703: Lowjistiks

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 9m
March 12th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Mr. Nick "Nicholas Stowe", Denis Possing, Stephen B, Eric Finkenbiner, Sir Sean Connelly, Eric Hoff, Sir High Voltage of Middle Tennessee-Jon Noles, John Harrison, Sir Norman McDonough, Baronet, Kevin Brosseau,

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Ara Derderian, Dame Astrid, Viscountess of Tokyo, Baronetess Monica Lansing, Mikhail Garber

Cover Artist: MartinJJ

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
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TODAY
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Wappie
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Taidiek bottom of rice pan
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Talking to yourself cellphone fake
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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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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Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape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''703, 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 Thinking and Communicating
From Andrew Sawyer
Hi Adam.
I am so thankful for you and John. I have been given a view of the world that I cannot stop looking at. Black is white and white is black. I know that the world is manipulated so strongly in terms of what people see and hear.
I've long since turned off my television. But my friends have not. They are so convinced that terrorism is real (it's real it's real it's real) and that brown people are out to kill us.
I just got shit on so badly in a group text for standing up and saying effectively "pre crime is horse shit"
And I often find myself holding back in conversations where I know it is bullshit. I am so burnt out by this Adam. I sometimes wish I was an ignorant slave, it would be easier to just buy into the system.
I really need some words of wisdom here man. Being not even 30 and knowing how fucked the world is, is not helping.
From JCD's Newsletter - Final Paragraph
You are being bombarded by misinformation, disinformation, false information, harmful information. No Agenda is a valuable shield against the damage. Please support us.
Caliphate!
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Israeli Spy video
Kid does the killing
Frontal, not back of the head
Glock 21 45acp - RARE in the desert?
Sir DH SLammer says:
I ran the "money shot@ frame by frame and found many problems with the video you are probably already aware of. They shot the scenes pretty much how i would have story boarded a fake gun execution.
I realized it at the time but it didnt hit me until i was in the shower: the biggest issue i have with the video is the use of a glock 21.
As you may know, the 21 is chambered in 45acp. That would be extraordinarily difficult to obtain that weapon AND that ammo for a brown person in middle east sand.
The other technical gaffes i will leave to other producers.
BUT WHO?
United states law enforcement is probably largest official user of a glock 21 but thats still not even a tenth as much as a Glock 22 .40 cal in US LEO
Im not aware of any modern army or law enforcement that uses a glock 21 as standard issue.
There are tons of armies that use glock 17 but it appears to be the fatter slide of a 21 in the video. You Should ask some other glock lovers for a second opinion. On this as the frame marking is not clearly visible in the vid.
Special Forces Glocks - Page 2 of 2
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 09:30
The rugged, reliable backup to special operators worldwide.
Glocks In ActionThere is an array of reasons why the Glock is especially well suited to special ops units. One of the most appealing is its durability and simplicity of maintenance. Glocks used at training facilities have fired a million rounds or more and kept operating. Special operators inserted behind enemy lines don't have ready access to an armorer, and since their pistol is their personal survival/backup weapon, they need to know it will keep going even if their primary weapon goes down. Maintenance is another key factor in the Glock's suitability. A Glock armorer can be trained in a half day, thus allowing many members of a special ops unit to receive the training. With this training, they can stick a small packet of spare parts and one small tool in their pack and be ready to keep their unit's Glocks running. Bear in mind, too, that the Glock 17 was developed specifically to meet rigorous bid specifications for a new Austrian army pistol.
The availability of a family of pistols from Glock is advantageous to many special military or police units that have an array of missions. For example, many units that issue the Glock 17 also issue the compact Glock 26 for concealed use on VIP protection assignments or when operating in plainclothes on surveillance missions. For a few units, the select-fire Glock 18 is also available for use in breaking a mass attack. Although the 9mm Glock 17 is overwhelmingly the choice of special units, a few find the availability of other calibers useful. This is true with one of the more interesting units in the world, Denmark's Slaedepatruljen Sigius. Comprised of two-man sled teams who patrol the wastes of Greenland, this unit carries 10mm Glock 20s to gain additional knockdown power against large polar bears.
For some special operations units with a maritime mission, the Glock's combo of polymer and metal finished in black to withstand salt water has made it an excellent choice. Glock also offers a special sub-aqua spring cup, which will allow the pistol to be fired effectively underwater. The U.S. Navy SEALs have used at least some sub-aqua Glocks. And, if there is time after coming ashore, the Glock may be quickly stripped and dunked in fresh water to wash off the salt and apply a touch of oil. Glocks also lend themselves well to being suppressed, with special threaded extension barrels available. Among others, Greek DYK combat swimmers use Glocks equipped with suppressors during combat boarding operations.
One tactical consideration that makes the Glock appealing is its large magazine capacity. The Glock 17 has a standard 17-round magazine but will take longer magazines, including the 33-round mag designed for the Glock 18. Since smaller pistols in the same series will take the longer magazines, an operator carrying a Glock 26 for concealment can carry Glock 17 magazines as spares. Another tactical advantage of the Glock is that it can be used with either hand since the safety is contained in the trigger and will work equally well with the right or left hand. The Glock's fast action system allows the pistol to be brought into action quickly without the need to operate a manual safety, meaning you can make a quick transition to the other hand if injured. Some forget that the Glock 17 is designed to take a lanyard. For military special operators who may be inserted by fast rope or small boat or climbing a cliff, retention of the weapon is very important. Additionally, the fact that Glock offers a blue model chambered for Simunition cartridges is a real advantage to special operators, who can now employ a wide range of force-on-force realistic training scenarios to hone their skills. Last but not least, Glocks are quite inexpensive compared to competitive pistols, which means governments on strict budgets have a solid weapons solution for their valuable men and women in service.
Other than in situations where one hand may be used to do things such as climb over a ship's rail, rappel or operate in constricted places, the Glock will rarely be the special operator's primary weapon. However, as his or her secondary weapon, the Glock is the go-to for an emergency, and in the world of special operations, emergencies are often deadly circumstances. These are the places where the Glock's legendary durability and reliability make the firearm an excellent companion. For more information, visit us.glock.com or call 770-432-1202.
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Windham Weaponry Carbon Fiber SRC | Gun Review
But used by special forces as secondary weapon
NO EXIT DEBRIS
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BBC News - US-led exercise in Chad prepares troops to fight terror
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:59
9 March 2015Last updated at 10:33 ET By Thomas FessyMao, ChadTroops from 20 African countries are training to fight terror in an exercise deep in the desert of Chad. The drills are part of new Western counter-terrorism tactics on the continent.
Down at the firing range, it is the Chadians' turn. American special forces are training them on the machine gun.
Chadian soldiers queue to lie down on a piece of cardboard, load the weapon and aim at a target around 150 metres away.
Occasionally we hear the "ding" from a bullet hitting the metallic target.
But what makes the soldiers cheer is when one of their comrades holds the trigger down, shooting several rounds at once from the automatic weapon.
This shooting session is taking place in western Chad, in a section of the Sahel region that skirts the southern edges of the Sahara Desert.
It is part of Operation Flintlock, an annual counter-terrorism exercise led by the United States and held with their Nato allies in West Africa.
This tenth edition is particularly timely. These drills are taking place against the backdrop of a region preparing to take on Boko Haram in Nigeria.
In fact, these Chadian troops may be going straight back into battle as soon as their training is over.
Chad has taken the lead in the fight against Boko Haram, having already engaged the group in neighbouring Nigeria as well as in Cameroon and Niger.
"Our biggest challenge is intelligence to allow us to fight," explains Gen Zakaria Ngobongue.
"Our means may be limited - we have to make do with our weaknesses - but if our Western partners are supporting us and accompanying us, I am sure that we will put an end to Boko Haram."
Boko Haram at a glance Founded in 2002 Official Arabic name, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad" Initially focused on opposing Western education Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state Designated a terrorist group by US in 2013 Declared a caliphate in areas it controls in 2014 Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau
Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram
Light footprintProviding intelligence is something that Western powers are ready to do - and are already doing.
Unlike in Iraq, where they are carrying out air strikes against Islamic State (IS), the US and European countries would rather stay behind the scenes of this conflict and other counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel region.
British forces have been training Nigerian units over the last few years, and are doing so here during Flintlock.
"We're in a phase now of persistent engagement and a regular rhythm of involvement with our partners, but keeping our footprint light, rather than just an episodic burst and then just go away again," says Tom Copinger-Symes, a British Brigadier.
A light footprint, he says, can mean "everything from low-level training, tactics, to co-ordination, to intelligence fusion and really how to work together within a coalition".
A new approachEngaging as a coalition is what units from African nations will need. They have been doing it as a live exercise here; soon, they will have to do it for real.
Mounting a regional force against Boko Haram - the Multi-National Joint Task Force - has so far proven that communication between neighbours remains difficult.
The fight against terrorism has come to the Sahara, but not with the type of military campaign that has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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This year's training exercises in Chad are particularly timely as the region prepares to take on Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria
The French have redeployed their military forces, mostly targeting al-Qaeda affiliates and establishing a regional presence of undetermined length.
But France, the US and their Western allies have had a different approach to that in Middle East countries - relying on surveillance, very few boots on the ground and the training of regional armies.
Yet, the impact that this build-up of military assets will have on the stability of the region remains questionable.
Analysts point to the nature of relationships that Western states are forging in the Sahel with authoritarian regimes in the name of counter-terrorism, and warn that they could lead to further trouble in fragile states there.
As one European senior military official, who didn't want to be named, tells me: "What is the alternative?"
Islamist militancy now spans from Nigeria to Mali in West Africa, to Libya further north, where IS fighters have become further entrenched in recent months.
Major General James Linder, Commander of US Special Operations Command Africa, says: "All of us are concerned about the instability in Libya and how that spreads across the region - whether it's the movement of foreign fighters or whether it's the movement of weapons systems, that put many different nations at risk."
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Boko Haram in 60 seconds
'Can't do it alone'Over the weekend, the leader of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to IS - a move that was expected and that, at least for now, may not change the Nigerian group's capacity.
But it certainly raises fears that networks of jihadi groups are expanding across the region.
"We can't fight these enemies alone," says Maj Gen Linder.
"One man can't do it alone, one nation can't do it alone. We have to work together."
Western countries are treading with a light step in the Sahara and are hoping that their hosts will do the heavy lifting.
As the light starts going down, a group of Mauritanian soldiers and their Spanish instructors improvise some dance moves in the sand. They clap and chant too.
But all there is to celebrate, for now, is the end of yet another exercise in the desert.
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I witnessed Jihadi John behead Japanese hostage, ISIS defector claims | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:49
Defector: Mohammed Emwazi was responsible for killing foreign prisonersStaged fake executions while reassuring them they would not be murderedCaptives were given Arabic names to lure them into false sense of security Explains why hostages appear calm right to when knife is placed on throat By Simon Tomlinson for MailOnline
Published: 03:06 EST, 10 March 2015 | Updated: 06:10 EST, 10 March 2015
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A former member of the Islamic State today claimed he witnessed the British graduate dubbed Jihadi John behead a Japanese hostage.
The man, named only as Saleh, said the masked militant who appears in several beheading videos was a senior figure in the extremist organisation responsible for murdering foreign captives.
Jihadi John, who was recently unmasked as 26-year-old Londoner Mohammed Emwazi, was last seen in a video posted online which appeared to show Japanese hostage Kenji Goto lying dead.
Saleh, who worked as a translator, also revealed that ISIS routinely subjected hostages to mock executions so that when their beheading did finally come they were not expecting to die.
ISIS executioner Mohammed Emwazi who is known as Jihadi John (seen, left, with Japanese hostage Kenji Goto) was a senior figure tasked with murdering foreign captives, claims a defector known as Saleh (right)
Face of a killer: Saleh, who worked as a translator, revealed that Emwazi (above) routinely subjected hostages to mock executions so that when their beheading did finally come they were not expecting to die
Speaking to told Sky News in broken English from Turkey after fleeing ISIS, Saleh said: 'When he killed Kenji Goto, I live showed this (saw this) but not near, from a little (distance).
'The big boss was there with them. Turkish man say "put this camera there, change place there" but John (was) the big boss.
'All time, all time say to all "fastly, fastly, fastly, we should finish". So respect him. Only he talks orders - others do.'
Saleh said the prisoners would be given Arabic names to make it appear like they were with friends and continually reassured that they would not be killed.
He said: 'He would say to me "say to them, no problem, only video, we don't kill you, we want from your government [to] stop attacking Syria.
"We don't have any problem with you; you are only our visitors".'
Saleh said he explained to the hostages that they were safe, but always knew they would be killed.
His comments explain why so many of the prisoners appear so calm in the executions videos right up to the point where the knife is placed against their throat.
A still photo of Kenji Goto holding a picture of Jordanian pilot Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh. ISIS defector Saleh revealed how hostages were given Arabic names to give them the impression they were among friends
'This is my last message': Audio of hostage Kenji Goto Jogo
After Mr Goto was killed, Saleh said three of four men put the body in the boot of a car and drive off, with Emwazi leaving in a different direction.
Appearing with his face covered, the man added Jihadi John won respect for murdering foreign prisoners.
He said: 'Maybe because he use the knife. I cannot understand why he is so strong.
'One man can kill and all people will respect. A Syrian man anyone [in ISIS] can kill. But strangers [foreigners], only John.'
And hostages were routinely subjected to mock executions, with their captors telling them they would not be killed as it was a show for the camera, according to Saleh.
Murderer: Jihadi John seen (in black mask) leading the execution of a dozen prisoners. Emwazi was a senior figure in the extremist organisation responsible for murdering foreign captives, according to defector Saleh
Kuwait-born Emwazi had been pinpointed as a potential terrorist by the British authorities, but was nonetheless able to travel to Syria in 2013 and join a group responsible for the murder of several Western hostages.
In e-mail exchanges with a journalist, the University of Westminster computer programming graduate said he considered suicide after coming face to face with what he suspected to be a British spy as he attempted to sell a laptop computer in 2010.
Jihadi John rose to notoriety after he first appeared in a video posted online last August, in which he appeared to kill American journalist James Foley.
Dressed in black with a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the ridge of his nose, and a holster under his left arm, he reappeared in videos of the beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.
He later featured in a video with Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, shortly before they were killed.
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How Isis got its anthem | Music | The Guardian
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:55
The first two minutes and 52 seconds of Dawlat al-Islam Qamat are undeniably beautiful. It is little more than an Arabic chant, sung by a man whose voice is so relaxed you expect him to drift off halfway through. It sounds timeless '' as if it has been dug up from the eighth century. The man's melody has got a gentle swing, something you could easily imagine a jazz drummer playing behind to give it some oomph. Soon he starts layering his voice, so it sounds like a whole choir is trading lines, the song's impact growing as he does. Musically, it's better than just about any other religious song you could name.
But just as you are starting to enjoy it '' perhaps thinking you might tell your yoga teacher to play it in class '' some sound effects drop in. There's a sword being unsheathed, the stomp-stomp-stomp of soldiers' feet and some stuttering gunfire. And it is about that point you remember exactly what you are listening to. This is, to give it its English name, My Ummah, Dawn Has Appeared. It is the most popular song in the Islamic State. It is, arguably, the world's newest national anthem. ''The Islamic State has arisen by the blood of the righteous,'' it goes. ''The Islamic State has arisen by the jihad of the pious.'' God Save the Queen it isn't.
''The Islamic State isn't going to jump up and down and say, 'This is our official song,''' says Phillip Smyth, a researcher of Middle Eastern affairs at the University of Maryland and a jihadi music obsessive. ''But it's recognised by the fighters and supporters as kind of their anthem. It just spells out everything they stand for: the Islamic State has arisen, we've defeated so many enemies, we're going to keep on doing so. And it also sounds good. Even for an infidel like me, it has a certain quality. It invigorates certain spirits.''
Behnam Said works for the Hamburg branch of German intelligence, analysing jihadi trends in the country, and is about to complete a PhD about jihadi songs, known as nasheeds. ''The first time I heard it, I couldn't get it out of my head for two weeks,'' he says. ''It touched me in a different way to other nasheeds. I'd sit on the metro and it'd come into my head.''
The Islamic State's ''high-tech media jihad'' '' its use of YouTube, Twitter and Instagram to boost support '' has received reams of press coverage over the past year. But its use of music seems to have slipped by. That might be because its songs are in Arabic and so harder for non-speakers to take in. It might also be because they all sound similar: a cappella chants sung by men and drenched in echo, all with spoken word intros in which someone says the Arabic word for ''Introducing '...'' like a judge on The X Factor.
But these songs are vital to the organisation. They provide the soundtrack to all the Islamic State's videos; they are played from cars in towns they control, rather like US gangs use rap songs to demarcate their territory; they are even played on the battlefield. The group also seems to churn them out on an endless array of topics. Earlier this year, it put out an eight-minute nasheed called Al-Maliki, Your End Will Be Tomorrow, directed at the former Iraqi prime minister, which seemed to be little more than an exercise in trolling. More recently, it has been issuing songs about the ''life of security and peace'' the Islamic State is providing, as if to convince people in the territory it controls it is worth supporting. If you need more evidence of the importance of these songs, some rival jihadi groups have reportedly banned them from areas they control.
A still from a nasheed-soundtracked video. Photograph: PRJihadi nasheeds date back to the late 1970s, when Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt and Syria started writing them to inspire their supporters and get out their message. ''Nasheeds as a genre of religious songs are old,'' Behnam says, ''but supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups started making ones that were political and rebellious in the 70s. That was new.'' These were circulated on cassette, reaching a wide audience.
Some stringent fundamentalists, mainly Salafists with their literal interpretation of Islam, condemned nasheeds, saying music was unIslamic and a distraction from studying the Qu'ran. But this didn't stop them. Even a teenage Osama bin Laden founded and sang in a nasheed group in an effort to avoid being seen as ''too much of a prig'', according to The Looming Towers, journalist Lawrence Wright's history of al-Qaida.
Most Islamic scholars now say nasheeds are acceptable, especially during wartime. In fact, the only major disagreement over them seems to be what they should sound like. Most Sunni jihadi groups, including the Islamic State, see instruments as haram (forbidden) and take a bare-bones approach to their composition. Almost all their nasheeds are a cappella, the only accompaniment being an array of sound effects from horses' hooves (symbolising the Prophet Muhammad's time in the desert) to bombs.
But Shia groups such as Hezbollah do not care for such self-restraint. Many of their nasheeds are packed with drums, sometimes seeming to place as much importance on rhythm as rap or ragga. Their singers also apparently cannot get through a verse without heavily processing their voices with Auto-Tune, and they're so packed with young men dancing they seem more boyband than militia. Shia groups also have a seemingly endless supply of nasheeds set to dramatic string arrangements, which could have been plucked straight from some Hollywood thriller.
''These groups will call their songs nasheeds, but sometimes they don't even fit in with their own ideologies,'' says Smyth. ''If Ayatollah Khomeini was still around, he'd probably look at some of the techno stuff and go, 'What the hell is this?' But the groups are all operating off some kind of religious guideline. They're getting an ayatollah who's saying, 'Yes, this is halal. Go for it.'''
The Islamic State's songs may be a step back musically from those being produced by Shia jihadis, but the organisation is changing the landscape of nasheeds in other ways. ''Most jihadi groups tend to recycle nasheeds that have been around for years, but the Islamic State has its own wing, the Ajnad Media Foundation, that's dedicated to producing them,'' says Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, who has become a controversial figure since being accused of becoming too close to the jihadis he studies. ''It's using them to say it's new and distinct, as well as to get across its message.''
Behnam agrees, pointing out that the Islamic State's nasheeds often contain a different message to other groups. ''Older nasheeds tend to have been produced by groups that are small, militant and clandestine, and they have a more defensive message '' but there were many saying, 'They can torture us, but we are holding to our beliefs.' The Islamic State's nasheeds are not defensive at all. They are about a hope to change the world for ever.''
No one seems to know who exactly is writing the Islamic State's songs. The consensus appears to be that the words are written by poets, the melodies by musicians, while a separate person sings. ''In Iraq, there are lots of different production companies,'' Phillip Smyth says, ''and the same in other countries. In Lebanon, I once wanted to see how it was done and sat in a room that was in a guy's mother's basement. He had a little keyboard, a little recording thing, and he put together this entire song for a Christian militia in a week and a half.''
The influx of westerners into Islamic State ranks '' which includes a German former-rapper called Deso Dogg who has tried his hand at nasheeds with appalling results '' is unlikely to lead to a demand for more modern songs, says al-Tamimi. ''The jihadis with their mindset don't see their songs as dull. They feel repulsed by the Shia's willingness to use instrumentation and things like this.''
My Ummah, Dawn has Appeared was released online in December 2013, and its ongoing popularity shows its staying power. If the Islamic State does continue, could it be named an official anthem? One thing seems to stand in the way: anthems are a western concept.
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UN Syria photo expo
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:59
A woman reacts as she looks at the images of dead bodies at the UN headquarters in New York. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Images of tortured, bloodied and bruised bodies go on display in the glittering halls of the UN in New York for the next 10 days, to remind staff ''not to look away'' from the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The graphic exhibition of 30 photographs has been sponsored by 15 UN member states. Caesar Photos: Inside Syrian Authorities' Prisons, which depicts torture and atrocities committed by the regime of Bashar al-Assad during the civil war, will be displayed in a busy corner of the UN building in New York..
Though some details are blurred, the photographs show death in stark reality: women and children '' though mostly men '' tortured, starved, dead.
Though warning signs are posted next to the photographs, the shock registered by some passers-by would perhaps lead to suggestions that they were too graphic for the august UN setting. However, the setting was precisely what several of the sponsors were hoping for.
''We know that it is far easier to walk rapidly down this corridor, far easier to look away,'' Michele J Sison, the US deputy representative to the UN, told the gathered crowd of diplomats and journalists. ''These images are the graphic depiction of how the Assad regime treats its citizens. It is imperative that we at the United Nations not look away.''
A warning at the exhibition of the 'Caesar' photographs at the UN headquarters in New York. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/ReutersThe photographs were part of a cache of 55,000 smuggled out of Syria on flash drives last year by ''Caesar'', the code name given to a former Syrian military photographer who defected. Caesar had been tasked with taking pictures of the corpses of those who died inside facilities run by the Assad regime. The thousands of images were taken between 2011 and 2013, and according to forensic analysis depict 11,000 deaths. Caesar and his team recently began posting photos from the cache of victims' faces on Facebook, to help families and prosecutors identify their missing relatives.
The photographs were brought by Caesar to the US last July with the help of the Coalition for a Democratic Syria, an NGO who helped organise his escape. Caesar first brought the images to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington (where 10 images were recently exhibited in the Museum's Genocide Prevention Center), seeking to learn how best to preserve and archive the images and preserve them for future prosecution.
Later that month, Caesar testified before the US Congress. The photographs were given to the FBI and the office of the American ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, Stephen J Rapp.
''There is no doubt of the authenticity of these photographs,'' Rapp told the Guardian. ''The FBI has found no trace of forgery.''
The pictures show 27 men (some elderly), two children and one woman in various positions, almost all displaying signs of prolonged starvation. Some had their eyes gouged out, others had flayed or badly bleeding skin. One body was entirely charred. But all of the photographs had identifiers embedded within them and the numbers of regime facilities where the people had been killed.
As a result, Rapp, who will be stepping down from his post in the next few months, said his office and the international community was gathering evidence far stronger than for almost any previous tribunal, including those of Charles Taylor and Slobodan MiloÅević.
''The [Assad] regime is a particularly rich trove,'' Rapp told the Guardian. ''What other government do you know of who would torture its citizens to death and put identifying information of where the person was tortured '... They've provided this fantastic evidence.''
The UN exhibition comprises 30 images selected from the roughly 55,000 photographs taken in Syria by the former military photographer Caesar. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters''The fact that the Syrian authorities ordered the pictures to be taken in order to verify that the services had actually killed the person they reported as dead is an indication of the regime's intentional, systematic and repeated crimes against its own population,'' the Belgian representative, Pascal Buffin, said.
The displaying of Caesar's photos comes as the world's attention has moved from Assad to the threat of extremist groups such as Islamic State (Isis), said Najib Ghadbian, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces' representative to the UN.
But Ghadbian reminded the crowd that in the past year the Assad regime has killed 32,507 people '' 75% of whom were civilians. In contrast, Isis has killed 3,657 '' 85% of whom were military targets.
''People have heard of Caesar,'' Ghadbian told the Guardian, ''but the detainees as a component of the Syrian conflict have not been highlighted as a serious issue.''
Related:What are the possible solutions to the Syria conflict? '' live Q&A
A conservative estimate would place the number of Syrians being held in Syria's prisons at 150,000, Ghadbian added, but this number could be as high as 230,000. In 2014, the regime arrested about 7,000 people '' including children '' with a further 9,000 missing, Ghadbian said.
''They all might be facing a similar fate to the pictures we see.''
Despite the arresting nature of the photographs, their presence in the UN is symbolic, and one that those present would like to see directed towards a political and juridical solution. A proposed security council resolution to refer Syria to the international criminal court was struck down by two votes last May. However, in a radical change in strategy, UN war crimes investigators will next week publish the names of suspects involved in perpetrating the atrocities committed throughout the Syrian war.
''In the case of Assad, our enemy's enemy is a greater enemy,'' Rapp said. ''He's been responsible for the kind of things that have led to the rise of the extremists '... Forgetting that responsibility is something we can't do '' but getting to accountability is not easy.''
''It's hard for Syrians to still have faith in this organisation,'' Ghadbian told the Guardian. ''But for us, for many of us, knowing that this is going on means we have to continue.''
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Iran
31 March Iranian new year nuruhs 1393
U.S. wants Iran to build nuke jahad al gazen
Iran to 'take care of' Assad
EuroLand
Juncker calls for EU army, says would deter Russia
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 00:07
Sun Mar 8, 2015 10:16am EDTBERLIN (Reuters) - The European Union needs its own army to face up to Russia and other threats as well as restore the bloc's foreign policy standing around the world, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a German newspaper on Sunday.
Arguing that NATO was not enough because not all members of the transatlantic defense alliance are in the EU, Juncker said a common EU army would also send important signals to the world.
"A joint EU army would show the world that there would never again be a war between EU countries," Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "Such an army would also help us to form common foreign and security policies and allow Europe to take on responsibility in the world."
Juncker said a common EU army could serve as a deterrent and would have been useful during the Ukraine crisis.
"With its own army, Europe could react more credibly to the threat to peace in a member state or in a neighboring state.
"One wouldn't have a European army to deploy it immediately. But a common European army would convey a clear message to Russia that we are serious about defending our European values."
The 28-nation EU already has battle groups that are manned on a rotational basis and meant to be available as a rapid reaction force. But they have never been used in a crisis.
EU leaders have said they want to boost the common security policy by improving rapid response capabilities.
But Britain, along with France one of the two main military powers in the bloc, has been wary of giving a bigger military role to the EU, fearing it could undermine NATO.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Juncker's proposal: "Our future as Europeans will at some point be with a European army," she told German radio.
(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels; editing by Clelia Oziel)
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Jean-Claude Juncker calls for EU army | World news | The Guardian
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:57
Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, told a German newspaper that having an army would solve the problem of the EU's foreign policy not being taken seriously. Photograph: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images
The European Union needs its own army to help address the problem that it is not ''taken entirely seriously'' as an international force, the president of the European commission has said.
Jean-Claude Juncker said such a move would help the EU to persuade Russia that it was serious about defending its values in the face of the threat posed by Moscow.
However, his proposal was immediately rejected by the British government, which said that there was ''no prospect'' of the UK agreeing to the creation of an EU army.
''You would not create a European army to use it immediately,'' Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper in Germany in an interview published on Sunday.
''But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.''
Juncker, who has been a longstanding advocate of an EU army, said getting member states to combine militarily would make spending more efficient and would encourage further European integration.
''Such an army would help us design a common foreign and security policy,'' the former prime minister of Luxembourg said.
''Europe's image has suffered dramatically and also in terms of foreign policy, we don't seem to be taken entirely seriously.''
Juncker also said he did not want a new force to challenge the role of Nato. In Germany some political figures expressed support for Juncker's idea, but in Britain the government insisted that the idea was unacceptable.
A UK government spokesman said: ''Our position is crystal clear that defence is a national '' not an EU '' responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army.''
In the past David Cameron, the British prime minister, has blocked moves to create EU-controlled military forces saying that, although defence cooperation between member states is desirable, ''it isn't right for the European Union to have capabilities, armies, air forces and all the rest of it''.
Geoffrey Van Orden, a Conservative MEP and a party spokesman on defence and security, said: ''This relentless drive towards a European army must stop. For Eurocrats every crisis is seen as an opportunity to further the EU's centralising objectives.
''However the EU's defence ambitions are detrimental to our national interest, to Nato, and to the close alliances that Britain has with many countries outside the EU '' not least the United States, Gulf allies, and many Commonwealth countries.''
Van Orden also accused Juncker of living in a ''fantasy world''. ''If our nations faced a serious security threat, who would we want to rely on '' Nato or the EU? The question answers itself,'' he said.
Labour said that it did not support a standing European army, navy or air force and that Nato was and should remain the cornerstone of Europe's collective defence.
A Lib Dem spokesman said: ''Having an EU army is not our position. We have never called for one.''
Mike Hookem, a defence spokesman for Ukip, said Juncker's comments vindicated warnings that his party had been giving about the direction of EU policy for years. He pointed out that when Ukip's leader, Nigel Farage, warned about the EU wanting its own army in his debate with Nick Clegg last year, the Lib Dem deputy prime minister dismissed this as a ''dangerous fantasy''.
Hookem went on: ''Ukip [has] been ridiculed for years and branded scaremongers for suggesting that the UK's traditional parties were slowly relinquishing control of our defence and moving toward a European army. However, yet again, Ukip's predictions have been proved correct.''
''A European army would be a tragedy for the UK. We have all seen the utter mess the EU has made of the eurozone economy, so how can we even think of trusting them with this island's defence.''
He also claimed that having British soldiers serve as part of an EU army would leave Britain unable to defend Gibraltar from the Spanish or the Falkland Islands from the Argentinians. And it could see British troops dragged into military action in eastern Ukraine, he claimed.
Hookem said that Ukip, unlike the other parties, was firmly committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence and returning the armed forces to the size they were before the 2010 defence cuts.
But in Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, the defence minister, said in a statement that ''our future as Europeans will one day be a European army'', although she added ''not in the short term''. She said such a move would ''strengthen Europe's security'' and ''strengthen a European pillar in the transatlantic alliance''.
Norbert R¶ttgen, head of the German parliament's foreign policy committee, said having an EU army was ''a European vision whose time has come''.
A report by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), published on Monday, has warned that thousands more soldiers, sailors and airmen will face the axe in the next parliament regardless of which party wins the general election.
Rusi said it was inevitable that Britain's defence spending would drop below the Nato target of 2% of GDP in the face of continuing austerity cuts and warned that up to 30,000 service personnel could go '' with the army likely to bear the heaviest cuts '' leaving the armed forces with a combined strength of just 115,000 by the end of the decade.
Even if defence spending is given the same level of protection being promised to health and schools, it said the forces are still likely to shed 15,000 personnel during the next parliament.
Treaty of Lisbon/Article 1 - Treaty on European Union/Article 27 - Wikisource, the free online library
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:57
The common security and defence policy 47) The following new section shall be inserted:
"SECTION 2 PROVISIONS ON THE COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY". 48) Article 27 shall take over the wording of Article 17, with the following amendments:
(a) the following new paragraph 1 shall be inserted and the next paragraph shall be renumbered 2: "1. The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civil and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States."; (b) paragraph 1, renumbered 2, shall be amended as follows: (i) the first subparagraph shall be replaced by the following: "The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides. It shall in that case recommend to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements."; (ii) in the second subparagraph, the words "in accordance with this Article" shall be replaced by "in accordance with this Section"; (iii) the third subparagraph shall be deleted. (c) paragraph 2, renumbered 3, to paragraph 5 shall be replaced by the following paragraphs: "3. Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy, to contribute to the objectives defined by the Council. Those Member States which together establish multinational forces may also make them available to the common security and defence policy. Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. The Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments (European Defence Agency) shall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector, shall participate in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and shall assist the Council in evaluating the improvement of military capabilities. 4. Decisions relating to the common security and defence policy, including those initiating a mission as referred to in this Article, shall be adopted by the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or an initiative from a Member State. The High Representative may propose the use of both national resources and Union instruments, together with the Commission where appropriate. 5. The Council may entrust the execution of a task, within the Union framework, to a group of Member States in order to protect the Union's values and serve its interests. The execution of such a task shall be governed by Article 29. 6. Those Member States whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework. Such cooperation shall be governed by Article 31. It shall not affect the provisions of Article 28. 7. If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States. Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.".
Treaty of Lisbon/Article 1 - Treaty on European Union/Article 28 - Wikisource, the free online library
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:51
49) The following new Articles 28 to 31 shall be inserted:
"Article 28 1. The tasks referred to in Article 27(1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means, shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories. 2. The Council shall adopt decisions relating to the tasks referred to in paragraph 1, defining their objectives and scope and the general conditions for their implementation. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, acting under the authority of the Council and in close and constant contact with the Political and Security Committee, shall ensure coordination of the civilian and military aspects of such tasks.
Greece Raises German War Reparations And Damages Again; Germany Says All Settled Already - Forbes
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 09:13
It's really quite amazing how things that just aren't true can become important issues in politics. Take, for example, this repeat of the demand from Greece for reparations over the damages done by the Nazis to Greece. It's most certainly true that the occupation was foul, murderous and expensive. And that Greece lost a great deal of money during the course of it. However, that's simply not the same as stating that there's some legal requirement for Germany to pay damages or reparations now.
But still this subject keeps coming up, even from the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras:
German officials said Wednesday that the matter of compensation for the Nazis' World War II occupation of Greece is closed and the government isn't prepared to discuss the issue further with Athens.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has revived the question of war-time debts, telling Parliament on Tuesday that his debt-ridden country has never been fully compensated by Germany. Greece believes it is due payments for wrecked infrastructure, war crimes and a loan that occupied Greece was forced to make to the Nazis.
This has been gone over many times including here:
But as you can see, even that is problematic. There's rather a Catch-22 situation there. If they can show that the money was stolen then it doesn't have to be paid back. If it's a normal credit then, well, inflation of a zero interest loan has been such that Germany could pay it all back tomorrow without breaking a sweat and without improving the Greek situation more than only the tiniest amount. That's a tough needle to thread in a legal sense: proving that it was a simple commercial transaction but then arguing that it was under duress which is why no interest was charged.
There's two different legal issues in play here. The first is war reparations. Those have, as far as the legal system is concerned, been paid. That issue is done and dusted and no amount of complaining is going to change that. The second is the forced loan. But as above, if it was a loan at zero interest then it's of no practical relevance today. And if it was some sort of theft under the pressure of occupation then it falls under the reparations part, which is all done and dusted. There simply aren't any legal grounds to continue to chase this chimera.
I do however have great sympathy with this view:
Not all Germans agree. Annette Groth of the radical Left party said Berlin should honor 11 billion euros linked to an ''occupation loan'' which Nazi Germany forced the Bank of Greece to make.
''It is Germany's moral duty to pay the money, even if there are different opinions on international law,'' she told Reuters.
That's that zero interest loan again. It is, in the scheme of things, a trivial amount but it's also enough to get Greece over the financing hump and into the third debt deal. I don't say that I recommend its being paid as a matter of public policy but I would say that I've good deal of sympathy with the idea as an ex gratia gesture of good will.
My latest book is ''23 Things We Are Telling You About Capitalism'' At Amazon or Amazon UK. A critical (highly critical) re-appraisal of Ha Joon Chang's ''23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism''.
Tsipras jent Berlijn met herstel-betalingen - De Standaard - Blendle
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 09:07
Van onze redacteur Bart Beirlant
'Wij moeten de Grieken 332 miljard euro betalen!', kopte het Duitse boulevardblad Bild gisteren op zijn website, in zijn typische directe stijl. Maar zowat alle Duitse media ruimden veel plaats in voor de toespraak die de Griekse premier Alexis Tsipras dinsdagavond in het parlement gaf.
Bij een debat over de oprichting van een parlementaire commissie inzake oorlogsbetalingen verdedigde Tsipras de stelling dat die kwestie niet finaal geregeld is bij het akkoord dat in 1990 bij'...
Cultural Marxism
Facebook removes 'feeling fat' emoji after 16,000 people sign digital petition | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 09:40
Company announced on Tuesday that it had binned the offending emojiMove comes after pressure from the pressure group Endangered BodiesMore than 16,000 people had signed a change.org petitionCatherine Weingarten, a 24-year-old Ohio student, had written on the petition's page that 'fat is not a feeling'Endangered Bodies complained that the emoji was insensitive to people who struggle with eating disordersBy David Mccormack and Zoe Szathmary For Daily Mail Online
Published: 15:59 EST, 10 March 2015 | Updated: 16:08 EST, 10 March 2015
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Facebook has removed the 'feeling fat' emoticon from its status menu after an online campaign from activists who complained that it was insensitive to people who struggle with eating disorders
Facebook has removed the 'feeling fat' emoticon from its status menu after an online campaign from activists who complained that it was insensitive to people who struggle with eating disorders.
More than 16,000 people signed an online petition at change.org set up by Catherine Weingarten and the group Endangered Bodies, which seeks to combat 'merchants of body hatred who turn girls and women against their own bodies'.
Activists associated with the group launched multiple Change.org petitions last month as part of a campaign linked to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
'We've heard from our community that listing ''feeling fat'' as an option for status updates could reinforce negative body image, particularly for people struggling with eating disorders,' a Facebook spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
'So we're going to remove ''feeling fat'' from the list of options. We'll continue to listen to feedback as we think about ways to help people express themselves on Facebook.'
Catherine Weingarten, a Catherine Weingarten, a 24-year-old Ohio student who launched the U.S. version of the petition, had written on the petition's page that 'fat is not a feeling.'
Campaign: More than 16,000 people signed Catherine Weingarten's online petition which called for the 'feeling fat' emoji to be eliminated from Facebook's list of emojis that can be used as status updates
'Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw a friend's status set to "feeling fat," accompanied by an emoji with chubby cheeks and a double chin.
'I think it was supposed to be funny, but seeing this status made me feel angry.
'As someone who has struggled with and overcome disordered eating, I know what it's like to "feel" fat. I have spent years of my life consumed with negative thoughts about my body, and far too many days starving myself in an effort to lose weight.
'But even worse than the skipped meals and the hours spent obsessing in front of the mirror was the fear of what others thought about me and my body.
'When Facebook users set their status to "feeling fat," they are making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders.
'That is not ok. Join me in asking Facebook to remove the "fat" emoji from their status options.'
Apology: Facebook released a statement on Tuesday saying that it was ditching the 'feeling fat' emoji for status updates because it could reinforce negative body image, particularly for people struggling with eating disorders
Following Facebook's announcement, Weingarten told Change.org in a statement: ''As someone who struggled with body image, I feel so happy that I am eliminating one form of body shaming hatred on the internet.''
Facebook had previously issued a statement to ABC News that said: 'People use Facebook to share their feelings with friends and support each other.
'One option we give people to express themselves is to add a feeling to their posts. You can choose from over 100 feelings we offer based on people's input or create your own.'
Mashable pointed out that under 'Safety Resources,' Facebook lists resources in response to the question 'How do I help someone who's posted worrisome things about eating disorders?'
The 'feeling fat' emoji had been taken down by Facebook early on Tuesday morning EST.
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US sends heavy armour to Baltic states to 'deter' Russia - Yahoo News
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:36
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Over 100 US armored vehicles roll into Latvia, NATO flexes muscles in Europe (VIDEO) '-- RT News
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:06
Published time: March 09, 2015 16:39Edited time: March 11, 2015 06:41An Abrams main battle tank, for US troops deployed in the Baltics as part of NATO's Operation Atlantic Resolve, leaves Riga port March 9, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)
Latvia has confirmed more than 120 armored units, including tanks, have been delivered by the US. According to the Latvian Ministry of Defense, these include M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2A3 Bradley armored vehicles.
The move to deploy yet more tanks and armored vehicles was welcomed by Latvian Minister of Defense Raymond Vejonis."The presence of our allies (US and NATO) in Latvia is a confirmation of solidarity and security in the region," Vejonis said in a statement on Twitter.
The tanks were delivered to Latvia via Riga Freeport after being offloaded from the carrier ship Liberty Promise on Monday. US Army General John O'Conner who witnessed the tanks arriving on Latvian soil said, ''Freedom must be fought for, freedom must be defended," as reported by the US Embassy Riga Twitter feed.
He also added their delivery would "demonstrate resolve to President Putin and Russia that collectively we can come together," while General O'Connor also mentioned, they would stay "for as long as required to deter Russian aggression,'' as reported by AFP.
Following the secession of Crimea to Russia, the US has been keen to boost its presence in the Baltic States and Poland to help guard against 'perceived' Russian aggression. There are currently more than 150 American troops in Latvia.
On March 6, NATO forces carried out drills with their Latvian counterparts. As part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, Canadian and American soldiers, in cooperation with their Latvian partners conducted exercises in winter conditions. These included training to spot enemy positions as well as calling in indirect fire support. They took place at the Adazi training grounds.
Similar drills also took place in Poland. Live-fire training exercises were conducted at Drawsko Pomorskie in the north of the country, while troops from Poland's 12th Mechanized Division were also involved.
The 'temporary' deployment of US troops in Poland and the Baltic states has been extended through to 2015, which was confirmed by a spokesman for the US Embassy in Poland.
A 1997 Russia-NATO agreement forbids the alliance from having troops permanently stationed in the Baltic States, so the deployment remains a temporary mission. However, it's not immediately clear when, if ever, NATO would consider the 'perceived' threat of Russian aggression is no longer valid and would withdraw the troops. Drills incorporated into Operation Atlantic Resolve have been taking place since April 2014.
The US is keen to expand the operation from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Romania and Bulgaria have already joined to create a 'southern' flank, while Hungary, the Czech Republic and Georgia could also agree to take part, according to a US Army official spearheading the effort.
"So by the end of the summer, you could very well see an operation that stretches from the Baltics all the way down to the Black Sea," said Colonel Michael Foster, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is based in Italy. "As you connect countries, there is almost a line of US troops," as cited by Defense News on March 2.
Russian Deputy defense Minister Anatoly Antonov says Allied forces are ignoring diplomacy and NATO is using the situation in Ukraine to push closer to Russia's border. However, he dismissed drills being carried out in the Baltic States, Poland and the Black Sea were a threat to Russia.
"Instead of uniting forces to fight evil, the worst of which is terrorism, Western nations are drawing new divisive lines, trying to realize containment schemes against unwelcome states. Today, Russia has been chosen as the target,'' Antonov said on March 5.
READ MORE: US armor paraded 300m from Russian border (VIDEO)
He cited another example of a NATO military parade on February 24, held just 300 meters from the Russian border, in the Estonian town of Narva. About 140 pieces of armor and 10 times as many troops, including US soldiers, took part in that event.
Moscow saw it as a stab in its direction, but Estonia defended its right to host a parade, saying it can move military whichever way it likes on its territory - the same argument used by Russia when accused of military build-up along its borders.
A freight train carrying a whole column of American armored vehicles was caught on camera in Latvia in December. Dalbe Railway Station, where the train was reportedly spotted, is less than 300 kilometers from the Russian border.
The train was carrying at least 38 vehicles and several semitrailers, including eight Bradley Fighting Vehicles, nine M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), four petrol tankers, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs), High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), an M88 Hercules Armory recovery vehicle, a couple of trucks, some tactical engineering and medical vehicles, at least four containers and a pair of railcars with ammunition.
NATO are not only bringing their own tanks and armored vehicles to the Baltic States. They are also pushing Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to purchase weapons from richer allies.
Estonia recently negotiated the acquisition of the $55-million Javelin anti-tank missile system. It has also signed what's been described as ''the largest procurement contract ever" for purchasing 44 infantry combat vehicles worth '‚¬138 million ($154 million) from the Netherlands.
Latvia is splashing out more than '‚¬54 million ($60 million) on a package that includes 123 British combat vehicles. Lithuania bought a '‚¬34-million ($38 million) GROM air defense system from Poland in September.
Kiev Expects Three-Way Gas Talks on March 20 to Secure Summer Supply
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:53
Europe13:44 11.03.2015(updated 14:43 11.03.2015)
2300
KIEV (Sputnik) '' Ukraine hopes that another round of gas talks with Russia and Europe will take place March 20 as proposed by the European Commission, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Wednesday.''I hope that talks with our European partners with the participation of Russia will be held on [March] 20 in order to agree on gas supplies during the summer period,'' he said.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said earlier in the day that different dates are still being considered.
Last week, Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission held talks in Brussels on future Russian gas supplies to Ukraine after the April expiration of the so-called winter package agreement. The parties as yet have reached no decision on future supplies.
Russian energy giant Gazprom said last Friday the volume of gas prepaid by Kiev will last Ukraine until mid-March.
The current deal between Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz requires advance payment from Kiev at a discounted price of $100 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.
Drone Nation
Über driver from Kabul
Afghanistan wazirustan Pakistan
100 year agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan about the waziristan region
Pakistan doesn't want to give it back
Ahgahns are fighting for it
Kale!
McDonald's is reportedly adding kale to its menu.
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 02:55
Flickr/rocor
McDonald's is planning to add kale to its menu this year, according to analysts at Janney Capital Markets.
The leafy green vegetable could be used in salads or smoothies, says analyst Mark Kalinowski, citing an unnamed source.
The addition of kale would come as a surprise, considering McDonald's anti-kale sentiment in an ad that the company released earlier this year.
The ad shows close-up shots of a Big Mac and pokes fun at foodies and vegetarians.
"You can't get juiciness like this from soy or quinoa," the ad's narrator chides. "Nor will this ever be kale," he adds as the camera zooms in on the lettuce in a Big Mac sandwich.
McDonald's
McDonald's didn't confirm or deny the news.
"As we continue to listen to our customers, we're always looking at new and different ingredients that they may enjoy," McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb told Business Insider.
McDonald's is reportedly adding kale as the company struggles to improve consumers' perception of its food.
"Adding kale to the menu in some way could help be a step in this direction," Kalinowski writes.
Kale consumption in the U.S. has skyrocketed in recent years.
The number of farms harvesting the leafy green plant more than doubled from 954 in 2007 to 2,500 in 2012, according to Department of Agriculture data. By comparison, the number of farms harvesting spinach and romaine lettuce in 2012 was 1,594 and 1,537, respectively.
The vegetable started gaining popularity in the U.S. about five years ago. It now appears on 400% more restaurant menus than it did five years ago, according to USA Today.
But it's an odd choice for McDonald's, which built its business on Big Macs and french fries. It also goes against the company's recent efforts to pare down the menu items to speed up customer service.
Common Core
Redesigning Higher Education Through Intentional Influence | Stanford Social Innovation Review
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 06:33
To create system-level change, we must use influence to both work within the system and disrupt it.
If you had asked me about Lumina Foundation when I first took the job as its CEO in 2008, I would have told you that we had a good and important mission focused on increasing college access and success. Today, I'd tell you that we're committed to ensuring that 60 percent of Americans hold high-quality degrees, certificates, or other postsecondary credentials by 2025. (Today less than 45 percent hold such degrees or credentials.) Community Wealth Partners calls this a bold goal. We call it Goal 2025. Every day I'm focused on making sure this is more than just another goal. Our commitment to it drives every aspect of our work, including grantmaking, convening, and our work around public policy and community-level impact. We believe this goal can be achieved, and we are leveraging intentional influence to see that it does.
Lumina is unusual in philanthropy, because we've worked in just a single issue area since our inception in 2000. Our founding board members made the conscious and courageous decision to keep our mission tightly focused on postsecondary education attainment. For an organization as large as Lumina'--a private foundation that has an endowment in excess of a billion dollars and annual grantmaking that averages upwards of $50 million'--that decision was almost unprecedented. This set the stage for our subsequent 2008 decision to formally adopt Goal 2025.
The fact is that the future of the American higher education system hangs in a tenuous balance. The adequacy and relevance of an approach that has served our country's economic and social needs for more than a century are now being questioned and reconsidered by many stakeholders, including employers who cannot find workers with the necessary skills to fill open jobs, policymakers who increasingly propose administrative and legislative fixes to address perceived problems such as college affordability and completion rates, and students and their families who face increasing difficulty paying for higher education. The system that once served the needs of our nation so well is in need of redesign. Given the scope and complexity of this task, we recognize that it is too big for our organization to tackle alone; we can only achieve it if myriad stakeholders insist on and lead significant'-- some might argue revolutionary'--change efforts. As a result, we place a high value on working across levels and sectors to intentionally influence others to act.
Our strategy includes working within the system as well as disrupting it. Within the system, we're mobilizing action among federal, state, and local stakeholders to increase students' attainment of credentials. For example, we're working side by side with employers, postsecondary education leaders, and community members in 75 metro areas to encourage broader adoption of and support for Goal 2025. Through this effort, we also work to increase the ability of participating cities to customize education attainment plans that will best suit the needs of each community and its residents through significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, and flexible funding.
At the same time, we're disrupting the system by developing specific approaches (new finance and credentialing models, for example) to create the fundamental change needed in higher education to reach the goal. This requires that we have more than just a ''start from scratch'' mentality. It also means we must work closely with faculty and administrators that have been doing business the same way for decades, and encourage and create incentives for them to do things differently. To create the top-down, bottom-up pressure necessary to effect significant change, we also spread these concepts to groups including elected officials, community and business leaders, entrepreneurs, and other citizens.
Perhaps the most encompassing of our intentional influence efforts revolves around redefining success within the higher education system. We are leading the national dialogue about meeting the nation's demand for talent by better acknowledging and rewarding all forms of postsecondary learning. A core element of this approach is a strategic document called the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP), which defines the skills and knowledge students need to earn degrees at various levels. In short, the DQP shifts the discussion on campuses from ''What are we going to teach?'' to ''What should our students know and be able to do? What knowledge and skills must they be able to demonstrate to thrive?'' We chose to produce and encourage the use of the DQP, because our financial resources and independent perspective allow us to take risks that few others can.
Our long-term aim is to simultaneously move those who supply higher education (such as faculty and institutional leadership) and those who demand it (such as students and employers) to embrace the DQP. We initially shared a beta version of the DQP with faculty, and college and university administrators in 2011. After nearly four years of testing the DQP at more than 400 college and universities in 45 states, we recently released a new version that is poised to help us collectively propel American higher education forward with a renewed focus on student learning and clear outcomes. With this in hand, we're moving to influence those who influence higher education institutions and employers'--including national organizations and projects that work with faculty, regional higher education compacts that link colleges and universities, employers and policymakers, and workforce and employer-focused organizations'--to drive its adoption.
The future of our nation hinges on our collective ability to educate a greater swath of our citizenry and equip more people with the skills they need to compete in a global society. To meet this ambitious charge, not to mention Goal 2025, the postsecondary system that has served us well for centuries needs to change. My task is to ensure that Lumina Foundation uses all of its capacities to intentionally influence each of the actors who can make that change happen. If we succeed, we will dramatically enhance the nation's economic, social and, cultural well-being.
See more from The Value of Intentional Influence
VOICE SECURITY
Alexa, play Never Gonna Give You Up!
Hey Siri, play Never Gonna Give You Up!
SYRIA
Cade Clunan
Short time listener to the No Agenda Show here. The hey Siri feature on my iPhone has been activated twice by audio from the best podcast in the universe. In both instances the trigger word was Syria. After hearing your "certainly" segment on episode 703, I thought you might find that interesting.
Thanks so much for what you and John do. I love the show, and my hour commute every morning and evening is made more enjoyable by its existence.
Monsantooo
MIT States That Half of All Children May be Autistic by 2025 due to Monsanto | New Eastern Outlook
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:39
A senior scientist at MIT has declared that we are facing an epidemic of autism that may result in one half of all children being affected by autism in ten years.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, who made these remarks during a panel presentation in Groton, MA last week, specifically cites the Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, as the culprit for the escalating incidence of autism and other neurological disorders. Roundup, which was introduced in the 1970's, contains the chemical glyphosate, which is the focal point for Seneff's concerns. Roundup was originally restricted to use on weeds, as glyphosate kills plants. However, Roundup is now in regular use with crops. With the coming of GMO's, plants such as soy and corn were bioengineered to tolerate glyphosate, and its use dramatically increased. From 2001 to 2007, glyphosate use doubled, reaching 180 to 185 million pounds in the U.S. alone in 2007.
If you don't consume corn- on- the -cob or toasted soybeans, however, you are hardly exempt from the potential affects of consuming glyphosate. Wheat is now sprayed with Roundup right before it is harvested, making any consumption of non- organic wheat bread a sure source for the chemical. In addition, any products containing corn syrup, such as soft drinks, are also carrying a payload of glyphosate.
According to studies cited by Seneff, glyphosate engages ''gut bacteria'' in a process known as the shikimate pathway. This enables the chemical to interfere with the biochemistry of bacteria in our GI tract, resulting in the depletion of essential amino acids .
Monsanto has maintained that glyphosate is safe for human consumption, as humans do not have the shikimate pathway. Bacteria, however, does'--including the flora that constitutes ''gut bacteria.''
It is this ability to affect gut bacteria that Seneff claims is the link which allows the chemical to get on board and wreak further damage. The connection between intestinal flora and neurological functioning is an ongoing topic of research. According to a number of studies, glyphosate depletes the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine, which can then contribute to obesity, depression, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Monsanto disagrees. The food and chemical giant has constructed a webpage with links to scientific studies pronouncing the safety of glyphosate.
Other science writers have also taken up the Monsanto banner, scoffing at the scientific studies that prompted Seneff to make her claims. ''They made it up!'' pronounced Huffpost science writer Tamar Haspel, in an article thin on analysis but heavy on declarative prose.
Others, such as Skeptoid writer and PhD physicist Eric Hall, take a more measured approach, and instead focus on the studies which prompted the glyphosate concerns. According to Hall, Seneff is making an error known as the ''correlation/causation error,'' in which causality is inaccurately concluded when there exists only the fact that two separate items'--in this case, the increased use of glyphosate and the increased incidence of autism'--may be observed but are not, in fact, directly related.
Seneff's pronouncements focus specifically on the glyphosate issue. As we know, there are other potential tributaries which may be feeding the rise in autism and also causing age-related neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's. These may include contents of vaccines, aluminum cooking ware as well as other potential sources for chemical consumption.
Some individuals, such as M.D. and radio host Rima Laibow have speculated on the intentionality behind this ostensible chemical siege against our gray matter. Laibow believes that the impetus may be to create an entire class of autistic individuals who will be suited only for certain types of work.
This harks back, eerily, to Aldous Huxley's classic Brave New World, in which individuals were preprogrammed from ''conception'' for eventual placement in one of five groups, designated as Alpha, Beta, and so on down to Epsilon, based on their programmed brain power. In Huxley's dystopian world, this class delineation by intellectual ability enabled society to function more smoothly.
Whatever may driving the autistic/Alzheimer's diesel train, one thing is for certain: the spectre of half of our children coming into the world with significant brain damage constitutes a massive and undeniable wound to humanity. The rate of autism has skyrocketed from roughly one in every two thousand in the 1970's to the current rate of one in every sixty eight. Alzheimer's has become almost universal in the elderly. Seneff's predictions can only be ignored at grave risk to the human race.
Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook
The Good Fight of the Polish Farmers
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:18
Poland's farmers are in a very important and very good fight with their government and with their parliament. They are literally fighting for the future health and safety of their families, their grandchildren's generation, their countrymen and even for the health and safety of the rest of the European Union that believes they have a right to enjoy eating healthy, nutritious food. That's good and in my view should get more attention for the good it is.
In the week of February 12, all across Poland, thousands of farmers with tractors protested the right-wing Polish government's planned farm legislation. Many were organized by the farmers' arm of the Solidarność trade union organization. More than 150 tractors have blockaded the A2 motorway into Warsaw since February 3, hundreds more have closed roads and are picketing governmental offices in other regions. The farmers are vowing to continue the struggle until the government agrees to enter talks with the union and commit to addressing what they see as a crisis in Polish agriculture. And they are right.
ICPPC directors, Jadwiga Lopata and Julian Rose, joined more than 200 farmers at a Solidarity protest in Kielce, South East Poland. The actions represent a dramatic escalation of protests that have been taking place on a smaller scale across the country over the last year. Edward Kosmal, chairman of the farmers protest committee for West-Pomeranian Region said: ''We are ready for dialogue. We look forward to meeting with you Prime Minister and beginning a comprehensive government commitment to solving the problems of Polish agriculture. If you do not enter into a dialogue with the Union, we would be forced to tighten our forms of protest.''
What is of vital importance are the demands of the farmers to the new government of Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz. They are four:
Land rights: implement regulation to prevent land-grabs by Western companies and to protect family farmers' rights to land. Beginning 2016 the government plans to allow foreign buyers to buy Polish farmland for the first time.
Legalize direct sales of farm produce: the government must take action to improve farmers' position in the market, including the adoption of a law enabling direct sales of processed and unprocessed farm products (Right now Poland has the most exclusionary policies in Europe around on-farm processing of food products and direct sales, making it impossible for family farmers to compete with bigger food companies. Oppressive 'food hygiene' and other regulations effectively prevent small scale farmers from selling their produce on-farm and in local markets, where their mostly organic but 'uncertified' produce is widely respected as of higher quality than food gown on modern industrial agribusiness farms.
Ban the cultivation and sale of Genetically Modified Organisms in Poland. A new EU rule passed in the European Parliament in January essentially leaves it up to national governments to permit GMO planting or not. Poland
Extend inheritance laws to include land under lease as a fully legal form of land use.
Defending honest agriculture
In an official statement Solidarność declared, ''We demand a legal ban on GMO crops in Poland. The value of Polish agriculture, unique in Europe, is the unpolluted environment and high quality food production. That's decisive concerning our competitiveness in global markets.''
Following a meeting with Poland's Minister of Agriculture, Marek Sawicki, on February 11, the protesting farmers widened their protest to demand Sawicki's resignation when he refused point blank to entertain any change of policy. Significantly, the protesting farmers, who vowed to bring 100,000 to the streets of Warsaw in the next days to continue the pressure, claimed the Polish government was spending money on senseless aid to Ukraine that should in fact be going into supporting Poland's agriculture. The farmer protests to date are the largest and longest in modern Polish history.
At stake is more than the survival of small family farmers in Poland. Aside from the soils of Russia and of Ukraine, Poland is one of the few places in Europe with highest quality soil that has not been destroyed by massive dosages of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Ukraine's rich agriculture land, as part of the rape of the country by the IMF and western agribusiness will soon be sold off for the first time to foreign corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, ADM and others where cultivation of GMO crops will proceed unhindered. That makes the battle for Poland's farm culture even more vital to the future of food security in Europe.
Poland's ''pro-business'' government is eager to lure foreign agribusiness giants into the country, something the Polish farmers know well will destroy them as well as the high-quality traditional Polish family farm. Already, Smithfield Farms of the USA, the world's biggest pig producer, bought Poland's Animex SA in 1999. Smithfield now runs a string of 16 or more huge hog farms where conditions have been described as ''horrendous.'' With growing environmental pollution pressures in the US against the massive fecal pollution of its factory farms that typically house tens of thousands of hogs in tight cages until they are slaughtered, Smithfield has sought countries where pollution laws are more lax such as Mexico.
As well, Aviagen, one of the world's largest industrial factory farm producers of chickens, has moved into Poland. Their German parent company, PHW Group of Lower Saxony and its daughter, Lohmann/Aviagen Cuxhaven, were fined for massive violations of the German animal welfare protection laws in their facilities where day-old chicklings are run on assembly belts in the thousands, sorted, thrown out, feet cut off, others run through meat grinding machines live with feathers.
Such is the nature of agribusiness today, a project of the Harvard Business School and the Rockefeller Foundation begun in the USA in the 1950's to do to agriculture what the Rockefellers did to oil'--create a global agribusiness cartel of a handful of companies so powerful they run over national health and food safety laws with impunity.
The new laws that are slated to take effect in 2016 would open Poland's doors wide to destruction of one of the highest-quality food production in Europe. That would be a ridiculous thing. Indeed, Poland's NATO-loyal Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister are rather stupid.
With neighbor Ukraine about to destroy the rich soils of Ukraine by allowing Monsanto and western agribusiness to rape the land with their chemicals like glyphosate and GMO, if Poland's government goes ahead as they say, Russia stands to be the big winner in the long term.
On February 4 the Russian Government submitted a bill to Parliament that would ban cultivation and breeding of genetically modified organisms (GMO). The bill bans ''the cultivation and breeding of genetically modified plants and animals on the territory of the Russian Federation, except for the use in expertise and scientific research.'' Further, importers of GMOs would have to register and the government would be enabled to prohibit the import of such products to Russia after monitoring their effects on humans and the environment.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
Obama Nation
FACT SHEET: A Student Aid Bill of Rights: Taking Action to Ensure Strong Consumer Protections for Student Loan Borrowers
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 02:52
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 10, 2015
Higher education continues to be the single most important investment students can make in their own futures. Five years ago this month, President Obama signed student loan reform into law, redirecting tens of billions of dollars in bank subsidies into student aid. His historic investments in college affordability include increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $1,000, creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, and letting borrowers cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of income. He has also promoted innovation and competition to help colleges reduce costs and improve quality and completion, including a First in the World fund. While these investments have helped millions of students afford college, student loans continue to grow.
That is why, today, President Obama will underscore his vision for an affordable, quality education for all Americans in a Student Aid Bill of Rights. As part of this vision, the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Education and other federal agencies to work across the federal government to do more to help borrowers afford their monthly loan payments including: (1) a state-of-the-art complaint system to ensure quality service and accountability for the Department of Education, its contractors, and colleges, (2) a series of steps to help students responsibly repay their loans including help setting affordable monthly payments, and (3) new steps to analyze student debt trends and recommend legislative and regulatory changes. In addition, the Administration is releasing state by state data that shows the outstanding federal student loan balance and total number of federal student loan borrowers who stand to benefit from these actions.
A Student Aid Bill of Rights
Every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education at a college that's cutting costs and increasing learning. Every student should be able to access the resources needed to pay for college. Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan. And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans. Today's Actions to Promote Affordable Loan Payments
Americans are increasingly reliant on student loans to help pay for college. Today, more than 70 percent of those earning a bachelor's degree graduate with debt, which averages $28,400 at public and non-profit colleges. Today's actions will help borrowers responsibly manage their debt, improve federal student loan servicing, and protect taxpayers' investments in the student aid program:
Create a Responsive Student Feedback System: The Secretary of Education will create a new web site by July 1, 2016, to give students and borrowers a simple and straightforward way to file complaints and provide feedback about federal student loan lenders, servicers, collections agencies, and institutions of higher education. Students and borrowers will be able to ensure that their complaints will be directed to the right party for timely resolution, and the Department of Education will be able to more quickly respond to issues and strengthen its efforts to protect the integrity of the student financial aid programs. In addition, the President will direct the Department of Education to study how other complaints about colleges and universities, such as poor educational quality or misleading claims, should be collected and resolved and to strengthen the process for referring possible violations of laws and regulations to other enforcement agencies. These actions will help ensure more borrowers get fair treatment throughout the federal student loan process.Help Borrowers Afford Their Monthly Payments: The President will announce a series of steps to improve customer services and help borrowers repay their direct student loans, which are made with federal capital and administered by the Department of Education through performance-based contracts. High-quality, borrower-focused servicing helps more borrowers successfully repay their federal student loans. Building on the stronger performance incentives put in place last year, the Department will now raise the bar by:Requiring enhanced disclosures and stronger consumer protections throughout the repayment process, including when federal student loans are transferred from one servicer to another, when borrowers fall behind in their payments, and when borrowers begin but do not complete applications to change repayment plans. These steps will better protect borrowers from falling behind in their payments and ensure consistency across loan servicers. Ensuring that its contractors apply prepayments first to loans with the highest interest rates unless the borrower requests a different allocation.Establishing a centralized point of access for all federal student loan borrowers in repayment to access account and payment processing information for all Federal student loan servicing contractors.Ensuring fair treatment for struggling and distressed borrowers by raising standards for student loan debt collectors to ensure that they charge borrowers reasonable fees and help them return to good standing; clarifying the rights of Federal student loan borrowers in bankruptcy; working with the Department of Treasury to simplify the process to verify income and keep borrowers enrolled in income-driven repayment plans; and working with the Social Security Administration to ensure that disability insurance recipients who can discharge their student loans are not instead seeing their disability payments garnished to repay defaulted loans.Prioritize Further Steps to Meet the Needs of Student Borrowers: The federal government has a responsibility to ensure that students who borrow federal loans have every opportunity to repay those loans through fair, affordable monthly payments. To continue to improve the information and customer service offered those borrowers, the President will direct the Department of Education to:Work with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to find the most innovative and effective ways to communicate with borrowers, leverage the latest research identifying key factors that influence borrower repayment and keep actual borrower behavior in mind, so they stay in repayment and avoid default. Work with the Office of Management and Budget to regularly monitor key trends in the student loan portfolio, improving loan servicing and budgeting and considering possible policy changes.Invite expertise from across the government to review best practices for performance-based contracting that could further improve outcomes for borrowers. In addition, new requirements may be appropriate for private and federally guaranteed student loans so that all of the more than 40 million Americans with student loans have additional basic rights and protections. The President is directing his Cabinet and White House advisers, working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to study whether consumer protections recently applied to mortgages and credit cards, such as notice and grace periods after loans are transferred among lenders and a requirement that lenders confirm balances to allow borrowers to pay off the loan, should also be afforded to student loan borrowers and improve the quality of servicing for all types of student loans. The agencies will develop recommendations for regulatory and legislative changes for all student loan borrowers, including possible changes to the treatment of loans in bankruptcy proceedings and when they were borrowed under fraudulent circumstances.
Making Progress on A Student Aid Bill of Rights
Together, we can continue our work toward ensuring that all Americans have meaningful opportunities for a high-quality, affordable postsecondary education without the threat of unmanageable debt. The President's vision laid out in the Student Aid Bill of Rights incorporates the progress we've made, his existing proposals, and the new actions announced today.
Every student should have access to a quality, affordable education at a college seeking new ways to lower costs and increase learning. America's College Promise: In January of 2015, the President released a bold new proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor's degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost, benefiting nearly 9 million students, and ensuring states and community colleges do their part to help students succeed. First in the World Grants: In September, the Department of Education awarded $75 million to colleges and universities across the country under the new First in the World (FITW) grant program to encourage colleges to adopt cutting-edge innovations and proven strategies that expand college opportunity, improve student learning, and reduce costs. This year, the President has proposed increasing FITW to $200 million.Call to Action on College Opportunity: Last December, the President, Vice President, and First Lady joined college presidents, K-12 superintendents, non-profit, foundations, and businesses to announce over 600 new commitments to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.College Ratings: The Department of Education continues its work to develop a college ratings system by the 2015-2016 school year that will help students and families compare the value offered by colleges and encourage colleges to improve by highlighting institutions that successfully educate students from all backgrounds; maintain affordability; and help students gain a degree or certificate of value.Every student should be able to access the resources needed to pay for college. Dramatically Increasing Investment in Pell Grants: The President raised the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,730 for the 2014-15 award year '-- a nearly $1,000 increase since 2008, helping more than 8 million Americans a year afford college. This year, the President has proposed new investments to ensure the maximum Pell grant keeps up with the cost of inflation.Simplifying the Process to Apply for Federal Student Aid: The Department of Education has helped students and their families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in a fraction of the time it used to take'--20 minutes from over an hour'--through a redesigned tool that asks less questions and helps filers get their income data directly from the Internal Revenue Service. This year, the President has proposed eliminating more questions from the FAFSA.Simplifying and Improving Education Tax Benefits: The President created the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) to provide families with up to $10,000 over four years of college. This year, the President has proposed simplifying and improving education tax benefits for more than 25 million families, including making AOTC available for up to five years and eliminating taxes on student loan debt forgiveness under income-driven repayment plans.Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan. Pay-As-You-Earn Loans: Under the President's Pay As You Earn plan, recent student borrowers can cap federal loan payments at 10 percent of their income. Last June, the President directed the Department of Education to amend its regulations to make the plan available to all direct loan borrowers, helping nearly 5 million additional borrowers by December 2015. This year, the President has proposed reforms to the program that will streamline and better target all income-driven repayment plans to safeguard the program for the future.And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans. Transitioning to a Student-Centered Direct Loan Program: In 2010, the Administration took action to make federal student loans more reliable and efficient by eliminating subsidies to banks and successfully transitioning all new originations to the Direct Loan program. New performance-based contracts that were created by the Department incented servicers to find new and innovative ways to best serve students and taxpayers and this June, the contracts were strengthened to improve the way servicers are compensated to help borrowers repay their loans on time and ensure high-quality servicing.Simplifying Income-Driven Repayment Plans and Improving Borrower Outreach: In 2012, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the Department of Education made it easier for borrowers to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan by creating an online application that lets borrowers get their required income information directly from IRS. Along with outreach efforts spanning targeted email campaigns, social media, and partnerships with outside organizations, more than 2.4 million borrowers are able to manage their debt through and income-driven repayment plan. Building Tools and Resources to Support Federal Student Loan Borrowers: Since 2012, the Department of Education has developed a suite of tools and resources to help federal student loan borrowers, including a financial aid counseling tool that helps borrowers make good education financing decisions, understand their options for paying back their loans, and accurately compare and select repayment options customized to their individual circumstances.
Presidential Memorandum -- Student Aid Bill of Rights
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 02:59
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
THE DIRECTOR OF THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL
PROTECTION BUREAU
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND
BUDGET
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY POLICY
THE DIRECTOR OF THE DOMESTIC POLICY COUNCIL
SUBJECT: A Student Aid Bill of Rights to Help Ensure Affordable Loan Repayment
America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world. Today, more than ever, Americans need knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy. Since many students borrow to pay for postsecondary education, it is imperative they be able to manage their debt as they embark on their careers.
My Administration has taken historic action to ensure that college remains affordable and student debt remains manageable. We have eliminated tens of billions of dollars in student loan subsidies paid to banks in order to increase the maximum Pell grant by nearly $1,000 and provide a path for borrowers to limit payments on many student loans to 10 percent of income, and we have worked with the Congress to enact the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth $10,000 over 4 years of college. We have promoted innovation and competition to bring down college costs,increased completion rates, and given consumers clear, transparent information on college performance.
College remains an excellent investment, and student loans enable many who could not otherwise do so to access further education. However, there is more work to do to help students repay their loans responsibly. In 2013, college graduates owed an average of $28,400 in Federal and private loans. More than one in eight Federal borrowers default on their loans within 3 years of leaving school. My Administration has already put in place significant protections that ensure borrowers with credit cards and mortgages are treated fairly. We can and should do much more to give students affordable ways to meet their responsibilities and repay their loans.
Now is the time for stronger protections for the more than 40 million Americans with student loan debt. All student loan borrowers should have access to an efficient and responsive complaint and feedback system that holds loan servicers accountable and promotes transparency, the information and flexibility they need to repay their loan responsibly and avoid default, and protections to ensure that they will be treated fairly even if they struggle to repay their loans.
Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
Section1. State-of-the-Art Complaint and Feedback System.
Complaints and Feedback Regarding Federal FinancialAid. By July 1, 2016, the Secretary of Education shall develop and implement a simple process for borrowers to file complaints regarding Federal financial aid, including those pertaining to lenders, loan servicers, private collection agencies, and institutions of higher education. The process shall allow people to file a complaint and monitor its progress toward resolution. In addition, the Department of Education will provide data from the complaint system to other enforcement agencies that are responsible for oversight of Federal student loan lenders, loan servicers, private collection agencies, and institutions of higher education. By October 1, 2017, and annually thereafter, the Department of Education shall publish a report summarizing and analyzing the content in and resolution of borrower complaints and feedback received through the process. By October 1, 2015, the Secretary of Education shall report to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on the optimal way to address other student complaints regarding institutions of higher education that participate in Federal student financial aid programs.Coordination Among Other Enforcement Agencies. By October 1, 2015, the Secretary of Education shall, in consultation with the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, recommend to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a process for sharing information with relevant enforcement agencies so that those enforcement agencies may refer matters where there may be violations of consumer protection law.
Sec. 2. Helping Borrowers Repay Their Loans and AvoidDefault.
Higher Standards for Federal Direct Loan Servicing. By January 1, 2016, the Secretary of Education shall require all Federal Direct student loan servicers to provide enhanced disclosures to borrowers and strengthened consumer protections. These disclosures and consumer protections shall be improved throughout the loan repayment process, and shall include disclosures to borrowers regarding loan transfers from one servicer to another and notifications when borrowers become delinquent or have incomplete applications to change repayment plans. As soon as practicable, the Secretary shall direct all Federal Direct student loan servicers to apply prepayments to loans with the highest interest rate to ensure consistency across servicers, unless otherwise instructed by borrowers.
Regular Review of Student Loan Performance and Borrower Trends. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of Education shall convene quarterly an interagency task force consisting of the Department of the Treasury, Department of Education, Office of Management and Budget, and Domestic Policy Council to monitor trends in the student loan portfolio, budget costs, and borrower assistance efforts. No later than August 1, 2015, the task force shall review recommendations for the Department of Education from its members and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on best practices in performance-based contracting to better ensure that servicers help borrowers responsibly make affordable monthly payments on their student loans.
Additional Protections for Student Loan Borrowers. By October 1, 2015, the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, shall issue a report to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on (i) whether statutory or regulatory changes are needed to current provisions that permit the Secretary of Education to specify acts or omissions at institutions of higher education that borrowers may assert as a defense to repayment of a direct loan; and (ii) after assessing the potential applicability of consumer protections in the mortgage and credit card markets to student loans, recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes in this area, including, where appropriate, strong servicing standards, flexible repayment opportunities for all student loan borrowers, and changes to bankruptcy laws.
Higher Customer Service Standards in Income-DrivenRepayment Plans. By October 1, 2015, the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of the Treasury shall report to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on the feasibility of developing a system to give borrowers the opportunity to authorize the Internal Revenue Service to release income information for multiple years for the purposes of automatically determining monthly payments under income-driven repayment plans.
Finding New and Better Ways to Communicate with Student Loan Borrowers. By January 1, 2016, the Secretary of Education shall report to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, on the findings of a pilot program to test new methods for communicating with borrowers who have Federal Direct student loans on which they are at least 140 days delinquent but which have not entered default. By January 1, 2017, the Secretary shall also, in consultation with the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, develop and implement at least five behaviorally designed pilot programs to identify the most effective ways to communicate with borrowers to maximize successful borrower repayment and help reduce delinquency and default and report to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, on the status and results of those pilot programs.
Making it Easier for Federal Direct Student LoanBorrowers to Repay Their Student Loans. As soon as practicable, the Secretary of Education shall establish a centralized point of access for all Federal student loan borrowers in repayment, including a central location for account information and payment processing for all Federal student loan servicing, regardless of the specific servicer.
Sec. 3. Fair Treatment for Struggling and DistressedBorrowers.
Raising Standards for Student Loan Debt Collectors. By July 1, 2015, the Secretary of Education shall implement actions to ensure that the debt collection process for defaulted Federal student loans is fair, transparent, charges reasonable fees to defaulted borrowers, and effectively assists borrowers in meeting their obligations and returning to good standing. By January 1, 2016, the Secretary of Education shall publish a quarterly performance report on the Department's private debt collection agency contractors that includes the underlying data, disaggregated by contractor.
Providing Clarity on the Rights of Borrowers in Bankruptcy. By July 1, 2015, the Secretary of Education shall issue information highlighting factors the courts have used in their determination of undue hardship, to assist parties who must determine whether to contest an undue hardship discharge in bankruptcy of a Federal student loan.
Protecting Social Security Benefits for Borrowers withDisabilities. By July 1, 2015, the Secretary of Education and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security, shall develop a plan to identify Federal student loan borrowers who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and determine which beneficiaries qualify for a total and permanent disability discharge of their student loans under the Higher Education Act of 1965. The plan shall specify a process for the Secretary of Education to stop collection on qualified borrowers in order to ensure that SSDI benefits are not reduced to repay student loans that are eligible for discharge. In addition, the Secretary of Education and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security, shall identify the best way to communicate with other SSDI recipients who hold student loans about their repayment options, including income-driven plans, and assist them in entering those plans.
Debt Collection Pilot Program. By July 1, 2016, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, shall report to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on the initial findings of an ongoing pilot program that uses the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service to collect on a sample of defaulted Federal student loan debts to help determine how to improve the collection process for defaulted Federal student loans.
Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
the authority granted by law to an agency, or the head thereof; or the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
The Secretary of Education is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
BARACK OBAMA
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-Policing for profit: How Ferguson's fines violated rights of African-Americans - CNN.com
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 15:10
Story highlightsLoistine Hoskin gave up fighting the city, paying $1,200 in fines over a broken-down carHer daughter recounts how she was racially profiled for a $124 ticketFerguson mayor announces reforms so his troubled town can move forwardA tow truck took it away in 2009.
So began an odyssey with Ferguson police, municipal court and city hall that left her with $1,200 in fines that to this day she still doesn't fully understand. She paid the sum because endless court hearings about the car wore her down.
"I don't have a lawyer. I'm not a lawyer. It's me going up against the city of Ferguson when the attorneys won't help," Hoskin said this week.
She never saw again her 1996 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight with 168,000 miles. Its location is a mystery. She accepts the loss because at least she's not in jail, where city authorities threatened to put her at one point, she said.
While Hoskin's surrender of both car and $1,200 to the city may seem a matter of personal choice, the U.S. Justice Department revealed this week a "pattern and practice" of racial discrimination within Ferguson that may lend credibility to Hoskin's account of a government run amok.
Just about every branch of Ferguson government -- police, municipal court, city hall -- participated in "unlawful" targeting of African-American residents such as Hoskin for tickets and fines, the Justice Department concluded this week.
The millions of dollars in fines and fees paid by black residents served an ultimate goal of satisfying "revenue rather than public safety needs," the Justice Department found.
Justice Department laid out statistics to support their accusations of civil rights violations.
EXPAND IMAGE
Nothing new to those who live thereTo the outside world, the federal findings were staggering, but to Hoskin and other longtime residents, the conclusion was nothing new. They've felt it all along, they say.
It's only now that federal authorities have documented the institutionalized racism, as part of a civil rights investigation after a white police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, 19, last summer. The officer, Darren Wilson, was cleared of federal civil rights violations this week and was earlier cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
The Justice Department is expected to pursue a court-supervised consent decree that requires the city of Ferguson to make changes to its police and courts.
"It's definitely a vicious cycle," said Hoskin, 64, a retired airline reservation agent. "Unfortunately for most people who are in this cycle, they continue to be in a downward spiral because they can't get jobs, they can't do anything, they can't pay the fines."
Experience of the Hoskin homeHoskin's household has experienced its share of ugly encounters with Ferguson police, the family said.
Hoskin's daughter was ticketed by police in what she described as racial profiling, she said.
In 2007, Kimberly Hoskin got a $124 ticket for driving her sister's car, which wasn't insured in Missouri, and then had to pay an additional $100 fine when she missed a court appearance because of an emergency appendectomy.
The court, she said, rejected her medical excuse and issued a warrant for her arrest.
She paid a total of $224 in fines because she was in the middle of a job search and didn't want an outstanding warrant to prevent her from getting a good job.
"Why is it that all the people in court are black?" Kimberly Hoskin said of defendants in municipal court. "I've had so many police officers make a U-turn, follow me, run my plates, find out everything is OK, then turn around and go back in the direction they were going.
"There's nothing we can do. In Ferguson, the police do what they want to do. Ferguson does what it wants," said Kimberly Hoskin, 35, who now works the overnight shift on a General Motors manufacturing line.
City officials and police declined to respond to CNN's requests this week for comment about the Hoskin family's assertions.
Last September, the City Council repealed administrative fees imposed by police when overseeing the release of a towed vehicle, the mayor said.
The city also no longer has a specific offense for failing to appear in court, which eliminates certain additional fees and court costs, the mayor said.
'Awesome!' excitement about revenuesThe Justice Department's report details how Ferguson operated a vertically integrated system -- from street cop to court clerk to judge to city administration to city council -- to raise revenue for the city budget through increased ticketing and fining.
Ferguson's budget increases were so sizable that city officials exhorted police and court staff to levy more and more fines and tickets against violators, who turned out to be largely African-American, the Justice Department said.
The demands for revenue were so intense that the police department had "little concern with how officers do this," even disciplining officers who failed to issue an average of 28 tickets a month, the Justice Department report said.
Officers competed "to see who could issue the largest number of citations during a single stop," the Justice Department said.
One apparent winner was an officer who issued 14 tickets at a single encounter, according to the federal investigation report.
Many police stops of civilians "have little relation to public safety and a questionable basis in law," the report said.
Ferguson police chief mum on federal report
Indeed, Ferguson enjoyed so much success in issuing tickets and fines that Ferguson, population 21,000, was ranked in the top eight of the 80 municipal courts in St. Louis County by having more than $1 million in revenue in 2010, the report said.
When Ferguson court revenues exceeded $2 million in 2012, the city manager responded to the police chief in an internal email: "Awesome! Thanks!" according to the federal report.
Involvement of entire court systemEven municipal judges were pressured to boost revenue.
"The city has made clear to the police chief and the municipal judge that revenue generation must also be a priority in court operations," the federal investigation found.
The city finance director said in a 2011 report that the municipal judge had been successful since 2003 in increasing court collections, and that internal 2011 city report noted a judge's statement that "none of these changes could have taken place without the cooperation of the court clerk, the chief of police, and the prosecutor's office," the Justice Department investigation found.
Cash filled the city treasury.
By 2013, revenue from enforcing municipal codes reached $2.46 million, the federal report said.
By 2015, the city anticipated that fines and fees would account for 23% of the budget, or $3.09 million of $13.26 million in general fund expenses, the Justice Department found.
Just five years earlier, court fines and fees made up only 12% of the budget, or $1.38 million of $11.07 million in general fund revenues, the Justice Department found.
Among the highest finesThe fines were among the highest of surrounding municipalities. For example, area parking fines ranged from $5 to $100, but Ferguson's parking fine was $102.
A fine for "weeds/tall grass" was $5 in one nearby city, but Ferguson's fine ranged from $77 to $102, the Justice Department found.
The federal government made a forceful conclusion:
"City, police and court officials for years have worked in concert to maximize revenue at every stage of the enforcement process, beginning with how fines and fine enforcement processes are established," the federal report said.
The mayor's responseAfter the Justice Department's announcement this week, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told reporters that he, Police Chief Tom Jackson and City Attorney Stephanie Karr met with federal officials about their findings and initiated several initiatives, including reforms to the municipal court.
Knowles said municipal judges have created a docket for alleged offenders having trouble paying fines.
Also, a defendant may ask a judge or prosecutor about different payment plans or alternative sentencing, the mayor said. Defendants have been required to pay an entire fine at once, regardless of ability to pay, the federal report said.
The city also passed an ordinance last September to cap municipal court revenues at 15% of the city's overall budget, the mayor said. That figure is half Missouri's legal limit, he added.
All the reforms are intended to "move this city, its residents and our entire community forward," the mayor said.
Living with absurdity and fearBack at her home, Loistine Hoskin recalled the height of absurdity in her fight against the city, which occurred shortly after her husband, Calvin, died in 2008 of complications from paralysis he suffered in a car accident three years earlier. She had been his caregiver.
She appeared in court to appeal the citation, but an officer arrested her and put her in the back of the squad car.
Her offense?
Failing to appear in court, she said.
She spent four hours in jail. She insists she made every court date.
For now, she lives in fear of the police, even at home.
"We just got to a point where we said we're just not going to have anyone over -- because they were fearful when they left they would get some ticket, and they didn't even live here," Hoskin said.
CNN's Ed Lavandera and Tristan Smith contributed from Ferguson. Michael Martinez reported and wrote this story from Los Angeles.
VIDEO-ACLJ's Sekulow: ISIS Is 'As Toxic as the Nazis' | MRCTV
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 15:07
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ACLJ's Sekulow: ISIS Is 'As Toxic as the Nazis' See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/aclj-s-sekulow-isis-toxic-nazis
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton News Conference | Video | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 14:12
March 10, 2015Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, spoke to reporters and responded to questions about her'... read more
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, spoke to reporters and responded to questions about her use of a private electronic mail account during her time at the State Department.'‚She said her decision to use the account was for the convenience of carrying only one device and it ''didn't seem like an issue.'' She also said that looking back that using a second e-mail account and carrying both a government and a personal device might have been better.'‚She spoke at the United Nations following an event on women's rights hosted by the U.N. and opened her remarks by talking about women's rights.'‚She also commented on the letter sent by Republican senators to Iran. close
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*The transcript for this program was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
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VIDEO-CIA wants to crack Apple security: Report
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 12:34
Apple has been one of the tech industry leaders in providing sophisticated encryption capabilities to its customers'--an issue that has been a flashpoint of controversy between the industry and the U.S. government.
Read MoreMicrosoft warns Windows PCs also vulnerable to 'Freak' attacks
CNBC does not have access to the Snowden documents, and is unable to independently verify The Intercept's account.
A U.S. intelligence official told CNBC Tuesday that American spies need to develop ways to get covert access to mobile devices.
"That's what we do," the official said. "CIA collects information overseas, and this is focused on our adversaries, whether they be terrorists or other adversaries."
The official insisted the effort was not focused on intellectual property of Apple or any other tech company, but instead on gaining access to information of intelligence value that adversaries may have stored on their mobile devices.
"This isn't just about Apple or Microsoft," the official said. "There's a whole world of devices out there, and that's what we're going to do," the official said. "It is what it is."
All this is revealed just days before CIA Director John Brennan unveils his reorganization plan to focus the CIA more on cyber-spying.
Read MoreSilicon Valley, DC at odds on security clearances
Separately, a senior administration official declined to comment on the "authenticity of these documents or the accuracy of these claims." But the official said the United States "firmly supports the development and robust adoption of strong encryption." The official said that the U.S. government knows terrorists and criminals can use encryption to conduct crimes, presenting a challenge to public safety. "Misuse by a few, however does not change the fact that responsibly deployed encryption helps secure our private communications and commerce."
The senior administration official's comment would appear to go against the grain of comments by FBI Director James Comey, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to head the nation's law enforcement agency.
"Encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place," Comey said at a speech at the Brookings Institution in October. "Encryption is nothing new," Comey said. "But the challenge to law enforcement and national security officials is markedly worse, with recent default encryption settings and encrypted devices and networks'--all designed to increase security and privacy."
Asked about the discrepancy between the administration's comment and the FBI director's stated views, a U.S. intelligence official said: "That's why this is an interesting and compelling story for you to write about."
Spokespeople at Lockheed Martin and Apple declined to comment on the report in The Intercept.
Read MoreDOJ: Three charged over massive US email data breach
In other Snowden-related news Tuesday, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Wikimedia Foundation board member Lila Tretikov announced in a New York Times op-ed that Wikimedia Foundation is suing the NSA and the Department of Justice over NSA surveillance. The Wikimedia duo argued that NSA surveillance violated the First and Fourth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. At issue is so-called "upstream surveillance" in which the NSA allegedly intercepts and searches international data that flows through servers and communications lines inside the United States.
"As a result, whenever someone overseas views or edits a Wikipedia page, it's likely that the N.S.A. is tracking that activity'--including the content of what was read or typed, as well as other information that can be linked to the person's physical location and possible identity," Wales and Tretikov wrote. "The harm to Wikimedia and the hundreds of millions of people who visit our websites is clear: Pervasive surveillance has a chilling effect. It stifles freedom of expression and the free exchange of knowledge that Wikimedia was designed to enable."
The administration responded Tuesday in a statement minimizing the scope of NSA's interest in Wikipedia users.
"We will not comment on any specific matter before the court," a senior administration official told CNBC. "But we've been very clear about what constitutes a valid target of electronic surveillance. The act of innocuously updating or reading an online article would not cause someone to be subjected to electronic surveillance."
A spokesperson for the NSA did not respond to a request for comment.
VIDEO- San Andreas - Official Teaser Trailer [HD] - YouTube
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Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:50
VIDEO-How ISIS Keeps Hostages Calm in Their Beheading Videos | MRCTV
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:49
The Islamic State's beheading videos are remarkable for their brutality, their professional-quality film production, and for the unnerving calm the victims maintain as they speak to the cameras before their deaths.
A defector named ''Saleh'' revealed to Sky News how ISIS manages to keep their hostages so docile in those videos: they rehearse.
ISIS captors tell their hostages that they aren't going to be killed: ''Don't worry, doesn't matter, nothing dangerous for you.''
Since the executions were rehearsed many times, the captives remain calm, not knowing that their deaths are imminent.
Saleh explains that victims were given Arabic names to trick them into believing they would be treated well.
To induce their captives to read the statements prepared by ISIS, a militant would tell the victims ''no problem, only video, we don't kill you, we want from your government [to] stop attacking Syria. We don't have any problem with you; you are only our visitors.'''In the videos, captives calmly read a prepared statement alternately condemning their home countries, asking for ransom money, and warning of future ISIS aggression.
Subjecting captives to mock executions is psychological torture, of course, and it's probably not the only torture ISIS' beheading victims faced. American journalist James Foley was subjected to beatings and waterboarding before his beheading death, The New York Timesreported.
"Saleh," a translator who was employed by ISIS to reassure the hostages (and to interrogate others,) says he knew the plan was always to kill them.
''Saleh'' eventually escaped to Syria. ''Saleh'''s voice is heavy with guilt and fear as he describes what he has seen and the retribution he may face if ISIS finds him. ''Saleh'' personally witnessed London-bred ''Jihadi John'' behead Japanese captive Kenju Goto.
He says that ISIS fighters are 70 percent foreign-born (a number that matches intelligence estimates.)
Overcome with emotion describing the role he played fooling the victims, ''Saleh'' begins to cry and abruptly ends the interview.
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VIDEO-IS Defector: I Saw Jihadi John Kill Hostage
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:51
By Stuart Ramsay, Chief Correspondent
Sky News has spoken to a former member of Islamic State, who claims he witnessed the man known as Jihadi John murder Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.
The former translator said that the masked man in the video was indeed Mohammed Emwazi, the 26-year-old Londoner who has become the face of the world's most notorious terrorist organisation.
"Saleh" said Emwazi is employed as the chief killer of foreign hostages for Islamic State's media wing and that his murderous influence among the group is feared and respected.
Kenji Goto, 47, was killed by Islamic State earlier this year
Speaking from Turkey, where he fled to escape IS, Saleh explained in broken English how he was employed by the group to convince foreign hostages they were safe. He is the only person to admit seeing Emwazi kill.
He said: "When he killed Kenji Goto I live showed this [saw this] but not near, from a little [distance].
Play video "Kuwaiti Ambassador On 'Jihadi John'"Video:Kuwaiti Ambassador On 'Jihadi John'"After he was killed him, three or four person come and take over the body and put in a car. After that, John went on a different road.
"The big boss was there with them. Turkish man say 'put this camera there, change place there' but John [was] the big boss. All time, all time say to all 'fastly, fastly, fastly, we should finish'. So respect him. Only he talks orders '' others do."
Saleh suggested Emwazi commanded such respect within the group because of his willingness to murder foreigners.
Play video "Audio Recording Of Mohammed Emwazi"Video:Audio Recording Of Mohammed Emwazi"Maybe because he use the knife," he said. "I cannot understand why he is so strong. One man can kill and all people will respect. A Syrian man anyone [in IS] can kill. But strangers [foreigners], only John."
Saleh claims foreign hostages captured and murdered by the group were subjected to numerous mock executions until the procedure became normal. It could explain why many hostages appeared calm in execution videos published online by the group.
He said: "He would say to me 'say to them, no problem, only video, we don't kill you, we want from your government [to] stop attacking Syria. We don't have any problem with you; you are only our visitors'.
1/6
Gallery: Jihadi John's email exhanges with Cage and a reporter
This email Mohammed Emwazi sent to a Mail On Sunday reporter in 2010 revealed his first encounter and his fear of MI5
He later made contact with the campaign group Cage and told them about clashes with border control officers
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VIDEO-Weekly Address: Let Girls Learn | The White House
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:51
March 07, 2015 | 3:16 | Public Domain
In this week's weekly address, President Obama discusses an issue close to his heart: education for adolescent girls around the world.
Download mp4 (121MB) | mp3 (7MB)
VIDEO-Forget Hillary's Emails, Here's Her Real Scandal That Nobody is Talking About
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 09:53
Nick BernabeMarch 10, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) OMFG!!! DID YOU HEAR ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON'S EMAILS?!?!?! Yeah I did, but frankly, I don't give a damn about her email server, and you shouldn't either. You see, the media won't talk about the real scandals going on, so they feed us this mindless shit so we can all drone on and argue about it all day on Facebook, even though it won't affect a fucking thing.
Forget about the color of the dress for a minute, forget about Hillary Clinton's unsecured email, hell! forget about Kanye and Kim too; let's talk about Libya. And no, I'm not talking about Benghazi. However, that kind of ties into this too.
Maybe you don't know the story, so I will quickly try to paint a picture of Libya for you.
Libya was once the most stable country in Africa, it also had the highest standard of living as of 2011 '-- HAD. Enter military-industrial-complex and corporate imperialism. Oh Hillary, I though you were a progressive that loved peace? Damn, has the media been lying to us again? Yes, Obama and Hillary took Libya from a stable, prosperous country to a completely failed state in 4 short years. Here's how:
Muammar Gaddafi, now deceased former Prime Minister of Libya, ran a dictatorship very much as our allies in Saudi Arabia do. He wasn't a great guy by any means, but he wasn't nearly as bad as the Saudis when it comes to human rights. While human rights were used as the excuse given by Hillary Clinton to overthrow his country and assassinate him, this is far from the truth. Gaddafi was an economic threat to the American Empire; and CFR member, Hillary Clinton, knew that intimately. You see, Gaddafi was working on a way to get out from under the Petrodollar hegemony, and the powers that be didn't like that. He was on the verge of implementing an Africa-wide gold backed currency called the Dinar.
That's when they decided to overthrow this peaceful country, literally destroying it. While the media lavished attention on the wrongdoings of Gaddafi in 2011 prior to our ''liberation'' of Libya, little has been made of what as happened since. This is where the scandals takes a turn for the worst. The US backed known Al-Qeada factions in Libya to overthrow Gaddafi, and now that the country has fallen into a literal failed state.
This is all part of the plan that was laid out during the Bush regime, and Hillary '-- as it turns out '-- has been a key player for this geopolitical chess game to materialize. Cue General Welsey Clarke's stunning revelations from 2003:
So, this isn't about human rights? Yes that's what I'm saying. As noted in this piece by Carey Wedler on Anti-Media, the numbers don't lie: we overthrow countries for resources and oil, not rights '-- according to science. Libya was both rich in resources such as oil, and was threatening the Petrodollar '-- hardly anybody survives that.
Here's the plain truth: Hillary Clinton is largely responsible for the complete destruction of an entire nation. 50,000 or more people have died thanks to what's been dubbed ''Hillary's War'' in Libya.
Then shit gets worse. Now, Libya is not only a failed state in the midst of a full blown civil war, ISIS is taking root there. From Ben Swann:
''Now, The Washington Times is reporting that former US-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leader Abdelhakim Belhadj has joined ISIS in an effort to lead a beefing-up of the terror group's presence in Libya. ISIS has been attempting to spread its influence into Libya, beginning in late 2014 when ISIS occupied the Libyan city of Derna and began training fighters there. The Washington Times notes that ISIS' strategy for expansion includes the incorporation of existing jihadist groups into a global caliphate, with the integration of Belhadj's reported Libyan ISIS franchise falling in line with that plan.''
Keep in mind that these Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels were openly supported by Hillary and the US while fighting Gaddafi. Talk about supporting terrorism, it seems our politicians are great at it.
Hillary has shown no remorse for her actions. Watch below as she jokes about assassinating Gaddafi on CBS News:
Then there's Benghazi, but forget the nonsense that Fox News has spewed in the past. There's much more to it:
So, we were funneling weapons from Lybia into Syria to start and fuel a civil war there? Yep. Thanks Hillary. How'd that turn out? Oops: ISIS. From Washington's Blog:
''A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi's arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn't always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)''
About those emails'...
This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TheAntiMedia.org. Tune-in to The Anti-Media radio show Monday-Friday @ 11pm EST, 8pm PST.
Author:Nick Bernabe
Nick Bernabe is the founder and editor of TheAntiMedia.org. He contributes articles to multiple independent news sites and is a San Diego based activist.
VIDEO-President Obama Announces the Student Aid Bill of Rights - YouTube
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VIDEO-Hillary Clinton introduced as 'future president' at UN - YouTube
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Secretary Clinton spins her web during press conference detailing her private email server being used to conduct official state business
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VIDEO-Lindsey Graham Explains Why He Doesn't Use E-mail - Bloomberg Politics
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 14:19
CONCORD, N.H.'--It was not the news that South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham went on TV to make. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who like the rest of Washington was exploring every angle of the Hillary Clinton e-mail kerfuffle, asked Graham if he had a private e-mail address.
"I don't e-mail," said Graham. "No, you can have every e-mail I've ever sent. I've never sent one."
That went viral, funny enough, on the weekend of Graham's first trip to New Hampshire as a potential presidential candidate. After a marathon town-hall meeting in Concord's Snow Shoe Lodge, the Republican held a gaggle with reporters, and Fox News lobbed a question about the e-mail. Graham repeated himself: He did not use e-mail. He preferred to talk on the phone.
"The next president of the United States needs to be good with people, not just technology," he said.
http://youtu.be/RoNHHaL2Phs
After that exchange, Graham responded to a question about Clinton with a joke: "If she could do it again, she'd do the Lindsey Graham thing, and not use e-mail." As he headed to his car, I asked Graham to explain his communication methods, a subject that truly baffled a press corps that walks around with smartphones welded to hands.
"What I do, basically, is that I've got iPads, and I play around," Graham explained. "But I don't e-mail. I've tried not to have a system where I can just say the first dumb thing that comes to my mind. I've always been concerned. I can get texts, and I call you back, if I want. I get a text, and I respond not by sending you a text, but calling you if I think what you asked is worthy enough for me calling you. I'm not being arrogant, but I'm trying to jealously guard myself in terms of being able to think through problems and not engage in chat all day. I've had a chance to kind of carve out some time for myself not responding to every 15-second crisis."
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VIDEO-see timecodes email -Meet the Press, Mar. 8, 2015 | Video | Meet the Press | NBC
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:19
Lawmakers and journalists join Chuck to discuss a new controversy involving Hillary Clinton.
Available Until 04/12/15
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VIDEO-American ISIS Member Issues Warning: ''We're in Texas, Ohio, New York City, Washington, D.C.''
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:13
Christopher Cornell, the Ohio man who was arrested in January over a plot to attack targets in Washington DC and is a self described member of ISIS, called a local news station and gave an unexpected phone interview from the detention facility where he is being held.
In the interview, Cornell issued some chilling warnings:
''I got orders from the brothers overseas because I'm with the Islamic State. My brothers over there, in Syria and Iraq, gave me specific orders to carry out jihad in the west, so I did so.''
''What do I think is coming? Many things. There will be many, many attacks. Like I said, we are ready for the battle over the Capitol.''
''We are pretty strong. Yes, yes. In every state like I said. We're in Texas. We're in Ohio. We're in New York City. We're in Washington, DC. We're in every single state you can name, just about.''
In the interview, Cornell also admitted that had he not been arrested by the FBI he would have carried out his plan to attack the US Capitol and Israeli Embassy with pipe bombs and firearms.
About Reagan WilsonReagan is the founder and editor of Controversial Times. He is a libertarian leaning conservative that thinks our current two party system is outdated. Craft beer, old scotch, SEC football and fine watches round out his interests.
VIDEO- What does the white man owe blacks YouTube - YouTube
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:49
VIDEO- AP's Matt Lee: ''Unusual'' That Hackers Have More Access To State Records Than The Public And Congress - YouTube
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:36
VIDEO-What We Have Learned From IS Defector 'Saleh'
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:02
Former translator "Saleh" has spoken exclusively to Sky News about what he saw when he was with terrorist group Islamic State in Syria and before he fled to Turkey.
Here are the six main revelations from the interview:
1. The man nicknamed Jihadi John is indeed Mohammed Emwazi, the 26-year-old Briton suspected of killing a number of foreign hostages. And he is "the big boss", the only one who gives orders to others.
Saleh says Mohammed Emwazi is the murderer, Jihadi John
2. Emwazi is feared and respected within the group, possibly because he was prepared to kill foreigners.
3. Saleh is the only man to have seen Emwazi kill, and admit to seeing it. He said: "When he killed [Japanese hostage] Kenji Goto I saw this, but not near, from a little distance."
1/15
Gallery: Fighting IS Militants In Iraq
A Shi'ite fighter launches a rocket during clashes with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of al Alam
Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militia fighting IS took control of the centre of a town on the southern outskirts of Saddam Hussein's home city Tikrit
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VIDEO-Sen. Lindsey Graham Has Never Sent An Email (VIDEO)
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 08:46
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) revealed on Sunday that he has never sent an email.
"I don't email," Graham said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "You can have every email I've ever sent. I've never sent one."
The issue arose while Graham was questioning whether any other cabinet member in the Obama administration used a private email account besides former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The senator criticized Clinton for using a personal email account and said he wants full access to her emails from her time as secretary of state.
"Did she communicate on behalf of Clinton Foundation as secretary of state? Did she call the terrorist attack in Benghazi a terrorist attack in real time?" Graham asked. "I want to know."
Watch the clip via NBC:
This post has been updated.
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Mon, 09 Mar 2015 20:50
VIDEO-Israeli Spy Executed ISIS Hollywood Productions
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:38
Pol­ticamartes 10 de marzo 2015
2015-03-10 16:37:00Los dos verdugos estn parados detrs de Mohammad Ismail, de 19 a±os, a quien el Estado Islmico acus" de espionaje. Luego, un ni±o de unos 11 " 12 a±os remata al reh(C)n de un disparo en la frente. "Los jud­os comienzan a tener miedo porque la promesa est cerca", amenaza el mayor en franc(C)s. IMGENES EXPLCITAS
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Infobae
WhiteHouse Fact Sheets
Executive Order '' Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:17
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 09, 2015
EXECUTIVE ORDER
- - - - - - -
BLOCKING PROPERTY AND SUSPENDING ENTRY OF CERTAIN PERSONS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-278) (the "Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act") (the "Act"), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)) (INA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela's erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela:
(1) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions; 2
(2) significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;
(3) actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or
(4) public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;
(B) to be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;
(C) to be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela;
(D) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of:
(1) a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(2) an activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section; or
(E) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.
Sec. 2. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in subsection 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons, except where the Secretary of State determines that the person's entry is in the national interest of the United States. This section shall not apply to an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, or other applicable international obligations. 3
Sec. 3. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;
(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;
(d) the term "Government of Venezuela" means the Government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Venezuela.
Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and 4
section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, other than the authorities contained in sections 5(b)(1)(B) and 5(c) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order, with the exception of section 2 of this order, and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 9. The Secretary of State is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, the INA, and section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, including the authorities set forth in sections 5(b)(1)(B), 5(c), and 5(d) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out section 2 of this order and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of State may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law.
Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.
Sec. 11. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).
Sec. 12. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 13. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 9, 2015.
BARACK OBAMA
FACT SHEET: President Obama Launches New TechHire Initiative
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:17
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 09, 2015
President Obama Announces Multi-Sector Effort and Call to Action to Give Americans Pathways to Well-Paying Technology Jobs; Makes Available $100 Million in Grants
The President and his Administration are focused on promoting middle class economics to ensure that all Americans can contribute to and benefit from our American resurgence. Part of that effort requires empowering every American with the education and training they need to earn higher wages. Today's announcement is the latest part of that effort: In his remarks to the National League of Cities, the President will announce his TechHire initiative, including a new campaign to work with communities to get more Americans rapidly trained for well-paying technology jobs.
Middle class economics has driven the President from day one, and it is what has fueled our comeback. On Friday, we learned that our economy created nearly 300,000 new jobs in February. American businesses have now added more than 200,000 jobs a month for the past 12 months, the longest streak of job creation at that pace in 37 years. All told, over the past five years, our businesses have created 12 million new jobs.
While we are seeing an economic resurgence, the President has made clear that there is still work left to do. America has about 5 million open jobs today, more than at any point since 2001. Over half a million of those job openings are in information technology fields like software development, network administration, and cybersecurity- many of which did not even exist just a decade ago. The average salary in a job that requires information technology (IT) skills '' whether in manufacturing, advertising, retail or banking '' is 50 percent higher than the average private-sector American job. Helping more Americans train and connect to these jobs is a key element of the President's middle-class economics agenda.
As part of that agenda, TechHire is a bold multi-sector effort and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like ''coding bootcamps,'' and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job, often in just a few months. Employers across the United States are in critical need of talent with these skills. Many of these programs do not require a four-year degree. Key elements of the initiative include:
Over twenty forward-leaning communities are committing to take action '' working with each other and with national employers '' to expand access to tech jobs. To kick off TechHire, 20 regions, with over 120,000 open technology jobs and more than 300 employer partners in need of this workforce, are announcing plans to work together to new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their actual skills and to create more fast track tech training opportunities. The President is challenging other communities across the country to follow their lead.$100 million in new Federal investments to train and connect more workers to a good job in technology and other in-demand fields. The Administration will launch a $100 million H-1B grant competition by the Department of Labor to support innovative approaches to training and successfully employing low-skill individuals with barriers to training and employment including those with child care responsibilities, people with disabilities, disconnected youth, and limited English proficient workers, among others. This grant competition will support the scaling up of evidence-based strategies such as accelerated learning, work-based learning, and Registered Apprenticeships.Private sector boosts tools and resources to support and expand continued innovation in technology training, with a focus on reaching under-served populations. Private sector leaders are announcing commitments to provide free training through online training slots and expanding ''coding bootcamps'' '' which provide intensive training for well-paying jobs, often in the course of just a few months '' to low-income and underserved Americans including women, minorities, and veterans across the nation. National organizations are committing to work with interested cities to share job and skills information, job-matching tools, and other resources to help support the growth, adoption, and creation of promising practices across the United States.Details on the Tech Hire Initiative
The TechHire initiative builds on work communities like Louisville, St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York City and the State of Delaware are doing to connect more Americans to well-paying technology jobs through a potent combination of new tools and training models:
Over twenty forward-leaning communities are committing to take action '' with each other and with national employers '' to expand access to tech jobs: The TechHire initiative will achieve its goals by connecting communities together so promising ideas happening in one community can be rapidly adopted by other regions. Today, 21 communities are stepping up and responding to the President's call-to-action, including:
Louisville New York City Philadelphia Delaware City of Kearney and Buffalo County, NEColorado St. Louis Salt Lake City San AntonioLos Angeles Minneapolis Kansas City Memphis Rural Eastern KentuckyNashville Rochester Detroit San Francisco AlbuquerqueChattanooga Portland
Building on the promising work already underway in their communities, they are all committing to three actions:
Using data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring: Having a data-driven assessment of employer demand is critical to building a successful regional strategy. Communities are committing to work with employers to build robust data on where they have greatest needs and what skills they are looking for; communities will work with employers to build willingness to hire from both nontraditional and traditional training programs; and communities will work with employers to review -and upgrade -their recruiting and hiring practices to enable non-traditional hiring. Expanding models for training that prepare students in months, not years: Communities will recruit, incubate and expand accelerated tech learning programs '' such as coding bootcamps and innovative online training '' which enable interested non-tech-experienced students to gain coding skills in months, not years. These new models also have potential to reaching to a broader set of students than have traditionally chosen to pursue tech careers. These new training programs can be run both independently or embedded as part of a local community college or university education offering. Active local leadership to connect people to jobs with hiring on ramp programs: Communities will build local strategies and partnerships to connect people to jobs, with steps ranging from investing in and working with industry-trusted organizations, which will vouch for those who have the skills to do the job but who may lack the typical profile of degrees and career experience. They will host local tech community gatherings with engaged employers, attract new non-traditional training providers to their regions, and bring visibility to existing local activities such as tech meet-ups, startup co-working spaces or startup-weekends - which are already in place in most middle-size cities or encouraging the founding of these groups if they are not available locally.
The Administration is encouraging more communities and employers to follow in their lead with similar innovative strategies to advance these goals.
Examples of TechHire Community Commitments
St. Louis, MO. A network of over 150 employers in St. Louis' rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem will build on a successful Mastercard pilot to partner with local non-profit Launchcode, to build the skills of women and underrepresented minorities for tech jobs, and will also place 250 apprentices in jobs in 2015 at employers like Monsanto, CitiBank, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Anheuser Busch.New York City, NY. With employers including Microsoft, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Google, and Facebook, the Tech Talent Pipeline is announcing new commitments to prepare college students in the City University of New York (CUNY) system for and connect them to paid internship opportunities at local tech companies. NYC will also expand successful models like the NYC Web Development Fellowship serving 18-26 year olds without a college degree in partnership with the Flatiron School.State of Delaware. The new Delaware TechHire initiative is committing to training entry-level developers in a new accelerated coding bootcamp and Java and .Net accelerated community college programs giving financial institutions and healthcare employers, throughout the state, access to a new cohort of skilled software talent in a matter of months. JP Morgan Chase, Capital One and others are committing to placing people trained in these programs this year.Louisville, KY. Louisville has convened over 20 IT employers as part of the Code Louisville initiative to train and place new software developers, including Glowtouch, Appriss, Humana, Zirmed, and Indatus. Louisville will build on this work in support of the TechHire Initiative: the city will recruit a high-quality coding bootcamp to Louisville and establish a new partnership between Code Louisville and local degree granting institutions to further standardize employer recognition of software development skillsets.A $100 million competition for innovative approaches to connect Americans with disabilities, disconnected youth, and others to the fastest path to a good job in technology and other in-demand fields.
Today the Administration is announcing its commitment to make $100 million available through the Department of Labor to support innovative approaches to moving lower skilled workers with barriers to training and employment on the fastest paths to well-paying information technology and high growth jobs in industries like healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services and other in-demand sectors. The grant will focus on providing workers the skills for a pathway to the middle class while providing employers with the skilled technology workers need to grow and expand. This grant will serve people with barriers to accessing training including people with childcare responsibilities, people with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, and disconnected youth, among others. It will serve both unemployed and low skilled front line workers.
Grants will pilot and scale innovative partnerships between employers, workforce boards, training institutions, non-profit organizations, and cities and states across the country. These partnerships will support the implementation of job-driven training strategies to help workers complete basic and technical skills training using evidence-based strategies such as accelerated learning, work-based learning and Registered Apprenticeships. A solicitation for applications for these partnerships will be available this fall and awards will be made next year. These grants will be financed by a user fee paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the United States under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program.
Private sector leaders are announcing tools and resources to scale continued innovation in technology training, with a focus on reaching under-served populations.
Expanding accelerated models for training in months not years:
A group of 10 bootcamps are jointly announcing a shared, third-party validated format for annually publishing completion and employment outcomes to help continue to drive innovation in the bootcamp model.The accelerated training providers Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Microsoft, Treehouse Island, Inc., and Udacity will all be expanding free or discounted training slots for underserved communities and individuals.General Assembly will work with community colleges, other training providers, and employers with the aim of further standardizing web development training.Flatiron School, Hackbright Academy, and Rural Sourcing are announcing they will provide pro bono consulting to help interested communities expand and improve training.Cisco will provide select individuals interested in career opportunities in IT with free access to online IT networking skills including hundreds of online training assets.Support for local leaders:
Opportunity@Work, a national civic enterprise that is launching at New America today, will aim to connect policy to action and will collaborate with private and philanthropic partners to create freely available tools to scale-up employer commitments to inclusive hiring practices, to facilitate a nationwide learning network for communities, and to create new financing to help lower-income Americans be trained and placed into technology jobs.Capital One, through its FutureEdge initiative, a $150 million effort that will help increase tech skills and hiring, will collaborate with Opportunity@Work to provide support tailored to the needs of communities.#YesWeCode commits to delivering $10 million in scholarships for 2,000 underserved minorities across the nation, to attend coding bootcamps over the next ten years.Using data and innovative hiring practices to expand hiring to include non-traditional training paths:
CEB will develop their own best practices playbook for employers with guidance to private and public employers on how to recruit tech talent from non-traditional sources as well as free labor market snapshots from CEB Talent Neuron for select communities to surface talent supply-demand gaps.LinkedIn will provide free data about the supply and demand of IT skills to communities to help them identify shortages and focus training resources on skills most in-demand.Knack will for the first time make its aptitude test technology available free of charge to employers, communities, and accelerated training providers that are launching inclusive training and hiring campaigns aimed at underserved minorities, women, and veterans.A complete list of private sector commitments can be found here.
The President's Agenda to Create Pathways to the Middle-Class Through High-Quality, Job-Driven Training. TechHire is part of the President's broader agenda to invest in job-driven training:
Vice-President Biden's Job-Driven Training Review. The President's TechHire initiative builds on the job-driven training review that the President asked the Vice President to lead in the 2013 State of the Union. Amongst other findings, the Vice President's review identified information technology generally and cybersecurity in particular as an emerging area of growth that requires job-driven training strategies to meet business needs and provide more workers with a path to the middle class.VA Accelerated Learning Competition. To ensure that Veterans can take full advantage of innovative learning models, VA will apply $10M in innovation funding to leverage accelerated learning and test its effectiveness for transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans over the next two years. VA will concentrate this initiative in communities where conditions are conducive for VA to provide industry-specific and place-based support to Veterans and transitioning ServicemembersAmerican Apprenticeship Grant Competition. Last year, DOL opened a $100 million competition to spur partnerships between employers, labor, training providers, and local governments to expand apprenticeships into high-growth fields like information technology and scale models that work. The deadline for this application is April 30, 2015, and more information is available at the Grants.gov application page.Information Technology Industry-Credentialing partnerships. The President's FY2016 budget proposes $300 million to fund IT jobs partnerships between regional employers to develop and adopt assessments and credentials that will give more people the chance to qualify for a better, higher-paying tech job regardless of their pedigree.
FACT SHEET: Venezuela Executive Order
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:16
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 09, 2015
President Obama today issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. The targeted sanctions in the E.O. implement the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, which the President signed on December 18, 2014, and also go beyond the requirements of this legislation.
We are committed to advancing respect for human rights, safeguarding democratic institutions, and protecting the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela.
This new authority is aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the significant public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela. The E.O. does not target the people or the economy of Venezuela.
Specifically, the E.O. targets those determined by the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Department of State, to be involved in:
actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions;significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; orpublic corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela. The E.O. also authorizes the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Department of State, to target any person determined:
to be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in the E.O. or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked or frozen pursuant to the E.O.; orto be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela;Individuals designated or identified for the imposition of sanctions under this E.O., including the seven individuals that have been listed today in the Annex of this E.O., will have their property and interests in property in the United States blocked or frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from doing business with them. The E.O. also suspends the entry into the United States of individuals meeting the criteria for economic sanctions.
We will continue to work closely with others in the region to support greater political expression in Venezuela, and to encourage the Venezuelan government to live up to its shared commitment, as articulated in the OAS Charter, the Inter American Democratic Charter, and other relevant instruments related to democracy and human rights.
The President imposed sanctions on the following seven individuals listed in the Annex to the E.O.:
1. Antonio Jos(C) Benavides Torres: Commander of the Strategic Region for the Integral Defense (REDI) of the Central Region of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) and former Director of Operations for Venezuela's Bolivarian National Guard (GNB).
Benavides Torres is a former leader of the GNB, an entity whose members have engaged in significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014. In various cities in Venezuela, members of the GNB used force against peaceful protestors and journalists, including severe physical violence, sexual assault, and firearms.2. Gustavo Enrique Gonzlez L"pez: Director General of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and President of Venezuela's Strategic Center of Security and Protection of the Homeland (CESPPA).
Gonzlez L"pez is responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or has participated in, directly or indirectly, significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014. As Director General of SEBIN, he was associated with the surveillance of Venezuelan government opposition leaders. Under the direction of Gonzlez L"pez, SEBIN has had a prominent role in the repressive actions against the civil population during the protests in Venezuela. In addition to causing numerous injuries, the personnel of SEBIN have committed hundreds of forced entries and extrajudicial detentions in Venezuela. 3. Justo Jos(C) Noguera Pietri: President of the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG), a state-owned entity, and former General Commander of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Guard (GNB).
Noguera Pietri is a former leader of the GNB, an entity whose members have engaged in significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014. In various cities in Venezuela, members of the GNB used excessive force to repress protestors and journalists, including severe physical violence, sexual assault, and firearms.4. Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron: national level prosecutor of the 20th District Office of Venezuela's Public Ministry.
Haringhton Padron, in her capacity as a prosecutor, has charged several opposition members, including former National Assembly legislator Maria Corina Machado and, as of February 2015, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma Diaz, with the crime of conspiracy related to alleged assassination/coup plots based on implausible - and in some cases fabricated - information. The evidence used in support of the charges against Machado and others was, at least in part, based on fraudulent emails.5. Manuel Eduardo P(C)rez Urdaneta: Director of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Police.
P(C)rez Urdaneta is a current leader of the Bolivarian National Police, an entity whose members have engaged in significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014. For example, members of the National Police used severe physical force against peaceful protesters and journalists in various cities in Venezuela, including firing live ammunition.6. Manuel Gregorio Bernal Mart­nez : Chief of the 31st Armored Brigade of Caracas of Venezuela's Bolivarian Army and former Director General of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN).
Bernal Mart­nez was the head of SEBIN on February 12, 2014, when officials fired their weapons on protestors killing two individuals near the Attorney General's Office.7. Miguel Alcides Vivas Landino: Inspector General of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) and former Commander of the Strategic Region for the Integral Defense (REDI) of the Andes Region of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Armed Forces.
Vivas Landino is responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or has participated in, directly or indirectly, significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014.
Background Conference Call on the President's Executive Order on Venezuela
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:54
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 09, 2015
Via Telephone
12:12 P.M. EDT
MR. VENTRELL: Hey, good afternoon, everybody. And thanks for dialing in. Today, we have three senior administration officials who are going to discuss the President's executive order related to Venezuela, the Venezuela sanctions. I have with me today -- this call will be on background, attributable to senior administration officials.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks very much, Patrick. Thanks, everybody, for taking the time to call in today. We wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about the executive order on Venezuela that the President issued this morning.
As you know, the Venezuelan Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 passed by Congress was signed into law on December 18th. The executive order issued today implements and expands upon the act by authorizing the imposition of sanctions against individuals involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence in human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protestors, as well as significant public corruption by senior officials in Venezuela.
We want to be absolutely clear that this executive order does not target the people or the economy of Venezuela. We're committed to advancing respect for human rights, safeguarding democratic institutions, and protecting the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela.
In addition to the executive order, the White House released today an annex designating seven individuals for the imposition of sanctions under this executive order. These individuals will have their property and interest in property in the United States blocked or frozen, and, as well, U.S. persons are prohibited from doing business with them. The executive order also suspends the entry into the United States of individuals meeting the criteria for economic sanctions.
We continue to be concerned by the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of political opponents. Venezuela's problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent, nor will they be resolve by attempts to distract from their own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside of Venezuela. The only way to solve Venezuela's problems is through real dialogue.
Finally, I'll add that it's unfortunate that during a time when we've opened up engagement with every other nation in the Americas, Venezuela has opted to go in the opposite direction. Despite the difficulties in our official relationship, the United States remains committed to maintaining our strong and lasting ties with the people of Venezuela, and is open to improving our relationship with the Venezuelan government.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, everybody, for being on the line. My colleague outlined very well both the executive order and our policy. Let me just give you a couple of additional comments on sort of how we got to where we are today.
As we've stated repeatedly, we remain open to a positive and good relationship with the government of Venezuela focused on those areas where we believe we can cooperate and have mutual interest. We know that there are deep divisions between the way we see things and the way the Venezuelan government sees things, but we have always believed that we could have a constructive relationship in some areas. Sadly, that does not appear to be the Venezuelan government's desire at this time.
But we also have always maintained at all times, beginning back, for example, with this Secretary -- Secretary Kerry -- in a meeting he had with then-Foreign Minister Jaua at his first trip to Latin America and Guatemala at the OAS General Assembly in 2013. He said very clearly that we would continue to speak out about human rights and democracy when we saw those principles abridged or violated, and we've done so.
In the past year and a half, and before, we spoke out when we saw human rights being violated in Venezuela, and we worked very closely with countries around the hemisphere to try and hold Venezuela to the commitments that they made in the Inter-American Democratic Charter and other inter-American and universal treaties and documents.
Unfortunately, the efforts by South American countries, such as (inaudible), have not borne fruit. And although there have been a number of missions by South American countries, the most recently by a group of three foreign ministers from Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador to try and move the Venezuelan government and the Venezuelan opposition closer and bring them into dialogue -- a dialogue that had begun last year -- unfortunately, even though some agreements were reached, we did not see any movement by the Venezuelan government to implement those agreements.
And so after quite a while resisting efforts by our Congress to implement sanctions against Venezuela, because we wanted to wait and see if the South American efforts could bear fruit, we believe that the legislation that Congress passed was appropriate and the President has obviously signed that legislation, and therefore it's being implemented. Even before that legislation was passed, of course, the administration took its own action to restrict visa eligibility for now 56 Venezuelans on both human rights grounds and public corruption. And we have gone beyond what the legislation ultimately called for with actions that we took last July and in February of this year.
So we have seen the South American foreign ministers go back to Venezuela just this past weekend. And we are always hopeful that dialogue and persuasion will convince the Venezuelan government, for the good of their own people, to engage in that dialogue and move forward in a way that will benefit the Venezuelan people and the Venezuelan economy. There are legislative elections coming up this year; those are very important. It's important that those be held on a level playing field without the kinds of human rights abuses that we've seen recently to intimidate the opposition, so that Venezuelans can cast their ballots in an atmosphere free of fear, and where all political parties have an opportunity to get their message across.
So let me stop there and turn to our colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. And I'll join the previous speakers in thanking you all for joining us on the call today.
I'd like to talk briefly about the executive order signed by the President and issued today, and why this new authority is so important. As the previous speakers noted, this authority implements the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, which was signed into law in December. The targeted sanctions in the legislation are aimed at those responsible for the human rights abuses associated with the anti-government protests in Venezuela that began in February 2014, and the persecution of persons in Venezuela because of their exercise of the freedom of speech or assembly.
Similarly, today's executive order is aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and the abuses in response to any government protest, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protestors.
The executive order goes beyond the legislation by also targeting those that undermine democratic processes in Venezuela and senior Venezuelan officials who have engaged in public corruption. On that point, Venezuela is considered the most corrupt country in Latin America and one of the most corrupt in the world by Transparency International.
This executive order allows us to target the corrupt figures who deprive Venezuela and the Venezuelan people of needed economic resources, and will also help protect the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela.
I want to repeat a point that was stated earlier, that this executive order does not sanction the Venezuelan government and also does not target the Venezuelan people. Seven individuals were listed in the annex of this authority today for being involved in committing significant acts of violence or serious human rights violation. This means that any assets these individuals hold within U.S. jurisdiction are now frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from doing business with them.
And we will continue to use this powerful tool to target those involved in significant acts of violence against protestors, serious human rights abuses, and those involved in the arrest or prosecution of individuals in Venezuela for their legitimate exercise of free speech or assembly.
At that point, I'll turn it back over to the other speakers.
MR. VENTRELL: Operator, let's go ahead and take the first question.
Q Hi, thanks very much. Can you say how unusual it is for the United States to declare another country like this as a threat to U.S. national security? And further on that, on a separate issue, what do the sanctions mean for the oil industry or the ability to export oil?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So I can start off and say in terms of how unusual this is, most of our sanctions programs began with the declaration by the President of a national emergency that results -- that's a threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. And so most of the sanctions programs that we have, from Iran to Syria, Burma, across the board, rely on these same types of national emergency declarations.
So in that sense, it's a usual part of the process. And we have somewhere between 20 and 30 sanctions programs, depending on the way you measure them, that are based on these same types of national emergency declarations.
In terms of the impact that it may have on certain -- on the energy sector or the oil industry, there's no direct effect from these sanctions. We have named seven individuals in the annex to the executive order. That means that their assets are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with them. There's no additional impacts or no additional sanctions on any industry, individual or entity that's not specifically named in the executive order, or that's not further named by the Department of Treasury in the future.
Q Hi, thanks for doing the call. I'm wondering if you can walk us through how substantive some of the ties these individuals have to the U.S. and the U.S. economy are. Do these folks have real estate here? How do you see this hurting them individually in the weeks ahead?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We don't detail in advance what effects we expect to have on the U.S. system. I will tell you that the way this operates is once we at the Treasury Department add someone to what we call our SDN list, then their assets are frozen and U.S. institutions are required to report to us within 10 days of any blocking of assets that they may have found.
So often what we find is that we don't know the extent of assets until after we get the full range of reports from the financial industry within that 10-day period. So that's the answer I can give on that in terms of the effect that we expect to have we'll see in coming weeks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just say that from the perspective of policy, the point of these sanctions on these individuals is really to shine a light on the abuse of human rights or democratic practice or public corruption by certain individuals, and to, in doing so, help persuade the government of Venezuela to change its ways; to observe those guarantees for freedom of assembly, freedom of speech; the right to protection for a fair trial -- all of those things, and democratic practice, so that in doing this we hope to shine a light on practice, not just the individual property or assets that may be in the U.S., as my colleague has outlined.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And one of the things I should have also added, too, is we try not to focus on just assets that may be frozen in the United States; we also try to talk about, as my colleague said, when you shine a light on the activities of certain individuals around the world, not only are U.S. persons prohibited from any future activities, what we find is that the banks around the world will have more reluctance -- industry around the world will have more reluctance to deal with these types of bad actors, and that's exactly what we want to occur.
Q I would like to ask whether with these seven individuals listed today, the amount of people who have travel restrictions increased to 63, or is still 56, like it was until today? And my second question is, will Treasury keep doing and freezing assets to the rest of the 56 Venezuelan officials whose visas have been suspended? Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm going to take the answer to the first question because, as you know and as we've said, under the provisions of law that we suspended or will deny visas to those that we've already taken that action against, we do not make public that information. So I can't confirm in this forum whether or not these folks have visas that have been suspended or will be denied. But I think that it would not be surprising to anybody if those lists were to overlap.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And I'll take the second part of the question. In terms of what the Treasury Department will do in the future, is we don't comment on what our activities may be in the future or the future actions that we may take. I will tell you that we intend to continue working closely with the State Department in terms of any future actions that we should take and any future individuals and entities that should be added to our SDN list.
Q President Maduro just over a week ago said in a national address that he ''wouldn't accept U.S. sanctions.'' How do you respond to that? Is it up to him to accept anything? And then, secondly, why did you decide to sanction just these seven individuals today? Why not go broader and/or include the Venezuelan government at this point?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, let me take the first part of that. To the best of my knowledge -- and my colleague can clarify this as he takes the second part as well -- we take action -- the President has issued an executive order; the President takes action within his purview. We take action as a U.S. government on things that we control. So I think there is nothing in here that is for another government or entity to accept or reject. Therefore, it isn't something that has to be accepted or rejected by other people. It is action to be taken by the U.S. government in terms of our law, and then subsequently, of course, the practice of our financial institutions to implement.
But I think it is not action taken against the Venezuelan government as a whole. It is not action taken against the Venezuelan people or the Venezuelan economy. I hope that the Venezuelan government and President Maduro will not respond to it in a way that will obfuscate or misinform his population or others about the actions that we're taking today, as he's done, unfortunately, on previous occasions where he has interpreted or misinformed people about the intent or the reach of actions that we have taken, seeing them as broader and more malevolent against the entire Venezuelan people than they actually are.
So I think these are -- they may or may not -- The President of Venezuela may or may not make a comment about these actions that we're taking under U.S. law. But, in fact, they're not designed to affect the vast majority of the Venezuelan people, only the seven that are involved and with whom we still want to have a good relationship and for whom, in a sense, we are trying to continue to engage with the Venezuelan government and to stand up for, we believe, universally protected human rights.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And I can add on to, and then echo the comments that were just made in terms of how we act under U.S. law, our activities focus on requirements for U.S. persons and transactions going through the United States. So our actions are clearly targeted at the United States. It is true that many jurisdictions will follow those that we put on our SDN list; they do so voluntarily, but many others will follow what we do under U.S. law.
In terms of why not go broader, we don't comment in terms of why we came out with a certain set of designations, why we didn't add more or why we had the certain number that we did. I will say that our intent here was to focus on the activities of the seven individuals that were involved. And again, we've talked about, throughout this call, about our concern over these human rights violations and abuses and the violence that occurred against those protestors. And I think our intent was to focus on that activity.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can I just also -- let me just say that there's been a lot of commentary about interference in internal affairs of other countries by the Venezuelan government. The actions we take today are clearly sovereign actions by a country about its own financial system. These actions we take are sovereign decisions about who comes into the United States. They're not actions taken to involve ourselves in another country.
But the principles that we're defending and the actions that we're taking based on violations of internationally protected human rights are principles that we believe really do stand above any country's individual laws or practices.
Q I was just wondering if Haringhton Padron's inclusion was subsequent to the arrest of Mayor Antonio Ledezma, or was she always going to be on the list because of things that she did in 2014?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just say that -- the only thing that I want to say about that is I think one of the things that you can understand is that efforts to identify and make policy decisions on a list like this -- as you can see from the length of time between when the President signed the law and when we're putting out this executive order -- are very carefully done. They take a good deal of effort. They're not capricious.
And so the notion that something would be added at the last minute would be fairly unusual. And I don't -- I'm not going to draw you a yes or a no answer to that, but this is a very carefully constructed list, and it needed a good deal of background. So I think I'll just leave it at that. I don't know if my colleague has anything further.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I agree with what my colleague said. And I think if you look at the factsheet, the activities that we've called out for this individual in question can help answer that question.
Q Yes, good afternoon. When you say that you're trying to protect the U.S. financial system, some of the activities, the corruption activities that these individuals are involved in, would they have to do directly with, for example, drug trafficking? Or kind of -- if you can, describe what kind of corruption activities are you referring to. And number two, many Venezuelans in the U.S. have asked the government to consider what is a TPS, Temporary Protective Status, for many of them who have fled the country. Is that under consideration?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So again, starting from Treasury, on the first part of that question is -- I think we'd be concerned about corruption across the board. There is a wide variety of corruption and corruption activities that we've seen in Venezuela. Again, I cited the Transparency International's statistics with respect to corruption. And I think we are concerned, with respect to corruption, is that this whole executive order is about the idea of protecting democracy, democratic principles and processes, and it's also about protecting the Venezuelan people.
And this is where we see corruption is really one of the things that can be the most -- that affects them, in addition to the human rights violations. It's something that the President has spoken about. It's something that we're concerned about. And this executive order gives us the tools to go after corruption in all of its forms.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So on the second part of that question on temporary protective status, that's not part of this executive order or what was contemplated here. The United States has for years expressed concern about the decline of respect for human rights in Venezuela and the decline of democratic institutions, the degradation of democratic institutions over time.
Certainly we're aware that this has been of grave concern not only for the United States but for other countries in the region. And we certainly have seen many Venezuelans unfortunately feeling like they have to leave their country for those reasons. However, TPS is not something that was considered as part of this action. This is very much in compliance and implementation of the law passed by Congress in December of 2014.
I think we have time for one more question. Thanks.
Q I've got a couple of questions here. Can you please help us understand what exactly is being frozen or seized here? Are these bank accounts? Is this real estate, or what? And the other question is, these are some very midlevel people here. We don't see any of the political leaders of government -- Maduro or Diosdado Cabello. We don't see the Commander of the National Guard, Nestor Reverol. So please explain why you chose to go after these people instead of people who are higher up in the government. And was it simply because you couldn't find any assets for those people who you could seize?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So I can start out from Treasury with the question in terms of what's being frozen here. It would be any property and interest in property that these persons may have in the United States. And what that means is it could be bank accounts, it could be real property, it could be personal property; it is anything that would be within the jurisdiction of the United States. So any of that would be frozen. I think you used the terms ''frozen'' and ''seized,'' and we make the distinction where we do freeze the assets of the people and individuals and entities that are named on our list. They remain in the bank accounts, they remain frozen, but the U.S. government doesn't seize or take title to those assets.
In terms of why we chose the individuals that we chose, I can't give you more detail than what we've already stated -- we were concerned about serious human rights abuses, the violations and abuses that we saw in Venezuela, the crackdown on the protestors, the arbitrary arrests and detentions. Those were the activities that Congress chose to highlight in the legislation, and those were also the activities that we chose to highlight in this first round of actions under this executive order.
MR. VENTRELL: Okay, thank you all. I believe that's all the time we have, and we'll put out a transcript. Again, to remind everybody, this call was on background as senior administration officials. Thank you all.
END12:40 P.M. EDT
FACT SHEET: A Student Aid Bill of Rights: Taking Action to Ensure Strong Consumer Protections for Student Loan Borrowers
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:52
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 10, 2015
Higher education continues to be the single most important investment students can make in their own futures. Five years ago this month, President Obama signed student loan reform into law, redirecting tens of billions of dollars in bank subsidies into student aid. His historic investments in college affordability include increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $1,000, creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, and letting borrowers cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of income. He has also promoted innovation and competition to help colleges reduce costs and improve quality and completion, including a First in the World fund. While these investments have helped millions of students afford college, student loans continue to grow.
That is why, today, President Obama will underscore his vision for an affordable, quality education for all Americans in a Student Aid Bill of Rights. As part of this vision, the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Education and other federal agencies to work across the federal government to do more to help borrowers afford their monthly loan payments including: (1) a state-of-the-art complaint system to ensure quality service and accountability for the Department of Education, its contractors, and colleges, (2) a series of steps to help students responsibly repay their loans including help setting affordable monthly payments, and (3) new steps to analyze student debt trends and recommend legislative and regulatory changes. In addition, the Administration is releasing state by state data that shows the outstanding federal student loan balance and total number of federal student loan borrowers who stand to benefit from these actions.
A Student Aid Bill of Rights
Every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education at a college that's cutting costs and increasing learning. Every student should be able to access the resources needed to pay for college. Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan. And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans. Today's Actions to Promote Affordable Loan Payments
Americans are increasingly reliant on student loans to help pay for college. Today, more than 70 percent of those earning a bachelor's degree graduate with debt, which averages $28,400 at public and non-profit colleges. Today's actions will help borrowers responsibly manage their debt, improve federal student loan servicing, and protect taxpayers' investments in the student aid program:
Create a Responsive Student Feedback System: The Secretary of Education will create a new web site by July 1, 2016, to give students and borrowers a simple and straightforward way to file complaints and provide feedback about federal student loan lenders, servicers, collections agencies, and institutions of higher education. Students and borrowers will be able to ensure that their complaints will be directed to the right party for timely resolution, and the Department of Education will be able to more quickly respond to issues and strengthen its efforts to protect the integrity of the student financial aid programs. In addition, the President will direct the Department of Education to study how other complaints about colleges and universities, such as poor educational quality or misleading claims, should be collected and resolved and to strengthen the process for referring possible violations of laws and regulations to other enforcement agencies. These actions will help ensure more borrowers get fair treatment throughout the federal student loan process.Help Borrowers Afford Their Monthly Payments: The President will announce a series of steps to improve customer services and help borrowers repay their direct student loans, which are made with federal capital and administered by the Department of Education through performance-based contracts. High-quality, borrower-focused servicing helps more borrowers successfully repay their federal student loans. Building on the stronger performance incentives put in place last year, the Department will now raise the bar by:Requiring enhanced disclosures and stronger consumer protections throughout the repayment process, including when federal student loans are transferred from one servicer to another, when borrowers fall behind in their payments, and when borrowers begin but do not complete applications to change repayment plans. These steps will better protect borrowers from falling behind in their payments and ensure consistency across loan servicers. Ensuring that its contractors apply prepayments first to loans with the highest interest rates unless the borrower requests a different allocation.Establishing a centralized point of access for all federal student loan borrowers in repayment to access account and payment processing information for all Federal student loan servicing contractors.Ensuring fair treatment for struggling and distressed borrowers by raising standards for student loan debt collectors to ensure that they charge borrowers reasonable fees and help them return to good standing; clarifying the rights of Federal student loan borrowers in bankruptcy; working with the Department of Treasury to simplify the process to verify income and keep borrowers enrolled in income-driven repayment plans; and working with the Social Security Administration to ensure that disability insurance recipients who can discharge their student loans are not instead seeing their disability payments garnished to repay defaulted loans.Prioritize Further Steps to Meet the Needs of Student Borrowers: The federal government has a responsibility to ensure that students who borrow federal loans have every opportunity to repay those loans through fair, affordable monthly payments. To continue to improve the information and customer service offered those borrowers, the President will direct the Department of Education to:Work with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to find the most innovative and effective ways to communicate with borrowers, leverage the latest research identifying key factors that influence borrower repayment and keep actual borrower behavior in mind, so they stay in repayment and avoid default. Work with the Office of Management and Budget to regularly monitor key trends in the student loan portfolio, improving loan servicing and budgeting and considering possible policy changes.Invite expertise from across the government to review best practices for performance-based contracting that could further improve outcomes for borrowers. In addition, new requirements may be appropriate for private and federally guaranteed student loans so that all of the more than 40 million Americans with student loans have additional basic rights and protections. The President is directing his Cabinet and White House advisers, working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to study whether consumer protections recently applied to mortgages and credit cards, such as notice and grace periods after loans are transferred among lenders and a requirement that lenders confirm balances to allow borrowers to pay off the loan, should also be afforded to student loan borrowers and improve the quality of servicing for all types of student loans. The agencies will develop recommendations for regulatory and legislative changes for all student loan borrowers, including possible changes to the treatment of loans in bankruptcy proceedings and when they were borrowed under fraudulent circumstances.
Making Progress on A Student Aid Bill of Rights
Together, we can continue our work toward ensuring that all Americans have meaningful opportunities for a high-quality, affordable postsecondary education without the threat of unmanageable debt. The President's vision laid out in the Student Aid Bill of Rights incorporates the progress we've made, his existing proposals, and the new actions announced today.
Every student should have access to a quality, affordable education at a college seeking new ways to lower costs and increase learning. America's College Promise: In January of 2015, the President released a bold new proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor's degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost, benefiting nearly 9 million students, and ensuring states and community colleges do their part to help students succeed. First in the World Grants: In September, the Department of Education awarded $75 million to colleges and universities across the country under the new First in the World (FITW) grant program to encourage colleges to adopt cutting-edge innovations and proven strategies that expand college opportunity, improve student learning, and reduce costs. This year, the President has proposed increasing FITW to $200 million.Call to Action on College Opportunity: Last December, the President, Vice President, and First Lady joined college presidents, K-12 superintendents, non-profit, foundations, and businesses to announce over 600 new commitments to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.College Ratings: The Department of Education continues its work to develop a college ratings system by the 2015-2016 school year that will help students and families compare the value offered by colleges and encourage colleges to improve by highlighting institutions that successfully educate students from all backgrounds; maintain affordability; and help students gain a degree or certificate of value.Every student should be able to access the resources needed to pay for college. Dramatically Increasing Investment in Pell Grants: The President raised the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,730 for the 2014-15 award year '-- a nearly $1,000 increase since 2008, helping more than 8 million Americans a year afford college. This year, the President has proposed new investments to ensure the maximum Pell grant keeps up with the cost of inflation.Simplifying the Process to Apply for Federal Student Aid: The Department of Education has helped students and their families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in a fraction of the time it used to take'--20 minutes from over an hour'--through a redesigned tool that asks less questions and helps filers get their income data directly from the Internal Revenue Service. This year, the President has proposed eliminating more questions from the FAFSA.Simplifying and Improving Education Tax Benefits: The President created the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) to provide families with up to $10,000 over four years of college. This year, the President has proposed simplifying and improving education tax benefits for more than 25 million families, including making AOTC available for up to five years and eliminating taxes on student loan debt forgiveness under income-driven repayment plans.Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan. Pay-As-You-Earn Loans: Under the President's Pay As You Earn plan, recent student borrowers can cap federal loan payments at 10 percent of their income. Last June, the President directed the Department of Education to amend its regulations to make the plan available to all direct loan borrowers, helping nearly 5 million additional borrowers by December 2015. This year, the President has proposed reforms to the program that will streamline and better target all income-driven repayment plans to safeguard the program for the future.And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans. Transitioning to a Student-Centered Direct Loan Program: In 2010, the Administration took action to make federal student loans more reliable and efficient by eliminating subsidies to banks and successfully transitioning all new originations to the Direct Loan program. New performance-based contracts that were created by the Department incented servicers to find new and innovative ways to best serve students and taxpayers and this June, the contracts were strengthened to improve the way servicers are compensated to help borrowers repay their loans on time and ensure high-quality servicing.Simplifying Income-Driven Repayment Plans and Improving Borrower Outreach: In 2012, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the Department of Education made it easier for borrowers to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan by creating an online application that lets borrowers get their required income information directly from IRS. Along with outreach efforts spanning targeted email campaigns, social media, and partnerships with outside organizations, more than 2.4 million borrowers are able to manage their debt through and income-driven repayment plan. Building Tools and Resources to Support Federal Student Loan Borrowers: Since 2012, the Department of Education has developed a suite of tools and resources to help federal student loan borrowers, including a financial aid counseling tool that helps borrowers make good education financing decisions, understand their options for paying back their loans, and accurately compare and select repayment options customized to their individual circumstances.

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Caliphate!

ACLJ’s Sekulow- ISIS Is ‘As Toxic as the Nazis’ .mp3
Feinstein Morell-FOREVER-AUMF.mp3
ISIS-we're in Texas!-Fox19-FBI SETUP.mp3
Kerry - not going to defeat ISIS.mp3
Kerry to protestor-JOURNALISTS BEHEADED.mp3
Sky News ISIS translator on keeping beheadings calm.mp3
The ISIS video Song is growing on me!.mp3

Common Core

Lumina Foundation 990.pdf
Lumina Foundation-University Innovation Alliance PROMO.mp3

CYBER!

Matt-Jen-State email hack-WTF-NEEDS REAL REPORTING.mp3

EuroLand

Farage on EU army.mp3

F-Russia

F&F-Jeff Wise Putin CONSPIRACY theory.mp3
Feinstein Iran-Russia-Assad-Bibi Hate.mp3
NATO draws red-line in baltic states.mp3

Hillary 2016

Feinstein on Hillary emails.mp3
Feinstein runs cover 4 Hillary-come out.mp3
HIllary at re-code on multiple devices.mp3
Hillary introduced as Future President at UN meeting.mp3
Hillary on emails-1-Andrea Mitchell asks 2 good questions.mp3
Hillary on emails-2-The Server.mp3
Hillary on emails-3-Differemt rules for the whitehouse-BILLY!.mp3

JCD Clips

bodus break in to Apple story by intercept.mp3
common core FIVE little girl 2 and costs.mp3
COMMON CORE FOUR little girl and costs.mp3
common core LAsT and kicker.mp3
common core ONE background.mp3
common core sIX advertisement.mp3
common core three -O - HOURS OF TESTING.mp3
common core TWO introduce little girl and rigorous.mp3
drug prices.mp3
Hillary nonsense regarding email.mp3
hillary rosen on clinton -- needs set up.mp3
letterman and 33.mp3
letterman steals curry joke.mp3
NEW at mcdonalds.mp3
oracle tech news.mp3
Tim Cook Tech news.mp3
tumors tech news.mp3

SnowJob

CNBC-CIA-3- Xcode.mp3
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