702: Toddler Wage Gap

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 34m
March 8th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Thomas Nussbaum (Earl), Sir David Foley Grand Duke of the USA

Associate Executive Producers: David Good

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat

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International Woman's Day
A Campaign to Put a Woman on the Twenty-Dollar Bill - The New Yorker
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 04:26
Credit Photograph by Adam Gault/GettyFor decades, Barbara Ortiz Howard has owned an exterior-restoration business in Mount Vernon, just north of the Bronx; she is used to being the only woman among men. Several years ago, she began to think about another male-dominated part of her life, to which she had previously paid little attention: the portraits on U.S. banknotes. Each of the eleven denominations in circulation, from the one-dollar bill to the ten-thousand-dollar bill, depicts a man. They include eight Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, and James Madison), two Treasury Secretaries (Alexander Hamilton and Salmon Chase), and the unclassifiable Benjamin Franklin. The people featured on the banknotes haven't changed since 1929.
Howard, who is sixty-two years old, told me, ''I grew up in the sixties and had strong feelings about women's rights, and everyone's rights. We marched against the Vietnam War and for civil rights and women's rights back then.'' Then she started a family and opened her business; she hasn't been involved in serious activism for some time, other than canvassing for Hillary Clinton in 2008. In the summer of 2012, she began toying with the idea of trying to get a woman on a banknote, but she didn't quite know where to start. She e-mailed some friends (''HI SISTERS!'' her message began) to ask them which women they would put on bills if it were up to them.
Among the e-mail's recipients was an old friend of Howard's, Susan Ades Stone. Ades Stone is a journalist, and she saw the potential for a serious campaign. Together, Howard and Ades Stone decided to mount an organized effort to put a woman on a bill by 2020, the centennial of women's suffrage. They settled on the twenty-dollar note, not only because of its resonance with the anniversary year but because they thought that Andrew Jackson was the best candidate for removal from U.S. currency. ''George Washington and Abe Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton, who invented the Federal Reserve System'''--technically, he created a predecessor to the system'--''and Ben Franklin'--they have a legacy that we've been honoring that would make them hard to remove,'' Howard said. ''But Andrew Jackson?'' Jackson had strongly opposed the notion of central banking. Plus, he sought'--and signed'--the Indian Removal Act, which led to the expulsion of Native Americans from their homes.
Howard and Ades Stone registered their nonprofit, called Women on 20s, and recruited others, including a co-founder of the National Women's History Project, to join the campaign. Over several months, they built a Web site, and started a Twitter feed and a Facebook page. On Sunday, Women on 20s began inviting people to visit the site and vote for their favorite candidates to replace Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill; the choices include Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The women were selected from a longer list of a hundred names based on their societal impact and the difficulties they faced in pursuing their goals.
It wouldn't require a vote in Congress or Presidential approval to get a woman on the twenty-dollar bill. The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for the designs that appear on paper notes, including the portraits. Nor do the people depicted on bills have to meet particularly stringent standards; according to U.S. law, they just have to be dead. Even so, the appearance of U.S. banknotes was hardly modified during the twentieth century; according to historians, this was partly to keep the bills recognizable and partly due to the American public's resistance to change. ''I think the choices of people on those bills, at this point, is more a tradition than it is a matter of consciously choosing these individuals,'' Mark Tomasko, an expert on the history of currency, told me. He couldn't recall any past campaigns to put a woman on a bill. Some Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, have tried'--and failed'--to put Ronald Reagan on the fifty-dollar bill, replacing Ulysses S. Grant.
Ades Stone and Howard are already facing some controversy, and they haven't even brought their idea to the government yet. It turns out that settling on fifteen finalists, let alone choosing a winner, is easier said than done. The list includes several black women and an Asian-American woman; some people have expressed disappointment that more minority groups aren't represented. ''We would have liked a more diverse list that would have included Native-American women and Latino women, but we weren't going to just put people in to be representative,'' Howard said. ''They had to meet the criteria.'' Ades Stone added, ''We've had a few people comment that if we were kicking Andrew Jackson off the bill, he should be replaced by a Native American.''
Howard and Ades Stone hope to present the winning candidate to President Obama some time in the next several months, with the hope that he might help persuade the Treasury Secretary to sign off on a new twenty-dollar-bill design. (A spokesperson for the Treasury Department declined to comment on the campaign.) This might seem like a bit of a circuitous route, but Ades Stone believes that it will make for better P.R. She said, ''We could approach the Treasury Secretary, but it's much more compelling for the public to know that their wishes are being delivered to the President, and, if he wants it done, it's within his power.'' (Ades Stone and Howard have a feeling that Obama might be open to their suggestions, in part because of an offhanded comment he made in a speech last year about a young girl who had written to him asking why there aren't any women on U.S. currency and offering a list of possible candidates. Obama said at the time that he thought this ''was a pretty good idea.'')
I asked Matthew Wittmann, a curator at the American Numismatic Society, which is dedicated to studying currency, what he thought of the campaign's chances. He told me, ''2020 seems doable, and Jackson seems like the low-hanging fruit as Presidents on the currency goes, so I think they probably have a shot.'' (He also pointed out that, in the nineteenth century, before paper bills became prevalent, most of the money in circulation were coins that did picture a woman: Lady Liberty. There have also been coins featuring Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea, though they haven't gotten much use.) When I spoke with Howard and Ades Stone on Tuesday, they were still waiting for their campaign to go viral; it had received some press coverage online'--Vox and Buzzfeed had written about it'--but hadn't yet gained the traction they were hoping for. Howard brought up a dashboard that tracked how many people had cast votes on the site; the number had reached eight thousand five hundred and fifty-two. I asked how many total votes they had hoped for when they began the campaign; Ades Stone said, ''We thought five million.'' Howard pointed out that it was early'--it hadn't been seventy hours since the voting had opened. The suffragettes' campaign, it's worth noting, took seventy years.
Daylight Savings
MH370
MH370 report: Underwater locator beacon battery had expired
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 11:58
Dai Shuqin, whose sister was on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that went missing on March 8, 2014, is stopped by policemen as she speaks to journalists near Yonghegong Lama Temple during a gathering of family members of the missing passengers, in Beijing Sunday, March 8, 2015. Families of the 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Sunday marked the anniversary of the plane's disappearance, vowing to never give up on the desperate search for wreckage and answers to the world's biggest aviation mystery. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) The first comprehensive report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 revealed Sunday that the battery of the locator beacon for the plane's data recorder had expired more than a year before the plane vanished on March 8, 2014.
Apart from that anomaly, the detailed report devoted pages after pages describing the complete normality of the flight, which disappeared while heading from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, setting off aviation's biggest mystery.
The report came as families of the 239 people who were on board the plane marked the anniversary of the Boeing 777's disappearance, vowing to never give up on the desperate search for wreckage and answers to what happened to their loved ones.
Despite an exhaustive search for the plane, no trace of it has been found. In late January, Malaysia's government formally declared the incident an accident and said all those on board were presumed dead.
The significance of the expired battery in the beacon of the plane's flight data recorder was not immediately apparent, except indicating that searchers would have had lesser chance of locating the aircraft in the Indian Ocean, where it is believed to have crashed, even if they were in its vicinity. However, the report said the battery in the locator beacon of the cockpit voice recorder was working.
"The sole objective of the investigation is the prevention of future accidents or incidents, and not for the purpose to apportion blame or liability," the report said.
Even though the beacon's battery had expired, the instrument itself was functioning properly and would have in theory captured all the flight information.
The two instruments'--commonly known as "black boxes"'--are critical in any crash because they record cockpit conversations and flight data through the end of a flight.
The 584-page report by a 19-member independent investigation group went into minute details about the crew's lives, including their medical and financial records and training. It also detailed the aircraft's service record, as well as the weather, communications systems and other aspects of the flight. Nothing unusual was revealed, except for the previously undisclosed fact of the battery's expiration date.
Dai Shuqin, right, and Jiang Hui, left, relatives of passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that went missing on March 8, 2014, speak to journalists as they arrive near Yonghegong Lama Temple during a gathering of family members of the missing passengers, in Beijing Sunday, March 8, 2015. Families of the 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Sunday were marking the anniversary of the plane's disappearance with a vow to never give up on the desperate search for wreckage and answers to the world's biggest aviation mystery. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) The report said that according to maintenance records, the battery on the beacon attached to the flight data recorder expired in December 2012, but because of a computer data error, it went unnoticed by maintenance crews. "There is some extra margin in the design to account for battery life variability and ensure that the unit will meet the minimum requirement," it said.
"However, once beyond the expiry date, the (battery's) effectiveness decreases so it may operate, for a reduced time period until it finally discharges," the report said. While it is possible the battery will operate past the expiration date, "it is not guaranteed that it will work or that it would meet the 30-day minimum requirement," it said.
The report gave insight into the physical and mental well-being of the flight's pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, saying he had no known history of apathy, anxiety or irritability. "There were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stresses," it said.
It also said there were "no behavioral signs of social isolation, change in habits or interest, self-neglect, drug or alcohol abuse" by Zaharie, his first officer or the cabin crew.
Financial checks also showed nothing abnormal about their spending patterns. It said Zaharie held several bank accounts and two national trust funds. He had two houses and three vehicles, but there was no record of him having a life insurance policy.
The co-pilot, First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, had two savings accounts and a national trust fund. He owned two cars and "spent money on the upkeep" of his cars. "He does not have much savings in his bank account. He has a life insurance policy," the report said.
It also said 221 kilograms (487 pounds) of lithium ion batteries packed by Motorola Solutions in Malaysia's Penang state didn't go through security screening at Penang airport. The shipment was inspected physically by the airline cargo personnel and went through customs inspection and clearance before it was sealed and left Penang a day before the flight. At the Kuala Lumpur airport, it was loaded onto the plane without any additional security screening.
Dai Shuqin, front right, and Jiang Hui, rear right, relatives of passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that went missing on March 8, 2014, is intervened by policemen as they try to speak to journalists near Yonghegong Lama Temple during a gathering of family members of the missing passengers, in Beijing Sunday, March 8, 2015. Families of the 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Sunday were marking the anniversary of the plane's disappearance with a vow to never give up on the desperate search for wreckage and answers to the world's biggest aviation mystery. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) The report said the batteries were not regulated as dangerous goods. There were 99 shipments of lithium ion batteries on Malaysia Airlines flights to Beijing from January to May last year, it added.
Meanwhile, family members of the passengers and crew aboard the plane marked the anniversary. Voice 370, a support group for the relatives, hosted a "Day of Remembrance" at a mall in Kuala Lumpur with songs, poems and prayers.
"It is important to highlight to the public that we still don't have any answers and that we must pursue the search," said Grace Subathirai Nathan, whose mother, Anne Daisy, was on the plane.
"The lack of answers and definitive proof - such as aircraft wreckage - has made this more difficult to bear," Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak said in a statement. "Together with our international partners, we have followed the little evidence that exists. Malaysia remains committed to the search, and hopeful that MH370 will be found."
Jiang Hui, a relative of a passenger on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that went missing on March 8, 2014, is stopped by a policeman as he tries to speak to journalists after a gathering of the family members at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing Sunday, March 8, 2015. Families of the 239 people on board the flight on Sunday were marking the anniversary of the plane's disappearance with a vow to never give up on the desperate search for wreckage and answers to the world's biggest aviation mystery. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his government would provide "all needed service to every next of kin" and help uphold their "legitimate and lawful rights and interests."
Most of the plane's passengers were Chinese.
"A year has passed, the plane has not been located, but the search effort will continue," Wang told a news conference in Beijing. "Today must be a difficult day for the next of kin. . Our hearts are with you."
Explore further:Inmarsat offers global airline tracking service after MH370
(C) 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Nog geen antwoorden in tussenrapport over MH370
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 11:54
Een interimrapport over de verdwijning - vandaag precies een jaar geleden - van de Maleisische Boeing 777, vlucht MH370, biedt nog altijd geen uitzicht op een antwoord op de vraag waar het vliegtuig is gebleven.
Het tussenrapport dat vandaag is gepubliceerd, wijst er onder meer op dat nieuwe feiten over het lot van het vliegtuig pas naar voren kunnen komen als het wrak gevonden is.
Het rapport beklemtoont dat de gezagvoerder uitstekend zijn werk kon doen en geen last had van bijvoorbeeld stress. Gezagvoerder Zaharie Shah had in zijn persoonlijke leven ook geen problemen of veranderingen die zouden wijzen op een kwalijke rol bij de verdwijning van het toestel van Malaysia Airlines. Dat verdween 8 maart vorig jaar op een reis van Kuala Lumpur naar Peking met 239 mensen aan boord.
BatterijenHet rapport maakt melding van een lading van ruim 220 kilo mogelijk brandgevaarlijke batterijen aan boord. Die vracht kwam uit Penang in het noordwesten van Maleisi en is niet meer nagekeken op het vliegveld voor de lading aan boord ging. De lithium-batterijen waren volgens de voorschriften van de Internationale Burgerluchtvaartorganisatie (ICAO) verpakt. Het soort batterijen heeft eerder wel tot incidenten in vliegtuigen tijdens de vlucht geleid. Twee Amerikaanse luchtvaartmaatschappijen vervoeren geen ladingen van deze batterijen meer, meldden media in Kuala Lumpur.
ZoektochtIn de Indische Oceaan zoekt het Nederlandse bedrijf Fugro in opdracht van de Australische overheid al maanden op de zeebodem naar het wrak, maar ook die zoektocht is vooralsnog vruchteloos gebleken.
De vraag is hoe lang er nog gezocht blijft worden naar het toestel. Als het aan China ligt blijft de zoektocht doorgaan. Dat zei de Chinese minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Wang Yi vandaag. En ook de Maleisische premier Najib Razak zei dat zijn land zich zal blijven inzetten voor de zoektocht naar het toestel. Maar Australi, dat een leidende rol heeft in de zoektocht, liet eerder deze maand uit monde van vice-premier Warren Truss weten dat er 'niet eeuwig' kan worden gezocht.
Complexe zoektocht'De verdwijning van MH370 is zonder twijfel de meest complexe en technisch uitdagendste zoektocht in de geschiedenis van de luchtvaart', zei de Maleisische premier Razak in een verklaring. 'Samen met onze internationale partners hebben we elk flintertje bewijs onderzocht in de hoop dat het toestel ooit zal worden teruggevonden.'
De familieleden van de 239 voornamelijk Chinese inzittenden van het vliegtuig van Malaysia Airlines verkeren dus nog altijd in onzekerheid over het lot van de passagiers. Algemeen geaccepteerd is dat ze zijn omgekomen. Op verschillende plekken in de Maleisische hoofdstad Kuala Lumpur wordt de vliegramp vandaag herdacht.
'De pijn bij de families is niet met woorden te beschrijven. Het gebrek aan antwoorden en bewijs maken die pijn nog ondraaglijker', sprak de Maleisische premier Najib Razak. Hij benadrukte dat het land zal blijven zoeken naar het toestel. Veel familieleden hebben nog hoop dat hun geliefden in leven zijn, schrijft de BBC.
Nabestaanden van de bemanningsleden hielden eerder vandaag een herdenking bij het huis van de vermiste steward Patrick Gomez. 'We denken continu aan wat er op die dag gebeurd kan zijn', sprak de vrouw van Gomez.
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Special Meals on Aircraft guarantee not being bumped
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Daughters of the Republic of Texas
DRT Membership Eligibility
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 06:21
Any woman having attained her sixteenth (16th) birthday is eligible for membership, provided she is personally acceptable to The DRT and is a lineal descendant of a man or woman who rendered loyal service for Texas prior to the consummation of the Annexation Agreement of the Republic of Texas with the United States of America on the nineteenth day of February, eighteen hundred forty-six (19 February 1846).
Proof submitted by an applicant shall include documentation on the applicant's ancestor. Any date cited on the membership applications shall be documented. The applicant must furnish acceptable proof of her lineal descent from a man or woman who served in any of the following capacities:
As a colonist with Austin's Old Three Hundred, or any colonies authorized under the Spanish or Mexican governments before the Texas Revolution or those authorized by the Congress of the Republic of Texas.As an officer or private in the service of the Colonies or of the Republic of Texas.As a loyal resident, male or female, regardless of age, who established residence in Texas prior to the nineteenth day of February, eighteen hundred forty-six (19 February 1846). (''Loyal'' shall be interpreted to mean that he or she had not been proved disloyal. A loyal resident, regardless of age, gave the service of residing in Texas and aiding in its settlement. ''Service'' shall be interpreted to mean ''resident'' or ''military.'')As a recipient of a land grant authorized by the Provisional Government of the Republic of Texas. Those grants include ''Toby Scrips;'' head rights, first, second, third, and fourth class; preemption grants; land scrips; colony contracts; bounty certificates; and donation certificates.For information about an application for membership, click here.
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More Chip & Sign vs Pin
Hi Adam,
I remember you mentioning on the show that you used a 'chip' credit card in Europe, and instead of entering a PIN the machine pooped out a slip for you to sign.
I just received a new Amex card that has a chip for the first time, and I did a search because I was wondering if I needed to select a PIN. It turns out, it's not a 'Chip & PIN' card, it's a 'Chip & Signature' card (FAQ here: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/chip/faqs.html?linknav=us-loy-chipsig-faqs). So you put the card in so it reads the chip, but you still have to sign the slip instead of entering a PIN. Kind of defeats the enhanced security of using a PIN, no? *facepalm*
Hope all is well, safe travels --
Baroness Tanya :-)
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HoC Big Data Fail!
Wolff: 'House of Cards' shows Netflix weakness
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:18
Wolff: 'House of Cards' shows Netflix weakness2065
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Wolff: 'House of Cards' shows Netflix weaknessWhat does it mean for Netflix that the third season of House of Cards is no good? No, no, not just no good, but incompetent, a shambles, lost. House of Cards has been the Netflix flag, the credential upon
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Michael Wolff, USA TODAY6:34 a.m. EST March 6, 2015
The third season of 'House of Cards' is set to be released on Friday, February 27, only on Netflix. VPC
Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey in Season 3 of Netflix's "House of Cards."(Photo: David Giesbrecht, Netflix)
What does it mean for Netflix that the third season of House of Cards is no good? No, no, not just no good, but incompetent, a shambles, lost.
House of Cards has been the Netflix flag, the credential upon which it went from video reseller to tastemaker and show business force. Its effort to position itself as an HBO competitor, if not killer, rests with its ability as a programmer. Anybody can make deals as a secondary distributor of movies and TV shows on the Internet '-- Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Comcast all headed on board. The competitive barrier gets much higher when you become a brand that represents, well, must-see TV.
So what the hell happened?
Flops do happen, of course. But with significant franchises, usually the worse you can expect is the uninspired, or more of the same. But the new House of Cards '-- its 13 episodes became available for viewing last Friday '-- is turned inside out. It's the opposite of what it was. It's a bait and switch. The characters in this third season have the same names but aren't the same people as in the first two seasons.
USA TODAY
'House of Cards': A look back
House of Cards began life as a British series about the rise of not just an amoral politician, but a murderous one. It was the ultimate and satisfying satire of someone who would truly do anything for power '-- with a wife who turned out to be even more ruthless than him.
Netflix has bragged that it used its vast viewer data to pinpoint House of Cards for remake. Audiences apparently related to a political show that did not take itself very seriously and lampooned the usual self-seriousness and implied nobility of political drama. (HBO has done well with a similar remake, Veep, inspired by the British series The Thick of It.) Accordingly, it ordered up a U.S. version of House of Cards, in which Kevin Spacey, the producer of the project, stars as the ultimate anti-hero, Francis Underwood. Robin Wright is his icy and deadly wife. (In fact, while Netflix says it used its data resources to select the show, Spacey had been shopping the project for several years.)
Francis Underwood, in the first two seasons, which established House of Cards as television gold, garnering Emmy nominations and Golden Globe awards, was deliciously and joyously without moral restraint or qualms. His only agenda was himself '-- and sometimes his wife, if she was lucky. If he seemed slightly more reluctant to murder people than his British counterpart, eventually he got around to that, too. That's the concept of the show: What if a politician were actually as venal and corrupt and ruthless and as much of a cold-stone killer as we imagine politicians want to be if only they had the courage. Well, here was such a politician. Nothing shaded here. No ambivalence. Francis Underwood is not just bad, he's the devil.
Until season three. And now, as though the first two seasons did not exist, Francis Underwood is West Wing's Jed Bartlet, quite a striving liberal public servant (albeit without quite the charm and intelligence).
USA TODAY
Kim Dickens is in the 'House'
It actually seems that the writers in this third season didn't even see the first two seasons. (As with the first two seasons, Beau Willimon continues to get the writing credit, but it's fair to assume his staff has grown, with, perhaps, not enough adult supervision.)
It could, I suppose, be a conscious repositioning. Because Netflix does not release rating numbers, we can't know how truly popular House of Cards or Netflix's other original offerings have been. Maybe the data now show people prefer do-gooders to murderers. Or, maybe, as House of Cards became more and more central to Netflix's overall PR strategy and brand message, the corporation, dominated by Silicon Valley liberals, pressed for something more uplifting.
But that doesn't explain this season's total lack of basic logic or knowledge. It's dumb and dumber: Francis Underwood is solving unemployment by '... having the government hire everybody. He's dealing with the Middle East by getting the Russians to join with the U.S. in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Jordan Valley, a 9-mile-wide strip of land of no strategic value between Jordan and Israel. The White House has an exchange program with Tibet, which, Francis Underwood seems not to know, is part of China and not a separate country. Oh, and Claire Underwood, by a plot twist too banal to recount, sleeps in a jail cell a few feet from someone hanging himself undisturbed by his choking (or the certain smell).
The first two seasons of House of Cards had off-the-charts budgets, putting it among the most expensive television shows ever made. And perhaps that is the problem. Such spending can't go on at a company failing to turn a profit. Perhaps season three is just House of Cards cheap.
But it may also be that Netflix '-- and this should give pause to all the other tech platforms eager to become television producers '-- is just not up to the job. The creative process is, after all, hard to manage. Netflix, fundamentally a lot of techies with little basis on which to know anything about TV writing, has not much distinguished itself on other projects: Marco Polo is quite dead on arrival. Netflix may just be that classic show business character: dumb money. Like many star-struck wannabes before, perhaps it's being fleeced by Hollywood, with Spacey and Willimon merely phoning it in and collecting their checks.
Or, Netflix is just now coming face-to-face with the hard truth. This isn't technology, it's show business, where the best-laid plans founder on more variables than any algorithm can account for. This ought to prompt a question about the tech industry's stomach for a process that resists control and that is always as likely to humiliate you as to reward you.
House of Cards, which appeared to usher in the golden age of Internet-produced, over-the-top-delivered television, could already be signaling its end.
Stars of 'House of Cards' Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright tease season 3 of the hotly anticipated show, and talk about fans binge watching all of the episodes. (March 3) AP
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]]>Wolff: 'House of Cards' shows Netflix weakness2065
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Wolff: 'House of Cards' shows Netflix weaknessWhat does it mean for Netflix that the third season of House of Cards is no good? No, no, not just no good, but incompetent, a shambles, lost. House of Cards has been the Netflix flag, the credential upon
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Michael Wolff, USA TODAY6:34 a.m. EST March 6, 2015
The third season of 'House of Cards' is set to be released on Friday, February 27, only on Netflix. VPC
Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey in Season 3 of Netflix's "House of Cards."(Photo: David Giesbrecht, Netflix)
What does it mean for Netflix that the third season of House of Cards is no good? No, no, not just no good, but incompetent, a shambles, lost.
House of Cards has been the Netflix flag, the credential upon which it went from video reseller to tastemaker and show business force. Its effort to position itself as an HBO competitor, if not killer, rests with its ability as a programmer. Anybody can make deals as a secondary distributor of movies and TV shows on the Internet '-- Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Comcast all headed on board. The competitive barrier gets much higher when you become a brand that represents, well, must-see TV.
So what the hell happened?
Flops do happen, of course. But with significant franchises, usually the worse you can expect is the uninspired, or more of the same. But the new House of Cards '-- its 13 episodes became available for viewing last Friday '-- is turned inside out. It's the opposite of what it was. It's a bait and switch. The characters in this third season have the same names but aren't the same people as in the first two seasons.
USA TODAY
'House of Cards': A look back
House of Cards began life as a British series about the rise of not just an amoral politician, but a murderous one. It was the ultimate and satisfying satire of someone who would truly do anything for power '-- with a wife who turned out to be even more ruthless than him.
Netflix has bragged that it used its vast viewer data to pinpoint House of Cards for remake. Audiences apparently related to a political show that did not take itself very seriously and lampooned the usual self-seriousness and implied nobility of political drama. (HBO has done well with a similar remake, Veep, inspired by the British series The Thick of It.) Accordingly, it ordered up a U.S. version of House of Cards, in which Kevin Spacey, the producer of the project, stars as the ultimate anti-hero, Francis Underwood. Robin Wright is his icy and deadly wife. (In fact, while Netflix says it used its data resources to select the show, Spacey had been shopping the project for several years.)
Francis Underwood, in the first two seasons, which established House of Cards as television gold, garnering Emmy nominations and Golden Globe awards, was deliciously and joyously without moral restraint or qualms. His only agenda was himself '-- and sometimes his wife, if she was lucky. If he seemed slightly more reluctant to murder people than his British counterpart, eventually he got around to that, too. That's the concept of the show: What if a politician were actually as venal and corrupt and ruthless and as much of a cold-stone killer as we imagine politicians want to be if only they had the courage. Well, here was such a politician. Nothing shaded here. No ambivalence. Francis Underwood is not just bad, he's the devil.
Until season three. And now, as though the first two seasons did not exist, Francis Underwood is West Wing's Jed Bartlet, quite a striving liberal public servant (albeit without quite the charm and intelligence).
USA TODAY
Kim Dickens is in the 'House'
It actually seems that the writers in this third season didn't even see the first two seasons. (As with the first two seasons, Beau Willimon continues to get the writing credit, but it's fair to assume his staff has grown, with, perhaps, not enough adult supervision.)
It could, I suppose, be a conscious repositioning. Because Netflix does not release rating numbers, we can't know how truly popular House of Cards or Netflix's other original offerings have been. Maybe the data now show people prefer do-gooders to murderers. Or, maybe, as House of Cards became more and more central to Netflix's overall PR strategy and brand message, the corporation, dominated by Silicon Valley liberals, pressed for something more uplifting.
But that doesn't explain this season's total lack of basic logic or knowledge. It's dumb and dumber: Francis Underwood is solving unemployment by '... having the government hire everybody. He's dealing with the Middle East by getting the Russians to join with the U.S. in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Jordan Valley, a 9-mile-wide strip of land of no strategic value between Jordan and Israel. The White House has an exchange program with Tibet, which, Francis Underwood seems not to know, is part of China and not a separate country. Oh, and Claire Underwood, by a plot twist too banal to recount, sleeps in a jail cell a few feet from someone hanging himself undisturbed by his choking (or the certain smell).
The first two seasons of House of Cards had off-the-charts budgets, putting it among the most expensive television shows ever made. And perhaps that is the problem. Such spending can't go on at a company failing to turn a profit. Perhaps season three is just House of Cards cheap.
But it may also be that Netflix '-- and this should give pause to all the other tech platforms eager to become television producers '-- is just not up to the job. The creative process is, after all, hard to manage. Netflix, fundamentally a lot of techies with little basis on which to know anything about TV writing, has not much distinguished itself on other projects: Marco Polo is quite dead on arrival. Netflix may just be that classic show business character: dumb money. Like many star-struck wannabes before, perhaps it's being fleeced by Hollywood, with Spacey and Willimon merely phoning it in and collecting their checks.
Or, Netflix is just now coming face-to-face with the hard truth. This isn't technology, it's show business, where the best-laid plans founder on more variables than any algorithm can account for. This ought to prompt a question about the tech industry's stomach for a process that resists control and that is always as likely to humiliate you as to reward you.
House of Cards, which appeared to usher in the golden age of Internet-produced, over-the-top-delivered television, could already be signaling its end.
Stars of 'House of Cards' Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright tease season 3 of the hotly anticipated show, and talk about fans binge watching all of the episodes. (March 3) AP
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1G2Dd9W
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Windex
Kevin's Ebola Joke
Girl scout cookies not tasting the same
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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''702, 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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NA-Tech News
HoC = Big Data FAIL
Visa on internet-connected fridges
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 04:04
Mar. 4, 2015, 1:44 PM313
David Becker/Getty Images
Soon we're all going to be buying things with our fridge. That's what Jonathan Vaux from Visa says, at least.
We met with Vaux, an executive director at Visa Europe during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
"Your fridge will have a payment capability," he said. "People are immediately associating [Samsung Pay] with the phone, but they're the biggest provider of white goods and so I will have a fridge, I'm sure, that will have connected payments in it."
We asked Vaux whether having an internet-connected fridge in your kitchen, integrated with your bank account, is a security risk. "It depends what it's sharing on the internet," he said. "If I'm buying stuff through my fridge, it's probably going to be milk ... If I suddenly start to order a MacBook Air from my fridge then your fraud detection systems are probably going to start setting off some alarms."
People have been talking about "connected fridges" for years. In fact, it's a running joke amongst attendees at tech conferences. A Tumblr blog, F*ck Yeah Internet Fridge, collects photos and mentions of connected fridges.
In fact, here's a BBC News article from 1999 about internet-connected fridges:
BBC News
You can actually buy a WiFi fridge already, if you really want to. Samsung sells an internet-connected fridge for $3,599. It says that it opens up "a world of interactive communication and entertainment."
Samsung
Agenda 21
Bill Nye GMOs from Brian the Gay Crusader
Your favorite "scientist," Bill Nye, is back in the news announcing that following a recent visit to Monsanto he's no longer a skeptic about GMO's rather he's fallen "in love" with GMOs. Following his recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, the producers had Nye do a backstage piece; in this video (beginning @ 3:40) to announce that he is working on a revision of the GMO section of Undeniable. He shares that he "went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there." As a result, "I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you're in love, you want to tell the world!"
It's nice of Nye to announce that his "scientific" principles are flexible as long as you pay him...
The first article I linked to above includes this tidbit:
he's long been a bit of a skeptic when it comes to the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) -- despite the fact that 88 percent of scientists believe they're safe.
Which led me to a new Pew Research Center study which compares the opinions of the public and members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
Considering the trend of reporting "__% of scientists believe ________" and treating that as an undebatable fact and having learned that the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), I was curious to learn the requirements for AAAS membership and be included as one of the scientists whose beliefs form the doctrine of "__% of scientists who believe _______."
The only requirement for AAAS membership is money (and it's pretty cheap too), one does not have to present their professional or educational credentials to become a AAAS member; in reality one does not have to be a scientist. For $50 you too can become one of the scientists whose beliefs form the doctrine of "__% of scientists who believe _______."
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I hope that this provides documentation to prove that the doctrine of "__% of scientists who believe _______" is utter bullshit and lacks credibility.
Flashback 1985: Gov't Scientists Once Predicted NYC Would Resemble Daytona Beach | The Daily Caller
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 02:05
Daily Caller News Foundation
12:16 PM 03/05/2015
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There's a winter storm afoot, and places like New York City are expected to get hit with several inches of snow Thursday.
It's hard to imagine that just 30 years ago, government scientists were predicting that global warming would make New York City resemble Daytona Beach, Florida '-- which does not get snow.
In 1985, the New York Times reported that '[f]ederal climate experts have suggested that within a century the greenhouse effect could turn New York City into something with the climate of Daytona Beach, Fla.''
''Beginning in a decade or two, scientists expect the warming of the atmosphere to melt the polar icecaps, raising the level of the seas, flooding coastal areas, eroding the shores and sending salt water far into fresh-water estuaries,'' the Times reported. ''Storm patterns will change, drying out some areas, swamping others and generally throwing agriculture into turmoil.''
Three decades later, and New York City does not remotely resemble Daytona Beach '-- even if some resident wished it did on winter days like this. On Thursday, New York City's temperature stood at 28 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Weather Channel, while Daytona Beach was a balmy 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This winter, in fact, New York City experienced its coldest recorded temperature ever for Feb. 2nd just this year when thermometers in Central Park dipped below 7 degrees Fahrenheit '' shattering a previous 65-year record for the coldest Feb. 2nd set in 1950.
It may be that Daytona Beach is becoming more like New York City, as Daytona did get a light dusting of snow in Jan. 2008 and again in Jan. 2010. Snow flurries were also reported in Daytona in 1989 and in 1977. Ok, so maybe not like New York City, which gets a lot more snow.
But federal scientists in the 1980s predicted that trace greenhouse gases, and not just carbon dioxide, were causing the world to warm rapidly, though at the time there was little to no evidence of rapid warming.
Since the Times report, however, temperature did climb, according to federal climate data. Global average surface temperatures climbed until 1998, but have since flattened and showed little to no warming trend since.
''In an October 1983 report, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the sea level could rise as much as 11 feet by the end of the next century '' or as little as 2 feet,'' the New York Times reported. ''It settled on 5 to 7 feet as the likely range. The higher figure would put substantial pieces of Florida and Louisiana under the waves and flood parts of some coastal cities.''
''Even the lower figure would cut away chunks of shoreline. Experts estimate that a one-foot rise in the ocean could erode 100 to 1,000 feet of sand beach all along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts,'' the Times reported.
Sea level rise, of course, has not been as dramatic as EPA predicted in 1983. According to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, global sea level rise from 1992 to 2010 was only 3.2 millimeters per year '-- meaning sea level only increased 0.19 feet over this period.
Extrapolate that out and sea level rise by 2100 will only be 1.18 feet above 1992 levels '-- far less than the 5 to 7 feet predicted by EPA in 1983.
(H/T Real Science)
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Packet Equality / Lawful Content
There’s an outfit called LegitScript (legitscript.com) that takes on what they deem “illegal" pharmacies and pushes domain registrars to act against them without court orders or due process. There’s some very interesting questions about where LegitScript gets its money (I suspect big pharma) - feel free to investigate. The guy behind it, John Horton, has ties to pharma and also the White House.
Most major registrars are simply rolling over and literally seizing domains and shutting down sites at the request of LegitScript with no questions asked.
Caliphate!
Jihadi John BBC Tweet
BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews)
3/5/15, 4:20 PM
Friday's Daily Star: "Jihadi John kidnapped & stripped boys on M1" pic.twitter.com/QCdw281B5z #BBCPapers (via @suttonnick)
Meet the Israeli analyst who leaked ISIS' execution videos - Israel News, Ynetnews
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:21
Meet Rita Katz, an Israeli expat who was born in Iraq, raised in Bat Yam and moved on to become a world leading expert in al-Qaeda and Islamic State's online activities: Our ability to find jihadist isn't from luck - tracking them is a science.'Daniel Batini
Shortly after international media got hold of the horrible execution video of American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, the radical terror group behind the beheading, the Islamic State (formerly ISIS), published a bizarre clarification: The video, they explained, was "mistakenly leaked" to the internet. What they didn't know was who was behind the leak '' meet Rita Katz, and Israeli expat originally from Bat Yam.
From an office in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, a small team scans the Web 24 hours a day for jihadi videos often featuring gruesome executions by groups such as Islamic State.
On Tuesday, SITE Intelligence Services grabbed headlines when it found and alerted its subscribers to footage of the beheading of Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be put to death by IS in two weeks.
Founded by Katz, SITE has built up more than a decade of experience tracking extremist groups online for clients including government agencies of the United States and other governments, private firms and media outlets.
Katz, 51, was born to a Jewish family in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, and was forced to flee the country after her father was executed by the regieme for allegedly spying for Israel. At the age of six she made Aliyah to Israel with her family, living in the coastal city of Bat Yam, directly south of Tel Aviv.
After serving in the IDF, she competed her BA in Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv university and then moved with her family to Washington, moving on to become a prominent figure on the world of research into radical Islamism and terror. She founded SITE in 2002.
Katz would not disclose the number of staff SITE employees, but said it was a small and dedicated team.
By monitoring file-sharing sites, Islamist forums and other obscure and often password-protected areas of the Internet, the firm says it has built up a sophisticated picture of how Islamic State and similar groups operate online.
"Our ability to find jihadist materials so quickly doesn't come from luck," Katz told Reuters. "Tracking them is a science."
With intelligence agencies stretched and ever more information available online, current and former Western officials say governments are turning increasingly to private companies for such monitoring.
While militant groups have long used videos and the Internet to share their message and threats, IS has embraced social media like no jihadi group before it. It has multiple supporters posting messages and content on Twitter, Google Inc's YouTube and elsewhere.
Monitoring such messages, experts say, can provide invaluable formation about organizational structures.
"It's grim but it does shed continuing light on the Islamic State and its handling of social media," John Bassett, a former senior official at British signals intelligence agency GCHQ, said after the beheading of US reporter James Foley last month.
"They are more social media savvy than Osama bin Laden. They are switched on enough to use a Brit to narrate a beheading video," he said. Video of the two hostages killings by Islamic State featured a masked militant speaking with a British accent.
Katz said the most useful material remained on more hidden jihadi sites. That was where groups such as IS posted the original videos and statements for other supporters to circulate more widely through mainstream social media like Twitter.
"There is a very strict and clear process by which jihadi groups release their propaganda," she said. "This process makes it easy for the followers to differentiate between official and unofficial releases."
In the case of the Sotloff video, Katz said Islamic State had intended to further edit the footage and simultaneously release versions in multiple languages, including French, Russian and German, in an apparent attempt to boost recruitment.
Comments posted on jihadi forums indicated that SITE's discovery of the video and the early release of its version had been an embarrassment to some members of the group, she said.
The emotional toll of watching such scenes, experts say, can be high.
"SITE employees fully understand the ghastly scenes such as beheadings are the nature of the work in the counterterrorism field, just as surgeons recognize they will see blood on the operating table," Katz said.
Reuters contributed to this report
UAE Says its Warplanes Hit IS-controlled Oil Sites '-- Naharnet
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:08
إقرأ هذا اÙخبر باÙعربيØ(C)by Naharnet Newsdesk07 March 2015, 17:54The United Arab Emirates said Saturday its warplanes had carried out raids against oil installations held by the Islamic State group, which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
The state news agency WAM did not say where the raids struck, only that UAE fighter jets took off overnight Friday from their base in Jordan, another partner in the U.S.-led coalition against the jihadists.
"UAE Air Force F-16 squadron deployed to an airbase in Jordan conducted fresh air strikes last night against the terrorist organisation (IS)," WAM said.
The planes hit several IS "operation and extraction points along crude oil pipelines in order to dry up the terror group's sources of funding", it said, adding they all returned safely.
It was the second reported air strikes by UAE aircraft since February 16 when warplanes from the Gulf federation also took off from Jordan and hit oil refineries held by IS.
The location of last month's strikes was not specified either.
The UAE suspended participation in the U.S.-led coalition against IS in December amid reported differences with Washington on ways and means of rescuing downed coalition pilots.
But it resumed air strikes in February and deployed a squadron the F-16s to Jordan after jihadists murdered a Jordanian pilot captured in December when his place went down over Syria.
IS released a video in early February showing the burning to death of Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
Coalition strikes have frequently targeted oil facilities run by IS which has made huge profits from illegal oil sales.
A U.N. report in November estimated that IS was earning between $850,000 and $1.6 million daily from oil sales.
Message to Congress -- Designation of FY 2015 Funding as Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War Terrorism for DHS Appropriations Act, 2015
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 04:02
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 04, 2015
TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:
In accordance with language under the heading "Coast Guard, Operating Expenses" of the Department of Homeland SecurityAppropriations Act, 2015 (the "Act"), I hereby designate for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism all funding so designated by the Congress in the Act pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended, as outlined in the enclosed list of accounts.
The details of this action are set forth in the enclosed memorandum from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
BARACK OBAMA
March 07, 2015 5:08 PM EST
The March that Changed Us: Selma, Alabama, Then and NowLearn about the events in Selma, Alabama, and why President Obama traveled to Selma to commemorate the historic march.
March 07, 2015 6:00 AM EST
Weekly Address: Let Girls LearnIn this week's address, the President discussed an issue close to his heart: education for adolescent girls around the world.
March 06, 2015 6:25 PM EST
Selma to Montgomery: 50 Years LaterPresident Obama, the First Lady, and their daughters are traveling to Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 marches. Visit WhiteHouse.gov/Selma to see additional content related to the marches.
view all related blog posts
Boko Haram pledges allegiance to ISIL
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 11:19
Nigeria's Islamist militant group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to ISIL.
The announcement came in an audio message posted online where the leader of the insurgents Abubakar Shekau purportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group which currently rules a self-declared Caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.
''We announce our allegiance to the Caliph'...and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and ease,'' the statement read. It continued asking all Muslims ''to pledge allegiance to the Caliph''.
The move comes as no surprise with Boko Haram being the latest of a string of jihadist groups who have pledged allegiance to ISIL. Analysts point to the group mimicking ISIL methods in its propaganda and violence. This month Boko Haram released a video which appeared to show the insurgents beheading two men, with similar graphics and editing techniques as those used by the Islamic State group.
The audio recording has confirmed the Nigerian government's fears and prompted it to appeal to the international community for more help to battle the extremists.
During their six-year insurgency Boko Haram has killed more than 13,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million in their campaign to establish a Caliphate in northern Nigeria.
Ebola
AP News : After Ebola ban, N. Korea opens marathon to foreigners
Thu, 05 Mar 2015 09:22
By Eric TalmadgePublished: YesterdayTOKYO (AP) - After lifting travel restrictions it imposed because of concerns over the Ebola virus, North Korea says foreigners can now take part in one of its most popular tourist events - the annual Pyongyang marathon, a travel agency said Thursday.
Even though no cases of Ebola had been reported anywhere near North Korea, the country shut out foreign tourists in October with some of the strictest Ebola regulations in the world, including saying that only local runners would be allowed into the marathon in April.
But Uri Tours, one company that takes tourists into North Korea, said on its website Thursday that it had been informed that North Korean authorities had "decided to re-open the doors to foreign amateur runners for the 2015 Pyongyang Marathon."
Earlier this week North Korea lifted its restrictions on travelers that virtually closed its borders to foreigners last October, halting all non-essential visas and requiring those few foreigners allowed in to undergo three weeks of quarantine. The rules applied to diplomats, NGO workers and even senior North Korean officials returning from overseas trips.
The Uri Tours statement said that registration for the April 12 race had been extended to March 20.
Last year's race through the streets of Pyongyang, including a 10-kilometer (6-mile) competition and a half marathon along with the full course, was opened up to foreign recreational runners for the first time and was a big success. Elite runners from around the world are usually brought in for the main event, but it was not immediately known if there is enough time to arrange that this year.
Known officially as the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, the race is sanctioned as a bronze-label event by the International Association of Athletics Federations and has been held annually for 27 years. It is held in conjunction with a series of sporting competitions, arts festivals and cultural events marking the birthday of North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung, on April 15.
North Korea has made a concerted effort to bolster its tourist trade in recent years by setting up special tourism zones and developing scenic areas and recreational facilities. Tens of thousands of Chinese tourists visit each year, according to Koryo Tours, another company running trips into North Korea, while tourists from other countries are rarer.
North Korean media have suggested Ebola was created by the U.S. military as a biological weapon.
Pipeline$
Derailed Illinois Oil Train That Burst Into Flames Had Safer Tank Cars - NBC News.com
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 19:03
The rail cars that split open and burst into flames during a western Illinois oil train derailment continued to burn Friday, a day after the derailment in a rural area south of the city of Galena.
Twenty-one of the train's 105 cars derailed in an area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi. BNSF Railway said a resulting fire spread to five rail cars. The train had 103 cars loaded with crude oil from the Northern Plains' Bakken region, along with two buffer cars loaded with sand, according to company spokesman Andy Williams. Firefighters could only access the derailment site by a bike path, said Galena Assistant Fire Chief Bob Conley.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the derailment hasn't been determined.
BNSF Railway said the train was designed during safety upgrades voluntarily adopted by the industry four years ago in hopes of keeping cars from rupturing during derailments. The accident was the latest in a series of failures for the safer tank-car model that has led some people calling for even tougher requirements.
"It certainly begs that question when ... those standards failed to prevent leakage and explosions that threaten human safety and environmental contamination," said Steve Barg, director of the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, which owns a nature preserve several hundred yards from the derailment site.
Emergency personnel described the area as "stable" on Friday. The Federal Railroad Administration was investigating.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it was monitoring the air, taking water samples and setting up booms to keep leaking oil from reaching nearby waterways.
'-- The Associated PressFirst published March 6 2015, 10:12 PM
Derailed Train of Mercuria's Bakken Oil Burns for Second Day - Bloomberg Business
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 14:04
(Bloomberg) -- A BNSF Railway Co. train carrying Bakken oil for commodity trader Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. continued to burn a day after derailing outside a rural Illinois town.
Five of the train's 105 cars caught fire and were still burning, BNSF said Friday in a statement. Cyprus-based Mercuria owns the crude and was working with the railway to investigate the accident, Matt J. Lauer, a spokesman for the merchant trader, said by phone from Geneva. The oil was loaded at Bakken Oil Express LLC's terminal in Eland, North Dakota, Joe Shotwell, operations director at the complex, said by phone on Friday.
A series of derailments, fires and explosions related to Bakken oil carried in rail cars over the past two years has spurred calls for tougher regulations. North Dakota required all operators to condition the crude to a lower vapor pressure beginning in April. A fiery oil-by-rail crash in Quebec killed 47 people in 2013, and last month a CSX Corp. train carrying Bakken derailed, sending up a fireball in West Virginia.
''An initial pool fire occurred that we believe impacted five rail cars and that fire continues to burn,'' BNSF, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said in the statement on Friday. ''Local, state and BNSF Railway emergency personnel are on the scene working to contain the incident.''
Philadelphia RefineryMercuria was shipping the oil to Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC's refinery in Philadelphia, a person familiar with the situation said, while asking not to be identified because the information isn't public. The company will work to fulfill the plant's order with alternative supplies, the person said.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions spokeswoman Cherice Corley didn't immediately respond to telephone and e-mailed requests for comment left after business hours. The company is a joint venture of Carlyle Group LP and Sunoco Inc., which was acquired by Energy Transfer Partners LP in October 2012.
Twenty-one of the train's 105 cars, which include two sand cars as buffers, jumped the tracks Thursday afternoon near Galena, Illinois, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) west of Chicago. The U.S. Department of Transportation said 14 cars were in a pileup and half of those were punctured. Emergency responders evacuated a 1-mile radius, which contained six homes. No injuries have been reported.
Crude trains, which travel through crowded communities such as Chicago suburbs and New York state neighborhoods, have increased 40-fold since 2009 to 493,000 last year. Much of the crude originates in the Bakken because of insufficient pipelines to move the oil to refineries on the coasts.
Previous DerailmentsThursday's incident follows the fiery derailment of two crude-carrying trains last month. A CSX train with North Dakota crude came off the tracks and exploded into flames in rural West Virginia on Feb. 16, forcing nearby residents to evacuate their homes. Two days earlier, a Canadian National Railway Co. train with 100 cars carrying oil-sands crude derailed in a wooded area near Gogama, Ontario, with oil spilled and some cars catching fire.
The BNSF tank cars involved in the Thursday incident were the CPC-1232 model, the railroad said in an e-mail. The industry began making the CPC-1232 tank car at the end of 2011 to increase safety over more numerous, so-called legacy cars.
The transportation department is set to issue new regulations for a safer tank car and modifications that will be required for legacy cars. The current cars may be on the tracks for years because of the time it takes to upgrade or replace them. The department also is considering an electronic braking system that would stop each car separately and help keep them from piling up. Railroads oppose the new braking system because of the cost.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil futures for April delivery fell $1.15 on Friday to settle at $49.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
To contact the reporters on this story: Thomas Black in Dallas at tblack@bloomberg.net; Lynn Doan in San Francisco at ldoan6@bloomberg.net; Robert Tuttle in Calgary at rtuttle@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Edward Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net Andrew Pollack, Jim McDonald
Vaccine$
Merck's Former Doctor Predicts Gardasil To Become The Greatest Medical Scandal Of All Time | Collective-Evolution
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 03:53
''It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine'' '' (source) Marica Angell. She is a physician and author, along with being the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine '' regarded as one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.
Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Merck & Co.'s Gardasil vaccine in 2006, it has been surrounded by tremendous amounts of information, controversy and misinformation. This controversy has garnered much attention as people become more aware of the importance of paying attention to what goes into their bodies. It's imperative that one examines a large body of evidence before believing what is seen on TV or stated on a radio advertisement, and people are slowly starting to wake up to this fact.
''It is a vaccine that's been highly marketed, the benefits are over-hyped, and the dangers are underestimated.'' '' (Taken from the ONE MORE GIRL DOCUMENTARY) '' Dr. Chris Shaw, Professor at the University of British Columbia, in the department of Neuroscience, Ophthalmology, and Visual Sciences.
Gardasil, also known as the Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, is given as a series of three shots over 6 months to protect against HPV infection and its associated health problems. Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) are said to protect against cervical cancers in women. Gardasil is also said to protect against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva. Both vaccines are available for females, while only Gardasil is available for males.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) claims that the HPV vaccine offers the best protection to girls and boys who receive all three vaccine doses and have time to develop an immune response before being sexually active. This is why it is recommended for children who have reached the age of 11 or 12.
There is a long list of educated people speaking out about this vaccine. This time around, it's Dr. Bernard Dalbergue, a former pharmaceutical industry physician with Gardasil manufacturer Merck who has started to raise his voice against the HPV vaccine, along with the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. He joins a long list of experts from within the industry who have slammed the rampant manipulation and control of clinical research done by the pharmaceutical industry.
This quote is taken from an interview that happened in April of 2014, from an issue of the French magazine Principes de Sant(C) (Health Principles):
''The full extent of the Gardasil scandal needs to be assessed: everyone knew when this vaccine was released on the American market that it would prove to be worthless. Diane Harper, a major opinion leader in the United States, was one of the first to blow the whistle, pointing out the fraud and scam of it all.I predict that Gardasil will become the greatest medical scandal of all time because at some point in time, the evidence will add up to prove that this vaccine, technical and scientific feat that it may be, has absolutely no effect on cervical cancer and that all the very many adverse effects which destroy lives and even kill, serve no other purpose than to generate profit for the manufacturers. Gardasil is useless and costs a fortune! In addition, decision-makers at all levels are aware of it! Cases of Guillain-Barr(C) syndrome, paralysis of the lower limbs, vaccine-induced MS and vaccine-induced encephalitis can be found, whatever the vaccine.'' (source) '' Dr. Bernard Dalbergue
Dr. Dalbergue has also recently released a book titled ''Omerta dans les labos pharmaceutiques: Confessions d'un medicine,'' which goes into more detail about corruption in the medical/pharmaceutical industry. He also recently made an appearance on a popular radio show in France, you can watch here. Althought it's in French, it's nice to put a face to the name so that you can see he is real.
Scandal, misinformation, and data manipulation have become part and parcel of clinical research and pharmaceutical drug development. It is important that we realize this as fact and not hearsay; apart from whistle-blowers, there are numerous documents that illustrate this reality. One of the best examples (out of many) comes from Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD, from the Neural Dynamics Research Group in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia. In 2011 she obtained documents which reveal that vaccine manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and health authorities have known about the multiple dangers associated with vaccines but have chosen to withhold them from the public. The documents were obtained from the UK Department of Health (DH) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), who advise the Secretaries of State for Health in the UK about diseases preventable through immunizations. You can read those documents here.
Here's what she had to say about Gardasil:
Another doctor making noise regarding the HPV vaccine is Dr. Diane Harper. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It's very unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved, it is a credit to her character for doing so. It also says a lot that she agreed to participate in the ONE MORE GIRL documentary, which implies (I believe) there is a chance she resonates with the other information that's stated in the documentary that she has not said publicly.
ONE MORE GIRL is an answer to Merck & Co's One Less Girl marketing campaign for the HPV vaccine Gardasil. The parents who encouraged their daughters to get the HPV vaccine did so on the advice of their doctors, their government, and their belief in pharmaceutical industry. They were not ''anti-vaccine,'' they played by the rules, and now they are paying the price. It's a documentary that has several experts from the industry, various doctors, and university researchers speaking out about the vaccine.
''They created a huge amount of fear in mothers, and appealed to mothers' sense of duty to get them to get their daughters vaccinated'' '' Dr Diane Harper (source)
The above quote was taken from the film, and here is an excerpt of her raising some important things to consider regarding the vaccine.
Some ResearchIf we are talking about recent research regarding the HPV vaccine, a new review was just published in the journal Autoimmunity Reviews titled, ''On the relationship between human papilloma virus vaccine and autoimmune disease.''
The authors of this study came to the same conclusion as Dr. Harper, a doctor that was directly involved with the clinical trials for the approval of the vaccine (mentioned earlier in the article). They concluded that:
''The decision to vaccinate with HPV vaccine is a personal decision, not one that must be made for public health. HPV is not a lethal disease in 95% of the infections; and the other 5% are detectable and treatable in the precancerous stage.'' (If you are interested you can access the paper here)
They also listed several conditions in which HPV vaccination is most likely the culprit, having been linked to a variety of autoimmune diseases which include: Multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, primary ovarian failure, and more.
The 2008 FDA Closing Statement on Gardasil reports that 73.3% of the 'healthy' girls who participated in the clinical trials developed 'New Medical Conditions. The list below highlights some of the 'New Medical Conditions' reported in the 2008 FDA Closing Statement on Gardasil. (source)
Blood & Lymphatic System Disorders 2.9% = 1 in 34Gastrointestinal Disorders 13.4% = 1 in 7General & Administration Site Conditions 3.8% = 1 in 33Immune System Disorders 2.4% =1 in 50Infections & Infestations 52.9% = 1 in 2Injury, Poisoning, & Procedural Complications 8.0% =1 in 12Investigations 11.8% =1 in 9Musculoskeletal & Connective Tissue Disorders 6.8% =1 in 14Nervous System Disorders 9.4% = 1 in 10Pregnancy, Puerperium & Perinatal Conditions 2.0% = 1 in 50Psychiatric Disorders 4.4% =1 in 22Renal Disorders 2.7% =1 in 37Reproductive & Brest Disorders 24.8 % = 1 in 14Respiratory, Thoracic & Mediastinal Disorders 5.5% = 1 in 18Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders 7.4% = 1 in 13Surgical Procedures = Appendectomy 10.2% = 1 in 10A year ago the vaccine was taken off the recommended vaccine schedule in Japan due to it's adverse effects. What's even more concerning is the fact that today's vaccine has twice the amount of aluminum in it.
Related CE Article:
This is what can happen to children who receive aluminum containing vaccines.
Another groundbreaking article titled ''Quantifying the possible cross-reactivity risk of an HPV16 vaccine, published in the Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology concluded that:
''The number of viral matches and their locations make the occurrence of side autoimmune cross-reactions in the human host following HPV16-based vaccination almost unavoidable.'' (source)
The list is literally endless, and for the sake of not turning this article into an essay, I'll stop here. Hopefully I've provided you with enough information to further your research if interested. If you want to look at more scientific data, you can check out:
Giant Database of Studies Regarding The Gardasil Vaccine.
I am going to end this article with another important video:
Sources:
All other sources are linked throughout the article.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964337/
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/anti-therapeutic-action/vaccination-hpv-gardisil
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568997214000664
http://onemoregirlmovie.com/
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gardasil-researcher-speaks-out/
http://nsnbc.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/BSEM-2011.pdf
Giant Database of Studies Regarding The Gardasil Vaccine.
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EuroLAnd
PressTV-EC chief wants to create EU army
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 11:56
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President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker has called for the creation of a European Union army, amid tension with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
''Such an army would help us to build a common foreign and security policy, as well as jointly assume the responsibilities of Europe in the world,'' said Juncker in an interview with German weekly Welt am Sonntag published on Sunday.
Juncker added that the formation of a European armed forces would signal to Moscow the political and economic union is ''serious about upholding the values of the European Union.''
''A common European army would show the world that there will by no means be war once more amongst EU nations,'' said Juncker.
According to the EC chief, an EU army could be used to ''react credibly'' to dangers facing one of the 28-member states or any of the bloc's neighboring countries.
The German weekly reported that Juncker has backing in the German legislature, including chairman of Germany's foreign affairs committee Norbert Rottgen, who said it is time to put such a proposal in action.
''The Europeans spend enormous sums of money for the military combined, much more than Russia,'' said Rottgen, adding, ''But our military capabilities remain an insufficient security policy as long as we maintain small national armies, which make and buy many parts of the same thing on a smaller scale.''
Former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is set to present the findings of a report titled, More Union in European Defense. The report calls for a new European protection method, which would have ''a political and military ability to autonomously conduct intervention operations beyond the EU's borders.'' The report also calls for the establishment of a military EU headquarters in the bloc's de facto capital, Brussels.
According to the report, a common security policy would bring savings to the bloc's member states, which altogether spends '‚¬190 billion annually to maintain 28 national armies, consisting of roughly 1.5 million service personnel.
The proposals to extend EU's military capabilities come amid tensions between European countries and the US over the Ukrainian crisis. The Western governments accuse Russia of destabilizing Ukraine, an allegation which Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Meanwhile, NATO plans to expand its military presence in Eastern Europe amid the crisis in Ukraine and has held numerous war games over the past year. In 2014, NATO forces held some 200 military exercises, with the alliance's General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg having promised that such drills would continue.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned NATO's exercises and military buildup toward its borders.
CAH/HSN/HMV
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Hillary 2016
Gold Mine: Hillary Clinton's Brother Granted Super-Rare Mining Permit from Haiti After State Dept. Sent Country Billions - Breitbart
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:40
The tiny North Carolina company, VCS Mining, also included on its board Bill Clinton's co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.
The Rodham gold mine revelation is just one of dozens featured in a forthcoming bombshell investigative book by three-time New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer, according to a Thursday statement from publishing giant HarperCollins. The publisher says the book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, is the culmination of an exhaustive one-year deep dive investigation into the nexus between the Clintons' $100+ million personal wealth, the Clinton Foundation, and the decisions Hillary made as Secretary of State that benefited foreign donors, governments, and companies.
VCS's coveted gold mining exploitation permit was apparently such a sweetheart deal that it outraged the Haitian senate, since royalties to be paid to the Haitian government were only 2.5%, a sum mining experts say is at least half the standard rate. Moreover, the mining project in Morne Bossa came with a generous ability to renew the project for up to 25 years. Nevertheless, the fledgling company proudly touted its luck in landing the deal.
''This is one of two permits issued today, the first permit of their kind issued in over five decades,'' reads the only press release under VCS's ''news'' tab on its scant website.
According to USAID, $3.1 billion have been dispersed since the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Clinton Cash is said to contain ''seismic'' and ''game-changing'' revelations that far eclipse anything presently reported on the Clinton Foundation's violation of its agreement not to accept foreign government money during Hillary's tenure as secretary of state.
In 2011, Schweizer's book Throw Them All Out exposed insider trading by members of Congress and became the subject of an award-winning CBS 60 Minutes story and ''started the STOCK [Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge] Act stampede,'' according to Slate.
''Bestselling author Peter Schweizer coins a new term to describe the unique way in which Bill and Hillary tend to mingle their political, personal and philanthropic interests: the 'Clinton Blur,''' says HarperCollins editor Adam Bellow. ''Schweizer's scrupulously sourced and exhaustively researched book raises serious questions about the sources of the Clintons' sudden wealth, their ethical judgment, and Hillary's fitness for high public office.''
The book is slated to hit bookshelves nationwide May 5th.
Clinton Cash '' Annoucement Release.doc
Furgeson
Darren Wilson Is Cleared of Rights Violations in Ferguson Shooting - NYTimes.com
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 07:15
Offering the most definitive account yet of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager that stirred racially charged protests across the country, the Justice Department has cleared a Ferguson, Mo., police officer of civil rights violations in the death last August of Michael Brown.
In an 86-page report released Wednesday that detailed and evaluated the testimony of more than 40 witnesses, the Justice Department largely corroborated or found little credible evidence to contradict the account of the officer, Darren Wilson, who is white.
Versions of events that sharply conflicted with Mr. Wilson's were largely inconsistent with forensic evidence or with the witnesses' previous statements, the report said. And in some cases, witnesses whose accounts supported Mr. Wilson said they had been afraid to come forth or tell the truth because they feared reprisals from the enraged community.
The decision ended a lengthy investigation into the shooting in August, in which Mr. Wilson killed Mr. Brown in the street as he tried to stop the teenager for a possible theft of some cigarillos from a convenience store. Several witnesses said Mr. Brown, 18, had his hands up in surrender when he died, leading to violent clashes in Ferguson and nationwide protest featuring chants of ''Hands up, don't shoot.''
Interactive Feature | Report: What Is Wrong With the Ferguson Police Department? In a scathing report released Wednesday, the Justice Department concluded that the Ferguson Police Department had been routinely violating the constitutional rights of its black residents.
But federal agents and civil rights prosecutors rejected that story, just as a state grand jury did in November when it decided not to indict Mr. Wilson. The former officer, who left the Ferguson Police Department late last year, said that Mr. Brown had leaned into his patrol car, punched him, reached for his gun, and then after running away, turned and charged at him, making Mr. Wilson fear for his life.
''There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson's stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,'' the report said. At the same time, it concluded that the witnesses who said that Mr. Brown was surrendering were not credible.
''Those witness accounts stating that Brown never moved back toward Wilson could not be relied upon in a prosecution because their accounts cannot be reconciled with the DNA bloodstain evidence and other credible witness accounts.''
Civil rights charges represented a difficult hurdle for prosecutors to clear. The law requires prosecutors to prove that Mr. Wilson willfully violated Mr. Brown's civil rights when he shot him. Courts have given officers wide latitude when deciding when to use deadly force if they think their lives are in danger.
Darren Wilson
via St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office
In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called the report ''fair and rigorous from the start,'' saying it had been conducted independently from the investigation by the local police and had included the canvassing of more than 300 residences to locate additional witnesses. ''The facts do not support the filing of criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson in this case,'' Mr. Holder said. For those who feel otherwise, he said, ''I urge you to read this report in full.''
The fatal encounter, which lasted less than two minutes, occurred at about noon on Aug. 9.
According to the report, Mr. Brown had just left the convenience store and was walking with a friend in the middle of a street when Officer Wilson, thinking they might be the suspects in the robbery, blocked their way with his patrol vehicle. After a scuffle in which Mr. Brown reached inside the car, punched Mr. Wilson and grabbed for his gun, the officer fired two shots, one of which grazed Mr. Brown's right hand, causing the teenager to run away.
The officer pursued, but then Mr. Brown suddenly turned and headed back toward him. The officer fired 10 more shots in three volleys, according to witnesses and bloodstain patterns on the ground. After being hit with six to eight bullets, Mr. Brown was finally felled by a shot into the top of his head.
Document | Justice Department Report on Shooting of Michael Brown Department of Justice report into the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August.
In a written statement, Mr. Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., said they were saddened and disappointed with the news that ''the killer of our son wouldn't be held accountable for his actions.''
But the couple also praised the second Justice Department report released Wednesday that found systemic discrimination against African-Americans by the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court.
''We are encouraged that the D.O.J. will hold the Ferguson Police Department accountable for the pattern of racial bias and profiling they found in their handling of interactions with people of color,'' the statement said.
Neil J. Bruntrager, one of Mr. Wilson's lawyers, expressed satisfaction with the report on the shooting. ''It makes it clear that he's exonerated. We're glad to have that behind us,'' he said.
Document | Ferguson Police Department Report Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department by the Department of Justice.
Among the witnesses who told investigators that they had been nervous about corroborating Mr. Wilson's account was a 31-year-old black woman who had been standing on her brother's balcony at the time of the shooting. Her initial account to investigators, in which she said that she saw Mr. Wilson fire shots into Mr. Brown's back as he lay dead on the street, was inconsistent with the autopsy findings.
When federal investigators challenged her, she admitted lying, explained to the F.B.I. that ''you've gotta live the life to know it,'' and said she had been afraid to contradict stories that Mr. Brown had been trying to surrender.
She then ''admitted that she saw Mr. Brown running toward Mr. Wilson, prompting the police officer to yell 'freeze,' '' the report stated. It added that the woman said that ''it appeared to her that Wilson's life was in danger.'' But when local authorities later tried to serve this witness a subpoena to appear before the grand jury, the report said, ''she blockaded her door with a couch.''
The report on the shooting provides support for the grand jury's decision not to bring murder or manslaughter charges and it appears to vindicate the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, who was attacked by some for failing to steer the jury toward an indictment.
Mr. McCulloch took the unusual strategy of presenting the grand jury with reams of evidence, including contradictory eyewitness testimony. He then released the entire proceedings to the public, something rarely done. That jumble of grand jury evidence did bolster important parts of Mr. Wilson's account. DNA and blood samples indicated that Mr. Brown had reached into the officer's police car, as Mr. Wilson had testified, and two shots were fired in a struggle.
That Mr. Brown, slightly wounded, ran away and then turned, with Mr. Wilson chasing him, was also established. And a trail of bloodstains seemed to clearly demonstrate that Mr. Brown was moving toward the officer even after being seriously wounded by an initial volley of bullets.
''I assume all the critics will rethink their position at this point now,'' Mr. McCulloch told reporters Wednesday. ''Or they will level the same criticism at the Department of Justice, if they want to be consistent.''
But to some critics, the conflicting witness accounts left questions. In his final moment, was Mr. Brown trying to raise his hands in surrender, was he staggering and falling, or was he continuing a menacing charge, as Mr. Wilson contends?
Graphic | Report: What Happened in Ferguson? The Justice Department cleared Officer Darren Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Here is the sequence of events as described in the department's report.
''While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson '-- i.e., balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants up '-- and varying accounts of how he was moving '-- i.e., 'charging,' moving in 'slow motion,' or 'running' '-- they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him,'' the report said.
The Justice Department's report includes a description of every witness's accounts, which were sometimes offered in multiple interviews with the St. Louis County police and the F.B.I., and judged their likely credibility in court. Of the 41 witnesses described, the Justice Department labeled eight of them as credible because their statements were consistent over time, consistent with other accounts and consistent with the physical evidence. One of these eight was Mr. Wilson's fianc(C)e, with whom he spoke minutes after the shooting.
No witnesses had accounts that were credible and pointed toward Mr. Wilson's guilt, the investigators wrote. Nine witnesses did not fully contradict or corroborate the officer, while the accounts of 24 others were dissected and shown, the federal investigators said, to lack credibility. These included witnesses who admitted they had not actually seen the events.
Erik Eckholm reported from New York, and Matt Apuzzo from Washington.
Holder 'prepared' to dismantle Ferguson police department | TheHill
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 23:47
Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that he is "prepared" to dismantle the Ferguson, Mo., police department to prevent practices the Justice Department said violated the rights of black citizens.
"We are prepared to use all the powers that we have, all the power that we have, to ensure that the situation changes there," he said. "That means everything from working with them to coming up with an entirely new structure."
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Holder was also specifically about the possibility of dismantling the police force."If that's what's necessary, we're prepared to do that," he said.
Holder's comments come after the Justice Department released a lengthy report on Wednesday accusing the police department of systematic racial bias.
The DOJ launched its investigation into the force after the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown over the summer by a white police officer, Darren Wilson.
The report found that police officers disproportionately stopped, arrested and cited black people for a variety of crimes. They also used excessive force against black residents.
Investigators also found emails containing racist jokes written by police and court officials. On Friday, city officials said that two officers had resigned and a clerk in the court system had been fired over the messages.
In a separate investigation, the department decided not to file civil rights charges against Wilson.
When they released the report, Justice officials said they would work with Ferguson to implement their recommendations. But that does not preclude them taking more severe action down the road, like suing the city or dismantling the police department.
However, it will likely not be Holder leading the DOJ when the report's recommendations are implemented.
The woman nominated to be his successor, Loretta Lynch, is waiting to be confirmed by the full Senate after being approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SnowJob
CIA to be restructured to 'cover entire universe' - China.org.cn
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 11:30
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is planning to create new units in a series of reorganizations, aiming to "cover the entire universe" amid modern threats and crises, CIA Director John Brennan said Friday.
Announcing the restructuring to the 67-years-old agency Friday, Brennan said the move comes after nine outside experts spent three months analyzing the agency's management structure, including what CIA deputy director David Cohen called "pain points", organizational areas where the CIA's bureaucracy does not work efficiently.
Briefing reporters at CIA headquarters earlier this week, Brennan said officers will be reassigned to 10 newly created " mission centers," a move to concentrate the agency's focus on specific challenges or geographic areas, such as weapons proliferation or Africa.
"I know there are seams right now, but what we've tried to do with these mission centers is cover the entire universe, regionally and functionally, and so something that's going on in the world falls into one of those buckets," he told reporters.
"I've never seen a time when we have been confronted with such an array of very challenging, complex and serious threats to our national security, and issues that we have to grapple with," he said.
The CIA chief also noted that he is establishing a new " Directorate of Digital Innovation" to lead the agency's efforts to track and take advantage of advances in cyber technology.
Brennan said the new digital directorate will have equal status within the agency with four other directorates which have existed for years.
"Our ability to carry out our responsibilities for human intelligence and national security responsibilities has become more challenging" in today's digital world, Brennan said. "And so what we need to do as an agency is make sure we're able to understand all of the aspects of that digital environment."
Founded in 1947, the CIA consists of four major directorates. Two - the Directorate of Science and Technology, which among other activities invents spy gadgets, and the Directorate of Support, which handles administrative and logistical tasks - will retain their names.
The Directorate of Intelligence will be renamed "Directorate of Analysis" to reflect its function as the home of agency experts who collate and analyze information from secret and open sources, Brennan said.
The National Clandestine Service, home of front-line agency undercover "case officers", who recruit spies and conduct covert actions, will be renamed Directorate of Operations, which is used to be called in the agency's history.
The 10 new "mission centers" will bring together CIA officers with expertise from across the agency's range of disciplines to concentrate on specific intelligence target areas or subject matter, said the CIA chief.
CIA plans major reorganization and a focus on digital espionage - The Washington Post
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 14:15
The CIA embarked on a sweeping restructuring Friday that will bring an end to divisions that have been in place for decades, create 10 new centers that team analysts with operators, and significantly expand the agency's focus on digital espionage.
The plans were unveiled by CIA Director John Brennan to a workforce in which thousands of employees are likely to see changes in which departments they work for, the lines of authority they report to and even where they sit.
The overhaul is designed to foster deeper collaboration and an intensified focus on a range of security issues and threats, replacing long-standing divisions that cover the Middle East, Africa and other regions with hybrid ''mission centers'' modeled on the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.
The CIA will also create a directorate focused exclusively on exploiting advances in computer technology and communications. The Directorate of Digital Innovation will rank alongside the agency's operations and analysis branches, and it will be responsible for missions ranging from ­cyber-espionage to the security of the CIA's internal e-mail.
In a briefing with reporters, Brennan described the far-reaching changes as ''part of the natural evolution of an intelligence agency'' that has not seen a significant reorganization in decades.
A central aim, he said, is to eliminate ''seams'' in coverage that lead to confusion over which part of the agency is responsible for tracking a specific issue or threat. After the reorganization, Brennan said, the CIA should be in position to ''cover the entire universe, regionally and functionally, and so something that's going on in the world falls into one of those buckets.''
The changes, however, are also likely to create turmoil at a time that Brennan and others frequently characterize as the most complicated and challenging period for intelligence agencies in a generation. Brennan said the plan has been received enthusiastically by most at the agency, but there have also been signs of friction and disagreement.
The head of the CIA's clandestine service recently decided to retire abruptly in part because of opposition to a plan that would strip his position of much of its authority over the agency's covert operations overseas and the teams of spies that it deploys.
CIA veterans and experts described the restructuring as among the most ambitious since the agency was founded in 1947.
''This is a major reorganization, one of the largest and most fundamental they've had,'' said Mark M. Lowenthal, a former senior CIA officer and an expert on the history of the U.S. intelligence community. Lowenthal also expressed concern that replicating the Counterterrorism Center may also mean replicating an approach criticized at times for being too driven by short-term objectives such as finding the next target for a drone strike.
''Where in this does John have what I would think of as his intellectual strategic reserve, people not worried about day-to-day stuff but who think about what is going to happen two years out?'' Lowenthal said. ''The centers tend not to do that. They tend to answer today's mail.''
But Brennan defended the reforms as critical to the agency's viability in an era of technological and social upheaval. At one point he compared the initiatives to an effort to avoid the fate of Kodak, the company that failed to foresee the impact of digital technology on its film franchise. ''Things just passed them by,'' Brennan said.
Brennan's plan was endorsed by others in the Obama administration who noted the advantages of allowing operators and analysts to collaborate.
''I strongly endorse Director Brennan's vision,'' Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said in a statement. ''I see many advantages to this, but the one I want to highlight specifically is the impact this change will have in promoting integration.''
As part of Brennan's plan, long-standing divisions focused on Africa, the Middle East and other regions will give way to centers of corresponding geographic boundaries. The Directorates of Intelligence and Operations '-- as the analysis and spying branches are known '-- will continue to exist but will function mainly as talent pools, recruiting and training personnel who can be deployed to the new centers.
''Some who grew up in the old structure will have heartburn with this, but those costs will be short term,'' said Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA. Morell said that existing centers have ''proven to be a very powerful combination'' and that the Counterterrorism Center is ''the most successful agency component over the last decade.''
The Directorate of Digital Innovation will perform a similar role, and absorb existing entities including the Open Source Center, which monitors Twitter and other social media sites for intelligence on such adversaries as the Islamic State, as well as the Information Operations Center, a secret organization that handles missions including cyber-penetrations and sabotage and is now the second-largest center at the CIA.
But Brennan made clear that the digital directorate will have a much broader mandate, responsible not only for devising new ways to steal secrets from cellphones and other devices, but also for helping CIA officers evade detection overseas in an age when their phones, computers and ATM cards leave digital trails. The head of the new directorate will be responsible for ''overseeing the career development of our digital experts as well as the standards of our digital tradecraft,'' Brennan said.
Brennan did not present a timetable for the reorganization, or provide names of those who will be picked to lead the new centers. Other aspects of the plan are also unclear, including how much power the new assistant directors will exert over CIA stations overseas.
Brennan began exploring plans for the restructuring last year, when he established a panel to evaluate his proposed changes. The leader of that group, a veteran paramilitary officer whose first name is Greg, was recently put in charge of the Directorate of Operations, one of several departments that will revert to more traditional titles after being rebranded in recent years.
Greg Miller covers the intelligence beat for The Washington Post.
F-Russia
Britain, U.S. Make Military "Gifts" To Ukrainian Belligerent.
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 09:54
Home > Uncategorized > Britain, U.S. Make Military ''Gifts'' To Ukrainian BelligerentUkrinformMarch 7, 2015
London plans to ship consignment of non-lethal weapons to Kyiv
KYIV: The UK intends to ship a consignment of non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine.
Deutsche Welle German news agency reported the news citing the UK Minister of Defense Michael Fallon.
''Non-lethal equipment that is to be shipped as a gift is meant to prevent further Ukrainian losses and improve its spatial awareness,'' the German news agency quoted the head of the British Ministry of Defense as saying.
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UkrinformMarch 7, 2015
PM Yatseniuk discusses American technical assistance with US Deputy State Secretary
KYIV: Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk discussed with US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who is visiting Kyiv, the issue of a security situation in eastern Ukraine on Friday, March 6.
The news was reported on Ukraine's Government portal website.
''The Prime Minister of Ukraine discussed with the US official the issue of security situation in eastern Ukraine, focusing on the need for a common decisive opposition by the international community to the aggressive policy conducted by the Russian Federation,'' said the statement.
It is noted that an important element of these efforts is to stabilize the economic situation in Ukraine through the government's efforts to implement systemic reforms with the support provided by its international partners.
Moreover, Yatseniuk and Blinken discussed priority areas for obtaining the expert and technical assistance from the United States, including, in particular, to enhance Ukraine's defense capabilities, reform of law enforcement agencies, and assistance in the financial sector.
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Message -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Ukraine
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 00:33
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 03, 2015
TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:
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 13660 of March 6, 2014, is to continue in effect beyond March 6, 2015.
The actions and policies of persons that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, as well as the actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation, including its purported annexation of Crimea and its use of force in Ukraine, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13660 with respect to Ukraine.
BARACK OBAMA
Notice -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Ukraine
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 00:32
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 03, 2015
NOTICE - - - - - - - CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO UKRAINE
On March 6, 2014, by Executive Order 13660, I declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1702-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of persons that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets.
On March 16, 2014, I issued Executive Order 13661, which expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13660, and found that the actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets. On March 20, 2014, I issued Executive Order 13662, which further expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13660, as expanded in scope in Executive Order 13661, and found that the actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation, including its purported annexation of Crimea and its use of force in Ukraine, continue to undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets.
On December 19, 2014, I issued Executive Order 13685, to take additional steps to address the Russian occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. The actions and policies addressed in these Executive Orders continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2014, and the measures adopted on that date, on March 16, 2014, on March 20, 2014, and December 19, 2014, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond March 6, 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 13660. This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
BARACK OBAMA
Germany Concerned about Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 18:42
It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn't holding perfectly, but it was holding.
On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again "upped the ante" in eastern Ukraine -- with "well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery" having been sent to the Donbass. "What is clear," Breedlove said, "is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day."German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn't understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn't the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove's numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America's NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.
The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove's comments as "dangerous propaganda." Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove's comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.
The 'Super Hawk'
But Breedlove hasn't been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.
Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel's diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove's bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the "super hawk," whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America's more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.
Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama after a Feb. 9 meeting in Washington: Increasing pressure on America's more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.
A mixture of political argumentation and military propaganda is necessary. But for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove's leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. To be sure, neither Berlin's Russia experts nor BND intelligence analysts doubt that Moscow is supporting the pro-Russian separatists. The BND even has proof of such support.But it is the tone of Breedlove's announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO -- and by extension, the entire West -- in danger of losing its credibility.
There are plenty of examples. Just over three weeks ago, during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, the Ukrainian military warned that the Russians -- even as the diplomatic marathon was ongoing -- had moved 50 tanks and dozens of rockets across the border into Luhansk. Just one day earlier, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges had announced "direct Russian military intervention."
Senior officials in Berlin immediately asked the BND for an assessment, but the intelligence agency's satellite images showed just a few armored vehicles. Even those American intelligence officials who supply the BND with daily situation reports were much more reserved about the incident than Hodges was in his public statements. One intelligence agent says it "remains a riddle until today" how the general reached his conclusions.
Much More Cautious
"The German intelligence services generally appraise the threat level much more cautiously than the Americans do," an international military expert in Kiev confirmed.
At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was "incredibly concerning." But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.
The experts contradicted Breedlove's view in almost every respect. There weren't 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.
Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements. On Nov. 18, 2014, he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there were "regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine." One day later, he told the website of the German newsmagazine Stern that they weren't fighting units, but "mostly trainers and advisors."
He initially said there were "between 250 and 300" of them, and then "between 300 and 500." For a time, NATO was even saying there were 1,000 of them.
The fact that NATO has no intelligence agency of its own plays into Breedlove's hands. The alliance relies on intelligence gathered by agents from the US, Britain, Germany and other member states. As such, SACEUR has a wide range of information to choose from.
Influencing Breedlove
On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that "we have seen columns of Russian equipment -- primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops -- entering into Ukraine." It was, he noted, "the same thing that OSCE is reporting." But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.
Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. "I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis," he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims. He wrote that it was to be expected that assessments of NATO's intelligence center, which receives information from all 33 alliance members in addition to partner states, doesn't always match assessments made by individual nations. "It is normal that not everyone agrees with the assessments that I provide," he wrote.
He says that NATO's strategy is to "release clear, accurate and timely information regarding ongoing events." He also wrote that: "As an alliance based on the fundamental values of freedom and democracy, our response to propaganda cannot be more propaganda. It can only be the truth."
The German government, meanwhile, is doing what it can to influence Breedlove. Sources in Berlin say that conversations to this end have taken place in recent weeks. But there are many at NATO headquarters in Brussels who are likewise concerned about Breedlove's statements. On Tuesday of last week, Breedlove's public appearances were an official item on the agenda of the North Atlantic Council's weekly lunch meeting. Several ambassadors present criticized Breedlove and expressed their incredulity at some of the commander's statements.
The government in Berlin is concerned that Breedlove's statements could harm the West's credibility. The West can't counter Russian propaganda with its own propaganda, "rather it must use arguments that are worthy of a constitutional state." Berlin sources also say that it has become conspicuous that Breedlove's controversial statements are often made just as a step forward has been made in the difficult negotiations aimed at a political resolution. Berlin sources say that Germany should be able to depend on its allies to support its efforts at peace.
Pressure on Obama
German foreign policy experts are united in their view of Breedlove as a hawk. "I would prefer that Breedlove's comments on political questions be intelligent and reserved," says Social Democrat parliamentarian Niels Annen, for example. "Instead, NATO in the past has always announced a new Russian offensive just as, from our point of view, the time had come for cautious optimism." Annen, who has long specialized in foreign policy, has also been frequently dissatisfied with the information provided by NATO headquarters. "We parliamentarians were often confused by information regarding alleged troop movements that were inconsistent with the information we had," he says.
The pressure on Obama from the Republicans, but also from his own political camp, is intense. Should the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine not hold, it will likely be difficult to continue refusing Kiev's requests for shipments of so-called "defensive weapons." And that would represent a dramatic escalation of the crisis. Moscow has already begun issuing threats in anticipation of such deliveries. "Any weapons deliveries to Kiev will escalate the tensions and would unhinge European security," Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia's national security council, told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Wednesday.
Although President Obama has decided for the time being to give European diplomacy a chance, hawks like Breedlove or Victoria Nuland are doing what they can to pave the way for weapons deliveries. "We can fight against the Europeans, fight against them rhetorically," Nuland said during a private meeting of American officials on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of February.
AP
US diplomat Victoria Nuland: Paving the way for weapons deliveries.
In reporting on the meeting later, the German tabloid Bild reported that Nuland referred to the chancellor's early February trip to Moscow for talks with Putin as "Merkel's Moscow stuff." No wonder, then, that people in Berlin have the impression that important power brokers in Washington are working against the Europeans. Berlin officials have noticed that, following the visit of American politicians or military leaders in Kiev, Ukrainian officials are much more bellicose and optimistic about the Ukrainian military's ability to win the conflict on the battlefield. "We then have to laboriously bring the Ukrainians back onto the course of negotiations," said one Berlin official.Nuland Diplomacy
Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year's presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia. She has never sought to hide her emotional bond to Russia, even saying "I love Russia." Her grandparents immigrated to the US from Bessarabia, which belonged to the Russian empire at the time. Nuland speaks Russian fluently.
She is also very direct. She can be very keen and entertaining, but has been known to take on an undiplomatic tone -- and has not always been wrong to do so. Mykola Asarov, who was prime minister under toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, recalls that Nuland basically blackmailed Yanukovych in order to prevent greater bloodshed in Kiev during the Maidan protests. "No violence against the protesters or you'll fall," Nuland told him according to Asarov. She also, he said, threatened tough economic and political sanctions against both Ukraine and the country's leaders. According to Asarov, Nuland said that, were violence used against the protesters on Maidan Square, information about the money he and his cronies had taken out of the country would be made public.
Nuland has also been open -- at least internally -- about her contempt for European weakness and is famous for having said "Fuck the EU" during the initial days of the Ukraine crisis in February of 2014. Her husband, the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, is, after all, the originator of the idea that Americans are from Mars and Europeans, unwilling as they are to realize that true security depends on military power, are from Venus.
When it comes to the goal of delivering weapons to Ukraine, Nuland and Breedlove work hand-in-hand. On the first day of the Munich Security Conference, the two gathered the US delegation behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for breaking Europe's resistance to arming Ukraine.
On the seventh floor of the Bayerischer Hof hotel in the heart of Munich, it was Nuland who began coaching. "While talking to the Europeans this weekend, you need to make the case that Russia is putting in more and more offensive stuff while we want to help the Ukrainians defend against these systems," Nuland said. "It is defensive in nature although some of it has lethality."
Training Troops?
Breedlove complemented that with the military details, saying that moderate weapons aid was inevitable -- otherwise neither sanctions nor diplomatic pressure would have any effect. "If we can increase the cost for Russia on the battlefield, the other tools will become more effective," he said. "That's what we should do here."
In Berlin, top politicians have always considered a common position vis-a-vis Russia as a necessary prerequisite for success in peace efforts. For the time being, that common front is still holding, but the dispute is a fundamental one -- and hinges on the question of whether diplomacy can be successful without the threat of military action. Additionally, the trans-Atlantic partners also have differing goals. Whereas the aim of the Franco-German initiative is to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, it is Russia that concerns hawks within the US administration. They want to drive back Moscow's influence in the region and destabilize Putin's power. For them, the dream outcome would be regime change in Moscow.A massive troop training range is located in Yavoriv in western Ukraine near the Polish border. During Soviet times, it served as the westernmost military district in the Soviet Union. Since 1998, though, it has been used for joint exercises by Ukrainian forces together with the United States and NATO. Yavoriv is also the site where US soldiers want to train members of the Ukrainian National Guard for their future battle against the separatists. According to the Pentagon's plans, American officers would train the Ukrainians on how to use American artillery-locating radar devices. At least that's what US Army in Europe commander Lt. Gen. Hodges announced in January.
The training was actually supposed to start at the beginning of March. Before it began, however, President Obama temporarily put it on hold in order to give the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk a chance. Still, the hawks remain confident that they will soon come a step closer to their goal. On Tuesday, Hodges said during an appearance in Berlin that he expects the training will still begin at some point this month.
By Matthias Gebauer, Christiane Hoffmann, Marc Hujer, Gordon Repinski, Matthias Schepp, Christoph Schult, Holger Stark and Klaus Wiegrefe
Conspiracytards
Colonel Cassad (in English) - How the Malaysian "Boeing" was shot down
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 23:51
Because since the first day after the moment of the crash of the Malaysian "Boeing" I adhere to the version where the airplane was shot down by the Ukrainian SU-25 attack jet, I simply cannot refrain from publishing a new investigation, which summarizes the arguments on this topic.
A rod from the "air-to-air" missile R-60M was found among the wreckage of MH17
A model was assembled in Holland using of the fragments of the "Boeing" that was shot down in Donetsk. Using the photos of the fragments from the crash site, it is possible to approximately reconstruct the airframe. Among the photos there were at least two that refute the version of the attack against the plane using the "BUK" complex.
On one of the photos we can see the object, which looks like a rod from the AAM missile R-60M. On the other photo '-- a round hole in the air intake of the right engine. There are at least nine holes in the skin that are characteristic of the effect of an "air-to-air" missile.
Circular, square, rod-shaped '-- what hit the Boeing
Already by the next week, on the 3rd, 5th, and 6th March of 2015, almost five thousand people '-- relatives and friends of those who died in the "Boeing" catastrophe in Donbass '-- will be able to see the model of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing-777 that is made out of wreckage on the air base Gilze-Rijen in Holland. The last major fragments, a whole truck of them, are still located in Petropavlovka '' the Dutch journalists managed to reach them only by February 22 of 2015.
UPDPhoto from the hangar, 03.03.15
Source, Source
RECONSTRUCTION
The left side of the "Boeing". The right side of the "Boeing".The left side of the pilot cabin immediately attracted the most attention, the aircraft had the most damage there. The largest hole in the center of the fragment has ragged edges, bent outside, which is characteristic for an internal explosion or decompression due to a sharp change in pressure.
Further on the photo we see more than 20 large round holes, which penetrated among other things the glass framing and the left side of the cabin. The material of the skin in this area has the highest density '-- it is made of reinforced aluminum (titanium plates are used according to other data), which is laid out in two layers in order to prevent cabin damage in the case of a possible collision with a bird. According to some data, the thickness of the first layer is 1.8 mm and the thickness of the second layer is 0.8 mm.
We also know that the thickness of the most part of the skin of the fuselage of the "Boeing"-777 is only about 2 mm (0.09 inch)
As we zoom in the photos, we can see a huge number of small marks-"pockmarks" and black patches of soot on the external side of the cabin, and also the edges of the external skin that are bent inside. This suggests that the warhead exploded in close vicinity from the plane's skin. By some estimates, the distance between the pilot cabin and the epicenter of the explosion could be between 50 cm to 4-5m. At the same time the radius of the impact zone of the "BUK" is 17 m, the missile explodes above and ahead of the target, making a climb, and creates a large cloud made of six thousand shards. (source).
Citation from mh17webtalks: Detonation products '-- it was precisely them which left the numerous number of traces on the cockpit fragments '-- lose the ability to inflict mechanical damage (lose the kinetic energy) at the distance from the site of explosion equal to 15...20 radii of the explosive block. Correspondingly, given the explosive block radius of 10''15 cm we get 1.5''3.0 m The blast wave comes first after the start of the explosion, then go the hot gases, and then, due to being more bulky, shrapnel fragments. But gas slows down very quickly, so its traces can be found only next to the site of explosion.
The "BUK" doesn't match the photo with respect to the distance from the explosion. Well, perhaps it matches size of the holes?
To find out the diameter of the holes in the skin of the cabin we need to know the diameter of the head of the standard aviation rivet. Itis equal to 0,488 inch or 11 mm.
By correlating the parameters we get the size of the holes of about 20-30mm. The diameter of the round holes in the skin of the cabin in the size of 2-3 diameters of the hat of the aviation rivet.
The yellow-red outlines of some holes are faintly visible on the first photo '-- perhaps, this is a trace from the copper casing of the shell that produced these holes.
(As a bullet penetrates an obstacle, it pushes some of the obstacle's material forward and widens it, leaving the particles present on the bullet on the hole that is being formed. The band of rubbing, which is several millimeters wide, leaves the particles of the soot produced during the shot, the gun grease, metallic particles from the barrel and from the bullet itself).
However, there is no copper on the shrapnel sub-projectiles from the "BUK", but there is copper on the shells of aircraft cannons.
The ribbon of armor-piercing and high-explosive shells in an aircraft cannon, the shrapnel elements have cylindrical shape.
This is shown clearly here: How the aircraft cannon GSh-30 shoots
Besides several tens of round and oval holes, in the front part of the "Boeing" there are at least five more holes, which have rectangular and square shape. However, none of them penetrated the skin on the outside, so it is hard to determine their size. But we can speak of the sizes above 1 cm.
In the description of the R27 missile characteristics, for example (it can be also mounted on Su-25), the presence of prepared cubes above the rods in the warhead of the missile is mentioned. The former service members of the Russia and Ukraine air force write on their forum that R-60 is equipped with ready-made shrapnel elements in addition to the wolfram rods (a similar description of the shrapnel and rod-based warhead is present on other websites). (A magnified image of the warhead of the R-60 training missile.) Besides this, not a single known hole on the airplane skin, which includes the skin of the pilot cabin matches the last shown element.
The skin on the side of the pilot cabin attracts attention. The charge of a fragmentation warhead may enter various surfaces of the "Boeing" at various angles. The shape of the hole may be different depending on this '-- for example it may be round (if a spherical sub-projectile hits at the right angle) or it may be elongated (at acute angle). Here is how this looks like when a regular bullet hits metal.Perhaps, this is what explains the presence of holes of various sizes on one of the skin pieces to the side of the pilot cabin (Point 4 on the scheme of the left side of the Boeing).By comparing the holes with the rivet heads we can see that the width of these holes varies between 3 cm and 10 cm The angle of penetration of these shards may be equal to 25-30 degrees.
HOW "BUK" FIRES
The 9Ð'38Ð'1 missile, which is used in the "BUK-M1" complexes, consists of the fragmentation warhead 9Ð'314, which weighs 70 kg In its base there are 32 kg of sub-projectiles (4500 sub-projectiles, each weighing 8 g in the shape of an I-section [something between the shape of Ð' and Ð¥] and of 1500 cubes, each weighing 4 g). The source
On the internet there is a photo of one of the warheads of the missile complex. The I-secton shrapnel ''13 mm. The diameter of cubes is below 10 mm. Source and another source
If this type of the "ground-to-air" missile was used to attack the "Boeing", then the majority of the shrapnel holes would leave characteristic rectangular-shaped traces (the I-shaped fragments have better penetration force capabilities than the cubes).
One of the "Livejournal" users conducted an experiment '-- the "BUK" would have to leave the following type of traces in the skin of the "Boeing" if at least several sub-projectiles out of 4.5 thousands flew into it at an angle close to the right angle.
A detailed description of the experiment HERE.
On the skin of the discovered fragments of the "Boeing" there is not a single hole of this size.Furthermore, as the author of the experiment states, the sub-projectiles flying at the speed of 1200 m/s would have to leave a more clear trace in the thin material of the fuselage rather than say in the plating of the cabin, where the aluminum layer is reinforced. With the correction for the HE charge and the penetration angle, the "BUK" fragments may leave traces with the diameter of 18-20mm in the skin. One may read about the real sizes left by the fragmentation charges here, here, and here.
Two square fragments that were found in the cabin were exposed'-- one of them ended up being made of ceramics, the other one didn't match due to the beveled edge.
How an airplane that was shot down using a "BUK" looks like
On the internet there are photos of the remains of three airplanes that were shot down over the last 15 years presumably using "BUK" SAM complexes. In all three cases the crew remained alive for some time after the missile strike. In all cases the skin of the airplanes looks roughly the same: many small round or cross-shaped holes. More detail here.
The wreckage of An-26 plane, which was shot down in Ukraine on July 14, 2014, at the height of 6500 m.
It is well-known that on June 29 of 2014 the militia fighters captured the military unit 1402 in Donetsk, where there was one defective "BUK" vehicle. However, at that time the DPR representatives said that they are not going to repair it. It is also known that the "Osa" complexes that are present in Ukraine are also able to hit the targets like An-26 or Su-25 at the height of 6000 m.
Rod-shaped holes. One of the rods was found
We can see at least three cutting holes among the wreckage: on the left wing, in the area of the second left door, on the elements of the tail (see the scheme Left side of "Boeing"). For example, the hole in the skin next to the second left door has the length of about 10 cm.
The left wing
The cabin floor near to the second left door.
Next to this hole and the frames that are "cut" along it we can see an elongated element, which is externally similar to a fragment of the rod-shaped sub-projectile from the "air-to-air" aviation missile R-60M.The original photo
The skin of the lower part of the fuselage, next to the second door on the left Source
Left '' this is approximately how the rod-based warhead that is used on the Ukrainian attack jets looks like (Source). Right '' the warhead of the R-60 missile
The cross-section of the rocket without the striking elements Source
REFERENCE Su-25M1 attack jet, R-60M missileThe material of the warhead rods is the alloy of zirconium and molibdaine / wolfram. The warhead has relatively low power and is maximally effective by penetrating inside the frame of the target airplane. The detonators are the non-contact radio detonator "Kolibri" (developed in 1971) and also the contact backup detonator. The radius of the radio detonator is 5 m. The damage radius is 2.5 m. SourceHere is a description of the R-60M warhead (the 62M model). The rods used in it are a bit different from the classical thin elongated sagittal rods. In the export variant a set of "pseudo-rods" is used. These sub-projectiles are made of wolfram, which is heavier than steel. "The overlapping sub-projectiles made of wolfram, which is twice heavier than alloy steel. The cut the power wing set, airframes, and engines," '-- says the description of the R-60M warhead.Some sources state the mass of the rods: 3 g. The mass of the warhead is 3 kg. The rods are laid out in the case with a triangular framing '-- the rods probably have triangular section. "The space between the case and the rod-shaped sub-projectiles is filled with TNT, which has pyramidal holes next to each semi-prepared sub-projectile in the casing. The sub-projectiles weigh 3 g and reach the speed of 7.5km/s" (Source)
"The rod-shaped warhead of R-60M (62Ð') with wolfram rods laid out perpendicularly would result not in linear but rather in huge delta and diamond-shaped holes.
Only R-62 and, starting from the 80s, R-62M were exported. 70% of both missiles had a shrapnel (or ''pseudo-rod based'') rather than rod-based warhead.Source and HERE - http://vkjournal.ru/doc/3501214We can see large inbound ragged delta-holes, for example, on the right side in the skin of the second compartment. The soot trace can be seen on one of them. Besides, two similar holes can be seen on the floor of the front baggage compartment, not far from the pilot cabin.
Six delta- and diamond-shaped holes and three cutting holes on the left wing and on the lower part of the skin next to the second left door:
Source Source
The shapes of the holes match the damage that would be expected from the warhead of the R-60M, which is mounted on Su-25M1 attack jets.
The missile could target the "Boeing" engine but explode in 5 m to its side, which may include the area next to the left wing and the floor near the L2 exit, where the two holes characteristic to the rods were found. The Ukrainian PO "Arsenal" worked on modernizing the missile. The missiles were equipped with almost full-perspective infrared guidance system OGS-75T "Komar-M". (It supports magnification of the view up to 2/4 or even 1/4 (the possibility to launch into the front hemisphere of the target given the bearing at a certain angle), it is provided by the cooling of the photo-receiver of the target-seeking head. Serial production was done by NPK "Progress" (city of Kiev, source). The targeting range '-- sector of 34 degrees. The maximum speed of target displacement '' 35 deg/s).
It is also possible that after activating the lifting charge at the closest distance to the "Boeing" the warhead opened and the carrier R-60 hit the skin of the "Boeing" in the area of the landing gear chassis, close to the engines.
"Shrapnel-rod warheads are typically used on the "air-to-air" missiles due to their compact size. At the moment of the closest approach to the target, the lifting charge is exploded and a beam of rods heads towards the target at almost space velocity. If there is a hit, such a rod may be able to fully penetrate the airplane just due to the kinetics in almost every plane, destroying the internal infrastructure of the airplane and ruining the onboard equipment. The kinetics of the rod is such that it may be able to cut even a titanium longherone in two. Such warhead has another advantage: the missile doesn't need to be perfectly precise '-- it is blown up before contacting the target and the rods spread towards the airplane in a cone. Even if only 2-3% of these rods hit the target, the plane is doomed." Source
HOW THE MH17 "BOEING" WAS SHOT DOWN
Just seven seconds passed after the moment of the last response by the MH17 crew until the loss of the connection with the airplane. The crew didn't have enough time to tell the dispatchers about any threatening situation (if we believe the authenticity of the "missing" records from the air traffic control office in Dnepropetrovsk). So, the events in the pilot cabin unfolded rapidly.
After the impact the "Boeing" was turned around, it sharply lost airspeed '-- from 900 km/h down to 400 km/h and later it was gliding from the height of 10 thousand meters down to the height of about 2 thousand meters. The residents of Grabovo and Torez heard two very loud bangs in the sky. After going below the clouds, the "Boeing" started to disintegrate '-- a large piece of the fuselage landed in a forest plantation the closest to the original place where the plane was hit. This was a part of business-class and of the second compartment of the economy-class. They were found in Petropavlovka. Next to it, in Rassypnoye they found the separated pilot cabin and the bodies of 40 more people. The tail and the central part of the fuselage, along with the landing gear and the wings flew the farthest '-- in the field of the Grabovo village.
Between July 2014 and February 2015 the majority of the Boeing pieces were found. The right wing and the right side of the business-class, and also the nose of the "Boing" are missing. Up until now three passengers of the plane have not been identified. Overall, there were 298 people onboard. Metallic fragments were found in the body of the pilot, according to the Malaysian press. Overall, 25 metallic objects that triggered investigators' suspicion were found.
The left side of the cabin, the skin of floor of the cabin received the most damage from the shrapnel elements. Numerous holes are visible in the crew commander chair, and several holes in the chair of the second pilot. At least four holes are visible in the body of the crew commander. All of these holes have round shape.
The back of the seat of the second pilot, numerous holes can be seen on the side and in the back.
Considering the remains of the soot and a large number of small black dots '-- the traces of impact by the detonation products, the missile charge was engaged in exactly this area '-- outside the pilot cabin at close range.
Considering the height of this flight '' 10 thousand meters, the cabin could be reached either by a SAM complex (S-300, "BUK") or by an "air-to-air" missile.
And because there are no traces of the impact of rod-shaped sub-projectiles in the pilot cabin, but there are many holes with jagged edges '-- it was a fragmentation charge that exploded there. Such shells with round contact elements are used in the GSh-30 aircraft cannons, they are also characteristic for the S-200 and S-300 SAMs.
Because there are no cross-shaped traces '-- the dominating sub-projectiles of the BUK missile, and because the actual explosion occurred at the distance of no more than 5 m, we may reject the version of the use of BUK. The S-200 complexes are "not used" in the Ukraine since 2001, nobody recorded a launch of S-300 missiles in this area.
ATTACK ON THE BOEING FROM THE RIGHT, "IN PURSUIT"
Thus, the version of one or two Su-25M1 attack jets arose. These are modernized attack jets, which are present in Ukraine (by the moment of the tragedy, the Ukrainian air force had five such jets '-- one of the six Ukrainian Su-25M1 was shot down one day before the "Boeing" catastrophe).
The modernized Su-25M1 has digital gun sights, which improves the targeting precision by 30% compared to the standard analogs. The practical ceiling of a Su-25M1 is 10000m. The maximum velocity is 975 km/h.
"Due to installing a satellite navigation system, the airplane is able to hit the targets even if the pilot is not visually identifying them but when he knows their coordinates. The airplane is able to use its regular weapons agaist ground targets during both day and night, under the conditions of low visibility and without the need to leave clouds. The altitude on which it is possible to use the weapons was increased substantially, by almost a factor of 3".
Besides the object found among the wreckage, which is similar to the rod-shaped sub-projectile of the R-60M missile, this version is confirmed by the fragment of the air intake of the right engine of the "Boeing".
The fragment faces us upside-down '-- on the left side we can see a piece of the internal skin that was torn out and the right side is the other side with faint RR letters '-- if this piece is turned, then this will be a part of the air intake of the RIGHT ENGINE.
This small hole was discovered on the right engine of the "Boeing" '-- as stated by the respectable sources of the Wall Street Journal. The edges of the hole are torn to the outside, so in this case the piece of shrapnel penetrated the air intake by flowing from the tail side.
There is another piece of the engine '-- the rim of the turbine with the traces of the inbound holes, however it is impossible to determine which of the engines it belongs to. It is known that this fragment was found in the outskirts of Petropavlovka, where the right air intake was located. However, the left door was found here as well, which is located in front of the left engine.
If this is indeed a fragment of the right engine, then the fire was performed using an aircraft cannon from the right and the back and later from the right side through the broadside and the right engine towards the pilot cabin. Most likely fire was opened at close range (about 500-700m).
The right side of the "Boeing" skin between the cabin and the second door on the right wasn't found (at least, there are no photos of it in the open access). Wall Street Journal published the photos of the baggage shelves from the right side of the business-class. At the Gilze-Rijen air base the journalists were not allowed to come close to precisely these fragments of business-class by covering them with squares because the objects are of interest to the investigation.
SourceSource
Su-25 (Rook).
The aircraft is equipped with double-barreled immobile GSh-30 cannon on the left of the airframe in the lower nose part of the fuselage (the caliber is 30 mm, the ammunition load is 250 shells), which is mostly supposed to destroy weakly armoredtargets like APCs. Additionally, up to 4 GSh-23L cannons may be mounted, each of which has a mobile barrel that can veer down by 30 degrees (the ammunition load is 260 shells), and also two "air-to-air" missiles R-60 or R-27. In some variants it is possible to mount the R-77 missiles.
Here is how the first attack using the aircraft cannon from the right and the back "in pursuit" '-- the bullets penetrate the engine skin, the right side of the business-class and hit the pilots in the back. This version is considered in more detail here.
Either the aircraft cannon GSh-30 with armor-piercing or fragmentation ammunition (see above) with the caliber of 30 mm or the four cannons GSh-23 with the ammunition of 23 mm caliber could be used for shooting. Several holes on the discovered piece of skin of the pilot cabin and also the back of seat of the second pilot were most likely damaged by the shrapnel no bigger than 20-30mm, which flew from the side of the tail. This is suggested by several sources at once (link and another link ).
The pilots didn't see the attack jet in front of them '-- they were mortally wounded from the back. Already after this the Su-25 attacked the cabin from the front, when the "Boeing" was turned around. This is how the numerous entry and several exit holes on the cockpit plating were formed.
Entry and exit holes in the pilot cabin
The back seat of the pilot. It is possible to compare how the holes that form due to penetrating the fabric and the metal here and here
The body of the crew commander with holes in the chest.
CONCLUSION: A combined strike from a Su-25 M1 attack jet was performed against the Malaysian Boeing. The first attack from the Su-25M1 was performed on the course of the "Boeing" flight in pursuit '-- most likely the attack jet was located on the right side of the tail of the Malaysian airplane and fired while moving towards the right engine '-- in this direction the jet made several shots using its 23 mm or 30 mm aircraft cannon.
The pilots died after the first attack, a large-scale decompression occurred in the cabin, the electronics went out of order, the plane turned right and the "Boeing" was probably attacked by the attack jet again, but this time on the left side, in the cabin area from the side of the crew commander using the aircraft cannon and a R-60M rocket in the area of the left engine and the left door, on which the traces of penetration by rod-shaped sub-projectiles remained.
P.S. The author of the photo '-- the Dutch correspondent of RTL Jeroen Akkermans '' to whom I referred with respect to this fragment, ignored this topic. Unfortunately, we can only judge based on the photo.
TSA
TSA Security Screeners Accused Of Helping Smuggle Meth Through SFO CBS San Francisco
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:11
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) '-- Two security screeners at San Francisco International Airport were arrested and arraigned today on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and accepting a bribe from a third suspect, who is also in federal custody.
The alleged smuggling operation was coordinated, at least in part, through Facebook messages, which are quoted extensively in the criminal complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
San Francisco resident Claudio Rene Sunux, 30, and South San Francisco resident Amanda Lopez, 27, were working as security screeners as contractors for the Transportation Security Administration, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The morning of September 17, FBI agents provided Anibal Giovanni Ramirez, a 28-year-old San Francisco resident, with two pieces of luggage containing packages filled with 20 pounds of methylsulfonylmethane, a common filler or cutting agent. One of the bags also contained 68.5 grams of pure meth, according to the criminal complaint.
Lopez allegedly overlooked the packages as they were smuggled through a security checkpoint at San Francisco International Airport in exchange for money. Sunux allegedly coordinated the operation, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Ramirez has also been arrested and arraigned.
All three defendants have been charged with conspiracy to distribute meth, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years to life in prison and fines up to $10 million.
Sunux and Lopez have been charged with agreeing to receive a bribe, and Ramirez has been charged with offering to bribe a public official. Those offenses carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
All three defendants are currently in federal custody. Sunux and Lopez are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James on Monday in San Francisco. Ramirez will be in court on Wednesday.
Other agencies involved in this investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the TSA's Office of Inspection and the Oakland Police Department and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
(C) Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
AFRIKA
Message -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 00:35
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 03, 2015
TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:
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 13288 of March 6, 2003, with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions is to continue in effect beyond March 6, 2015.
The threat constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions has not been resolved. These actions and policies continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue this national emergency and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.
BARACK OBAMA
March 06, 2015 6:25 PM EST
Selma to Montgomery: 50 Years LaterPresident Obama, the First Lady, and their daughters are traveling to Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 marches. Visit WhiteHouse.gov/Selma to see additional content related to the marches.
March 06, 2015 6:05 PM EST
Week in Review: Let Girls Learn, a Ceremony for the Attorney General, and New Jobs NumbersFrom joining the First Lady to announce the Let Girls Learn initiative, to this month's new job numbers, the President had a pretty productive week. See more in the Week in Review.
March 06, 2015 1:34 PM EST
My Brother's Keeper: A Year of ProgressGreat efforts are underway in communities across the country '' but our young people still face great challenges. To truly change the face of opportunity in this country '' to truly make the bounty of America available to the many, and not just the few '' we must replicate and expand what's working.
view all related blog posts
Notice -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 00:34
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 03, 2015
NOTICE
- - - - - - -
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO ZIMBABWE
On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, the President declared a national emergency and blocked the property of certain persons, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1702-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions. These actions and policies had contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that country, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region.
On November 22, 2005, the President issued Executive Order 13391 to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 by ordering the blocking of the property of certain persons who undermine democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.
On July 25, 2008, the President issued Executive Order 13469, which expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 and authorized the blocking of the property of certain persons determined to have engaged in actions or policies to undermine democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe, to commit acts of violence and other human rights abuses against political opponents, and to engage in public corruption.
The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted on that date, on November 22, 2005, and on July 25, 2008, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond March 6, 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 13288.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
BARACK OBAMA
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO- Real Time with Bill Maher: Backstage with Bill Nye the Science Guy (HBO) - YouTube
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 14:49
VIDEO-Garcia promises to remove red light cameras on first day in office - Chicago Tribune
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:52
Mayoral challenger Jesus ''Chuy'' Garcia promised to remove the city's controversial red light cameras on his first day in office, casting the automated ticketing program as a ''rip-off'' effort from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
''It's time to end the red light rip-off,'' Garcia told reporters Thursday at his campaign headquarters on the Near West Side. ''No more tickets.''
However, Garcia didn't specify how the city might recoup nearly $70 million a year in lost revenue from the camera-generated tickets. Detailed plans for Chicago's finances will come next week, said Garcia, who argued that his stance on the camera program has nothing to do with the city budget.
''This is not an issue of revenue,'' said Garcia, a Cook County commissioner challenging Emanuel in the April 7 runoff. ''This is about safety. This is about being honest with Chicagoans that the budget isn't going to be balanced on their backs.''
Garcia's announcement Thursday marked his latest position on the red light camera program. In December he said he ''would keep only those cameras that can be fully proven to have reduced accidents. And those cameras that simply provide the city another way to pick our pockets should be shut down immediately.''
In January, Garcia signed a protest group's pledge to repeal the program. And last month he called for suspending the program while ''an independent study'' determines which cameras improve traffic safety.
Asked about his previous positions Thursday, Garcia replied: ''What I'm saying is that we will get rid of all the red light cameras because the program is flawed. The real motivation for it has always been to raise revenue.
''We will remain open to discussions and debate and analysis about whether anything is warranted,'' he added. ''But they will go because Chicagoans want them gone.''
Garcia's revised position on red light cameras is his second change of course this week. On Monday he reversed his monthslong opposition to allowing a Barack Obama presidential library to be built on city parkland.
The city has a red light contract with Xerox State & Local Solutions that it can suspend and end for a variety of reasons, but it could still be liable for early termination fees and other compensation. Garcia said Emanuel's administration should be responsible for escaping the contract.
''The contract will be ended,'' he said. ''We have a responsibility to ensure the welfare and safety of Chicagoans. Ending the red light camera program is one of those ways that we will further that cause.''
On Thursday, Emanuel's campaign issued a statement defending the red light camera ticketing program.
''These systems, which are used in hundreds of cities around the world, save lives and keep police on the beat taking on gangs and guns rather than writing speeding tickets,'' said Steve Mayberry, a spokesman for Emanuel's campaign.
A series of Tribune reports last year have exposed the Emanuel administration's failed oversight, unfair enforcement practices and bogus claims about safety benefits from the cameras.
Garcia referenced a Chicago Tribune-commissioned study from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute that belied Emanuel's claims that the more dangerous T-bone crashes are down 47 percent at red light camera intersections. The claim was based on faulty statistics and dubious science, according to national traffic safety experts.
The Tribune study found only a 15 percent reduction of T-bone crashes with injuries, offset by a 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes that resulted in injury. The cameras had no safety benefit at intersections that never had much of a crash problem before their installation, according to the study, raising questions about why they were installed in the first place.
The Tribune also found that Chicago's yellow light times are dangerously short and out of step with those of other major cities, citing national research and experts who said longer yellows significantly reduce crashes and red light citations.
On the stump and during debates, Emanuel points out that he fired the former vendor amid Tribune reports detailing how the program was allegedly born of a $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall. The mayor also says he has instituted reforms to make the program more transparent, and shut down 32 of 384 cameras around the city.
Emanuel's office has yet to explain the causes for dozens of wild spikes in tickets at intersections around the city that unfairly tagged tens of thousands of motorists with $100 fines '-- spikes that national experts say were caused by human tinkering, faulty equipment or both. An inspector general's investigation in response to the Tribune stories was stymied by a lack of city maintenance records.
Tribune reporters Bill Ruthhart and Hal Dardick contributed.
jjperez@tribpub.com
dkidwell@tribpub.com
Twitter @PerezJr
Copyright (C) 2015, Chicago Tribune
AUDIO: Harrison Ford reports engine failure to air traffic control | abc7.com
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:47
By Melissa Leu
Thursday, March 05, 2015 07:16PM
VENICE, Calif. (KABC) --
Minutes before his plane crashed at a Venice golf course, actor Harrison Ford tells an air traffic controller that he needs to immediately return to Santa Monica Airport because of engine failure.Listen to the audio from the air traffic control tower above.
(Copyright (C)2015 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
VIDEO-Denmark debates putting Mohammed cartoons in school textbooks - YouTube
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:31
VIDEO-Surprise: CNN Reports 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' is Based on Falsehood | MRCTV
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 11:01
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
The 6 March 2015 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 surprisingly spotlighted that the "hands up, don't shoot" narrative and chant forwarded by many left-wing supporters of Michael Brown's family is grounded in falsehoods. Correspondent Sara Sidner cited a recent Justice Department report that underlined that the mantra is "inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence" and that "witnesses have acknowledged their initial accounts were untrue."
VIDEO-On CNN, Van Jones Admits 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' is 'Not Provable' | MRCTV
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 10:58
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
From the 6 March 2015 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
ANDERSON COOPER: Van, the fact that the Justice Department report said the narrative that Michael Brown had his hands up wasn't accurate '' that 'hands up, don't shoot' '' that chant that we heard constantly '' from all evidence, that was not true. That did not happen. Isn't it important to acknowledge that?
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO OBAMA W.H.: Well, listen, I think it's important to acknowledge that some things are possible, and some things are provable. It is certainly not provable that Mike Brown had his hands up. And I think it's important for people who care about facts to '' to be willing to talk about that in a straightforward manner.
We'll never know what happened. Something strange happened. You did have that video of those construction workers who were white and watching. They put their hands up after the shooting, and said something happened that was wrong.
But much more importantly, this thing was about Mike Brown for about two weeks. After that, it became a cry of a generation that feels that it is criminalized and guilty until it's proven innocent, rather than innocent until proven guilty, all too often. And so, it became a rallying cry for a generation of people trying to say '' look, we can be innocent. Just because we have black skin doesn't mean you should assume that we are guilty. Ninety percent of all African-Americans are not involved in crime as victims or as '' as perpetrators. And so, I think it was a generational cry that we can be innocent. But I do think we have to deal with the facts. In this case, the facts don't bear out what many people feared.
VIDEO-The First Lady on the Launch of the Campaign to Change Direction on Mental Health | The White House
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 05:25
March 06, 2015 | 1:08 | Public Domain
The First Lady produced this public-service announcement to help launch the Campaign to Change Direction, a new nationwide campaign to raise awareness around mental health in America.
Download mp4 (42MB) | mp3 (1MB)
VIDEO-What crash? Harrison Ford saved his own life and demonstrates why good pilots make small aircraft remarkably safe to fly - NaturalNews.com
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 04:48
(NaturalNews) Flying a vintage aircraft that apparently lost power, Harrison Ford saved his own life by doing precisely what all pilots are trained to do in the event of a power loss: control the plane's descent to make a non-powered landing that you can walk away from.And that's precisely what Harrison Ford just did, as this YouTube video clearly shows. Although Ford reportedly suffered injuries, he was apparently able to walk away from the accident on his own two feet, with the help of others nearby.
While YouTubers who have never flown small aircraft are quick to leap to false conclusions with statements like "Small aircraft are dangerous to fly!", the truth is that Harrison Ford just proved why small aircraft are so remarkably safe when piloted by someone who is adequately trained and experienced.
The FAA requires ALL small aircraft pilots to undergo extensive training in emergency landing procedures.
If you examine the photo of the aircraft, there are several very important things to notice:' It's clear the aircraft experienced a loss of primary engine power. This is the most common emergency scenario for which small aircraft pilots are repeatedly trained. For pilots who are certified by the FAA, the process of gliding the aircraft into an emergency descent becomes second nature.
' Ford was able to control the aircraft's descent into what appears to be a narrow clearing in a public park dotted with many trees and fences (perhaps baseball backstops?). The skill required to pick out such a landing spot upon power failure -- and glide your aircraft to that landing spot -- is precisely what pilots gain when undergoing FAA pilot training.
' The airplane shows no apparent damage whatsoever to the wings, ailerons, tail or elevators. This indicates Ford was able to maintain aircraft pitch, roll, yaw and air speed in a very narrow window of relative safety. Once again, excellent training pays off. The photos shows Ford did all the right things and controlled the aircraft while throwing off kinetic energy at a slow enough pace to preserve his own life.
' The only apparent damage to the plane is noticeable on the engine cowling, and this is entirely expected in an emergency landing where the landing gear are stripped off by the soft ground, causing what's called a "prop strike" to occur, where the propeller digs into the ground. This prop strike causes a strong forward pivot of the entire engine, which is likely what caused the apparent damage to the engine cowling. (This plane will likely never be certified to fly again, but Harrison Ford will!)
' Due to his training, Ford was able to avoid the plane digging its nose into the ground and flipping vertically, tail over nose. So-called "soft field landings" always present a risk of tail-over-nose flips if the pilot is not sufficiently trained or experienced in such landings. Once again, Ford did all the right things to avoid such a problem.
' Additionally, Ford was apparently able to guide the plane into a controlled emergency landing in a way that avoided causing injury to other innocent people on the ground. Again, this is due entirely to his training and experience. Clearly there were people nearby, yet Ford was able to completely avoid them, even though his cockpit position in the aircraft does not afford him much visibility at all.
' On the issue of visibility, notice that Ford's aircraft is a "low wing" plane, meaning the wings are mounted below the seated position of the pilot. This stands in contrast to "high wing" aircraft such as Cessnas which offer far better visibility of the ground during emergency landings. Successfully landing a low-wing aircraft on a soft field during an emergency loss of power requires considerable skill and strong command over the aircraft.
Above all, this incident reinforces two things:
1) Trained pilots make small aircraft remarkably safe to fly, even in emergency situations.
2) Harrison Ford's training paid off in saving his own life and preventing the loss of life for innocents on the ground.
In fact, having seen how he handles this controlled descent with such expertise and skill, I would gladly fly with Harrison Ford any day!
About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.
In late 2013, Adams launched the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, where he conducts atomic spectroscopy research into food contaminants using high-end ICP-MS instrumentation. With this research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products to low levels by July 1, 2015.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.
Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.
Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.
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VIDEO-NRC FY2016 budget hearing - Sen Alexander and Sen Feinstein - Atomic Insights
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 04:46
On March 4, 2015, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development held a hearing about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's FY2016 budget. The video archive is available for review.
The only senators from the subcommittee who took part in the hearing were Sen Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with an invited guest appearance from Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Sen Alexander is the chairman of the committee, Sen Feinstein is the ranking member. With the small number of senators attending the hearing, the usual 5 minute time limit per senator for questions and answers was waived by the Chairman. That feature helped make this hearing more informative than usual.
All four current NRC commissioners '-- Stephen Burns, Jeff Baran, William Ostendorff, and Kristine Svinicki '-- testified at the hearing. Burns, Ostendorff and Baran submitted written statements.
Chairman Burns's statement includes a comprehensive summary of the agency's FY2016 budget request. In addition it provides two ''good news'' numbers related to FY2015 '-- annual license fee for operating reactors will be reduced by 5% from $5,223,000 to $4,750,000, and the professional staff hour rate will be reduced from $279/hr to $268/hr. These new rates will be published in the proposed FY2015 fee rule in the next few weeks for public comment. In the FY2015 enacted budget the number of full time equivalents (FTE) was reduced by 26.5 from the FY2014 number.
The FY2016 budget request reflects a $17.3 million reduction in total available resources and a 37.5 reduction in FTE. As explained by Chairman Burns's testimony, the budget request is actually a few million dollars higher than the FY2015 appropriation, but the resources available in FY2015 included authorization to use $34.2 million in unobligated fee-based revenue carried over from FY2013.
There are small decreases in most budget lines, including oversight of operating reactors and new reactor licensing reviews that reflect both a reduced workload and an increase in the assumed productivity of the staff, which appears to be quantified as an increased number of billable, non-overhead hours.
Watching this hearing was a refreshing experience compared to watching Sen Boxer and Sen Markey grill the commissioners. As usual, Senator Alexander was strongly supportive of nuclear energy and reminded the commissioners that their job was to maintain safety, but not to strangle the valuable industry by byzantine, expensive rules.
He told them to diligently review their current practices and he expressed keen interest in the program that Chairman Burns described as a review of the cumulative effects of regulation.
Alexander took a little detour and used the example of a recent study conducted at Vanderbilt University to quantify the costs of complying with federal regulations. He stated that he was not terribly surprised by finding out that compliance added a substantial burden, but he was shocked to find out that it ended up adding the equivalent of $11,000/year in cost for each enrolled student. He told the commissioners that every regulatory agency exhibits the tendency to add rules without understanding how much they cost to follow and enforce.
Commissioner Svinicki mentioned that the NRC had recently been informed that they needed to improve their methods for cost analysis; evaluation of industry data revealed several orders of magnitude underestimations of the cost. As Svinicki pointed out, with errors that large in cost projections, it is virtually certain that some enacted regulations would not have been passed due to insufficient benefits to justify the expense.
Though much more polite and generally supportive of nuclear energy than her California senatorial colleague, Sen Feinstein spent a major portion of her time criticizing the fact that the NRC had determined that on site storage of used nuclear fuel was adequately safe for an indefinite period of time. She initially indicated that rule change had made her begin to question her support of nuclear power since it seemed like the NRC was going to allow used fuel to remain on site forever.
Commissioner Ostendorff patiently explained that the NRC does not believe that fuel should be left on site forever, but it does believe that it would be safe to continue keeping it where it is '-- in either dry casks or in spent fuel pools '-- for as long as necessary given the monitoring and security requirements that already exist. He also tried to gently remind Sen Feinstein that the NRC is not the responsible agency for establishing a site or a system of moving existing fuel. It is responsible for the safety oversight of that activity.
The commissioners and the senators discussed the near term prospect that an existing low level waste storage site in west Texas has announced plans to file a license application to convert part of its land into an interim used fuel storage site that could begin accepting shipments once the license has been approved. Chairman Burns reminded the senators that the NRC has experience reviewing such sites and has even issued a license for a facility that was never built. He did not mention that the Private Fuel Storage site was blocked by the Department of the Interior.
At the end of the hearing, there was an important exchange between Sen Alexander and Commissioner Ostendorff. Following that exchange, Sen Alexander did something unusual; he took his share of responsibility for the failure of the federal government to follow through on its contracted obligation to take used nuclear fuel away from licensees. I thought you might enjoy watching the final few minutes of the hearing, assuming that you did not invest the time to watch the full version linked above.
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VIDEO-omen On 20s
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 04:28
A Woman's Place Is on the Money
Women On 20s aims to compel historic change by convincing President Obama that NOW is the time to put a woman's face on our paper currency. But who should it be? We believe that's for you, the public, to decide from a slate of 15 inspiring American women heroes. Welcome to the voting booth. Here you may learn things about the candidates you never knew and get your questions answered about the whys and hows of our game plan. We believe this simple, symbolic and long-overdue change could be an important stepping stone for other initiatives promoting gender equality.Our money does say something about us, about what we value.So together, let's make our money egalitarian and inclusive!
It's our mission to generate an overwhelming people's mandate for a new $20 bill, to be issued in time for the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. Think of it as honoring the vote by casting your vote. The process of commissioning, designing and minting a new bill takes years, so now is a good time to act.
We're depending on you, the voters, to spread the word and spark a national conversation about respecting the accomplishments, power and influence of American women. That's what will make this happen. So like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and email everyone you know with a link to this website. Won't it be exciting to have a part in transforming American history into our story?
If you'd like to help us fund the most far-reaching, informative and empowering campaign possible, please click on the donate link under Support W2O above. Your contribution will be fully tax-deductible and no amount is too small.
"Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven't been part of history." -- Gloria Steinem
VIDEO-Over 500 Pakistani parents arrested for children's failure to get polio vaccine - CNN.com
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 03:18
Story highlightsOfficial: Parents who sign affidavit vowing to vaccinate their children will be releasedPakistan has more new polio cases than any other countryMilitants have targeted health workers administering vaccines for yearsPeshawar Deputy Commissioner Riaz Khan Mehsud told CNN that the 513 arrests took place Monday and Tuesday as part of a government campaign to administer polio vaccines in parts of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Those arrested will be released on bail if they sign an affidavit stating that they will let their children get vaccinated, according to the deputy commissioner.
Pakistan's vaccination rate is inordinately low for a number of reasons, including attacks on medical workers, the displacement of people due to ongoing military operations and a lack of trust by some families.
Whatever the reason, the fact that a large number of children are not immunized is having an impact.
Such vaccines are credited with wiping out polio in most parts of the world. But Pakistan is an exception, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership that includes the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The South Asian nation leads all others in new polio cases in recent years, and has nine of this year's 10 reported cases.
In 2014, Pakistan had 327 cases. The next closest country was Nigeria, with 36 cases.
Authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province hope to ensure that 2.7 million children there get vaccine drops. They've learned about more than 13,000 cases in which parents have not done so since a provincial campaign began two weeks ago, Mehsud said.
Dr. Bilal Ahmad, a UNICEF team leader based in Pakistan, called authorities' unprecedented move a last-ditch effort to clear polio from "cluster" zones where large numbers of families have refused to get their children vaccinated.
"First the workers (try to) convince them, then their supervisors, then senior members of the community," Ahmad said. "(This government action) is the final step in eradicating this issue."
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that primarily affects young children, sometimes leading to paralysis and death. The virus is easily preventable through immunization, but there's no cure once it is contracted.
It went from being a health issue to a security issue after U.S. intelligence officials used a vaccination program to help in their hunt for Osama bin Laden in 2011. Under cover of the program, the CIA sought to collect DNA samples from relatives of the al Qaeda leader to verify his presence in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
CIA policy: Won't use vaccination programs as part of operations
Those administering the vaccines have become targets, with the National Emergency Operations Center reporting that more than 70 medical workers have been killed in attacks since December 2012.
And in June 2012, Pakistani Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur announced that polio vaccines would be banned in another Pakistani province -- North Waziristan -- because of drone strikes there. Bahadur called the strikes "worse than polio."
CNN's Sophia Saifi reported from Islamabad, and CNN's Greg Botelho wrote this report from Atlanta.
VIDEO-Judge Napolitano vs Michael Hayden CPAC 2015 Privacy vs Security Debate - YouTube
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:08
VIDEO-Celebrating Black History Month at The White House | The White House
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:05
March 02, 2015 | 3:27 | Public Domain
To celebrate Black History Month, the White House honored the courage and contributions of African Americans who came before us, and highlighted ways that the Obama administration has been working to empower communities across America.
AUDIO-Climate Skeptic Senator Burned after Snowball Stunt - Scientific American
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:58
Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe carried a snowball onto the Senate floor to insinuate that climate change was not real, after which Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse torched Inhofe's argument. Steve Mirsky reports
March 2, 2015 |By Steve Mirsky''In case we have forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, you know what this is? It's a snowball. And that's just from outside here. So it's very, very cold out.''
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, the biggest and loudest climate change denier in Congress, last week on the floor of the senate. But his facile argument, that it's cold enough for snow to exist in Washington, D.C., therefore climate change is a hoax, was rebutted in the same venue by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:
''You can believe NASA and you can believe what their satellites measure on the planet, or you can believe the Senator with the snowball. The United States Navy takes this very seriously, to the point where Admiral Locklear, who is the head of the Pacific Command, has said that climate change is the biggest threat that we face in the Pacific'...you can either believe the United States Navy or you can believe the Senator with the snowball'...every major American scientific society has put itself on record, many of them a decade ago, that climate change is deadly real. They measure it, they see it, they know why it happens. The predictions correlate with what we see as they increasingly come true. And the fundamental principles, that it is derived from carbon pollution, which comes from burning fossil fuels, are beyond legitimate dispute'...so you can believe every single major American scientific society, or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.''
'--Steve Mirsky
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
Proof he's the Science Guy: Bill Nye is changing his mind about GMOs - The Washington Post
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:43
By Puneet KolliparaMarch 3
He's not making his popular children's science show anymore, but Bill Nye the Science Guy is still making a public impact by going after pseudoscience and science denial. He's railed against the idea of teaching creationism in public schools, and he's come to the defense of climate science and vaccines.
But on another hot-button issue involving science '-- genetically modified organisms (GMOs) '-- Nye has actually angered many scientists. Over the years, including in a chapter in his 2014 book ''Undeniable,'' Nye has suggested that there's something fundamentally problematic with foods containing GMO crops. He has argued that GMOs may carry environmental risks that we can never rule out with certainty.
Now, Nye seems to have changed his mind. Backstage after an appearance on Bill Maher's ''Real Time,'' Nye said an upcoming revision to his book would contain a rewritten chapter on GMOs. ''I went to Monsanto,'' Nye said, ''and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there, and I have revised my outlook, and I'm very excited about telling the world. When you're in love, you want to tell the world.''
Nye's sudden about-face on GMOs might strike some people as suspicious, especially since it came after he visited a corporation that many food and environmental activists detest and that has practically become synonymous with GMOs. But Nye is telling us that, irrespective of the corporation's business practices, he changed his mind after learning more about the science. Is he right?
Here's some background information. Normally, humans would have to wait a long time for nature to create new crop varieties by natural selection. To speed things up, humans have performed ''artificial selection'' since the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Most commonly, humans have cross-bred plants with the most desirable traits over and over again.
[Climate change is really bad news if you like oysters, scallops and clams]
Today, however, humans can skip the cross-breeding process in many cases. In genetic modification, scientists insert new genes directly into plants' DNA. In some cases, we've given crops genes from totally different species.
The process might not sound wholesome or natural. And that's one of the concerns Nye has raised. In his book ''Undeniable,'' he suggests we should stop introducing genes from other species into crops, largely because ''we just can't quite know what will happen to other species in that modified organism's ecosystem.'' Essentially, Nye suggested, we can't cut out the possibility of harm with certainty.
The mere fact that something is a GMO doesn't tell us all that much, however, about how the plant actually functions. Rather, the way a GMO plant works stems from the new genes and traits themselves, whether they were inserted by scientists or came from the same species. So scientists assess GMOs' safety based not on whether they're GMO, but on what their new genes actually do and the resulting changes in the plants.
[The monarch massacre: Nearly a billion butterflies have vanished]
And since GMOs cover such a wide range of traits, we have to assess them one by one. Although technically it's not mandatory to test GMOs for human health risks before they hit the marketplace in the United States (a concern of the American Medical Association), all current crops sold here have undergone voluntary review to test for potential toxins and allergens.
Over the years, as peer-reviewed scientific studies on GMOs have piled up, scientific organizations ranging from the National Academy of Sciences to the World Health Organization have analyzed them and reached similar conclusions: GMOs on the market today are no riskier for your health than their non-GMO equivalents.
A recent analysis of the scientific literature also found that GMO crops haven't been worse for the environment than their non-GMO counterparts and, in some cases, have been better, for instance by reducing pesticide use. That finding echoes a 2010 NAS report that said GMO crops, generally speaking, ''have had fewer adverse effects on the environment than non-GE crops produced conventionally.''
Those studies still might not have satisfied Nye. More and more of these studies and assessments could continue to pile up for decades. But just the mere possibility of an environmental impact, in his view, seems to have justified stopping the GMOs.
Nothing in science is ever 100 percent certain, however. For instance, we can't be sure that our conventional and even organic crops are 100 percent safe, either. In theory, any crop, whether the result of cross-breeding or genetic modification or even mutagenesis (long used to create non-GMO crops such as rice and lettuce by exposing plants to DNA-altering chemicals or radiation) carries the risk of harming human health or surrounding ecosystems.
That all explains why Nye has found himself in especially hot water with scientists over GMOs. As University of Florida plant scientist Kevin Folta recently argued, Nye was being hypocritical: ''Your logic and reasoning match the fallacies of climate and evolution deniers, the people you correctly criticize.''
I'm not saying GMOs are a silver bullet to end world hunger or that I love Monsanto. And I'm not saying that there aren't cases where individual GMOs might result in environmental issues, such as pest resistance. Debating GMOs' benefits and risks is healthy. But making GMOs the bogeyman while giving other crops a pass isn't.
Thanks for reading our new Energy & Environment coverage! You can sign up for our weekly newsletter here and follow our tweets here. Also in Energy & Environment:
Your shower is wasting huge amounts of energy and water. Here's what you can do about it
Forget about that snowball '-- here's what climate change could actually do to our winters
Knowing your 'energy personality' could save you a lot of money

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