was first announced to reporters during a briefing last week, the Pentagon has scrubbed its public transcripts of any mention of the training camp.
Pentagon officials acknowledged Monday that one of its officers, who was briefing reporters on condition of anonymity last week, likely made the mistake. The Pentagon's policy is to discuss only the contributions its partner nations are making to its operations against extremists in Iraq and Syria only after those partner nations have publicly spoken about those contributions.
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In Jordan's case, that did not happen, a senior Pentagon official said.
Security analysts are befuddled by the high-level operational ''screw-up.''
''Either the official made a mistake or is deliberately leaking information to put the administration's plans for Syria in a better light in an attempt to defuse criticism that the administration has bungled efforts to aid Syrian rebels,'' said James Phillips, a national security analyst at The Heritage Foundation.
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The latest information leak comes as the Obama administration is under fire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for revealing too much information at the Pentagon's briefing last week of an upcoming military plan to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
It was at that briefing where the U.S. military revealed the information about Jordan, which fears retaliation, analysts say, if it's seen as being too close to the U.S. or getting too involved in neighboring Syria.
Pentagon officials on Thursday gave defense reporters details about the planned operation, which raised the ire of Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said the information jeopardized U.S. success in the region.
Even a Democratic lawmaker said she was ''mind-boggled'' at the level of detail made publicly available about such a high-risk mission.
''I was similarly mind-boggled, and didn't understand at all, how this could be part of a strategic plan in what they're talking about,'' Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard and an Iraq War veteran, said on CNN. ''That you're not only outlining the timeline, which is troubling, but you're also talking about specifically how many troops, how many brigades, where they're coming from and what they're going to be doing.''
Security analysts are equally befuddled.
''I was really surprised by that briefing,'' said Kenneth Pollack, a scholar on Middle Eastern political-military affairs and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. ''It went way beyond what I expected any uniformed military officer to say. I was in Iraq last month. I got 'backgrounded' by the U.S. military and Iraqi military, and they told me most of that '-- not all of that, but most of it. And they swore me to secrecy.''
In addition to providing the details of the mission, the military official also let slip Jordan was making demonstrable progress toward being ready to train the Syrian rebels, and its training site would be up and running before most of the other nations involved in the plan.
''Saudi Arabia's site will take somewhere between 30 and 90 days to fully bring online,'' the official said last week. ''So it will come into the picture shortly after Jordan and Turkey are there. And then Qatar has also offered a site, but that one is going to take probably six to nine months to bring it up and get it fully online.''
Story Continues '†'
VIDEO-Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin Families, Michael Brown's Lawyer, and Others Accuse Al Sharpton of Exploiting Their Tragedies in New James O'Keefe Video | Project Veritas
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:16
Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin Families, Michael Brown's Lawyer, and Others Accuse Al Sharpton of Exploiting Their Tragedies in New James O'Keefe Video
''He's About the $$$$$$'' Says Eric Garner's Daughter Trayvon Martin's Father Says Sharpton is on ''His Own Personal Mission''''When you have a fuse that is already lit, you don't need to add no more fire,'' Says Ferguson Religious Leader in New Project Veritas Video(New York, February 23, 2015) '' Award-winning journalist and New York Times' best-selling author James O'Keefe released a powerful new video today showing how the families, and attorneys of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown really feel about Al Sharpton. O'Keefe, president and founder of Project Veritas, led a team of investigative journalists to uncover how these families and the communities of Staten Island, NY; Miami, Florida; and Ferguson, MO really feel about Sharpton's involvement in the aftermath of the deaths of Garner, Martin, and Brown.
O'Keefe's latest video confirms and highlights what many have long suspected: Al Sharpton is motivated by avarice and pride, rather than social justice and bringing about change.
A member of O'Keefe's team spoke with the late Eric Garner's oldest daughter, Erica, on a brisk January evening in Staten Island. Garner did not hold back when asked about Sharpton's involvement, stating: ''he's about the money.''
Garner, who has become a passionate champion for social change following the death of her father, accused Sharpton and his National Action Network of ''attacking'' her for not giving them credit; and trying to capitalize on her father's death. ''Instead of me, he wants his face in front of them,'' said Garner of Sharpton.
Garner was visibly angered at Sharpton and the National Action Network. Indeed, rather than help, Garner felt as if Sharpton and NAN were trying to take advantage of her: ''Al Sharpton paid for the funeral. She's [Cynthia Davis, President of the Staten Island Chapter of NAN] trying to make me feel like I owe them,'' a statement that shocked one of Garner's friends who was speaking with Erica and a Project Veritas journalist.
In Florida, a Project Veritas investigative journalist spoke with Tracy Martin, the father of the late Trayvon Martin, at a banquet for the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Martin quickly distanced himself from Sharpton, stating: ''he's on his own personal mission.''
Troy Wright, the President and Executive Director of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, further distanced Martin's family and the Martin Foundation from Sharpton. When asked about Sharpton and NAN, Wright responded ''that's a sore subject with us right now.'' Indeed, all traces of Sharpton and NAN have recently been removed from the Foundation's website. Wright also strongly insinuated to Project Veritas that a decision had been made not to invite Sharpton to a recent Foundation banquet.
O'Keefe's team also spoke with prominent leaders in Ferguson, who were sharply critical of Sharpton. Bishop Calvin Scott, whose personal dealings with Sharpton in the aftermath of the Michael Brown tragedy left him critical of the MSNBC host, told Project Veritas that he ''incites people for the wrong reason,'' that he gets people ''all fired up,'' and that is ''not the way you want to go.'' Bishop Scott went as far as to place partial blame on Sharpton for inciting violence in Ferguson: pointedly stating ''when you have a fuse that is already lit, you don't need to add no more fire to it.''
When asked if Sharpton used the Michael Brown controversy to raise money, Bishop Scott told a Project Veritas journalist ''you're not the first person to raise that question'... someone in the higher up that even mentioned'... the history of an Al Sharpton, and an organization such as him, and they emphatically stated that'... for them, knowing their history, it's about money.''
Stacy Garner (no relation to Eric or Erica Garner) of Ferguson Christian Church told another member of O'Keefe's team that he believed Sharpton was exploiting the Michael Brown tragedy for his own profit and that ''instead of bringing us together, I think he was drawing us apart.''
''Sharpton's perception of himself is a far cry from how he is perceived by the families and communities he thrust himself upon,'' stated James O'Keefe. ''By all accounts, Sharpton appears to be abusing the bully pulpit given to him by MSNBC to capitalize on tragedies. It was quite apparent from the number of individuals we spoke to that Sharpton views tragedies as opportunities, and that he is willing to do whatever it takes to further his personal agenda.''
View the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDOe7oUjvHg
VIDEO-CNN Student News - February 23, 2015 - CNN.com
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 02:22
A terrorist group is telling its followers to target shopping malls, but U.S. officials say there's no specific threat. An outbreak of a dangerous disease isn't over, but some Liberian schoolchildren are finally getting back to class. And Pluto might've lost its planetary status, but it's still getting a visitor from Earth. It's all ahead on this Monday's show!
On this page you will find today's show Transcript and a place for you to request to be on the CNN Student News Roll Call.
TRANSCRIPT
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VIDEO-New Pro-Putin Song Gets Panned Online
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:16
Dressed in the colors of the Russian flag, Mashani's musical ode to President Vladimir Putin has already garnered tens of thousands of views on YouTube.
"My Putin, my darling Putin, take me away with you, I want to be with you."
So goes the refrain of the latest song waxing lyrical about Russia's president.
"My Putin," performed by a young Siberian singer known by her stage name Mashani, has already received tens of thousands of hits since being posted online on January 28.
Viewers, however, are not impressed.
The video has sparked of barrage of disparaging comments, with the vast majority of viewers "disliking" the clip and slamming both its political message and its tacky production.
In the clip, Mashani, who sings in a field wearing a dress evoking the Russian flag, praises Putin for "reclaiming" Crimea, entreats him to "revive" the Soviet Union, and calls on Russians to "run after him because he's Putin."
The video also shows her trapped amid the ruins of an abandoned home, dressed in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
"I would like to remind our dear Ukrainian citizens that the opinions of the singer may not reflect the opinions of all Russians" reads one comment.
"Excuse me for a moment, I'm feeling sick," another viewer wrote.
WATCH: Mashani sings My Putin
Mashani has already been interviewed by Zvezda, a national television channel run by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Despite her apparent crush on the president -- the clip shows her poring over photos of Putin and drawing his portrait -- Mashani says that "singing only about love is boring."
"The song supports the president and expresses my views as a citizen," she told Zvezda. "Our president is the only person who can help Ukraine."
She added that, apart from Russia, "no one in the world needs Ukraine."
Mashani is a latecomer to the pro-Putin pop scene.
One of the first songs idolizing the Russian leader was "I Want A Man Like Putin," a 2002 hit by the previously unknown girl band Singing Together.
The lyrics described a woman who dreams of dumping her boorish boyfriend for a man "full of strength" like Putin.
In 2012, just weeks before presidential elections, another music video heaping praise on Putin went viral. The song, performed by a Tajik immigrant, described Putin as a "godsend."
Two African rappers in Russia also gained notoriety last year with their ambiguously titled song "Go Hard Like Vladimir Putin."
Children are not exempt from the trend. This sugary ode to Putin sung by small children was released for his birthday in October 2014.
-- Claire Bigg
VIDEO-Saudi King unleashes a torrent of money as bonuses flow to the masses
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:54
Fayez Nureldine | AFP | Getty Images
King Salman
Since King Salman ascended the throne of this wealthy Arab kingdom last month, he has swiftly taken charge, abolishing government bodies and firing ministers. But no measure has caused as much buzz here as the giant payouts he ordered to a large chunk of the Saudi population.
These included grants to professional associations, literary and sports clubs; investments in water and electricity; and bonuses worth two months of salary to all government employees, soldiers, pensioners and students on government stipends at home and abroad. Some private companies followed suit with comparable bonuses for their Saudi employees, putting another few billion dollars into people's pockets.
Some of the government spending will come over years, but most will hit the Saudi market this month, including the bonuses. About three million of Saudi Arabia's5.5 million-person work force are employed by the government, Mr. Sfakianakis said.
Read MoreObama heads to SaudiArabia to meet new king
So, for the moment at least, there is little talk about human rights abuses or political reform. Saudis are spending. Some have treated themselves to new cellphones, handbags and trips abroad. They have paid off debts, given to charity and bought gold necklaces for their mothers. Some men have set aside money to marry a first, second or third wife. One was so pleased that he showered his infant son with crisp bills.
"The first thing I did was go and check my storerooms," said Abdulrahman Alsanidi, who owns a camping supply store in Buraida, north of Riyadh. He expected a 30 percent jump in sales.
Saudi rulers have long used the wealth that comes from being the world's top oil exporter to lavish benefits on their people, and many Saudis describe royal largess as part of a family-like social contract between rulers and loyal citizens.
But the new spending comes amid change and uncertainty for the kingdom. King Salman ascended the throne after the death of King Abdullah and announced the bonuses as a good-will gesture to his people.
But because about 90 percent of government income comes from oil, the drop in world prices has reduced state revenue by about 20 percent, said Rakan Alsheikh, a research analyst at Jadwa Investment. His company projected that the government would run a record deficit of $44.5 billion in 2015. The new spending could increase that deficit to $67.2 billion, or 9 percent of gross domestic product, Mr. Alsheikh said.
Those worries seem far from the S.U.V.-clogged streets of the Saudi capital, where gas costs 45 cents a gallon because of huge state subsidies and people are used to repaying government generosity with public displays of fealty.
"We pledge allegiance to you, hearing and obeying," declare billboards for phone and construction companies.
Average government salaries are about $2,400 per month, with some workers earning additional allowances for transportation, housing, overtime and the holy month of Ramadan. Student stipends are less, while employees with years of service can earn $4,800 per month or more, Mr. Sfakianakis said.
Read MoreIt's downhill for US after Saudi king dies: Experts
As the bonuses have arrived, Saudis have pondered what to do with the cash. Many said government salaries had not kept pace with rising prices, so the bonuses merely helped to fill the gap.
"Mostly rent and traffic tickets," said Shakir Mohammed, an elementary schoolteacher, when asked how he would spend his bonus.
Others said the tradition of patriarchal distribution extended into their own homes, where children and wives expected the bonuses to trickle down.
Abdelrahman Alhadlaq, an adviser to the interior minister, said he would like to invest his bonus but guessed that he would face family pressure to spend it. His wife, a university professor, would get her own, as would three of his nine children.
"So it is the young kids who will benefit," he said, adding that he might treat his wife to a new watch or a trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Many Saudis have taken to social media to express their joy, thanking the king with the hashtag #two_salaries in Arabic and posting jokes. One image showed a blue sky full of outbound airplanes with a caption reading "Saudi airports after the two salaries."
One comedy video showed functionaries cheering, women ululating and an gray-haired man dancing after the bonuses were announced. It ended with a reminder not to forget the mothers "who have given what has no equal."
Such royal gifts are far from unprecedented. King Abdullah announced a 15 percent raise in government salaries after his coronation in 2005, and he issued a one-month salary bonus in 2011 after returning from medical treatment abroad.
More from the NYT:In Turkey, Even Snow Can Be Tainted by PoliticsIn Online Videos, Israeli Candidates Pursue 'Likes' and VotesGulf Leaders Back Qatar in Its Feud With Egypt
Western analysts noted that the last bonus came during the Arab Spring uprisings, when Saudi rulers worried about possible dissent at home.
"We are a welfare society, so the population depends a lot on government subsidies, directly and indirectly," said Abdullah Al-Alami, a Saudi writer and economist. "But one day we are going to run out of oil, and I don't believe it is wise to be pampered and subsidized."
Still, with more than $700 billion in foreign reserves, the Saudi government faces no immediate crunch.
The importance of government patronage is even clearer outside the cities, where nongovernment employment for Saudis is scarce.
Sitting in his vast salon in the village of Butain north of Riyadh, Prince Moteb bin Fahed bin Farhan al-Saud, who lives in the village, asked the 20 or so men visiting who had received a two-month bonus. All raised their hands.
"Now we are asking that the king forgive all the citizen's debts," said one visitor, Mohammed al-Sahli, adding that his bonus would help him marry a third wife.
Over the years, government money had transformed the village. While its residents once mostly farmed and raised animals, few bother to anymore. Electricity and phone service arrived in the 1980s. Now, there is power in every home and 4G data coverage throughout. Every weekday, a bus gives dozens of female students a free ride to the university in town, which is also free, Prince Moteb said.
Driving his S.U.V. through town, Prince Moteb pointed to construction crews building tree-lined roads and roundabouts and a pedestrian area with swing sets and picnic tables.
Downtown stood some of the village's main employers: the local office of the prince of Qassim Province; the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which monitors public morals; and a towering new fire station with shiny new engines.
"The government treats us very well here," said Abdullah al-Sahli, the head of the local government office, who said he had distributed his bonus to his wife and children.
His son Moteb, 6, said he already had two iPads, so he spent the money on a new toy Jeep.
"We have nothing to complain about," Mr. Sahli said.
VIDEO-John McCain Stuns Veteran Correspondent When He Says Something the Journalist Has 'Never Heard' Him Say Before | Video | TheBlaze.com
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:28
He's known for his military service and his long years in government '-- and he just said something that a veteran Washington reporter has never heard him say before.
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) appeared on CBS' ''Face the Nation'' Sunday morning, and when the talk turned to Ukraine, McCain didn't pull any punches: ''I'm ashamed of my country, I'm ashamed of my president, and I'm ashamed of myself that I haven't done more to help these people.''
McCain said it's disgraceful that the international community, especially the United States, hasn't done more to aid the people of Ukraine as they face not-so-covert aggression from neighboring Russia.
''The Ukrainians aren't asking for American boots on the ground, that's not the question here,'' McCain said. ''They're asking for weapons to defend themselves and they're being slaughtered and their military is being shattered.''
McCain also labeled the leaders of France and Germany shameful for ''legitimiz[ing], for the first time in 70 years, the dismemberment of a country in Europe.''
McCain's words left the ''Face the Nation'' host, a veteran correspondent, stunned.
''Well I'll say this, senator,'' said host Bob Schieffer. ''I've known you for a long, long time, interviewed you many, many times. I've never heard you say, 'I'm ashamed of my country,' which you just said.''
Watch the interview below:
'--
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter
VIDEO-NEW THREAT: Homeland Security Cautions Americans Shopping at Malls - BuzzPo
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:01
It appears that terrorism has now presented a new threat in the United States, and more specifically, shopping malls.
The Somalian based terrorist group, Al Shabaab, has just released a new video calling for attacks on America's malls. They even went as far to specifically mention the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN's Gloria Borger, ''If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they've got to be particularly careful. There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it's the environment we're in, frankly.''
Many are speculating that the video released by Al Shabaab may actually be a ''call to action'' to radicalized Somalians who may be living in the Minneapolis area. It's also noteworthy that our nations largest Somalian population does live in Minnesota as well.
In lieu of this new threat, the Mall of America has promised to boost security measures. However, they have not defined what boosting security measures will actually mean. We can only hope that they're planning on more ''good guys with guns,'' as anything else would only be ''smoke and mirrors.''

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